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Pedro Gonçalves

Israeli elections set to amplify religious voice in Knesset | World news | guardian.co.uk - 0 views

  • "There will be an over-representation of the religious and ultra-orthodox – around one in three members of the Knesset, according to the latest polls," said Ofer Kenig, of the Israel Democracy Institute. About one in five members of the last Knesset were religious or ultra-orthodox, he said.

    "This is a very significant change. The explanation is not necessarily the demographic growth of this sector but the success of religious parties in attracting support from secular and traditional voters."

  • He said there would be "a very high representation of Jewish settlers", up to 20 of the 120 members of the Knesset. Less than 5% of Israel's population lives in West Bank settlements.
  • the new political elite was a coalition of West Bank settlers, ultra-orthodox, national-religious and rightwing city dwellers.
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  • Another Jewish Home candidate, Jeremy Gimpel, was the subject of a furore when a video revealed that he suggested in 2011 that the Dome of the Rock, the revered mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, could be "blown up" to allow the building of a third Jewish temple on the site, which is also sacred to Judaism.

    "Imagine today if the golden dome, I'm being recorded so I can't say blown up, but let's say it was blown up, right, and we laid the cornerstone of the temple in Jerusalem … it would be incredible," he said. Following calls to disqualify him as a candidate, Gimpel said the remarks had been "a joke".

Pedro Gonçalves

UN security council's EU members to condemn Israeli settlements expansion | World news ... - 0 views

  • blunt criticism from the US of Israel's announcement on Monday of plans to build an extra 1,500 homes in the settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

    US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: "We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action. These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel's leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk."

  • William Hague, the British foreign secretary, urged Israel to revoke the decision, saying that if it was implemented, "it would make a negotiated two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, very difficult to achieve". All Israeli settlements were "illegal under international law", he added.
  • French officials also sharply condemned the move, describing it as illegal colonisation.
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  • On Tuesday, the general assembly passed a non-binding resolution condemning settlement activity by 196 votes to six.
  • The approval of the next stage in the construction of hundreds of apartments in Ramat Shlomo, across the pre-1967 Green Line, follows Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's authorisation last month for the development of a controversial expanse of land near Jerusalem, known as E1.
  • The Ramat Shlomo plan caused a major diplomatic row between Israel and the US when it was first announced during a visit to Jerusalem by US vice-president Joe Biden in the spring of 2010.
  • Construction on E1 has been opposed by the US for many years as it would effectively close off East Jerusalem – intended to be the future capital of Palestine – from the West Bank, and further divide the West Bank into northern and southern spheres.
  • some Israeli analysts believe it is also being driven by next month's general election in Israel, in a bid to consolidate the rightwing vote for the ruling Likud party in coalition with hardliner Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu.

    "This is our campaign," a Likud source told the Israeli daily Ma'ariv. "Until now, it has worked excellently. The timing is deliberate."

Pedro Gonçalves

Israel threatens to overthrow Abbas over Palestinian statehood bid | World news | guard... - 0 views

  • Israel should topple the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, if he presses ahead with a request for recognition of the state of Palestine by the United Nations general assembly in two weeks' time, the hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has urged.

    In a draft paper distributed to the media, Lieberman argued that overthrowing the Palestinian leadership was Israel's only viable option, faced with the certainty of an overwhelming vote in support of the Palestinian bid.

    "A reality in which the United Nations recognises a Palestinian state according to a unilateral process will destroy all Israeli deterrence and completely harm its credibility," the paper said.

  • Lieberman's extreme stance comes as the Israeli cabinet is considering a range of punitive measures it could take in response to the vote, expected on 29 November. These include the full or partial annulment of the 1993 Oslo Accords, financial penalties and an acceleration of settlement expansion.

    The minister of strategic affairs, Moshe Yaalon, warned the Palestinians would pay a "heavy price" if they submitted a resolution seeking "non-member state" status at the UN general assembly. It would be a "flagrant breach" of the Oslo Accords, which provided for a limited measure of self rule for the Palestinians, he told army radio.

    Another government minister, Gilad Erdan, called for the immediate annexation of all Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

  • The Israeli foreign ministry sent a diplomatic cable on Sunday to all Israeli representatives across the globe warning that the Palestinian resolution was a "clear violation of the fundamental principle of negotiations".

    It continued: "The adoption of the resolution will give Israel the right to re-evaluate previous agreements with the [Palestine Liberation Organisation] and consider cancelling them partially or completely, and would make progress in the peace process more difficult in the future."

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  • According to a government source, the Israeli cabinet has discussed a number of possible measures, but has taken no concrete decisions. Among a "toolbox" of actions under consideration are:

    • full or partial annulment of the Oslo Accords, under which the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established

    • withholding tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the PA

    • cancellation of permits for thousands of Palestinian labourers to work in Israel

    • withdrawal of travel privileges for senior PA officials

    • acceleration of building programmes in West Bank settlements

    • unilateral annexation of the main Jewish settlement blocks.

  • Lieberman's draft paper proposed Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state on provisional borders encompassing around 40% of the West Bank in exchange for the Palestinian leadership dropping its approach to the United Nations.
  • The UnS is also expected to impose punitive measures in response to a vote in favour of Palestinian statehood at the general assembly. The US Congress froze $200m (£126m) of aid to the Palestinians in response to their bid for full membership of the UN last September. Despite the decision later being overturned, the money has still not been released.
Pedro Gonçalves

Mahmoud Abbas outrages Palestinian refugees by waiving his right to return | World news... - 0 views

  • The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is facing widespread condemnation and anger in the Palestinian territories and abroad after he publicly waived his right to return to live in the town from which his family was forced to flee in 1948, a repudiation of huge significance for Palestinian refugees
  • After his image was burned in refugee camps in Gaza, Abbas rejected accusations that he had conceded one of the most emotional and visceral issues on the Palestinian agenda, the demand by millions of refugees to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.

    He insisted that comments made in an interview with an Israeli television channel were selectively quoted and the remarks were his personal stance, rather than a change of policy.

    Abbas told Channel 2 he accepted he had no right to live in Safed, the town of his birth, from which his family was forced to flee in 1948 when Abbas was 13.

    "I visited Safed before once, he said. "But I want to see Safed. It's my right to see it, but not to live there."

  • The "right of return" is one of the most intractable issues in talks between the Israelis and Palestinians for a resolution to their decades-old conflict. The Palestinians have historically demanded that all those who fled or were expelled from their homes in the period around the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, and their descendants, must be allowed to return to their former homes.
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  • Referring to the internationally-recognised pre-1967 border, he went on: "Palestine now for me is '67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever ... This is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts are Israel."
  • About 5 million Palestinians are registered as refugees in the Palestinian territories and abroad.

    Israel rejects their demand, saying that such a move would spell the end of the Jewish state.

  • Most international diplomats and observers believe that a settlement to the conflict is likely to involve a symbolic number of Palestinian refugees being given the right to return.
  • In the interview, Abbas also said that, while he was president, there would be "no third armed intifada [uprising against Israel]. Never."

    He said: "We don't want to use terror. We don't want to use force. We don't want to use weapons. We want to use diplomacy. We want to use politics. We want to use negotiations. We want to use peaceful resistance. That's it." He has said that Palestinian negotiators are willing to resume talks with Israel following the submission of a request, expected later this month, to the UN general assembly for recognition as a "non-member state".

Pedro Gonçalves

Hamas accused of routine torture of detainees in Gaza Strip | World news | guardian.co.uk - 0 views

  • Fourteen Palestinians have been executed since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.
  • The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank also "arrests and detains Palestinians arbitrarily, including Hamas members or sympathisers, and similarly subjects detainees to torture and abuse"
Pedro Gonçalves

Hamas chief meets Egypt president, hails new era | Reuters - 0 views

  • Mursi is under pressure from many in his movement to help ease the Gaza blockade. Palestinians accuse Egypt of being complicit in the blockade by closing its border with Gaza.

    Egypt's army-backed government decided in February to let more fuel into Gaza and increase electricity supplies.

    But Hamas has yet to see any sign of a policy shift since the election of Mursi, who is keen not to upset Egypt's ally, the United States, and weaken his hand in a struggle with the powerful military.

Pedro Gonçalves

Academic claims Israeli school textbooks contain bias | World news | The Observer - 0 views

  • The Arab with a camel, in an Ali Baba dress. They describe them as vile and deviant and criminal, people who don't pay taxes, people who live off the state, people who don't want to develop," she says. "The only representation is as refugees, primitive farmers and terrorists. You never see a Palestinian child or doctor or teacher or engineer or modern farmer."
  • Peled-Elhanan, a professor of language and education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has studied the content of Israeli school books for the past five years, and her account, Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education, is to be published in the UK this month. She describes what she found as racism– but, more than that, a racism that prepares young Israelis for their compulsory military service.
  • "One question that bothers many people is how do you explain the cruel behaviour of Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians, an indifference to human suffering, the inflicting of suffering. People ask how can these nice Jewish boys and girls become monsters once they put on a uniform. I think the major reason for that is education. So I wanted to see how school books represent Palestinians."
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  • The killing of Palestinians is depicted as something that was necessary for the survival of the nascent Jewish state, she claims. "It's not that the massacres are denied, they are represented in Israeli school books as something that in the long run was good for the Jewish state. For example, Deir Yassin [a pre-1948 Palestinian village close to Jerusalem] was a terrible slaughter by Israeli soldiers. In school books they tell you that this massacre initiated the massive flight of Arabs from Israel and enabled the establishment of a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. So it was for the best. Maybe it was unfortunate, but in the long run the consequences for us were good."
  • Children, she says, grow up to serve in the army and internalise the message that Palestinians are "people whose life is dispensable with impunity. And not only that, but people whose number has to be diminished."
  • The family produced a poster, calling for a peaceful settlement to the conflict, featuring Peled-Elhanan's only daughter, Smadar. It's message was that all children deserve a better future.

    Then, in 1997, Smadar was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber while shopping in Jerusalem. She was 13. Peled-Elhanan declines to talk about her daughter's death apart from once or twice referring to "the tragedy".

    At the time, she said that it would strengthen her belief that, without a settlement to the conflict and peaceful coexistence with Palestinians, more children would die. "Terrorist attacks like this are the direct consequence of the oppression, slavery, humiliation and state of siege imposed on the Palestinians," she told TV reporters in the aftermath of Smadar's death.

  • "University professors stopped inviting me to conferences. And when I do speak, the most common reaction is, 'you are anti-Zionist'." Anybody who challenges the dominant narrative in today's Israel, she says, is similarly accused.

  • Asked if Palestinian school books also reflect a certain dogma, Peled-Elhanan claims that they distinguish between Zionists and Jews. "They make this distinction all the time. They are against Zionists, not against Jews."

    But she concedes that teaching about the Holocaust in Palestinian schools is "a problem, an issue". "Some [Palestinian] teachers refuse to teach the Holocaust as long as Israelis don't teach the Nakba [the Palestinian "catastrophe" of 1948]."

Pedro Gonçalves

Seeking Balance on the Mideast - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • A prominent Israeli politician, Isaac Herzog, has shrewdly suggested that Israel actually offer, with conditions, to vote in favor of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.
  • Yet the American House of Representatives voted 407 to 6 to call on the Obama administration to use its diplomatic capital to try to block the initiative, while also threatening to cut the Palestinians’ funding if they proceeded to seek statehood.
  • Similarly, when Israel stormed into Gaza in 2008 to halt rocket attacks, more than 1,300 Gazans were killed, along with 13 Israelis, according to B’Tselem, a respected Israeli human rights group. As Gazan blood flowed, the House, by a vote of 390 to 5, hailed the invasion as “Israel’s right to defend itself.”
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  • Such Congressional tomfoolery bewilders our friends and fritters away our international capital. It also encourages the intransigence of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reduces the chance of a peace settlement.
  • American Jews have long trended liberal, and President Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Yet major Jewish organizations, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, embrace hawkish positions.

  • That’s because those Jews who vote and donate based on Israel are disproportionately conservative (the same is true of Christians who are most passionate about Israel issues). Ben-Ami argues that “the loudest eight percent” have hijacked Jewish groups to press for policies that represent neither the Jewish mainstream nor the best interests of Israel.

  • Some see this influence of Jewish organizations on foreign policy as unique and sinister, but Congress often surrenders to loudmouths who have particular foreign policy grievances and claim to have large groups behind them. Look at the way extremists in the Cuban-American community have insisted upon sanctions on Cuba that have helped sustain Fidel Castro’s rule.
  • “What happens as Israel continues to become more religious and conservative, more isolated internationally and less democratic domestically?” Ben-Ami writes. “What happens to the relationship between American Jews and Israel as the face of Israel shifts from that of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres to that of the national religious settlers and the ultra-Orthodox rabbis?”
  • When Glenn Beck becomes the best friend of Israel’s government and is invited to speak to the Knesset, what do liberals do? Some withdraw. Others join leftist groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, which supports divestment campaigns against companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
  • (Whenever I write about Israel, I get accused of double standards because I don’t spill as much ink denouncing worse abuses by, say, Syria. I plead guilty. I demand more of Israel partly because my tax dollars supply arms and aid to Israel. I hold democratic allies like Israel to a higher standard — just as I do the U.S.)
Pedro Gonçalves

BBC News - Israel approves 900 East Jerusalem settlement homes - 0 views

  • Har Homa is one of the largest and most controversial Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.

    It is regarded, under international law, as occupied Palestinian land, but Israel says it is part of its territory.

  • The expansion of Har Homa, say campaigners, would effectively cut off the Palestinian town of Bethlehem from other Arab areas in East Jerusalem.

  • Previous announcements about building plans in Har Homa have been criticised by the US, UK and many other foreign governments.
Pedro Gonçalves

IDF Civil Administration pushing for land takeover in West Bank - Haaretz Daily Newspap... - 0 views

  • the scope of land in question thwarts the possibility of exchanging areas in a peace settlement, according to the formula presented by U.S. President Barack Obama on May 19.

    This is because on the western side of the Green Line there is not enough open land to compensate the Palestinians for such an extensive annexation, according to examinations carried out during previous talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

  • the work procedures of the administration's team, dubbed "Blue Line," for demarcating state lands in the West Bank. He writes that the team's major task is to examine the state's declarations of ownership on lands mainly in the 80s and 90s. But the team, which has been working since 1999, is also examining the possibility of declaring lands with undefined ownership as state lands.
  • The document says the team gives priority to territories whose ownership is subject to a court debate or to dispute between settlers and Palestinians and between Palestinians and the state. The team also gives priority to advancing building public institutions, schools, parks and "other matters classified as urgent by the authorized bodies."
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  • The document says the Blue Line team is not required to examine and ascertain land ownership where the ownership has already been determined de facto

    by illegal construction.

  • The document also says the government's decision of 1979, saying that extending West Bank settlements and building new ones would only be carried out on state-owned land, must be adhered to.
  • Despite the document, dozens of settlements and outposts have been built, with the authorities' knowledge and assistance, on private, Palestinian-owned lands. These include Ofra, Beit El and Eli and the outposts Amona, Givat Asaf and Migron, to name just a few.

  • Dror Etkes, a left-wing activist monitoring construction in the settlements, has found that the administration's team included at least 26 outposts in territories it defines as state lands. This means the state has started a process to legitimize these outposts.
  • In an overwhelming majority of cases the team recommended classifying the examined lands as state lands, but in some cases the team accepted Palestinians' appeals, after appelants produced documents proving their ownership of the land.
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