Successive Israeli governments have argued for years that settlements are not an obstacle to peace. The data tells a different story. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics revealed earlier this week that 2013 was a record year in settlement construction, while 2014 has seen the beginning of construction of 2,534 housing projects - a rise of 123 percent from 2013. Settlement construction took place all over the West Bank – in the so-called settlement blocs, which could be annexed to Israel in a two-state framework; in isolated settlements that are slated to be evacuated under such an agreement; on the western side of Israel’s…Read More... | 14 Comments
Nothing is polarizing European politicians as much as Israel-Palestine, says a member of the EU Parliament. Notes from a symposium in the Netherlands. I took part in a one-day symposium on the EU's policy toward Israel/Palestine last week in The Hague. The event, which took place at the Clingendael Institute, was hosted by “A Different Jewish Voice,” a local pro-peace group. Among the speakers were the EU's former envoy to the region, the current EU director for Middle East policy and three Dutch politicians, all from the center-Left. There were some interesting comments made, which I would like to share with our readers. The central…Read More... | 176 Comments
Civil rights organizations argue the 'anti-boycott law' has created a chilling effect, stifling debate on one of the most divisive issues facing Israeli society. If that's the case, the state counters, then how has BDS grown so much in recent years? In a hearing that felt at times like the political boycott itself was on trial, an extended panel of nine justices from Israel’s High Court of Justice heard arguments for and against legislation targeting calls to boycott Israel on Sunday. It was the second such session following petitions by civil rights groups asking the court to strike down the…Read More... | 16 Comments
As a rule, Palestinians working for Israelis in the West Bank hate the settlements and the occupation. But they have to feed their families, so they swallow their pride. Supporters of the occupation have found a new set of spokesmen: the Palestinian workers at the West Bank factory owned by the Israeli company SodaStream, of BDS and Scarlett Johansson fame. Reporters from The Christian Science Monitor, The Telegraph and other media outlets talked to some of the 500 Palestinians employed at the Mishor Adumim plant, and quoted them saying they were against the boycott. It was threatening their livelihood. They…Read More... | 23 Comments
When residents of one of the most radical settlements in the West Bank terrorized their Palestinian neighbors, the army and police did what they are becoming known for doing: absolutely nothing. By Yesh Din (written by Yossi Gurvitz) On April 25th, 2013, Raed Mahmoud Ahmad Sabah was in his house in the village of 'Urif when he noticed three Israeli civilians, all wearing hoods, approaching his house from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar. Shortly afterwards, a settlement security vehicle joined the group, and out stepped a man who Sabah identified as a settlement security officer. Several minutes late, two IDF…Read More... | 1 Comment
American actress Scarlett Johansson has become the center of controversy following the announcement that she is the new face of SodaStream, an Israeli company with a large factory in the West Bank. SodaStream produces domestic carbonation machines for making sodas at home, and has a large factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone, located inside Ma'ale Adumim, the third largest settlement in the occupied West Bank. (This fact is conspicuously absent from its Wikipedia page). The company has both Palestinian and Israeli employees working in its West Bank factory, branding itself as an environmentally friendly, ethical alternative for soda lovers…Read More... | 65 Comments
Following Channel 2 News’ remarkable Saturday night prime-time feature on the boycott of Israel, 'Yedioth Ahronoth' delivers same warning in big, bold letters on Monday’s front page. “100 leaders of the economy warn of boycott on Israel,” reads the lead headline in Monday’s Yedioth Ahronoth. The sub-headline includes the quote, “The world is losing its patience and the threat of sanctions is increasing. We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians.” The commentary next to it by star columnist Sever Plocker is titled, “It’s the economy, Bibi.” Yedioth is almost as popular and influential an Israeli newspaper as Channel 2…Read More... | 27 Comments
He's dealt a blow to Israel's prospects in the all-important blame game. By making Israel look like the rejectionist side in the peace process, and by doing so in a spectacularly galling way, Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon’s verbal attack on John Kerry has helped the cause of ending the occupation. It’s no mystery that the overriding goal of both Israel and the Palestinians in Kerry’s peace talks has been to avoid getting blamed for their inevitable failure. Now, after Ya’alon dissed Kerry and his diplomatic baby so thoroughly and contemptuously – and, even more to the point, without…Read More... | 3 Comments
The Zionist ideal of Jewish agriculture in the Land of Israel reached the occupied West Bank within months of the end of the 1967 War. The agricultural takeover of large swaths of land requires relatively few resources and time in comparison with actual construction or the establishment of outposts, and facilitates the quick establishment of facts on the ground. This activity is part of a widespread and well-funded strategy, whose explicit goal is to expand the territory controlled by Israeli settlers throughout Area C in the West Bank. A recent report by Dror Etkes of Kerem Navot shows that the…Read More... | 1 Comment
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
A total of 114 members of the European Parliament signed and delivered an open letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Thursday to ensure she implements the EU guidelines on Israeli settlements, scheduled to take effect next month, January 2014. The guidelines stipulate that any Israeli entity that wants to receive funding and loans, participate in a project or compete for grants or awards given by foundations or agencies of the EU will have to submit a statement declaring that they have no direct link to the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights - all territories Israel…Read More... | 11 Comments
A recent op-ed by a former cabinet member shines light on the right wing's approach to the West Bank, or what it calls the 'formative territory' of the Land of Israel. However, according to the right's logic, Israel doesn't have a right to a good chunk of the land currently under its control. Lorenzo Kamel unpacks the contradictions. By Lorenzo Kamel In a recent article published on Al-Monitor, Israeli lawyer and former cabinet secretary in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government Zvi Hauser claims that the “territory intended for the Palestinian state was the ‘formative territory’ of the Jewish people, where the…Read More... | 13 Comments
This post has been updated to add John Kerry's statements. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is claiming that the Palestinian leadership agreed to new settlement construction in exchange for release of Palestinian prisoners during the current bilateral peace negotiations. There have been reports of such an understanding in the Israeli media, but no official confirmation so far. In an interview to the Israeli news channel i24, Netanyahu said: "If they can't even stand up to, or stand behind the agreements that we had that we would release prisoners while we continue building, then how can I assume that they'll actually…Read More... | 1 Comment
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