Jewish Home leader and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett could not stand it when European Parliament President Martin Schulz criticized Israeli policy earlier this week. But what ticked him off even more was that Schulz told “lies,” such as that Palestinians have less water than Israelis - and in German! Apparently, Mr. Bennett can’t bear to hear facts, let alone in the German language. But to make sure, I met with the minister in the Knesset for a quick interview to check this thesis, with the help of Google Translate. The following is the transcript of our (imaginary) meeting: Ami Kaufman: Mr.…Read More... | 7 Comments
Knesset Member Zvulun Kalfa, of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, is calling for Israel to annex the West Bank and allow Palestinians to participate in Israeli general elections. "Palestinians should get full citizenship rights, equality, investment in infrastructure [in their] communities and voting rights to the Knesset," Kalfa told the Israel Hayom daily. According to Kalfa, this is the only way to dismiss for good the claim that Israel is discriminating against Palestinians or that it is an Apartheid state. "I am for a single state for everyone." Kalfa estimates that Jews will be able to remain a majority in the…Read More... | 10 Comments
Prime Minister Netanyahu is fanning the flames of a confrontation with Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett. For now the public rift serves both sides. Concern is growing among the settlers over Kerry's peace initiative. I heard a person close to the Yesha Council – the settlers' main advocacy and lobbying organization – say that at the council’s most recent general assembly, people used terms that haven't been heard since Oslo days. Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party (formally the National Religious party) attacked Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier this week for floating the idea that Israeli settlers would remain…Read More... | 9 Comments
With his attacks on Kerry, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is positioning himself as the new leader of the Israeli right. I basically agree with those claiming that there is no daylight between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on the issues, only on style and timing. Netanyahu has surrounded himself with opponents of the two-state solution: his political circles are full of settlers, national-religious and other hawks -- and not only in the cabinet, but in his own bureau. As veteran political correspondent Shalom Yerushalmi noted in Maariv on Wednesday, for weeks these people have been running around saying…Read More... | 11 Comments
Featured prominently in headlines this year were diplomatic initiatives that averted wars and lowered nuclear tensions, boycott victories, Israeli labor organizing, settlers settling in to mainstream politics, human rights defenders and at least one ruthless dictator. +972 bloggers pick the people who, for them, defined Israel, Palestine and the wider region in 2013. Read why +972 bloggers voted Edward Snowden as 2013’s person of the year. Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran Hassan Rouhani and the dynamic he generated in the few short months since becoming Iran's president are a perfect example of how established regional patterns can change when you…Read More... | 4 Comments
Up until now, very few details have been released about how many people and how much land will be affected by the Prawer Plan. Knesset Internal Affairs Committee chairperson MK Miri Regev revealed details of a secret document prepared in the Prime Minister's Office about the implementation of the Prawer Plan for the resettlement of the Negev Bedouins, Yedioth Ahronoth reported this weekend. According to a map obtained by MK Regev, the state will take over 250,000 dunams (61,700 acres) currently populated by Bedouins, while the Bedouins will receive 170,000 dunams (42,000 acres). Around 40,000 people will have to leave…Read More... | 16 Comments
Israeli politicians have begun updating their Facebook pages with eulogies for the late Nelson Mandela. What do statesmen of the Jewish state - one of the last western countries to support the South African apartheid state and which today practices apartheid-like policies between the river and the sea - have to say about the man who brought racism to its knees? Here's your definitive list (which may expand - I'll update as the day goes on) 1) Naftali Bennett - Leader of the Jewish Home settler party "Nelson Mandela ** With his willpower he changed the world. May his memory…Read More... | 35 Comments
By refusing to drastically amend its settlement guidelines, EU reopens debate on occupation within Israeli elites
The EU's new settlement guidelines, which were published last summer, put limits on loans to Israeli businesses operating beyond the Green Line and forbid EU financing of projects in settlements. Right-wing ministers are demanding that Israel reject the new terms, while centrists would like to avoid international isolation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held two long cabinet meetings with senior ministers on Sunday regarding the difficulty in reaching an agreement with the EU over its new 'settlement guidelines' for joint projects with Israel, Israeli media reported. Netanyahu instructed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to try and reach a deal that would end the impasse…Read More... | 16 Comments
On the U.S. Jewish establishment's double standard regarding what gentiles can say about Jews and what Israeli Jews can say about Arabs and blacks. The Anti-Defamation League and the rest of the American Jewish establishment owe Jesse Jackson an apology. They put the man through the wringer, they made him apologize in every possible forum for his “Hymie” and “Hymietown” remarks back in 1984. Yet look at the kinds of things Israeli leaders – senior government ministers, chief rabbis – get away with without ever having to apologize, without ever being punished in the slightest. A couple of weeks ago…Read More... | 23 Comments
This might be remembered as a key moment in determining the future of the occupation. In an effort to preserve the alliance with settlers and maintain its current settlement policies, the government will demand key provisions of the EU guidelines be changed or postponed. One of the most important rounds of talks on the future of the territories Israel occupied in 1967 is about to take place – and it’s not the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators this week. The Israeli government is seeking to modify the new guidelines set by the European Union, which will forbid cooperation with Israeli institutions…Read More... | 18 Comments
The absurd contradiction between advancing bills with paranoid, dictator-style accusations of 'foreign meddling,' while throwing temper tantrums over the loss of that meddling for the sake of strengthening the occupation is deeply disheartening. Knesset members from two right-wing parties in Knesset have revived a bill to limit foreign government funding of left-wing Israeli NGOs. The original legislation was halted by the previous Knesset following both domestic and international criticism, including from Israel’s Attorney General. The current version of the bill is being described as “softer,” version but as a fine op-ed in Haaretz by Amir Fuchs of the Israel Democracy…Read More... | 21 Comments
Israeli policy conveys that there is no Palestine, only two chunks of land divided by people, politics and culture. Some international actors and many Israelis are convinced. Are Palestinians? A recent New York Times report on the World Economic Forum held at the Dead Sea last month, carried the following headline: “Trying to Revive Mideast Talks, Kerry Pushes Investment Plan for West Bank.” The first paragraph of the article went on to explain: In an effort to revive the moribund peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry announced a plan on Sunday to invest as…Read More... | 14 Comments
More and more, members of Israel's ruling parties are matching their public statements to the reality they are implementing every minute on the ground: Israel's opposition to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict. Economy Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett is the latest MK to join a robust list of Israeli government coalition members who have publicly stated that the two-state solution is dead and that the notion of a Palestinian state is a thing of the past. Although it's no new position for him, Bennett is making it clear that no…Read More... | 59 Comments
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On the challenges facing a growing population of asylum seekers and refugees in Israel.
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Plan to displace Bedouin
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