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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘settlements’

Samaria Wines Receive International Acclaim in France Despite Boycotts

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

A French wine competition has awarded the Psagot Boutique Winery of Samaria gold stars for each of its eight wines that are a continuation of the Biblical tradition of wine production in Israel.

Established in 2003 by Yaakov and Naama Berg, the Psagot Boutique Winery is located in the Binyamin hills north of  Jerusalem ,which served as the cradle of wine-cultivation in Biblical times. The winery’s vineyards are planted on ancient limestone terraces at a height of 3,000 feet above sea level, alongside the community of Psagot, located south of Beit El and Ofra in Samaria.

Editorial note: A 2011 Washington Post article suggested that the labels on the Berg bottles say they are from Psagot, Israel, containing wine produced from vineyards planted on ancient limestone terraces in the “northern Jerusalem hills” and aged in French oak barrels stored in an ancient cave.

When asked, Berg “shrugged off suggestions that the labels mask the wine’s origin in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.”

“This is a geographical definition, not political,” he says of the reference to the Jerusalem hills. “When it comes to wine, the geographical area is critical, like Napa Valley” in California. As for the reference to Israel, Berg said that he is subject to Israeli law and that his winery is built on state land.

Energetic founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery Yaakov Berg.

Energetic founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery Yaakov Berg.

In keeping with ancient history of the location, the Psagot Winery ages its wines in an ancient underground cave that was used for wine-making in the Second Temple period. The cave was discovered in the process of establishing the winery in an area where remnants of ancient vineyards still exist.

The annual French wine competition is held by 1001degustations.com, a wine site that was created by French wine producers in order to promote international interest in wines and wine production.

The Psagot wines competed against scores of wines sent from wineries across the world including leading wine-producing countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, USA, South Africa and Argentina.

All eight of the Psagot wine entries placed in the competition, either in first, second or third place, a special feat for the Israeli boutique winery according to the founder and CEO, Yaakov Berg. “We sent all our wines to the competition and they all received awards,” Berg told Tazpit News Agency.

Psagot’s red wines, Prat and Shiraz, were awarded gold stars as well as the Judges’ Favorite Award. The grading is based on the criteria of color, aroma and taste and is decided by a jury composed of wine producers, sommeliers, oenologists, and restaurant owners. On the competition’s website, Psagot’s Prat wine was noted for its pleasant fragrance and fruity flavor, while the judges described the Shiraz as an elegant delight.

The Psagot Winery has won accolades in Panama, England and the United States among other countries. Because the competitions use blind tasting of wines to prevent bias, the Psagot wines have an equal opportunity to win like all the other wines. “Otherwise, politics would just get in the way and our wines would have no chance,” Berg told Tazpit.

The Psagot winery produced 200,000 wine bottles this year following a successful grape harvest in 2012. Most of the bottles have been exported abroad to various countries.

“This recent win is special because it shows the world what the land of Israel is made of. Two-thousand years ago, our people produced good wines in the same region, and now we are back home doing the same,” Berg said.

Netanyahu to Trade Freeing More Terrorists for More Yesha Homes

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Israel will trade 26 more terrorists for between 1,000 and 2,000 new homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria, according to a government official quoted by Israeli television Wednesday.

There is a broad consensus in Israel against freeing more terrorists in the four-step release plan to release 104 terrorists and security prisoners during the nine months that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has scheduled for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reach an agreement on a future PA state without endangering Israeli security.

Kerry has set the rules of the game, and Netanyahu knows that rejecting the release on Sunday of more terrorists, even though PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has not lived up to a promise to play by Kerry’s rules, would leave Israel checkmated in Abbas’ game to have international backing to skip talks and go to the United Nations for recognition. The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the release of the third batch of 104 terrorists.

Netanyahu’s ploy has been to announce new homes every time a batch of terrorists are freed. He did this in July and last month and is about to do so again, infuriating the Palestinian Authority and the European Union but not violating Kerry’s conditions.

Kerry has implied it was assumed that Israel would announce plans for new construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria, even though the United States calls Israelis in those areas “illegitimate.” President Barack Obama has called the settlements, including Palestinian Authority-claimed neighborhoods, in Jerusalem, “illegal.”

The Prime Minister can always climb down from a weak limb simply by announcing new homes but not going through with issuing tenders, particularly since the bureaucratic process for doing so could take months.

When Kerry dug up the remains of the “peace process” in July and forced Israel and Abbas to get back to the so-called negotiating table, he demanded that both sides not issue interim reports on the talks. Israel agreed to release terrorists only if there is progress in talks and if the Palestinian Authority does not resort to more violence.

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday blamed Abbas and the Palestinian Authority for the escalation in terrorist attacks, saying they directly incite Arabs to attack Israelis.

Since July, Palestinian Authority terrorists have murdered at least four Israelis and have carried out numerous other terrorist attacks, not including rock-throwing and fire bombings.

In addition, Abbas and his negotiators have consistently complained that no progress is being made, and he has threatened more than once to end the talks and go to the United Nations.

Kerry has four months left to come back to Washington with a deal.

UK Warns Against Doing Business in ‘West Bank’ Jewish Settlements

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

The British government is warning the business community to steer clear of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

New recommendations noting there are “clear risks” and the United Kingdom does “not offer support to such activity” were published last week on the U.K. Trade and Investment website in the section titled Overseas Business Risk–Israel.

The recommendations suggest that British and European Union citizens should “be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals.”

They say the settlements, according to international law, “are built on occupied land and are not recognized as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. This may result in disputed titles to the land, water, mineral or other natural resources which might be the subject of purchase or investment.”

The recommendations reiterate that the British government considers the West Bank — including eastern Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights – as territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

The section also states, however, that “The U.K. Government is deeply committed to promoting our trade and business ties with Israel and strongly opposes boycotts.”

On a positive note, the recommendations state that “Israel enjoys a strong entrepreneurial culture which nurtures and develops new ideas, making Israel a technology powerhouse.” Technology industries also have “an entrepreneurial start-up spirit,” according to the British government.

State Dept. Comments Show Kerry Is Israel’s Housing Minister

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

State Dept. comments the past two week have made it clear that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not initiate any moves for building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria without the approval of  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

After Israel announced plans to build approximately 1.500 new residential units in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria after it freed the second of four batches of terrorists in return for the privilege of arguing  directly with the Palestinian Authority, Kerry told reporters that although the United States does not approve of the building, “That is not to say that they weren’t aware, or we weren’t aware, that there would be construction. But that construction, importantly, in our judgment, would be much better off limited as much as possible in an effort to help create a climate for these talks to be able to proceed effectively.”

After Tuesday’s reports that Housing Minister Uri Ariel had hired an architect to draw up plans for 1,500 more residential units, including the controversial E-1 area in the city of Maaleh Adumim, State Dept. Jen Psaki told reporters, “We are deeply concerned by these latest reports that over 20,000 additional units are in the early planning stages. We were surprised by these announcements and are currently seeking further explanation from the Government of Israel.”

Asked if she expected a “heads up” from Israel before the announcement, Psaki explained, “Well, we were not – it was not an issue discussed in advance.“

But as Kerry implied last week, the State Dept. in the past has known about now building plans

One reporter told Psaki, “I remember you all said these were already announced long ago or whatever, even though they were coming at a time when the negotiations were just getting going. You said, ‘No, no, no. We knew about these, they were coming and everything was fine.’ Is this the first time that a new one has come along that was not part of that initial forewarning?”

Checkmate.

Psaki tried to get out of the corner. “I don’t recall us specifying which ones we were surprised and not surprised about. The Secretary did say last week, to your point, that it wasn’t a surprise that we knew there would be more announcements. So I don’t recall us specifying that with the different announcements. I’m not saying we knew about every other one, we just didn’t know about this one in advance.”

Clearly, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the State Dept. about the new building that was announced after more terrorists were freed two weeks ago. Clearly, he did not tell Washington about Ariel’s plans. The Prime Minister quickly pinned back Ariel’s ears, and the Housing Minister said he acquiesced to the big boss’ “request.”

All of the fuss over Ariel’s announcement, as usual, ignored the facts. He did not announce that new homes would be built tomorrow. All he did was state the lengthy bureaucratic procedure would start from square one. It would take approximately five to seven years before homes would be ready.

But the very thought of Israel even dreaming of building on what the United States wants to be part of the Palestinian Authority is enough sideline Kerry’s “peace talks,” a total misnomer because there is little talk and it is not about peace.

It is about how the Obama administration can force Israel to accept Abbas’ demands by pretending to be a mediator but acting on behalf of Abbas. If it doesn’t, he will go the United Nations for what he wants, and that would mean President Obama can’t be part of the action to justify his having received the Nobel Peace Prize.

That is why Kerry, besides being Secretary of State, also has the unofficial positions of Israel’s de facto Housing Minister and the Palestinian Authority’s de facto senior negotiator.

It is no  wonder that Saeb Erekat and his cohort Mohammed Shatayehh turned in their resignations Wednesday. They really don’t have much work to do because Kerry handles the load very nicely.

Ariel has not yet quit as Housing Minster.

US Mid-East Czar: Settlers Bad

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The United States strongly condemns settler violence and does not accept the legitimacy of Judea and Samaria settlement expansion, a top Obama administration official told the American Task Force on Palestine, JTA reported.

Philip Gordon, the National Security Council coordinator for Middle East policy, emphasized perceived Israeli transgressions in describing the difficulties afflicting renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in an address Tuesday evening to the annual gala dinner of the ATFP.

“The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement expansion,” Gordon said, an apparent reference to new housing starts announced by Israel in recent weeks.

Citing attacks by settlers on Palestinian olive groves, he said, “We also strongly condemn settler violence.”

Of course, it is well known that no olive tree is ever pruned by Arabs – they’re all cut down brutally by settlers who, let’s face it, hate olive trees and are even prepared to violate the laws off Shabbat to take down those poor trees.

Like on Saturday, Oct. 19, as reported by Ma’an, Israeli settlers chopped down more than 100 olive trees in “the village of Qaryut early Saturday.”

“Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli destroyed over 100 trees.”

Here’s a telling factoid in the same Ma’an story: “According to a 2012 report on Israeli settler violence released by the Palestine Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, every year the olive harvest period sees the highest peak in attacks on Palestinian civilians and property.” So, you prune your tree, then you realize there are so many broken branches rolling on the ground, they shouldn’t go to waste, and you come up with this ingenious story about settlers who are violating the Sabbath because they hate olives so much.

Gordon praised both sides for renewing talks and for confidence building measures, noting that Israel has released prisoners convicted of terrorist attacks and that the Palestinians have suspended bids to achieve statehood recognition.

You see the difference between the two sets of gestures? The released prisoners are gone, and even if the Palestinians walk from the negotiations table tomorrow, the prisoners will stay gone. But the suspended bids for statehood – they can be unsuspended at any time.

It’s so cool when you can do that…

However, in citing elements that do not create a “conducive atmosphere” for the talks, Czar Gordon did not mention Israeli complaints about the Palestinians, including a spate of recent rocket attacks and the Israeli sense that Palestinians are not doing much to discourage incitement to violence. Heck, they’re doing much of the inciting themselves, over their official TV.

He praised Israel for removing some restrictions inhibiting Palestinian movement in Judea and Samaria, but called on it to do more.

According to JTA, The ATFP is a leading advocate for a two-state solution, and works closely with a broad array of Jewish and pro-Israel groups. Many of them were represented at the gala dinner.

Jewish groups collaborating with ATFP include Americans for Peace Now.

Much of the above report was filed by JTA, but we felt compelled to correct some of the items presented as facts in the initial copy. We did so much fixing, that we feel it can no longer be presented as a JTA report. But the original news gathering for this report was definitely done by JTA.

PA Game Plan Is to Conquer Judea and Samaria with 750,000 Olive Trees

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The Palestinian Authority has announced it will plant 750,000 trees in Judea and Samaria, enough to make a land grab in all of “Area C,” which officially is under Israeli sovereignty.

The tree-planting is ostensibly meant to replace those allegedly damaged by Jews, but that number is only 4,000, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency.

Caretaker Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said at the 13th annual Olive Harvest Festival in Bethlehem on Saturday that planting trees is important to jobs and economic development.

However, planting that many trees would not be good for the economy or for olive orchard owners because the astronomical number would flood the market and drive down prices.

The announcement in fact marks the beginning of a massive land grab that has been slowly underway for 15 years, with the helping hands of the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the Civil Administration.

The strategy has been to encroach on what used to be Jordanian government land that came under Israeli authority in the Six-Day War in 1967. Virtually all of the land south of Hevron, and a large portion in Samaria, north of Jerusalem, never has been under any private ownership. The Turkish authorities in the Ottoman Empire often divided up the land among their friends, without any official title.

The situation remained constant under Jordanian rule, which was even more of an occupation than that allegedly exercised by Israel. The Arabs refused to accept the United Nations Partition plan that would have created a Trans-Jordan country over most of what is now Israel. After they lost the war to destroy Israel, Jordan, without U.N. approval, took over most of Judea and Samaria and administered it just as Israel does today, although with far less interest in its development.

After 1967, Israel used some of the government land for new Jewish communities, but most of it remained barren. Arabs generally were not interested in expanding – until they saw Jews settling around them.

After the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Israeli government and particularly the Civil Administration, acted to defend Arabs who decided to plant on government land, even where Jews already had farmed it for years.

Organizations such as the lofty-sounding Rabbis for Human Rights, along with foreign leftists and anarchists of the International Solidarity Movement, literally worked for the Arabs and uprooted trees that had been planted by Jews and replaced them with saplings on behalf of the Palestinian Authority Arab comrades.

I have previously reported that I was eyewitness to this phenomena several times, and each time the military and Civilian Administration ruled in favor of the Arabs, even though there is no legal ownership.

A quick math exercise shows that 750,000 olive trees will more than cover Area C, which covers approximately 500,000 acres, including thousands of acres that are not suitable for olive trees. It would result in overcrowded orchards where the trees could barely survive, if that. The recommended density is approximately 100 trees per acre.

Even if the 750,000 trees were to be distributed over the entire 1.5 million acres of Judea and Samaria, including  Areas A and B under total or partial Palestinian Authority control, there would be plenty of trees left over.

The political result, and the mathematical result, is that the PA with European Union money, has found the ultimate weapon. Once the PA surrounds Jewish communities with Arab farmland, which it will claim has been theirs since Biblical times, Tzipi Livni can simply sit back in her armchair and wait for terrorists to make life miserable for the Jews and create a new version of Gush Katif.

In that scenario a decade ago, Jewish woman, men and children were killed and wounded right and left, leaving the government and the chorus from foreign and local mass media to come to the conclusion that, “Yes these Jews really are the ‘salt of the earth’ but let’s expel them for their own good.”

A personal note to Tzipi: Remember, you live in northern Tel Aviv.

Remember that after the expulsion of Jews from Gaza, you and your cronies said Hamas would not attack again.

Remember, Tzipi, the government let southern Israel suffer from missile attacks but woke up when Tel Aviv was threatened.

EU Climbing Off the Limb after ‘Boycott Judea and Samaria’ Attempt

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

The European Union is quietly trying to climb down from a weak limb it stood in July with a statement but Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton “that bilateral agreements with Israel do not cover the territory that came under Israel’s administration in June 1967.”

The Israeli government reacted strongly, and even President Shimon Peres objected to the policy. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Ashton’s bluff by saying that Israel would not participate in the Horizon 2020 program if she did not back down.

Since then, the EU has been excelling in acrobatics saying it really did not mean what it said. A high-level delegation from the European Union is in Israel this week to come up with a clever way to correct its “settlement guidelines” in a way that will not make it look ‘pro-settlement.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin warned that if there is no deal, the Horizon 2020 program, which gets underway this Friday, would lose out on Israel’s contribution of technology and know-how while Israel would lose funding for projects. ”As it stands, we cannot sign Horizon 2020. It would force us to discriminate against our own institutions,” Elkin said.

Gaza Terrorists Attack Israel with Mortar Shells

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Terrorists from Gaza attacked southern Israel Sunday afternoon with two mortar shells, but the government and the IDF have not commented. No damage or injuries were reported.

The attacks may have been timed with the expected release of more terrorists this week as part of the four-stage plan Israel announced in July to free 104 terrorists in return for the privilege of Israeli negotiators sitting down to talk with their Palestinian Authority counterparts.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, would like nothing more than to embarrass the rival Fatah movement, headed by the Obama administration’s peace partner known as Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and cause casualties on the Israeli side that might abort the second stage of the plan.

The military policy, dictated by the Defense Ministry, has been to “retaliate” for every mortar attack by bombing a weapon storage depot or a tunnel, leaving a few hundred other “terror sites” remaining. After all, if Israel were to knock all of them out, what could the IDF do next time around when Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists strike the country with missiles and mortar shells? Invading Gaza or bombing areas where terrorists hang out among civilians would be considered a “disproportionate” response.

That strategy goes by the boards if, God forbid, one of those mortar shells or Kassam missiles explodes on a kindergarten.

But as long as that does not happen, Israelis living in the Gaza Belt region continue to be victims of the government’s version of Russian roulette.

In between the mortar shell and Kassam rocket attacks, there is no scarcity of attempts to kill soldiers. The IDF last week prevented a possible mass casualty attack when soldiers discovered a large roadside bomb that was intended to be detonated as a vehicle drove by. Army sappers neutralized the explosives, and no one was hurt.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not want to rock the boat right now and punish Hamas, face an escalation in terrorist attacks and then risk a suspension of the talks, which are being conducted under the misguided hand of President Barack Obama’s personal Middle East envoy Martin Indyk.

The Prime Minister is dead-set to go through with the second round of freeing terrorists even though it has all of the right reasons not do so. The Cabinet agreed in July to spread out the release of terrorists to test the Palestinian Authority’s ability and intentions to preserve the peace, at least until all of the terrorists are safely home where they can return to terror.

Since the start of the talks, terrorists have murdered four Israelis and tried to murder several others, including a nine-year-old girl.

Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday morning, “We have to honor government decisions even if it is difficult and unpleasant; we can’t constantly change our stance.”

But which promise? No, not the promise that Abbas keep up his end of the agreement.

The only promise that Israel has to keep is the one that Netanyahu made to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to resume the so-called negotiations.

There is one other promise that Netanyahu may keep, although almost a year late. He said earlier this year than 3,000 more homes would be built for Jews in Judea and Samaria and in parts of Jerusalem that Abbas wants to turn into the capital of a Palestinian Authority state without any Jewish residents.

To this date, zero new homes have been built in PA-claimed Jerusalem, Efrat, Maaleh Adumim, Kiryat Arba, Beitar Illit and other cities. There have been announcements of new homes, which is good material to keep the nationalists in line, but facts on the ground equal zilch.

In the horse trading that reduces the human factor to a piece of paper on which Abbas can sign another agreement to be tossed in the waste can , Netanyahu is prepared to start building homes in return for freeing terrorists.

Once upon a time, Israel negotiated with terrorists by killing them.

Then, Israel started trading them for a handful of Israelis who had been kidnapped.

And the Olmert government under the leaderless Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, agreed to release heavy-duty terrorists for corpses of IDF soldiers.

Two years ago, the Netanyahu government freed 1,000 terrorists for the release of a single soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/gaza-terrorists-attack-israel-with-mortar-shells/2013/10/27/

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