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July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israeli settlement’

Obama Won’t Enforce Anti-BDS Provision Language in Trade Bill he just Signed

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

This week the United States officially put on notice its trade partners that it will not countenance boycotts or other economic warfare against Israel.

After signing the relevant trade legislation into law, however, the White House signaled to all its trade partners that they are still free to boycott goods made in the disputed territories, despite the clear language of the legislation the president signed.

This week the Trade Promotion Authority bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The TPA is primarily focused on international trade between the U.S. and Europe. It also included a section which addresses trade between the U.S. and Israel.

That part of the legislation, the U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act, bans boycotts and other means of economic warfare against Israel or the “Israeli-controlled territories.” This amendment, introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill-6) with bi-partisan co-sponsorship, was unanimously adopted into the PTA in April.

The passage of the TPA, including the anti-BDS section, should sound a death knell for the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) Movement. It should.

However, as pro-Israel Americans and Israelis learned only a few weeks ago in the Jerusalem passport case (Zivotofsky v. Kerry), there are certain spheres of international decision making over which the president has exclusive, or at least primary and controlling, control. Obama claims that international trade is one of those areas, even though Article 1, Section 8, clause 3, expressly gives Congress the power to regulate foreign commerce.

So even though the TPA is intended to act as a strong deterrent to European and other countries to pass and enforce boycotts of Israeli products, the White House has already signaled that it will not extend its protection to any goods produced in the disputed territories.

The anti boycott of Israel language in the TPA is: “actions by states, nonmember states of the United Nations, international organizations or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.” [emphasis added.]

In a statement which Matt Lee of the Associated Press attributed to State Dept. spokesperson John Kirby, the administration made clear that despite signing the TPA, the position of the White House remains, as it has been, that the U.S. opposes boycotts of the State of Israel, but it also opposes the presence of Jews in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights.

In the statement the administration argues that by “conflating Israel and ‘Israeli-controlled territories’ a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation runs counter to longstanding U.S. policy towards the occupied territories, including with regard to settlement activity,” and says that every U.S. administration has opposed “settlement activity.”

It goes on to point out that the “U.S. government has never defended or supported Israeli settlements and activity associated with them and, by extension, does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them.”

The U.S. administration announced that it will not jeopardize the holy grail of the two-state solution by enforcing the U.S. law as written and which its leader signed. In the statement it claims that “both parties have long recognized that settlement activity and efforts to change facts on the ground undermine the goal of a two-state solution to the conflict and only make it harder to negotiate a sustainable and equitable peace deal in good faith.” It is on this basis, ostensibly to promote a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, that this administration

Professor Eugene Kontorovich of the Northwestern University School of Law analyzes several other provisions of the U.S-Israel trade aspect of the TPA which have been largely overlooked. In particular, Kontorovich points out, U.S. courts cannot recognize or enforce the judgment of any foreign court “that doing business in or being based in the West Bank or Golan Heights violates international law or particular European rules.”

 

Israel’s Latest ‘War Crime’ and Human Rights Violation: Uprooting Trees

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Israel uprooted approximately 1,000 almond and olive trees that were planted illegally in a land grab on the western edge of Gush Etzion on Thursday, an action that Arabs are calling a “war crime” and even a human rights violation.”

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) stated:

[We] carried out the eviction of an illegal invasion of around 1,000 olive trees planted illegally without permits on state land in Wadi Fukin.

The area is located between the security fence and the Hareidi city of Beitar Illit, west of Efrat.

The Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA website claimed that the land is owned by Arabs.

The London Independent reported:

Palestinians have accused Israel of a war crime after military tractors destroyed around a thousand olive and almond trees belonging to local farmers on the grounds that they were illegally planted on state land….. Three years ago, Israeli authorities posted signs saying that the land belongs to the state, farmers said.

Wasel Abu Yusuf, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told the newspaper: This is occupied territory and international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention apply. This is the land of the Palestinian state and any colonialist settler building or expropriation of land or cutting trees is a war crime against the Palestinian people.

If they are going to claim it is a “war came,” why not go even farther and charge Israel with violating human rights?

That may sound absurd, but read what an unidentified journalist, whom we can assume to be Al Quds correspondent Sayid Erikat, told the State Dept. at yesterday’s daily briefing:

Yesterday the Israelis pulled out something like 1,800 trees in the West Bank; they uprooted trees and so on. I mean, we talked about the commission of inquiry and human rights abuses and so on. Is that something that you would like to see the Israelis stop doing?

State Dept. spokesman John Kirby answered, “I haven’t seen the report on the trees being uprooted. You’re going to have to let me go back and look at that. I just don’t have anything on that.

What is amazing is that there was no laughter from Kirby or fellow journalists.

Abbas’ Son Loses $10 Million Libel Suit in US Court

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit threw out a $10 million libel suit by one of the sons of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas Friday, the same day the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a suit demanding compensation from settlers for “terrorist stacks.”

The suit in New York charged several right-wing Israeli charities with funding settlers in violation of anti-terrorism laws. “American federal judges recognize the difference between the financing of murder and violence… and legitimate bona fide financial support of the daily needs of peaceful Israeli settlements over the Green Line,” said attorney Nathan Lewin, who represented the charities.

The libel suit that was rejected in Washington may go to the Supreme Court, said a lawyer for Tarek Abbas, one of the PA chairman’s sons.

He sued Foreign Policy magazine and Foundation for the Defense of Democracies researcher Jonathan Schanzer, who in 2012 wrote an article for the magazine, whose subhead line read:

Are the sons of the Palestinian president growing rich off their father’s system?

A three-judge panel unanimously agreed that defining defamation to include raising a question would “dramatically chill” public debate.

The judges wrote:

Just imagine the severe infringement on free speech that would ensue in the alternative universe envisioned by Abbas. Is the Mayor a thief? Is the quarterback a cheater? Did the Governor accept bribes? Did the CEO pay her taxes? Did the baseball star take steroids? Questions like that appear all the time in news reports and on blogs, in tweets and on cable shows. And all such questions could be actionable under Abbas’ novel defamation theory.”

Admitting that journalists often unfairly raise questions to imply a negative conclusion, the judges stated, “There is no good or predictable way to neatly divide (i) the questions that are routinely posed in America’s robust public forums from (ii) the kinds of questions that would be actionable as defamation by implication under Abbas’s theory.”

Abba’s lawyer Louis Adolfson told Politico. “We are considering our options,” meaning a possible appeal to the Supreme Court.

Schanzer wrote in his article for Foreign Policy, “The conspicuous wealth of Abbas’s own sons, Yasser and Tarek, has become a source of quiet controversy in Palestinian society since at least 2009, when Reuters first published a series of articles tying the sons to several business deals, including a few that had U.S. taxpayer support.

“Yasser, the elder son,…owns Falcon Tobacco, which reportedly enjoys a monopoly on the sale of U.S.-made cigarettes in the Palestinian territories. According to the Toronto Star, Yasser also chairs Falcon Holding Group, a Palestinian corporate conglomerate that owns Falcon Electrical Mechanical Contracting Company, an engineering interest that was established in 2000 and boasts offices in Gaza, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the West Bank.

“This business success has come with a helping hand from Uncle Sam: According to a Reuters report, Abbas’s company received $1.89 million from USAID in 2005 to build a sewage system in the West Bank town of Hebron.

Yasser Abbas also manages a company that engages in public works projects for his father’s regime and which was awarded $300,000 in USAid funds between 2005 and 2008.

His younger brother Tarek’s advertising firm received $1 million in USAID funds “to bolster public opinion of the United States in the Palestinian territories.”

And what do Palestinian Authority Arabs think about the sons of their leader, who now is serving something like the 10th year of his elected four-year term of office?

Schanzer wrote:

On a research trip to Ramallah last year, several Palestinians told me that the Abbas family dynasty is common knowledge. However, discussion of the issue rarely rises above a whisper — thanks to growing fear of retribution by PA security officers, who have apprehended journalists and citizens for openly challenging President Abbas’s authority.

Tarek could have been $10 million richer, but the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington ruined his plans.

Police Say ‘Price Tag’ Attack was Staged by PA

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Israel police announced Thursday that the alleged “price tag” attack in the Arab village of Kusra last week was fabricated and staged by Arabs for propaganda purposes.

Police had received a report of six burned cars in the village of Kusra, located in Samaria, and blue Israeli identification card was found on site. The media publicized that the arson was the work of Israelis, a so-called price tag operation, in retaliation of the destruction of Jewish homes the previous week by the Israeli government

The police carried out an intensive investigation the police, including questioning several residents of Kusra, whose statements were not compatible with the findings at the scene. The Israeli ID card belonged to a soldier who dropped it a few days earlier while on a mission in the village.

Aish Kodesh, a nearby Jewish community was implicated by the media in the alleged attack on Kusra. Aish Kodesh spokesman Aharon Katsof told Tazpit News Agency, “We have stated throughout the entire time that this was a Palestinian provocation against Aish Kodesh. In the past months we have been assaulted on a daily basis by hundreds of Arab vandals who destroy our property and fields, throw stones and fire-bombs at our homes, causing us tremendous financial loss.

“Albeit our repetitive requests, the IDF has not provided sufficient security to our families, and we have recently learned that the army has further decreased its presence in the area, which will bring to an increase in the Arab attacks against us. The solving of this case proves again that the Arabs are constantly trying to stage provocations and their claims are accepted without proper scrutiny. The damaged caused to the community’s name as a result of the media publications is immense.”

Despite dozens of alleged attacks on Arabs by Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria, no Israeli has been tried or convicted on such charges.

The supposed attack on Kusra is not the first case in which the vandalism turned out to be a staged provocation, local criminal activity or Arab infighting.

 

In the Matter of Susan Rice

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Getting at the truth of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi is a work in progress and this is certainly a story with legs. Why U.S. personnel were not given adequate protection despite danger signals for weeks prior and why the Obama administration, in the face of intelligence information to the contrary, downplayed any terrorist dimension in the assault, urging instead that the attackers were ordinary Muslims upset about an anti-Muhammad video, is sure to be the focus of intense congressional attention.

But the brouhaha over the role of our UN Ambassador Susan Rice in promoting the deception has assumed a life of its own as she appears to be President Obama’s choice to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. To be sure, Ambassador Rice’s appearances on news programs touting the video scenario raises some serious questions. But there should also be concern over her comments to the UN Security Council in February 2011 when, ironically, she cast the U.S. veto of a resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

It will be recalled that there was a concerted effort on the part of the Palestinians and their allies to have the Security Council pass a resolution condemning Israel’s settlement growth. President Obama indicated early on that the U.S. would not go along with this and, if necessary, block the measure by voting against it. (Because the U.S. is a permanent member of the Security Council, this meant the measure would not pass.)

Video of the Security Council session show an obviously upset Ambassador Rice as she cast the negative vote. Her body language and facial expressions send an unmistakable message. Here are excerpts of what she said that day:

The United States has been deeply committed to pursuing a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In that context, we have been focused on taking steps that advance the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, rather than complicating it. That includes a commitment to work in good faith with all parties to underscore our opposition to continued settlements.Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace….

While we agree with our fellow Council members – and indeed, with the wider world – about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution.

So, separate and apart from her role in the Benghazi aftermath. we have serious reservations about what it would mean for Israel should Ms. Rice become secretary of state. As for Benghazi, President Obama has defended Ms. Rice in the face of criticism that she misled the public. He has said she was following his orders. A similar defense was offered by members of the Black Congressional Caucus who insist that any criticism of Ms. Rice is racist and sexist since she was simply following the president’s directive.

In reality, of course, the ambassador has shown herself quite capable of communicating her personal disagreement with presidential policy when she feels the need to do so, as witness the above transcript.

We also note in this connection that as a cabinet level official, Ms. Rice had access to classified intelligence information concerning Benghazi that contradicts the administration’s initial video narrative. And how in the world did she overlook or dismiss the fact that the attack came on 9/11?

Does Freezing Settlements Help Peace?

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

The current US administration has been advocating the freezing of Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria, and so have several global players involved in the peace process. Evidence on the ground, however, seems to suggest that freezing settlement activity only fuels radicalism and terrorism, encourages delegitimizing Israel, deprives Palestinians of decent livelihoods and works significantly against achieving the long-sought peace. On June 4, 2009, when President Obama addressed the Muslim world from Cairo, he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements” because they “undermine efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.” Since then, the U.S. has relentlessly been pressuring the Israeli government to freeze the construction of settlements, eventually resulting in a ten month freeze of settlement activities by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. At one point, Netanyahu demanded that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state in exchange for Israel’s settlements’ freeze, an offer the Palestinian Authority had refused.

Pressure on Israel to freeze its settlement activity is also advocated by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who earlier this year called on Israel to halt settlement activity as “goodwill gesture” to the Palestinians. Israel has given such “goodwill gestures” to the Palestinians before, but the reciprocal gestures were never as good-willed. In exchange for “goodwill gestures,” Israel gets concussions. After Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, driving its own Israeli settlers from their homes by force, Hamas utilized the withdrawal for its propaganda, claiming it was a victory over Israel, and then started firing more Kassam rockets from Gaza into southern Israeli cities. After that, Hamas took over the entire Gaza strip by force from the Palestinian Authority and has been ruling there ever since.

It seems the concussions Israel keeps getting from its “goodwill gesture” in Gaza have extended to neighboring Egypt. In an article published by the Washington Institute in January 2012, seasoned Israeli journalist Ehud Yaari reports that since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula has become a major base for terrorists’ infrastructure, with the Bedouins becoming more radicalized and aiding Hamas with illegal trade. Arms smuggling into Gaza has risen to a record high, with “ever-larger sectors of the northern Sinai population becoming linked to Gaza and falling under the political and ideological influence of Hamas and the like.” All of this leads the inhabitants of the Sinai to think that they are entitled to become another terrorism forefront.

Concussion outcomes from Israel’s withdrawal from land are nothing new. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah quickly expanded the presence of its militants in southern Lebanon to the point of launching an unprecedented rocket attack on Israel in 2006. Why wouldn’t an expansion of an Israeli settlements freeze or a total Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria only lead again to an explosion in terrorist activities as has been the case in other places? Precedents suggest the outcome will not be different.

What is strange is how casual the world has become about asking Israel to stop building settlements on its own land. For example, last May, German President Joachim Gauck called on Israel to make “a goodwill gesture” in its settlement policy. Considering the historical sensitivity between Germany and Israel, one would think the German president would be more cautious about undermining Israel’s right to build homes on its own soil. What can be seen is that the demonization of settlers and settlements has become so regular that it is reaching the point where the delegitimization of Israel is becoming legitimized — probably just what the delegitimizers were hoping for.

The question about the legitimacy or legality of the settlements by itself is puzzling: historically, Judea and Samaria are legitimate parts of Israel — you just have to look at the evidence. The Balfour Declaration by which the British government confirmed that it favoured “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people … and will use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object,” was incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with Turkey and the British Mandate for Palestine, which was legally commissioned to Great Britain by the League of Nations, the equivalent of today’s United Nations, thus making Israel’s control of the entire British Mandate for Palestine — including Judea and Samaria — an internationally legitimate right. Since the draft of the Mandate was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922, it would seem to be in accord with international law.

Peres: Settlements a threat to Israel

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Israeli President Shimon Peres called Judea and Samaria settlements a threat to Israel.

The remarks were made on Tuesday at the annual ceremony in memory of Zionism founder Theodor Herzl, and addressed a report released Sunday that said “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and that therefore settlements and West Bank outposts are legal.

“It is doubtful that a Jewish state without a Jewish majority can remain Jewish,” Peres said, inferring that settlements would lead to the inextricable inclusion of the Palestinians living on the West Bank.

The Obama administration criticized the findings of the Levy Committee report.

“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters Monday evening in answer to a question about the Levy Committee report. Ventrell added that the State Department is “concerned about it, obviously.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns could bring up the report during meetings this week in Israel. Burns will be there with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the region.

The Levy Committee, which was formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, called in its 89-page report for the legalization of all outposts and allowing people who built homes on Palestinian-owned land to pay compensation to the alleged owners, recommends changing the legal regulations concerning Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria in the areas of zoning, demolitions and building.

Leftist Jewish groups in the United States criticized the report.

Americans for Peace Now in a statement called on the government of Israel “to repudiate the findings of the commission it appointed to address the problem of illegal outposts in the West Bank.” APN added that Israel “would cause terrible damage to its international standing, to its relationship with the United States, and to prospects for peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world” if the government adopted the report.

J Street called on the Israelis “to reject the committee’s recommendations and to choose instead a path that leads to two states, thereby securing both Israel’s Jewish and democratic future.”

The findings of the committee are subject to the review and approval of Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Netanyahu established the committee in January after settler leaders called for a response to the 2005 Sasson Report on illegal outposts, which concluded that more than 100 West Bank settlements and outposts constructed from the 1990s and forward were illegal.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/peres-settlements-a-threat-to-israel/2012/07/11/

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