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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘West Bank’

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.


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.)


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

Shaked’s Plan to Apply Israeli Law Beyond Green Line Provokes Backlash from Radical Left

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Controversy swirls surrounding Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s recent comments that she plans to apply Israeli law to all the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

“My eventual goal is that within a year any law passed in the Knesset will automatically translate to Judea and Samaria,” Shaked said on Sunday at the annual conference of the International Legal Forum in Jerusalem.

The remarks sparked a fierce backlash from [radical left-wing] politicians in the opposition, such as Meretz leader MK Zahava Galon who denounced the plan as “de-facto annexation of the occupied territories” and “apartheid.”

Although Israel took control of Judea and Samaria during the Six-Day War of 1967, the regions were never formally annexed by Israel and thus remain under military control, not governed by Israeli law. Shaked’s proposal would essentially replace the authority of the IDF’s Central Command over Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria with standard Israeli law.

In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Monday, Shaked clarified that she intends to form a committee that will determine if each Israeli law should apply to Judea and Samaria on a case-by-case basis. This differs from the “law of norms” proposal that was floated in the previous government, which would automatically apply all Israeli laws to Judea and Samaria. The “law of norms” never got off the ground due to objections by former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. However, the idea has regained traction under the new attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit.

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union), who was Justice Minister in the previous coalition, argued that Shaked’s plan endangers Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.

“The end result will be the collapse of the idea of ​​two states, two systems of law in one country, press, pressure and significant international damage, and finally 2.5 million Palestinians with the right to vote and a majority in the Knesset,” said Livni. “It will lead to a binational state with a Palestinian majority in the Knesset.”

Naftali Bennett, Education Minister and chairman of Shaked’s Jewish Home party, has proposed annexing all parts of Judea and Samaria controlled by the IDF’s Central Command as well as granting citizenship to the thousands of Arabs living in such areas.

“It is a pernicious combination of annexation and apartheid,” Galon said. “Applying Israeli law [to Judea and Samaria] is de facto annexation of the occupied territories, and the decision to apply it only to the settlers creates racial discrimination between blood and blood.”

“Minister Ayelet Shaked continues to kindle a fire and pour oil on the flames of Israel’s relations with the world,” added Galon. “This move will sabotage the prospects of any political agreement.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

State Dept. Press Briefing Gets Close to Supporting UNSC 2-State Resolution [video]

Friday, April 15th, 2016

State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby’s daily press briefing on Thursday touched on the ominous possibility that the Obama Administration will wait until after the November election, so as not to steer Jewish votes away from the Democratic candidate, and then, in a final splash of power, just before going down from the world’s stage, blow up a landmine in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s face and support or fail to veto a UN Security Council resolution creating a Palestinian State and ordering the hasty removal of all Jewish presence on the “wrong” side of the 1967 border.

We redacted and edited the exchange to make it a tad more entertaining. But one can smell the danger hidden in the spokesman’s evasions. Barring divine intervention, the Obama gang is planning to install a Palestinian State and create facts on the ground so that the next Democrat in the White House will have to start from that point, rather than with today’s murky uncertainty.

We join the conversation that’s already in progress…

Reporter: On Security Council resolutions – will you consider either supporting or failing to veto a resolution on settlement activity in the West Bank?

Kirby: …We are very concerned about trends on the ground and we do have a sense of urgency about the two-state solution. We will consider all of our options for advancing our shared objective of lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but I’m not going to comment on a draft Security Council resolution. Okay?

Reporter: What does that mean, we do have a sense of urgency for a two-state solution?

Kirby: It means exactly what it says and what I’ve been saying from the podium here for months and months and months.

Reporter: So you see a sense of urgency to get to a two-state solution?

Kirby: Sure we do. We very much would like to see a two-state solution realized, yes.

Reporter: I don’t understand.

Kirby: I don’t know what’s not to understand about “we have a sense of urgency.”

Reporter: Well, because there’s only, like, eight months left of the Administration. … You had a sense of urgency back in 2009; you had a sense of urgency when Secretary Kerry took over in 2012.

Kirby: So as time gets shorter, we shouldn’t have a sense of urgency?

Reporter: But if you had a real sense of urgency, you would’ve done something already, right?

Kirby: We have consistently had a sense of urgency.

Reporter: Does that mean, when you say you have a sense or urgency about this, that you’re going to try to cram something in that results in a two-state solution by the end of this Administration?

Kirby: I’m not going to hypothesize on future actions, whatever we continue to do or continue to consider, I don’t know that I would say it’s about cramming. It is about trying to move forward in a productive way towards a two-state solution. And as I’ve said before, we also look to the sides to enact the right kind of leadership to get us there, because ultimately it has to be done by them.

Reporter: But you’re not automatically opposed to a UN Security Council resolution that would call for a two-state solution?

Kirby: We’re not going to comment on this informal draft resolution.

Reporter: I’m not asking you to comment on this informal one. I’m saying that if a resolution presented itself that was evenhanded, in your view – not one-sided or biased against Israel – that called for an end of settlements, called for an end of incitement, and also called for the creation of two states, would you automatically oppose?

Kirby: Well, without getting into those provisions that you listed out there and making a judgment about that, I’d go back to what I said before, and that’s we will consider all of our options for advancing a shared objective, a two-state solution.

Reporter: And that would include a resolution?

Kirby: We’ll consider all options to advance a two-state solution.

Reporter: When you spoke of urgency, did you mean that the urgency comes from the possibility that the two states [solution will go] beyond reach?

Kirby: A sense of urgency about the importance of getting to a two-state solution, which has been a consistent point that we’ve made.

Reporter: But there’s a difference between consistency and urgency.

Kirby: What’s the difference?

Reporter: Well, if it’s always urgent, then it’s never more urgent than before.

Kirby: Well, I don’t know that I’d agree with that. Sometimes something can be always urgent and consistently urgent —

Reporter: You sound like a Foreigner song. (Laughter.) … There’s a song called Urgent. Maybe you’re too young to remember —

Kirby: No, I remember that. (Laughter). I know – I remember the song. I didn’t like it.

For the record, here’s the refrain from Foreigner’s memorable ending to Urgent:

“It gets so urgent / So urgent / You know it’s urgent / I wanna tell you it’s the same for me / So oh oh urgent / Just you wait and see / How urgent our love can be / It’s urgent.

“You say it’s urgent / Make it fast, make it urgent / Do it quick, do it urgent / Gotta rush, make it urgent / Want it quick / Urgent, urgent, emergency / Urgent, urgent, emergency / Urgent, urgent, emergency / Urgent, urgent, emergency / So urgent, emergency / Emer… emer… emer… / It’s urgent.”

Reporter: There are those within the President’s party, certainly the former Secretary of State, that say that simply the venue itself is not the place to impose a solution from without. I just want to be clear that you think that, because you’re considering all of your options, you may consider the UN Security Council to be the venue to impose —

Kirby: I don’t – I’m not going to elaborate on my answer to you. I think I’d point you back to what I said before.

Reporter: Let me just follow up on this just for a second, okay? I mean, seeing how time after time you call on the Israelis to refrain from settlement activities, to cease settlement activities, you call them illegal and so on, but in fact they don’t really listen much to what you have to say. So in that case, in that situation, why not have a forum in the United Nations where the world can collectively come up with some sort of a resolution that they all agree on, which is the cessation of settlement activities? Why would you be opposed to that? Why can’t you say that you would support this at the United Nations?

Kirby: Again, I’m going to point you back to my original answer, which made it clear we’re not going to comment on a draft resolution that’s only been informally presented in New York, and that, as I said, we’ll consider all of our options to try to get to a two-state solution. So I think I’m just not going to go any further than that, Said. I know that’s not satisfying for you, but that’s really where we are right now.

(The conversation we refer to starts around min. 43:50)


UN Slams IDF Soldier’s ‘Gruesome, Immoral’ Killing of Terrorist in Hebron

Monday, March 28th, 2016

The United Nations has condemned the “gruesome” killing of an Arab terrorist who stabbed an Israeli soldier in Hebron last week.

The condemnation came in a statement by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nicolay Mladenov, who didn’t bother waiting for the results of the IDF investigation into the incident before making his own decision in the matter.

“I strongly condemn … the apparent extra-judicial execution of a Palestinian assailant in Hebron in the occupied West Bank,” Mladenov said. “This was a gruesome, immoral and unjust act that can only fuel more violence and escalate an already volatile situation.”

Mladenov called on Israel to “swiftly bring to justice” the alleged perpetrator and praised Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s condemnation of the incident.

The terrorist was the second of two who attacked an IDF soldier on Thursday morning, and was awaiting transport to a medical facility. The first was shot and killed by other troops at the site. As he was lying on the ground, he was shot and killed by an IDF soldier, as seen in a video that made the rounds of the Internet and Israeli TV.

The incident, slammed as an “execution” by the far-left ‘B’Tselem’ group, has become the focal point for a massive debate in Israeli society.

The soldier in question contends the terrorist still presented a threat: he was wearing a bulky zipped-up jacket in the manner of suicide bombers and it was not clear that he was dead.

Hebron terrorist on an 88-degree day, wearing zipped up, long-sleeve jacket covering possible bulge.

Hebron terrorist on an 88-degree day, wearing zipped up, long-sleeve jacket covering possible bulge.

Terrorists who are still alive, though injured, are indeed able to detonate the explosive vests they are wearing despite their wounds in order to kill more victims. The discussion heard on the video supports this theory, with people yelling in the background about the danger.

The IDF contends that a military commander had already checked the terrorist’s body to determine whether he was packed with explosives. The soldier in question also had not followed protocol and did not first clear his actions with commanders.

As a result, the IDF arrested the soldier and incarcerated him in Prison 4, located in Be’er Sheva. His remand has been extended until at least Tuesday, as the investigation continues.

Politicians, community leaders and families of IDF rank and file as well as reservists are all debating the government’s response to the current wave of terror perpetrated by Palestinian Authority and Israeli Arabs.

Dozens of Israelis have died since October and hundreds of others have been injured, maimed and permanently traumatized as a result. In addition, 200 Arabs have also been killed, most while trying to attack Israelis but some also as victims of the attacks by their own brethren.

Hana Levi Julian

U.S. ‘Re-Issues Old Labeling Requirement’ But Ignores its Original, Now Invalid, Basis

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Things continue to go downhill in the diplomatic world of U.S.-Israel relations. This week the U.S. State Department re-issued a nearly 20 year old regulation – written at a very different time, under very different circumstances – and insists it will “strictly enforce” this ancient rule which requires any goods produced in the disputed territories be designated as place of origin other than “Israel.”

This old-new restriction came up in one of the most unlikely of places, the Cargo Systems Messaging Service, which is part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The very short introduction explains that the message was issued in order to “provide guidance to the trade community regarding the country of origin marking requirements for goods that are manufacture in the West Bank.”

This latest message from the Cargo Messaging Service was issued literally in the dead of night – 12:53 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23. Hmmm.

And the “requirements” to which that message is referring, are ones that require labeling of goods produced in the disputed territories, or as the U.S. likes to call them – despite chastising Israel constantly for “creating facts on the ground” – the West Bank and Gaza but not Israel.

Although the labeling requirements are the very same ones recently at issue when the European Union forbade goods produced in the disputed territories to have Israel as an option and only permit labels such as “Gaza,” “Gaza/West Bank” or “West Bank,” the reason for the 20 year old U.S. regulation has a very different origin.

The U.S. requirements were imposed in the wake of the infamous Oslo Accords – those withered on the vine principles recently rejected in a public statement to the United Nations by acting Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The Accords are referred to in the U.S. Regulations by its formal name, the “Israel-PLO-Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements.” Yeah, that long-dead horse.

And the original, and therefore controlling reason why the U.S. source labeling rule came into play had nothing to do with promoting a boycott of Israel, or even, as some now claim, a “truth in advertising” initiative.

The situation that was understood to need correction back in the 1990’s had to do with fair trade agreements. The U.S. and Israel had such an agreement, but the U.S. could not have an FTA with Gaza or with the now-Palestinian Authority controlled area in the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria).

In the wake of the Oslo Accords, when peace was threatening to break out all over, the U.S. decided it also made sense to create an FTA between the U.S. and the Palestinian Arab government. And that was an additional impetus for creating new labels for items produced by Palestinian Arabs in Gaza or in the “West Bank.”

In an additional and unintentional point of irony, the Palestinian Authority, back in the 1990’s, urged the State Department, and the State Department acquiesced, to the joint labels of Gaza and West Bank “so as to reaffirm the territorial unity of the two areas.”

What a joke.

During Thursday’s daily press briefing, Deputy State Department Spokeperson Mark C. Toner assured journalists the matter was “simply a restatement of previous requirements” which “in no way supersedes prior rulings or regulations, nor does it impose additional requirements with respect to merchandise imported from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, or Israel.”

Toner emphasized, with respect to the resistance of the old requirements: “there’s nothing new. This is simply a reissuance of guidance.”

The basis for the original regulation – the one everyone insists is all that is in play – was the Oslo Accords and the creation of a new state – one that remains stillborn – and the wrongly anticipated unification of Gaza and the Palestinian Arab governing force in the “West Bank.” Those bases were weak back in 1997, but they are now long-decayed legs upon which to place this labeling requirement.

And that’s the reason the regulations have not been enforced until now. There is no viable Palestinian State. There is no enforceable Oslo Accords. There is no unity Palestinian Arab government.

If that is all true, the new-old regulations should remain null and void.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/u-s-re-issues-old-labeling-requirement-but-ignores-its-original-now-invalid-basis/2016/01/29/

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