Category - Israel and Palestine

Israeli forces storm courtyard of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

RT, September 13

Dozens of Israeli police and soldiers carried out a morning raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem. Witnesses said concussion grenades and tear gas were used and several Palestinians were injured. Police said the raid was part of a “security operation.”

According to the latest reports, the mosque and the premises have now been sealed off. The decision follows a morning of fierce clashing between various elements and the Israeli police.

During the raid, the Israelis surrounded the compound, detaining two guards and entering through the Chain Gate. Scores of worshipers were inside the mosque at the time.

Israel reveals “delegitimization department” to spy on boycott activists

The Electronic Intifada, By Asa Winstanley, August 27

An Israeli spy agency revealed to Haaretz last week that it operates a “delegitimization department” which “routinely gathers information on foreign, left-wing organizations” that promote the Palestinian-led boycott of Israel.

An Israeli activist also told The Electronic Intifada about being questioned by the country’s internal secret police.

Also known by the Hebrew acronym Aman, Israel’s military intelligence branch spies on “overseas organizations … [including] dozens affiliated with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement,” Haaretz states.

US rejects nuclear disarmament document over Israel concerns

AP, By Cara Anna, May 22

United Nations — The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to “cynically manipulate” the process by setting a deadline for Israel and its neighbors to meet within months on a Middle East zone free of such weapons.

The now-failed final document of a landmark treaty review conference had called on the U.N. secretary-general to convene the Middle East conference no later than March 2016, regardless of whether Israel and its neighbors agree on an agenda.

Israel is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has never publicly declared what is widely considered to be an extensive nuclear weapons program. A conference might force Israel to acknowledge it.

Since adopting a final document requires consensus, the rejection by the United States, backed by Britain and Canada, means the entire blueprint for global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation for the next five years has been blocked after four weeks of negotiations. The next treaty review conference is in 2020.

Vatican to Recognize Palestinian State in New Treaty

New York Times, By Jody Rudoren & Diaa Hadid, May 13

Jerusalem – The Vatican announced Wednesday that it would soon sign a treaty that includes recognition of the “state of Palestine,” lending significant symbolic weight to an intensifying Palestinian push for international support for sovereignty that bypasses the paralyzed negotiations with Israel.

Palestinian leaders celebrated the Holy See’s endorsement as particularly important, given the international stature of Pope Francis. For Israelis, it was an emotional blow, since Francis has deep relationships with Jews dating back decades, and Christians are critical backers of their enterprise.

“The Vatican is not just a state. The Vatican represents hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide, including Palestinians, and has vast moral significance,” said Husam Zomlot, a senior Palestinian foreign-affairs official.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was “disappointed” by the Vatican’s decision, and that the recognition would “not advance the peace process.” That echoed similar statements after a wave of European Parliamentary resolutions on Palestinian statehood last fall, but some Israeli analysts said the Vatican’s step hurt more.

Harper Government Threatens BDS Supporters with Hate Crime Charges

Rights groups say newly revealed policy change is meant to “scare” critics of Palestinian oppression

Common Dreams, By Lauren McCauley, May 11

The Canadian government is threatening to charge those participating in boycotts of Israel with a hate crime, CBC revealed on Monday.

The information came following an attempt by the news agency to obtain clarification on statements made by federal ministers about a “zero tolerance” approach to supporters of the international Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement protesting Israeli apartheid and occupation of Palestinian land.

In response to the query, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, who is in charge of federal law enforcement, sent reporters “a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws ‘anywhere in the world.'”

“Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions,” CBC reports. “If carried out, it would be a remarkably aggressive tactic, and another measure of the Conservative government’s lockstep support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The Intercept: Canadian Government Says Free Speech is for Offending Muslims — Not Opposing Israel

Barack Obama: Two Time Nobelist?

You’ll no doubt recall the hue and cry when Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his stand on nuclear non-proliferation and his attempts to engage the Muslim world. Both the right and left in this country had great sport at this — and here I’ll agree — premature awarding of a prize to a man with few signal accomplishments in foreign policy, apart from being “not Bush”.

Six years later and I think it’s time to give him the Prize for real this time. Think about this past year: for a man who started his administration hoping to hit singles and doubles in foreign policy (consumed as he had to be by the domestic economic crisis), he’s kind of knocked a couple out of the park, provoking admiration from aboard and from mainstream Americans, and consternation from the idiot fringe that will sit on perches and poop all day, parroting “Obama bad, BRAWK!” Read More

Protests over alleged police brutality in Israel turn violent in Tel Aviv

CNN, By Oren Liebermann and Kevin Conlon, May 3

Tel Aviv – Protests in Tel Aviv over alleged police mistreatment of Ethiopian Jews turned violent Sunday, resulting in twenty-three officers being injured, according to Israeli police.

The planned demonstration by the Ethiopian Jewish community — incensed over a video gone viral that shows a uniformed Israel Defense Forces soldier of Ethopian descent being assaulted by police — had been peaceful for hours before things took a violent turn.

Authorities employed horses, water cannons and smoke to disperse the crowd in Rabin Square, which had been chanting slogans such as “a violent cop should be in jail.”

It’s Official: The Pentagon Finally Admitted That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons, Too

The Nation, By William Greider, March 20

While the Washington press corps obsessed over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails at the State Department, reporters were missing a far more important story about government secrets. After five decades of pretending otherwise, the Pentagon has reluctantly confirmed that Israel does indeed possess nuclear bombs, as well as awesome weapons technology similar to America’s.

Early last month the Department of Defense released a secret report done in 1987 by the Pentagon-funded Institute for Defense Analysis that essentially confirms the existence of Israel’s nukes. DOD was responding to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Grant Smith, an investigative reporter and author who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy. Smith said he thinks this is the first time the US government has ever provided official recognition of the long-standing reality.

It’s not exactly news. Policy elites and every president from LBJ to Obama have known that Israel has the bomb. But American authorities have cooperated in the secrecy and prohibited federal employees from sharing the truth with the people. When the White House reporter Helen Thomas asked the question of Barack Obama back in 2009, the president ducked. “With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate,” Obama said. That was an awkward fib. Obama certainly knows better, and so do nearly two-thirds of the American people, according to opinion polls.

U.S. ‘to reevaluate’ backing for Israel at U.N.

Al Arabiya, March 19

The Obama administration on Thursday raised the prospect of lifting vital diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, following Benjamin Netanyahu’s divisive election victory and his campaign promise that he would not allow a Palestinian independent state to be established.

“Steps that the United States has taken at the United Nations had been predicated on this idea that the two-state solution is the best outcome,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

“Now our ally in these talks has said that they are no longer committed to that solution. That means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward,” he added.

But Netanyahu appeared on Thursday to backtrack on his campaign promise, saying in a television interview that he remains committed to a Palestinian statehood – if conditions in the region improve — and to the two-state vision first spelled out in a landmark 2009 speech at Israel’s Bar Ilan University.

“I haven’t changed my policy,” he said in a full interview with MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” excerpts of which will be shown on NBC’s “Nightly News” later on. “I never retracted my speech.”

Sure, sure.

Prevent ‘left-wing’ government, Netanyahu tells campaign rally

Reuters, By Ori Lewis & Ari Rabinovitch, March 15

Tel Aviv – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, trailing in opinion polls two days before a parliamentary election, on Sunday implored right-wing voters to turn out and “stop a left-wing government from coming to power.”

Speaking to a rally of thousands of supporters of Israel’s right-wing parties from behind a bulletproof screen at Tel Aviv’s main square, Netanyahu warned that the right-wing government he leads could be voted out of office.

“Our rivals are investing a huge effort to harm me and the Likud, to open a gap between my party, the Likud, and (our rivals), and if we don’t close this gap, there is a real danger that a left-wing government will rise to power,” Netanyahu said.

Final opinion polls published on Friday predicted the center-left Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni would take between 24 and 26 seats in Tuesday’s vote, compared to 20-22 seats for Likud.