A prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has opened an inquiry into possible war crimes carried out by Israel in advance of the Palestinian government’s official ascension to the court. Meanwhile, the Palestinians plan to re-file a UN Security Council resolution to end Israel’s occupation.
Category Archives: Israeli Government
Millions took to the streets of Paris in a historic “unity” march in the wake of a shocking string of events including the Charlie Hebdo attack and a hostage standoff at a kosher supermarket which killed a total of 17 people. The march not only attracted Parisians wanting to mourn the traumatic events of the previous week, but also world leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Reports have surfaced that the French government wanted to keep them both away, but Netanyahu ignored French wishes when he learned his Israeli political rival would be attending. Netanyahu used the trip to make the case that French Jews should immigrate to Israel.
Within days of Palestinians announcing they would join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his country would stop transferring customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority. The punitive move was expected to lead to a crisis for the Palestinian leadership as government services would collapse across the West Bank. But the Palestinian Authority had an unexpected back up plan. The Arab League has agreed to provide emergency funds to cover the VAT-taxes frozen by Israel. This Arab League safety net will help the Palestinians avoid the expected temporary bankruptcy and allow them to move forward with pressing for war crimes at the ICC. In fact, financial support from the Arab League was a key component, along with joining the ICC, of long-term strategy to pressure Israel into negotiations.
A controversial military investigation is illuminating the deadliest incident of Operation Protective Edge, as well as one of the Israeli army’s most shadowy directives: an order intended to thwart the abduction of IDF soldiers, even at the risk of killing them. Code named Hannibal, the protocol was carried out in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on August 1, 2014, a date now known as Black Friday; the resulting artillery barrage and torrent of airstrikes killed 190 Palestinians in two days, according to Gaza human rights groups, after the suspected capture by Hamas fighters of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. Recordings of the IDF assault, publicized last week, suggest a chaotic and undisciplined outburst of violence: “I repeat, stop the shooting!” the brigade commander yells over the field radio. “You’re shooting like retards. You’ll kill one another. Enough!”
The Palestinian leadership’s resolution to end Israel’s occupation through negotiations failed to pass the United Nations Security Council Tuesday evening. While Palestinian leaders had hoped to garner the nine votes needed to be approved by the 15-member council, only eight countries supported the measure. The United States and Australia voted against it while five others abstained. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said, “We voted against it because we know what everyone here knows, as well—peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must be made at he negotiating table. Today’s staged confrontation in the UN Security Council will not bring the parties closer to achieving two-state solution.”
Late Monday evening Jordan submitted an updated version of a draft resolution seeking to end Israel’s occupation to the United Nations Security Council. The latest document maintains a 2017 deadline for an end to the Israeli occupation but contains a handful revisions, with substantive changes on the status of Jerusalem and Israel’s separation wall.
The United States is creating momentum for the French to forestall, or all together abandon, presenting a resolution to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on behalf of the Palestinians. France has been informed of an American alternative offer to the Palestinian pursuit of a draft resolution to negotiate an end Israel’s occupation of territories gained in June 1967, a French diplomatic source tells Mondoweiss.
PLO official Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh says the current Palestinian push at the UN Security Council comes “a serious junction in the history of Palestine.” Allison Deger reports that the proposed UN resolution marks a change in Palestinian strategy for the PLO. According to Dr. Shtayyeh the resolution is “not simply as part of a routine diplomatic issue. We are going to the Security Council because this is part of a strategic shift in the way that we are dealing with the struggle with the Israelis.” Although details of the resolution are not yet public, it appears this shift includes taking a harder line on Israeli settlement construction and looking toward Europe for leadership over the peace process instead of the United States.
The Palestinian Authority has announced it will seek a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution calling for an end of the Israeli occupation within a specific time period. The draft legislation gives Israel two years to remove its forces from lands occupied in June 1967 and reaffirms per-existing agreements for a framework of negotiations, said Ashraf Khatib a spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiations Affairs Department via telephone to Mondoweiss. While the resolution makes no explicit mention of land swamps, it does support previous accords where the PLO granted Israel the possibility of territorial exchanges where up to 60% of settlers could remain in the West Bank.
The fate of Israel’s embattled Arab parties is in the balance as Israel’s next parliamentary elections approach. The election season officially started this week when Knesset formally dissolved itself setting an unconfirmed date at the polls of March 17, 2015. Yet as campaigns take off the question of Israel’s smaller parties and the survival of Arab political groups in particular run in the background. Next year’s early elections will be the first after Israel raised the voter threshold to require 3.25-percent of the popular vote in order for a party to secure a seat in Knesset. None of the Arab parties have reached this threshold on their own and will either have to merge, or forgo being a part of the government.
Shop windows in Ramallah were shuttered yesterday within hours of Minister Ziad Abu Ein’s death from a heart attack following an assault by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Turmusaya. Thousands poured through the streets during a state funeral held today with a ceremony at the Muqataa, the seat of the Palestinian Authority and a procession to a nearby cemetery.
Israel’s renewed policy of punitive home demolitions was challenged in its highest court yesterday. The case comes as the Israeli government has ordered the homes of six Palestinians suspected in a series of Jerusalem attacks to be demolished. In the past judges have heard arguments to overturn demolitions on a case by case basis, but this was the first in Israel’s history to address the legality of the practice as such. And the hearing came with immediate consequences. The homes of five Palestinian families are slated for demolition, and one demolition has already been carried out.
“Swift elections must be held, and a new, united and strong government must be formed,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced this evening calling for early Knesset elections hours after firing opposition members Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni from his cabinet. The move comes after Lapid, Livni and Avigdor Lieberman all announced their parties were leaving the ruling coalition.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had assured that the Jewish democratic state law would not infringe on the rights of its non-Jewish citizens, but two days later his Likud party introduced a Knesset bill to ban the Palestinian flag from protests, deport Palestinians to Gaza, and strip Palestinian citizens of their citizenship or residency, and refuse to return remains of the deceased, in cases of “incitement.”
When news broke of a Palestinian bus driver’s body found hanging by a metal chord in the rear of an Israeli bus in a West Jerusalem parking lot, two separate narratives developed. The death came in the midst of a bitter pattern of attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians across the city and the official reason given in the autopsy by Israel was that Yousef Hassan al-Ramouni, 32, had committed suicide. However, the Palestinian media, government, family of the deceased, and witnesses to the body, most importantly a pathologist that sat in on the medical exam, all said otherwise, contradicting, the police’s pronouncement that there was “no suspicion of criminal activity.” Mondoweiss has obtained a copy of a letter authored by the Israeli General Coordinator of the Palestinian territories to the Palestinian Authority, asking them “to stop such incitement and bring the genuine facts regarding the circumstances of death of the deceased, to the attention of the Palestinian public.” In Israel, incitement is a crime punishable with a prison sentence.
Relations between Israelis and Palestinians have descended into a dangerous melee of tit-for-tat attacks and killings, with the violence of the past few weeks centred on Jerusalem. The city, claimed by Israel as its “undivided capital”, has been torn apart by clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian residents since the summer, when 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was burnt alive by Jewish extremists. Subsequent attacks by Palestinians culminated last week in a shooting and stabbing spree by two cousins at a synagogue that killed four Jews and an Israeli policeman. In this atmosphere, both sides have warned that the political conflict is mutating into a religious one. By refusing to recognise any Palestinian national claims in Jerusalem, Netanyahu has forced the population to recast the conflict in religious terms. Unable to identify politically with either Fatah or Hamas, Jerusalem’s Palestinians have found powerful consolation in a religious struggle to counter the mounting threats to Al-Aqsa.
Israeli police ransacked seven apartments and urinated inside one while demolishing the Silwan apartment of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, 21, the Palestinian motorist from East Jerusalem who killed a three-month old Israeli-American Chaya Zissel and one Ecuadoran tourist in a light rail attack in Jerusalem on October 22, 2014. “They urinated on the mattresses in my brother’s apartment, said Enas al-Shaludi, 43, the mother of the deceased driver. “You can see the urine on the mattresses.” In addition to the demolition, which the family expected after receiving a demolition order last Friday, all of the other apartments in the four-story residential building were raided.
The alleged killers of 16-year old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir were in court today for a second pre-trial hearing. The self-proclaimed ringleader of the group, Yosef Ben-David, 29, refused to cooperate. His lawyer told the judge he could not offer a plea on behalf of his client, because Ben-David is no longer speaking.
As tensions seethe in Jerusalem the Israeli government has resurrected polices from the Intifada-era including punitive home demolitions as a measure of deterrence against attacks on its citizens. Even before Tuesday night when Netanyahu declared the return of home demolitions, there were calls inside of the government to bring it back. “Anyone who attacks police or civilians, his home should be demolished,” said Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovic.
For the next three months Israeli Knesset member Haneen Zoabi (Balad) will not be allowed to speak on the parliament floor or introduce committee discussions. Though she will be allowed to put on a suit, enter the building of Israel’s Knesset in Jerusalem, and sit quietly. On Wednesday in an appeal vote her peers confirmed her suspension from office, the longest in Israel’s history.
It is nearly unheard of for Israeli police to block Jewish worshipers from reaching the Western Wall. But yesterday afternoon border authorities cinched back a hard plastic retracting wall of a Jerusalem checkpoint to reach the holy structures and for the first time in 14 years they also closed all access to al-Aqsa Mosque compound, preventing prayer in a campaign to stifle unrest smothering Jerusalem.
A Palestinian teen with U.S. citizenship was killed today by the Israeli army at a demonstration in the West Bank town of Silwad, near Ramallah. Fourteen-year old Orwah Hammad was shot in the neck with a live bullet, according to Ramallah hospital staff.