Category: Israel


Israeli authorities did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment on the matter.

In March, Yisrael Katz, an Israeli member of the Knesset, submitted a bill to allow the state to deport family members of Palestinian attackers to Gaza. The bill has not been voted on yet. Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, has previously suggested that such a policy would contravene international law.

At the same time, human rights groups say that forced transfers of Palestinians from Jerusalem have been ongoing for almost 50 years.

“We have three groups of people who are forced out: those who have their ID cards withdrawn, those whose family unification applications were rejected, and those who settled in Jerusalem before 1987, when it was easy to enter the city, but who were never given ID or residency cards,” said Ziyad Hammouri, director of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights.

Hammouri’s organisation has traced more than 14,900 cases where Israeli identity cards were revoked from Palestinians since the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem began.

The current policy of forced transfer amounts to a “demographic war” against Palestinians in Jerusalem, Hammouri added, referring to the Zionist policy of maintaining a Jewish population majority within Israel since 1947.

For the family of Khaled Abu Arafeh, adjusting to their new life in the occupied West Bank has been a long and painful process.

In 2006, after being appointed minister of Jerusalem affairs in the new Palestinian government, he was told by Israeli authorities to quit his new role or give up his Jerusalem residency.

Abu Arafeh refused and four years later, having spent part of that time in prison and challenging the decision in the Israeli court system, Abu Arafeh was deported to the West Bank. In court, the Israeli prosecutor argued that Abu Arafeh and the lawmakers’ alleged association with the Hamas movement meant that they were not loyal to the state of Israel. He now lives with his family in a suburb of al-Bireh, close to Ramallah.

Source: Israel escalates forced transfer of Palestinians – AJE News

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has renewed rejection of a French peace initiative, telling the visiting French prime minister that peace cannot be forged through international conferences but only through direct negotiations.

“Peace just does not get achieved through international conferences, UN-style,” Netanyahu said on Monday at a press conference with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

“It doesn’t get to fruition through international diktats or committees … seeking to decide our fate and our security when they have no direct stake in it.”

Paris plans to hold ministerial-level talks on June 3 as a first step in reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which came to a halt in April 2014.

The talks would initially exclude Israel and Palestinian authorities but would bring together representatives of the US, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, as well as representatives from Arab and European nations.


READ MORE: Netanyahu slams France after UN vote on Al-Aqsa mosque


The French hope that beginning with non-direct talks could lay the groundwork for an agreement later between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Palestinians have welcomed the French effort, but Israel has rejected it out of concern the country will be faced with foreign dictates.

Instead, the Israeli leader proposed sitting down for direct talks in Paris with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“I will sit alone directly with President Abbas in the Elysee Palace, or anywhere else that you choose,” Netanyahu said.

Speaking to broadcaster i24news, Valls said direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians had failed.

“The role of world powers is to ensure a regulated dialogue,” Valls said in Tel Aviv.

The French premier is expected to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, France’s former foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France would recognise a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem if the conference and efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks fail.

Source: Netanyahu renews rejection of French peace initiative – AJE News

Israel’s defense minister announced his resignation on Friday, saying the governing party had been taken over by “extremist and dangerous elements” and that he no longer trusted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following reports that he was to be replaced.

Moshe Yaalon’s departure removes a strong voice of moderation in the Cabinet and deepens the rift between the security establishment and the hardline politicians.

Yaalon told reporters that “Israel is a healthy society” with a “sane majority” that is tolerant of minorities and strives for a liberal and democratic society.

“But to my great dismay extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel, also over the Likud party, and are shaking the house and threatening to hurt its inhabitants,” he said. “I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society that threatens its sturdiness and is seeping into the army and already damaging it.”

Yaalon said earlier he told Netanyahu that “following his conduct in recent developments and in light of the lack of trust in him, I am resigning from the government.” He added in a Facebook post, that he was also resigning from Israel’s parliament and was “taking a time out from political life.”

Yaalon and Netanyahu have repeatedly butted heads over the role of the military in public discourse. Netanyahu was enraged earlier this month when a senior officer made public comments viewed as critical of the government, while Yaalon backed the general’s right to freely express his views.

Yaalon said he always put Israel’s security and other interests above his own, but “unfortunately I found myself lately in tough disputes over moral and professional issues with the prime minister and several ministers and members of parliament.”

Tensions between Yaalon and Netanyahu escalated in March, when military leaders criticized a soldier who was caught on video fatally shooting an already-wounded Palestinian attacker. The solider is now on trial for manslaughter. While Yaalon has backed the military, hard-liners have backed the soldier.

Reports over the past few days indicate that Netanyahu intends to appoint former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman to the post of defense minister. Lieberman, 57, is one of the country’s most polarizing politicians. Over three decades, he has at times been Netanyahu’s closest ally and at other times a fierce rival.

Netanyahu said he regretted Yaalon’s decision and that he would have preferred him to stay on as foreign minister. The prime minister also said the political shakeup was not because of differences with Yaalon but out of the need to widen the coalition to “bring stability to Israel against the big challenges it faces.”

He said the military “will continue to preserve the highest moral standards” and added that the army must remain outside of politics. “In a democracy the military echelon is subordinate to the political echelon and not the reverse,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu this week invited Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beteinu party to shore up his shaky parliamentary coalition and negotiation teams have been meeting to hammer out the details of their alliance.

Yaalon’s resignation solidifies the takeover of hard-liners in the party.

Cabinet Minister Gila Gamliel said that Yaalon’s leaving was a “tremendous loss” for the ruling Likud. She told Israel Radio she believes it was a “mistake” not to offer Yaalon another position and keep him in the coalition.

Many Israelis have questioned the wisdom of appointing Lieberman to the sensitive post of defense minister over Yaalon, a former army chief of staff who is generally respected for his knowledge of military affairs. Lieberman has no such military experience, though he has held a number of Cabinet posts in the past, including stints as foreign minister.

His hard-line stance has made him an influential voice at home but has at times alienated Israel’s allies overseas. He has questioned the loyalty of Israel’s Arab minority and confronted Israel’s foreign critics. He has expressed skepticism over pursuing peace with the Palestinians, and is now pushing a proposal to impose the death penalty against Arabs convicted of acts of terrorism.

With Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts stalled, Lieberman’s addition to the government could push the prospect of reviving talks even further away.

Yaalon’s departure also paves the way for Yehuda Glick — an Israeli-American activist who campaigns to allow Jewish prayer at Jerusalem’s holiest site, sacred to both Jews and Muslims — to enter the government. Any perceived change to the status quo that bans Jews from praying at the site has sparked Palestinian violence in the past.

The hilltop compound in Jerusalem’s Old City is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical Temples. It is the holiest site in Judaism. Known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, it houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gold-topped Dome of the Rock. It is the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Tensions over the site erupted in September and months of bloodshed followed with dozens of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and security personnel. Since then, Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, shootings and vehicular assaults, have killed 28 Israelis and two Americans. About 200 Palestinians have been killed during that time, most of whom Israel says were attackers.

Glick survived an attempt on his life in 2014 when shot several times by a Palestinian.

Source: Israel Defense Minister Quits, Warns of “Extremist” Takeover – ABC News

Local councils are facing legal action at the High Court today over their decisions to impose boycotts on Israeli goods produced in “illegal” Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) is seeking judicial review against three authorities – Leicester City Council, Swansea City Council and Gwynedd Council.

The campaign group is expected to ask Lord Justice Simon and Mr Justice Flaux, sitting in London, to rule the “anti-Semitic” boycotts unlawful because they breach the Local Government Act 1988 and the Equality Act 2010.

The organisaton has likened the “divisive” town hall action to the boycott of Jewish shops in 1930s Nazi Germany.

But the charity War on Want has condemned the JHRW legal challenge as “shameful”.

Senior campaigner Ryvka Barnard said: “It’s shameful that local councils are being attacked for ensuring their policies are in line with international and UK law.

“The illegal settlements are a part of the systematic abuses of international law and human rights committed by Israel against the Palestinians.”

The Government is issuing new guidance to public authorities warning such bans are “inappropriate” unless formal legal sanctions or embargoes have been put in place by the Government itself.

The Cabinet Office says boycotts could “undermine good community relations, poison and polarise debate, weaken integration and fuel anti-Semitism”.

At the same time they could hinder the UK’s export trade and harm international relationships, say ministers.

But Ms Barnard said: “The UK Government has reiterated over and over again that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal, and has issued advice to businesses on the risks of investing in or trading with illegal settlements.”

The Labour-led Leicester council approved its motion in favour of a boycott in 2014.

The council has stated: “The motion has never been a boycott of Israel by Leicester and is not an attack on the Jewish people. It relates specifically to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”

A Swansea council spokesman said: “The council has never boycotted Israeli goods and has no intention of doing so. For legal reasons, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Gwynedd Council made clear that its own boycott was aimed at condemning the “attacks by the Israeli state on the territory of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip”.

 

Source: Israel boycott ban: Local councils face legal action at High Court over boycott on Israeli goods made in West Bank | Home News | News | The Independent

The story that appeared in Israel Hayom, a free, pro-Netanyahu newspaper on Feb. 16 surprised even the German chancellor. “Merkel: This Isn’t the Time for Two States,” was the headline. That was the chancellor’s message to Netanyahu, the paper claimed, during the German-Israeli government consultations that had just taken place in Berlin.

Merkel’s advisors were furious. The Israeli premier had apparently twisted her words to such a degree that it seemed as though she were supporting his policies. In fact, though, Merkel had repeatedly made it clear to Netanyahu that she believes the effects of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories are disastrous. The settlement policy, she believes, makes it unlikely that a viable Palestinian state can be established in accordance with plans aimed at a two-state solution. Any other approach, Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are convinced, would ultimately transform Israel into an apartheid regime. Netanyahu, however, has not shown himself to be the least bit impressed by such arguments.

The Israeli prime minister has always been able to depend on Berlin ultimately standing together with Israel and not joining the country’s most vocal critics. But many, particularly in the Berlin Foreign Ministry, have begun wondering if Germany sent the wrong signals in the past. An example that is frequently mentioned is Chancellor Merkel’s speech in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in 2008 when she said that Israeli security is part of Germany’s “raison d’état.”

“The perception has been growing in the German government that Netanyahu is instrumentalizing our friendship,” says Rolf Mützenich, deputy floor leader for the Social Democrats (SPD) in parliament. The SPD is Merkel’s junior coalition partner and Foreign Minister Steinmeier is a leading member of the party. Mützenich says it would be a welcome change if the Foreign Ministry and the Chancellery were to rethink the relationship with Israel.

‘We Must Express This Concern’

“Israel’s current policies are not contributing to the country remaining Jewish and democratic,” says Norbert Röttgen, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. “We must express this concern more clearly to Israel.”

There are indications that the German government’s approach is changing. Prior to important votes in the EU or at the United Nations, Netanyahu generally calls the German foreign minister to request his support for the Israeli position. The same procedure was followed early this year when EU foreign ministers sat down to write a resolution on the Middle East conflict. The text had been prepared by the ambassadors of the 28 EU member states and was relatively balanced.

Before EU foreign ministers met in Brussels, though, a copy of the text found its way to Israel. Netanyahu, who is Israel’s foreign minister in addition to being its prime minister, grabbed the telephone to call Steinmeier as usual. Sources say that he was particularly concerned about the paragraph in the resolution that criticized the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. “I’m counting on you,” Netanyahu said before hanging up.

Up to that point, Netanyahu could always be relatively sure that Israel’s supporters would defend the Israeli position. But on this Monday in January, things turned out differently. Netanyahu’s pleas were ignored and Steinmeier threw his support in Brussels behind the text as written. “Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible,” the resolution reads.

Source: Germany Begins to Look Critically at Support for Israel – SPIEGEL ONLINE

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