Posts Tagged ‘settlements’
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett says annexing Area C – the Jewish settlement blocs and the areas of the Judea and Samaria that are totally under Israeli control in accordance with the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords – is the “only sane plan” left.
Speaking in an interview with IDF Army Radio this morning (Monday), the Bayit Yehudi party chairman said, “It’s no secret that for dozens of years there has been a massive disagreement on how to leave the settlements. But there’s been no justification for the argument. It hasn’t proven itself.”
Since 1967, the number of Israeli Jews living in Judea and Samaria – known abroad by the euphemism used by Jordan after it occupied the territory, the “West Bank” (of the Jordan River, that is) – has grown exponentially. Today the region is home to more than 350,000 Jews, most living in what is known as “Area C” – the area under complete Israeli government control.
Bennett — a former member of an IDF special forces unit — has taken a pragmatic approach and maintained for years the only way to resolve the impasse with the Palestinian Authority is to simply annex Area C — beginning with Gush Etzion — and be done with it. In any event the international community is going to kick a fuss just as they did over the Golan Heights and Jerusalem, according to his way of thinking; one may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and at least keep the family safe.
But Finance Minister Yair Lapid – head of the leftist ‘Yesh Atid’ party and firmly opposed to annexation of any kind – has threatened to bring down the government over the plan.
It’s not yet clear what role the United States is playing in Lapid’s intransigence on the issue or for that matter, his maneuvering a fifth column against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with Hatnua party chairwoman Tzipi Livni, former alleged “chief negotiator” for the government. It’s no secret the White House despises the Netanyahu government and would just love to see someone else sitting in the prime minister’s residence.
“If there is any effort to annex even one settlement unilaterally, Yesh Atid will not just leave the government, it will bring it down,” Lapid announced late Sunday in Herzliya.
Instead, it appears that Lapid has become the new Kerry, pressuring Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to return to the negotiating table with the PA ‘unity’ government. He advocates withdrawal from “some” PA territory and has insisted that Netanyahu come up with a map showing borders for a new PA state – essentially the same demands made by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Justice Minister Livni is aligning with him against Netanyahu; together, the two comprise 25 of the 68 seats held by the current coalition. If they withdraw their support, Netanyahu could lose the government – or would have to call new elections.
In the long run, that might not be a half-bad idea; given the current options. It is more than likely that Likud would gain the votes it lost in the last election and even possible that Livni might be shaken out in the process.
Meanwhile, although none of the new PA unity government ministers are technically drawn from any terrorist group, Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization is a full partner with Fatah in the government. Hamas, along with its allied group, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, has sworn to annihilate the State of Israel. In fact neither has abandoned that cause. Somehow these facts have managed to escape the notice of Israel’s finance minister, who seems only to see the necessity of pleasing the United States and Europe.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid slammed Economy Minister Naftali Bennett Sunday, and threatened to bring down the government if Bennett’s plan to annex Judea and Samaria is adopted. Lapid also called for a building freeze.
In addition, Lapid called for an Ariel Sharon-style flight from Judea and Samaria “in order to preserve Israel’s Jewish character.”
Lapid warned that “if a Palestinian state is not established alongside Israel, the Palestinians will come to us sooner or later, with full backing of the world’s nations, and tell us: ‘Since you don’t intend to give us our own state, at least allow us to become citizens.’”
But he did not reference demographic evidence that the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria continued to decline in 2013, and refused to address the fact that neither the Arabs or the United Nations accept Israel’s unilaterally-drawn Gaza border. Despite Israel’s withdrawal, Palestinians and their supporters continue to describe the Gaza Strip as “occupied.”
In addition, Lapid failed to explain whether or not he had learned any lessons from the destruction of Gush Katif in 2005, or how he would prevent the security nightmare that plagues southern Israel – Israeli Civilians in Sderot and other Gaza border region communities have withstood nearly 10,000 rocket attacks from Gaza since the Gush Katif manoeuvre – from reaching other parts of the country, particularly Ben Gurion Airport, well within rocket distance of the Binyamin region of Samaria.
Police investigators descended on the Gush Etzion town of Bat Ayin Tuesday to arrest three brothers, the youngest of whom is 10 years old. The older brothers, aged 17 and 19 years old, said police beat their younger sibling during the arrest. “One investigator choked my brother while the others beat him mercilessly,” said one of the older brothers.
The three brothers were brought to the Gush Etzion police station where the commanding officer delivered a warning talk to youngest brother, who was then released because at the age of 10, he cannot be charged with a crime.
But according to Honenu, a legal aid organization that provides representation in Judea and Samaria the two older brothers remain in custody at this hour, and added that the detainees have not been told why they were taken into custody. A Honenu spokesman said the brothers were “shocked” to learn that police claimed they had thrown stones at the police car, and added that the brothers denied “out of hand” the police claim.
The incident followed a similar one in Bat Ayin yesterday, when a 12-year-old boy was detained after police said he prevented them from entering the community synagogue. He, too, was interrogated and released.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be named because he is a minor, said plainclothes General Security Service (GSS, or Shabak) officers interrogated him and threatened him.
“Two plainclothes guys came into the investigation room. One introduced himself as ‘Dan.’ He started threatening me and said he is watching me 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“He told me that his goal was to put me in jail for the rest of my life, and that he would hurt me and my family. I laughed, and he told me that the day would come when I would be held in a dark cell and that he would laugh at me. When I continued laughing he left the room,” the 17-year-old said.
Parents turn to Children’s Council
In addition to the Bat Ayin detainees, the family of a 16-year-old boy from Jerusalem have asked the Israel National Council for the Child for help in making contact with their son. They say GSS agents detained him six days ago and have taken the rare step of preventing him from meeting with a lawyer.
“Last Wednesday morning our son was walking down Hanivi’im Street in Jerusalem when he was accosted by two men in civilian clothes. They took him to an undisclosed location. From that moment, we haven’t heard from him or seen him, and we have no idea how he is,” the parents said. We understand that the GSS is interrogating our son under terms of a rarely-used legal clause which prohibits him from seeing a lawyer,” the family said in a statement released by Honenu.
If order to make contact with their son, the parents have asked Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, head of the Israel Council for the Child , to press GSS authorities on their behalf to obtain access to the prisoner.
“This is an opportunity for the Council to investigate the repeated violations committed against minors,” said attorney Adi Keidar, who represents the children. “Violations of the law continue unabated, and no one thinks of the long-term effects of extended periods of incarceration of minors in inhumane conditions in GSS lockups.
President of the Israel National Council for the Child, Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, was not immediately available for comment.
ACRI, Feiglin agree: Detentions recall “dark regimes”
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud Betenu) said Tuesday that the detention of price tag suspects without evidence places israel alongside the world’s “darkest regimes.”
“The witch hunt against the tough price tag phenomenon has led to minors being held on suspicion of vandalism and prevented from seeing lawyers,” said MK Feiglin. “This is a very serious phenomenon that should make anyone who holds human rights dear.
“Arresting minors (and adults) for suspected vandalism and property damage and withholding their legal rights under the pretext of ‘the rule of law’ places Israel on the same level as some very dark regimes. I am certain that had the vandalism occurred on the other side of the political map the police would not have dared act this way.
Nirit Moskovitch, a spokeswoman for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said her organization has not acted on this case is that so many detainees in Israeli jails are prevented from meeting with legal counsel that ACRI cannot respond to each case individually.
“The reason this case has made headlines is the comparatively rare case that the individuals involved are Jews,” Moskovitch told The Jewish Press.
Moskovitch added that the organization is completely opposed to the practice of preventing prisoners from legal counsel, especially when the detainees are minors. She also said that ACRI has spoken out strongly against designating Price Tag attacks, offensive as they may be, as “terror” attacks.
“We will continue to call for a strong battle against these despicable hate crimes, which require determination and financial resources on the part of police. These measures need not stand in distinction to respect for the rights of suspects and those interrogated.
“Labelling price taggers as a ‘terror group’ could have serious consequences for the human rights of individuals suspected of these crimes,” Moskovitch said.
Residents of the Jewish community of Givat Assaf in Samaria have reached a partial agreement with the Defense Ministry over the fate of their homes.
The talks came in an effort to avoid a traumatic demolition similar to the one that took place Wednesday in Gush Etzion.
The deal, which came Thursday morning, means the residents will begin to dismantle five of their own houses and buildings by themselves. Included among the structures are a mikvah and an electrical utility building. The fate of seven other buildings is still under discussion.
According to the Civil Administration, residents have already removed their personal belongings from the buildings.
Under the agreement the residents are expected to have left their homes by Sunday, when the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer, which marks the passing of the great Torah sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, will already have started the night before.
Bonfires will have been kindled after the Shabbat has ended, lighting up the hillsides, valleys and beaches of Israel, including the mountainous regions in Judea and Samaria.
During the daylight hours Jews generally celebrate the holiday in parks and nature reserves, or at the mountaintop Galilee tomb of the sage, near Meron — but for residents of Givat Assaf, the only “celebration” may come in the form moving trucks.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) came out strongly Wednesday evening against lawmakers claiming that ‘price tag’ vandalism attacks were tantamount to terrorism.
The minister demanded at the emergency meeting that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch prove how ‘price tag’ attacks meet the definition of ‘terrorism.’
Ministers Livni and Aharonovitch had earlier Wednesday vowed a crackdown on the price tag attacks, referring to them as “terrorism.”
“Price tag” is something that is absolutely forbidden and should be not allowed to take root anywhere in our country,” Ariel said. “The criminals must be brought to justice,” he continued, but “terrorism is murder and [involves] intent to kill by throwing rocks, shooting, firebombing, car bombs and more.”
There is a difference, he said, and “the repeated failure of the police and Shin Bet to bring the perpetrators to justice does not turn these illegal acts into terrorism.”
Ariel called on lawmakers to clearly differentiate between murderous intent, and serious hate crimes that involve spray-painted graffiti and slashed tires.
It’s that time of year again — the Fatah terror faction led by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has for the ‘nth’ time managed to reach a “reconciliation” with the Hamas terrorist organization that rules Gaza.
The two sides agreed Tuesday evening after talks in Gaza City to form a unity government “within the next five weeks,” according to an announcement by officials on both sides released Wednesday.
But Hamas is unwilling to negotiate with – or for that matter, even recognize the existence of – the State of Israel.
So the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which represents the PA in all its affairs at the United Nations (UN), and thus the PA, meaning Mahmoud Abbas – who heads both – must choose who to take to the prom.
Will it be Hamas? That fickle friend who makes deals every Monday and Thursday, and backs out at the last minute every time the signature page arrives on the desk?
Or will it be Israel, which will certainly mean he will have to sit down this time in earnest at the negotiating table, and actually get down to business?
Either could mean his death.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said bluntly in response to Wednesday’s announcement that Abbas had reached the crossroads.
“Instead of moving into peace with Israel, he is moving into peace with Hamas. He has to choose. Does he want peace with Hamas, or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace; so far, he hasn’t done so.”
The fact that Abbas has continually come up with new ‘preconditions’ to extend the negotiations with Israel beyond the April 29 deadline makes it clear that he wants a way out of the talks that will leave him blameless.
That is a fantasy, since no leader can lead without taking responsibility for his actions.
Netanyahu proposed a plan for extension of the talks – taking a risk that enraged a substantial percentage of the population and its leadership – but Abbas so far has apparently turned his nose up at the offer.
Abbas knows Israel’s red lines but seems determined to stomp across them regardless of the price his people will inevitably pay.
Ultimately, his inability to decide a course on which to steer his people will be his downfall and, tragically, theirs as well.
“Yesterday the Palestinian Authority discussed dismantling,” noted Netanyahu in meeting with reporters. “Today it is mulling uniting with Hamas. Let them decide whether to dismantle or unite.”