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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Peace Now’

Netanyahu to Amend the National Service Law to Exclude B’Tselem

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

At the start of the Knesset winter session, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will act to amend the national service law so that it will no longer be possible for young Israelis to do their national service working for the B’Tselem organization, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office, released Saturday night. Netanyahu discussed the amendment Saturday evening with coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud).

Prime Minister Netanyahu has previously contacted the Attorney General on the matter, and the latter said the law needs to be amended to exclude the anti-Zionist NGO.

On Friday, Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, appeared before a non-binding session of the UN Security Council, together with the director of Americans for Peace Now, to attack Israeli policy on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The meeting came a week after the US and the EU had expressed their outrage at the fact that Israel was planning 98 new housing units in Samaria, for the residents of Amona which was slated for demolition by the Israeli Supreme Court. Apparently, the fact that Israel refuses to let a few hundred Jews go homeless poses a threat to the national aspirations of Palestinians everywhere.

David Israel

As B’Tselem, Peace Now Attack Settlements, US Tells UNSC Israel Sabotages Two-State Solution

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

In a move that appears to confirm Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s worst nightmare, Deputy US Ambassador to the UN David Pressman told a session of the UN Security Council on Friday that the US is “deeply concerned and strongly opposes settlements which are corrosive to peace,” blaming Israeli settlement activities in Judea and Samaria for creating ” a one state reality on the ground.”

The council meeting, titled “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution,” was called by member states Egypt, Venezuela, Malaysia, Senegal and Angola. The meeting was pushed by the PA delegation, which earlier this year shelved an anti-settlement proposal in favor of a French-led peace initiative. Attendance was not mandatory and there was no vote, however, it was clearly a signal of things to come, with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry preparing to go after Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as soon as the Nov. 8 vote is cast.

Pressman pointed to the rise in the number of demolitions of illegally constructed Arab homes in Area C of Judea and Samaria as being of particular concern, and called on both sides to adopt policies that encourage rather than impede “implementing the two-state solution.” He also condemned Arab terrorism against Israelis, and argued that by inciting violence the PA is telling the world it isn’t interested in peace.

The Russian representative said the situation in the liberated territories is near “the moment of truth,” and insisted that “settlement construction must stop,” because it creates “Palestinian enclaves” which are disconnected from the world. “Israel needs security, but without the two-state solution, the threat to Israel will grow,”he threatened.

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, and Lara Friedman, director of policy and government relations at the Americans for Peace Now, were the darlings of the special anti-Israel session. Friedman said that the Israeli investment in settlements shows the state is looking to thwart the two-state solution, and called on the UNSC countries to “send a message” to Israel.

Friedman told the council about an entire system inside and outside the Israeli government dedicated to constructing new settlements and expanding existing ones. She accused Netanyahu’s government of promoting the construction of 11,000 new settlement housing units between 2009 and 2015.

El-Ad complained that “Israel has systematically legalized human rights violations in the occupied territories through the establishment of permanent settlements, punitive home demolitions, a biased building and planning mechanism, taking over Palestinian land and much, much more.” He added that 2016 was the “worst” in terms of the number of illegal Arab structures that were demolished by Israel in Area C, which is under Israeli control according to the Oslo Accords.

Zionist NGO Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg addressed the remarks by El-Ad, saying, “As we have said all along, the term foreign-agent does not do justice to the disgraceful activities of B’Tselem against Israel, which is enabled by funding from foreign governments and the New Israel Fund. History will not forgive those who, in exchange for money, are willing to sell out their country, people, and land.”

Peleg added: “We expect the government to announce that it will cease providing National Service positions to B’Tselem. The organization should be distanced from all contact and cooperation with the IDF and government offices.”


Bennett: We Must Sacrifice to Preserve Judea and Samaria [video]

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Habayit Hayehudi Chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday night announced that Israelis must make sacrifices in order to preserve the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria. Speaking in the wake of the Obama Administration’s assault on Netanyahu’s cabinet’s plan to move the residents of Amona to new homes in Shiloh, 11 miles away, Bennett said that “regarding the Land of Israel we must switch from blocking to winning.” He also promised that he and his two Religious Zionist colleagues in the cabinet are “taking responsibility for a strategic arrangement for the settlement enterprise.”

Bennett spoke at a conference in Jerusalem in memory of MK Hanan Porat, one of the founders of the Gush Emunim movement which led the National Religious wave of settlements in the newly liberated territories after the 1967 Six Day War. Habayit Hayehudi is facing an existential dilemma these days, as many of its voters have said they’d rather see their elected representatives leave the coalition government than participate in the decision to uproot the Amona residents. Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have been advocating a permanent legal resolution of the problem of thousands of Arab claims, initiated and financed by anti-Zionist NGOs like Peace Now, with European and American funding, against existing Jewish communities across Judea and Samaria. The Habayit Hayehudi ministers prefer to work from within the Netanyahu government on legislation to compel such claimants to accept market value compensation, rather than stage a dramatic exit from the coalition.

“We should highlight the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria become part of the sovereign Land of Israel,” Bennett told his audience. “We must act today and we must make sacrifices. We cannot continue to consider the Land of Israel as our tactical goal and a Palestinian State as our strategic goal.”

Bennett cited the late Hanan Porat “who said we have no right to divide the land. Not through words, nor through action, silent acquiescence, or quiet excuses. Neither by politicians nor by jurists. The path of concessions, of partition, has lost out.” He then promised that because of the people of Amona, and because of their faith and trust, “we will lead with a strategic solution to the entire settlement enterprise.”

Zionist Camp (a.k.a. Labor) MKs Tzipi Livni and Ksenia Svetlova condemned Bennnett’s vision, calling it “the nightmare of the entire people of Israel,” and accusing him of warmongering. Interestingly, current polls are showing Habayit Hayehudi leading the Zionist Camp by between two and four Knesset seats, had the elections been held today.


Final Obama Battle Waged Against Amona Jews

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

The new, and, God Willing, final confrontation between the departing Obama Administration and the still ticking Netanyahu government appears to center on Amona, located on a hill overlooking Ofra in Benjamin Region, at the heart of the liberated territories.


Amona was founded in 1995, and has 200-plus residents — 50-plus families. Amona’s very name is a densely packed tale of occupations: it is mentioned in the Book of Joshua 18:24 as Kfar HaAmmonai, meaning Village of the Amonites, but the Amonite kingdom was well to the east of the Jordan River, so that when the Israelite tribe of Benjamin took it over, it actually liberated it from foreign occupation. A dozen or so conquests later, Amona was initially redeemed and rebuilt in 1995, not as a community but as an archeological site and the location of the Mekorot national water company’s containers. In 1996, the head of the regional council, with the support of the defense ministry, placed three caravans with young people from Ofra on the Amona hill, for strategic purposes.

Since then, and until 2005, a succession of Israeli governments invested in Amona’s infrastructure and encouraged its settlement by young families, mostly from nearby Ofra. In fact, in 2001, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon encouraged the locals to start building permanent homes, into which they moved from the 30 or so caravans where they lived. In 2003, then Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu participated in the celebrations of opening the community’s first mikvah. There was no doubt that the State of Israel was sanctioning the Amona enterprise.

In 2004, the Amana residents completed construction of nine permanent homes. Then, in October 2004, the Israeli Civil Administration ordered the demolition of the same structures, based on complaints that the lands had been acquired illegally from local Arabs who used to graze their flocks there.

According to the Amona residents, the reason they can’t produce the proper registration of their land has to do with the Palestinian Authority law that penalizes anyone who sells land to Jews. Over the years, dozens of Arab real estate brokers who dared to sell to Jews, often through a straw man, have been imprisoned and even executed. The Jews of Amona claim they purchased most of the land from local Arabs, with the understanding that they would protect the sellers’ identity by not registering the sale.

In July 2005, Peace Now petitioned the Supreme Court, complaining that no demolition had been executed. And in November 2005, the destroyer of Gush Katif, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, ordered the demolition of Amona be carried out by the end of January 2006.

On February 1, 2006, local Jewish residents and a few thousand protesters, including several MKs, clashed with a force of 10,000 Police, Border Guard, and IDF troops. The cops were as brutal and cruel as Israel had ever seen. An estimated 300 Jewish protesters were injured. Young Jewish girls accused the cops of sexual assault.

Eventually, the nine newly built homes of Amona were destroyed.

In December 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the entire community of Amona had to be evacuated and their homes demolished. The court has rejected an idea by then cabinet secretary and now Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit, that in cases like Amona, where government was involved in a community’s establishment, the Arab claimant be compelled to accept market value or comparable land. Most recently, Habayit Hayehudi cabinet ministers have suggested moving the Amona residents to nearby land — and that is the move which caught the ire of the lame duck Obama Administration.


On Wednesday, in an angry press release reminiscent of the Days Secretary John Kerry was first realizing there was no Nobel Peace Prize for him for fathering a new Palestinian State, the State Department “strongly condemned” the planned Amona move, stressing it violates Israel’s promise not to build new settlements. State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, said

“it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and leaders from the US and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for a two-state solution that he so passionately supported.”

Never mind what you do to us, look what you’re doing to Shimon!

The NY Times cited Martin Indyk, Obama’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and, as rumors have it, President Hillary Clinton’s next envoy for the same Sisyphean chore, who threatened, as only a Jew who passionately hates the idea of an independent and strong Israel can: “At a certain point, the administration may well decide that there needs to be consequences for what it now sees as an effort to close off the two-state solution.”

For his part, Spokesperson Toner told the State Dept. press briefing on Wednesday:

“…when we see Israel carry out this kind of action – new settlement activity, announcement of new settlement activity – that, frankly, contradicts its stated goal to have or to achieve or pursue a two-state solution, it raises serious concerns and we have to publicly and privately convey those concerns to the Government of Israel.”

Then came this from Toner:

“…with regard to the UN Security Council and any action at the UN, our position hasn’t changed. We’re always concerned, frankly, about one-sided resolutions or other actions that could be taken within the UN, and we’re always going to oppose those kinds of resolutions that we believe delegitimize Israel and undermine its security.” Then, having paid the proper lip service, Toner delivered the zinger: “But we’re going to carefully consider our future engagement, if and when we reach that point, and determine how to most effectively pursue and advance the objective that we all at least claim to share, which is that of achieving a negotiated two-state solution. That work is going to continue with our international partners and we’re going to continue to make clear when we have concerns, such as we do today, with regard to Israel’s actions. We’re going to make those concerns clear to the Israeli Government.”

Do you see the veiled threat of the US deciding to support or abstain at a UNSC unilateral vote on establishing a Palestinian State?

Netanyahu heard it, loud and clear. On Wednesday night, Israel’s Foreign Ministry (PM Netanyahu is also the Foreign Minister) issued a statement rejecting the American criticism, arguing that the construction plan the cabinet initiated a week ago does not constitute building a new settlement, and, besides, “the settlements are not the barrier to peace.”

“The 98 housing units approved for the Shiloh settlement do not constitute a new settlement,” went the statement. “These units are to be built on state-owned land in the existing settlement of Shiloh, and will not alter its municipal boundaries. These housing units are intended to provide housing to the residents of Amona who must leave their homes according to home demolition orders issued by the Supreme Court of Justice.”

The Netanyahu argument will probably not persuade Toner or Kerry and Obama for that matter. Their vision inherently encompasses Judea and Samaria as Judenrein (German for “clean of Jews”), and so the argument regarding Shiloh’s unchanged municipal boundaries is meaningless to them — they hold there shouldn’t have been a Jewish Shiloh there in the first place.

Or, as Toner put it,

“…that’s particularly why we find [Israel’s] actions so befuddling, when it takes actions such as continued settlement activity that run counter to what we’re all trying to achieve here. And so we’re going to continue to press that case to them. We have a very close and very frank and candid relationship with Israel. We’re going to continue to call it like we see it, and when we see this kind of activity that we believe is counterproductive, we’re going to say so.”

Al Quds reporter Said Arikat pressed Toner:

“You keep saying that the UN is a forum that is somehow inherently opposed to Israel, while in fact, it was created through that UN organization. But let me ask you this: I mean, if this is in occupied territory, which you acknowledge, and there are laws that pertain to the occupying power’s rights and privileges or obligations under international law, why not push forward, put your weight behind what is internationally lawful in this case, and bring Israel to bear on these issues – holding it to account?”

Toner would not say, because to actually reveal what the Administration is, presumably, planning for the day after November 8 could start WW3. But there’s no doubt that, should the US decide to support a UN vote on a two-state solution, Amona, that ancient home of the invaders from across the Jordan River, will definitely play a major role in the decision.

David Israel

Rightwing Paper Crowns Shooting Medic Azaria ‘Man of the Year’

Friday, September 30th, 2016

On Wednesday, Hagai Segal, editor of the right-leaning Makor Rishon, directed at the National Religious public, revealed on Twitter the Friday cover page of his newspaper’s Shabbat supplement Dyokan (Portrait) dedicated to their pick of Man of the Year 5776, with a flattering image of Sgt. Elor Azaria, the medic whose shot that killed a terrorist on the ground at a Hebron check post last Purim Day also appears to have killed a long-held belief that the IDF’s values and priorities were synonymous with those of the Jewish nation in Israel.

“The court will rule on the severity of his action,” says the subheadline on the same cover, “but there’s no doubt that the single bullet he shot at the terrorist ignited the stormiest debate in Israel’s society this year.”

Many readers confuse the meaning of a publication’s Man of the Year pick with an endorsement, even praise of his actions. Segal’s team made certain to convey that they picked Azaria not because they necessarily agree with his shooting of an already “neutralized” terrorist, but because of his strong influence on Israelis — the majority of whom rebelled publicly and in no uncertain terms against a confused military and political leadership that actually considered charging an IDF soldier with murder of an Arab terrorist who had already stabbed another soldier in the neck.

The military prosecution finally gave in to the tide of public rage and settled for a manslaughter indictment, which did not make it or the man at the helm of the defense apparatus, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), more popular in the least. In the end, Ya’alon was ousted, replaced by Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), allowing Prime Minister Netanyahu to kill two birds with one convenient stone, getting rid of an increasingly unpopular (and preachy) defense minister, and adding a crucial coalition partner to give him a safer edge in the Knesset.

Despite the fact that Israelis were preoccupied with the passing of the late Shimon Peres this week, the Segal tweet received its share of boos and applause, much of it revolving around the difference between picking the MOY because he was influential vs. being praiseworthy.

Former Peace Now chief Yariv Oppenheimer tweeted back that he’d pick Hagai Klein, the man who was shot by an Arab terrorist gunman at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, and despite his injury managed to tackle the shooter with his bare hands. Obviously, a brave man worthy of a medal, but few Israelis would recognize his name without Googling it.

There was one tweet suggesting the man of the year award should be given to the B’Tselem cameraman who captured the shooting — which makes sense in a big bang theory kind of way.

Meretz Chairwoman MK Zehava Galon attacked the choice on it’s merit: “Enough already,” she wrote. “Azaria didn’t ignite a debate. He shot the head of a neutralized terrorist.” She then rebuked Segal’s choice, saying that “choosing him as man of the year sends a clear message to anyone who understands it.” Meaning, obviously, that Azaria wasn’t only influential, he was also right in the eyes of many Israelis, and that in itself is dangerous.

It so happens that another Israeli newspaper, Ma’ariv, which hovers around the center-right political zone, on Friday published a column by journalist Ben Kaspit who also picked Azaria as his choice for man of the year. “One shot from Elor Azaria, a simple soldier from the Kfir Brigade, woke up all the sleeping demons in Israel’s society,” Kaspit wrote, adding, “Like it or not, Elor Aazaria was the most influential man of the year 5776.”

We will be revealing our choice for Man of the Year Saturday night. Here’s a hint: she’s not a man. Unless, of course we’ll have one of those editorial brawls today and come up with someone else. Stay tuned.


J Street Recruiting Obama’s Jack Lew to Rob Regavim of Non-Profit Status

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

The leftwing, anti-Netanyahu group J Street is pushing this month a petition titled, “Ask the Treasury to review the tax-deductibility of donations to groups aiding settlement expansion and Palestinian dispossession.” The umbrella cast by the petition appears to be broad, but the real target, as disclosed in an email sent out this week by Meretz MK Michal Rozin, is Regavim, a movement dedicated to enforcing the rule of law regarding illegal Arab construction everywhere.

In another email Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, sent his members in early September, he announced that he was pressuring the Obama Administration to revoke the US tax-exempt status of the Israeli NGO Regavim in response to their supposed activity against the two-state solution. Regavim has been very effective recently in forcing the Israeli authorities to apply Supreme Court rulings on demolishing illegal Arab construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria. Borrowing a page from the play book of Peace Now, which has been documenting every minute construction in Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, Regavim has become a pesky companion to every Arab attempt to defy the law, especially in cases where the courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court, have ruled in favor of demolition. As a result, the Netanyahu government and its law enforcement agencies can no longer ignore these rulings and permit illegal Arab construction to flourish.

One of the most outstanding recent focal points of the Regavim efforts has been their campaign against a squatter camp outside the Jewish community of Susiya in Judea, which the US and the EU insist must stay put despite the fact that its existence violates every signed agreement between Israel and the PA.

Ben-Ami wrote his followers that he was shocked to discover that the “settler movements” aiming to destroy Susiya are partially funded by donations from the US — including Regavim which has systematically mapped out the Susiya shacks and lean-tos, pointing Israeli police at the precise location of structures that violate the law. Ben-Ami sees this well-organized campaign to enforce the law as a threat to a future Palestinian State, which, he believes, must some day be handed the entire area.

As MK Rozin told J Street members in her email: “In 2016, they have already demolished more Palestinian homes than in all of last year. … This process is led in part by influential right-wing NGOs (like the group Regavim), which have been systematically mapping out strategically located Palestinian villages — like Susya — and lobbying the Israeli government to demolish them. Their goal is simple — to destroy the dream of the two-state solution.”

By “lobbying to demolish,” MK Rozin, who is entrusted with the rule of law in Israel, is referring to Regavim’s relentless efforts to push government agencies to enforce court rulings. Alas, that obedience to the law in Israel appears to be an affront to US foreign policy, which Rozin would like to thwart by taking away their American tax exempt status. “Incredibly, Regavim and their fellow settler groups often benefit from tax-free contributions coming from the USA — even while they actively oppose the two-state solution, undermining key US and Israeli interests,” Rozin wrote, adding, “That’s why J Street has called on the US Treasury Department to review whether the activities of Regavim should make them ineligible to receive tax-free contributions.”

Now, as promised by Ben-Ami in his email, J Street is making Regavim the target of Obama’s Jewish Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew. In a three-paragraph appeal to Lew, next to the petition described above, J Street is directly challenging the Secretary of the Treasury to take away the tax exemptions of pro-Zionist NGOs whom, they say, obstruct US policy regarding the two-state solution.

The J Street spiel is reasonable on its face: “While the US has consistently opposed illegal settlement expansion, it has allowed Americans to make tax-deductible contributions to groups actively engaged in dispossessing Palestinians of their land and aiding the spread of settlements,” which is why “we’re calling on the Treasury Department to review whether tax-deductible treatment for donations to such groups meet the relevant requirements — and, if not, to cut off the flow of tax-deductible US dollars.”

But the above statement, like all political hackwork, is bereft of specifics and context, lumping together real and imagined targets. The most crucial omission is the fact that Regavim’s official mission has nothing to do with Jewish settlements or with the two-state solution. Instead, as their website states, “The mission of Regavim is to ensure responsible, legal, accountable and environmentally friendly use of Israel’s national lands and the return of the rule of law to all areas and aspects of the land and its preservation.” As such, they are just as effective regarding illegal Bedouin and other Arab construction inside 1967-border Israel as they are about Area C of Judea and Samaria.

The reason Regavim is being attacked by name is because they are not a Zionist movement of slogans and demonstrations (their rallies so far have been pitifully under-attended). They are a Zionist movement dedicated to upholding the law, and as such they beat the opposition at its own game.

Which is why it is highly unlikely that Secretary Lew would devote any time in the next three months to going after Regavim’s tax exempt status — but someone inside the IRS might. Stay tuned.


Private Recording: Bennett Promising ‘Strategic Solution’ for Land Ownership Challenges [audio]

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett on Wednesday attempted to calm his followers’ fears regarding the imminent uprooting of the community of Amona in Benjamin Region, in a private recording distributed to activists over WhatsApp. Bennett stressed that he and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have been trying to come up with a global, strategic solution that would remove the current threat hovering over thousands of housing units which are facing the same predicament as Amona. So far, attempts to introduce a legal mechanism that would offer fair market value to new Arab claimants against Jewish Homeowners across Judea and Samaria have been rejected by the court.

The left has been outright hostile to the idea, among other things because leftwing NGOs like Peace Now have based their very existence on seeking out potential Arab claimants to contest legal transactions between other Arab owners and the Jewish buyers. A fair market value solution would satisfy both the Arab claimants and the Jewish homeowners, but would leave many NGO agents without employment.

On Tuesday, Kipa published a letter from the residents of Amona, accusing the rightwing members of government, especially Bennett and Shaked, of a lackadaisical approach to Amona’s impending doom (a term actually used, in paraphrased form, by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman).

In the recording, obtained by Kipa, Bennett tells Habayit Hayehudi activists that he and Shaked “have decided to use a strategic solution and to stop gong after local solutions the way did in Amona and in Gush Etzion.” He continued: “Right now Ayelet and I are laboring very seriously over a single, large-scale strategic move which would solve all our problems.”

Bennett suggested several options, including the application of the Edmund Levy committee report which recommended imposing Israeli law on Area C of Judea and Samaria. “It might be a change in the government’s decision, it could also be the arrangement law,” Bennett said, referring to a bill being promoted by coalition MKs that compels Arab claimants to accept fair market value for their claims—a bill that was rejected four years ago by Prime Minister Netanyahu. But no matter which solution they choose, it’s going to go into effect within the next few weeks, Bennett promised in the recording.

Bennett blamed on previous Netanyahu governments the current mess in Amona, where as many as 17 homes have been slated for demolition by the Supreme Court, in a community that was designed and supported by the State. He voiced his support for an outline suggested by the Amona residents, known as the Absentee Property outline. Absentee property was the way the State of Israel in the past dealt with thousands of properties that had been left behind by Arabs who fled to Jordan and Egypt during the 1948-49 Israeli War of Independence. “After much resistance we have been able to pass the outline in the government, but we don’t yet have a complete guarantee that it would pass.”

As usual, the one possible deciding vote to kill a market value bill or a realignment of Amona, in a government with a decisive, pro-settlements majority, is the man at the helm, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who probably does not relish a new battle with the Administration during the lame duck season.

Justice Minister Shaked on Wednesday told Army Radio that the Amona residents share in the blame for their current emergency, since a year ago the Defense Ministry had offered them an alternative settlement near Shilo, and they refused. She acknowledged, however, the validity of their absentee property solution and promised to pursue it in the cabinet.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/private-recording-bennett-promising-strategic-solution-for-land-ownership-challenges-audio/2016/09/21/

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