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August 29, 2016 / 25 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Israeli settlement’

Israelis and Arabs: “Etzion Bloc Should Be Center of Peace, Not War”

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

By Anna Rudnitsky/TPS

Efrat (TPS) – Arabs and Israelis met on Tuesday evening at the library of the Etzion-bloc community of Efrat to learn about the history of Jewish-Arab relations in the region and about the cooperation that has existed between them throughout the past century.

“We thought that it was important to show that Jewish-Arab relations do not have to be hostile and that they actually used to be friendly, at least here in Gush Etzion. We think that there is even hope for this today, despite the difficult and often bloody reality we live in,” Kfar Etzion Field School Director Yaron Rozental, who helped organize the event, told TPS.

Historian Yohanan Ben-Yaakov shared stories about the establishment of Jewish settlements in the region that he said may not be as well known as others. “Israelis are usually familiar with war stories about the Etzion bloc, about brave Jewish fighters and the numerous sacrifices that they made,” he said. “It is always presented as a very simple story—there were good guys and bad guys, and the good guys won. Relations between Jews and Arabs here were not always that black and white.”

Ben-Yaakov spoke about the settlement of Migdal Eder, the inhabitants of which were saved during the pogroms of 1929 by Arabs from the neighboring village of Beit Ummar, and about Kfar Etzion founder Shmuel Holzman’s son, a Jewish doctor who opened an infirmary near the Etzion bloc junction in 1929 with the intention of helping the local Arab population.

“It’s written in the Torah that Esau hates Yaakov, and everybody remembers these words. Few know what is written later, that he kissed him with his whole heart. These two feelings go hand in hand here today as well and it is up to us to choose between love and hatred,” Ben Yaakov concluded.

The event also featured speakers such as Dr. Yitzhak Glick, brother of MK Yehuda Glick, who received the Moskowitz Prize in 2012 for the free medical assistance he has provided to the people of the Etzion bloc, including to Palestinians, who know him as “our doctor.”

“Gush Etzion must be the center of peace not just in Israel, but in the world,” Dr. Glick maintained.

The event was also organized by Roots, a grassroots initiative which regularly facilitates meetings between Israelis and Arabs. The organization helped bring several Arabs from the nearby villages of Beit Ummar and Yatta to the event. Roots co-founder Khaled Abu Awwad said that he believes that such events could be more effective in bringing peace to the Middle East than meetings between Abbas and Netanyahu.

“Peace between our peoples must grow from the bottom up and only we can break the walls of alienation and hatred that have been put up between us,” he said. “We belong to this land, but the land does not belong to anyone so we must learn to live here together in peace.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Knesset Considering Tax Breaks for Judea and Samaria Communities Facing Security Threats

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

The Knesset plenum on Wednesday approved in a preliminary reading a bill that would make communities in Judea and Samaria eligible for tax breaks based on the security threats they face.

The so-called “benefits map” approved by the Knesset in 2015 fixed standard criteria for awarding the benefits based on socio-economic criteria. The bill, sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) would add security risks to the criteria entitling Judea and Samaria communities to benefits.

The criteria would be based on Defense Ministry assessments of the security risks communities face in a manner similar to the way benefits are awarded to Israel’s border communities.

The explanatory notes accompanying the bill state that the tax breaks are meant to “encourage strong populations to reside in areas the state views as serving a national interest” and “add to the benefits map those communities in Judea and Samaria facing security threats.”

“Settlements in Judea and Samaria have for years stood up heroically against continuous terror inside the communities and on the roads. We need to encourage them with, among other things, tax benefits,” the bill’s preface reads.

Prior to the vote, MK Smotrich said, “This law will enable thousands of families living in Judea and Samaria, who suffer from security threats, to receive what they deserve and to be equal in rights to the rest of Israel’s residents. The national government is returning Judea and Samara to the settlement map. There’s a long way to go, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Meretz MK Esawi Frej said, “Have you heard of the Yotvata dairy farm? It should [learn from] Smotrich how to milk the state. You are milking the state using all kinds of improper methods. You [have the nerve] to take an additional 150 million shekel (about $40 million) for a few outposts.”

42 MKs supported the bill in its preliminary reading, and 36 opposed. The bill will now be sent to the House Committee, which will determine which committee will prepare it for its first reading.

David Israel

Everyday Violence in Judea and Samaria

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

This is what it looks like every day, several times a day, in many areas of Jewish Judea and Samaria. Often the Arab hooligans take advantage of the fact that their side of the fence is in Area A or B, while their targets are in Area C, and Israeli security forces cannot maintain control over their part of the shooting gallery.

David Israel

Survey: Majority of Israeli Jews Favor Keeping Judea and Samaria, Israeli Arabs Favor Keeping Large Settlement Blocs

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

“Sometime after the Six Day War the settlement enterprise began to develop. In your opinion, from a perspective of 50 years later, has the settlement enterprise contributed to or damaged Israel’s national interest?” was one of the opening questions in a June survey comparing the attitudes of Israeli Jews and Arabs on the liberated territories.

The survey found that 52% of the Jewish public thinks the settlement enterprise has contributed to the national interest.

And so the survey noted that “some claim that over the years Israeli governments have invested many resources and monies in developing the Jewish settlements and infrastructures in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, and previously also in Gaza, at the expense of other areas and populations in Israel that are disadvantaged and would have needed these resources and budgets. Others claim that there is no connection between the two because one does not come at the expense of the other.” Then it inquired, “With which claim do you agree?”

49% of the Jews said there is no connection between the two; 45% say the investment in the territories comes at the expense of budgets for deprived areas and disadvantaged populations.

In the Arab public, a two-thirds majority considers the investments in the territories a detraction from investments in deprived areas and disadvantaged populations inside green line Israel.

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Surveys of the Israel Democracy Institute. The June survey, conducted by phone on June 28-29, 2016, included 600 respondents — 500 Jews, 100 Arabs, who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum margin of error for the entire sample is ±4.1%.

The survey also found that a majority of the Jewish respondents do not know for sure the size of the Jewish or of the Palestinian population in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. Asked how many Jews live in these territories (not counting the neighborhoods of expanded Jerusalem such as Gilo or Pisgat Ze’ev), about 25% underestimated the figure to be 100,000-250,000, 30% answered correctly that the number is 250,000-500,000, 13% gave an overestimate of 500,000-750,000, 3% thought the correct number was 750,000 to a million, and about 25% did not know at all.

As to the Arab population in Judea and Samaria, not counting Jerusalem, the estimates were: 24%—half a million to a million, 36%—one to two million, 10%—two million to three million, and 3%—over three million. 27% did not know.

The fact is that no one really knows how many Arabs live today in the parts of Judea and Samaria governed by the Palestinian Authority, and so, in this instance, there is no wrong answer.

59% of the Jews and 73% of the Arabs favor holding a referendum on Israel leaving the territories. As to how the respondents would vote in such a referendum, 52% of the Jews reported that in the existing situation they would vote against a withdrawal, while 36% answered that they would vote in favor.

Among the Arabs 69% said that if a referendum were to be held today, they would vote in favor of leaving the territories while retaining the large settlement blocs.

Only 51% the Jewish respondents believe all the citizens of the state would be entitled to participate in such a referendum. 44% believe that only the Jewish citizens of the country should be entitled to participate.

David Israel

Water Crisis in Samaria Hits Jewish and Arab Residents Alike

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Samaria (TPS) – Amid the intense heat wave in Israel, the water crisis plaguing Samaria is taking an unprecedented toll as residents and community leaders scramble to find solutions for the water scarcity. To date, eight settlement communities have experienced water shortages and three have had no water at all last week.

“We’ve been saving water, not wasting a drop,” said Rachel Shalev of Elon Moreh, a community with over 1,600 people located in Samaria, northeast of Nablus. “We were told to limit the amount of water we are using. In my neighborhood there is water but there are other parts of the community where the running water isn’t working.”

“On Shabbat, at the synagogue, people were wondering if they’d have to go back to drawing water from a well.”

“Every moment that we have water, I thank God,” Shalev said. “But I’m not doing any laundry for now or taking any chances.”

In some cases, emergency water tanks as well as water bottles have been delivered at special water stations set up in settlement communities like Kedumim and Eli.

“We knew this was coming but we never expected the water issue to be this severe,” said Yisrael Ganz, deputy head of the Binyamin Regional Council to Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “We are at the height of this water crisis, which has left residents unable to maintain a normal way of life at this time.”

Arab residents of the region have been severely affected as well. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, sent a letter to the government of Israel claiming that Mekorot, the Israeli water company, has significantly reduced the amount of water that it supplies to the region since early June 2016.

Adalah provided TPS with the text that its lawyer, Muna Haddad, wrote to Israeli authorities.

“The reduction in water amounts and pressure prevents the filling of holding reservoirs in the Palestinian communities. As a result, in some of the communities, including the villages of Salfit, Azmut, Salem and Dir Al-Hatab in the northern West Bank, water flow to residential homes has been almost completely cut for more than two weeks,” Haddad wrote.

“The cuts have also caused factory shutdowns, damage to gardens and agricultural lands, and the deaths of livestock due to dehydration. The situation, exacerbated by a period of heavy heat over the past several weeks that is expected to continue through the summer months, is causing significant harm to West Bank residents,” Haddad added.

According to Oded Revivi, the mayor of Efrat and a Yesha Council representative, the reasons for the water shortage are varied and are sometimes influenced by ideological motives. “There is no dispute that both Jews and Arabs in Judea and Samaria are suffering from a shortage of water during these hot summer days,” he commented to TPS.

“The people behind the Oslo Accords foresaw this situation and drew guidelines to prevent specifically such a crisis,” he explained. “Unfortunately, the funds of the European community dedicated to this purpose did not reach its objective.”

Revivi believes that the only way to overcome the situation at the moment is to understand that money must be invested in the proper infrastructure so that drinking water can be provided for both populations.

“At the end of the day, it is the Jews and Arabs who live in this region that need to set rules and come up with a working system that will benefit both sides so that they can live side by side in a peaceful and beneficial co-existence,” he concluded.

A water "shlucker" bag

A huge water “shlucker” bag

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

The man Who Gave Everything: Report Exposes Herzog’s Plan to End Israel As We Know It

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

A paper of understanding that was exposed Sunday night by Channel 10 News shows that MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Zionist Camp, who conducted extensive meetings with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas before the March 2015 elections, agreed to hand over all of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem to a Palestinian State, and reached a deal on letting Arab refugees come back to live inside 1967 Israel. The negotiations with Abbas were conducted in secret between retired Brigadier General and former MK and Minister Ephraim Sneh and a senior PA official. It should be noted that during the weeks just before the March 17 elections, the polls showed the Zionist Camp edging out Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party, and the plan back then was seen as the shape of things to come in the most realistic way.

On the issue of the borders between Israel and Palestine, Herzog agreed to giving up 100% of the post 1967 territories, with an allowance for a mere 4% of Israeli settlements staying put in exchange for comparable land in pre-1967 Israel to be handed to the Palestinians. Eastern Jerusalem was going to become the capital of Palestine, but the two halves of the city would share municipal responsibilities. Temple Mount would be turned over to an international monitoring force, but Israel would have retained its hold on the Western Wall.

The Arab refugees were going to be taken care of based on UN resolution 194, with some being allowed back into Israel and the rest receiving financial compensation for the lands they left behind.

Israel was going to maintain a symbolic presence in the Jordan Valley, including two armored bases, and terrorism would be handled by a combined force made up of Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis.

In response to the revelation, MK Herzog’s office released a statement saying, “In my contacts with the Palestinian Authority Chairman in 2014 I made an effort to reach understandings that would have prevented the wave of terror which I predicted, just as I am working now to prevent a situation where the abandoning of a regional conference on the part of the extreme right-wing government won’t bring on us the next war. After the rounds of the almost annual wars and funerals of the past decade I am no longer prepared to listen to the mantra that says we can defeat every threat with only military force.”

Minister Ze’ev Elkin said in response to the revelations that “an abyss separates us and them and they have no place in a Liked led government.”

David Israel

Government Approves $18.6 Million Transfer to Settlements

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

The government on Sunday approved a budget increase of $18.62 million to the settlements in Judea and Samaria in response to the new security situation. This amount will be added to the initial budget for the settlements of $88 million established in the coalition agreement between Habayit Hayehudi and Likud last year.

As the new decision puts it, “Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria have been experiencing unique security realities on a daily basis because of their geographic location and the quality of life in the area. Since the beginning of October 2015 there has been an escalation in the security situation in Judea and Samaria following the wave of terror attacks and additional terrorist activities. The security escalation influences a variety of areas of life, including psychological and sociological, and economic damage to businesses which require unique responses and services.”

The money will be transferred to the settlements from a variety of current budgets. The transfer will include a one-time award by the Interior Ministry to local municipal councils to the amount of $3.88 million, according to criteria that has been used in the past for security-related awards. Another $2.59 million will be paid out by the Ministry of Agriculture to a project converting structures into permanent housing units and renovating public structures in rural communities. And a total of $3.1 million will be used for the construction and operation of resilience centers, for enhanced welfare and social services, treatment of youth at risk, and support for businesses that were hurt by the security situation. The money for those programs will be taken out of the budgets of the ministries of education, finance, welfare, and health.

MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Camp) called the decision “enraging,” blaming the government for channeling money to the settlements at the expense of development towns on Israel’s geographic and social periphery. Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) argued that the budgetary boost was essential to the communities in need and would contribute greatly to the resilience of these communities. He said, “It is our duty to care for the communities that are on the frontline of the war against terror and are courageously facing complex security and social challenges.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/government-approves-18-6-million-transfer-to-settlements/2016/06/19/

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