Posts Tagged ‘settlement’
The French government on Thursday announced new requirements of importers and retailers to label products from Jewish communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights.
The government’s “Notice to economic operators concerning the indication of origin of goods originating in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967” cites the November 2015 European Commission guidelines indicating that those areas are not part of the State of Israel. Because of that, the guidelines warn that suggesting a product originating there was made in Israel constitutes a deception of consumers. It is therefore necessary to note on the packages of these products whether they are from places where Jews had lived before or only after June, 1967.
The regulations are very specific about the duty of vendors to note, in addition to the geographical region from which the product had been shipped, the statement that the product was made in “an Israeli settlement.”
No one knows for sure why the French decided to announce these regulations now, one year after the EU had come up with its guidelines, the likes of which have not been issued against any other “occupied” area anywhere. Most EU members have not complied with the guidelines by following suit, as the French have just done, with their own local regulations.
Last year, the European Commission guidelines created a major conflict with the Netanyahu government, which accused the EU of singling out Israel for this kind of hostile and biased treatment. The EU toned down its attack only after Israel threatened to lock its representatives out of any future peace negotiations with the PA.
In that context, it is possible that the Élysée Palace move is in retaliation for Netanyahu’s refusal to attend a peace conference scheduled for some time in the near future in Paris.David Israel
In a move reminiscent of Woody Allen who he sees the school bully approaching and steps on his own glasses, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday announced that he is ready to freeze construction outside the Judea and Samaria settlement blocks as part of the understandings to be reached with the Trump Administration.
Proving he never read The Art of the Deal, Liberman suggested that Israel’s aspirations in negotiating with President Donald Trump should be to ask for his confirmation of the Bush-Sharon understandings that recognized the need for construction to support the growth of the existing population in Judea and Samaria inside the settlement blocks — but no launching of new settlements (also known as “outposts,” or, according to the Talia Sasson 2005 government report, “illegal outposts”).
The settlement blocks, outside eastern Jerusalem, which, according to the Obama Administration, is also one big settlement, consist of the regional councils of Gush Etzion, Mount Hebron, Matte Binyamin, Samaria, and Jordan valley; the local councils of Alfei Menashe, Beit Aryeh-Ofarim, Beit El, Efrat, Elkana, Giv’at Ze’ev, Har Adar, Immanuel, Karnei Shomron, Kedumim, Kiryat Arba, Ma’ale Efraim, and Oranit; and the cities of Ariel, Betar Illit, Maale Adumim, and Modi’in Illit. As of 2014, the Jewish population there is estimated at 400,000. At the current growth rate, in 2030 this population is expected to hover just below 600,000.
To be fair, this idea was not originally Liberman’s. In 2009, newly elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared: “I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank… But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements.” Then, on October 15, 2009, Netanyahu said the settlement dispute with the Obama Administration had been resolved.
Sources inside the Liberman camp have suggested that the reason for this defeatist statement from one of the biggest hawks in the current cabinet has to do less with the incoming Trump people than with the outgoing Obama people, who can still cause a lot of damage in the two months or so left on their calendar. Once the evil teacher is gone, we’ll bring out the balloons and cake for the substitute teacher, those sources are implying.
Meanwhile, the defense minister was very critical of those MKs and Ministers who welcomed Trump’s election as the coming of the Messiah for Israel and the settlements, and cited messages received from the president elect’s camp “expecting us to behave humbly.”
Perhaps. But Liberman appeared to be in a “humble” mood about more than just future construction in Judea and Samaria — he was also giving up hope for existing Jewish communities, such as Amona. This community, built with government support, is slated for demolition and evacuation come December 25, by decree of the Israeli Supreme Court. Incidentally, on Nittel Nacht, the Jewish name for Christmas, eastern European Rabbis forbade married couples from having relations, and studying Torah was also forbidden, as this was a day destined for evil occurrences — a historic and cultural fact completely missed by the court, apparently.
Humble to the point of outright depression, Liberman criticized the Arrangements Act the coalition had just passed in a preliminary vote, which takes care of Arab claims on Jewish land in the liberated territories without having to destroy Jewish communities. For one thing, he pointed out, “it is clear it won’t cover Amona because it cannot be applied retroactively.”
“Sometimes truth is also an option, even when it’s very bitter,” he said, stating that “anyone who says Amona can be preserved in its current location is just spreading delusions and fantasies.”
Or, as Bogie says in Allen’s Play It Again, Sam, “Nothing that a bit of bourbon wouldn’t fiksh.”David Israel
On Sunday, the Netanyahu cabinet is expected to liberate an important tool for the reclamation and development of Israeli lands on either side of the “green line,” as the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization will come under tighter government control and at the same time increase its contribution to Jewish communities, Israeli media reported Friday.
Two years ago, Deputy AG Dina Zilber issued a harsh critique of the Settlement Division, accusing it of running a murky operation, especially in Judea and Samaria, outside the control of Israeli governments, mostly due to its status as a private entity. As a result, the Justice Ministry, then under one of the Jewish settlement enterprise’s worst enemies, Tzipi Livni, recommended that the next government (which Tzipi expected to head) dismantle the division by blocking its state budget. Without a budget, the division was expected to wither and die.
On Sunday, apparently, the same Zionist instrument of vitality will roar back to life, with a budget just short of $10 million, to be distributed equally among the Jewish communities of the Negev, Galilee, and Judea and Samaria. In addition, the Settlement Division will be empowered to offer solutions to stressed communities, especially in the periphery. No such first-aid government entity exists today.
The Zilber report was attacked not only by the rightwing parties, but also by communities that are associated with Tzipi Livni’s Labor party, alongside the Gaza border and down in the Jordan Valley. In fact, after the elections that saw Livni retreat to the opposition benches, several of her own party MKs supported a bill submitted by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), enabling the government to delegate its power to the Settlement Division. Zilber, a civil servant, lobbied against the bill, which passed in three plenum votes. The eager bureaucrat was later rebuked by her new boss, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), for her acting against the expressed will of the elected officials above her.
The layout of the revived Settlement Division which will be discussed by the cabinet on Sunday will define it as an expert, consulting entity which both counsels the government on settlement issues and carries out specific government assignments. For the first time, the division is expected to be able to act within urban communities in the rural sectors, when in the past it was limited to working with the regional councils. Its policy will no longer be shaped by the division, but instead by the Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi).
One of Zilber’s criticisms was taken seriously by the designers of the renewed Settlement Division — the need for transparency. To that end, it will be placed under the supervision of the Agriculture Ministry’s Accountant General and Legal Counsel. It will also have to comply with Israel’s Freedom of Information Act.
With all those provisos in place, the Settlement Division will be empowered to plan and establish new communities, pave roads, lay down infrastructure, manage mobile homes, and strengthen and rehabilitate communities in need. The division will also manage the lands of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria until such time as a more permanent legal solution is reached.
Minister Ariel, who has been a major force behind the efforts to revive the division, told Makor Rishon on Thursday that “in the past few years there have been many different attempts by judicial entities to lock down the Settlement Division which endeavors to develop periphery communities across the land. I believe and hope that once the Settlement Division returns to full capacity the regional councils and the local residents will once again receive solutions to their enormous needs.”JNi.Media
U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged brief but courteous remarks Tuesday afternoon at their final meeting before Obama leaves office next January.
The two men met at the Palace Hotel in New York City, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly where Obama has already delivered his final address, and where Netanyahu is still expected to speak.
It’s the 17th time the two men have held any conversation since Obama entered office in January 2009, at least a couple less than Obama’s predecessor in the White House had with Israeli leaders during his tenure.
Netanyahu first thanked Obama — as he told media he would — for the $34 billion 10-year U.S. military aid package signed last week with Israel.
Israel will never give up on its attempts to reach a comprehensive peace with its neighbors, he told the American president.
He also said Obama will always be a welcome guest in Israel, and invited him to come and visit after he leaves office.
The U.S. president began his response by saying his thoughts are with former president Shimon Peres, who is still sedated and breathing with the aid of a respirator in the intensive care unit at Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv following a major stroke last week.
Obama then verified that the bond between Israel and the United States is “unbreakable,” and based on “common values.” The United States wants Israel to be secure, Obama said, especially in times of uncertainty.
He therefore could not resist adding his hope that the possibility of a “Palestinian state alongside Israel” would remain alive: specifically, an Israel “at peace with its neighbors and a Palestinian homeland.”
Obama also said he hopes he will hear more about this from Netanyahu when he delivers his speech from the podium of the UN General Assembly.
Obama’s biggest concern regarding Israel clearly remains the issue of “settlement activity” on any land where the Palestinian Authority has laid claim for its hoped-for state, regardless of its actual status.Hana Levi Julian
by Anav Silverman On Tuesday night, thousands of people gathered together to celebrate 40 years to the establishment of Samaria’s first community – Kedumim, home to over 900 families. Participants included Chief Rabbi David Lau, who spoke at the festivities, along with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Culture Minister Miri Regev, and MK Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, among other public figures and supporters.
The celebrations also included a reunion of the original members of the Elon Moreh pioneering group, many of whom are grandparents today. Affiliated with the Gush Emunim settlement movement, the Elon Moreh pioneering group established Kedumim following the Yom Kippur War.
Led by Rabbi Menachem Felix and Benny Katzover, the young members did not immediately succeed in settling the barren Samaria hilltops. “We went up seven times, and we were removed each time,” Benny Katzover recalled of the group’s attempts to settle in the early 1970s in Sebastia, near Shechem, during an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
“But nothing could stop our spirit,” said Katzover, 68, founder and leader of the Elon Moreh community, located northeast of Shechem in northern Samaria.
At the time, the Israeli government did not support the group’s activities and the army removed the residents from Sebastia, the capital of the ancient biblical kingdom of Israel. But by their eighth attempt on Hanukkah 1975, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin compromised and allowed the settlers to stay in Samaria, with 30 families settling in Kadum, an army camp. It was the first time that Jewish inhabitants populated the rocky mountaintops of Samaria since ancient times.
Among the supporters of the Elon Moreh pioneering group was the late Ahuvia Tabekin, of Kibbutz Ein Harod, whose wife, Chava, spoke during Kedumim’s celebrations. Ahuvia, the son of Yitzhak Tabekin, the founder of the United Kibbutz Movement and a labor movement leader, strongly supported the Jewish settlement of Samaria.
“Ideology about land was different back then, even among some kibbutz members,” said Chava Tabekin, who also pointed out that Ein Harod took part in building Kedumim’s synagogue – the first synagogue to be built in Samaria. “Ahuvia supported Kedumim from its inception. He was a member of both Kibbutz Ein Harod and a resident of Kedumim.”
Other early pioneers of Kedumim remembered the difficult beginnings. “When we first came to Kedumim, everything was barren and the conditions were very hard,” Nurit Ben-Menachem Graus, 67, told TPS.
Graus, who grew up in Tel Aviv and was the first teacher in Kedumim, said that she and her husband came to Samaria 40 years ago out of ideology. “There was no water, no electricity,” she said. “We came because this is the land of our forefathers.”
“All my children and grandchildren live in Samaria today,” said Graus. “We made history happen.”
Chana Gofer told TPS that she and her family came to Kedumim in August 1979. “There were only 40 families at the time, and we arrived with 40 more families, following Menachem Begin’s promise to settle the heartland of Israel. Kedumim doubled its population within one night,” recalled Gofer, whose has grown children living in Samaria today.
“Today we have over 400,000 Jewish residents living in Judea and Samaria,” said Yigal Dilmoni, the deputy head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria to TPS. “It’s amazing how 40 people paved the way and completely transformed the reality of Judea and Samaria – to one where we have 200 thriving communities today.”
“We are here in their merit.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency
Israeli legal watchdog Regavim has appealed to its supporters in Israel and abroad to write to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to take action against the illegal squatter camp in Susya. The call comes one day after the Israeli Supreme Court has given government a two-day extension on the deadline to deal with the issue through legal means.
There has been immense public pressure on the Netanyahu government by the US State Department, the European Union and dozens of anti-Israel NGOs, to halt the legal process of evicting the illegal Arab squatters who only arrived in Susya over the past few years. The Arabs’ assortment of lean-tos and tents borders on a legal Jewish community that was established by the government in 1986. Should Israel permit this illegal outpost to remain, in Area C of Judea and Samaria which was designated for Jewish settlements, more camps like it will soon dot the landscape everywhere inside the Jewish area of the “disputed territories,” enhancing the Arab side of the dispute.
Regavim released a video call-to-action in which the organization’s International Director Josh Hasten called on supporters to rally around the government as they deliberate on the fate of the squatters’ camp. Explaining the importance of the Susya case, Hasten says the Arab squatters “have set-up shop deliberately on an ancient Jewish town that existed 1,500 years ago — this is a litmus test to see if the government of Israel is willing to uphold the laws of the land.”
Hasten urges viewers to “get involved, let the Prime Minister know that the State of Israel and people of Israel are behind him and we are here to strengthen him in making this decision which is necessary to uphold the laws of the land.”