Archives For: Israel

Palestine Ups The Pressure, Ctd

Jan 5 2015 @ 2:00pm

Israel has responded to the Palestinian Authority’s bid to join the International Criminal Court with predictable harshness:

In an initial response over the weekend, Israel said it had frozen 500 million shekels (more than $125 million) in tax funds collected for the Palestinians. The monthly transfers are a key source of revenue for the cash-strapped Palestinian government. Netanyahu’s government minister for strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, said Israel could take even tougher action. “If the Palestinian Authority continues to attack us, I assume we will consider other steps,” he said, without elaborating.

The Israeli government is also planning to petition Congress to cut off American aid to the PA. In an editorial, Ha’aretz slams these retaliatory measures as “perverse revenge”:

The Palestinian application to the ICC is uncomfortable for Israel. But those who fear it now should have considered the implications before they pushed Abbas into a corner.

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Palestine Ups The Pressure

Jan 1 2015 @ 10:29am

Noah Gordon sums up the big news this week:

The Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas signed the papers to join the International Criminal Court a day after it was denied statehood by the UN’s Security Council. The provocative move could draw sanctions from Israel and the United States, as well as expose the Palestinian territories and Israel to an international investigation of war crimes.

Jessica Schulberg’s take on the implications:

Precedent suggests that Palestine’s ascension to the ICC will amount to little more than a symbolic display of sovereignty.

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J.J. Goldberg has a smart take on Israel’s “nation-state” bill. He begins by stressing how redundant it is for Israel to keep proclaiming itself a Jewish state when the UN recognized it as such in the 1947 partition vote, which the PLO ratified in 1998. The bill’s contribution, he concludes, “is not to define what Jewish statehood includes, but what it excludes: Arabic language, Palestinian national pride, a religion-neutral legal culture”:

It’s no accident that the legislation’s sponsors and main backers are the same right-wing factions, in the Likud and Jewish Home parties, that are fighting hardest against territorial compromise and Palestinian statehood. They’re not worried about international opinion. Their problem is the built-in flaw in their own blueprint for the future. Holding onto the territories, maintaining a single state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, means creating a binational state. The advocates face growing pressure — and anger — from the military, academic, arts and legal communities and other sectors, all demanding to know how Israel can absorb two million-plus West Bank Palestinians without losing the Zionist vision of a Jewish state.

Their answer is to ground the state’s Jewish character — its language, calendar, legal culture, national anthem — in a quasi-constitutional basic law that can’t be amended except by a Knesset super-majority. That’s how they intend to defend Jewish statehood: by relegating the culture and values of today’s non-Jewish minority to the sidelines and ensuring they stay there, even if and when they become a majority.

The messy political battle sparked by the bill came to a head yesterday when Netanyahu abruptly fired the bill’s main opponents, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, saying he would “no longer tolerate an opposition within the government”. The move effectively demolished his coalition, forcing new elections that could take place as soon as March. Zack Beauchamp believes the coalition’s collapse was inevitable:

The reason that Livni and Lapid, rather than Bennett and Lieberman, are being dismissed is simple enough:

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Enshrining Inequality In Israel

Dec 1 2014 @ 3:37pm

Last Sunday, Israel’s cabinet advanced a controversial bill that would amend the country’s Basic Laws to define it explicitly as “the national state of the Jewish people”:

According to many critics, the new wording would weaken the wording of Israel’s declaration of independence, which states that the new state would “be based on the principles of liberty, justice and freedom expressed by the prophets of Israel [and] affirm complete social and political equality for all its citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender”. … Netanyahu argued that the law was necessary because people were challenging the notion of Israel as a Jewish homeland.

For my part, I see it as a natural evolution of Israel’s settler policies and the end of any pretense at aiming for a two-state solution. The claim on the West Bank is a religious and racial claim – and that identity is far deeper at this point than any commitment to Western ideas of democracy, and deepening by the day. It’s also a way, of course, to ensure that the slow annexation of the West Bank can continue, because it all but ends any hope of negotiation with the Palestinian leadership. It comes at a time when the Knesset is also considering a proposal (unlikely to pass) that would enshrine punitive home demolitions in Israeli counterterrorism policy, strip citizenship from anyone who expresses support for terrorism, and have anyone brandishing a Palestinian flag arrested for “incitement”. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman openly wants to pay Arab Israelis to leave the country. In such a climate, what can prevent a further weakening of Israeli democracy in favor of racial and religious fundamentalism?

Dahlia Scheindlin nonetheless thinks such a law would be very bad for the Jewish state:

Some insist that it is hypocritical and maybe even anti-Semitic to protest a simple law of national self-definition, when ‘France is for the French people,’ or ‘Germany is the land of the German people.’ Can we lay this argument to rest already? In those examples citizenship overlaps with nationhood. Yes, France is for the French. But what makes someone French is not birth or ethnicity alone, but citizenship. This proposed basic law would codify and demarcate the State of Israel as something that belongs only to a subset of its citizens.

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Israel demolishes Palestinian attacker's home

In response to the recent spate of “lone wolf” terror attacks in Jerusalem, Israel revived its controversial practice of demolishing the homes of the perpetrators last week:

Israel on Wednesday blew up the house of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem who rammed his car into Israeli pedestrians in October, killing 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and Karen Yemima Muscara, an Ecuadorean woman studying in the city. The Wednesday blast, which rocked the densely populated Silwan neighborhood on a steep hillside just south of Jerusalem’s Old City, marked the restart of a policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians responsible for anti-Israeli attacks. According to Danny Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer and left-wing activist who tracks developments in East Jerusalem, it was the first punitive demolition in the city since April 2009, when police razed the home of a Palestinian who went on a rampage a year earlier, killing three Israelis.

The government also issued demolition orders to the families of the attackers in last Tuesday’s synagogue massacre. Just imagine for a moment how such a policy – which, to be perfectly clear, punishes entire extended families for the crimes of individuals – would fly in any other Western country, especially if it targeted members of a particular ethnic group. The return of the demolitions speaks volumes about how Netanyahu, who vowed after Tuesday’s attack to “settle the score with every terrorist”, approaches this conflict. For him, it really is about settling scores. Will Saletan remarks on just what kind of message this policy sends to the Israeli public:

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A Massacre Of Jews At Prayer, Ctd

Nov 19 2014 @ 1:40pm

Mourners Attend The Funeral Of The Policeman Who Died In Synagogue Attack

Speaking before a Knesset committee yesterday, Israel’s Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen pushed back on Netanyahu’s angry assertion that Mahmoud Abbas was to blame for inciting the horrific attack:

No one among the Palestinian leadership is calling for violence, Cohen said, noting that Abbas has reiterated that the path of intifada should be rejected. “ Abu Mazen [Abbas] is not interested in terror,” he explained, “and is not leading [his people] to terror. Nor is he doing so ‘under the table.’” At the same time, however, Cohen admitted that, “There are people in the Palestinian community who are liable to see Abu Mazen’s words of criticism as legitimization for taking action.”

J.J. Goldberg comments on why Cohen’s remarks are significant:

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A Massacre Of Jews At Prayer

Nov 18 2014 @ 12:38pm

Israelis Killed In Synagogue Attack

This is extremely distressing. Early this morning, two Palestinian cousins armed with meat cleavers and a gun burst into a synagogue in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem and killed four worshipers before dying in a shootout with police. The attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in the city in years and comes amid escalating tensions and violence surrounding the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif complex, and may also have been carried out in retaliation for recent attacks on Palestinians in the city. Hamas, which praised the murders and called for more such “revenge” attacks, is certainly spinning it that way:

Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said in a BBC interview that attacks like Tuesday’s should be anticipated. “Everyone expected that this would happen,” Hamad said. “Every day Jerusalem is boiling, every day there is a new crime against a Palestinian citizen. We didn’t see any effort of the Israeli government to stop the settlers from attacking the al-Aqsa mosque. They should open their eyes and see there is a revolution in Jerusalem, there is an uprising.”

Goldblog holds this up as further evidence of Hamas’s genocidal ambitions:

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The Two-State Dissolution?

Nov 14 2014 @ 6:46pm

If you haven’t already, take some time this weekend to read David Remnick’s article on Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, the shaky status of the two-state solution, and the resurgent chatter about an alternative. Remnick explores the history of the one-state idea and interviews a wide range of Israeli and Palestinian figures – from Sari Nusseibeh to Caroline Glick – on why it’s in the headlines again. No excerpt quite captures the substance of the piece in its entirety, but here’s the gist of it:

The one-state/two-state debate is highly fraught not least because of proximity. Too much history, too little land. This is not India and Pakistan; the map of Ireland is a veritable continent compared with Israel and the Palestinian territories. Gaza is about as close to Herzliya as Concord is to Hanover; the West Bank, as Israelis are quick to point out, is seven miles from Ben Gurion Airport. Any two-state solution with a chance of working would have to include federal arrangements not only about security but also about water, cell-phone coverage, sewage, and countless other details of a common infrastructure. Talk of a one-state solution, limited as it is, will never be serious if it is an attempt to mask annexation, expulsion, or population transfer, on one side, or the eradication of an existing nation, on the other. Israel exists; the Palestinian people exist. Neither is provisional. Within these territorial confines, two nationally distinct groups, who are divided by language, culture, and history, cannot live wholly apart or wholly together.

Meanwhile, escalating violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere – centered as usual on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif – has raised fears that a third Intifada may be afoot.

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Hadassah Rodham Clinton?

Nov 13 2014 @ 1:40pm

U.S. Hosts Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

If she’s elected, Aaron David Miller predicts that the second President Clinton will bring a quick thaw to American-Israeli relations:

Given the lack of competition, unless he stumbles badly, Netanyahu may well outlast Obama. And that brings us to the matter of Hillary Clinton. Those of you looking for a new sheriff in town — one who is willing and able to teach those Israelis a lesson, cut them down to size, and make it clear to them as Bill Clinton, who exploded in frustration following his first meeting with Netanyahu in 1996, did when he said, “Who’s the fucking superpower here?” — best lay down and lie quietly until the feeling passes.

That’s not Hillary Clinton.

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Since 1948, the US has declined to formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, maintaining that the final status of the city remains unsettled as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does. But in 2002, Congress passed a law regarding “United States policy with respect to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”, which, among other provisions, permitted US citizens born in Jerusalem to have their place of birth listed as “Israel” on their passports. State Department policy is to list only “Jerusalem” without designating a country. Bush signed the legislation but issued a signing statement protesting that it interfered with his authority to conduct foreign policy.

Enter Menachem Zivotofsky, the plaintiff in Zivotofsky v. Kerry.

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