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July 23, 2016 / 17 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘West Bank’

State Department Q&A on Israeli Supplemental Aid to Communities Suffering from Arab Terrorism [video]

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
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Yvonne Diamond

@JewishPress Don’t know about that, but they’ve been bombing at MCAGCTC for two solid days now . . .

The following is the transcript and video from the State Department Press briefing on June 20th, 2016, regarding the supplemental aid package that Israel approved yesterday to aid Israelis whose businesses have suffered due to the Palestinian Authority Arab terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, and to help improve security for the communities in Judea and Samaria.

Time: 29:55 on the video.

QUESTION (Matt Lee): Did you guys have any reaction to this additional – the supplementary funding that was approved for the West Bank settlements for – over the weekend, yesterday?

MR KIRBY: Yeah. I actually put a statement out.

QUESTION: You did?

MR KIRBY: I did —

QUESTION: I missed it.

MR KIRBY: — yesterday. I can’t believe you’re not sitting around —

QUESTION: Yeah, Sunday —

MR KIRBY: — waiting for my statements.

QUESTION: Sunday afternoon, Kirby, I’m just sitting there looking – staring at my phone —

MR KIRBY: Well, if you had been —

QUESTION: — waiting for your emails.

MR KIRBY: — then you wouldn’t have had to ask that question.

QUESTION: If you’ve already put something out, then —

MR KIRBY: Okay. I’ll let the statement stand. Seems like everybody else got a chance to read it.

QUESTION: We like to hear it directly from you, though.

MR KIRBY: But you did hear it directly from me. I signed it.

QUESTION: You know what I mean, with your own voice. It sort of gives it an added —

MR KIRBY: We’re aware of the funding package. We’re looking into further details. Our position on settlement activity remains clear and consistent: We strongly oppose all settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace. We continue to look to both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to a two-state solution, and actions such as these we believe does exactly the opposite.

QUESTION: Well, wait, wait, but this isn’t for settlement activity, per se. This was not to expand or build new homes.

MR KIRBY: It’s approving more than like $18 million for settlements. It’s approving funding for —

QUESTION: But not for building them. This is for, like, helping businesses and security.

MR KIRBY: But it still runs counter to our view about settlement activity, period.

QUESTION: So securing – adding security to settlements is the same as settlement activity?

MR KIRBY: As I said, we’re still – we are still – we’re aware of this funding package and we’re still looking into it for details. But settlement activity, as we’ve said – there’s nothing – nothing has changed about our concerns about that.

QUESTION: So any money that goes into anything in a West Bank settlement is bad according to you guys?

MR KIRBY: I didn’t say that. I said we are aware of this funding package and we’re looking into the details.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Okay.

QUESTION (New Reporter): Well, the worry here by the Palestinians is that these kind of steps make annexation of the West Bank all but a foregone conclusion, and they say that some of this money is basically geared to encourage, let’s say, tourism and to expand tourist projects and so on in the occupied West Bank, in the settlements and so on. What do you say to that?

MR KIRBY: As I said in my statement and just a few minutes ago, we’re looking into what this funding package really means. And I think I’m going to leave it at there to – for right now.

 

Jewish Press News Briefs

Reports Show 1 Million Gap Between Estimates on Number of ‘Palestinians’

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Affairs and Security in Judea and Samaria on Tuesday took a stab at figuring out just how many Arabs live in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, where in the latter two no one has taken a scientific census in ages, and the numbers appear to be skewed according to the political leanings of the different sources.

Lies, Damned Lies, and PA Census Data

The CIA World Factbook, updated July 2015, estimates there are 2,785,366 “Palestinians” living in those three areas, a.k.a. the “West Bank.” The Knesset subcommittee’s discussion suggested this figure is more than a little inflated.

Subcommittee Chairman MK Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) opened the debate saying “this is our second discussion of this issue, and we’d like to focus on data regarding Area C which is our responsibility. When I served as Ephraim Brigade Commander, over a period of one year, we executed an accurate count of all the residents in the sector, including Tulkarm and Qalqilya. The State of Israel possesses the needed means to find out, and the State of Israel must find out what is the number of residents for whom it is responsible, and about whom it would have to reach future decisions.”

Head of the Operations Directorate of the Civil Administration Lt. Col. Eyal Zeevi began his part by stressing that the civil administration does not engage in demographic studies, and that the responsibility for that in all of Judea and Samaria belongs to the Palestinian Authority, according to the 1995 interim agreement between Israel and the PA. In that context Zeevi explained that the PA demographic data does not offer specific Area C-related figures. However, Avi Gur-Ari, Population Administration officer in the Civil Administration clarified that he does maintain reliable testing of the data received from the PA.

This came as a surprise to the chairman, who requested that the entire PA census, including the data for Area C, be given to his subcommittee, noting that since the data includes the names of individual communities it should be feasible to discern those communities that are included in Area C.

Zeevi said it wasn’t as simple as that, because some of the Arab villages are split between Area C and neighboring, PA-governed Areas A and B. Other villages border the Jerusalem municipality. “With all due respect for the chairman, I don’t think it can be done in the suggested schedule. To do this professionally would require time and resources, which the political echelon has not yet decided to allocate.”

Once in the Roll, Always on the Roll

Zeevi shared some of the most common problems with the Palestinian Authority census: for one thing, a resident who leaves the PA remains listed as a resident; and these residents are able to visit, register their children and return abroad. Zeevi estimates that as many as 15,000 residents are added to the PA census this way annually.

“The immigration data presented today is partial and pertains only to the Allenby bridge border crossing into Jordan,” Zeevi added, estimating that “over the past 15 years more than 175 thousand have left through the crossing and never returned.”

According to Zeevi, the registered Arab population who carry Palestinian ID cards in Judea and Samaria, not including eastern Jerusalem, is 2.63 million. He believes that with the current growth rate coefficient in 2020 there will be 3.28 million and by 2030 there will be more than 4 million Arabs in all of Judea and Samaria.

According to Avi Lekach from the Population and Immigration Authority, in eastern Jerusalem there are at least 300 thousand Arab residents. David Koren, a consultant to the Jerusalem Mayor, noted that while there are 316 thousand registered Arab residents in Jerusalem, there may be as many as 60 thousand Arabs from the PA who are seeking residency in Jerusalem as part of family reunions.

Italian-born Israeli demographer and statistician Prof. Sergio Della Pergola told the subcommittee that he believes there are some 2.4 Arab residents in Judea and Samaria today, and that the Jewish majority in all of Eretz Israel is only about 52% — which includes people who identify as Jewish but halakhically are not. In his opinion, the halakhically Jewish majority is long gone.

But former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger cited his own research which found that the birthrate balance has switched and that today’s Jewish birthrate is higher than the Arab. Ettinger also said that his research showed that by the end of 2015 there were only 1.75 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

Analyzing PA Eligible Voter Data Implies Even Lower Numbers

Back in 2013, Middle East analyst Dr. Guy Bechor cited the number of eligible PA voters in the 2012 local elections — 515 thousand — setting it as the number of adults 18 and older. If we add to it an identical number of people ages 0-18, we’ll get a little more than one million. Add the maximum figure of eastern Jerusalem Arabs and you’ll get a generous estimate of only 1.4 million Arabs. The number of Jews, incidentally, is comprised of 385 thousand in Judea and Samaria and 300 thousand in eastern Jerusalem, or close to 700 thousand in total.

MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp-Labor) said it was shameful that Israel does not know how many Arabs actually live in Area C. “We know how many Syrian tanks there are, but not how many civilians are living under our care,” he said, suggesting that whether Area C becomes part of Israel or is handed over to the PA, “we should know how many potential Arab citizens we’ll have in the state.”

JNi.Media

Russians Support Keeping Some Settlements Intact in Peace Negotiations

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

A Russian state news agency TASS story in the wake of the Friday Paris Conference for peace, quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov who advocated concrete territorial exchanges between Israel and the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, in order to preserve Israeli settlements. “The border should be established between Israelis and Palestinians,” Bogdanov said, adding, “This border may envisage territorial exchanges, appropriate and adequate, taking into account that such an approach allows to resolve the problem of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.”

The Deputy Foreign Minister stressed that Israeli settlements “may remain in some regions with the understanding that in exchange for territories with Israeli settlements, Palestinians will get an appropriate compensation in the form of parts of the territory. This is a so-called territorial exchange.”

It should be noted in this context that Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in the past advocated handing over to the Palestinian State the Israeli cities of the Arab Triangle, such as Um El Fahm and Tira — a suggestion that caused an uproar and accusations of racism.

Following the Paris international conference on a peace deal between Israel and the Arabs, in which 29 nations as well as the UN and EU participated, but Israel did not, Bogdanov, the Russian president’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, told TASS that the conference had been “useful. We still need to analyze the content of the Paris discussion; study the final document and then see what can be done, by using common approaches, to promote a sustainable negotiating process between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Bogdanov said. He recommended that both sides assess the conference’s results, and promised that “We are going to have contacts at a very high level with both sides.”

Signaling the Russians’ intense interest in remaining involved in the process, TASS on Friday ran five different stories involving Mikhail Bogdanov and the peace agreement. According to the diplomat, Moscow is prepared to host negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli representatives. “Of course, we will be prepared to do this, if there is the wish and readiness of the two parties — Israelis and Palestinians — to have a meeting… if they wish to meet in Moscow, we are prepared to host them.”

In another story, Bogdanov lamented the fact that the split among the Palestinians hampers progress in the Middle Eastern settlement. “This problem should be resolved as a priority task so that Palestinians present a single and united delegation at the talks on the final status,” Bogdanov advised.

He also promised that “Russia fully supports efforts to restore inter-Palestinian unity on the basis of the PLO and Arab Peace Initiative.” He suggested a “dialogue with representatives of the whole range of Palestinian forces, first of all Fatah and Hamas, in the interest of achieving appropriate agreements.”

It was not easy to asses whether the high-ranking diplomat was being naïve or cynical, but it appears that he is promoting peace between Hamas and the Jews it has sworn to annihilate. In fact, Bogdanov is serious about preventing the next clash between Israel and Hamas:

“The exchange of strikes between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza in early May of this year that became the biggest since the ceasefire agreement was reached in August 2014 is another confirmation of a well-known point, which is that the recurrence of confrontation is not ruled out without solving the enclave’s problems, lifting the blockade imposed on it and restoring its infrastructure destroyed by Israel, including in the summer of the year before last,” Bogdanov said.

He did not mention that those clashes in May erupted when IDF bulldozers were crossing a few yards into Gazan territory to demolish Hamas terror tunnels that lead into Israel. Hamas was unhappy to see its work being destroyed, and so their snipers shot at IDF soldiers to shoo them away.

JNi.Media

EU Criticizes Demolition of Illegal Structures in Judea and Samaria

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Israeli security forces continued its demolition of structures illegally built and sponsored by the European Union throughout Judea and Samaria this past week, prompting strong criticism from the EU.

“The regrettable trend of confiscations and demolitions since the beginning of the year, including of EU-funded humanitarian assistance, was confirmed once again this week by demolitions of temporary shelters in Jabal al-Baba, a Bedouin community in the so-called E1 area,” an EU spokesperson said shortly before the weekend.

The “so-called E1 area” referenced by the EU spokesperson is a region located east of Jerusalem within the municipality of the Israeli community of Maale Adumim. The EU wants to settle Arabs in the E1 area.

“The EU is strongly opposed to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including demolitions and confiscations, building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, evictions and forced transfers,” the EU spokesperson continued.

The illegal EU structures are built in areas recognized by the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is a party, as being under custodial control of Israel – the parts of Judea and Samaria known as Area C. The EU maintains that it is permitted to build in the Israeli-controlled territory because Israel does not sufficiently “care for the needs of the occupied population.”

“Israel’s role as the occupying power under international law is to care for the needs of the occupied population,” explained EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen in an open Facebook chat with Israelis earlier this month. “Since, in some cases, Israel does not fulfill that responsibility, the EU has extended vital humanitarian aid such as shelters and water cisterns to people where they live.”

Israel has rejected this claim and has informed the European Union that it considers such construction illegal.

“They’re building without authorization, against the accepted rules, and there’s a clear attempt to create political realities there,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in January. “And when we take down this illegal construction we’re then, again, condemned, so it’s a catch-22 here. I think we have to reset our relationship with the EU.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

In New US – PA Talks on Recovering Debt Ridden Economy, Fingers Point at Israel

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Palestinian Authority Economy Minister Abeer Odeh and US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin will meet Sunday in Ramallah for talks on developing the PA’s economy. At this point, the PA simply cannot pay its bills and is facing serious problems paying its government employees, from teachers to security forces. According to Trading Economics, in 2014 the PA recorded a Government Debt to GDP rate of 17.30% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Government Debt to GDP in the PA has averaged 18.92% from 1995 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 26.36% in 2007 and a record low of 2.93% in 1995.

The economies of the PA and Gaza strongly depend on their relationship with Israel, so that when the Israelis feel safe to permit documented (and many undocumented) Arab workers into their country, the Arab economy improves. And when there’s a war or an intifada, the Arabs go without.

The Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) most recent report, from 2014, shows high and rising levels of unemployment, which continued to be one of the main challenges to the economy. In 2014, it rose to 26.9%, compared to 23.4% in 2013. A main contributor was an exceptionally expanding rate in Gaza Strip, where unemployment reached 43.9%, compared to 32.6 percent in 2013, while the same rate declined in the PA from 18.6% to 17.7% during the same period. This rise in unemployment did not stop nominal daily wages from rising across different regions. Yet contradictory inflation trends have created discrepancies in real wage growth, as while real average daily wage for workers in the PA, and Israel and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria improved by 0.9% and 5.6% respectively, real wages in Gaza declined by 1.5% during 2014.

The PA Arabs’ dependence of Israel was made all too clear this past winter, when The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) announced the PA and individual Arab municipalities have racked up a debt of close to half a billion dollars which the company could no longer absorb. The debt was split about $400 million to $80 million between the PA and the cities respectively.

In April, the IEC reached a temporary agreement with the PA to put an end to the temporary power cuts it had been imposing on a succession of municipalities, in exchange for paying off a small portion of the overall debt. Meanwhile, the Arab-run Jerusalem District Electricity Company, which owes the IEC $371 million out of the debt, sued the IEC in Israel’s High Court last April, saying the IEC’s behavior constituted “collective and disproportionate punishment” and showed “blatant and harmful disregard for a public that pays its electricity bills regularly.” It also suggested the IEC’s power cuts compromised basic consumer rights to access an essential resource.

“I don’t know of any company that would agree to do nothing about a 1.74 billion shekel ($450 million) debt owed by another company,” IEC chairman Yiftah Ron Tal said at the time. “We weren’t left with any choice. We’re limiting electricity in a proportionate way.”

But the High Court of Justice paid no attention to the complaints of the Israeli CEO, and issued an interim injunction on prohibiting service cuts to the eastern Jerusalem Arab power company.

IEC responded to the ruling with an angry statement: “The Israel Electric Corporation respects the High Court ruling but demands the issue over the growing debts of JDECO which reach 1.4 billion shekel ($360 million) be resolved quickly. JDECO debts continue to grow to an astronomic figure; like any other business, it is the legitimate right and the responsibility of IEC to take the necessary measures to resolve a problematic debt which has been a burden for all Israeli electricity consumers.”

Israel’s ambivalence about collecting the debt from the Arabs in both Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem and Gaza has produced a reluctant and ineffective method of getting the money from the taxes and VAT Israel collects on Arab wages and products. As a result, Israel was rebuked this month by the World Bank for ruining the PA economy by, essentially, withholding money Israel is rightfully due.

The new World Bank report estimates that the Palestinian Authority is losing $285 million in revenues annually under the current economic arrangements with the Government of Israel. The report states that these revenues could significantly ease the Authority’s fiscal stress. As was to be expected, there is no mention in the condemning report of the half billion dollars in free power Israel has poured into the PA.

“If revenue losses are mitigated, this can reduce the 2016 fiscal deficit to below $1 billion, and narrow the expected financing gap by more than 50 percent,” Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza said in a press statement.

In other words, if only Israel agreed to take the half billion dollars from Israeli power consumers and let the PA Arabs continue to receive free electricity, an Arab economic miracle would be just a matter of time.

The report also cites irregularities on Israel’s part in conducting revenues clearance, which have not been systematically implemented. The revenue sharing arrangements, outlined by the 1994 Paris Protocol, through which the Government of Israel collects VAT, import taxes and other revenues on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and shares them on a monthly basis, have not been systematically implemented.

The majority of the estimated fiscal loss results from tax leakages on bilateral trade with Israel, and undervaluation of PA imports from third countries. In other words, the Israelis have been running a messy tax and payment system, as well as a messy debt collection system.

JNi.Media

Update: Naqba Day Sirens to Sound at Noon (or Not)

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

See the siren update at the bottom of the article.

In Palestinian Authority mosques throughout Judea and Samaria, the Arabs will be replacing their calls to prayer, incitement speeches and Islamic messages with the Naqba siren, at noon on Sunday, according to security sources.

Naqba Day commemorates the day when the neighboring Arab countries and people gathered together to attack and destroy the fledgling Jewish state in May of 1948 – and spectacularly failed, proving that despite Islam’s replacement theology, Allah is a Zionist.

The siren will sound at noon for 2 minutes, and all PA pedestrians will try to stop throwing firebombs and stones, as well as driving their cars into Jews and blowing up buses and restaurants. They will stand at attention, in yet another cheap imitation of Israel.

It may be the safest two minutes in Israel’s history.

As of Sunday morning there have been reports of Arab stone throwing in multiple locations, and one Israeli driver was injured after a stone hit his car in the Binyamin region.

As an aside, we’re eagerly waiting to see what the Israeli-Arab MKs in the Knesset will be doing at noon.

So if you hear the siren, don’t get nervous, it’s not an air raid. It’s just the Arabs upset they didn’t succeed at genocide in 1948.

Happy Naqba Day.


Update: Sirens were not heard in western Gush Etzion, Hebron, Kedumim, Maaleh Efraim nor Maaleh Adumim.

The siren was heard in the Talmon-Dolev area in the Shomron, east of Modi’in.

One person from Beit El reports hearing a siren, others in Beit El didn’t.

We are waiting to hear reports from other areas of Judea and Samaria.


Shalom Bear

Those Poor, Confused Palestinians

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Those poor, confused Palestinians!

A new poll shows that most Palestinian Arabs say the Palestinian Authority (which rules over them) is to blame for their troubles, and not Israel (which stopped occupying them more than twenty years ago).

For some reason, the Palestinians refuse to toe the party line that New York Times reporters and American Jewish radicals keep feeding them.

Those reporters and radicals seem to have swallowed the myth that the Palestinians are still “occupied” by Israel, and that the Israeli “occupation” is the source of all their problems.

But those poor, confused Palestinians look around and don’t see any Israeli soldiers and therefore refuse to go along with everyone else and pretend the Israelis are still there.

The new poll was conducted by the Palestinian organization AWRAD among 1,200 Palestinian Arabs in late April. It has a margin of error of three percent.

Residents of Judea/Samaria were asked: “How do you view the overall situation in the West Bank since the appointment of the Hamdallah government in 2013?” That’s Rami Hamdallah, who became prime minister of the Palestinian Authority under chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Some 44 percent responded that things have “worsened.” So they were asked a follow-up question: “If worsened, who do you believe is responsible?”

The possible answers were “Israel,” “the Palestinian Authority,” “Hamas,” “International donors,” or “Don’t know.”

Now, if these Palestinians had been paying close attention to what their American supporters were telling them, they would have known that the “correct” answer is Israel.

Diaa Haddid, the Times’s new correspondent in Jerusalem, and Thomas Friedman, its longtime foreign affairs columnist, are constantly claiming that Israel is “occupying the Palestinians” and that Israel is responsible for whatever goes wrong in the territories.

J Street and the S. Daniel Abraham Center push the same line. And just last week, a group of American novelists, led by Michael Chabon, an outspoken Jewish critic of Israel, toured parts of Judea/Samaria in preparation for their forthcoming book on the “50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation” – you know, the occupation that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ended in 1995.

These American advocates of Palestinian statehood don’t seem to know that the Israelis withdrew in 1995 from the cities where 98 percent of the Palestinians live. But the Palestinians know it because they actually live there, and they know the Israelis are gone. They know there are no Israelis left in Ramallah. Or Bethlehem. Or Nablus (Shechem). The list goes on and on.

And because the Palestinians know they are occupied by the Palestinian Authority, most of them find it impossible to rail (to the pollster) against Israel’s nonexistent occupation.

Only 28 percent of the poll’s respondents answered that Israel is mostly to blame for their troubles. Fully 59 percent said the PA is to blame. (Five percent blamed the donors; 7 percent had no opinion.)

Oops!

Those politically incorrect poll results were particularly inconvenient for the Chabon-led gang of traveling novelists. Just last week, Chabon, a self-appointed “expert” on the situation after returning from a few days in the territories, was telling anyone who would listen about that awful Israeli “occupation” which he imagines he saw.

“The occupation [is] the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life,” he announced.

AWRAD, the aforementioned pollsters responsible for the survey, should be receiving an angry letter from Chabon’s publicist any day now. After all, if AWRAD keeps asking Palestinians simple, logical questions, there is a real danger the respondents might continue telling the truth about the Palestinian Authority occupation regime. And if they do that, sales of Chabon’s “Israeli occupation” book are likely to be meager indeed.

Michael Chabon might even be compelled to return to writing fiction – although some might say he never stopped.

Stephen M. Flatow

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/those-poor-confused-palestinians/2016/05/15/

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