Hiam al-Nawaja dreams to live in what she calls a “normal house.” The 23-year old mother of three small children and sheepherder manages in a cinder block frame insulated with a tarp a typical modest home in Susiya, a pastoral Palestinian village set in the rolling south Hebron Hills in the West Bank. Yet a few short decades ago Susiya’s residents had sturdy stone structures built over ancient caves on a hilltop one kilometer from where their town stands today. The former location, “old Susiya,” is close enough that al-Nawaja can see bulldozed remains from her kitchen window. It was destroyed in 1986 when Israel dismantled the town’s mosque to uncover an ancient Jewish synagogue dating back to the sixth century.
Category Archives: Israeli Government
Bad pay, hard labor, nasty skin rashes, and poor sleep in constructions sites are just the tip of work conditions found in Israeli agricultural settlements, said a Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report released Monday. The 75-page “Israel: Settlement Agriculture Harms Palestinian Children” is a devastating look into underage Palestinian laborers farming for Israeli companies.
There are still a few weeks before head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh begins his first term in Israel’s parliament, yet he has already led a protest across the country. This past weekend Odeh led the “March for Recognition” with hundreds of Bedouins who live in unrecognized villages. The 130 kilometer trek from the southern Negev desert to Jerusalem officially ended on President Reuven Rivlin’s doorstep Sunday afternoon.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the final hours of forming a ruling coalition to lead the country, the Joint List is organizing a mass march. Unrecognized villagers will camp and walk their way to Israel’s seat of government, all while their party’s leadership is tightening ties with presumed opposition heads in the Zionist Camp.
Yitzhak Herzog ran scared in the Israeli election. He did not bring up the Palestinian issue, and Netanyahu did, defining the debate in a rightwing manner. Herzog’s failure of leadership reflects his fear of fascist elements in his own society.
Something has changed inside Israel for its Palestinian citizens. The hard data is revealing: voter turnout by Palestinian citizens of Israel jumped by 10% from the last election and in the Joint Arab List’s party leader’s home district it was nearly an unheard of 80%. The joint list is full of fresh faces with seven first time Knesset member, two women, five communists, two national democrats, two Islamist, one Christian and one Israeli-Jew. Meet the next Knesset members from the Joint Arab List.
Robert Fantina looks at the international political implications of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory in Israel’s election and writes it may have come at a surprisingly high cost.
A historic moment was about to take place at campaign headquarters. An assistant for Ayman Odeh, head of Joint Arab List, a coalition of four parties running on one ticket for the first time, pulled me aside in the Nazareth convention hall and said with a smile, “we got 14 seats.” It was 8pm, there were still two hours to go before precincts would shut. Yet the Nazareth rally was abuzz over early the results. Israeli media had estimated their group would win enough seats in the next Knesset to become the third largest party in the country. It would become an unprecedented feat for the 20-percent Arab-Palestinian minority population. In this election another candidate, Avigdor Liberman, campaigned that they are a fifth column, to be expelled to the West Bank. Those signs, were plastered all over the entrances of Arab villages throughout the north of Israel throughout the past three months.
Months ago questions were raised if, at all, there would be any Arab representatives in the next Knesset. Then the groups unified under a single banner headed by Ayman Odeh, 41, a first time Knesset candidate from Haifa who started his career in public office at the age of 23 on Haifa’s city council. Now the long road is coming to and end and the Joint Arab List is the third largest party in the country with the potential, for the first time, to influence the outcome of elections.
Days away from elections in Israel on March 17th, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party may not be able to recover from the dive it took in the polls this week. They are down—more than they have been since campaigning began in December. He is expected to get 21 seats while the Zionist Camp headed by Labour’s Issac Herzog and Hatuna’s Tzipi Livni, would get 24. However, Israeli elections are determined by voting blocs and not individual parties. And so even if Bibi loses, he can still win. And if that happens, it wouldn’t be the first time.
Palestinian leaders decided Thursday night they will “end all forms of security coordination with Israel,” a much-criticized practice of shared policing across the West Bank and a staple of Israeli-Palestinian relations over the last two decades. Still the announcement included one loophole where Israel could salvage the security arrangement, signaling the Palestinian leaders could be seeking to leverage Israel’s security concerns as a tactic for the release Palestinian VAT-taxes frozen during the winter after the Palestinians acceded to the Rome Statute, joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) where they can charge Israel with war crimes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday elicited strong opinions from U.S. elected officials with rave reviews from Republicans and condemnation from several Democrats. But back home Israelis were nonplussed over the talk—if they watched at all.
On the eve of his departure to Washington DC to address Congress about the possible nuclear deal being brokered between the U.S. and Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made one last stop to occupied East Jerusalem.
Plumes of teargas wafted up the terraced hillside of the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday when over 1,000 demonstrators marked ten years of weekly protests against Israel’s separation wall and occupation, outside of Ramallah. Israelis drove in from Tel Aviv, and international activists and Palestinians from nearby towns flocked to march from the center of Bil’in, to the hamlet’s agricultural grounds. As with every Friday, clashes ensued once protesters reached the outskirts of town where olive orchards and patch vegetable farms buffer Israel’s concrete barrier and one of the most populated settlements, Modi’in Illit.
Katie Miranda imagines the scene at Netanyahu’s speech to Congress tomorrow.
Addressing the Security Council in New York on Monday Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor gave a bizarre satirical presentation of “Oscar” awards for “peace and security.” The victors were Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority.
Mainstream Israeli political parties are united in rejecting the international consensus for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they are divided over “the Kerry Plan” which would see Israel annex its major illegal settlement blocs on critical chunks of Palestinian territory, redraw its border roughly along the route of the illegal Wall and nullify the refugees’ right of return. Whereas Netanyahu is content to maintain the status quo of occupation and settlement expansion, the pro-Kerry camp seeks its legal consecration through a US-brokered deal. If Netanyahu forms Israel’s next government, Palestine’s foreseeable future will resemble its unbearable present. But if Netanyahu loses, the decisive obstacle to securing formal Palestinian capitulation to US-Israeli terms may be removed with him.
Sushi and wine were in abundance in the West Bank settlement of Psagot near Ramallah Monday night as former Arkansas Governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee was honored at the start of a ten-day trip to Israel. Huckabee is in the region promoting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s forthcoming address to congress.
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu released an ISIS inspired campaign video late Saturday evening where his Likud party suggested a vote for his opponents will lead to Israel’s takeover by the Islamic terror group.
After a half-year suspension and a row to remove from office Arab member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi, right-wing parties succeeded in disqualifying her from participating in Israeli elections next month. Yesterday the Central Election Committee in the Knesset voted Zoabi and hardline candidate Baruch Marzel could not run. The two were accused of incitement against Israel. Both cases will now be reviewed by Israel’s high court.
Since last August when professor of international law William Schabas was appointed as the head of a United Nations war crimes inquiry into violations committed in Gaza over the summer, Israel has repeatedly sought to remove him. Last week, Israel won. Schabas recused himself amid allegations of bias in a favor of the Palestinian government, but the resignation is not enough for Israel. It wants the entire investigation scrapped.
In his latest campaign ad Netanyahu plays the “Bibi-sitter” and says that his opponents cannot be trusted to watch after Israel’s children. He goes after Labor leader Issac Herzog by saying, “By the time we get home we won’t have a house left!” meaning that a centrist government would agree to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and turn over the occupied territories to the Palestinians. In the mindset of the commercial, this is as disastrous and foolish as giving away one’s own house.
Khalid Ja’ar once worked for Birthright, showing American Jews the “Bedouin experience” in the Negev. But after his son was killed by Israeli police and the town of Rahat has become a focus of Palestinian resistance, and Ja’ar’s world has changed.
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.