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WATCH: Israeli police let stone-throwing settlers walk away

Israeli soldiers don’t arrest settlers. We know that. But what about Israeli police?

A couple of Jewish Israeli settlers were driving in the Israeli-controlled section of Hebron last week — where Palestinians live but only Israelis can drive — when some Palestinian youths threw stones at them, according to human rights organization B’Tselem.

The two settlers got out of their car, presumably to try and catch the stone throwers. But when they couldn’t catch them, they went after the easiest target they could find: the pair smashed a local market’s egg delivery and threw stones at parked Palestinian-owned cars, smashing their windshields, as can be seen in video provided by B’Tselem.

They were still throwing stones when Israeli police arrived. The police, army and settlement security officer, however, just let the two settlers walk to their car and drive off. The following is video shot by B’Tselem volunteers.

(The rest of the incident can be seen here.)

The Palestinians involved filed a report with Israeli police and B’Tselem said it would provide the video footage if requested. However, the police’s failure to even detain the suspected perpetrators is indicative of a wider problem.

According to human rights organizations that collect data on such incidents, Israeli police have an abysmal record in holding settlers accountable for violence against Palestinians. Yesh Din released information about such investigations last month.

According to this data, in 2005-2014, a mere 7.4 percent of investigation files led to indictments of Israeli civilians suspected of attacking Palestinians and their property, reflecting a decline of approximately one percent in the rate of such indictments.

Over the past nine years, according to their data, only 7.4 percent of investigations “led to indictments of Israeli civilians suspected of attacking Palestinians and their property.”

In the past two years, following a spate of higher-than-usual settler attacks against Palestinians, the government ordered the creation of a special police investigatory unit dealing exclusively with what Israel describes as “nationalistic crimes.”

Since the creation of the Nationalistic Crimes Unit in the West Bank, “the failure rate of the Israel Police in properly investigating ideological offenses against Palestinians has in fact worsened,” according to Yesh Din.

In 2013-2014, a statement by Yesh Din said, that nearly 90 percent of police investigations in the past two years were closed without indictment due to what the organization terms...

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Asylum seekers to stay in prison while Israelis hit the polls

Human rights organizations pledge to challenge the latest iteration of the Prevention of Infiltration Law; new poll gives Livni and Labor a chance; Arab parties agree in principle to a joint list; High Court to hear Zoabi’s challenge to Knesset suspension.

African asylum seekers jailed in Holot detention center protest behind the prison's fence, as other asylum seekers take part in a protest outside the facility, in Israel's southern Negev desert, February 17, 2014.

African asylum seekers jailed in Holot detention center protest behind the prison’s fence, as other asylum seekers take part in a protest outside the facility, in Israel’s southern Negev desert, February 17, 2014.

Before disbanding itself ahead of elections, the Knesset on Monday passed its third try at a law that would keep open Israel’s detention center for African asylum seekers. The High Court of Justice struck down two previous versions of the law as unconstitutional and ordered the Holot open prison closed nearly three months ago.

The law’s fate fell into the hands of recently fired Finance Minister Yair Lapid and his ‘Yesh Atid’ party, who despite no longer being bound by coalition agreements, voted to support the law.

While the new law eases some of the more draconian measures its predecessors embodied, it nevertheless translates into the imprisonment of thousands of asylum seekers who have not been convicted, let alone accused of any crime.

Instead of subjecting African asylum seekers to one year in traditional prison followed by indefinite detention at an “open prison,” as the previous version prescribed, the new law authorizes three months in a closed prison followed by 20 months in the Holot detention facility. (Read the full text of the new law in Hebrew.)

In addition, the new law includes a clause under which the state will confiscate 20 percent of asylum seekers’ salaries, which will be released to them only if and when they leave Israel. The clause, like most of the law, is intended to encourage African asylum seekers to return to the countries from which they fled.

A consortium of Israeli human rights organizations that challenged the two previous versions of the law pledged on Monday night to fight the latest iteration as well, describing the current policy as “incitement and populism.”

“Today, the Knesset approved continuing to debase the High Court,...

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Rights groups to Israel's top court: Home demolitions are collective punishment

Within the legal community, Israel’s High Court and the state attorneys are isolated and alone in thinking that home demolitions are an acceptable practice, the petitioners argue. No date is set for a decision in the case.

Demolishing the homes of suspected — or convicted — Palestinian terrorists amounts to collective punishment that in some cases could constitute a grave breach of international law, a group of Israeli human rights organizations argued before the High Court of Justice on Wednesday.

The people most affected by home demolitions are the suspect’s family members, who have committed no crime themselves. In many cases, the accused family member — when alive — has not yet been convicted in a civilian or military court when the demolition is carried out, making the demolitions extrajudicial.

Family members of Abed al-Rahman Shaloudi, who murdered two people including a small baby, stand in their apartment that Israeli authorities demolished as part of a return to punitive home demolitions, Silwan, East Jerusalem, November 19, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Family members of Abed al-Rahman Shaloudi, who murdered two people including a small baby, stand in their apartment that Israeli authorities demolished as part of a return to punitive home demolitions, Silwan, East Jerusalem, November 19, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The court combined the case, which seeks to ban the practice of punitive home demolitions outright, with the appeals of two East Jerusalem Palestinian families whose homes Israel has ordered demolished. Israel has slated their two homes for demolition because two of their family members murdered four rabbis in a terror attack inside a Jewish synagogue last months. They were killed in a shootout with police.

Following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the demolition of their homes, emphasizing that the state “will settle accounts with all of the terrorists,” insinuating that the demolitions are retaliatory and punitive. In court, however, the state maintained that the home demolitions serve solely as a deterrent measure.

The state argues that only the real potential of harm to one’s family can deter someone who willing to set out on a mission they know will result in their own death.

But there is no evidence backing up the state’s deterrence theory. In fact, a study commissioned by the Israeli Defense Ministry nearly a decade ago...

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Lapid and Livni's last act should be to shut down Holot

Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni have one last chance to leave a positive legacy: make sure Israel doesn’t continue the administrative detention of African asylum seekers who have committed no crime.

There is little doubt that Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni will be the biggest losers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to fire them from their senior government posts. After the coming elections Lapid will almost certainly find himself in the opposition heading a smaller party, while Livni will most likely find herself in political exile once again.

Tzipi Livni (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills)

Tzipi Livni (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills)

But despite being kicked out the government, Livni and Lapid still control 25 out of 120 Knesset seats.

While most of the worrisome legislation championed by the current Netanyahu government — like the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law’ — will most likely be shelved until after elections next year, there is one law that cannot wait.

In late September Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered the State to shutter its desert detention facility for African asylum seekers within 90 days, a deadline that is less than three weeks away. The government, unmoved by the High Court’s order, has been scrambling to pass a replacement law that would leave the detention center open while somehow feigning compliance with the court’s order.

The court ordered Holot closed. The government is trying to pass a law that would keep it open.

An African asylum seeker jailed in Holot detention center waits to re-enter the facility after meeting activists and friends who came for a solidarity visit, Negev, February 15, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An African asylum seeker jailed in Holot detention center waits to re-enter the facility after meeting activists and friends who came for a solidarity visit, Negev, February 15, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Lapid and Livni have an opportunity to make sure the High Court’s order is upheld and that the thousands of African asylum seekers imprisoned in Holot are released. All they need to do is oppose the current legislation.

As long as Lapid and Livni don’t support the proposed amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, the government will have no choice but the shut down the desert facility....

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Netanyahu fires Lapid and Livni, calls for early elections

Flash polls show Likud and Naftali Bennett’s ‘Jewish Home’ parties as the biggest winners in new elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early elections after firing Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni Tuesday evening.

The decision to dismantle the current governing coalition comes amid clashes in the cabinet over a number of controversial laws, ranging from the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law‘ to a proposal to make purchasing a first home easier for army veterans to a law targeting the newspaper owned by Netanyahu’s wealthiest and influential benefactor, Sheldon Adelson.

Flash polls conducted by Israel’s two major television news channels Tuesday evening both predicted Netanyahu’s Likud gaining seats in new elections, giving it 22 seats. Naftali Bennett’s settler party Jewish Home would dramatically go up to 17 seats, according to the two polls. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu party would receive between 10 and 12 seats. Those right-wing parties alone would compromise around 50 seats, just 10 shy of the number of mandates needed to form a government.

Labor, whose leader wasted no time going on television to present himself as an alternative to Netanyahu, received a mere 13 seats in both polls.

As Noam Sheizaf wrote in his analysis of the current situation, the next government is likely to be even more right wing than the current one.

In a prime-time press conference Tuesday night Netanyahu faced harsh questioning from Israeli reporters who told the prime minister that the Israeli public does not understand why new elections are necessary less than halfway through the current Knesset’s elected term. They accused him of hypocrisy in firing Livni and Lapid for criticizing him while brushing off much harsher criticism from far-right party heads Liberman and Bennett.

For his part, Netanyahu lamented that because the Likud didn’t receive enough votes in the last election he was forced into forming the current government with less-than-ideal coalition partners, whom he accused of making the government ungovernable.

Meretz leader Zehava Galon put out a statement summarizing Netanyahu’s press conference as saying: “I failed. Elect me again.”

Elections are expected to take place in March 2015, although no date will be known until the Knesset passes a law dissolving itself. The dissolution law will likely be voted on this week.

Related:
Israel’s elections: A referendum on Netanyahu
Top 10 reasons Israel should be going to...

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The ‘Jewish Nation-State Law’: Turning liberal Zionism on its head

Cementing the supremacy of national group rights over individual minority rights upends the precarious balance between Jewish and democratic, upon which liberal Zionism relies. For the ‘Nation-State Law’s authors and political patrons, however, this is just the beginning.

Liberal Zionists of all stripes tend to have one thing in common: the belief — or at least the hope — that Israel can reconcile and balance being a Jewish and a democratic state, serving both as the realization of Jewish national self-determination and as a modern liberal state that guarantees equality to all its citizens regardless of their religion or ethnic heritage.

Former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, one of Israel’s preeminent jurists, perhaps best explained the mechanism and limitations of such a precarious balance. In the Ka’adan ruling (PDF), one of the most important contemporary legal precedents advancing equality in Israel, Barak explained that Jews may have privileged national rights when it comes to immigration, but that once inside the state’s borders, all must stand equal before the law.

That formulation — and the ideology that relies on it — is about to be turned on its head, and along with it, the only palatable recipe for reconciling the competing values espoused by liberal Zionism.

A new proposed law moving rapidly through Israel’s Knesset with the support of the prime minister and a majority of the government would codify and constitutionalize legal discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities in Israel. The so-called “Jewish Nation-State Law” will upend Justice Barak’s “special key” theory.

Jewish national rights trump individual Arab rights

Several clauses in the draft law — and in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s principals, on which he has pledged to base its final wording — recognize national and group rights of the Jewish people inside the State of Israel while recognizing only individual (read: inferior) rights for members of religious, national and ethnic minorities.

In other words, Jews still hold have privileged status as key-holders to the gates of the country, but that privileged group status now follows them inside.

If passed into law, the bill, formally called “Basic Law: Israel — Nation-State of the Jewish People,” will have constitutional status, meaning it requires a super-majority to pass and revoke, and that Israeli courts will give it greater standing when weighing it against other laws or state practices that may contradict it. Israel does not have a formal constitution.

In...

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Israeli army shoots Italian activist, Palestinian teen with live ammo

The 30-year-old was reportedly wearing a reflective vest when shot. Kufr Qaddum has been holding weekly protests for years against the closure of its main access road.

Israeli troops shot an Italian national in the chest with live ammunition Friday afternoon in the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum, Palestinian medical officials and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported.

An 18-year-old Palestinian protester was also hit with live fire, according to the reports.

The .22 caliber bullet entered 30-year-old Patrick Corsi’s chest and remained lodged in his abdomen, a statement from ISM said. He remains hospitalized in Nablus, according to Ma’an.

“The bullet entered Patrick’s chest near a main blood vessel, but thankfully did not puncture it,” said ISM media coordinator Ally Cohen.

Italian ISM activist Patrick Corsi in an ambulance after being shot in the chest by Israeli forces, November 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy of ISM)

Italian ISM activist Patrick Corsi in an ambulance after being shot in the chest by Israeli forces, November 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy of ISM)

Residents of Kufr Qaddum has been holding weekly protests for years against the Israeli military’s closure of the village’s main access roads.

Years ago the Israeli army classified .22 caliber rifles — called “tutu” by soldiers — as crowd control weapons but today they fall under the same rules of engagement as all other types of live ammunition.

Another ISM activist who witnessed the shooting said in a statement that Corsi was wearing a reflective high-visibility vest and peacefully protesting when he was shot.

Related:
Grownup children playing war: On Kufr Qaddum and violence
Border cop arrested for Nakba Day killing, debunking IDF tales



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Punitive home demolitions are racist — and just plain wrong

Law abiding societies do not exact punishment on uninvolved parties. And it certainly doesn’t look good when the families of Palestinian terrorists are harmed while the homes of Jewish terrorists are left standing. One such punitive demolition leaves nine innocent people homeless Wednesday morning.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the press, November 11, 2014. (Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the press, November 11, 2014. (Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

“Do not discriminate between blood and blood,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday night, calling for international condemnation of a murderous attack inside a synagogue that morning. Moments later, he announced the steps he plans to take in response to the senseless bloodletting.

“This evening I ordered the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the massacre and the hastening of the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the earlier attacks,” Netanyahu told the nation, asking it to allow the state to settle scores on its behalf.

Five months earlier, Netanyahu made a similar statement after the horrific murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir. “We don’t distinguish between [Palestinian] terror and [Jewish] terror, and will deal severely with both,” the prime minister said, vowing to bring the full force of the law down upon the murderers, who he said, “have no place in Israeli society.”

Of course, Netanyahu — like his predecessors — does discriminate between blood and blood, and he does distinguish between Jewish terror and Palestinian terror.

The prime minister did not order the police or army to demolish family homes of the suspects in the Abu Khdeir murder. Then again, they, and their families who live in said homes, are Jewish.

In 2005, when Eden Natan-Zada — an army deserter and follower of Kahane Chai, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the EU — killed four Arab citizens of Israel and wounded a dozen others, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon called him “a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist.” His family’s home was not demolished.

In 2002, when “Bat Ayin” underground members were arrested and convicted of attempting to bomb a Palestinian girls’ school in East Jerusalem, nobody ordered their family homes demolished.

In 1994, after settler Baruch Goldstein murdered...

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In wake of stabbing attacks, Bibi says protesters 'can go to Palestine'

In second stabbing attack in one day, a young woman is killed, others injured in a West Bank settlement bloc. Attacks come amid police shooting of Palestinian citizen of Israel, deadly vehicular attacks and protests in Jerusalem.

Individual Palestinians carried out two separate stabbing attacks against Israelis on Monday. In the first attack, an 18-year-old from Nablus allegedly stabbed an Israeli soldier outside a south Tel Aviv train station. In the second attack, a Palestinian man reportedly stabbed three Israelis, killing a 25-year-old woman, in the Gush Etzion settlement block outside of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

Following the first attack, which is the fourth such lone-wolf-type attack in recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the wave of violence and related protests among Palestinian citizens of Israel with an unusually blunt message denying the right to demonstrate.

ZAKA volunteers collect blood from the spot where an Israeli soldier was stabbed Monday outside a Tel Aviv train station. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

ZAKA volunteers collect blood from the spot where an Israeli soldier was stabbed Monday outside a Tel Aviv train station. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

“We will fight against the incitement being lead by the Palestinian Authority, we will act decisively against the rioters who are calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. To all those who demonstrate against Israel and in favor of a Palestinian state, I say something simple: I invite you to move there; we won’t give you any problem,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.

In a statement over the weekend Netanyahu stated his intention to try and revoke the citizenship of demonstrators who call for the destruction of Israel.

In recent weeks, two separate vehicular attacks left four Israelis dead in Jerusalem. Following the second attack, in which the attacker was shot dead at the scene, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich effectively gave a green light for security forces to kill suspected perpetrators of such attacks. Two days later, Israeli police killed a young Palestinian citizen of Israel who had attacked their vehicle; in CCTV footage he can be seen fleeing when he is shot. That incident led to widespread protests and a general strike.

Updates will be added here as they come in.

10:00 p.m.:
The soldier who was stabbed in Tel...

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Israeli government votes to support annexing West Bank settlements

Whether or not the proposal becomes law, the vote itself broadcasts to the world that this government opposes a negotiated two-state solution.

cabinet

The Israeli government voted to endorse legislation to extend Israeli law to settlements in the West Bank on Sunday.

What does would that mean, you ask? For 47 years, the primary source of law in the West Bank has been the IDF military law code. Applying civilian law to parts —or all — of the West Bank would be tantamount to annexation, or at least be a creeping but concrete step toward that goal.

Irrespective of whether or not this latest proposal is ever passed, the vote itself broadcasts to the entire world that the majority of ministers in the Israeli government support annexing West Bank settlements — a “unilateral move” if there ever was one.

In fact, even if the current version of the bill goes no further than it already has, it will have accomplished its authors’ goal: to move Israelis ever closer to stomaching the idea of annexation.

Events like the fall of the Berlin Wall are anomalies: most change happens gradually and it is often not even noticed until it’s too late. That is how the Israeli Right feels about the international and domestic support for Palestinian statehood these days, and that is how the Israeli Right plans to subvert that same idea. Baby steps. Facts on the ground.

File photo of MK Orit Struck speaking at a Knesset committee meeting, June 11, 2013. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

File photo of MK Orit Struck speaking at a Knesset committee meeting, June 11, 2013. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The bill’s author, Knesset member Orit Struck, herself a settler in the West Bank city of Hebron, explained to settler news outlet Arutz Sheva a few weeks ago how she and MK Yariv Levin have prepared 10 draft laws that would annex the West Bank in stages: first individual settlements, then Area C, and eventually, everything West of the Jordan River.

But Israel is not ready to stomach full annexation, Struck explained, “[w]e must aim towards something that the Israeli public, with its present situation, would be able to digest.”

“As of now, it is impossible to create such a basis of support for the idea...

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Minister: Demolish homes in response to deadly J'lem attack [updated]

This is the second such attack in as many weeks. Israeli ministers and MKs call for mass arrests, home demolitions in response. In separate incident, Palestinian teen is kidnapped and injured in East Jerusalem. [Updated with details of a second incident in the West Bank Wednesday night.]

An Israeli Border Police officer at the permitter of the scene of an attack on Israeli pedestrians that killed one in Jerusalem, November 5, 2014. Three of the victims were Border Police officers. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli Border Police officer at the permitter of the scene of an attack on Israeli pedestrians that killed one in Jerusalem, November 5, 2014. Three of the victims were Border Police officers. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

One person was killed and 13 others injured, two critically, when a Palestinian man ran over a group of pedestrians in Jerusalem on Wednesday, then attacking passersby with a metal rod. Police shot and killed the perpetrator. At least three of the victims were Border Police officers.

Two people, including a small baby, were killed in a similar attack late last month and the perpetrator was also killed by police.

Following the attack, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich called for the demolition of the perpetrator’s family home and said it was right to have killed him.

Earlier this year Israel began returning to its long-abandoned policy of punitive home demolitions, which for all intents and purposes is collective punishment of uninvolved parties. (I wrote about the return of that practice here early this summer.)

While it may have been necessary to use lethal force to stop this latest attack, a statement by such a high ranking security official endorsing the extra-judicial killing of murder suspects is an affront to the rule of law and the very concept of a judicial system.

Police investigators stand around the body of a Palestinian man who ran over a group of Israeli pedestrians in Jerusalem, November 5, 2014. Police shot and killed the man shortly after the attack. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Police investigators stand around the body of a Palestinian man who ran over a group of Israeli pedestrians in Jerusalem, November 5, 2014. Police shot and killed the man shortly after the attack. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Kadima...

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There are no good guys in Jerusalem

The attempt to assassinate a prominent right-wing Jewish activist in Jerusalem has brought the city to a boiling point. Now is the time for responsible leadership. 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the Israel Police’s decision to temporarily close the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount to all visitors — Jewish and Muslim — “a declaration of war” on the Palestinian people and the Islamic nation, speaking in the aftermath of an attempted political murder in the already tumultuous city.

Yes, the increasing and more frequent restrictions on Muslim worshipers’ access to the Aqsa Mosque is a valid and serious grievance. Those restrictions, coupled with more frequent and more bold visits to the site by Jewish extremists have been responsible for fueling much of the anger radiating from East Jerusalem in recent months.

Palestinians perform Friday Prayer at the neighbourhood of Ras Al-Amud in East Jerusalem due to Israeli Government's entrance restriction to the al-Aqsa Mosque for the Palestinians under the age of 40, October 24, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians perform Friday Prayer at the neighbourhood of Ras Al-Amud in East Jerusalem due to Israeli Government’s entrance restriction to the al-Aqsa Mosque for the Palestinians under the age of 40, October 24, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Nevertheless, describing Thursday’s closure — which was made purely to prevent clashes from escalating at a dangerous junction — as a declaration of war on all Palestinians and Muslims, is to provoke, not calm. Abbas should not be blamed for his frustration with Israel in almost every aspect of the relationship, but this is a time that calls for responsible leadership.

Abrogating responsibility, ignoring causation

Likewise, the Israeli leadership’s attempts to abrogate responsibility for the sources of anger and violence in Jerusalem, along with its campaign blaming it all on incitement by the Palestinians, makes one question how much they want to prevent another violent explosion.

To his credit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “we” must “lower the flames. “No side should take the law into its own hands.” In the same breath, however, he blamed the current situation on the incitement of “radical Islamic elements and by Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen who said that Jews must be prevented from going up to the Temple Mount by any means possible.”

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Segregating the evening commute to the West Bank

Jews and Palestinians who commute from the West Bank to work in central Israel each day will soon ride separate buses home. Let’s not give too much credit to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, however. The decision to segregate the evening commute wasn’t all that creative. He only completed his predecessors’ decision to segregate the morning commute.

Palestinian workers wait in line to board an Israeli bus line meant for Palestinians only after crossing the Eyal checkpoint from the West Bank into Israel proper. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Palestinian workers wait in line to board an Israeli bus line meant for Palestinians only after crossing the Eyal checkpoint from the West Bank into Israel proper. (Photo by Activestills.org)

It’s not really segregation. Not on paper at least. Or at least the paper doesn’t use the word “segregation.” In practice, however, people of one national origin will not be allowed to ride on the same bus lines as people of another national origin — for the benefit and at the request of one group, at the expense and against the desires of the other. Call that what you will.

Here’s how it works. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the de facto and de jure sovereign ruler of the West Bank, could have easily ordered his generals to revise Israeli military law to legally ban Palestinians from riding on the same buses as their Jewish Israeli neighbors. (It’s important to remember at this junction, no pun intended, that we are talking about two groups of people who live in the same place — the West Bank — and who each day commute back and forth to their workplaces in the same place — central Israel.)

If that military order had been issued so explicitly, however, it would actually be called segregation and understood to be segregation by the general public, which at least in theory, sometimes opposes segregation. If the defense minister had written such an order it probably would have even used the Hebrew word “hafrada,” which inconveniently means both separation and segregation. That wouldn’t have looked good. So Ya’alon found another way, one that didn’t require him to use...

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