Turkey – Israel normalization
Israel and Turkey agree to normalize ties — officials
JERUSALEM/ISTANBUL (Reuters) 26 June by Ori Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk– Israel and Turkey on Sunday reached agreement to normalise ties, senior officials from both countries said, to end a rift over the Israeli navy’s killing of 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists who tried to sail to the blockaded Gaza Strip in 2010. A formal announcement on the restoration of ties and the details of the agreement were expected on Monday at 1000 GMT by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Rome, and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Ankara. “We reached an agreement with Israel to normalise bilateral relations on Sunday in Rome,” a senior Turkish official said, describing the agreement as a “diplomatic victory” for Turkey, although Israel has not accepted to lift the Gaza blockade, one of Ankara’s three conditions for an agreement. The once-firm allies had been quietly mending fences in trade and tourism since their leaders held a conciliatory telephone call in 2013 and negotiations have intensified over the past six months to pave the way for a mutual return of ambassadors. Netanyahu travelled to Rome on Sunday to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli and Turkish officials were also in the Italian capital to finalise the deal. Israel, which had already offered its apologies – one of Ankara’s three conditions for a deal – for its lethal raid on the Mavi Marmara activist ship, agreed to pay out $20 million to the bereaved and injured, the Israeli official said in a briefing to Israeli reporters travelling with Netanyahu. Under the deal, Turkey will deliver humanitarian aid and other non-military products to Gaza and carry out infrastructure projects including residential buildings and a hospital in the area, the senior Turkish official said. Concrete steps will be taken to address the water and power crisis in the city….
İHH declares objection to Turkey-Israel normalization
ANKARA, Turkey (Hürriyet) 26 June — The Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH), which organized the 2010 flotilla to Gaza, has declared its clear objection to on imminent agreement between Turkey and Israel expected to be announced on June 26. The İHH announced its objection and reasons through its official Twitter accounts late on June 25, both in English and in Turkish. “Our commitments related with the conditions of [the] probable Israel-Turkey agreement as it appears in the media [are] as such: 1- We are keeping our stance related with the blockade of Gaza and [the] Mavi Marmara incident,” the İHH said. Turkish-Israeli relations were suspended in 2010 after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stormed the Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza-bound “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” trying to break the Israeli blockade on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. As a result of the attack eight Turkish citizens and one U.S. citizen of Turkish descent were killed and a tenth died of his wounds three years later. The IHH organized the 2010 flotilla to Gaza. “2- The blockade of Gaza is unlawful and a crime against the humanity. The blockade has to be lifted … 5- An agreement foreseeing the using of Ashdod port would not weaken the blockade but rather it leads to official recognition of it….
Protesters outside PM’s office demand return of Israeli missing in Gaza
JPost 26 June by Ben Hartman — The family of an [Ethiopian-]Israeli man who vanished after crossing into the Gaza Strip in September 2014 protested outside the Prime Minister’s office on Sunday morning, demanding that no reconciliation deal be made with Turkey unless it also brings their son home. Ilan, the older brother of Avraham “Abera” Mengistu told the Jerusalem Post that “we are in favor of humanitarian aid for Gaza, but only if it’s for everyone – only if Abera also receives the humanitarian aid he has been denied”. Ilan said he sees the proposed reconciliation deal – which is expected to include an easing of restrictions on the Gaza Strip – “is a capitulation to Hamas, they can’t be above the law. There is no justification for them to hold an innocent man against his will, we can’t surrender to them.” Mengistu said he spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Friday and that he told him that the government is making efforts to return his brother, but could give no official details….
Families of Israeli soldiers killed or missing in Gaza slam expected reconciliation deal with Turkey
The Media Line 26 June by Linda Gradstein — The parents of two Israeli soldiers who were killed in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and whose remains are still being held by the Islamist Hamas movement, say the return of their sons’ bodies must be part of the reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey that is expected to be announced today. Turkey has close ties with Hamas, and the parents say that Turkey could pressure Hamas to release the bodies. Hamas is also believed to be holding two other Israelis alive, an Ethiopian-Israeli who is believed to be mentally ill and crossed into Gaza last year, and a Bedouin. The fact that the prime minister signed this agreement proves that the government failed in its first test after Operation Protective Edge, and has awarded Hamas a prize for kidnapping Lieut. Hadar Goldin and First Sergeant Oron Shaul,” Goldin’s father said in a statement.
Did Israel promise not to assassinate Hamas leader as part of Turkey deal?
JPost 25 June — Likud MK seems to suggest that Ismail Haniyeh’s life is off limits as part of deal, prompting a staunch denial from the Prime Minister’s Office — The Prime Minister’s Office on Saturday denied that Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh would be given immunity from Israeli attempts on his life as part of the reconciliation deal with Turkey which the cabinet is expected to ratify next week. The claim was seemingly made by coalition chairman David Bitan, who later said that his comments made at a cultural event in Beersheba on Saturday were misunderstood and taken out of context. Discussing the pending deal with Turkey and what it means for Haniyeh, Biton stated: “What’s certain is that we can’t do anything to him anymore, he is secured. Not even the prime minister can give the order anymore.” Biton’s comments prompted an angry denial from the Prime Minister’s Office: “MK David Bitan is not privy to the details of the agreement with Turkey. His comments are incorrect and detached from reality. The issue [of Haniyeh] was not discussed during the talks.” The statement added that “Israel reserves the right to ensure its security in accordance with the circumstances.”
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
12 Palestinians injured as Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa, detaining 2 South Africans
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem Sunday morning, clashing with worshipers, injuring at least 12 Palestinians and detaining at least two Palestinians and two South African nationals, as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan entered its final ten holiest days. The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at a group of worshipers, and also hit them with batons. Five Palestinians were taken to the al-Maqasid Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem for treatment. Witnesses said Israeli forces toured the Al-Qabli mosque in the compound in the early morning, before opening the Moroccan Gate to allow a group of ultra-religious Jewish Israelis to enter the complex, which caused clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli forces. Al-Aqsa Compound Director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Ma‘an that 12 worshipers were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, three in the head and the rest in the back and lower extremities. Al-Kiswani explained that despite the fact that Israel had previously closed the Moroccan Gate, through which Israeli visitors and tourists enter, during the last 10 days of Ramadan for the past 14 years, it was opened today, sparking the clashes … Locals said Israeli forces assaulted Al-Aqsa guard Badir Badir, wounding him in the head…
The Islamic Endowment slammed Israel for its continuing “provocations” on the holy site earlier this month, highlighting the extreme sensitivity surrounding Al-Aqsa during the month of Ramadan, and the danger of continuing illegal tours for extremist Israelis on the compound … The statement criticized the fact that Palestinians were being banned from the holy site during Ramadan, “at a time when Muslims look forward to dedicating their time to fasting, worshiping, and other spiritual activities in Al-Aqsa Mosque — one of the most sacred sites in Islam.” The statement highlighted that Israel has revoked entry permits that were recently granted to tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip so they could access Jerusalem to worship during Ramadan. Israeli police had also prevented Waqf officers from bringing Iftar meals into the compound for hundreds of worshipers who break their fasts inside the compound, the statement added, calling the incident “embarrassing and unprecedented.”
Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa 2nd day in a row, right-wing Israelis tour compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — Israeli special forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday morning for the second day in a row, evacuating Muslim worshipers, including the elderly, to allow right-wing Jewish Israelis to tour the compound freely. Director of the Islamic Endowment and Al-Aqsa Mosque affairs Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma‘an that “it was Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu who made the decision to storm the Al-Aqsa mosque.” He explained that Israeli police confirmed midnight Sunday that the Moroccan Gate — from which Jewish extremists usually enter the compound under military protection — “would remain closed during the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan. “For several years, added Sheikh al-Khatib, “Jewish worshipers and tourists have not been allowed into the Al-Aqsa compound during the last ten days of Ramadan, as the days are particularly sacred to Muslims.” The compound was reportedly quiet until 9 a.m, when Israeli special forces suddenly stormed the compound via the Moroccan Gate to “protect settlers” who came in. Israeli forces then chained shut all the gates of the southern mosque (the main mosque in the compound) while dozens of worshipers were still inside.
Settlers attempt to stab Palestinian near Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 26 June — A group of Israeli settlers assaulted, at dawn on Sunday, a young Palestinian man from Jerusalem, while he was at his place of work in the Ramot settlement, to the west of Jerusalem. The group reportedly tried to stab the man in the neck. The young man was identified as Mahfouz Karlo Khaio, according to Al Ray. He said that a group of settlers attacked him at his job on Abrham Rikanti street, in Ramot, and severely beat him. Khaio added that one of the settlers tried to stab him in the neck with a knife, before he managed to escape, and after being lightly injured in the head. The young man Khaio lives in the Old City of Jerusalem and works in painting and repairing roads in the Ramot settlement. The man pointed out that the settlers were verbally abusing him along with his colleagues, but he didn’t expect the physical abuse, as he put it.
Shin Bet: East Jerusalem dentists arrested for bombing attack that wounded IDF officer
JPost 26 June by Ben Hartman — An east Jerusalem dentist and several members of his family have been arrested for carrying out a bombing that left an IDF officer seriously wounded in May, the Shin Bet said on Sunday. According to the Shin Bet, 36-year-old Samer Mahmoud Dawoud Alhabiya, stashed 56 small pipe bombs in his dental office in Abu Dis, as well as two firebombs and one large pipe bomb. The Shin Bet said Alhabiya told investigators he began planning his attacks in February because of what he called “desecrations of Al-Aksa Mosque and Israel’s harming of Palestinian children.” Several bombs were remotely detonated by cellphone in the May 10 attack near the Palestinian village of Hizma, seriously wounding Sec.-Lt. Shahar Roditi, who suffered shrapnel wounds and broken facial bones. An IDF patrol had spotted a suspicious device near Hizma, located near the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev; it was detonated when the soldiers stopped to inspect it. Sappers later discovered that a total of four pipe bombs had been detonated at the scene, and that five more were set nearby but not detonated. Arrested along with the dentist were his father, 64-year-old nurse Muhammed Dawoud Shahada Alhabiya; his brother 42-year-old Dawoud Shahada Mahmoud Alhabiya – also a dentist; Qalandiya resident and dentist Daganeh Faiz Jamil Nabhan, 36; and the main suspect’s cousin, 32-year-old Shadi Mahmoud Ahmed Muhsan of Abu Dis.
Israeli forces detain activist, father of slain Palestinian whose body is still being held
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — Israeli forces raided the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem in the predawn hours Monday morning and detained lawyer and activist Muhammad Elayyan, whose son Bahaa was shot dead by Israeli forces in October in a stabbing and shooting attack, locals told Ma‘an. Bahaa was killed alongside another Palestinian after they attacked an Israeli bus with on Oct. 13, killing three Israelis with knives and a gun. His body, along with the bodies of seven other Palestinians killed while allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks on Israeli targets. is still being held by Israel. Muhammed Elayyan has spearheaded a movement by the families of the slain Palestinians demanding that Israeli authorities return the bodies, staging protests, most recently held on Sunday in Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. He was present at a demonstration last week at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and outside of Israel’s Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Jaffa where the bodies are being stored. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered on May 5 the release of the bodies of Palestinians from Jerusalem currently being withheld by Israel, after family members appealed to the court, but only one has been released since. The Elayyan home was first raided a week after the attack, and Israeli authorities issued a demolition order against the house in November as punishment … Muhammed Elayyan has since been outspoken against the series of punitive measures carried out against his family and Israel’s policies of punitive action against all families of individuals who have been suspected of carrying out attacks. He previously told Ma‘an that the family had been targeted by punitive demolitions before, when in the 1970s Israeli forces sealed off his father’s home on charges of “resisting the occupation.”….
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians in West Bank raids
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 June — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians in overnight raids, including one youth at the Zaatara checkpoint south of Nablus on Saturday evening, in addition to two South African nationals at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem Sunday morning. Local sources told Ma‘an that Ahmad Husam Mahmud Khadir, 20, was on his way from Nablus to Birzeit University when he was detained at the checkpoint. Khadir is the son of Husam Khadir, former lawmaker and leader in the Palestinian political faction Fatah. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said on Sunday that Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from the villages of al-Khader and Nahhalin near Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank. The four were identified as Bassam Naim al-Balbul, Nassar Muhammad Nassar, Faris Yusif al-Nis, and Nur al-Din Muhammad Shakarnah. Three other Palestinians were detained in the village of Tubas near Nablus, and were identified as Rabi Mustafa Darwish Shafi, Husam Hammad Ahmad Abu Zeinah, and Hussein Daraghmah. Israeli forces also detained Eid Talat al-Rimawi from the Ramallah district in the central occupied West Bank.
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
HEBRON (WAFA) 27 June – Israeli forces on Monday detained at least seven Palestinians during predawn raids in the West Bank districts of Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus and Tulkarm, as well as in Jerusalem area, according to security sources. In Hebron district, in southern West Bank, Israeli army stormed Ras al-Jora neighborhood in the city and detained two brothers after raiding and searching their family home. They were identified as Abdul-Qader, 33, and Sameh al-Qawasmi, 20. The army also stormed the nearby town of Dahiriya, where they detained Mamoun Ghazi Qaisia, a local Palestinian. In Bethlehem area, Israeli troops broke into the village of Taqou‘ and detained two local Palestinians, identified as Moath Amour, 21, and Shadi Amour, 21. Israeli forces also detained three Palestinians during a predawn raid in Askar refugee camp in Nablus. The three were identified as Salameh Abdul-Jawad, 23, Khalid Abu Jamila, 23, and Sanad Shobaki, 26. Two other Palestinians were also detained by the Israeli army in Tulkarm district. They were identified as Ahmad Ibrahim Kholi and Ameer Kholi. Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Israeli police raided the house of attorney Mohammad Alian in Jabal al-Mukabir neighborhood and detained him. The attacking police force also confiscated mobile phones and a computer from Alian’s house. The police also broke into al-Issawiya neighborhood district in Jerusalem, where they detained Sa’ed Nasser, a Palestinian local, after raiding his house.
Hundreds of Palestinians detained by Israel since beginning of Ramadan
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 June — At least 330 Palestinians have been detained since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on June 6, according to a statement released Saturday by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS), which said that the detentions reflected Israel’s disregard for the sanctity of the holiday. PPCS spokesperson Riyad al-Ashqar said that Israeli forces detained hundreds in that time period, including women, children, elderly, people suffering from various illnesses, formerly released prisoners, and fishermen in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of Ramadan earlier this month, an entire family was detained from the village of Qusra in Nablus: Khawla Badawi Hasan, her daughter Muna and her son Mutasem were detained on Monday, two days after her husband Khalil Abed al-Haq Hasan, 57, and their son Muhammad were detained. More than 60 children have been detained since the beginning of Ramadan, including 10-year-old Marwan al-Sharabati from Hebron City, who was assaulted and detained on Hebron’s al-Shuhada Street, according to the PPCS statement. More than 21 women and girls were detained according to the center, including three mothers of prisoners…
The holy month of Ramadan is anticipated by Palestinian Muslims as a time of relative calm and respite, however this year’s holiday has been marked by widespread detention campaigns, housing demolitions, a crackdown on the right to movement, and increasing restrictions in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, where Palestinians were also the target of racist verbal abuse from thousands of Israeli extremists on the eve of Ramadan.
Journalist Abu Arafa detained by PA intelligence
NABLUS (PIC) 26 June — The Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence agents on Saturday evening arrested the correspondent of the Shihab news agency Amer Abu Arafa during a photo shooting tour in the Old City of Nablus. Abu Arafa’s wife, Safa Al-Hroub, said the PA intelligence officers chased down her husband as he was taking live pictures of the Old City and dragged him to the Juneid lock-up. Abu Arafa, an ex-prisoner, was released by the PA intelligence hours later, after he had been subjected to exhaustive questioning.
UN ‘gravely concerned’ over imminent home demolitions in Palestinian refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — The United Nations warned against imminent punitive home demolitions targeting Palestinian families in Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank, putting at least six Palestinian refugees at risk of being left homeless. UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, said in a statement on Saturday that it was “gravely concerned” about the Israeli High Court of Justice’s recent rejection of the families’ appeal to save their homes. “The families are in a state of perpetual apprehension as they wait for implementation of the punitive demolition which could occur at any undefined time,” the statement read. The families were notified on June 14 that they had five days to evacuate, after Israeli authorities ruled their homes would be destroyed as punishment for stab attacks carried out by two young members of the families on December 23 at the Jaffa Gate of East Jerusalem’s Old City. The two 21-year-old Palestinians, Issa Assaf and Anan Abu Habsa, were shot dead by Israeli police on the scene. The attacks left one Israeli killed and another seriously injured, while a third Israeli was accidentally shot by friendly fire and later succumbed to his wounds. According to Israeli media, the justices in the hearing argued that Assaf and Abu Habsa’s killings did not constitute adequate punishment for their actions. The media reports did not mention whether the families were linked in any way to the attacks. The court also reportedly rejected claims that Israel’s practice of home demolitions discriminates between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis who carry out attacks … The UN agency’s statement noted that 19 Palestinians were displaced and 46 others were affected during a Nov. 16 punitive demolition in the same camp, and two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during the clashes that erupted during the operation.
Temporary extension of Gaza fishing zone expires
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 June — A temporary extension imposed by Israeli authorities on the designated fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip expired on Sunday, reducing the zone to six nautical miles after it had been set to nine miles for one week. Head of Gaza’s fishermen union Nizar Ayyash told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities at midnight confirmed to the union via the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture that the zone would be reduced. “A nine-mile zone is already a narrow fishing zone, so can you imagine the challenge when we are forced to sail within six miles,” Ayyash said, adding that fish were abundant only after the nine-mile point from the shore. Some fishermen told Ma‘an that reducing the fishing zone from nine to six miles would allow only 30 percent of fishermen to go on fishing trips because the area was too narrow for all Gaza fishermen. Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories COGAT released a statement last Monday leading up to the extension, saying it had been made “on the occasion of Ramadan and due to abundance of fish this season.” “We hope that fishermen respect understandings and agreements and do not violate the available fishing area, and to take advantage of this step to benefit the people of Gaza,” the statement added. Zakariyya Abu Bakr, the head of the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees, slammed on Sunday Israel’s treatment of fishermen in the Gaza Strip. “The (Israeli) occupation created a big fuss when they extending the zone to nine nautical miles for the fishermen, though Israeli assaults against fishermen have only increased during that period.” Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishermen on at least one occasion over the past week, though due to the high frequency of such incidents, live fire on fishing boats often go unreported….
Israeli forces attack Gaza farmers, fishermen with gunfire
GAZA (WAFA) 27 June – Israeli army and naval forces Monday attacked Palestinian farmers along Gaza borders and fishermen sailing within 6 nautical miles in Gaza sea with gunfire, according to WAFA correspondent. Israeli soldiers stationed at watchtowers along the borders with eastern Gaza city targeted a group of Palestinian farmers with machine gunfire, and prevented them access to their land. However, no injuries were reported. Meanwhile, Israeli forces stationed at watchtowers in the Israeli Kissufim military base, located northeast of Khan Younis, opened fire on farmers while they were tending to their borderline land, and forced them to leave the area. No injuries were reported.
In the meantime, Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen sailing within the 6-nautical miles allowed fishing zone offshore al-Sudaniya area to the northwest of Gaza city, causing financial damages to at least one boat. No injuries were reported among the fishermen, who were forced to return back to shore for fear of being detained, injured, or killed.
In about-face, Gaza shuts tap on Israeli watermelons
Times of Israel 26 June by Dov Lieber — The Gazan agricultural ministry put an end to a short-lived and surprising deal with Israel to import watermelons into the Palestinian enclave Sunday. The Hamas-run ministry declared on its Facebook page that the deal with Israel had been canceled following an agreement by Gazan farmers to sell their watermelons for cheaper. On Wednesday, the agriculture ministry in the Gaza Strip said it was allowing watermelon imports from Israel into the besieged enclave following an eight-year Palestinian-imposed ban. A shortage of areas cultivated for watermelons in Gaza this year led to reduced crops pushing up prices in the local market….
What’s next for Hamas’ Meshaal?
Al-Monitor 24 June by Adnan Abu Amer — Khaled Meshaal has long been a leading Hamas figure, heading its political bureau since 1996. However, according to recent media reports, Meshaal will not participate in the movement’s internal elections that may be held in late November or early December. It may seem early to talk about replacing Meshaal, as Meshaal himself has remained publicly silent. On June 16, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas’ political bureau in Gaza, told the New Arab newspaper that Meshaal will not run for re-election as head of the political bureau. The London-based Rai al-Youm reported on June 13 that Meshaal had confirmed to unnamed close associates that he will not run, but did not reveal whether he will support any particular Hamas leader for the post. Ahmed Youssef, political adviser to former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told Al-Monitor, “Meshaal has a charismatic leadership style, political gumption and strong ties with Arab and Islamic countries. Yet it is perhaps time for him to leave the post of head of the political bureau to someone else without compromising his standing.” This way, Youssef said, Meshaal could leave but retain his ability to create a new position of secretary-general, for which he could run uncontested. If Meshaal did withdraw from the movement’s leadership, the vacancy would create room for a number of other political figures who view themselves as qualified to succeed him in a critical period for the Palestinian cause. Among those emerging as possible successors to Meshaal include Mousa Abu Marzouk, who likely has the best chance to win the election….
Father of Israeli-Arab held in Gaza slams Joint List for lack of help
Haaretz 26 June by Almog Ben Zikri — The father of a Bedouin man who has been missing since crossing into the Gaza Strip last year has criticized members of the Joint List and Bedouin leaders in the Negev, saying they haven’t provided any help because his son served in the Israeli army for a few months and because “they want Hamas to think they’re nationalists.” Ever since Hisham al-Sayed crossed into Gaza in April 2015, his father, Sha‘aban al-Sayed, has been trying to maintain a low profile in the media. He meets with Lior Lotan – the prime minister’s coordinator for missing persons and fallen soldiers – once every two or three weeks. The elder Sayed has also tried working through private channels, telling Haaretz that a number of attempts have been made to determine his son’s fate through Bedouin families who have relatives in Gaza, but to no avail. Ever since the case was first publicized last year, Sayed had contacted several members of the Joint List. But his first meeting with faction Chairman Ayman Odeh took place only a few weeks ago, he said. “I tried to get him to help me, perhaps through Abu Mazen [referring to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas]. But since that meeting I haven’t heard anything,” said Sayed. “They aren’t interested in helping people who were in the army, that’s known. They don’t want to be there, they don’t want their names mixed up with such people. That’s what happened with Ouda Tarabin,” he added, referring to the Bedouin man jailed in Egypt for 15 years after being accused of spying for Israel…..
Ramadan soup kitchen offers brief respite to Gaza’s hungry
AFP 25 June — In her modest home in the Gaza Strip, Sahar Sherif’s family watches as she ladles out a broth of meat and vegetables for a rare heart-warming meal. For just a month of the year, a soup kitchen in the Palestinian enclave is offering struggling families like Sherif’s a welcome break from daily worries about where they will find their next meal. During the holy month of Ramadan, the charity provides the 40-year-old divorcee and her five children — and grandchildren — with a square meal every day at no cost. “When we eat food from the tekiyya, we feel better,” says Sherif, using an Arabic name for the soup kitchen, an Islamic tradition said to date back to the era of the prophet Abraham. But during the rest of the year when the kitchen is closed, “I make a pot of tea, I get two tomatoes out and that’s it,” she says, wearing a black nylon overcoat and complete face veil. “When there’s no food, we constantly feel dizzy.” … Nearly half the war-torn enclave’s 1.9 million inhabitants live under the poverty line, with 80 percent surviving on humanitarian aid. – Onions in cauldrons – During Ramadan, Sherif can carry home a plate of rice and chicken for her family to break the daily fast after sunset — and a broth to eat before sunrise and another 16 hours of daytime fasting. For the rest of the year, food is one of many daunting expenses for the head of a poverty-stricken household. “I have to pay 500 shekels (115 euros) in rent as well as water and electricity bills,” says Sherif, whose two sons are unemployed. “I receive 100 to 200 shekels in support, but I’m supposed to pay the rest on my own,” she says … The Mediterranean enclave’s unemployment rate of 45 percent is one of the highest in the world…..
Israeli minister seeks cabinet backing for Gaza artificial island plan
The Guardian 22 June by Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem — A senior Israeli minister is seeking to win cabinet backing for an ambitious $5bn (£3.4bn) plan to ease the economic blockade of Gaza with an artificial island linked to the territory by a secure three-mile bridge. Transport and intelligence minister Yisrael Katz’s argument for the island, which would include a seaport and possibly even an airport, is that it would restore Gaza’s links with the outside world without jeopardising Israeli security. Access via the bridge could be tightly controlled by Israel or an Israel-approved international force. Hamas has long demanded a Gaza seaport in return for a long-term truce, but ministers say this could be used to import weapons. Katz, whose department this week released an image of the putative 8 sq km (3 sq mile) island, said: “I do not think it is right to lock up 2 million people without any connection to the world. Israel has no interest to make life harder for the population there. But because of security concerns we can’t build an airport or seaport in Gaza.” Though Katz is a prominent minister in the Likud party of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the proposal has yet to win formal backing from Israel’s security cabinet. Netanyahu’s office declined further comment on Wednesday. Nor is it clear how willing international donors, who by the end of March had disbursed only 40% of the $3.5bn pledged to Gaza after the 2014 war, would be to help with funding….
West Bank water crisis
Blame flows freely as West Bank taps run dry
AFP 25 June — Fatma Ali stands in her small patch of garden in the parched West Bank and wonders how to feed her family of seven when she’s had no water in nearly a week. “I can’t cook, do the dishes or serve drinks,” she says, surveying the cracked earth and dried-up fountain in her yard in Salfit, north of Ramallah. Ali is one of tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank who have gone without water in recent weeks, victims of the latest dispute between Israeli and Palestinian officials over the region’s most valuable resource. She and her family are among some of Salfit’s 15,000 inhabitants who have been without water for five days even as temperatures have topped 40 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit). The town — like nearly all Palestinian towns — gets its water from the mains network of Israel, which has diverted supplies to Jewish settlements in the West Bank while the high temperatures persist, Palestinian authorities say. “I have grandchildren who can’t shower and who need something to drink,” Ali says. The shortage is felt all the more by Salfit’s residents as it comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when families gather each night for the iftar meal which breaks the daytime fast. In addition to families being unable to clean dishes or wash fruit and vegetables, the shortage is hitting the area’s olive and date trees, which require regular watering. Although the shortage is recent, the dispute over water has long been one of the main bones of contention in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Salfit sits on what have been the largest water reserves in historical Palestine and yet we have nothing to drink because our water is diverted to Israeli settlements,” Mayor Shaher Eshtieh complained. But according to Uri Schor, a spokesman for Israel’s water authority, both Israelis and Palestinians are suffering from the shortage, which he attributes to an excess of demand. He puts supply problems down to the “total refusal” by Palestinian officials to replace dilapidated pipelines, which can limit water capacity. According to EWASH, a collection of NGOs dealing with water in the Palestinian Territories, each West Bank inhabitant uses 73 litres (16 gallons) of water per day. That’s below the 100-litre level advised by the World Health Organization and less than a third of the 240 litres used daily by Israelis. Palestinian authorities accuse Israel of stalling permission to upgrade existing water infrastructure, which they say includes wells and pipes that have not been checked in years. Saleh Ataneh, head of Salfit’s water department, accused Israel of lying when it said that both communities were affected by cuts. He said shortages “only affect Palestinian towns and villages”.
Palestinian city parched after Israel cuts water supply
Haaretz 26 June by Amira Hass — Chickens and gardens in Salfit die of dehydration, and factories are shut down in an effort to conserve water; ‘We woke up one morning to an empty reservoir,’ the mayor says. ‘Had we known ahead of time that the water would be cut off, we would have stocked up.’ — “I can fast. My chickens and plants can’t. I can go without drinking water for 18 hours during Ramadan. I understand. But my plants and chickens, what do they know? What can I tell them – to make do, because Mekorot [the Israeli water company] is reducing the amount of water, and specifically now during the summer and Ramadan?” says Nizar Rayan, a resident of Qarawat Bani Hassan in the Salfit District. Rayan has an impressive plant nursery in front of his house and a large chicken coop down the road. At the beginning of June, when it became clear that the cuts in the water supply to the towns and villages in the central West Bank district were not temporary, he rushed out and sold almost all of his 700 chickens. He thought he would have enough water for about 80 chickens when the regular water supply was renewed, but 50 of them died from dehydration last week. Another died on Sunday. When he entered the almost empty coop to show me around, he discovered the dead body lying on the ground. That’s how, within two to three weeks, Rayan calculates that he’s lost some 7,000 shekels ($1,800). Now he fears for the fate of the plant nursery … When Rayan washes his hands before prayer, he is careful to do so in the garden – above a small tree or the seedlings – so they can enjoy a little too. For the past three weeks, the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians around Salfit and Nablus have revolved around water...
In other areas of the western West Bank, such as Tul Karm and Qalqilyah, the Jordanian authorities drilled deep water wells before 1967. They’re included in the water infrastructure the Palestinian Authority was allowed to operate. The Salfit District was unlucky, though, and has no such wells. The springs, shallow water wells and cisterns for collecting rainwater in homes and fields, met the needs of 60 years ago. “Who ever thought the day would come when we wouldn’t be able to use the water flowing under our feet based on our own needs,” says the mayor. The temporary-permanent Oslo Accords forbid the Palestinians from drilling deep wells in the region richest in water – the western basin.…
Prime Minister, Bethlehem governor pledge to resolve water crisis
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah met with the Bethlehem Governor Jibrin al-Bakri on Sunday to discuss the ongoing water crisis in the southern occupied West Bank district. Hamdallah told Ma‘an during a visit to Bethlehem that he and al-Bakri agreed that a “quick solution” must be worked out to guarantee that water supplies reach all areas in the Bethlehem district. “Water is available, and we only need to manage the resources,” Hamdallah said. The governor, he added, will undertake all the necessary procedures to ensure water returns to all Bethlehem residents. “Water is being misused and we need to use it rationally,” he added. Hamdallah also said that after reviewing consumer water prices in Bethlehem he found that “everybody is committed” to the current rates. Several areas of Bethlehem have suffered from longer-than-average water shortages in recent weeks, and the crisis has sparked clashes between Israeli forces and local youths. A Palestinian youth was injured in the al-Duheisha refugee camp on Friday after Israeli forces suppressed a demonstration there with live fire. Meanwhile, weeks-long water shortages have been reported from across the occupied West Bank, particularly in the northern districts of Nablus, Jenin, and Salfit, after Israel’s national water company Mekorot shut off supply. Hamdallah’s office called the move “inhumane and outrageous'” especially while Palestinian Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan fast throughout the hot summer days.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Israel to construct separation wall in southern al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 26 June — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) started the construction of a separation wall near al-Dhahiriya town in al-Khalil which will separate al-Khalil governorate from 1948 Occupied Palestine. Abdulhadi Hantash, the expert in Israeli settlement activity, told the PIC reporter that the wall to be established will confiscate thousands of dunums of Palestinians’ lands in al-Dhahiriya, al-Burj, and Arab Al-Ramadein towns. The separation wall will hinder the traffic towards 1948 Occupied Palestine for those who work there, Hantash highlighted.
Palestinians ‘living in hell’ as Israel grabs more land in West Bank
ESH KODESH, West Bank (The National) 26 June by Kate Shuttleworth — Mohammed Kamal was at work when he received a call from his distraught father that the Israeli army had delivered an eviction order to their family home in the Palestinian village of Jalud in the northern West Bank. Their one-storey house, along with the homes of dozens of Palestinian households, was slated to be demolished within three months. The notices — which were served between November and May — warned that 1,250 acres of private land in Jalud will be confiscated. They will become state land and fall under the full control of the Israeli military. But according to Palestinians, the land will be used to connect “extremist” Jewish outposts with established settlements as part of Israel’s plan to further colonise the West Bank. “We’ve been living in hell, we stay locked in our house in fear of the settlers,” said Mr Kamal, 30, who lives with his parents, wife and children. “I tell my family not to leave the house until I come home.” He said Jewish settlers have tried to burn down his cousin’s house and ruined his neighbour’s car while trying to get them to evict their respective properties. His cousin, who lives nearby, has an eviction and demolition order for his entire house. Mr Kamal received the same order, but for only half of his house — the portion that lies in Area C, which is part of the West Bank under full Israeli military control. The other half falls within Area B which is under joint Israeli-Palestinian control. All Jewish settlements and their outposts in the occupied West Bank are deemed illegal by the international community. But in Israel, most of the major settlements are considered legal and supported by government funds and services. The smaller outposts, often one or two temporary structures, are classified as illegal, but are often the start of a process which sees the land eventually turned into fully fledged settlements, and supported by the Israeli state. Last year, Israel’s high court announced it would retroactively legalise the string of outposts near Jalud. Under the government’s latest plans, the illegal settlement outposts of Esh Kodesh, Adei Ad, Ahiya and Kidah would be expanded and properties inside the four outposts — already built on stolen Palestinian land — would become legal….
Demolitions as displacement: Israel targets Negev’s Bedouin Palestinians
MEMO 23 June by Ben White — A new report has revealed how 2,752 structures were demolished in Bedouin Palestinian communities in the Negev over the last three years, part of what human rights activists have described as an ongoing, concerted campaign of displacement by Israeli authorities. ‘Enforcing Distress: House Demolition Policy in the Bedouin Community in the Negev’, published by the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF), sets out to reveal “the ways in which the [Israeli] state utilizes enforcement in order to displace citizens from their lands.” The NCF, established in 1997, describes itself as “a group of concerned Arab and Jewish residents of the Negev…to provide a framework for Jewish- Arab collaborative efforts in the struggle for civil equality and the advancement of mutual tolerance and coexistence.” 982 structures were demolished in 2015, down from 1,073 in 2014, but a significant increase from 2013’s figure of 697 structures. Over the three years, more than 50 percent of the structures were demolished by their owners, while Israeli authorities directly carried out 1,041 demolitions. Not only do many Bedouin Palestinian citizens choose to demolish their own structure before the state does so, but during 2014-’15, some 211 structures were demolished before an order had even been issued. These ‘demolitions without warrant’ follow “pressure” by inspectors on the owners … The report also highlights legislation used to target Bedouin Palestinian communities, such as the Planning and Construction Law (1965). Through this law, “large parts” of southern Israel, “including many unrecognized villages”, were “demarcated exclusively for agricultural, and not for residential use.” Crucially, however, this was applied to villages that “already existed in their present locations”, communities that in some cases even pre-date the establishment of the State of Israel….
Youth remind Palestine of need for boycott movement
DURA, Occupied Palestine 26 June by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On June 25th 2016, the Tomorrow’s Youth Forum (Moltaqa Sawa’d) in cooperation with the Partnership Institution For Development distributed water and date packages in Dura’s city center near occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) to raise awareness about the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Movement (BDS) against the Israeli occupation. Along with the bundle, kids and youngsters from the center handed-out leaflets and stickers to shop owners and car drivers in the street to inform them about the common Israeli goods in the West Bank. Although sales of Israeli goods in the West Bank have recently decreased by half, at least 70% of Palestinian imports continue to come from Israel or through it. Consumers in the West Bank have usually no access to substitute products from their own markets, and hence, are forced to buy staple-goods like fruits and vegetables from illegal Israeli settlements. The few Palestinian products currently competing in the market need to be fostered by local communities, and the youth promoting the BDS movement are there to give them the boost they need….
Kuwait divests from G4S
IMEMC/Agencies 26 June — The Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) in Kuwait has decided, as reported in the Kuwaiti media, to divest its funds from G4S, a company that is profiting from the Israeli occupation and has a notorious record of human rights abuses. The decision comes following calls from BDS Kuwait and the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, on PIFSS to divest from G4S. Earlier in May, a parliamentary inquiry by Kuwaiti MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan directed to the Ministry of Finance was submitted raising questions about the nature of the shares that PIFSS held in G4S, a company that is profiting from Israeli international law violations committed against the Palestinian people. In his response to the parliamentary inquiry, the Kuwaiti Minister of Finance, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the PIFSS, confirmed that PIFSS has sold all its shares in G4S. Guman Mussa, BDS Campaigns Coordinator in the Arab World, welcomed the new victory against G4S saying: “The decision of PIFSS in Kuwait to respond to a call made by Palestinian civil society and BDS Kuwait affirms that the Palestinian cause is part and parcel of the consciousness of the Kuwaiti people. Kuwait shines a glimmer of hope against normalization with Israel’s regime of occupation and settler-colonialism”….
Presbyterian and UU breakthrough votes on Palestine
Mondoweiss 26 June by Anna Baltzer — The US Campaign to End the Occupation today posted Anna Baltzer’s report on two church conferences. I cannot remember a more significant day in church activism for Palestinian rights than the past 24 hours. The largest gathering of UUs in the country just voted on whether to endorse the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)’s recent divestment from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation. The general assembly achieved a simple majority while falling short of the two thirds needed for passage. We congratulate member group Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME), which led a dynamic campaign, building the momentum and leverage to achieve actual divestment more quickly than any other denomination has! Just last night, the Presbyterian Church (USA) passed a series of powerful overtures by a landslide with the strong leadership of member organization Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) … Unintimidated by today’s climate of repression targeting activism for Palestinian rights, the Presbyterian and UU churches are marching steadily ahead, alongside the many other denominations and religious organizations that have already taken economic actions including the United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Quakers, Mennonite Central Committee, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and the Alliance of Baptists….
Israeli court rejects bid to close Palestinian quarries for environmental reasons
Haaretz 24 June by Chaim Levinson — Forum for a Green Israel asked to close four legally operating Palestinian quarries, while ignoring Israeli-owned quarries in the West Bank — The High Court of Justice this week rejected a petition by the Forum for a Green Israel against the continued operation of Palestinian quarries in the West Bank, accusing them of causing serious environmental pollution. The nonprofit organization was ordered to pay the quarries and the state 5,000 shekels ($1,300) each in legal costs. The Forum for a Green Israel was founded by Gilad Ach in 2011 after his older brother, who served in the naval commandos, died of cancer, which the family says was the direct result of his military training in the contaminated waters of the Kishon River in Haifa. The Israel Defense Forces denies any such connection. One of the group’s projects is to document Palestinian quarries in the West Bank, which it says are operating illegally. Ach is also involved in placing people in left-wing and human rights organizations to document what they call abuses by these groups, and expose them in the media. In an interview with the “Uvda” (Fact) investigative reporting show on Channel 2, Ach said his activities concerning the human rights groups began when during his activities against the quarries he saw demonstrations by Palestinians and Israelis who confronted police officers, so he decided to also investigate these organizations. As part of his actions against the quarries, Forum for a Green Israel activists observed the quarries’ operations and even rode in trucks transporting the quarry products. The group investigated only Palestinian-owned quarries….
Abbas admits reports of rabbi calling for poisoning Palestinian wells false
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 June — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas backpedaled on controversial statements he made during a speech in front of the European Union parliament on Thursday alleging that Israeli rabbis had incited to poison Palestinian water wells. A statement released by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) late on Friday evening admitted that the reports on which Abbas had based his statements were inaccurate. “After it has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless, President Mahmoud Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world,” the statement said. The PLO also affirmed that Abbas “rejected all claims that accuse him and the Palestinian people of offending the Jewish religion,” adding that he “also condemned all accusations of anti-Semitism.” While the main thrust of Abbas’s speech to the EU parliament centered on condemning the international community’s complacency with Israel’s illegal occupation, his off-transcript remarks regarding the alleged incitement by Israeli rabbis made headlines and sparked outrage in Israel. “Only a week ago, a number of rabbis in Israel announced, and made a clear announcement, demanding that their government poison the water to kill the Palestinians,” Abbas reportedly said. “Isn’t that clear incitement to commit mass killings against the Palestinian people?” Various media outlets, including Gulf News and Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported that a rabbi or group of rabbis had issued such an advisory, though the reports were later debunked by Reuters and other Israeli media sites.
Iftar fundraiser in Abu Gosh helps sick Palestinians get help in Israeli hospitals
JPost 26 June by Udi Shaham — Hundreds of people gathered in the schoolyard at the Abu Gosh Comprehensive High School [in Israel] on Friday for a festive Ramadan break-fast dinner and to raise money to help Palestinian patients get treatment in Israeli hospitals. The celebrants came from the town west of Jerusalem and from neighboring villages to the event that was organized by the Salametcom nonprofit organization. After the meal, the guests were entertained with traditional music and Dabke dancing. The event was attended by Abu Gosh’s mayor, Issa Jaber, and by hospitalized children from Hadassah Medical Center who are being helped by Salametcom. The group provides assistance to patients from the West Bank and Gaza Strip from the moment they cross the checkpoint. “Many times, family members of the patients face troubles with crossing the checkpoint and accompanying them. We drive them from there directly to the hospital and assist them with getting the correct treatment,” says Yaacob Ibrahim, the event organizer and one of the senior volunteers of the organization. “ “We assist with whatever possible – from subsidizing medicine to fun activity days for hospitalized children. We have a storage facility with wheelchairs and strollers, and we are holding this fund-raiser in order to fund that kind of equipment,” says Ibrahim. “We started off translating medical forms from Hebrew to Arabic, and in time we expanded our services.” … “Many children who are coming from the West Bank say that they want to see the sea. It warms the heart every single time to see their excitement when they get to the sea,” she says. “Other than that, it is important to stress that we are not a politically or nationally affiliated organization. Although we assist the Arabic-speaking population, when we hand out presents in the hospital we do not ask who is an Arab and who is Jewish – everyone gets. More than once when we had Dabke dancers coming to entertain the patients we were joined by Jews,” she says with satisfaction.
West Bank: Small grants go a long way
ICRC 23 June — The area known as H2, situated in the old city of Hebron, is one of the most sensitive areas in the West Bank. Local residents face difficult living conditions, and restrictions on their movements have made it more complicated for people to improve their livelihoods. In 2012, the ICRC provided 30 families with a grant to start or improve a small business. Four years later, many of those families are running successful businesses. These are a few of their stories. Marwan Jaber:Farmer “I couldn’t imagine that one day I would run a good business.” 48-year-old Marwan Jaber has a farm in the old city of Hebron. In 2012, he received a small grant to expand production. Together with his brothers, Hazem and Atef, they built a greenhouse to better care for and nurture their crops. Today, the brothers are able to plant different types of vegetables throughout the year. “We produce cucumbers and sell them fresh at the market. In a few weeks, we will replace the cucumbers with green beans. We use greenhouse according to the demand in the market.”….
European Union provides nearly €154,000 to support farmers and agro-businesses in the West Bank
UNISPAL 23 June — The European Union is making its first contribution to the Palestinian Authority’s Programme “Assistance to Agriculture in the West Bank (AAWB)”. This contribution, channelled through PEGASE, amounts to €154,000 and is funded by the European Union. The eligible beneficiaries are farmers and agro-businesses, in the West Bank, directly affected by Israeli Occupation. This contribution will help the farmers to restart, repair or replace their damaged businesses through different activities including acquisition of agricultural supplies, rehabilitation of land and other small infrastructure works. This contribution represents the pre-financing tranche of EU’s financial commitment towards 19 eligible beneficiaries in Burin village in the Nablus Governorate. The overall financial envelop of the Assistance to Agriculture in the West Bank (AAWB) programme is EUR 7.0 million that is expected to serve about 360 eligible beneficiaries in the West Bank. The programme is managed by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture. The payments are made by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Finance and Planning through a network of local banks in the West Bank.
Israeli university nixes decision to grant prize to Breaking the Silence
Haaretz 26 June by Or Kashti — In an exceptional move, the president of Ben-Gurion University recently canceled a department’s decision to grant an award to the Breaking the Silence organization. The Berelson Prize for Jewish-Arab Understanding, which is worth 20,000 shekels ($5,100), is granted annually by the Middle East Studies department to individuals or organizations that have contributed to such understanding. But in response to the decision of BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi to overturn the decision to grant the award to Breaking the Silence, department head Prof. Haggai Ram said the department has decided not to give the prize to anyone this year. Carmi’s decision shocked and outraged many people on campus … Past recipients of the prize, which has been granted for 25 years, include Egyptian playwright Ali Salem; Palestinian poet in Israel, Siham Daoud; the Parents Circle – Families Forum, an organization of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families; Physicians for Human Rights; a bilingual school in the Galilee; Sikkuy – the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality; and the Andalus publishing house.
Opinion: For Israel’s new defense minister, a bad Arab is one who seeks reconciliation / Odeh Bisharat
Haaretz 27 June — The world according to Avigdor Lieberman: When a PLO official holds a discourse with Israelis he must be silenced — The first decision by new Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman with regard to the Palestinians was to cancel the entrance permit of Mohammed al-Madani, who heads the PLO team for interaction with Israeli society. The team was established in December 2012, and since then has initiated hundreds of meetings between Israelis and Palestinians. According to Madani, the Palestinians have met with people from the right and the left, students, researchers, mayors and women’s organizations. Lieberman took this step because he said Madani planned to establish a political party that would include Israeli Arabs and Mizrahim (Jews of Mideast and North African origin) … I asked what Madani had been doing before he managed to irk Lieberman. Instead of answering me, he responded with a battery of rhetorical questions: Does speaking about the two-state solution constitute a threat to Israel? Do our meetings with Mizrahi Jews, at which we spoke about the good old days when the two peoples lived in peace, pose a threat? What about the meetings with Russian immigrants, in which we spoke of Palestinian students who studied in Russian universities and had Jewish professors — do they undermine Israeli public order? Unfortunately I had to answer — to myself, of course — yes. Madani’s approach shakes up the foundations of the Israeli right, which thrives on hatred and incitement. Suddenly from out of nowhere comes Madani and raises the possibility of reconciliation between the two peoples. Because of him we will have another term, “reconciliation terrorism,” added to the glory of the Hebrew language….