2-minute Video: Wave of child arrests intensifies in Hebron
ISM 21 July by Khalil Team — On the evening of Sunday, July 14, in the old city of Hebron two Palestinian children named Mohammed and Ahmed, both aged 13 years old, were arrested. Though joining a wave of child arrests in Hebron during the last weeks, the arrests of the two boys stand out because of the massive number of soldiers and police actively participating. The first boy, 13 year old Mohammed, was taken from his family home in the Israeli controlled H2 area of Hebron, home to 31,000 Palestinian people and approximately 500 illegal Israeli settlers. Allegedly the arrest was made because Mohammed threw a stone at Israeli soldiers patrolling the streets, though no evidence of this has been made public to international observers who witnessed soldiers invading Mohammed’s home and leading him away to Beit Romano Military base. The second boy, named Ahmed and also 13 years old, was taken from one of Hebron’s market streets, situated in H1, an area that is supposed to be controlled fully by Palestinian police forces. Sidestepping this agreement, the soldiers invaded H1, grabbed Ahmed and brought him with them back into H2, claiming he had thrown a tomato at a nearby settlement. Both individual arrests were carried out by more than five Israeli soldiers, but as events rolled the number progressed to more than 30 heavily armed members of the occupying forces … The city of Hebron has experienced a wave of child arrests during the last weeks, often violating Israeli military law stating that children under the age of 12 cannot be arrested, as in the case of 5-year-old Wadia.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli court evicts family from East Jerusalem house
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 July — An Israeli magistrate’s court has ruled to evict a Palestinian family from their home in East Jerusalem [Sheikh Jarrah], after a six-year legal battle to prove ownership of the property. The court decision ruled that the house is absentee property and ordered the Siam family to leave the premises by the end of July, Nathira Siam told Ma‘an. The family was also ordered to pay 40,000 shekels ($11,200) as a rent supplement and 20,000 shekels ($5,600) to the court, Siam said. Nathira said that the family have lived in the property since the 1960s. “I’ve been renting the property from a woman called Sabriye Taha who has the rental contract and have been paying her regularly. When she passed away, Israel changed the ownership of the house to absentee property. The Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property ordered us to renew the contract and pay an extra amount of money, but our lawyer told us that I was a protected client and the Custodian of Absentee Property does not have the right to raise the fees,” she said. The house is 60 square meters and has two rooms where the family of eight live. “I will not leave the house, it has all our memories and I will not allow for a settler to take it and live in our home.”
Settlers attack Palestinian homes in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 July — Settlers in Hebron attacked Palestinian homes in the Jabir neighborhood near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba late Friday. Clashes broke out following the attack, as Palestinians defended their homes from extremist settlers, locals said. Israeli forces arrived at the scene and detained a Palestinian minor, witnesses added.
Jewish settlers burn down 400 olive trees
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 20 July — Jewish settlers set on fire hundreds of Palestinian olive trees in Ja‘ba village, south west of Bethlehem, on Saturday morning. Local sources said that the settlers started the fire in the olive trees south east of the village that burnt down 400 trees owned by three Palestinians. In another incident, Jewish settlers attacked and destroyed a Palestinian house in the Old City of Al-Khalil.
Israeli extremists attack Negev village
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma‘an) 21 July — Israeli extremists attacked a Bedouin village in the Negev overnight Saturday, locals say. Villagers from Umm al-Hiran, near Hura, say Israeli extremists launched coordinated attacks on residents, damaging properties and attacking livestock.
On Sunday, a group of 40 extremists broke into the Bedouin village of Rakhama, which is unrecognized by Israeli authorities. The extremists raided the village at 4.30 a.m. and assaulted livestock [PIC: camels], before returning at 8 a.m. and verbally assaulting residents. Villagers forced the group to leave the area.
In May, residents from the Kibbutz of Retamim attacked the adjacent Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj and set fire to a tent belonging to Eid Abu Habbak, head of the local village council, Salman Ibin Hamid, told Ma‘an.
Israeli labor law to apply to West Bank
Ynet 21 July by Moran Azulay — Ministerial Committee votes to apply labor laws intended to protect women from discrimination in workplace to Judea, Samaria, thus expanding law’s current jurisdiction beyond green line … The move to expand an existing law to include the disputed Judea and Samaria territories is not irregular, but its timing in coincidence with the renewal of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians presents a position which does not necessarily bode well with negotiations. Under the bill, women working for Israeli employers in the West Bank will be entitled to all the protections provided by Israel’s labor laws in cases in which they are absent from work due to maternity leave, pregnancy, adoption or fertility treatments. The law applies equally to Israeli and Palestinian women. Currently, Israeli law does not have jurisdiction in the territories, which are governed by laws decreed by the IDF general in charge of the area.
Restriction of movement / Apartheid / Statelessness
Official: Israel to reopen Hebron entrance on Sunday
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 July — Israeli authorities will open the southern entrance to Hebron on Sunday after a 12-year closure, Palestinian liaison officials said Sunday. Israel’s military has closed the al-Harayiq entrance to Hebron since 2001, forcing people to take long detours around the southern West Bank. Israel will open the road to traffic from Sunday in the morning and the evening, and gradually fully lift restrictions, said Abed al-Kashif al-Tamimi, spokesman for the Palestinian liaison office. Israel’s decision followed intense efforts by liaison officials, who were instructed by President Mahmoud Abbas to work to easy daily life for Palestinians. Israel’s army radio reported Thursday that the Israeli military was preparing to lift some restrictions on Palestinian movement in advance of possible renewed peace talks … The radio quoted the military spokesman’s office as saying that the plans were a gesture for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and not linked to peace efforts.
In Photos: Crossing Qalandia on the second Friday of Ramadan
Mondoweiss 21 July by Allison Deger — …Every Friday during Ramadan, Israel allows Palestinian children, elderly and women to cross Qalandia, the barrier between the West Bank and Jerusalem … For many Ramadan is their only time visiting Jerusalem. The faces of elation on some children seem to scream, “I’m here! I’m here!” From Hebron to Jerusalem, from Nablus to Jerusalem — the ordinarily unimaginable jaunt across the separation wall happens. A group of girls sit in a park joking with one and another. They didn’t come to Jerusalem to pray, they came to play hooky from the occupation. Yet the trip is not without watchful eyes. Israeli border police survey the Old City, and regularly stop the returning buses to the West Bank, detaining those whose paper work is deemed unacceptable. Detained, detained, always a possibility.
Ramadan in occupied Jerusalem
GulfNews 21 July by Rafique Gangat — Palestinians from the West Bank face down the heat and the Israeli army to arrive at the Haram Al Sharif and mingle with their freer brethren — …for most Palestinians living in the West Bank, it is only on Fridays during Ramadan that they are able to travel to occupied Jerusalem, by virtue of ‘special permission’ granted by Israel …Together with this ‘generosity’, the Israeli military and police seal off the Jewish part of the city and reinforce their presence in the Muslim part, ‘for security reasons’, as they are wont to say. A police helium-filled balloon equipped with a camera hovers nearby and a helicopter, also with high-tech monitoring equipment, circles the noble sanctuary permanently, reminding everyone below that they are being monitored. This Ramadan, the longest in 33 years, with each day’s fast spanning 16 hours in the season’s hottest month, the Islamic Waqf (Jordan) which administers the holy site has erected many structures for shade from the scorching heat. This led to much controversy prior to Ramadan, as Jews believed the sacred grounds where the Temple of Solomon may have once stood was being desecrated. Makkah and Madinah have continuously extended praying space, but in occupied Jerusalem that is denied, so the only option is to make praying outdoors as comfortable as possible.
Life in transit: What is it like to live in an airport?
Almaty, Kazakhstan (BBCNews) 18 July by Rayhan Demytrie — As airports go, Kazakhstan’s Almaty International has not much going for it. It’s small, and there’s not much to keep travellers entertained. For Mohammed Al Bahish being stuck there for 120 days has been an excruciating ordeal. He does not even have access to the duty free or the overpriced cafes. The 26-year-old Palestinian refugee, born in Iraq, is confined to what officials call “the sterile zone” for travellers and airport staff – he’s the only one who belongs in neither category. He cannot enter Kazakhstan because he has no visa, but nor does he have a visa to enter any other country. Israel won’t allow him to travel to the Palestinian territories, and the UN accepts that with no living relatives in Iraq, it would be unsafe for him to return to the country of his birth.
Israeli law tears Palestinian families apart
East Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) 19 July by Miriam Pellicano — Children are often denied access to their families amid controversial citizenship laws — If Tasneem, 14, a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem, could speak to the Israeli Minister of Interior, she would deliver this message: “Give us the right to be a family and give us the freedom to live. Don’t imprison us.” Tasneem’s family is one of thousands affected by the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which prohibits Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from obtaining permanent or temporary resident status in East Jerusalem or Israel. The citizenship law applies to married couples even when one spouse holds Israeli residency or citizenship. A system of “quiet deportation” of East Jerusalem families has developed as a result of the restrictive laws applied to Palestinians in the city. Between 1967 and 2011, more than 14,000 Palestinians have had their residency status revoked. Since Israel’s 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem, a move unrecognised by the international community, Palestinians have rarely been granted citizenship rights, only residency rights. Palestinians live with the threat of having their residency revoked. As a result, a generation of Palestinian children have grown up living in uncertainty and fear.
IOA bans travel of 11 Palestinians in one week
RAMALLAH (PIC) 20 July — Israeli occupation authorities (IOF) banned the travel of 11 Palestinians via Karame crossing from the West Bank to Jordan last week. The Karame crossing police station said in a statement on Saturday that the Israeli intelligence refused to allow 11 Palestinians to cross en route to Jordan for “security reasons”.
Egypt reopens Rafah crossing after closure
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 July — Egyptian authorities re-opened the Rafah crossing on Saturday, a Gaza official said. Maher Abu Sabha told Ma‘an that the crossing resumed operations after having been closed a day earlier. Foreign nationals and patients seeking medical treatment will be allowed to cross.
Hamas reeling from Egyptian crackdown on Gaza tunnels
GAZA (Reuters) 21 July — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are reeling from another devastating blockade but this time they are blaming Egypt, the neighboring Arab power they once hoped would end their isolation, rather than their old foe Israel. In a few weeks of digging, dynamiting and drenching, Cairo’s troops have destroyed many of the smuggling tunnels that ran under the Egypt-Gaza border and which had provided the cramped coastal enclave with commercial goods as well as weaponry. The Islamist Hamas government, which taxes much of the traffic through the underground passages, has been hit hard by the losses. Ordinary Palestinians, many of them dependent on U.N. aid handouts, have seen prices for staple goods skyrocket.
IAF fails to fish out remains of jet off Gaza coast
Times of Israel 20 July by Adiv Sterman — The Israeli Air Force has failed to retrieve from the sea parts of an F-16i fighter jet that crashed off the Gaza coast earlier this month. The IDF said it has sought help from the US in order to further advance the extraction of the aircraft’s remains.
Report: Egypt bans fishing boats in Sinai
Ynet 20 July – Egyptian military forces said that the army is preventing fishing in the vicinity of northern Sinai towns of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and El-Arish from last Thursday until further notice. According to the report, the purpose of the decision is to prevent the infiltration of Palestinians and jihad agents from Gaza to Egypt by fishing boats. According to the sources, the success in closing tunnels along the border have caused infiltration attempts by fishing boats Thursday night, and several boats carrying Palestinian infiltrators have been caught recently by border guard police.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Illegal arrests
Israeli soldiers storm home of wanted Palestinian, threaten his wife
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 21 July — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) broke into the home of wanted Palestinian activist Munir Al-Haroub in Dura town in Al-Khalil for the third time in less than a week. Sources close to the family said that the soldiers forced their way into the house at dawn Saturday and searched it before threatening the wife Andalib Shadid with detention if she did not tell the whereabouts of her husband. They said that the soldiers served a summons to the wife for an intelligence interrogation.
The IOF has been looking for Haroub since April 2001 when he went underground after accusing him of being a member of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. Haroub has five children, who did not see him for the past 12 years. He was previously arrested by the PA and is wanted by its security apparatuses. IOF soldiers and PA security agents repeatedly storm his home and search it breaking and damaging furniture and belongings in the process.
Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians in West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 19 July — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians in raids across the West Bank early Friday, the army said.
Soldiers detained two people in Jenin, two in Nablus and another in Abu Dis in East Jerusalem, an Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma‘an. She said they were taken for security questioning.
In Nablus, witnesses said troops surrounded a building in Asira Street and detained Mohammad Abu Saleh and Orabi al-Shakhshir. Palestinians threw stones at the Israeli troops, who fired sound grenades and tear gas.
Clashes also erupted after Israeli forces detained Aws al-Fayed and Anas Abu Batikh in raids on their parents’ homes in Jenin, locals said.
Israeli police ‘detain 3 Palestinians’ in Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 July — Israeli police detained three Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City early Friday, witnesses said. Police assaulted and detained a Palestinian on Nablus Street at around 1 a.m., leading to clashes which spread to al-Sahira Street and Sultan Suliman Street, witnesses told Ma‘an. Palestinians protesting the arrest threw stones at Israeli police cars, and police detained two people, they added.
IOF kidnap eight Palestinians in Al-Khalil and Jerusalem
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 20 July — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped eight Palestinian citizens, including a child, in the occupied cities of Al-Khalil and Jerusalem. Local sources reported that the IOF stormed Halhoul town to the north of Al-Khalil city at dawn Saturday and kidnapped a 17-year-old young man named Mohamed Badawi from his home. Badawi was taken to Etzion detention center, south of Bethlehem.
The sources added that that another young man named Wadea Jaber was also taken prisoner during a raid on his house in Al-Khalil city. The IOF also kidnapped a child late Friday from his home in Jaber neighborhood in Al-Khalil immediately after a number of Jewish settlers from Kiryat Arba settlement attacked the house of Ziyad Al-Tamimi in the Old City.
Violent clashes also erupted between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian young men in Bab Al-Amoud area in east Jerusalem, during which plain-clothe soldiers detained two young men. The events started after Israeli border soldiers in Bab Al-Amoud area kidnapped three Jerusalemite young men because they raised a Palestinian flag.
Israeli forces arrest teen and summon youth in Qalquilya
QALQILYA (PIC) 20 July — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stormed Saturday ‘Azzun village in Qalqilya where they conducted search operations and arrested a Palestinian teenager and summoned a young man. More than eight military vehicles stormed the village at the early morning hours where they arrested Samer Thabet Ayes, 18, and summoned Mahmoud Yousef Al Hilal, 22, to the Israeli intelligence headquarters, local sources said. The sources added that the Israeli forces closed the village entrance, pointing out that ‘Azzun village is continuously subjected to Israeli break-ins and arrests particularly against minors.
IOF arrests 3 Palestinians in the West Bank
JENIN (PIC) 21 July — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested on Sunday three Palestinians, one of them a young man from the city of Jenin kidnapped by a special military unit. Palestinian local sources said a special undercover force arrested on Sunday morning Sa’ed Abu Obeid from the village of Kafr Qad, in the center of the city of Jenin, and transferred him to an unknown destination. They added that another Israeli force raided and searched the house of the young man’s wife, and questioned its inhabitants.
In the city of Qalqilya; eyewitnesses reported that the IOF stormed the town at dawn and arrested the liberated prisoner Ibrahim Attia after storming and searching his home.
Another Israeli force at dawn Sunday raided the house of liberated captive Kassem Hijazi Jabari, aged 25, in the center of the city of al-Khalil and arrested him, only a few days after his release from PA jails.
Prisoner Abu Rida faces serious charges
GAZA (PIC) 20 July — Israeli security services presented to the District Court in Beersheba on Friday morning an indictment with serious accusations against the prisoner Wael Hassan Abu Rida, aged 35, from the Gaza Strip. According to the indictment, Abu Rida, who was kidnapped by Israeli intelligence agents about a month ago in Egypt, was heading a group from the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. He also operated within the Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, and later led groups affiliated with Hamas. Israeli security services accused Abu Rida of carrying out many operations against the occupation since 2003, including shooting at Israeli tanks, planting an explosive device near the security fence in Gaza, training about 40 Palestinian militants, and planning to kidnap Israeli soldiers…
11-year-old boy suspected of writing ‘Death to Arabs’ on cars
Ynet 22 July by Itamar Fleishman – An 11-year-old boy was taken to questioning Sunday after he wrote “Death to Arabs” and “Price tag” on cars in the West Bank. According to the police, several Palestinians found their cars vandalized in the Sha’ar Binyamin and reported to police. Upon arrival, police canvassed the area, until they found the boy with the marker with which the cars were vandalized. Police added that the boy was also suspected of slashing the tire of one of the cars. The boy was taken to questioning, and was uncooperative at first, refusing to identify himself. Eventually he revealed his identity and was let go, seeing as he is a minor. The Judea and Samaria police reported that the investigation will continue and that the boy will be called to further questioning Monday.
Israel deports Canadian activist after arrest in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 July — Israel deported a Canadian activist on Friday after she was arrested by soldiers in Hebron on Wednesday, a local group said. Sarah Ali, 26, was forcibly arrested by Israeli forces while monitoring human rights abuses against Palestinians entering the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron’s Old City. Youth Against Settlements posted a video on YouTube [below] which shows Israeli soldiers using excessive force to detain Ali.
Detainees / Court actions
Palestinian prisoners’ families hope for relatives’ release
Ynet 21 July by Elior Levy — Inmates’ families closely follow reports of list of prisoners to be released in course of new peace talks; ‘We were really hopeful before Shalit deal as well,’ says wary relative — …Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas provided Israel with a list of 103 prisoners held in Israel since before the Oslo Accords were signed, but Israeli officials insist that the Arab-Israeli prisoners, 14 names on the list, will remain in jail.
Lawyer: Israel will not release Jordanian hunger striker
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 July — Israel officials said Saturday that they would not release hunger-striking prisoner Abdullah Barghouthi, even if his strike action threatens to kill him, a prisoners group said. A lawyer from the Al-Tadamon human rights groups said he was informed by a Palestinian prisoner that a two-hour meeting was recently held between Israeli prison authorities and prisoners’ representatives, with Israeli officials stressing that prisoners with life sentences would not be released. A lawyer for the PA ministry of prisoners’ affairs said Barghouthi, a Jordanian citizen, could go into a coma at any moment. “I saw him breathing very heavily and he began to have fainting spells,” Hanan al-Khatib said Friday after visiting him in Afula Hospital. Barghouthi is tied to his bed by both his hands and feet, al-Khatib said, and has not been allowed visits from family members or ICRC representatives. He has been on hungers strike since May 2 and is demanding to serve the remainder of his sentence in a Jordanian jail, under the Wadi Araba agreement between Jordan and Israel. .
15 months imprisonment for Palestinian minor
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 20 July — An Israeli district court has sentenced a Palestinian minor, Mohammed Raed Siam, 16-year-old, to 15 months imprisonment and 6 months sentence suspended for 3 years. Mohammed was arrested on January 1, 2013 where he spent 20 days in Maskubiya interrogation center. Under severe torture and huge stress and threats, he admitted that he had thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli settlements, his father told Silwan center. The father underlined that the Israeli public prosecutor refused the medical committee’s recommendation to release his son in light of his difficult psychological status due to the interrogation process.
Political, other news
Islamist, leftist factions rally against negotiations
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 July — Palestinian Islamist and leftist factions on Sunday said returning to negotiations with Israel was a mistake. The Islamic Jihad movement said returning to talks is like “cloning the failure” of previous negotiations, which proved to be mistake, a statement said. Jihad spokesman Shihab Dawod told Ma‘an that the Palestinian Authority has made mistakes in the past that the Palestinian people are still suffering from today. “There is national Palestinian consensus to refuse negotiations, but the PA responds to American pressures and blackmail,” he added.
Jamil Mizher, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told Ma‘an that Palestinian factions must move forward towards political reconciliation and implement a national strategy to face future challenges. Negotiations with Israel based on US conditions would be like “suicide” for the Palestinians and would allow Israel to continue settlement building, he added.
Walid Awad, a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, said President Abbas had made a mistake by agreeing to return to negotiations with the occupying power without Palestinian conditions in place. The talks will not be based on 1967 borders and Israeli settlement building will continue while negotiations take place, Awad said.
A senior Hamas official said Saturday that the PA’s return to negotiations was a “disaster” and a cover for the Israeli agenda of Judaization, settlement building and the displacement of Palestinians.
Peace talks plan met by wall of skepticism in Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 July — A US announcement that Middle East peace talks are to resume, possibly as early as next week, was met Sunday with a wall of skepticism from Israeli officials and commentators. Analysts said the negotiations, announced on Friday by US Secretary of State John Kerry, were doomed to fail, while cabinet ministers and senior officials reacted with caution and even outright opposition to the plan. “Such talks were held 21 years ago. They failed utterly,” wrote Nahum Barnea, right-leaning columnist for top-selling daily Yediot Aharonot. “Negotiations aren’t a goal,” he continued. “They are just a means. The way in which Kerry is dealing with the conflict will almost certainly lead to yet another failure, and the resulting crash.”
Israeli PM says any peace deal will be put to referendum
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 July — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned ministers Sunday that renewed peace talks with the Palestinian Authority will be tough, and said any draft treaty would be put to a referendum. US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had agreed to meet to prepare a resumption of direct peace talks, stalled since 2010. “Negotiations won’t be easy but we’re entering them honestly, sincerely,” Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting, the first since Kerry’s announcement. The premier repeated pledges that if the talks produced a draft treaty he would put it to a referendum. He also said he hoped the negotiations would be held “in a responsible, practical and serious manner”. Netanyahu spoke after two hardline ministers in his right-wing government came out strongly against any possible slowdown in Jewish settlement building as part of the deal. “We must not have a freeze,” Transport Minister Israel Katz, a member of Netanyahu’s own Likud party, told public radio. “It would be immoral, un-Jewish and inhuman to freeze the lives of people and their children.”.
Arab League backs Palestinian stance in peace talks
CAIRO (AFP) 21 July — The Arab League said on Sunday it supported the Palestinian stance on the announcement of resumed peace talks with Israel, but that it was skeptical of Israeli intentions. The League “is forming a political support network for the Palestinian side in case it accepts to go to the negotiations with the Israeli side,” Mohammed Sabih, deputy secretary general for Palestinian affairs and occupied Arab territories, told reporters. US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet in Washington within “the next week or so” after an agreement on the basis to resume peace talks. Both Israel and the Palestinian presidency welcomed the development, but the Hamas movement rejected a return to talks.
Palestinian officials say Kerry gave guarantees that ’67 borders are basis for talks
JERUSALEM (AP) 21 July by Ian Deitch — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume peace talks with Israel only after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave him a letter guaranteeing that the basis of the negotiations will be Israel’s pre-1967 borders, two senior Palestinian officials said Saturday. A Western official, however, later denied that the ’67 lines would be the basis of negotiations. The Palestinian officials, both of whom are close to the Palestinian leader and privy to internal discussions, said the U.S. letter also stipulated that both sides are to refrain from taking any steps that would jeopardize the outcome of the talks. Israel is not to issue new tenders for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, while the Palestinians are not to pursue diplomatic action against Israel at any international organizations, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.
Power: US will push for Israel Security Council seat
WASHINGTON (JTA) 22 July — Samantha Power, President Obama’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said she would press for Israel to have a rotation on the Security Council. “The Security Council seat is one that has eluded Israel, despite its many contributions across the years, and I commit to you wholeheartedly to go on offense,” Power told Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during her confirmation hearing on July 17. Menendez has pressed for such a rotation, which for decades has eluded Israel, in part because it does not belong to any of the regional groupings that advance nominations for temporary membership on the council.
PLO delegation mourns death of Helen Thomas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 July — The general delegation of the PLO to the United States on Sunday expressed its condolences for the death of American journalist Helen Thomas, who passed away on Saturday. “Helen Thomas will be remembered for her courage to ask tough questions to Presidents and political officials,” the statement read. “A staunch advocate for the rights of Palestinians, Thomas expressed an unrelenting commitment to advancing the Palestinian quest for justice and statehood. She was a true friend to the Palestinian people.”
Palestinian refugee killed in Syria clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 July — A Palestinian refugee was killed on Friday in clashes between Syrian regime forces and fighters from the Free Syrian Army, a Palestinian group said. Ahmad Rifay was shot dead during clashes in the city of Daraa, the Taskforce for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement. He lived in Daraa refugee camp … Meanwhile, Syrian intelligence forces released two Palestinian refugees who had been detained for several months, the group added … Husam Arisha, 26, from Yarmouk refugee camp has been in Syrian custody for almost eight months, while female activist Suad al-Tayyib was arrested for the second time on Friday, the group said.
Analysis / Opinion
Goodbye boycott: The cost of Kerry’s ‘breakthrough’, part 2 / Larry Derfner
972mag 21 July — The tactic of punishing Israel for the occupation was finally beginning to take a psychological toll – then the U.S. secretary of state rode to the rescue — The Palestinian Authority was planning to go to the UN in September, in line with the 20th anniversary of the failed Oslo Accords, and begin the process of taking Israel to The Hague over the occupation. Israel was scared, with good reason. But now that fear has lifted. Assuming that the preliminary Israeli-Palestinian talks in Washington lead to full-blown peace negotiations, which is a safe assumption – the Palestinians aren’t going to walk out on Kerry in the U.S. capital with everyone watching – the PA is committed not to go back to the UN or take any other “unilateral actions” to further its goals. Instead, it has agreed to play ball with this Israeli government. So maybe Netanyahu really is blessed.
Endgame: Conditions for the success and failure of the peace process / Dalia Scheindlin
972mag 20 July — What does the possibly-revived peace process John Kerry announced on Friday have going for it? – “Diplomatic Tsunami” – a catch-phrase that stands for high-level global isolation of Israel as punishment for its policies is the great fear on everyone’s mind in Israel this week. – Palestinian power play. The Palestinian situation is dire (a tired old phrase that makes it no less real). But this time, I am referring not to people, but to the political level. There are concerns of an Arab-Spring style uprising that might not be solely directed at Israel – The shadow of one state: The Zionist left has tried for some time to scare Israelis into demanding peace by raising the specter of one-state and the demographic takeover by Palestinians, should Israel’s current policies continue … But now, prominent figures on the right are openly abandoning the long-established two-state paradigm and embracing various forms of annexation-or-apartheid policies – Truth in numbers: For those who like the numbers game, there about 6 million Jews in Israel, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics … [and] 5.9 million total Arabs/Palestinians. In other words, the Jewish and Palestinian populations between the river and the sea will be roughly equal in size. There can be no talk of inequality – not of rights, representation, immigration policy or resource distribution – in this context. Not that there can be such inequality no matter how small a minority is (and that’s why I personally don’t play the numbers game). It’s just that with equal-sized groups, a lack of equality risks not just apartheid but civil war. What’s working against the success of the process? – All sticks, no carrots: The points above are almost entirely push-factors, dire consequences if progress is not made ….
Haaretz editorial: Netanyahu can end the occupation
21 July — This is the last window of opportunity for an agreement based on a two-state solution. It must not be missed — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement of the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians is, of course, good news for both peoples. Kerry is to be lauded for his persistence, but his achievement is currently limited to the fact that negotiations are to start. The major tests still lie ahead. The ball is now in the court of the two parties, and the main responsibility for moving the talks ahead rests on Israel. Only Israel can put an end to the occupation, which is the key to everything else. A fateful opportunity to bring change has now fallen to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is an opportunity to advance peace, and to impress upon his third term a stamp of truly historic proportions. Netanyahu must not miss this opportunity. The Palestinians come to the table at a point when terror has almost completely ceased, with the most moderate and peace-seeking leadership they have ever had; there will never be a more moderate one than this. Netanyahu comes to the table with a declared commitment, albeit an unproven one, to work toward a two-state solution. This should, therefore, be a positive foundation on which to start the talks … The prime minister wields a great deal of power. He has no rivals that could replace him at the moment, and the parliamentary opposition to his government would support any agreement. Much of public opinion would also support Netanyahu if he managed to reach a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians. So he must not fear the threats of the extreme right − in his party and his government.
Summer illusions of a speech that would change Israel / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 21 July — In my dream I see Benjamin Netanyahu giving the speech of his life, which is the speech of our lives: thanking Secretary of State John Kerry for his efforts and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his willingness, Netanyahu announces the shuffling of the Israeli deck of cards, launching a completely new approach, a new Netanyahu, and even more than all that, a new Israel. The new Israeli will immediately carry out, without any preconditions, a series of generous, trust-building steps. The new Israel will announce in advance, yes, in advance, all the steps it would be willing to take at the end of the negotiations. This unexpected change will catch the Palestinians and the international community off-guard: What happened to the Israeli tradition of refusal? Where has Israel’s petty bargaining gone? This new breeze will change the atmosphere in the region like magic, immediately enhancing Israel’s standing, which will now be irresistible. In his speech Netanyahu will begin by declaring the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners. The declaration won’t be forced from him against his will − the result of the kidnapping of a soldier, or American pressure − but will be part of a new Israeli initiative that comprehends that the path to peace always passes through the prison gates … Israel will then open its gates to Arab workers, to family visits, to Palestinian trade and tourism. Last year’s pilot proved itself, when tens of thousands of Palestinians received a single-use permit, and enjoyed several hours of freedom, fun and happiness, without harming a single Israeli … The separation fence will be demolished, or rebuilt on the Green Line. The new Israel will also announce the liberation of the Gaza sea, including the construction of a sea port, open to imports and exports, under international supervision. The West Bank and Gaza Strip will be re-unified, with the safe passage that was long promised but never implemented as it should have been.
Netanyahu’s peace offering buys him time, but land partition is unavoidable / Yossi Verter
Haaretz 21 July — “I pulled the Palestinians down from the tree of preconditions; I didn’t agree to a further freeze of building in the territories; I refused to release 120 prisoners before the talks began; and the 1967 borders aren’t mentioned,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted to his ministers on Saturday. He’s right. Netanyahu has indeed made some tactical gains as the negotiations with the Palestinians begin, but all the problems are right around the next corner: Pre-Oslo Accords prisoners will be released in batches; the building in isolated settlements will be controlled; and the talks concerning the borders will be based solely on the 1967 line, with necessary changes, because there is no other choice. Netanyahu bought himself time — nine months, maybe even a year — but further down the road he will have to take a dramatic, difficult decision that he fears, but knows he cannot avoid: the partition of the land.