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Latest News in Israel – 3rd August

Tension mounts as coalition partners clash over policy

The weekly cabinet session on Sunday saw ministers lock horns over the government’s role in regulating public broadcasting, followed by a public spat between Habayit Hayehudi and Likud over the prospect of a unity government.

Habayit Hayehudi lamented Sunday that Netanyahu was engaging in “friendly fire” by releasing the transcripts from the rocky cabinet session, and on Monday a party official doubled down on the criticism, saying, “He [Netanyahu] courts the national religious voters just before elections, but as soon as the elections are over he disposes of them; we are done being his punching bag.”

The attack was partly in response to Netanyahu reaching out to Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog Sunday. Netanyahu said he would give Herzog the foreign affairs portfolio if his party joined the Likud-led coalition.

A Likud official quickly countered the criticism, asserting that Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, who also serves as education minister, “was elected thanks to right-wing voters, but has made sure to keep [Palestinian poet] Mahmoud Darwish in the school curricula and preserve the Left’s hegemony over the media.”

The latest intra-coalition turbulence began on Sunday, when the cabinet approved a draft bill seeking to regulate the launch of a new state-run public broadcasting body, slated to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority. The draft scheduled the new outlet’s launch date to April 30, 2017, with the option of an early launch in January 2017.

The meeting debating the issue was a stormy one.

“Approving this draft would be a serious mistake,” Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said. “How can a public media body not be under the government’s control? Why shouldn’t the communication minister have a say in the running and appointments made in a public broadcasting body funded by public money?

“This will be another guild that fails to operate according to public broadcasting guidelines, such as adequate representation and multiculturalism,” she warned.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that “the IBA offers balanced reporting, but I don’t know if that will be true for the new broadcasting body.”

Netanyahu, who holds the communication portfolio, stressed the only reason he decided to delay the launch of the new public broadcasting body was the fact its infrastructure was not ready.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who formed the new public broadcasting body during the previous Knesset’s term when he was communications minister, and opposes the delay in its launch, responded, “You can’t know if the broadcasting is balanced if the broadcasting body isn’t up and running yet.”

Turning to Regev, he said, “You can’t control every play in [Israel’s national theater] Habima, either.”

Habayit Hayehudi leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also opposes the delay in the new outlet’s launch, urged a decisive government ruling on the matter.

“If you don’t want to have a new public broadcasting body — just say so, but a delay of year and a half only deters journalists from joining it and leaves it dependent on politicians.”

In response, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis said the government “has to ensure the new broadcasting body provides diverse and balanced programming that will reflect the positions, opinions and cultures of everyone in the Israeli public. The way it looks now — they have no immigrants from the [former] Soviet Union, no Ethiopians, no periphery — it doesn’t seem to be going there.”

Shas leader and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said, “I head an ultra-Orthodox Sephardi party and represent people from the periphery, who all feel as if they have no place in Israeli media. … I will personally reward anyone who finds a haredi reporter in the media. There are none.”

Following the meeting, Netanyahu issued a short statement stressing he does not share Ministers Regev and Akunis’ views on the need for tight government control over the new public broadcasting body.

Also on Sunday Coalition Chairman Likud MK David Bitan presented a bill seeking to annul the new public broadcasting body and instead reform the IBA.

“Closing the IBA will cost much more than shutting the new broadcasting body down. The public has no idea how much this new broadcasting body will cost,” Bitan explained.

Erdan blasted the legislation proposal, saying he “hopes the prime minister would make it unequivocally clear he opposes this bill.”

Netanyahu and Bitan later issued separate statements saying the bill was sponsored solely by Bitan, who did not coordinate the move with the prime minister.

Kulanu faction chairman MK Roy Folkman said, “We will make sure the new public broadcasting body’s position is solid.”   (Israel Hayom)

Israel, US said to resolve key sticking points on aid deal

Israel and the US have reportedly resolved two key sticking points in drawn-out negotiations for a 10-year American aid package, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dispatched a senior defense official to Washington to finalize the agreement expected to be signed soon.

The new aid deal is set to come into effect in 2018, when the current one expires.

According to the Ynet news website, Israel will not request supplemental funding for the entire 10 years, and in the final half of the decade, will incrementally increase the amount it spends in the US per annum, until the entire amount of aid is being invested in the American domestic market.

Brigadier General (res.) Yaakov Nagel, the acting head of the National Security Council, set off for the US on Sunday, and will meet with his American counterparts to work on the final draft the new memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Negotiations on the deal have been going on for months amid tensions over the Iranian nuclear deal reached last year, which Israel vociferously opposed. Israel has charged that the accord signed between Tehran and six world powers, including the US, poses an existential threat to Israel.

Israel has already indicated that it will not seek additional military funding for 2017, which still falls under the terms of the last 10-year package. The defense aid for 2017 currently stands at $3.1 billion.

The Prime Minister’s Office said last week that Israel “places great value on the predictability and reliability of the military assistance it receives from the United States and on honoring bilateral agreements.

“Therefore, it is not in Israel’s interest for there to be any changes to the fixed annual MOU levels without the agreement of both the US administration and the Israeli government,” it added.

Netanyahu also said last week that he hoped to conclude the aid negotiations under the Obama administration, whose term ends in January 2017.

The US offer currently on the table, outlined to members of Congress earlier this month in a letter from US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, includes a pledge to substantially increase the aid package, currently worth some $30 billion, and ink a new one that would constitute “the largest pledge of military assistance to any country in US history.” The letter was sent in response to a missive signed in April by 83 out of 100 senators calling on Obama to increase foreign aid to Israel and sign the new deal.

Under the existing agreement, Israel is permitted to spend about 25 percent of the aid it receives outside the US and another 13% on fuel for its aircraft — allowances no other recipient of US aid is granted.

According to the report, that arrangement originated in the 1980s to build up Israel’s defense industry, which has thrived, helping Israel to become among the top 10 arms exporters in the world — and in some fields a competitor with US firms.                      (The Times of Israel)

2016 Olympics: Israel’s largest-ever delegation is ready for Rio

When the 2016 Olympic Games open here on Friday evening, Israel will proudly show off its largest delegation ever, with 47 athletes competing in 17 sports.

Among them are golfer Laetitia Beck, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor; Lonah Chemtai, a Kenyan-born marathoner; and Ron Darmon, the first triathlete to represent Israel at the Olympic Games.

Israelis and Jews around the world are expected to show their support for the team, which failed to medal in 2012 when the Israeli delegation numbered 37. Some 10,000 Israeli tourists are expected to attend the Games — they will join Rio’s nearly 40,000-strong Jewish community, along with other Jewish supporters from across Brazil and around the world.

“We are a small team compared to other countries, but we have quality and are determined,” Israeli Olympic Committee President Igal Carmi told the delegation during a meeting in Jerusalem at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s residence on July 13 before departing to Brazil. “I am very proud of the Israeli team. We are ready to compete at the highest levels.”

One of Israel’s top Olympic hopes, rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivkin, will hold the Israeli flag at the opening ceremony.

“When I was told, I felt I was fulfilling another personal dream,” she said at the meeting. “On behalf of all the athletes, I can promise that we will all do our very best. We all want to bring moments of joy to the Israeli people.”

Some of Israel’s competitors arrived in Brazil early to acclimatize to the Brazilian climate and setting. Preferring to avoid the Rio fuss, many made their temporary homes in Sao Paulo, the country’s largest city and its financial capital — not to be confused with its actual capital city, Brasilia — and home to its largest Jewish population.

Although 250 miles away from the Olympic Village in Rio, Sao Paulo’s Hebraica — a massive complex that’s somewhat akin to a Jewish community center — was chosen as a pre-games training camp for the Israeli and Japanese swimming, water polo, basketball, gymnastics, handball, judo, shooting, tennis and volleyball teams.

“Half of the Israeli delegation will train at Hebraica,” said Avi Gelberg, the sports club’s president. “We are very proud as Jews to be able to be close to the Israeli athletes, help their preparation and – why not? – contribute to their achievements.”

Aside from leading the world’s largest Jewish sports club, Gelberg, who was born in Haifa, also presides over the Maccabi organization in Brazil.

“Welcoming the Olympic Games is a big pride,” he said. “Despite political issues, corruption, Zika, pollution and so on, I am sure Brazil will make excellent Games the same way we did with the World Soccer Cup here in 2014.

“Israel will be able to present itself in a positive way much beyond the conflicts,” added Gelberg, who will also serve as the Israeli delegation’s attaché.

Israel’s delegation also includes 34 coaches and about 25 support staff.


Israel’s rhythmic gymnastics team, a favorite to medal in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, outside of Tel Aviv

In 16 Olympic Games, Israel has won seven medals — in judo, sailing and canoeing. The only gold medalist was windsurfer Gal Fridman (Athens, 2004), who also won a bronze medal in Atlanta in 1996.

Not even the recent news about Islamist terrorists — who have issued directives to “lone wolves” to carry out attacks against the Israeli delegation — nor the imprisonment of 12 people in Brazil who allegedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group via social media seem to be a concern for some Israeli delegation members.

“We have no issues about security or whatsoever. Not at all. We feel very safe. But we obviously cannot speak too much about it,” Danny Oren, sport director of the Israeli delegation, told JTA.

Oren and the entire delegation — and, well, pretty much everyone — are looking forward to the opening ceremony on Friday night. However, they won’t be joined by Israel’s most senior official expected to attend the Games. Miri Regev, Israel’s minister of culture and sport, who is not observant, caught everyone by surprise when she announced on July 24 she won’t violate the Sabbath.

“Shabbat, our national day of rest, is one of the most important gifts that Jewish people have given to the culture of humanity,” she said in a statement. “As the representative of the State of Israel, the sole Jewish state on the planet, I unfortunately cannot take part in the opening ceremony of the Olympics because it would require me to break the holy Sabbath.”

It’s not clear if she will be the only one to miss the event — but Oren insists that, if it happens, it’s purely out of a competitive, not religious, spirit. “If this or that athlete decides not to attend, it will be for the fact it finishes very late and they will have a competition early in the morning on Saturday,” Oren said.

Regev’s presence is confirmed, however, for one of the most highly anticipated moments for Israelis in Rio: A ceremony to honor the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics will be held at Rio’s City Hall on Aug. 14. It will be co-led by the International Olympic Committee along with the Olympic committees of Israel and Brazil.

“The mayor will open the doors of his house in a gesture of great friendship with the Brazilian Jewish community and the whole people of Israel,” Israel’s honorary consul in Rio, Osias Wurman, told JTA.

At the team’s sendoff at the president’s house in Jerusalem, Regev spoke about countries, which she chose not to name, that do not recognize Israel and do not permit their athletes to compete against Israelis,

“Unfortunately, there are countries, even today, that exploit the Olympic Games for political gain and discriminate against Israeli athletes,” Regev lamented. “This represents the new anti-Semitism and we need to fight it. When you are at the fields and halls of the [Olympic] events, remember that an entire country back at home is praying for your success.”

Added Rivlin: “Your preparation has been superb, and now is the time to reap the fruit of your efforts. We believe in you and know that you can and will return home with Olympic medals.”   (the Times of Israel)

U.N. report ignores use of Palestinian child soldiers, experts say

At least 42 Palestinian child terrorists have attempted 36 attacks from the second half of 2015 until May 2016, according to a new report obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon that criticizes the United Nations for omitting these statistics from its official records on the use of child soldiers.

The U.N. is slated to discuss its annual report on Children and Armed Conflict this week. Its section on Palestinian children states, “Limited information is available about the recruitment or use of children.”

However, a counter-report issued by a leading human rights organization calls this finding into question by detailing at least 36 instances in which Palestinian children have attempted to carry out terrorist attacks.

Insiders apprised of the findings say the U.N.’s omission of these statistics calls into question the integrity of its report and provides further evidence of a deep anti-Israel bias at the organization.

“The preferred method of murder and attempted murder by Palestinian child terrorists are stabbings or knifings, the modus operandi in 34 of the 36 attacks,” according to the report, authored by Human Rights Voices, an anti-discrimination group that monitors the U.N.

Male and female children ages 11 to 17 have perpetrated terrorist attacks over the past year, according to the report.

Boys carried out at least 14 of the attacks while girls committed 11, according to the report. The terrorist’s gender was not identified in 17 cases.

Anne Bayefsky, a lawyer who heads Human Rights Voices and directs the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, said the U.N. is covering up Palestinian crimes and skewing official records on child terrorists.

“Obviously, information on these incidents is readily accessible,” Bayefsky wrote in the report. “And the Palestinian U.N. Ambassador publicly supported child terrorism at the U.N. itself. Moreover, videos, photographs, television programs, and social media outlets­from Palestinian and Israeli sources­provide a multitude of evidence both of Palestinian children engaged in armed conflict and Palestinian adults (from the political sphere to the education system to the family unit) promoting such behavior.”

“Shockingly, however, the U.N. Secretary-General’s most recent annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, released in May 2016, contains the following statement specifically about Palestinian children: ‘Limited information is available about the recruitment or use of children,’” she added, noting that “the Secretary-General’s claim is manifestly untrue.”

The omission of these statistics raises questions about the U.N.’s integrity and ability to objectively record the number of Palestinian child terrorists, according to Bayefsky.

“The United Nations is not merely engaged in a feeble cover-up,” she wrote “The U.N. is now an active enabler of the violation of the rights of Israelis and Palestinians: the basic rights to life and security of the person of the Israeli victims of Palestinian children engaged in terrorism, and the rights of Palestinian children not to be recruited or engaged in terrorism in the first place.”

The report further disclosed that senior Palestinian officials have encouraged and praised the recent wave of terrorism against Israel.

During a speech at Turtle Bay, the Palestinian representative to the U.N. publicly celebrated a string of 16 attacks in 2015 in which “Palestinian child terrorists had murdered two and injured nine.”

“We are so proud that in this popular uprising that has started almost two months ago, that the backbone of this uprising are the youth of Palestine,” Riyad Mansour said at the U.N. headquarters on Nov. 23, 2015.

“Since that time, Palestinian child terrorists have attacked Israelis at least another 20 times,” according to Bayefsky’s report.                (Washington Free Beacon)

Human Rights Watch accidentally admits that Gaza isn’t occupied

Human Rights Watch has released a new anti -Israel report:

“The Israeli government is unlawfully incarcerating prisoners from Gaza inside Israel and then making it very hard for their families to visit them,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine director. “The government’s security concerns over having these families enter Israel for visits with their loved ones are of its own making.”

Israel holds most Palestinian prisoners who were apprehended in occupied territory inside Israel, in violation of international humanitarian law prohibitions against transferring residents from occupied territory. It then requires family members to obtain permits from the military to enter Israel to visit them. This means that family members must pass an Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) security screening to visit their imprisoned relatives.

The main point of the report is that Israel has placed too many restrictions on Gaza family visits to prisons in Israel, such as not allowing siblings of terrorists to visit if they are above 15. There are obvious security concerns with older siblings who are very often the first to become terrorists themselves, and Israel is quite within its rights under international law to prioritize security over family visits.

But a secondary theme of the report is that Israel is violating international law by incarcerating Gazans in prisons within Israel rather than within the “occupied territories.” They get this from the Fourth Geneva Convention article 76, which states “Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein.”

HRW, however, admits that part of the Geneva rules cannot apply to Gaza:

While holding these prisoners in Gaza is not practicable, because Israel ended its permanent ground troop presence in Gaza in 2005, Israel can and should transfer them to the West Bank, the other part of the occupied Palestinian territory, Human Rights Watch said. The prohibition against removing prisoners from the occupied territory is designed, in part, to allow them to maintain family ties, and the Israeli government should facilitate visits for family members from Gaza to the maximum extent possible.

Why is it not possible for Israel to hold the prisoners in Gaza? After all, isn’t it occupied territory according to HRW? Geneva doesn’t make a distinction between “occupied territory where the occupying army has actual control” and “occupied territory where the army has no possibility of maintaining the obligations of the Convention.” HRW is making such a distinction, which has no basis.

Because Gaza isn’t occupied by any reasonable definition of international law, and HRW knows it. The state of occupation in international law is binary, either it is or it isn’t, based on whether the occupying army has “effective control.” If the army cannot set up a prison within the territory, then by definition the territory isn’t occupied.

Also, HRW’s legal arguments end up supporting the fact that not only is Gaza not occupied  – neither is Area A, another place where it would be “not practicable” to build new prisons. It is not under “effective control” of the IDF.

There is much more that is notable in HRW’s attempts to force Israel to adhere to its interpretations of international law.

HRW suggests a convoluted solution where Israel should build prisons in the West Bank to help Gaza prisoners be more accessible by their families, under the idea that the West Bank and Gaza are pretty much the same. But the same security issues that they are complaining about for Gazans to visit Israeli prisons would apply for Gaza families to visit prisons in the West Bank, because they would be traversing Israeli territory anyway! It would not make an iota of difference – and, as we will see, it would probably be worse for the prisoners.

Moreover, even this HRW report admits that only 7% of Gaza prisoners have families in the West Bank, so very few of them would be able to see their families more often under this convoluted solution.

What about the bigger question of whether Israel should be building more prisons in the West Bank under HRW’s interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, rather than place them in Israeli prisons? Is Israel violating international law?

This question has come up before the Israeli Supreme Court, most notably in its 2010 decision on Yesh Din vs. Minister of Defense. The Supreme Court ruled that the main driver for the Conventions is proper respect for the rights of the detainees, and that Israeli prisons are superior in that respect to any military detention facilities that Geneva seems to require:

We reiterate and reemphasize that in everything connected with conditions of detention and the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention and even of additional international laws regarding the holding of detainees, this Court determined clearly and unequivocally that Israel must respect the provisions of international law, and that every detainee is entitled to conditions of detention appropriate to his human self respect. This Court did not withhold criticism as to the determination of physical conditions and personal welfare needed by the detainee, and in this matter, as aforesaid, there has been considerable improvement, precisely because the detainees are held in Israel. As we noted, the provisions of the Convention must be interpreted as bearing on the special conditions of holding of the area in the hands of Israel, and in consideration of its principled initial point, as laid down in Article 27 of the Convention, which instructs as follows:

“Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity…

However, the Parties to the conflict may take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war.”

In this the respondents are observing the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention regarding conditions of of holding of detainees, In this matter, with adaptation, the words of Justice Bach in the Sajidia Case are good in that he felt that the Convention must be observed according to the proper interpretation, and he said: “It cannot be understood from these words that all the provisions included in the Convention, and relating to the detention of administrative detainees must be observed blindly; each provision must be examined according to its importance, vitality and appropriateness to the special circumstances of the detainees camp that is the subject of our discussion” (ibid, p.832)

The Court also notes that if Israel would build new prisons in the territories, that could cause other problems in international law, both for prisoners and for Palestinian Arabs.

In the circumstances created thought must be given to the practical implication of erecting new prison facilities in the area in the required scope after withdrawal of IDF forces from the cities in which were facilities in the past, erection in the course of which there may be harm to detainees from the viewpoint of conditions of holding and to the local residents on whose land the facilities will be built. In application of the provisions of the Geneva Convention they must be implemented in adaptation to the reality that was not foreseen by the drafters of the Convention; the geographic proximity of the area to Israel must also be taken into account and the fact that there is nothing in the holding of detainees in Israel to necessarily deprive them of family visits or legal aid. There must, therefore, be separation between the obligation to observe the humanitarian provisions of the Convention and the maintenance of conditions of detention of detainees and between the argumentation as to the location of detention; in consideration that the question of location of the detention was arranged years ago in enactments of the Knesset, and its legality was approved in verdict of this Court, and in consideration that the conditions of Israel’s holding of the area and the reality prevailing between Israel and the area, the holding in prison facilities in Israel does not strike at the essential provisions of international law.

A previous court ruling is what caused the Palestinian prisoners to go to prisons that are maintained by Israel’s Prisons Authority rather than the army, because prisoner rights are maintained better by the IPA. In fact, the one prison in the territories, Ofer, is now run by the IPA because of the Supreme Court. The human rights of prisoners are a prime consideration in its rulings, unlike how HRW tries to characterize the Israeli justice system.

There are two sides to every story and HRW chooses the anti-Israel side, without discussing the context. This Yesh Din ruling shows that Israel indeed respects Geneva, and goes beyond Geneva to maintain its spirit when its actual words would be more detrimental to prisoners.

In politics of grievance, peace is just a dirty word

by Nick Cater                                The Australian


With hindsight the organisers of the soccer peace tournament between Jewish and Arabic children should have heeded George Orwell’s warning: football is merely war without the shooting.

The kids at least behaved. “I love it when we play together like this,” Qusai, an 11-year-old Palestinian, told journalists. “I hope that one day there will be peace between Arabs and Jews and that there will be no more wars and death.”

Qusai’s dream of a normal life is not shared by local sports administrators, who shudder at the very thought of normality.

Palestinian Olympic Committee chairman Jibril Rajoub demanded “that all individuals and institutions distance themselves from such activities”. Their recurrence would arouse “disgust and aversion” since “any activity of normalisation in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity”.

The anti-normalisation movement is the latest pernicious force in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians, no matter how peaceful or helpful, is denounced as a sellout.

The strides towards Palestinian independence that began with the 1993 Oslo Accord have stopped. Today the Palestinian elite and their friends on the international Left forbid even baby steps.

Israeli peace activists attending a grassroots peace conference in Ramallah, on the West Bank, two years ago were confronted by a large poster reading “Normalisation is an act of treason”. They had to be escorted to Israel in police vans when their hotel was stoned. Last year, Arab women taking part in the annual Jerusalem Hug rally were attacked outside the Damascus Gate by Arab youths who ordered them to leave the “normalisation event”.

The international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement instructs academics to shun their Israeli counterparts, presses for boycotts of businesses with tenuous Israeli connections and tries to embarrass rock stars such as Carlos Santana into cancelling Israeli concerts. All in opposition to “normalisation … the colonisation of the mind, whereby the oppressed subject comes to believe that the oppressor’s reality is the only ‘normal’ ”.

“It is vital to counter normalisation activities,” BDS founder Omar Barghouti says. “They constitute a key weapon that Israel has used against the Palestinian struggle for rights in general.”

The disputed Palestinian territories should serve as an object lesson to Western victim-mongers; the politics of grievance achieves little apart from increasing stocks of righteous indignation. The suffering of those they pretend to protect is prolonged; oppression, real or imagined, becomes a lifetime sentence handed down at birth.

Four million Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza are condemned to a grotesque Groundhog Day. If Israel tries to help them, for example by supplying water, electricity or medical assistance, the move is condemned as a Zionist plot. To the anti-normalisation movement any improvement in the lives of the “oppressed subjects” is anathema. Why? Because it would destroy the argument that everything bad is the fault of the “occupation”. The huge gap in income — gross domestic product per capita is $36,000 in Israel compared with $1600 in the Palestinian territories — is evidence of what they call apartheid and they want to keep it that way.

Palestinians receive the highest per capita development assistance in the world but there is little to show for it. One would think, therefore, that Palestinian sympathisers would welcome an ambitious, privately funded project to build Rawabi, a hi-tech city on the West Bank. There is room for scepticism about the commercial viability of the project, which includes the Middle East’s largest amphitheatre, a 3-D cinema complex and a bungee jump, but that is surely the concern of Bashar Masri, the charismatic Palestinian entrepreneur behind the project and his Qatari backers. The 8000 well-paid construction jobs, a third for women, and the benefits that flow from investing $1.3 billion into the West Bank economy are real enough.

Yet Rawabi has been denounced by the Palestinian BDS National Committee. Masri was rebuked for “a shameless act of normalisation of the worst type that trivialises the sacrifice of those Palestinians that on a daily basis struggle to defend their rights and dignity”.

Masri stands accused of “open relations of cordiality” with “numerous Israeli businessmen”. A separate project allowing Palestinian farmers to learn Israeli desert farming techniques also was censured. “These initiatives could be seen as teaching Palestinians to adapt to Israeli occupation instead of challenging these illegal measures,” the committee says.

Palestine’s acceptance into the Olympic Movement 20 years ago offered a chance to break this deadlock. The Olympic Charter seeks “to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace”. There is no chance for peace, however, so long as obdurate haters such as Rajoub are in charge of the Palestine Olympic Committee. Less than a year ago Rajoub congratulated the organisers of a table tennis tournament for naming it after terrorist Muhannad Halabi, who murdered a rabbi and a father in Jerusalem last October and stabbed the man’s wife and their two-year-old son before being shot by police.

In January, Rajoub told Palestinian television such terrorists were martyrs and heroes. “We bless you and strengthen your families, and say to you: You are a crown on our heads.”

Australian fellow travellers cannot plead ignorance of the motives of appalling men such as Rajoub, a member of the Fatah Central Committee. True, Palestinian leaders seldom make such statements in English. Yet the glorification of terrorists and the anti-Semitism that feature daily in official Palestinian media is readily available in English, online, thanks to the diligence of Palestinian Media Watch.

Last week the IOC rejected a call for Rajoub to be removed from all Olympic activities. IOC ethics and compliance officer Paquerette Girard Zappelli said the POC was working to “improve relations between the two countries through sport”. Is that the same committee that wants Israel expelled from FIFA and threatens to strip any Palestinian who takes part in a peace match of their Palestinian Football Federation accreditation?

“This state (Israel) is a state of bullies,” Rajoub fumed in Arabic on Palestinian television.

“Fascists can learn a lesson from this state. We’ll suspend their membership and this way we’ll screw them … I won’t allow and won’t agree to any joint game between Arabs and Israel.”

Nick Cater is executive director of the Menzies Research Centre. He visited Israel and the Palestinian territories as a guest of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

The curious State Department announcement on Israeli settlements

by  Alan Baker     The Jerusalem Post


On reading the recent statement issued by the US State Department on Israeli settlements, an average reader, having landed from space, could only conclude that Israel’s settlement activity is the source of all evil in the world, and the US is waging a massive war of “Gog and Magog” against this evil. No international terrorism, no Islamic State, no Iranian nuclear threat, no Syria, no Hezbollah, no Hamas, no hunger, no global warming. Only Israeli settlements.

Even without coming from space, the average reader could only conclude that the State Department has really nothing much to do, and that someone there – whether the secretary himself, or his senior staffers, or the US embassy in Tel Aviv – appears to be utterly and disproportionately fixated on Israel’s settlements, to the exclusion of any other issue that could be bothering the world’s largest (and only) super-power.

One might anticipate such an outpouring of hostility from the Iranian Foreign Ministry or even from the EU Foreign Affairs Department, which has no love for Israel, but coming from the State Department of Israel’s staunchest ally, one can only ask: what has been going on at the State Department? Whether the instruction to issue such a willful, slanted and malicious statement indeed emanated from the secretary of state himself, or from some over-enthused middle-ranking official, or whether it came from the US embassy staff in Tel Aviv, one may only ponder.

But the terminology used and the biting and incisive verve of the statement raise some serious questions as to the basic knowledge, seriousness, professionalism and responsibility of the writer and of whoever approved the issuance of the statement.

The State Department’s position regarding settlements has evolved over the years. While previous administrations described them as an “obstacle to peace,” the Obama and Kerry administration have degraded them to being “illegitimate.” The recent inclusion by the State Department of areas within Israel’s capital city Jerusalem as illegal settlements is a novel addition.

But to describe settlements – both in the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem, as “corrosive to the cause of peace,” as “systematically undermining the prospects for a two-state solution,” as “entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict” and as “provocative and counterproductive” – is nothing more than a sad, political exaggeration, out of all proportion to the issue’s actual size or significance.

This is not to mention, of course, that this fixation seems to be way outside the nature of the relationship between the US and Israel.

This massive frontal attack, as if nothing but settlements were preventing peace in the Middle East, belies reality, misrepresents the situation and misleads whoever is intended to be the target of this curious statement.

One might have imagined that the US administration is, or should be, fully aware of the fact that issues of settlements and Jerusalem are central, agreed-upon issues on the permanent- status negotiating table, pursuant to the Oslo Accords. These accords were even witnessed, counter-signed and guaranteed by US president Bill Clinton, together with the leaders of Russia, the EU, Jordan, Egypt and Norway, and were endorsed by the UN.

As such Israel is fully committed to negotiating them with the Palestinian leadership, if and when that leadership manages to put its act together and turn up to negotiate.

The State Department should also be aware of the fact that nothing in the Oslo Accords prevents planning, zoning and construction activity by either side in the West Bank areas under their respective control.

Furthermore, in voicing its one-sided allegations, the State Department seems to be willfully and systematically ignoring the well-established and documented legal, historic and political rights of the Jewish people regarding the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria, as stressed consistently over many years by Israel.

The State Department should be aware of the fact that its repeated questioning of the legality of Israel’s settlement activity and Israel’s claims regarding Jerusalem in fact prejudge these central negotiating issues and play into the Palestinian and European denials of Israel’s rights. As such, the State Department statements are the very antithesis of any peace negotiation process, and run counter to the professed support by the US of a negotiated, peaceful solution.

In repeatedly and obstinately threatening Israel with a “one-state reality” the State Department is itself giving credence to a concept that has no basis whatsoever, is totally unrealistic and runs counter to all the valid negotiated agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians.

But above all, in fixating on settlements, the State Department is deliberately turning a blind eye to the mortal danger of Islamic terrorism and the hatred of Jews that permeates Palestinian society. In so doing, the department is in fact giving a green light to the Palestinian leadership, media and administrative bodies that openly incite, encourage and support terrorism, violence and boycotts against Israel.

By the same token, the State Department is giving sanction to the EU and its constituent member states, as well as to the UN and its specialized agencies to exacerbate their hostile policies against Israel. By their logic, if the US State Department takes such a slanted and hostile position, they can now exacerbate their own hostility toward Israel.

Something appears to be very, very wrong within the State Department.

A Guide to the Palestinian Lexicon

by Khaled Abu Toameh               The Gatestone Institute


Many Palestinians refer to cities inside Israel proper as “occupied.” Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, Ramle and Lod, for example, are often described in the Palestinian media as “Palestinian Cities” or “Occupied Cities.” Jews living in these cities, as well as other parts of Israel, are sometimes referred to as “Settlers.”

Many Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist. For them, this not only about the “occupation” of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The real “occupation”, for them, began with the creation of Israel in 1948.

Non-Arabic speakers may find this assertion baseless, because what they hear and read from Palestinian representatives in English does not reflect the messages being relayed to Palestinians in Arabic.

It is no secret that Palestinian leaders have failed to prepare their people for peace with Israel, and deny its right to exist.

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” — George Orwell, 1984.

What do you do if you do not like Israel, but have only one outlet for that dislike: expressing it in rhetoric and print?

Well, if you are a Palestinian, you can always come up with your own terminology — one that sheds negative light on Israel and anything that is associated with it. This is precisely the tack Palestinians have taken over the past few decades, inventing their own terms and phrases when talking about Israel.

George Orwell, of course, saw through this behavior. For him, “language can also corrupt thought.” The anti-Israel sentiments, delivered for decades by Palestinians, not only corrupt thought, but also incite people against Israel, by creating incendiary situations that are designed to burst into flames.

To be clear: this is not the familiar incitement in the Palestinian media that is discussed in international forums.

This is a different color. This incitement demonizes Israel and Jews. In this narrative, Israel is evil, as well as alien to the Middle East.

Orwell, in his wise remarks on language, did not mention the deceit of multiple tongues. But that deceit is deeply embedded in the Palestinian discourse on Israel.

Political affiliations somewhat determine which terminology is employed by Palestinians with reference to Israel. Yet across affiliations, Palestinians employ extremely negative terms to discuss Israel.

Until the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the “moderate” Fatah faction, currently headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, referred to Israel, as its Palestinian brothers do today, as the “Zionist entity.” That was before the PLO officially recognized Israel under the terms of the Oslo Accords. Back then, it was considered disgraceful and unacceptable to call Israel by its name, lest that be interpreted, God forbid, as recognition of Israel.

More than two decades later, Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Palestinian Authority (PA) still find it difficult to mention the name Israel.

Since its creation in 1994, the Palestinian Authority’s official policy (in Arabic) has been to refer to Israel as “the Other Side.” These were the instructions handed down to PA civil servants and security personnel, and they remain in effect today.

In those days, when the PA security forces were still conducting “joint patrols” with Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers in many parts of the West Bank, Palestinian policemen were banned from using the name Israel or IDF, especially when they were communicating with their colleagues and commanders through walkie-talkies. The names Israel and IDF were replaced with “the Other Side.”

A senior Palestinian security official who was asked about this back then admitted that the orders came directly from the office of Yasser Arafat. “Yes, we signed an agreement that recognizes Israel, but most of our officers and policemen still have a real problem mentioning the name Israel,” the officer said.

The instructions remain in effect even as the Palestinian Authority continues to conduct “security coordination” with Israel. Palestinian security and civilian officials who maintain daily contact with their Israeli counterparts regularly refrain from uttering the names Israel or IDF. In a sliver of good news, they no longer refer to Israel as the “Zionist Entity.”

Yet the Palestinian media and representatives of the PA, in their statements (in Arabic), continue to use terminology that is degrading and even abusive when it comes to dealing with Israel.

Israel, for example, is often referred to as the “State of Occupation” and the Israeli Government is described as the “Government of Occupation.”

Many Palestinians remain opposed to the use of the name Israel because they simply do not recognize its right to exist.

Palestinian writer Muhsen Saleh criticized some Arabs and Palestinians for sometimes using the name Israel in their speeches and writings:

“For many years, the Arabs and regimes and their media outlets refused to use the name ‘Israel’ when referring to the usurper entity that was established on large parts of the land of 1948 Palestine. They used to refer to it as the enemy, the Zionist entity or the Occupation, or at least they used to put the name Israel in quotes as a sign that they do not recognize it. Today, however, the name ‘Israel’ is being used without quotes and without embarrassment.”

The prime minister of Israel, regardless of his identity or political affiliation, is often called the “Prime Minister of Occupation.” Some prefer to use the term “Prime Minister of Tel Aviv.”

The Israeli Defense Minister, again regardless of his identity or political affiliation, is often referred to as the “Minister of War.” The implication: Israel is at constant war with the Palestinians and Arabs. Needless to say, the IDF is always referred to as the “Occupation Forces,” whose only mission is to kill Palestinians, destroy their homes and turn their lives into misery.

Another sign of the difficulty many Palestinians find in using the name Israel can be found in their talk about the Arab citizens of Israel.

Palestinian officials and media outlets regularly refer to these citizens as “the Arabs of the Inside” — implying that the “inside” is actually an internal part of “Palestine.” Others refer to these citizens as “the Arabs of 1948” or the “Palestinians Inside the Green Line” or “the Arabs living inside the 1948 Occupied Territories.”

And we still have not talked about the fact that many Palestinians refer to cities inside Israel proper as “occupied” cities and towns. Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, Ramle and Lod, for example, are often described in the Palestinian media as “Palestinian Cities” or “Occupied Cities.” Jews living in these cities, as well as other parts of Israel, are sometimes referred to as “Settlers.”

Jews visiting the Temple Mount, or Haram Al-Sharif, in Jerusalem are regularly described by Palestinian media outlets and officials as “Herds of Settlers” and “Settler Terrorist Gangs.”

These are only a handful of examples of the language of the Palestinian narrative. Such language exposes the truth: that many Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist. For them, this not only about the “occupation” of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The real “occupation,” for them, began with the creation of Israel in 1948.

It is no secret that Palestinian leaders have failed to prepare their people for peace with Israel. Even worse, the terminology adopted by these leaders and a growing number of Palestinians is a clear sign that these leaders, through their rhetoric and media outlets, continue to promote a policy that not only delegitimizes Israel and depicts it as an evil state, but also denies its right to exist. Non-Arabic speakers may find this assertion baseless, because what they hear and read from Palestinian representatives in English does not reflect the messages being relayed to Palestinians in Arabic.

The international English-speaking audience would do well to get some accurate translations of what is being said about Israel in Arabic. It is the only way out of Palestinian Newspeak, although it might make Orwell roll over in his grave.

Abbas and the Strategy of Falsehood – Zalman Shoval (Israel Hayom)

The announcement by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians intend to sue Britain for the 1917 Balfour Declaration might cause some chuckles, but there is a method to the madness. Since neither history nor the law is on the Palestinians’ side in their struggle against Israel, their preferred method is to fabricate history in an attempt to undermine the legality of international agreements that contradict their objectives.

The Balfour Declaration is dangerous for them, not just because it spoke of a national home for the Jews in the Land of Israel, but because it relates to the Arab population in the land in the context of its religious and civil rights, without any mention of national rights. It was clear to the British statesmen that Arabs in that part of the Ottoman Empire called Palestine did not have the history of a nation.

The Balfour Declaration corrected a historical debt toward the Jewish nation, as stated by Winston Churchill in 1949 when he said, “The coming into being of a Jewish state in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of 1000, 2000, or even 3000 years.”

The State of Israel would have been established with or without the Balfour Declaration. As David Ben-Gurion, then-chairman of the Jewish Agency, testified before a royal British committee in 1937, “Our right to Eretz Israel does not derive from the [British] mandate and the Balfour Declaration. It predates those….The Bible, which was written by us, in our own Hebrew language and in this very country, is our mandate.”

The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

IDF’s First Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier

(Communicated by the Ministry of Defense)

Video https://youtu.be/KdwIYG0UkjA

The Merkava Tank Administration at Israel’s Ministry of Defense completed the development of its first wheeled APC. The Eitan will be the world’s most advanced and protected wheeled combat vehicle.

Over the past few days, the Merkava Tank Administration at Israel’s Ministry of Defense, in collaboration with the IDF Ground Forces, has begun conducting initial trials of the Eitan, the IDF’s first wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC). The Eitan is an advanced, multi-purpose APC equipped with a multitude of abilities and is prepared for combat mobility in varied and difficult terrain.

Brig. Gen. Baruch Matzliah, Head of the Merkava Tank Administration: “The decision to develop the Eitan was made in light of lessons learned during Operation Protective Edge, and the increased need to replace thousands of the IDF’s veteran M113 APCs with modern tools with maximum protection, tailored to the existing threats in the arena. Alongside the decision to accelerate the production of the Namer APC, it was decided to develop an additional tool, to compliment it, which would enable fast, strategic mobility and maximum protection for ground forces. The series of exercises which we recently began, is allowing the IDF to test the tool in a variety of sites ahead of decisions regarding the volume of the purchase.”

The Eitan was designed as a multi-purpose tool with varied abilities, whose low development and production costs would be roughly half that of the Namer APC, and/or any other wheeled APC in the world. This low cost allows for the Eitan to be equipped with more tools, at a higher rate, in parallel to equipping the Namer.

The Eitan will be the world’s most advanced and protected wheeled combat vehicle. It will be equipped with an active defense system, similar to the Namer APC and Merkava Mark 4 tank, and with additional protection systems. The most significant advantage of the Eitan is its excellent mobility capabilities across varied terrains and at speeds of 90 kilometers per hour. The Eitan was designed for a multitude of tasks, from mobility for twelve soldiers (like the Namer) to advanced firepower.

Technical Statistics: Weight: 30-35 Tons Engine Power: 750 Horsepower Propulsion: 8 Wheels, 8X8 Drive Maximum Road Speed: over 90 Kilometers per Hour Capacity: 12 Soldiers- Driver, commander, gunner and an additional nine soldiers Combat Systems: From small arms positions to medium range with 30-40 mm cannons, and active defense system

IDF nabs 10 Palestinians suspected of aiding terrorist who murdered Rabbi Mark

IDF units raided the West Bank town of Dura before dawn Monday, arresting 10 people suspected of helping 29-year-old Muhammad Fakia, who killed of Rabbi Michael Mark in a terrorist drive-by shooting on July 1.

Among those arrested were weapons dealers suspected of assisting Fakia and relatives of the gunman.

In the July attack, Fakia, who was shot dead in a heavy exchange of fire with security forces in Tzurif, near Hebron, last week, fired from a moving vehicle on Mark’s car on Route 60, killing him and wounding his wife and two of his children.

Separately, the IDF, Border Police and Shin Bet intelligence agency have shut down three weapons workshops in Kalkilya. Elsewhere across the West Bank, the IDF and Shin Bet arrested 27 wanted security suspects.

The Shin Bet also announced that it had arrested Palestinian Authority security forces member Ahayub Knaza in Nablus, on suspicion of acting as a senior weapons manufacturer and dealer in the city.

Earlier, Sunday night, security guards from the Defense Ministry’s Crossings Authority intercepted an attempt to smuggle six pipe bombs into Israel from the West Bank.

Guards checked a vehicle with Israeli license plates that arrived at the Trans-Samaria checkpoint on Route 5 driven by an Israeli Arab, which was found to contain the explosive materials. A police bomb squad arrived at the checkpoint to investigate further, closing the highway in both directions.

The suspect, who was taken into custody, told security forces he was on his way back from the West Bank.                    (Jerusalem Post)