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Former Israeli soldier insists he beat a Palestinian detainee despite government investigation exonerating him

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Solidarity / BDS

Israeli veteran, government clash over alleged abuse of Palestinian
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 22 Nov by Dan Williams — An Israeli ex-soldier who serves as a spokesman for a group that documents alleged abuses of Palestinians has set off a legal tussle with the Israeli authorities by saying he himself beat a detainee. After Dean Issacharoff, a former army lieutenant, spoke of the incident in a speech uploaded to YouTube in April, the Israeli Justice Ministry took the unusual move of launching an investigation, with him as a suspect. Issacharoff, the son of a senior diplomat [Israel’s ambassador to Germany], belongs to Breaking the Silence, a circle of army veterans that has long angered Israeli leaders by publicising abroad what it says are confessions of war crimes in occupied Palestinian territory. The group portrayed as another example of Israeli military excess Issacharoff’s account of what he said was his own beating of a Palestinian stone-thrower in the West Bank town of Hebron while trying to handcuff him in 2014. But the Justice Ministry last week declared the case closed, saying questioning of the alleged Palestinian victim showed the event had never happened and that Issacharoff had made a “mendacious claim”. On Twitter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the decision as “further proof Breaking the Silence lies and slanders our soldiers”. Issacharoff retorted on social media that the ministry had questioned the wrong Palestinian – a man he had detained separately in Hebron around the same time. Breaking the Silence issued what it said was video of the right incident, showing Issacharoff frog-marching a handcuffed man. The Palestinian appears to have dark patches on his cheeks, which the group said were bruises from Issacharoff having kneed him. Issacharoff said he bloodied the Palestinian, though no blood is seen on the detainee in the footage. Achiya Schatz, another Breaking the Silence spokesman, accused the Justice Ministry of clearing Issacharoff in order to discredit the group … Interviewed on Israeli television, the Palestinian, Faisal al-Natsheh, said he had been detained though he had not thrown stones, and had been beaten by troops. He could not confirm Issacharoff was among them. “They didn’t let me look at them, not even once,” he said.

Opinion: To whitewash occupation, Netanyahu crew casts Breaking the Silence whistleblower as bogeyman
Haaretz 21 Nov by Chemi Shalev — The Palestinian Authority is the best thing that ever happened to the Israeli right. Any doubts about such an assertion evaporate instantly when one watches a series of reports, aired this week by the newly established Kan public network, marking the 30th anniversary of the first intifada. They depict the reality that existed before the Oslo Accords, before the advent of the Palestinian Authority when Israeli soldiers clashed daily and directly with thousands of Palestinian assailants and hundreds of thousands of their supporters. In those days, it was hard to conceal the occupation. In those days, everyone was Dean Issacharoff, the spokesman of Breaking the Silence, whose recent portrayal of his own assault as an Israel Defense Forces soldier on a Palestinian detainee in Hebron is now the focus of national controversy.  How times have changed since then. Now there is a PA that relieves IDF soldiers of most of its need to confront Palestinians. Now there is a harsh right-wing government in Israel that wants to beautify the occupation, and if possible, to make it vanish from Israeli minds altogether. So now it’s acceptable to take one solitary combat soldier, such as Issacharoff – who seeks to protest the occupation by relaying his experiences as an occupier – and to depict him as an exception that proves the rule. He is being turned into a scapegoat that “shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited,” as the Book of Leviticus prescribes. One person is stained, but the entire community is absolved. One will be condemned, and everyone else can get back to turning a blind eye, as usual. To her credit, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was the first to recognize the potential in Issacharoff’s testimony. Shaked realized that it’s a win-win situation for her and her radical-right fans. Either Issacharoff will be prosecuted, showing the world that Israel deals harshly with “deviant” behavior such as his, or he won’t be prosecuted, in which case Breaking the Silence will be cast as a bunch of liars….

Explained – UN blacklist: Why Israel is ‘doing everything it can’ to thwart the Human Rights Council
[not behind the paywall] Haaretz/AP 26 Nov — ‘The council’s bias against Israel is so extreme that it has lost all relevance in the world,’ wrote an Israeli CEO targeted by the UN’s ‘blacklist’ — Weeks ahead of the expected completion of a UN database of companies that operate in Israel’s West Bank settlements, Israel and the Trump Administration are working feverishly to prevent its publication. “We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, told The Associated Press. While Israel is usually quick to brush off UN criticism, officials say they are taking the so-called “blacklist” seriously, fearing its publication could have devastating consequences by driving companies away, deterring others from coming and prompting investors to dump shares of Israeli firms. Dozens of major Israeli companies, as well as multinationals that do business in Israel, are expected to appear on the list. The UN’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, ordered the compilation of the database in March 2016, calling on UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein to “investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on Palestinians.” … Danon, the Israeli ambassador, accused the council of unfairly targeting Israel at a time of conflict throughout the world, saying it amounted to a “blacklist” of Jewish companies and those who do business with the Jewish state. He also said it would turn the rights council into “the world’s biggest promoter of BDS,” an acronym for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement — a grassroots international boycott movement against Israel. Most of the companies linked to the blacklist are frequent targets of the BDS movement….

Israel’s quarries plunder Palestinian natural resources
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 26 Nov – It was between 1981 and 1982 when Israeli authorities seized several pieces of land to the west of the town of al-Zawiya, west of Salfit, in the occupied West Bank and used the illegally confiscated land to build quarries.  Azmi Shuqair, a Palestinian journalist and also owner of one of the lands seized by Israel, told WAFA that the Israeli authorities have been seizing more and more land over the years to construct quarries.  “In the beginning, Israel seized more than 500 dunums and constructed quarries. Now, more than 1500 dunums were plundered for quarries construction,” said Shuqair. “300 dunums were confiscated so that Israel builds a military training camp for the Israeli army.”  Shuqair said such cases should be taken to international courts to sue both the Israeli authorities and the companies working in the quarries construction.  In 2015, Norwegian insurance company KLP announced that it had decided to withdraw investments from the two large international construction material companies, HeidelbergCement and Simex, which operate through Israeli companies, due to their activities in the occupied West Bank in a way that violates the Geneva Convention.  The Danish pension fund also withdrew its investment in a global building materials company, which operates a quarry in the West Bank …  By the beginning of 2016, there were approximately 10 quarries owned by Israeli settlers on Palestinian lands, producing 2,930 tons of gravel, 1,400 tons of basecourse and 3,030 tons of soft soil, 80% of which goes to construct Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Israel….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Soldiers dump civilian outside refugee camp, after shooting and abducting him from ambulance
IMEMC 27 Nov by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers released, on Sunday at night, a young Palestinian man, who was shot and injured by army fire, on Sunday afternoon, by dumping him at the entrance of the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that the soldiers threw the wounded man, Ahmad Abu Rayya, 20, at the main entrance of the refugee camp, before its medics were called to the scene and rushed him to the Hebron governmental hospital. It is worth mentioning that Abu Rayya was abducted by Israeli soldiers at the Gush Etzion Junction, while he was being rushed to a hospital in Bethlehem. He was shot by live Israeli army fire, in his leg, in the al-‘Arroub refugee camp. [26 Nov article: The soldiers shot another young man, Mohannad Moheeb Jawabra, with an exploding bullet in his pelvis, before local medics moved him to a hospital in Hebron.]

Israeli forces shoot, injure German activist with rubber-coated steel bullet
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — A German activist was reportedly injured by Israeli forces on Friday, as soldiers suppressed a weekly march in the village of Bil‘in, west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that Palestinian, Israeli and international activists participated in the village’s weekly march against illegal Israeli settlements and Israel’s separation wall– built on lands belonging to Bil‘in. Activists raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans calling for unity and resistance to the Israeli occupation.Israeli forces reportedly flew a surveillance drone overhead the area that took photos of the protest, triggering clashes with protesters. Israeli forces began opening fire on protestors, injuring a 26-year-old German activist with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the back.

Rabbi urges Israel to finish off wounded Palestinians
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Nov —  A Jewish rabbi has urged Israeli occupation forces to “finish off” wounded Palestinians who carry out resistance attacks, and to refrain from providing them with medical treatment or first aid, leaving them to bleed to death. The right-wing Rabbi Baruch Marzel, who lives in an illegal settlement in Hebron, claims that “since the Elor Azarya affair, terrorists are not killed and soldiers do not finish the job and do not make sure that the terrorist is dead.” However, according to the PNN, the facts on the ground indicate that Israelis have been continuously targeting unarmed Palestinians. The most recent incident was when a member of the Givati Brigade killed a young Palestinian man, Mohammed Musa, 29, and left him to bleed to death. His sister Latifa Musa, 33, was wounded, which forced the brigade’s leadership in the occupied West Bank to reprimand the soldier and dismiss another officer. Elor Azarya shot Abdul Fattah Al-Sharif as he lay motionless on the floor in occupied Hebron on 24 March 2016. After pulling the trigger Azaria said: “He deserved to die.”….

Israeli army rescues 3 civilians from West Bank after car is torched
i24NEWS 21 Nov — The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reported rescuing three Israelis who illegally entered the West Bank Palestinian city of Nablus late Tuesday night after their car was stolen and set ablaze. It was not immediately clear why they entered the city, as the three civilians were in violation of military law that prohibits Israelis from entering into Palestinian-controlled Area A. The car theft and burning happened after the three of them left their vehicle to roam the city.
In other news in Nablus, tension is rising over the IDF’s increasingly frequent escort of religious Jews (recently about 1000 Israelis) to enter the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb. Palestinian media outlets reported clashes between local youth and Israeli forces, though the IDF said the prayers were carried out without incident. In a Facebook post earlier this week, the B’Tselem rights group said that “the army imposes sweeping restrictions on the movement of Palestinian residents in the area (of Joseph’s Tomb), which turn them into prisoners in their homes.” In August, two Palestinians were shot and wounded by Israeli troops who were providing protection to Jewish worshipers visiting Joseph’s Tomb. During past visits, Nablus residents have attacked the groups entering the site with rocks, Molotov cocktails and rifle fire. Back in October 2015, Palestinian rioters set fire to the holy site, which was restored and reopened several weeks later.

PPS: Israeli soldiers abduct 16 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 22 Nov — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday at dawn, sixteen Palestinians, including one woman, from several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The Hebron office of the PPS, in southern West Bank, said the soldiers abducted Maisoon Anis al-Halees, from Yatta town, south of Hebron, after invading and searching her home, and released her later. Also in Yatta, the soldiers abducted Ashraf Nassar, Rasmi Jabr al-Adra, Abdul-Sabour Mohammad Abu Samra, Mousa Younis Abu ‘Arram, Talab Mousa Abu Samra and Mohammad Mousa Abu Samra.
In Jenin governorate, in northern West Bank, the soldiers also invaded and searched many homes, and abducted five Palestinians, identified as Tha‘er Jamil Abu Khamis, his brother Yasser, in addition to Ahmad Mahmoud Kabaha, Sa‘ad-Eddin Mohammad Jaradat and Ala Abdul-Karim Athamla. In Ramallah, in central West Bank, the soldiers abducted Anan Khader Suleiman, Ahmad Mohammad Suleiman, and Thieb Saleh Thieb.  In Bethlehem, the soldiers abducted Ward Adnan Saifi, from Deheishe refugee camp, south of the city.

Israeli forces detain 9-year-old Palestinian boy in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — Israeli forces detained at least nine Palestinians, including a nine-year-old boy, during raids between Wednesday night and Thursday morning in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the Hebron district in the southern West Bank, including nine-year-old Muhammad Ammar Daana, Mumen Ayoub al-Qawasmeh and Adel Barakat Ghaith. Prisoner’s rights group Addameer released a statement on their Facebook page regarding Daana’s detention, saying “a 9-year-old is not a terrorist; he poses no threat to the heavily armed soldier; he is but a prisoner in an elaborate system of control, which has been used to suppress a people’s’ legitimate struggle for self-determination and dignity.” Also in the southern West Bank, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the Bethlehem district. PPS identified them as Shadi al-Badawneh and Yousif Muhammad Daowud Salah. Israeli forces detained a leader of the Islamic Jihad movement, identified as Said Nakhleh, from the al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Ramallah. In the northern West Bank, PPS reported that Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the Jenin district. They were identified as Sharaf Abu Obeid from the al-Yamun town and Muhammad Saleh Sabaaneh from Qabatiya. In Tulkarem, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian identified as Izz al-Din Abu Dayyeh.
Meanwhile in the Qalqiliya district, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided more than 30 houses in the ‘Azzun village and distributed flyers threatening sanctions against residents of the village if rock-throwing against soldiers and settlers on the main road near the village continues. Locals said that more than 25 Israeli military jeeps raided the village from its northern entrance.  Some of the 30 houses were identified as belonging to Hisham Adwan, a library belonging to Hamzeh Hussein and houses belonging to Khalid Shello, Adeeb Shello, Imad Shello and Zuheir Azmi Shello….

Israeli forces raid 2 homes in Hebron-area town allegedly looking for weapons
HEBRON (Ma‘’an) 24 Nov — Israeli forces raided two Palestinian homes on Friday at dawn in the southern occupied West Bank town of Beit Ummar in the northern Hebron district. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided two homes belonging to brothers Iyad and Rami Bassam Khalil Zaaqiq  .Israeli forces raided and searched the homes allegedly looking for weapons. During the raid, soldiers held the families in one room of one house.
According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces conducted 166 search and arrest operations across the West Bank between October 24 and November 26. Israeli forces often search and ransack homes, typically in the middle of the night, allegedly in search of weapons.

Bir Zeit student leader Osama Mafarjeh seized by Israeli occupation forces
Samidoun 26 Nov — Israeli occupation forces seized Palestinian student leader Osama Mafarjeh, in addition to six more Palestinians taken by occupation forces from their homes in pre-dawn raids. Mafarjeh, 24, is the president of the Islamic Bloc at Bir Zeit University and has been imprisoned before by the Israeli occupation as well as Palestinian Authority security forces. He was taken away by occupation forces after his vehicle was stopped by an occupation military checkpoint imposed at Beit Ur al-Fuqua southwest of Ramallah. Palestinian students are frequently subject to arrest and imprisonment on the basis of their student activities; most student blocs are labeled as prohibited organizations by the occupation due to their political affiliations. Over 60 Bir Zeit University students are imprisoned in Israeli jails; just last week a number of students at an-Najah University in Nablus were seized by occupation forces. The Islamic Bloc, which Mafarjeh represents, won the largest share of seats on Bir Zeit’s student council during the annual spring elections.

Prisoners / Court actions

Palestinian women and girls: Ihsan Dababseh released, Ansam Shawahneh sentenced to 5 years
Samidoun 23 Nov — Palestinian prisoner Ihsan Dababseh was released from Israeli occupation prison on Thursday, 23 November, leaving five Palestinian women jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention and approximately 59 total Palestinian women prisoners in Israeli jails. Dababseh, 32, from the town of Nuba in al-Khalil, was jailed for nine months without charge or trial since being seized by occupation forces on 27 February 2017. She has been arrested and imprisoned on multiple occasions by Israeli occupation forces, including in 2007 and 2014; she was last released in July 2016 after being accused of membership in the Islamic Jihad movement. The five Palestinian women who remain imprisoned without charge or trial are Palestinian leader and parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar, Jerusalemite seamstress Sabah Faraoun, journalist Bushra al-Tawil, Afnan Abu Haniyeh and Khadija Ruba‘i….

Palestinian gets 2 life sentences for deadly car ramming
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 Nov — A Palestinian convicted of killing an Israeli soldier and wounding another in the occupied West Bank was handed two life sentences by a military court on Wednesday, the Israeli army said. A military court sentenced Hamas operative Malek Hamed to two life sentences for killing Sergeant Elchai Teharlev and injuring another soldier,” it said. The attack took place in April at an intersection near the Israeli settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah. Hamed drove his vehicle at a group of Israeli soldiers waiting at a bus stop, killing Teharlev, 20, and wounding a 19-year-old fellow soldier, the army said. The attacker was wounded by gunfire and arrested at the scene.

Palestinian who was pardoned sentenced on earlier charges
JENIN (WAFA) 23 Nov – A Palestinian whom Israel had pardoned in 2010 was nevertheless sentenced by a military court on earlier charges to two life terms plus 40 years and $58,000 fine, according to a family member. The military court at Salem, in the north of the occupied West Bank, passed its harsh sentence on Mohammad Zakarneh, 43, from town of Qabatya south of Jenin and a father of five, even though the Israeli military government had pardoned him in 2010 from any previous act he was involved in, said his brother. He told WAFA that Zakarneh was arrested on May 28, 2012, despite the pardon decision. Zakarneh works for the Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security.

Israeli authorities ban Palestinian Jerusalemite entry to Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Nov — Israeli police released a Palestinian from detention on Tuesday evening on the condition of being banned entry to the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem for one month. Bassel Abed told Ma‘an that Israeli intelligence officials summoned him for interrogation at the Russian compound detention center in Jerusalem and interrogated him on a project that he was working on about the city’s population. The interrogator told Abed that his project was an “assault on the sovereignty of the state.” Abed added that he was also interrogated on his relationship with some Fatah movement leaders in Jerusalem.He said that the Israeli intelligence decided to release him on the condition of banning him entry to the Old City for 30 days and signing a bail.

Israeli officers disciplined after West Bank shooting
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Nov — The Israeli army has suspended an officer and reprimanded another after an incident in the occupied West Bank during which a Palestinian driver was killed, the military said on Tuesday. Mohammed Moussa, 26, was killed on October 31 and his sister was wounded when soldiers opened fire on their car near the Jewish settlement of Halamish and the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. The army had said the vehicle approached soldiers stationed near the settlement in the northern West Bank in a “suspicious” manner, and ordered an investigation. Following the inquiry, a squad commander “was suspended from command positions due to his unprofessional conduct from the moment he received the report and his subsequent behaviour on the scene”, Tuesday’s army statement said.  A second officer was reprimanded “for his deficiency in clarifying to his soldiers the proper protocol for identifying vehicles travelling in a suspicious manner”.

Supporters of jailed Israeli soldier attack president’s pardon denial
JERUSALEM (AFP) 20 Nov — Rightist Israeli politicians and angry members of the public lashed out at President Reuven Rivlin Monday over his refusal to pardon a soldier jailed for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant [Abdel Fattah al-Sharif]. Rivlin’s decision not to intervene in the case of Elor Azaria’s manslaughter conviction was the latest chapter in a story that has divided Israel since the March 2016 incident in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Police on Monday announced an investigation after a photoshopped picture of Rivlin wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh headdress emerged amid widespread rage over his decision, announced on Sunday. The badly doctored picture features a smiling Rivlin and the caption “Reuven Rivlin a traitorous Jew-boy may his name and memory be accursed” in Hebrew. It immediately sparked comparisons with posters of Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin in a keffiyeh which appeared ahead of his assassination by a Jewish extremist in 1995….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Susiya under renewed threat of demolition by Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Nov — The Palestinian village of Susiya, located in the South Hebron Hills area of the southern occupied West Bank, is under renewed threat of expulsion by the Israeli state, according to a statement from international activists working in the area. The activists released a statement on Saturday saying that on Wednesday, November 22, the Israeli State Attorney’s Office announced that within 15 days, it would demolish some 20 buildings in the village, representing approximately one-fifth of the total number of buildings in Susiya. Israel claimed that the buildings were constructed in violation of a judicial order, though the Palestinians in Susiya deny such claims. “In accordance with international law, Israel has no right to change the local legislation, including local practices relating to property and settlement, unless there is a clear security need to do so,” the statement said.Susiya is considered “illegal” by the Israeli state and has been embroiled in legal battles with the Israeli state for years….

Israeli forces demolish structures in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 22 Nov – Israeli forces demolished on Wednesday a residential structure and an animal barn in the village of al-Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley area in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources.  Aref Daraghmeh, a local activist, said Israeli army demolished a metal shelter and a barn used for animal husbandry owned by Rajab Abed under the pretext of construction without a permit.  Meanwhile, Israeli army notified five Palestinian families in the village of Deir Ballout, near the town of Salfit in the West Bank, about its  intention to demolish tents that they have been using as homes. The army gave the families seven days to leave the tents in preparation for their demolition, which will lead to the displacement of 25 individuals. The Israeli authorities had also notified a Palestinian from the nearby village of Hares to stop the construction of his home for lacking an Israeli construction permit. They also notified to demolish three industrial workshops in the village for the same pretext.

How Israel is ‘cleansing’ Palestinians from Greater Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (MEE) 23 Nov by Jonathan Cook — Israel is putting in place the final pieces of a Greater Jewish Jerusalem that will require “ethnically cleansing” tens of thousands of Palestinians from a city their families have lived and worked in for generations, human rights groups have warned. The pace of physical and demographic changes in the city has accelerated dramatically since Israel began building a steel and concrete barrier through the city’s Palestinian neighbourhoods more than a decade ago, according to the rights groups and Palestinian researchers. Israel is preparing to cement these changes in law, they note. Two parliamentary bills with widespread backing among government ministers indicate the contours of Jerusalem’s future. One bill intends to annex to Jerusalem some 150,000 Jews in illegal West Bank settlements surrounding the city. As well as bolstering the city’s Jewish population, the move will give these additional settlers a vote in Jerusalem’s municipal elections, pushing it politically even further to the right. Another bill will deny more than 100,000 Palestinians on the “wrong” side of the barrier rights in the city. They will be assigned to a separate local council for Palestinians only, in what observers fear will be a prelude to stripping them of residency and barring them from Jerusalem. Meanwhile, a web of harsh Israeli policies, including late-night arrests, land shortages, home demolitions and a denial of basic services, are intensifying the pressure on Palestinians inside the wall to move out. These measures are designed to pre-empt any future peace efforts, and effectively nullify Palestinian ambitions for a state with East Jerusalem as its capital, said Aviv Tatarsky, a field researcher with Ir Amim, an Israeli group advocating fair treatment for Palestinians in Jerusalem. “What is going on is ethnic cleansing, without guns,” Tatarsky told Middle East Eye. “Israel hopes to get rid of a third of Jerusalem’s Palestinian population through legislative moves alone.”….

Israeli government allocates disproportionate aid to settlements, study finds
Haaretz 20 Nov by Hagai Amit — Largesse encompasses state-initiated building, local budgets, schools and public transportation — They accounted for just 4.5% of Israel’s population in 2016, but West Bank settlers got outsize government aid for construction, education and budgetary help for their local authorities, a study by the Center for Political Economics released on Sunday found.  The settlements were the recipients of 10.2% of all residential construction initiated by the government, an increase of more than seven-fold since 2012 when they accounted for just 1.4%, although the rate was down from a historic high of 23.7% in 1998, according to the study, which sought to measure the economic costs of the settlements….

Israeli attorney general asks High Court to strike down land expropriation law
Haaretz 22 Nov by Yotam Berger — Avichai Mendelblit argues that bill gives full preference to settlers’ interests over property rights of Palestinian land owners — Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit asked the High Court of Justice on Wednesday to strike down a law passed by the Knesset in February, permitting the state to expropriate privately owned Palestinian land in West Bank settlements under certain conditions. Mendelblit, who refused to defend the law in court on the state’s behalf, called the legislation unconstitutional in his brief to the court Wednesday and said it served an improper purpose. Commonly called the Land Regularization Law, it allows the state to take over privately owned Palestinian land on which settlements or outposts were built “in good faith or at the state’s instruction” as government property, and denies its owners the right to use or possess such land until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories. The law gives Palestinian landowners the right to choose compensation consisting of annual use payments for the equivalent of 125 percent of the land’s value for renewable periods of 20 years, or an alternate plot of land if this is possibleThe High Court has suspended implementation of the law until a final ruling is made on legal challenges to it filed by Palestinians and left-wing Israeli organizations.

Israel denies Palestinian petition to return lands being farmed by settlers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — Israel’s High Court on Thursday denied a petition filed by Palestinian landowners in the Jordan Valley area of the occupied West Bank demanding that their lands that are being cultivated by illegal Israeli settlers be returned to them. Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the landowners filed the petition following a 2013 Haaretz report were cultivating land that had been seized by an Israeli military order in the late 1960s, declaring it a “closed military zone.” During the hearing on Thursday, the court allegedly tried to persuade the Palestinian landowners to accept financial compensation rather than the land. But when they refused, the court ruled against them. “‘During the hearings, we tried to bring the parties to an agreement under which the heirs would get financial compensation for the unfavorable situation in which they found themselves. Unfortunately, the arrangement did not help and we cannot attribute this to the respondents,’ meaning the state and settlers,” Haaretz quoted the court as saying. “The justices stressed that ‘there is nothing in this ruling that prevents the petitioners from petitioning for the annulment of the military closure order or to petition against the use of the land by the respondents.’” According to Haaretz, the lands were given by the state to the World Zionist Organization in the 1980’s,who then allocated the land to illegal settlers residing in the area. The largest area, some 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres), is now a date grove, Haaretz said.

Israeli forces confiscate garbage truck serving Nablus-area villages
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — Israeli forces on Thursday reportedly confiscated a Palestinian garbage truck in the town of ‘Aqraba, south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, according to local sources. Member of a local popular committee in southern Nablus Youssif Deiriyeh told Ma‘an that Israeli forces ambushed the garbage truck that serves several villages in southern Nablus, and closed all roads in front of the vehicle and confiscated it to an unknown location. The exact reason for the confiscation remained unclear, though Deiriyeh said that Israeli forces routinely obstruct garbage transfer to areas close to illegal settlements, even if the villages are in Area B and under control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). He added that Israeli forces had confiscated a garbage truck working for the Qabalan municipality three months ago and have not returned it, causing garbage to pile in the nearby villages and communities served by the truck.


Gaza-Egypt border to remain closed after Sinai mosque massacre
GAZA CITY (AFP) 25 Nov — The Gaza Strip’s border crossing with Egypt that was due to reopen Saturday will remain closed until further notice following the bloody terrorist attack in neighboring Sinai, an official told AFP. Friday’s bomb and gun assault on the Rawda mosque near North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish killed at least 305 people. Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt had been due to reopen on Saturday for three days. But the official in Gaza, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it will remain closed. “The Egyptian side informed us that Rafah will not reopen on Saturday because of the tragic events in Northern Sinai,” the official added. The border reopened last Saturday for three days for the first time since the transfer of control of Gaza crossing points from the Hamas terrorist organization to the Palestinian Authority on November 1….

Soldiers fire on two Gazans crossing into Israel, hitting one
Times of Israel 22 Nov by Judah Ari Gross — IDF soldiers opened fire at two Palestinians trying to cross into Israel from Gaza, hitting one of them, on Wednesday, the army said. A military spokesperson said the soldiers later found that one of the suspects was in possession of a knife. The attempted infiltration occurred along the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The wounded Palestinian was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. The other was taken into custody for questioning, the army said.
Palestinians from the Gaza Strip regularly try to cross into Israel. The military is concerned that they may be planning to carry out attacks, though most seem to be entering Israel in order to find work, as there is widespread unemployment in the coastal enclave. In most cases, if the army does not deem them to be a security threat, the Palestinians are returned to the Gaza Strip.

Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians in northern Gaza; navy fires at fishing boats
IMEMC 22 Nov — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday morning, two young men in Palestinian lands close to the border fence, in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Israeli navy ships fired live rounds at fishing boats northwest of Gaza City. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the soldiers abducted the two young men, just as they approached the border fence, and took them to an unknown destination. In related news, Israeli navy ships opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaniyya Sea, northwest of Gaza city, forcing the fishers back to shore in fear of further navy escalation. The boats were in Palestinian territorial waters, less than four nautical miles away from the shore; all fishing boats had to return to the shore to avoid being targeted by navy fire.

Opinion: Palestinians in Gaza suffer enough without being defamed as sexual deviants and mentally ill
Haaretz 21 Nov by Brian K. Barber & Yasser Abu Jamei — A November 11th Haaretz interview with a psychologist who occasionally visits the Gaza Strip (Gaza Kids Live in Hell: A Psychologist Tells of Rampant Sexual Abuse, Drugs and Despair) portrays Gazan society as a community that has completely lost its moral backbone – to the extent even, the interviewee Mohammed Mansour claims, that there is rampant sexual abuse and drug abuse and that, for all intents and purposes, everyone is mentally ill. Our longtime and extensive experience as mental health professionals and researchers in Gaza is very different. Virtually all of the assertions made in the article about Gaza’s population as a whole are speculative, based as they are on either no evidence or merely the interviewee’s impressions, anecdotes or case examples.
This is true not just of the wildly exaggerated assertions of sexual abuse and mental illness, but also of the following claims made by Mansour that we firmly believe, from our experience, to be false: -That the mental health community in Gaza is itself complicit in sexual abuse -That abuse has increased measurably since August of this year -That married men are constantly looking for extramarital sex -That younger men sexually abuse their peers or younger children to gain control -That the well-known abuse of tramadol increases the proportion of sexual assaults -That all social conventions in Gaza have broken down, there is no enjoyment, that Hamas is the only barrier to total societal collapse (without which there would be nothing but crime), and that everyone is out for him/herself in Gaza….

Gaza City in the spotlight: hesitant hope in a city where everyone still wants out
[with photos] The Guardian 25 Nov by Miriam Berger — Today Medinat Ghazzah, or Gaza City, is running on empty – and yet still going. Gaza City, the Gaza Strip’s principal urban centre, carries various scars of war … Gaza City’s dusty buildings and bumpy roads, many still damaged or half-rebuilt from the last war, are at times reminiscent of facades found in Egypt and the Palestinian West Bank. But it is the crushing monotony and suffocating limits of life that define the city for residents who have walked the same streets for a decade without a chance of getting out. Still, the city carries on, with coffee shops, traffic, clothes stores, restaurants and even a new upscale mall offering diversions for those who can afford them … Limited visitors This month – on 29 November – brings the United Nations international day of solidarity with Palestinians. Gazans, however, don’t see much of the international community these days. That’s in part because Israel strictly limits entry to the Gaza Strip, with mainly journalists (Israelis and Palestinians excluded) and aid and development workers allowed through. Even then, UN bodies and NGOs working in Gaza constrain much of the movement of their foreign staff due to security protocols. Along Gaza City’s highly polluted coast are two expensive hotels that are considered the “safe zone” where aid workers and many journalists stay …  History in 100 words Gaza City, famed for its port, is more than 5,000 years old. Over centuries various empires between the Nile River and Middle East – Philistines, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Romans, Byzantines, Moguls, Ottomans, among others – ruled Gaza, as Jean-Pierre Filiu documents in Gaza: A History. Gaza’s status as a key trading and transit place shaped its unique culinary traditions, melding flavours like hot pepper and dill. Today Gazan culture and society has expanded to incorporate the Palestinian refugees who fled to here during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war … Close Zoom Gaza may be physically and politically isolated, but many Palestinians in Gaza have turned to Instagram to get their version of their city and lives out. For slices of life you can check out some of Gaza’s most popular Instagrammers such as Fatma Mosabah and Ensaf Habib , or the photojournalist Wissam Nassar.

Gazan turbines overcome Israeli blockade
Gaza (SciDevNet) 23 Nov by Mohammed Adwan & Mohamed Abu Shaar —  Two Gazan researchers are preparing to help tackle the region’s energy crisis by making their own wind turbines, after imports of the technology were banned by Israel. Researchers Mohamed Elnaggar and Ezzaldeen Edwan, at the Department of Engineering at Palestine Technical College, Deir al-Balah, decided to manufacture the turbines locally after their research project, which won a German-Palestinian cooperation grant, hit its first obstacle on the ground. “The Israeli authorities refused to grant the German partner permission to allow the turbines into the district,” the researchers told…. In August, the open access journal Energies published the details of the research. “We started manufacturing the prototype of the turbine in cooperation with three engineers, as its parts are available in [the] Gaza Strip and its components are not complicated,” said Edwan. They hope to start full scale manufacturing in December. “The turbine will be ready in less than six months,” said Elnaggar, adding it would have a capacity of 5kw/h and will cost no more than US$4,700. He added that they have agreed with the German partner to use part of the allocated funding in the manufacturing of local turbines….

Gaza tech start-ups hope to reach world if borders open
World Bulletin 24 Nov — The doors at Gaza Sky Geeks open onto a buzzing communal workspace, teeming with young Palestinians bouncing ideas off of each other, hacking away at screens full of code or huddled into training rooms trying to pick up new skills. The incubator for Gazan technology start-ups is a bubble away from Gaza’s hardships, in a year when even scarcer access to electricity than usual has compounded the unemployment and mental health problems many of its youth have had to grapple with through a decade of near total blockade. It gives them internet and electricity when the streets have gone dark outside and a way to make their ideas work around the blockade they have come of age under. “In this space, I cannot be annoyed by the electricity or other things. This environment is great for us,” says Nur al-Khodairy, whose application “Mummy Helper” connects Arab mothers to support on parenting. Still, those and other obstacles remain, limiting just how much these young businesses — which provide everything from clothing and games to advice for new mothers — can achieve. But the recent push to unite rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, the latter of which ruled Gaza since 2007, could release some of that strain if it delivers on the promise to open the border with Egypt, allowing key goods to enter Gaza and travel for the young entrepreneurs who want to go abroad. “The main issue for us is to give us freedom to travel whenever we need….

Without work, landless Gazans have nowhere to turn
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) 23 Nov by Kaamil Ahmed — Rodents rattle around among pots and pans in the shadows of Akram and Naeema Abu Shwayshe’s makeshift kitchen. They live in a tin-roofed assembly of brick and mortar, even more neglected than most of Gaza, the coastal enclave that has gone through repeated wars and blockade, where their children sleep sprawled on two mattresses. The landless Bedouin community in Gaza City’s working-class Zeitoun neighborhood are accustomed to hardships, but their problems have mounted during the past eight months of crippling electricity shortages. While most of Gaza functions on four hours of power a day, they say they get even less in their ramshackle rooms built on government land — and have learnt to live without electricity.  Without money for gas, they bake their own bread on a wood fire in a kitchen that consists of a single piece of cloth mounted overhead. Pans sit in one corner and piles of clothes in need of washing in another.  “I have to accept this. What should I do? Should I steal?” asks Akram Abu Shwaysheh. “I can’t. I’m a Muslim.”….

Book review – Donald Macintyre’s ‘Gaza: Preparing for Dawn’: an incisive account
The New Arab 23 Nov by Yasmin Ibrahim —  In January 2003, then political editor of The Independent Donald Macintyre met fifty-year old Mahmoud al-Bahtiti, the once proud owner of a vehicle-engine repair shop in southern Gaza. Bahtiti’s shop had just burned down after a targeted Israeli assault. The shopkeeper made an impression on Macintyre, for he returned to see him 14 years later, to find he was still fixing car and truck engines, undeterred by the barbaric Israeli-imposed blockade that has endured since 2007.
Bahtiti’s resilience is shared by many others Gazans who  Macintyre encountered (before, during and after serving as Jerusalem correspondent for The Independent in the years 2004-2012), all of whom have helped inform his deeply discerning account of the enclave in his recent book “Gaza: Preparing for Dawn”.  While Macintyre offers his book as a platform for many voices, his own one authoritatively comes through in his persistent interrogation of the overarching question: How did Gaza get so bad? … In Chapter 6, Macintyre describes the January 2006 legislative council elections (the second time in Palestinian history that these had taken place) as a monumental “turning point – arguably the turning point – in Gaza’s fortunes”; that is, a turn for the worse….

Nasrallah admits: Hezbollah smuggled advanced arms into Gaza
Jack Khoury of Haaretz & Reuters 20 Nov — Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah both said on Monday that Lebanon still faces threats from Israel, with Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah claiming his group was the country’s main defense against Jerusalem. Nasrallah even claimed that his group’s arsenal of weapons was a force of “security and stability” in Lebanon in the face of these threats. He also said his group “transferred arms, including Kornet missiles, to Gaza,” referring to a Russian-made anti-tank missile. He added that recent Israeli comments indicate ties that country’s ties with Saudi Arabia. “There is pressure on Palestinian to accept dictates that will kill the Palestinian issue under what some are calling the ‘deal of the century,'” Nasrallah said, in reference to efforts to tie U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace initiative to regional processes … Nasrallah’s comments came hours after Aoun said that “Israeli targeting still continues and it is the right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means.” … Nasrallah also responded to the Arab League, saying that “we have never transferred long-range missiles to any Arab state, but we did transfer arms to the forces of resistance in Gaza Strip and to fighters in Syria.” Aoun said that Lebanon is not responsible for regional power struggles, and that it’s unacceptable that his country’s stability and security are harmed because of them….

Israel says it seized bomb material at Gaza border
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Nov — Israel said on Wednesday that it had seized material for manufacturing explosives from a lorry attempting to cross from Israel into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. A truck carrying drums of fluid marked as car lubricant aroused the suspicions of Israeli inspectors at the Kerem Shalom crossing, an Israeli defence ministry statement said. A laboratory recently set up at the crossing analysed the suspect substances and found them to be raw materials which could be used to make tons of explosives, it said. The ministry did not say exactly when the discovery was made, only that it happened recently. Israeli media said that it had been subject to a court gag order until Wednesday. Haaretz newspaper said that the on-site lab would enable faster testing and reduce waiting times for goods shipments into the coastal Palestinian territory.

Residency / Citizenship / Restriction of movement

The forgotten clause that automatically grants Israeli citizenship to tens of thousands of Palestinians
Haaretz 26 Nov by Nir Hasson — Osama Abu Khalaf flew to Rome last year. Like other Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, he isn’t an Israeli citizen and therefore has no Israeli passport, just a laissez-passer (temporary travel permit). “The clerk at the airport in Rome saw that under nationality it stated ‘Undefined,’” Abu Khalaf, 27, recalled. “She asked if I’m a refugee – she thought I was Syrian. I said, ‘I’m not a refugee. I live where I was born, but it’s occupied territory.’ It’s very humiliating to be without citizenship.” “I didn’t migrate from anywhere to anywhere,” he added. “It’s the state that came to us, not we to it.” Abu Khalaf has been trying to obtain Israeli citizenship ever since he turned 18. But like thousands of other East Jerusalem residents, he has repeatedly been turned down, on various pretexts. Only recently did he discover that under a forgotten clause of the Citizenship Law – which was enacted precisely to solve the problem of stateless people like him – he should have been given citizenship almost automatically. But the Interior Ministry ignores this provision, which could result in thousands of Palestinian residents from East Jerusalem receiving citizenship very quickly. Some 37 percent of Jerusalem residents are defined not as Israeli citizens but as permanent residents of Israel. This status, which was conferred on East Jerusalem’s Palestinians shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967, was supposed to be a temporary solution for the Arabs already living there when Israel annexed it. But it remains in force until this day. Moreover, this status was granted under the Entry into Israel Law – as if these Arabs had entered Israel rather than the state entering their lands.  This status creates numerous problems. Permanent residents must repeatedly visit the Interior Ministry’s crowded East Jerusalem office to prove they still live there, or to replace lost documents or change their address. They can’t vote in national elections and, above all, permanent residency is relatively easily revoked. For decades, very few Palestinians sought Israeli citizenship, viewing it as recognition of Israeli rule of the city. In recent years, though, due to economic, social and political changes in Palestinian society, the number of citizenship applications has risen steadily – from 200 in 2006 to over 1,000 last year.
But the application process is very lengthy, very bureaucratic and very difficult, so few Palestinians ultimately succeed in receiving citizenship … But Article 4a, enacted in 1968, allows a Palestinian who was born in Israel and has no other citizenship to obtain Israeli citizenship almost automatically – as long as he applies between his 18th and 23rd birthdays, has been an Israeli resident for the previous five years, hasn’t been convicted of a security crime and hasn’t been sentenced to five years or more in jail for any non-security crime … Nevertheless, not a single person has been granted citizenship under this provision, and the Interior Ministry admits it doesn’t even have a procedure for processing applications under Article 4a….

In Photos: Daily struggle of Palestinian workers at Checkpoint 300
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — In the early hours of the morning, typically before dawn, hundreds of Palestinians in the southern occupied West Bank must endure long waits at the 300 checkpoint, one of the only access points Palestinians from the southern West Bank have to Jerusalem and Israel. Palestinians crowd into the cement- and metal-barred walkways, push through turnstiles, pass a metal detector, and show their IDs and permits to Israeli soldiers in order to travel to Israel for work . The process can at times take hours and cold winter temperatures coupled with hours of waiting time means frustrations are high. Checkpoint 300 was built in 2005 two kilometers inside of the Green Line, despite rulings by the International Court of Justice that the separation wall was deemed illegal in 2004. High numbers of Palestinians, especially construction laborers, cross through the checkpoint every day, facing frequent overcrowding and often waiting for hours in line due to Israeli security measures….

Israel deports Turkish journalist for ‘being aboard Gaza aid flotilla’ in 2010
ISTANBUL (Hürriyet) 23 Nov — Kemal Gümüş, a journalist for the Turkish Daily Star, said on Nov. 23 that he was deported from Israel on grounds that he was among the passengers of the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza in 2010 which was raided by Israeli forces. “I am being deported from Tel Aviv where I came to go to Jerusalem on grounds that I was a Mavi Marmara passenger,” Gümüş said in a tweet. “The tyrant captivity in Israel is finally ending. I am now returning to Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight after I was kept for six hours. Moreover, I witnessed that the Mavi Marmara, which led to my deportation tonight, opened a deep wound in the heart of Zionism that will never heal,” he added. Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel were suspended in 2010 after Israeli forces raided a convoy of aid ships, headed by the Mavi Marmara, attempted to break the blockade on Gaza. Ten activists aboard were killed in the attack. Ankara and Tel Aviv signed a deal to normalize ties on June 28, 2016 after six years of strained relations.

Palestinian refugees – Jordan

From Palestinian refugee camp to London, Paris, Dubai boutiques
AFP 26 Nov — In a small workshop in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, Halima al-Ankassuri embroiders traditional patterns onto a blue shawl, destined for sale in an upmarket Paris, London or Dubai boutique. The 54-year-old mother of seven describes her work as “modern products with shimmering colours, embroidered with Palestinian and Islamic motifs”. “I’m proud to see Europeans wearing what we produce here and to see top fashion magazines take an interest,” she said referring to the German online edition of Vogue, a large smile on her face, girded with a red veil. The Jerash camp where she lives, in northern Jordan, was established to host more than 11,000 Palestinians who fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — hence its alternative name, Gaza Camp. Half a century on, more than 29,000 refugees live in the camp amid poverty, unemployment and crumbling infrastructure … For women in the workshop, embroidery is an important source of income. “We all suffer from poverty in this camp,” Ankassuri said. “This work helps us to improve our lives, even if we charge for our products individually at low prices, from 15 to 20 dinars.” Every product she embroiders requires at least a week’s work. She says she has pain in her hands, but enjoys being around other women in the workshop. Ventura said the women’s “unique talent” is “appreciated around the world”. More than two million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations in Jordan, but about half of the country’s 6.6 million population is of Palestinian origin. Ankassuri and her colleagues learned the art of embroidery from their mothers and grandmothers. Each region of historic Palestine has its own motifs and patterns….


Other news and opinion

Palestinian factions leave Cairo with little reconciliation progress
GAZA CITY (AFP) 23 Nov by Mai Yaghi with Shatha Yaish — Palestinian leaders left the Egyptian capital Cairo Thursday after fresh unity talks that resulted in calls for elections but provided little clarity about a key transfer of power in Gaza next week. Analysts said a three-page document agreed between the 13 largest Palestinian political parties Wednesday offered little substantive change, with no steps agreed on key points of difference. They said questions would now be raised over the fate of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement signed last month between the two largest parties, Hamas and Fatah. Under that deal, Islamists Hamas are supposed to hand over power in the Gaza Strip to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority by December 1. Significant issues remain, however, including the future of Hamas’s armed wing and punitive measures taken by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas against Gaza. Wednesday’s statement provided few further details, though it called for Abbas to organise elections by the end of 2018 and backed the October 12 Fatah-Hamas agreement … Analysts expressed concern that hopes for unity were fading. “They didn’t solve a single issue, even the simplest,” said Najee Sharab, professor of political affairs at Azhar University in Gaza.

Parallel legal systems pose threat to Palestinian unity
Al-Monitor 24 Nov by Adnan Abu Amer — On top of the political and geographic division that Palestinians experienced over the past 10 years — since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, until Fatah and Hamas signed the reconciliation agreement in October — many contradictory presidential decrees, laws and government decisions were issued in the Palestinian territories. In the coming weeks, the reconciliation committee will be preoccupied with determining the fate of these laws, to reach a unified legal system that will put an end to the legislative duplication between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Legislative duplication between the West Bank and Gaza is evident in their tax laws. Palestinians are subject to double taxation by virtue of legislation issued by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank government. The two governments have separate budgets. Mazen Noureddine, the dean of the faculty of law at Ummah University in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “Talks about unifying Palestinian laws issued during the divide must be based on two principles: the rule of law and the preservation of the Palestinian public interest. However, questioning whether or not legislation issued during the divide is constitutional would undermine any hope of establishing the unity of the Palestinian society and regulating its legal system — as a safety valve for the State of Palestine.”….

Palestinians: victims of an unjust US law
HuffPost 25 Nov by James Zogby — Imagine that you are a victim of a violent crime or theft but are forbidden from reporting it because Congress has passed a law that not only prohibits you from reporting the crime, but threatens punishment if you dare to do it. This is the situation in which the Palestinians find themselves today. The Palestinians have been told that the US government is on the verge of decertifying their right to maintain an office in Washington because they had the audacity to complain to the International Criminal Court (ICC) about Israel’s land theft and settlement activity in the occupied territories. The story behind this nightmarish situation began in 1987 when Congress passed a law prohibiting the Palestine Liberation Organization from operating an office in the United States. This legislation which was pushed by AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, was designed to ensure that the Palestinians would have no presence or voice in either Washington or at the United Nations. It was an effort to put into law a secret commitment Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had made to the Israelis a decade earlier that the US would not recognize or dialogue with the PLO. The Israelis had insisted on this “no-talk” policy for the simple reason described by Israeli Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin: “Whoever agrees to talk to the PLO means he accepts in principle the creation of a Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan, and this we can never accept”. In 1993, after Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords, in which both sides recognized each other’s national rights, Congress met to reassess their 1987 legislation. Instead of doing the right thing and simply canceling it, once again pressed by AIPAC, Congress chose to keep the law in place. The one concession found in the new bill gave the President the right to waive the anti-Palestinian provision every six months on the condition that the State Department could certify to Congress that the Palestinians were adhering to the provisions of the Oslo Accords….

US allows Washington PLO office to remain open
WASHINGTON (AP) 25 Nov by Josh Lederman — The Trump administration has backtracked on its decision to order the Palestinians’ office in Washington to close, instead saying it would merely impose limitations on the office that it expected would be lifted after 90 days. Last week, U.S. officials said the Palestine Liberation Organization mission couldn’t stay open because the Palestinians had violated a provision in U.S. law requiring the office to close if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis. The move triggered a major rift in U.S.-Palestinian relations that threatened to scuttle President Donald Trump’s ambitious effort to broker Mideast peace before it ever got off the ground. Yet the United States delayed shuttering the office for a week while saying it was working out the details with the Palestinians, before abruptly reversing course late Friday, as many Americans were enjoying a long Thanksgiving Day weekend. State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said the U.S. had “advised the PLO Office to limit its activities to those related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.” Vasquez said even those restrictions will be lifted after 90 days if the U.S. determines the Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in serious peace talks. The White House, in an effort led by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been preparing a comprehensive peace plan to present to both sides in the coming months.“We therefore are optimistic that at the end of this 90-day period, the political process may be sufficiently advanced that the president will be in a position to allow the PLO office to resume full operations,” Vasquez said.  The reversal marked a serious departure from the administration’s interpretation of the law only a week earlier. Officials had said then that, one way or another, the office had to close because Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a U.N. speech in September, had called on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis. That same law, though, says that the president can let the office re-open after 90 days despite an ICC push if serious Israeli-Palestinian talks are underway … There were no indications that the Trump administration had initially moved to close the office as part of a premeditated strategy to strengthen its hand in eventual peace talks. Instead, officials explained the move by saying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a strict interpretation of the law, determined that Abbas’ speech had crossed the legal line. The chaos that ensued after the announcement, with the U.S. unable for several days to explain if the office was truly closing and when, indicated it had caught much of the government off-guard….

Palestine surpasses Israel in FIFA ranking for first time
JERUSALEM (AFP) 23 Nov — Palestine’s football team achieved its highest ranking in history Thursday, rising above Israel in the FIFA world rankings for the first time. The head of the Palestinian football association labeled it an “historic achievement” as the team rose two spots to 82nd in FIFA’s new rankings, published Thursday. Israel fell 16 places to 96th after a disappointing failed World Cup qualification campaign. Palestine have recently won a series of games as they seek to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup, including a 10-0 victory over Bhutan. The announcement comes as the Palestinian football association has campaigned to encourage FIFA to take action against six Israeli clubs located in settlements in the occupied West Bank … Palestinian FA boss Jibril Rajoub told AFP that Thursday the rankings rise was an “historic achievement” that came despite restrictions on football in the Palestinian territories imposed by Israeli occupation. “With this classification, we have defeated the occupation’s measures and its daily harassment, from preventing the freedom of movement of athletes through to all measures that impede Palestinian sport,” he said. The Israeli Football Association was not immediately available for comment. Israel qualify for tournaments with European teams, while Palestine are in the Asian qualifying groups. Palestine was first recognized by FIFA in 1998.

PCHR’s Women Unit starts 16 days of activism campaign to end violence against women and girls
PCHR 26 Nov — On Sunday, 26 November 2017, the Women Unit at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has started the first activities of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign to end Violence against women and girls. The Unit held a legal awareness lecture on violence against women and girls in al-Jaleel High School for Girls, targeting the 11th Grade students. Mona al-Shawa, Head of PCHR’s Women’s Unit, welcomed the students and reviewed PCHR’s work and the 16 Days of Activism Campaign to end Violence against women. The campaign starts on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on 10 December, which marks the International Day for Human Rights. Al-Shawa explained the close link between women’s rights and human rights in general, and that this campaign is an international campaign that activates this time of year in most countries of the world to raise awareness of violence by moving it from private to public sphere and to call for providing protection women and girls. Al-Shawa also stressed the importance of raising girls and high school students’ awareness of violence, its forms and causes and how to eliminate violence….

New Palestinian city rises with sleek homes, boutiques
Rawabi (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 20 Nov — With wide boulevards, fashionable shopping and a Roman-style amphitheatre, the newly built Palestinian city of Rawabi is the culmination of a decades-long dream for developer Bashar al-Masri. The Palestinian-American businessman has struggled to overcome Israeli hurdles, critics in his own community and political instability to turn the $1.4-billion project in the occupied West Bank into reality — but now he hopes it can become a beacon in the quest for statehood. So far only some 3,000 people live in the pristine rows of beige tower blocks that have gone up since work began from scratch in the barren hills just north of Ramallah almost a decade ago on the first ever planned city to be built by Palestinians in the territory. Construction is still rumbling on and some streets can feel eerily quiet, but eventually it is hoped 40,000 people will one day call the city home…. See  VIDEO

Britain to contribute £20 million to Palestinian budget – official
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 25 Nov — Britain has agreed to pay its annual contribution of 20 million pounds to support the Palestinian budget, part of which will go to education as proof of its support for the development of the education sector, Minister of Education Sabri Saydam said on Saturday. This came during a telephone call Saydam received on Friday from British Minister of State for International Development and Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt. Saydam said that the continued support of education by donor countries demonstrates the high level and confidence in the Palestinian educational system and its ability to achieve qualitative results….

Japan, Kharbatha Bani Harith sign grant for rehabilitation of water network
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 Nov – Japan’s representative to the Palestinian Authority, Takeshi Okubo, signed on Thursday a grant contract for one Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP) with Kharbatha Bani Harith village council [Ramallah governorate] for the amount of $82,300, according to a press release. Kharbatha Bani Harith village council will use the fund to replace 2000 meters of water pipes with new galvanized steel pipes. This project aims at securing sufficient water supply of tap water for, about 800 direct beneficiaries, said the release by Japan’s representative office in Ramallah where the signing ceremony took place … Since 1993 the Government of Japan has extended its official development assistance to approximately $1.8 billion to the Palestinians….

US envoy cancels appearance at memorial for slain American at West Bank outpost
Times of Israel 23 Nov by Jacob Magid — US Ambassador David Friedman has cancelled an appearance at a memorial ceremony for slain American teen Ezra Schwartz in the wake of a media report that it would be taking place at an illegal West Bank outpost. Friedman had accepted an invitation from the Orot Yehuda Yeshiva in the city of Efrat, which is organizing the ceremony on Tuesday at the Oz V’Gaon nature preserve in the Gush Etzion bloc. Schwartz, 18, an American yeshiva student from Sharon, Massachusetts, was shot by a Palestinian terrorist in November 2015 while on his way to help clear the new camping grounds at Oz V’Gaon as a volunteer. A spokesman for Orot Yehuda told The Times of Israel that Friedman’s office did not provide a reason for the cancellation, but that it came less than 24 hours after a report in the Israel Hayom daily newspaper which cited the ceremony’s planned location….

INTERVIEW: Ilan Pappé: How Israel turned Palestine into the biggest prison on earth
MEE 24 Nov by Mustafa Abu Sneineh — The Six Day War of 1967 between Israel and the Arab armies resulted in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel sold the story of this war as an accidental one. But new historical documents and minutes from the archives show that Israel was well prepared for it. In 1963, figures from the Israeli military, legal and civil administrations enrolled in a course at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, to set up a comprehensive plan to deal with the territories that Israel would occupy four years later, and manage a million and half Palestinians living in them. The motivation was the failure in how Israel dealt with the Palestinians in Gaza in its short-lived occupation during the Suez Crisis in 1956. In May 1967, weeks before the war, Israeli military governors received boxes that contained legal and military instructions on how to control the Palestinian towns and villages. Israel would go on to transform the West Bank and Gaza Strip into mega prisons under military rule and surveillance. Settlements, checkpoints and collective punishment were part of this plan, as the Israeli historian Ilan Pappé shows in The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories, an in-depth account of the Israeli occupation. Published on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war, the book has been shortlisted for the Palestine Book Awards 2017, organised by Middle East Monitor, due to be announced in London on 24 November. Pappé spoke to Middle East Eye about the book and what it reveals.
Middle East Eye: How does this book build on your previous book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine about the 1948 war?
Ilan Pappé: It is definitely a continuation of my earlier book The Ethnic Cleansing that describes the events of 1948. I see the whole project of Zionism as a structure not just as one event. A structure of settler colonialism by which a movement of settlers colonises a homeland. As long as the colonisation is not complete and the indigenous population resists through a national liberation movement, each such period that I’m looking at is just a phase within the same structure. Although The Biggest Prison is a history book, we are still within the same historical chapter. It’s not over yet. So in this respect, there should be probably a third book later on looking at the events of the 21st century and how the same ideology of ethnic cleansing and dispossession is being implemented in the new era and how it is resisted by the Palestinians….

The tricky UN resolution on Middle East peace
PARIS (AFP) 22 Nov — Fifty years ago, the UN adopted a resolution on an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories that remains the reference for peace in the Middle East, even though it has never been implemented. UN Security Council resolution 242 was agreed unanimously on November 22, 1967, five months after a crushing Israeli offensive during which it occupied vast swathes of Arab territory. While the resolution lays the foundation for negotiations on the basis of a return of land in exchange for an end to hostilities, it contains a subtle difference in its French and English texts that has instead further soured relations. In June of that year, Israel’s army had struck out with lightning speed and occupied 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles) of Arab land in what became known as the Six-Day War.Israel took the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Syrian Golan Heights …
The ‘the’ problem — The dispute was referred to the United Nations for arbitration, and of the various resolutions proposed to the Security Council, it was a British initiative that was adopted. Resolution 242 underlines the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security”. But there is a single-word difference in the English and French versions of the text that follows, both of them official, which has given rise to divergent interpretations that persist decades down the line. The English version calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces “from territories occupied in the recent conflict”, but without saying which ones. The French version is more specific, demanding withdrawal “des territoires occupés lors du récent conflit”. The difference is that “des” means “of the”, which specifies all the occupied territories. There is no similar “the” in English. Israel leans on the English version, saying it is not obliged by the resolution to give up all of its 1967 gains … In 1969, Britain’s then foreign minister Michael Stewart told parliament that the failure to make clear that Israel was to withdraw from all the land it took in the Six-Day War was “deliberate”…. (listserv)

About Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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