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Posts tagged ‘The Zionism Plague’

Israeli defense chief calls for Arab boycott after protests

December 10, 2017

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s defense minister called Sunday for a boycott of Arab businesses in an area where residents took part in violent protests against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard in the volatile city in the first attack since the dramatic announcement.

Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, said the Arabs of Wadi Ara in northern Israel were “not part of us” and that Jewish Israelis should no longer visit their villages and buy their products. Hundreds of Israeli Arabs protested Saturday along a major highway in northern Israel, where dozens of masked rioters hurled stones at buses and police vehicles. Three Israelis were wounded and several vehicles were damaged.

“These people do not belong to the state of Israel. They have no connection to this country,” Lieberman told Israel’s Army Radio. “Moreover, I would call on all citizens of Israel — stop going to their stores, stop buying, stop getting services, simply a boycott on Wadi Ara. They need to feel that they are not welcome here.”

Lieberman has long called for Wadi Ara to be included in his proposed swap of lands and populations as part of a future peace agreement with the Palestinians. The residents, like many of Israel’s Arab minority, sympathize with the Palestinians of the West Bank and often openly identify with them. But they are also Israeli citizens who largely reject the notion of becoming part of a future Palestinian state.

The comments sparked criticism of racism and collective punishment toward a community of which only a small minority were violent. It also raised questions about how Israel could so aggressively oppose international boycott campaigns against it while one of its most senior ministers called for one against its own citizens.

Ayman Odeh, the head of the Arab Joint list in parliament, said Lieberman’s call for a boycott of Arabs was reminiscent of the worst regimes in history. Gilad Erdan, the minister of public security from the ruling Likud Party, said that Lieberman’s diplomatic plan was not applicable and he rejected the notion of giving up the country’s sovereignty just because it had Arab citizens.

The violent protests inside Israel were part of the larger Palestinian “day of rage” following Trump’s announcement that he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and planned to move the U.S. Embassy there.

Protests and demonstrations took place in dozens of locations across the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, lands captured by Israel during the 1967 war that the Palestinians want to be part of their future state.

They resumed briefly Sunday, with Palestinian youths in the West Bank city of Bethlehem hurling stones toward Israeli soldiers, who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas. In Jerusalem, police said a 24-year-old Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard at the entrance to the city’s central bus station. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the guard sustained a serious wound to his upper body and the attacker was apprehended.

Israel’s Channel 10 TV news aired security camera footage from the scene showing the attacker removing his jacket near the security gate and then thrusting what looked like a knife into the guard’s chest before fleeing.

In more than two years of intermittent attacks, Palestinians have killed more than 50 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. Israeli forces have killed more than 260 Palestinians in that time, mostly attackers.

Trump’s announcement raised fears that a new wave of violence would erupt in its wake. But three days of mass protests were relatively contained. Four Palestinians were killed in Gaza in Israeli airstrikes following rocket fire from there and in clashes along the border. In the West Bank there were dozens of injuries, but no deaths.

The status of Jerusalem lies at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Trump’s move was widely perceived as siding with Israel. Even small crises over Jerusalem and the status of the holy sites in its Old City have sparked deadly bloodshed in the past. Trump’s announcement triggered denunciations from around the world, even from close allies, that suggested he had needlessly stirred more conflict in an already volatile region.

In Israel, the move was embraced as a long overdue acknowledgement of Israel’s seat of parliament and government and the historic capital of the Jewish people dating back 3,000 years. Upon departing for a diplomatic visit to Paris and Brussels, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was prepared to respond to critics.

“While I respect Europe, I am not prepared to accept a double standard from it. I hear voices from there condemning President Trump’s historic statement but I have not heard condemnations of the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it,” he said. “I am not prepared to accept this hypocrisy, and as usual at this important forum I will present Israel’s truth without fear and with head held high.”

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Police question Israeli leader’s ally on corruption charges

December 03, 2017

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police on Sunday questioned a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges dating to his pre-parliament days as he was pushing for pro-Netanyahu legislation widely seen as stifling police investigations.

Coalition whip David Bitan was grilled in relation to accusations that he promoted the interests of criminals in return for debt relief while he was a municipal politician years ago. Bitan is the driving force behind a legislation push seen as aiding the beleaguered Netanyahu, who faces multiple corruption accusations. Bitan’s so-called “recommendations bill” would end the police’s current practice of recommending to the state prosecution office whether to indict suspects upon completing their investigations.

It also aims to stem leaks from the investigations themselves, stating that no police recommendations be made public and penalizing those found leaking to the media. Netanyahu’s Likud party was set to bring the bill for a parliamentary vote on Monday, but appears to be short on numbers and will likely delay it. Their hope is to move the bill forward quickly so that it will also apply to investigations currently taking place regarding Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has been questioned in two cases and police say they suspect him of being involved in bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Police have already grilled him six times regarding gifts he received from Hollywood and business figures, and in another probe about secret talks with the publisher of a major Israeli newspaper in which Netanyahu allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for reining in a free pro-Netanyahu daily. One of his closest former aides has become a state’s witness against him.

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and calls the accusations a witch hunt orchestrated by a hostile media. Another investigation has engulfed his close associates and dominated news in Israel. The probe relates to a possible conflict of interest involving a $2 billion purchase of German submarines.

Netanyahu’s personal attorney, who is also his cousin, represented the German firm involved and is suspected of trading his influence over the prime minister in return for a hefty cut of the deal. A former Cabinet minister and top former navy and security officials have been questioned by police. Netanyahu has yet to be named a suspect in that probe.

Bitan’s questioning comes a day after tens of thousands of Israelis poured into the streets of Tel Aviv Saturday night for an anti-corruption rally calling on Netanyahu to resign. It was one of the largest demonstrations yet against Netanyahu’s lengthy rule.

“I think the time has come to change the government. The government is corrupt. We’re sick of the corrupt,” said protester Avi Elmozlinu. Organizers are hoping that the grassroots movement picks up steam and becomes a regular Saturday night ritual that eventually forces Netanyahu from power.

Israel considers new plans to isolate Palestinians in Jerusalem

November 27, 2017

Israeli officials are in disagreement over a plan to cut off Palestinians in Jerusalem by installing a separate municipality for the city’s non-Jewish residents.

The plan to cut off Palestinian neighborhoods located behind the illegal Separation Wall is being promoted by Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin. He suggested that the establishment of a separate municipal entity to govern these areas would enable Israel to tackle the demographic threat posed by Jerusalem’s non-Jewish communities.
Elkin, according to the Jerusalem Post, holds the view that these neighborhoods are wide open to the West Bank but are still a part of the capital and attract non-Israeli Palestinians – which leads to mixed marriages – it poses a demographic challenge for the Jewish majority in the city.
Israeli sources also reported that a plan advanced by Elkin to separate East Jerusalem neighborhoods located beyond the security barrier has gained steam and moved from the legislative phase to the planning phase. It is likely to create another layer of discrimination against Palestinians and could see as many as 150,000 people living under a two-tier system with many services and provisions denied to the non-Jewish residents of Jerusalem.
Israel already has a number of laws that entrench racial segregation in the country. For example Israeli courts granted legal legitimacy to Jewish only Admissions Committees to be able to reject persons residing in an area based on nationality and race. More than 434 small communities in rural towns with control over 43 per cent of residential areas can reject Palestinian citizens of Israel and other marginalized groups from residing in them on the basis that they are “unsuitable” for Jewish communities.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has opposed the plan, opting instead to give his backing for a plan that would seek to attract more settlers in the occupied city instead of separating Jerusalem due to concerns over the demographic threat posed by Palestinians.
Elkin appears to prefer a more immediate solution, although he too suggested last week plans for a million more settlers to be moved into the West Bank. The Israeli minster further dismissed the idea of a Palestinian state in the occupied Palestinian territory, while giving his backing for the plan saying that “there is no other option but the state of Israel, certainly between the Jordan [River] to the [Mediterranean] sea there will be one state.”
Elkin’s proposal appears identical to Tel Aviv’s creation of two separate municipalities in Occupied Hebron in September. The decision, according to critics “formalizes the system of apartheid in the city and could potentially lead to new projects and budget transfers to the Hebron settlers.”
Source: Middle East Monitor.

EXCLUSIVE: Jordan fears ‘turmoil’ as Saudis rush to embrace Israel

David Hearst

Thursday 16 November 2017

Saudi Arabia is bypassing Jordan in its headlong rush to normalize relations with Israel, offering concessions on Palestinian refugees which could endanger the stability of the Hashemite kingdom, and compromise its status as the custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, a senior official close to the royal court in Amman has told Middle East Eye.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of treating Jordan with contempt. “He deals with Jordanians and the Palestinian Authority as if they are the servants and he is the master and we have to follow what he does. He neither consults nor listens to us,” the official said.

The alarm bells went off in Amman following semi-official leaks suggesting that Saudi Arabia was ready to surrender the Palestinian right of return in exchange for putting Jerusalem under international sovereignty as part of a Middle East peace deal that would facilitate the creation of a Saudi-Israeli alliance to confront Iran.

Such a deal would compromise the special status of Jordan as the custodian of the Haram al-Sharif, as stated in the peace treaty Jordan struck with Israel in 1994.

“Half the population of Jordan are Palestinians and if there is official talk in Riyadh about ending the right of return, this will cause turmoil within the kingdom. These are sensitive issues both for Jordanians from the East Bank and Palestinians,” the official said.

Jordanian backlash

In fact, 65 percent of the population of Jordan are Palestinian, mostly from the occupied West Bank. They have Jordanian citizenship and access to medical care, but they are under-represented in parliament, and have little presence in the Jordanian army and security services.

Furthermore, any attempt to give the Palestinians more rights in Jordan would provoke a backlash among the Jordanian population, the official observed.

He said any final status deal involving Palestinian refugees would have to include a compensation package to Jordan, which the kingdom would expect to receive as a state.

On the deal itself, the Jordanian official said that what was on offer to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, was worse than before.

“He (MbS) is concerned about the normalization of the Saudi relationship with Israel and he does not care about anything else. He needs a fig leaf to start off this normalization,” the official said.

A separate Western source in contact with some Saudi princes independently confirmed the importance of Israel as a factor behind a wave of recent arrests in Riyadh targeting princes, business tycoons and other influential Saudis.

He said several of the people arrested under the guise of an anti-corruption campaign had acted as “gatekeepers for Saudi funding” going to Israel. He suggested that MbS wanted to keep a monopoly of these contacts for himself. For this reason, he questioned whether those arrested would be put on public trial, or whether there would be secret trials.

This source dismissed the notion that what was a taking place in Saudi was a genuine anti-corruption drive: “The Saudi family do not rule Saudi Arabia. They own it. That is their view. They created the country. They own it, and therefore they cannot be corrupt.”

The Royal Court in Amman is also concerned by the pressure being applied on Jordan to join an anti-Iran campaign and the potentially dire consequences of what it considers “reckless” Saudi policies.

“Things in Syria are going to the benefit of Iran and its allies. The Jordanian approach was to try to open channels with Iran and Russia and to calm down the Iranians and have some sort of agreement in the south,” MEE’s source said.

“But the Saudis are in full confrontation mode, destabilizing Lebanon. If Iran wants to retaliate, it could retaliate across the whole region, which could affect Jordan directly and that is the last thing Jordan would want them to do.”

When pressed by the Saudis, Jordan scaled back its diplomatic relations with Qatar, but notably did not cut them as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt did on the day the blockade was announced. Jordan did, however, close the office of Al Jazeera, the Qatari television network which Saudi has called on Doha to shut down.

Unlike the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah has not been invited to go to Riyadh to express these frustrations in person. He has visited Bahrain, but went home shortly after.

Broken promises

The third source of Jordanian concern about the way Saudi is behaving is economic.

Jordan has lost money as a result of the regional boycott of Qatar, and is currently losing income it earned through the transit of goods. This is a result of the re-opening of a crossing between Saudi and Iraq at Arar, a crossing that had been closed for 27 years since Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Before Arar opened, all trade from Iraq passed through Jordan. With the opening of Arar, Iraq will start to use Saudi ports in the Red Sea to export to Europe, instead of the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

There is anger in the royal palace about promises of aid from Saudi Arabia, but no signs of the cash arriving in its bank accounts.

A separate Jordanian source told MEE: “The Jordanian king and the Jordanian authority are angry about promises made by the Saudis  to compensate Jordan for its loss of income with Qatar, and the fact that nothing has been received from them so far.”

A fourth Jordanian grievance is MbS’s recent announcement of plans to build the high-tech mega city of Neom which is set to stretch across the kingdom’s borders into Jordan and Egypt. The official said that Jordan was “not well briefed” about the project, fostering the suspicion that the primary beneficiary in the city’s construction will not be Jordan or Egypt, but Israel which has established a regional lead in high-tech exports.

He said there were “some positive comments” on the Jordanian side, but overall it reacted cautiously to the announcement.

The official doubted whether Israel would be stampeded into a war with Hezbollah and suggested that MbS had miscalculated the reaction to his offensive on Lebanon, following the Lebanese Prime Minister’s Saad Hariri’s sudden resignation in Riyadh earlier this month.

Hariri, who is a Saudi citizen with significant business interests in the country, has not yet returned to Beirut and Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday that he believed he was being detained there.

“The analysis of Jordan is that neither Israel nor the US will go for a war, and that we Jordanians will be saddled with the consequences of a direct confrontation with Iran and we will pay the consequences for this,” the official said.

Source: Middle East Eye.

Link: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-jordan-braces-turmoil-saudis-rush-embrace-israel-1491957420.

UK Cabinet minister quits over unauthorized Israel meetings

November 08, 2017

LONDON (AP) — In a new blow to Britain’s beleaguered government, the U.K. international development secretary quit Wednesday over unauthorized meetings with Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Priti Patel resigned after being ordered back from a trip to east Africa and summoned to 10 Downing St. by Prime Minister Theresa May. If she had not quit, she would almost certainly have been fired. Patel is the second Cabinet departure in a week for a government facing crisis on several fronts, including divisions over Brexit and growing allegations of sexual misbehavior in politics.

Patel has been under pressure since it was revealed last week that she held 12 meetings with Israeli groups and officials, including Netanyahu, during a vacation in Israel in August — and that she hadn’t told May or colleagues about it.

Patel apologized, but when details of two further meetings emerged, May acted. In her resignation letter, Patel said her conduct “fell below the high standards that are expected of a secretary of state.”

May replied that it was right Patel had decided to quit “and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated.” Patel said earlier that her meetings in Israel — arranged by Stuart Polak, honorary president of the group Conservative Friends of Israel — stemmed from her “enthusiasm to engage.” But critics accused her of breaching ministers’ code of conduct and making a major diplomatic gaffe in a region of high political sensitivity.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday that Patel visited an Israeli military field hospital in the Golan Heights during her August trip. Britain regards Israel as illegally occupying the territory, which it captured from Syria in 1967.

After the visit, Patel discussed with her department the possibility of British aid being given to the Israeli army to support medical assistance for refugees from the Syrian civil war arriving in the Golan Heights. A fellow minister has said the idea was rejected.

Patel’s situation had been made worse by her contradictory statements about the meetings. When news broke about the August trip, Patel insisted that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson “knew about the visit.” Her department was later forced to clarify the statement, saying “the foreign secretary did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it.”

Patel apologized, saying the meetings “did not accord with the usual procedures.” May summoned Patel to Downing St. after details of two more meetings emerged. She also met Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in London on Sept. 7 and foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on Sept. 18 — in both cases without any other British officials present.

The demotion to backbench lawmaker cuts short a rapid rise for 45-year-old Patel, who was first elected to Parliament in 2010, became international development secretary in 2016 and has often been mentioned as a future leadership contender.

Labour Party lawmaker Jonathan Ashworth said Patel’s position was untenable even if she had been unaware she was breaking rules when she met Netanyahu and the others. “If she didn’t know, she’s incompetent. If she did, she’s lying,” he told Sky News. “Either way she’s got to go.”

Patel’s departure is an unwelcome new headache for May, and follows the Nov. 1 resignation of Defense Secretary Michael Fallon after sexual harassment allegations against him emerged. Several lawmakers have been suspended by their parties amid a growing scandal over sexual harassment and abuse in British politics. May’s deputy prime minister, Damian Green, is facing a civil service investigation after a young party activist accused him of unwanted touches and text messages.

In another headache for the government, Johnson apologized Tuesday for saying a British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Iran had been training journalists when she was arrested. The family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she was on vacation, and accused Johnson of putting her at risk of a longer prison sentence with his misleading comments.

May’s critics say her failure to fire the foreign secretary shows how weak she is in the wake of June’s snap election, which May called in a bid to boost the Conservative majority in Parliament. The move backfired, and she now leads a minority government deeply divided between proponents and opponents of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Divisions within the British government about what sort of post-Brexit relationship the U.K. wants with the bloc are complicating divorce negotiations, and the clock is ticking down to Britain’s departure in March 2019.

Israel companies in talks to invest in Saudi Arabia’s ‘smart city’

October 26, 2017

Several Israeli companies are in talks with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia about business opportunities in the Kingdom’s new “smart city”, according to documents obtained by the Jerusalem Post.

The Israeli daily claims to have seen correspondence confirming economic cooperation between Arab diplomats and businessmen in Tel Aviv; Israeli firms will reportedly be competing under the table for billion-dollar contracts from the Saudi government.

“The Saudis are not so willing to cooperate with the Israelis formally, but … it’s much easier to create all kinds of cooperation on water, energy, ag-tech, food tech. This is the stuff that the prince of Saudi Arabia [Mohammed Bin Salman] wants to promote in the smart city,” said a source in Israeli venture capital who is familiar with the project.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia officially launched the NEOM, a developmental project to create an economic zone spanning the country and parts of Egypt and Jordan. Designed to free the Kingdom of its dependency on oil, it will focus on industries including water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and entertainment; at an estimated cost of $500 billion.

The project is part of Bin Salman’s 2030 economic vision for the country, which he has also promised will come with modernization.

The news comes amid increased rumors of a burgeoning relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel; causing controversy in recent weeks. The normalizing of relations between the two countries remains a proposal that has repeatedly been rejected by the Saudi public.

Yesterday Major General Anwar Bin Majed Bin Anwar Eshki, a former government advisor, was reported to have confirmed suspected relations when he said diplomatic and intelligence cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel were solely based on non-political matters.

Last week, Israeli officials also confirmed that Bin Salman had secretly visited Tel Aviv in September. The suggestion was vehemently denied by Saudi officials who insist that settling the Palestinian issue must take place before any normalization of relations.

Last month, leaked documents by the Twitter account Mujtahidd spoke of the country’s plans to “accept Israel as a brotherly state”, causing widespread controversy. The rumors were again denied by state officials. But recent months have witnessed an informal economic rapprochement between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, with former Saudi businessmen and former senior officials visiting Israel.

Israel has also supported the current blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on Qatar. Tel Aviv has repeatedly called on Doha not to host prominent Palestinian figures, a view now shared by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171026-israel-companies-in-talks-to-invest-in-saudi-arabias-smart-city/.

Israeli PM blasts Palestinian reconciliation agreement

13.10.2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized a landmark reconciliation agreement hammered out this week in Cairo between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, claiming the deal would “make it harder to achieve peace”.

“Israel opposes any [Palestinian national] reconciliation in which the terrorist organization Hamas does not disarm and end its war to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu declared late Thursday on his official Facebook page.

“Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas makes peace much harder to achieve; it is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” he said.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s hardline education minister, also blasted the deal, saying: “The Palestinians today [Thursday] decided to form a terror government.”

He went on to assert that, by partnering with Hamas, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — who serves as chairman of both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) — “turns the PA into a terror authority”.

“Israel must sever any connection to this terror authority,” Bennet said in a statement carried by the Times of Israel news website. “From now, any Israeli cooperation with Abbas is cooperation with Hamas.”

He added: “This must be said ahead of expected international pressure to resume [Israel-Palestine] negotiations in light of the Palestinian agreement.”

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz also slammed the reconciliation deal, describing it as “a convenient cover for Hamas to continue its… activity as a terror organization while relinquishing civilian responsibility for the Gaza Strip”.

On Thursday, Hamas and Fatah signed a landmark reconciliation agreement in Cairo aimed at ending ten years of deep inter-Palestinian political division.

Under the deal, the Ramallah-based Palestinian unity government will assume political and administrative responsibility for the Gaza Strip no later than Dec. 1.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained politically and administratively divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the strip from Fatah following several days of bloody street fighting.

Hamas’s capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier — if short-lived — unity government established after Hamas swept 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

Source: Anadolu Agency.

Link: http://aa.com.tr/en/politics/israeli-pm-blasts-palestinian-reconciliation-agreement/934916.

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