A BIG YEAR AHEAD: WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN ISRAELI POLITICS IN 2018

Will Netanyahu come in like a lion and leave like a lamb?

They say that March, the third month of the year, comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.

This is the third New Year’s Day for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since his election to his fourth term as prime minister in March 2015. The year ahead for Netanyahu is expected to come in like a lion, continue like a lion, and go out like a lion.

The developments that will make this year particularly ferocious for the prime minister include the criminal investigations of Netanyahu and his wife Sara, controversial legislation in the Knesset, and diplomatic developments set to be advanced in the year ahead by US President Donald Trump.

Perhaps such challenges would be less problematic for Netanyahu if he still had capable former coalition chairman David Bitan at his side. But Bitan has been neutralized by his own criminal investigations, in which he is set to be questioned by police a dizzying three times this week.

Bitan’s replacement David Amsalem is as despised in the Knesset corridors as Bitan is beloved. His ability to defend Netanyahu from his powerful and sensitive post will be hindered by his lack of grace, charisma, and ability to work well with people of differing views.

After yet another delay, the police are expected to recommend in March to indict Netanyahu for breach of trust and perhaps bribery in Case 1000, the “Gifts Affair,” and Case 2000, the “Newspaper Collusion Scandal.”

As Netanyahu and his associates constantly remind people, the police recommendations have no legal significance. Only Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit will decide Netanyahu’s fate, and if the police do not ask for more time, that will happen sometime by the end of 2018.

But when the police recommendations are leaked to the press, there will be tremendous pressure on Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to remove his Kulanu party from the coalition, as Ehud Barak threatened to do with his Labor Party when police recommended indicting Ehud Olmert.

Chances are that Kahlon will stay, and Netanyahu will succeed in passing up David Ben-Gurion to become the country’s longest-serving prime minister on September 23, 2018.

But there is always a chance that Netanyahu himself could initiate an election before then if he decides it would serve him tactically.

What could throw everything off is if the police decide at any given point to declare Netanyahu a suspect in the much more serious Submarine Affair, Case 3000. With all due respect to newspapers and cigars, if Netanyahu traded Israel’s national security for money for his confidant, that would blow the other two cases out of the water.

The Jerusalem Post’s legal correspondent Yonah Jeremy Bob reported on Friday that the Police Recommendations Law, which passed last week, is completely unclear about whether the police could issue recommendations about Netanyahu in Case 3000.

There are also investigations of Netanyahu’s wife Sara for alleged misuse of public funds, which could either make the political year even more intense or perhaps calm it down if she becomes the legal scapegoat who gets thrown in the fire while her husband is cleared of charges.

While the focus all year will remain on the probes, there will be controversial legislation in the Knesset almost every week when the parliament is in session. The most problematic politically for Netanyahu will be over matters of religion and state, where his coalition is especially divided.

But there will also be bills that will change how political campaigns are financed, the role of deputy ministers, and whether land in Jerusalem can be relinquished in a diplomatic agreement. And that’s just in the Knesset.

The Likud central committee and other party institutions will also be making decisions that could tie Netanyahu’s hands before talks with the Palestinians could potentially begin.

While the Palestinians are currently saying they will not negotiate with Israel as long as Trump is president and the US is the mediator, they will come under tremendous pressure to back down from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and his American counterpart, Jared Kushner.

“Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime – I see a real hope for change,” Netanyahu said himself when Trump came to his residence in Jerusalem.

If that happens, perhaps Netanyahu’s coalition could be unraveled from the Right or from within the Likud.

But then again, maybe Netanyahu will be able to tame all those potential lions and march into 2019 politically unscathed.

If that happens, he will definitely have what to celebrate a year from now.

The article was written by Gil Hoffman and was published on The JPost


Israeli government and Palestinian Authority agree to strengthen economic ties

Israel agrees to open Allenby Crossing for 24 hours a day, used by some 2.3 million people per year

The Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah agreed on Tuesday to strengthen economic ties between Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel.

Kahlon, along with the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories Major General Yoav Mordechai, held a meeting with Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah in order to lay out a plan for economic and civil partnership.

During the meeting, which was the latest of a series of meetings between the two parties, Israel agreed to allow for the opening of Allenby Crossing on the Jordan-West Bank border for 24 hours a day within the coming months and, after 2018, for the crossing to be open permanently.

The opening of Allenby Crossing, which is controlled by the Israeli Airport Authority, will impact the some 2.3 million people who use the crossing each year, mostly Palestinians. The crossing is the only exit point for Palestinians between the West Bank and Jordan and is also used for the transfer of merchandise. Allenby Crossing is currently open on weekdays from 7:30am to 1:30am and on weekends, from 7:30am to 3:00pm.

Israel also agreed to allow the establishment of an industrial zone near the Tarqumiya crossing.

Both sides agreed to strengthen economic cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government moving forward. The meeting was conducted with the knowledge of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The article was posted on I24news


A more terror-threat conscious European Parliament condemns violent attacks against Israelis

“Come writers and critics
Who prophesies with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.”
Simon and Garfunkel.

The European Parliament voted on Thursday afternoon on its annual position on ways of “Achieving the two-state solution in the Middle East”. The Resolution has been postponed for a couple of months, presumably to allow the MEPs to get a better sense of the lay of the land following the US Presidential paradigm shift in pushing the process back up on the list marked “urgent” (regular readers will know from previous newsletters that many presidents prefer to ignore the Siren’s call of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.)

That Members of the European Parliament reached a compromise text, the result of lengthy and often tedious negotiations, is admittedly – as one astute political observer wryly observed – a success in itself.

It is often said that building consensus across the 5 major political groups (ECR, EPP, ALDE Greens and S&D) on the Middle East Process is akin to swimming through treacle, yet this time there was a discernible move away from the standard and largely default Israel bashing position towards a much more measured and mediator conscious parliament role in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.

EIPA welcomed the resolutions clear and unambiguous language that condemns “all acts of violence, acts of terrorism against Israelis, and incitement to violence which are fundamentally incompatible with advancing a peaceful two-states solution”.

It seems that events and ongoing concerns about the terrorist threat in Europe is resulting n not only a much more alert Brussels, but also marks for the first time that the EU Institutions put the issue of terrorist acts and incitement ahead of the hitherto number one subject: settlements as an obstacle to peace. We at EIPA can only welcome this signal as a more thorough and balanced understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and much more in line with the Quartet report.

EIPA was particularly pleased that the line in the resolution that “No EU funding can be directly or indirectly diverted to terrorist organisations or activities that incite these acts” was included in the text.

It marks a positive and significant step forward in efforts to make the PA leadership accountable for hate speech and incitement in the future (again our more regular readers will know that achieving conditionality represents a fundamental plank of EIPA’s strategy) For us conditioning EU aid on a rejection of violence would be in perfect alignment with the EP’s “call for effective use of existing European Union leverage and instruments towards both parties in order to facilitate peace efforts”.

Well, well, a reasonably positive EU resolution on Israel. Wonder that Messrs. Simon and Garfunkel would have made of it?

You can find the EP resolution HERE


13-year-old terror victim tells story at European Parliament

A 13-year-old survivor of a terrorist attack addresses the guests and few parliamentarians who show up to witness the new group sign a declaration opposing BDS.

Under 2 percent of the European Parliament, along with 150 guests, attended the inaugural ceremony for the Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament intergroup in Brussels on Tuesday.

Thirteen-year-old Ayla Shapira, a resident of Samaria who she was injured at age 11 when terrorists threw a firebomb at the car she was travelling in, addressed the 15 MEPs and guests, sharing her personal story.

She explained that her family was attacked by a 16-year-old Palestinian who wanted to receive payments for his family while he was jailed for his attack. Shapira asked the parliamentarians to consider that fact when they believe themselves to be sending aid money to Palestinians for the purposes of peace.

The intergroup was established on the initiative of the foreign relations group of the Samaria Regional Council, the head of which, Yossi Dagan, was present and spoke at the ceremony.

West Bank representatives signed a joint declaration with the MEPs promising to cooperate to stop the funding of terrorism and reduce trade barriers facing Jewish pioneers in Judea and Samaria. During the event, the participants toasted with wine produced in the West Bank.

Three MEPs spoke at the event. The cofounder of the Group of Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament,Petr Mach spoke, as well as Fulvio Matruscielli, and Branislav Škripek. They all expressed their support for Israel.

In addition, Nati Rom, the founder of Lev HaOlam (a West Bank organization that helped to organize the event), spoke about the organization’s efforts to fight against BDS by distributing products from the West Bank around the world. He emphasized that “the forces driving terror are the same ones that call for boycotting Israel. Communities must work together against this discrimination of Jewish products and preserve the free market.”

The article was published on Ynet on the 28.03.2017 (in the link you can also find a video with her speech)


Anti-Semitism in Britain directly hurts our efforts towards peace in the Middle East

yairTwo events took place last week in two places as far apart as you can imagine, but they had something in common.

The first took place in the House of Lords where Jenny Tonge from the Liberal Democrats hosted a meeting calling on the government to apologise to the Palestinians for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which Her Majesty’s government recognised the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the land of Israel.

During the event it was argued that Jews were to blame for the Holocaust, Jews suggested the Final Solution to Hitler (the fact that the Jews were the victims was strangely omitted), the State of Israel was compared to Isil and one of those who spoke claimed that “the Jews are the real anti-Semites.” To my knowledge none of those present bothered to tell him that his statement was absurd at worst, and actually still absurd at best.

The second event took place a few days prior, far away from the House of Lords, in the settlement of Efrat near Bethlehem. A group of dozens of Palestinians came to the “Tent of Peace” which was built by the Mayor of the local authority in honour of the Jewish holy day of Sukkot. They sat there together, Jews and Muslims, Sheiks and heads of Palestinian villages with Jewish settlers, enemies on paper but also just human beings, who live in the same battered and bruised land, and know that not everything in life is politics.

The conversation also wasn’t political. They drank coffee which was far too sweet (another Middle Eastern sin of which we are all guilty), talked about the rain that wasn’t yet coming, a bit about Judaism and Islam. The Mayor spoke about the fact that relationships between people are the key to a life together rather than pieces of paper signed by politicians.

Among the Palestinians was the family of a girl who had been killed in a road accident by a settler. As a result of the dialogue between the two sides, speed bumps were put in place on the road leading to their village and the people of Efrat came to pay their respects to the family. Another flare up was averted.

Two days later four of the Palestinians who had visited the “Tent of Peace” were arrested by the Palestinian Authority for “contact with the enemy.”

The Palestinian Authority people made clear that they knew that there was no “political dialogue” in the “Tent of Peace”. From their perspective, any attempt to conduct normal dialogue between people was a crime, and the punishment was jail. For them, so long as there is no Palestinian state, Jews and Arabs should only see one another through the sight of a gun.

As one who supports an agreement with the Palestinians and two states for two peoples, these two separate events sadden me to the same extent. An agreement, any agreement, will be dependent not only on maps and security arrangements but also on trust. If the Palestinians believe any dialogue with a Jew is a crime, and if supporters of the Palestinians think that the Jews are the ones who killed themselves in the Holocaust and they don’t deserve a state, who exactly are we supposed to talk with?

The blatant anti-Semitism on display at Jenny Tonge’s event doesn’t bother me. Lord Balfour supported the creation of a home for the Jewish people because he understood that there would always be people like that. The creation of the State of Israel doesn’t prevent modern anti-Semitism, it just allows us to tell the anti-Semites that they can shove it.

What does bother me though is that meetings like the one in the House of Lords strengthen the conviction of the Palestinians, time and again, that they have no reason to try and reach a reasonable compromise. If that’s the way Jews are talked about in the House of Lords, then even the Palestinian Authority can drop the façade of being moderate and start to lock up anyone who dares talk about peace and coexistence.

The piece was written by Yair Lapid,a member of Knesset, Chairperson of the Yesh Atid Party, is a former Finance Minister and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Knesset. It was published in The Telegraph on the 1st of November 2016


The triumph of European pragmatism in the Middle East

 

The European Parliament will vote this coming Wednesday on the report concerning the EU’s strategy after Iran’s nuclear agreement. MEP Richard Howitt’s report passed through its first reading in the Foreign Affairs committee on the 6th of October 2016 with 38 votes for, 15 against, following consultations with the Trade Committee on the 14th of July 2016.

The resolution is steeped in European “pragmatism”, with a scent of European values and norms.  

Acknowledging Iran’s position in the Middle East, second largest economy, and in the world, the country with second largest gas reserves, the report is a classic example of European expediency when it comes to opening relations with Iran and reducing its energetic dependency on Russian gas reserves. The report calls for the opening of an EU delegation in Teheran that would facilitate and foster dialogue and trade relations, as well as for the appointment of an Iranian expert for accessing the Horizon2020, European research flagship program.

Under the regional security headline, the report falls short of condemning Iran sponsoring terrorist activities for actors like Hezbollah and Al Nusra. While “the principle of ensuring respect, safety and security for peoples in all countries in the Middle East, including Israel and the Palestinian people” will be the best reference you will get for condemning the anti-semitic and Holocaust denial recurring statements of the Iranian religious and political leadership.

Here at EIPA we are deeply concerned with this tilting of balance towards the strategic interests at the expense our European values in a foreign policy trend that separates Iran’s destabilizing behaviour in the region and its human rights record from the nuclear file.

For further reading, please click HERE

iran-nuclear-program


A victory in self-deception

The Palestinian ‘narrative’ has scored another victory, this time at UNESCO. But it’s not a victory; it’s actually a defeat. The addiction to lies does not change reality or solve any problem—it pushes away the chance for reconciliation or peace.

Dr. Omar Jaara of An-Najah University appeared on Palestinian television four years ago and said that Moses had led the Muslims out of Egypt and that the subsequent Israeli conquest of the land was “the first case of a Palestinian liberation through an armed struggle.” He attributed the battle between David and Goliath to the Palestinians as well.

For a moment, it seemed like a satire program, but it was completely serious. “This is our logic, and this is our culture,” Jaara explained in the interview, which was recorded by Palestinian Media Watch.

Four years have passed and the historian is celebrating. The Palestinian “narrative” has scored another victory, this time at UNESCO. Allegedly, this not just a victory but an overwhelming victory: Although Brazil and Mexico expressed reservations over the resolution on Tuesday, there was no new vote, and the decision remained unchanged. The Palestinians even managed to convince Christian countries, as Israeli diplomat George Deek tweeted, to adopt a resolution which means that “Jesus was a liar.”

There is no big surprise here. After all, we are living in the era of narratives, which is the post-factual era. It possible that in a year or two, UNESCO or another international organization will adopt a resolution confirming Jaara’s narrative about the Exodus from Egypt.

But it’s not a victory. It’s actually a defeat. If we wish to know why the Palestinians remain in their grim situation, this self-deception is one of the reasons, and the international support they receive only worsens it. It’s not just happening in international bodies with a majority of dark states. The Palestinians are enchanting, or terrorizing, the academia in the free world, to the point that most of its members have become loyal servants of the Palestinian lie—sorry, the narrative. They are slowly succeeding in turning the Palestinian Nakba into a pivotal, unique event, an ultimate crime, although tens of millions of people have experienced worse cases of expulsion and uprooting. They receive almost absolute support in most leading newspapers in the free world. Nevertheless, they believe the Jews control the academia and the global media.

It’s not that the Palestinian propaganda is sinking into an abyss of self-deception and illusions on its own. The problem is that this propaganda has become the leading motif not just in institutions with a dark majority, that it has been adopted—or is being encouraged —by an absolute majority of “human rights organizations” in the West. They are always on the Palestinian side, and this support is mainly racism. Because they think the Palestinians can get away with it.

The addiction to lies does not change reality and does not solve any problem. On the contrary, it pushes away the chance for reconciliation or peace. It perpetuates Palestinian suffering. It should be mentioned that in Lebanon, for example, there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who can only dream about the standard of living of the Palestinians in the West Bank. For decades, they have been suffering from deep discrimination enforced by law, but no one cares about them. No one is fighting for their rights. There has not been a single UN discussion about them.

The leading Palestinian principle is: We’ll make every effort to harm Israel, but we won’t make any effort to improve our situation. In practice, they are not really harming Israel; they are harming themselves. After all, the UNESCO resolution does not really help the Palestinians; it just makes them feel that they have scored some virtual, empty victory.

All this should not lead to the conclusion that Israel can rest on its laurels. Far from it. The fact that the Palestinians are engaged in self-deception does not call for another freeze or another outpost or another acre. Because we also have people who see it as a victory, and that is self-deception as well. The Palestinians are in over their heads. We should look at what is happening to them so that it won’t happen to us too.

The Op-Ed was written byBen-Dror Yemini and was published on Ynet on the 19th of October 2016


Will rare Israeli-Palestinian parley in Jericho pave way to peace process?


Israeli and Palestinian ministers held a rare meeting in Jericho on Wednesday morning, as a possible first step toward a thaw in the peace process which has been frozen for over two years.

“I think the success of today’s meeting will help increase the chances of dialogue at the level of heads of states, a summit where the head of the Palestinian Authority can participate. Today’s meeting seems to point in a positive direction,” Minister-without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) told reporters at the city’s Oasis Hotel.

“Given the stagnation in the public dialogue, it was very significant to hold a diplomatic dialogue that speaks to the will to move forward together,” Hanegbi said.

The Likud minister had just met with PA Minister for Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, in an event organized by Japan and hosted by its visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Kentaro Sonoura. Jordan’s Saleh Kharabsheh, secretary-general of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, was also present at the meeting.

The meeting, attended by delegations from each of the four governments, marked one of the highest-level public interactions between Israelis and Palestinians in the last two years. It comes amid failed attempts by the European Union and Russia to organize a high-level Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

That the delegations could explore ways to advance economic, industrial and agriculture issues that touch people’s lives “is an excellent basis for continued diplomatic contacts,” Hanegbi said.

The diplomats and politicians met to advance a Japan-sponsored industrial park in Jericho, thereby turning that West Bank city near the Dead Sea into an economic pipeline for the production and export of Palestinian products to the larger Arab world.

Japan has contributed $300 million to the Jericho Agricultural Industrial Park, termed the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity.” Israel has given $50m. for the project and will help facilitate the construction of a new road to the Allenby Border Crossing into Jordan, which will run parallel to Route 90 in the Jordan Valley.

The Palestinian-only road will allow goods to be delivered quickly from the industrial park to the crossing.

After the meeting, Sonoura noted that this was the fifth such meeting since planning for the park had begun in 2006.

The last such four-way dialogue had taken place at the same hotel in 2013.

Back then, he said, the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians appeared to be moving forward.

This time, the meeting was held outside the context of any such framework and without a clear sense of what is likely to happen between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Still, he said, “the importance of cooperation has not faded.”

“It is my understanding that since the peace talks stopped in 2014, this is the first time that both the Palestinians and Israeli leaders at the ministerial level have met in public. This gives great power to the initiative,” Sonoura told reporters after the meeting.

Before the meeting and again afterward, both Sheikh and Hanegbi publicly shook hands.

Sheikh opened his remarks by wishing the Israeli delegation in Hebrew “Boker tov” (“Good morning”). He also exchanged a few Hebrew pleasantries with Hanegbi after the meeting.

Hanegbi told reporters that the meeting had focused on issues relating to the industrial park and that the atmosphere had been very positive.

He added that he believes that the drop in violent Palestinian attacks against Israelis had paved the way for the meeting to take place.

“We saw the major decrease in the hostilities in the last four or five months,” said Hanegbi, who explained that the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian delegations had “sat like neighbors trying to help each other.”

Improving the Palestinian economy would also help create peace in the region, Hanegbi said.

“For many, many years we tried to convince our Palestinian neighbors to put all their energy in building their own livelihood. Unfortunately, some segments of the Palestinian society are still drowning in their own animosity toward Israel,” he said.

“This meeting focused only on the positive,” Hanegbi said.

But the best way to resolve the conflict, he said, is the resumption of direct Israeli- Palestinian talks.

“Many parts of the political arena are trying to bridge the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians.

This includes Russia, the United States and Europe.

In our view, major progress can be achieved only through direct negotiations without preconditions,” Hanegbi said.

Sheikh welcomed the project but said that “we must ensure that there are suitable and sustainable water and electricity resources” as well as “freedom of movement and access” for the goods.

He was pleased, he said, that Jericho, which has been a “hub of industry” for thousands of years, will continue to play a key role in developing the Palestinian and regional economy.

This vision, however, can be achieved only with “an independent state of Palestine,” Sheikh said.

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The article was published on The Jerusalem Post website on the 8th of September 2016.


On the EU Agenda

EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini will adress the European Parliament on Wednesday 6th of July. She will be presenting the European External Action Service’ Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy. The document , published in June 2016 underlined EU support for a two-state solution.

Then, she will outline the new initiatives adopted by the Quartet regarding the Middle East Peace Process. 

The Quartet denounced the use of violence of the Palestinians, and the constant incitement against Israelis. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was reportedly furious about the Quartet conclusions.

 

Follow HR Mogherini speech here at 15:00 on Wednesday in the following link : 

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/home.html— 

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13 year old girl murdered in stabbing attack in Kiryat Arba

Palestinian terrorist stabbed a 13-year old to death in her bedroom on Thursday morning after he infiltrated the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, which is located next to Hebron.

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“My daughter was sleeping calmly when he [the terrorist] came into her bedroom,” Hallal’s mother Rina told Army Radio. “She was happy,’ she added.

A Magen David Adom paramedic said that when he arrived at the scene the teenage girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, was unconscious and was not breathing. They were able to resuscitate her at the scene, but it was touch-and-go during the whole journey to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, as they continuously fought to keep her alive.

She was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival, without ever regaining consciousness.

After the attack, the IDF and one of the Prime Minister Office’s spokesman tweeted a photograph of her blood-stained bedroom.

Hallel had been a member of a dance troop and had performed in Jerusalem the night before. Her step-father, Amihai, is a cousin of Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, and runs a boutique winery. She will be buried in old Jewish cemetery in Hebron. The funeral procession will leave from Kiryat Arba at 6 p.m. The terrorist, Mohammad Tarairah, 17, breached the settlement’s fence and then entered the Ariel home that was located on a security road, near a yeshiva high school for boys.

The settlement’s security71028880412038640360no team responded to the incident. According to the IDF, the terrorist stabbed a member of that security team, before another member of the team shot and killed Tarairah.

Among the Magen David paramedics who responded to the scene, was the wife of the wounded member of the security team.

She went with her husband to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. Doctors there said that the wounded man, believed to be age 30, was suffering from gun shot wounds and that his injuries were not life threatening.

Residents of the settlement of some 8,000 people located right outside the Palestinian city of Hebron, were asked to remain in their homes for about half-an-hour until it was clear that there were no more attackers in Kiryat Arba. Since the wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis began in September 2015, there have been many attacks in and around Hebron, as well as on the outskirts of Kiryat Arba. But an infiltration into the settlement itself is rare.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met and ordered the IDF to close off the Palestinian village of Bani Na’im, located near Kiryat Arba, where Tarairah lived. They also ordered the IDF to rescind work permits belonging to Tarairah’s immediate and extended family.

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According to his Facebook posts Tarairah was partially inspired by a vehicular terror attack just outside of Kiryat Arba in which an Israeli couple was lightly insured. The IDF unit which responded to the attack shot and killed the Palestinian driver.

Tarairah mentioned her in his posts, under the hashtag “a sister to bravery”.

At the beginning of the week he wrote a post saying that “the death is a right and i am asking for my right.” His uncle, Yousuf Tarahirah, carried out a car-ramming attack in Hebron in March.

The article was published on The jerusalem Post on the 30th of June 2016


Netanyahu tells French PM he rejects Paris peace bid, but offers to meet Abbas

Manuel Valls, in Israel to advance his country’s plan for Mideast summit, says he has ‘a genuine desire to help the situation’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Monday the French initiative for an multinational conference to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, telling French Prime Minister Manuel Valls that direct negotiations were the only path forward toward a lasting agreement.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Jerusalem before a closed-door meeting with Valls, Netanyahu said a multilateral effort would replace bilateral talks and not bring about any agreement.

“Peace is not achieved in international UN-style conferences, nor through international diktats that come of meetings of countries around the world sitting to decide our fate,” Netanyahu said. “Peace is achieved through direct negotiations where the Palestinian Authority would face a historic choice: recognize a Jewish state side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian sate, or try to eliminate it.”

The meeting with Valls came as part a two-day trip to the region by the French premier that began Sunday, aimed at advancing his country’s plan for the summit in the face of opposition from Netanyahu.

The Israeli prime minister claimed Monday that the international conference was being used by the Palestinian leadership as a way to prevent direct talks with Israel.

“The Palestinian Authority does not see the French initiative as an inducer for negotiations, but as a way to avoid them,” he said.

Instead, Netanayhu said, he would be willing to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “in Paris or wherever,” and hold face-to-face negotiations without international mediation. “Every difficult issue will be on the table,” he said.

Valls said he would welcomeF160523YS03-635x357 direct negotiations and would speak to French President Francois Hollande about the proposal.

Abbas has welcomed the French initiative to hold a meeting of foreign ministers from a range of countries on June 3, without the Israelis and Palestinians present.

According to the plan, another conference would then be held in the autumn, this time with the Israelis and Palestinians in attendance. The goal would be to eventually restart negotiations that would lead to a Palestinian state.

Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

Earlier Monday Valls met with President Reuven Rivlin, who, in his first public statements on the French initiative, also criticized the plan, saying “there are no shortcuts in the Middle East.”

Preempting Netanyahu’s comments, he said that Israel was weary of such international efforts as they absolved the Palestinians of responsibility to negotiate.

Valls told both Rivlin and Netanyahu that France had Israel’s best interests in mind.

“France has a genuine and real desire to help the situation between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said in his statements to both Rivlin and Netanyahu.

Before his meetings with senior Israeli officials, Valls visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial where he laid a wreath in memory of the six millions Jews killed during the Holocaust. He also went to the Givat Shaul ceremony in Jerusalem cemetery to visit the graves of four French citizens killed in the January 2015 attack on the Hypermarche Kosher supermarket in Paris, and whose bodies were bought for burial in Israel.

After meeting with Netanyhau Valls will travel to Ramallah for a series of talks with Palestinian Authority officals, including meeting with Abbas.

Valls’s visit comes at a time of political turbulence in Israel, with Netanyahu expected to soon finalize coalition negotiations with the Yisrael Beytenu party, led by hardliner Avigdor Liberman, who is detested by the Palestinians.

Liberman, who lives in a West Bank settlement, is expected to take on the key role of defense minister.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told his cabinet that adding Liberman to the coalition would not negatively impact peace efforts.

“A broad government will continue to strive for a diplomatic process with the Palestinians and we will do so with the assistance of elements in the region. I personally deal with this a lot, in many places, and I intend to continue to do so,” he told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

To watch the meeting with PM Netanyahu klick HERE

The Article was published on The Times of Israel on  24 may 2016.


Swedish journalist-turned-politican defends Israel in EU

Former journalist hopes his Scandinavian homeland will better understand Israel’s difficult position.

At first blush, Lars Adaktusson hardly seems like a likely Israel supporter. A former journalist and Swedish politician serving as a Member of the European Parliament, Adaktusson’s curriculum vitae make him unique among Israel’s defenders abroad.

Indeed, Adaktusson, a member of the Christian Democrats, often finds himself at odds with his own government, particularly on the issue of Israel.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, has earned a reputation for her harsh criticism of Israel and often baseless claims. In December, for example,Wallstrom suggestrd that Israel was systematically “executing” Arab terrorists. Earlier last year, Wallstrom blamed the Paris terror attacks in November on “Palestinian frustration” with Israel.

Speaking to Yediot Ahronot on Tuesday, Adaktusson offered his view on why so many in Sweden – and Europe generally – have such a dim view of the Jewish state.

“It’s [part] of a long process,” he said. “We’ve had a problem with biased media reports, and we have a strong leftist movement – both in the Social Democrats Party and in other leftist parties – whose hostility towards Israel is very strong. We need to deal with this basic hostility in Sweden, and it’s a problem.”

Adaktusson expressed hope that as Europeans struggle with the rising threat of terrorism at home, they will be better able to understand the difficulties Israelis face every day.

“I hope that people understand what Israel has to deal with – the stabbings, the various continuing attacks by Hamas. The facts speak for themselves.”

Regarding the future of relations between Israel and the European Union, however, Adaktusson argued that both sides had room for improvement.

“As far as diplomatic relations, we’re talking about something that’s two-sided. We need to be more open to and more willing to have good relations with Israel on a variety of levels, and to strengthen our ties and relations [between us]. But that also will require from the Israeli side a willingness to listen to Europe and also listen to criticism.”

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The article was published on Arutz Sheva 


Hamas attack tunnel discovered in Israel

Less than 2 years after Operation Protective Edge, the IDF, using advanced technology, discovered the tunnel in the Eshkol regional council area; it was meant for an attack by Hamas’s elite ‘nokhba’ unit.

Nearly two years after the end of Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has uncovered a Hamas attack tunnel crossing the border fence into Israel, which is believed to have been dug after the 2014 war, it was cleared for publication on Monday morning.

The shaft was discovered inside Israeli territory, just a few dozens of meters from the border fence, in the Eshkol Regional Council, but not very close to nearby communities.

Officials in the defense establishment say the tunnel was likely meant to be used in a strategic attack against Israel, in which dozens of Hamas fighters from the elite “Nukhba” unit would participate.

Since the tunnel’s discovery last week, IDF engineering forces and fighters from elite units have been working in the open area between Kisufim and Kerem to destroy it.

The tunneling took place on both sides of the border, and the Palestinians in Gaza reported on it, but Hamas refrained from using the tunnel or taking other offensive steps against the IDF. And this despite the fact that according to Israeli officials’ estimations that Hamas was aware that the IDF had uncovered and destroyed the tunnel.

At the start of IDF operations, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and GOC Southern Command Eyal Zamir were present. Residents in the area were told that the matter was under IDF control and that there was no real danger, therefore life went on as usual. Even farmers in the area were updated and were given no special instructions.

A senior security source said last week around the time of the tunnel’s discovery, “We are not surprised by Hamas’s efforts as that is an opportunity for them to carry out a strategic attack. Hamas is not rushing to battle. We have identified other tunnels dug by Hamas, but they have not penetrated our territory.”

Hamas’s excavation of this tunnel appears to be have been done relatively fast compared to those dug in the years prior to Operation Protective Edge, pointing to their having learned lessons and invested an unprecedented amount of money – millions of shekels – in the project. Even the depth of the tunnel, about 30 meters, is considered unusual.

Nevertheless, in other respects, it is the same type of tunnel discovered before and during Operation Protective Edge – reinforced walls, digging pathways, branches and inner depth.

According to a senior Southern Command official, Hamas employs 800 tunnel diggers who enjoy high salaries compared to other operatives in the organization, and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades chief, Mohammed Deif, considers the tunnels a flagship project highlighting the strengthening of the organization’s military wing.

The fact that no weapons were found in the tunnel, and that Hamas realized that the tunnel was discovered almost instantaneously and yet chose not to use it to attack the IDF, reinforces the defense establishment’s opinion that the tunnel was not meant to send terrorists into Israel in the nearby future but rather in further down the line.

Not an Iron Dome-level success yet

Over the past year, after receiving intelligence on the matter, the IDF focused much of its efforts on finding tunnels along the Gaza Strip border. IDF forces have been seen scanning the area in past months, attempting to find shafts and tunnel openings. The IDF responded to any tip by residents of the Gaza border communities, who reported suspicious noise, even in cases involving towns relatively far from the border fence.

The new tunnel’s discovery is the result of field action, intelligence work by both the military and the Shin Bet, and above all, the result of the IDF’s new tunnel-discovery technology, which has been used along the border over the past year.

The IDF is treating the discovery of this tunnel as an initial step, heralding the new system’s full implementation in a few months. The new system is part of the IDF Southern Command’s “Southern Glow” operational plan, which includes the fortification of border measures against a mass invasion by Palestinian forces, as well as the deployment of early warning trackers which should aid in the discovery of terrorists crossing into Israel. Assuming the planned receives the required budget, “Southern Glow” is expected to be implemented during the next two years, starting with higher-risk areas.

IDF officials expressed their approval of the new technology used in discovering the tunnel, but the security community prefers not to call this a revolutionary moment or compare it to the implementation of the Iron Dome missile defense system. Still, the results of Israel’s investment in this technology over the past few years have led a number of other countries to send representatives to learn how to combat the tunnel threat from Israel.

“We need to make this discovery into a method, with the test coming in the next few months, in which we will try and find more tunnels,” said a senior Southern Command officer. “This is an ability that allows the discovery of very small spaces at depths of 30-40 meters, down to the level of ground water. We are still developing our method of handling this system. What we thought would happen during a certain time period with this system is taking four times longer (than expected).”

The senior officer doesn’t rule out the possibility that Israel’s breakthrough in the anti-tunnel fight could cause an escalation of violence on Israel’s southern border.

“We have defined the mission as being the destruction of all attack tunnels without reaching an escalation, but an escalation will not deter us. Hamas knows we’ve strengthened our defenses and that it will have a hard time surprising us. If we end up in a war over this – then so be it. This is a long, protracted struggle. Hamas is a sophisticated enemy. It learns lessons and implements them fast. Each one of these tunnels that we foil is a loss for it. Hamas will have to contend with the dilemma of whether or not to act if it sees itself losing other attack tunnels.”

The article was published on Ynetnews website ,18 April 2016


Biden: US condemns international failure to denounce Palestinian terror attacks

US Vice President Joe Biden denounced those in the international community and in the Palestinian Authority who have failed to condemn Palestinian terror attacks against Israel.

“Let me say in no uncertain terms the US condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts,” Biden said in Jerusalem on Wednesday at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He spoke just one day after a Palestinian terrorist went on a stabbing spree in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, killing a Vanderbilt graduate student, Taylor Force, 29, and wounding 12 others.

Force was a US veteran who had served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be killed on the Jaffa boardwalk by the Mediterranean sea on Tuesday evening.

The attack occurred  just a short distance away from where Biden was meeting former president Shimon Peres.

Biden noted that his wife and his grandchildren who have joined him on this trip, were having dinner on the beach nearby.

“It just brings home that [terror] can happen anywhere at any time,” Biden said.

When the issue of the attack came up during his meeting with Netanyahu, they had wanted to jointly visit with the other Vanderbilt students who had been with Force, but learned that the group had departed or were departing.

Such violence, he said, “can not be accepted. This can not be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way to behave. It is just not tolerable in the 21st century.

“They are targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, grandfathers [and] American citizens.

“There can be no justification for this violence. The US stands firmly behind Israel’s right to defend itself,” Biden said.

Force is the second US citizen to be killed while visiting Israel since the wave of terror began. In November, Ezra Schwartz, 18, was killed by a Palestinian terrorist who shot at cars that were stuck in traffic at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank.

Netanyahu thanked Biden for his strong support and denounced the PA for failing to condemned his people’s terror attacks against Israelis, including the one in which Force was killed.

“Unfortunately President Abbas has not only refused to condemn these terrorism attacks. His Fatah party actually portrays the murderer of this American citizens as a Palestinian martyr and a hero. This is wrong. This failure to condemn terrorism should be condemned itself by everyone in the international community,” Netanyahu said.

Palestinian society itself persistently incites against the Jewish states and glorifies those who kill its citizens, Netanyahu said.

Civilized societies must stand together to fight terrorism, said Netanyahu who added that his country had not better partner in this battle than the United States.

“I look forward to continuing to work together with you and President Obama to strengthen the remarkable and unbreakable alliance between our two countries,” Netanyahu said.


PA violence is elephant in the room that EU can no longer ignore

Another week and still the indiscriminate stabbing attacks against Israelis continue, another week and still no condemnation from the Palestinian Authority, nor calls on this bloodlust to cease.

Can you imagine the international uproar and the weight of worldwide opinion if Israelis were wandering around randomly stabbing Palestinian Arabs? And can you imagine if the Prime Minister and his Ministers justified it as ‘popular resistance’? It would, quite rightly, result in a deafening cacophony of condemnation.

Yet with one more off-duty sergeant dead, and a civilian and two border guards wounded as a result of stabbing attacks in Sha’ar Binyamin and Jerusalem this week, there is instead deafening silence from the European Union. No attempts to hold the Palestinian Authority and its president Mahmoud Abbas to account. No attempts to impose cuts on their funding as they seek to wash their hands and say “this is simply a reaction to the occupation”. 

Meanwhile Israelis, stoic as always go about their daily lives and respond in the way they do best: with gallows humour.

I was in Jerusalem at the start of the week, the first time since October, and the sense of tension was palpable. People looked over their shoulders, were wary of people who didn’t look Israeli, and they make jokes about who gets to stand in the middle if they are walking in threes, as that’s the best place to be if someone tries to stab you.

Whilst waiting for an Israeli friend to show up at Cinema City in the Government quarter, I found myself leaning against a wall, rather than sitting down so as to get a better view of people passing by. And I felt bad, knowing this is daily life for hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

This has to stop. And the EU needs to massively up its game in getting it to stop. If the Palestinian Authority think it can get away with inciting violence, then cry crocodile tears after acts of terror take place, well, it will.

So far – and now we are now in our fifth month since the wave of stabbing started – the EU has done precious little. A few words of condemnation, but no sanctions, no holding to account, no proper scrutiny, in short nothing of real diplomatic nor political worth.

So, as a result, the Palestinian Authority can continue to act with impunity. Safe in the knowledge that the EU is a toothless tiger. And that means more stabbings. More dead Israelis and Palestinians.

As Director of a Brussels based pro-Israel advocacy group, we are actively working on a political campaign to ensure that there is conditionality when it comes to EU aid.

What do I mean by conditionality? The Palestinian Authority gets Millions of Euros in taxpayers money in aid and support. Money that currently goes to support the cradle to the grave hatred of anything Jewish or Israeli. It currently supports schools named after suicide bombers, it supports the families of incarcerated terrorists, with a sliding scale of money dependent on the atrocity committed. It supports a regime – and I use that word in its proper context – that espouses the politics of the lowest common denominator: rabble rousing and hate mongering as a tactic to avert attention from its own shortcomings, namely endemic corruption and complete impotence in meeting the pressing social and economic needs of the people it professes to ‘represent’ despite the billions in aid money it has received over the years. I put represent in parentheses for good reason, the last and only  elections, as you know, were in 2005.

And Brussels is turning a blind eye for now. Which is hardly surprising given it has its collective blinkers on when it comes to its obsession with settlements. After the labelling debacle of last November, the EU has been trying to mend bridges with the State of Israel.

But it still refuses to tackle the bloody great elephant in the room, resplendent in neon signage that flashes “Palestinian violence and incitement to violence.”

Ask any Israeli what their biggest concern is and the vast majority will answer in one word: security. Yet all of the EU’s diplomatic ammunition is pointed at settlements, thereby alienating one side of your partners for peace, and worse still playing directly into the false Palestinian assertion that “it’s the settlements stupid”.

If the EU is serious about getting the Peace Process back on track, serious about being seen as an honest broker, and serious about rebuilding its relationship with the Israeli government and its people, it needs to remove the blinkers and allow the spotlight to move to EU aid and funding Mahmoud Abbas’ hate churning Palestinian Authority.

It needs to hit the PA where it hurts: In its pockets. Conditionality means that PA funds get cut unless it stops inciting violence.

With 229 attacks to date, 340 hurt, and 32 Israelis murdered since this ‘campaign’ started, it’s essential that this incitement stops.

Turn the screws on PA bank accounts today and I’d bet it will stop tomorrow.

This Op-Ed was written by EIAP executive director, Alex Benjamin and was published at The Times of Israel as well.


Safeguarding the Peace Process Can the EU Be an “Honest Broker”?

After a difficult end to 2015 in the EU-Israel relationship due to the labelling guidelines, EIPA kicked off 2016 with a hugely successful standing room only event in the European Parliament entitled “Safeguarding the Peace Process: can the EU be an honest broker?”

Hosted by European Parliament Vice-President Pascu and Lars Adaktusson MEP, the cross party event heard from distinguished Israeli and EU speakers on the subject of Palestinian incitement, conditioning EU aid on a rejection of Incitement to violence and lastly on the EU’s role in the Peace Process. 


How one phrase divided the EU and Israel

The decision to label settlement goods causes friction within the bloc and strains ties with a staunch ally.

Israel’s U.S. ambassador sent gift boxes for the 2015 holiday season containing wine, olive oil, body cream, and halva — and a defiant note calling out the European Union.

The products came from what the international community considers to be occupied territories, and Ambassador Ron Dermer was determined to make a blunt point about the EU’s recent move to instruct member countries on how to label goods produced in areas outside Israel’s 1967 borders.

“The Jewish state is singled out and held to a different standard than other countries,” Dermer wrote. “Of the over 200 unresolved territorial disputes around the world, Europe decided that only these Jewish-made products deserved to be labeled.”

“In response to this effort to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights,” he added.

Dermer’s reaction reflected the anger that many in Israel felt after the EU announced that the wording such as “product of West Bank (Israeli settlement)” should be displayed on cosmetics and food products, similar to the guidelines already in place inBelgium, the U.K  and Denmark.

An Israeli settler prepares olive oil containers at the Achia Olive press factory in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied West Bank on November 12, 2015. The European Union announced that goods from settlements -- Jewish communities built in areas occupied by force in 1967 -- must be specifically labelled, infuriating Israel. The EU ruling affects products imported from settlements in the occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and Golan Heights, all taken by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

More than one month after the guidelines were issued, the fallout continues. The decision has dogged European officials, caused friction within the European Union and strained the bloc’s ties with Israel.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini faced combined pressure, built up over several years, from the European Parliament and EU countries critical of Israel’s settlement activity to act. But now, as she tries to reassert her role as a trusted broker in the Middle East peace process, the labeling decision has made her task difficult.

“For Mogherini it’s never been the right time,” said Hugh Lovatt, the Israel/Palestine project coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “She ran out of runway and had to issue it before the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on November 16, because member states said ‘we don’t want to have to bring this up again.’”

In the immediate aftermath, Israeli canceled some meetings, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The labeling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories; Europe should be ashamed of itself.”

Then, at the end of November, Israel announced that it was suspending diplomatic contact with EU officials involved in peace efforts with the Palestinians.

“There have been a lot of gesticulations from the Israelis,” said one European diplomat, adding that particular ire had been directed at France, Belgium, Malta, Ireland and Sweden — countries traditionally seen as being more likely to criticize Israel.

But the diplomat said the EU is talking to Israel as before, pointing out that Fernando Gentilini, the EU’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, did not raise the issue on his recent visit to Israel.

The Israeli reaction “is an intimidation technique that the Israelis have tried and tested many times,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “For us, there’s no fundamental questioning of our relationship with Israel.”

Hostage to politics

Mogherini had a model for how not to proceed, in the previous attempt, by her predecessor, Catherine Ashton.

“It was handled badly,” a source close to this year’s deliberations said of the labeling guidelines proposed in 2013. “The Americans never heard about the proposal [before it was issued] and neither did the Israelis.”

Ashton’s push came at a time when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to revitalize the peace process. Israel complained and at Kerry’s request the EU shelved the proposal, which was hardly heard from again during the rest of Ashton’s tenure.

This time around, the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians were informed before the guidelines were released. “The work of quiet diplomacy,” the source said.

Another element of the strategy employed by Mogherini’s team was to attempt to use both political and technical arguments. Unlike the Ashton move, which was handled exclusively through the European External Action Service, this time more prominence was given to the role played by the Commission’s trade directorate.

“The EEAS chose to put communication on this matter in the hands of DG Trade, and say it was purely technical,” an EU official said. “As a way to unload the burden.”

In issuing the guidelines, an EU official argued the Commission was merely responding to member states’ request for “full and efficient implementation of existing legislation when it comes to the [Israeli] settlements.”

“This notice does not create any new legislative rules,” a Commission spokesperson said. “While it reflects the Commission’s understanding of the relevant EU legislation, enforcement remains the primary responsibility of member states.”

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskisreiterated that the labeling instructions were just “a technical issue, not a political stance.”

The problem, according to Lovatt, was that by delaying publication out of fear of stoking tensions in the region, “Ashton and then Mogherini held the labeling guidelines hostage to political considerations — so they’ve lost the legal, technical argument which they’ve had in previous situations.”

He compared the labeling fuss to the way Brussels brought in its rules for financing going to entities located beyond Israel’s 1967 borders.

“There was no attempt to intervene politically to delay the EU’s funding guidlines in July 2013,” Lovatt said. “In that case the EU stuck to its guns without having to sacrifice political capital.”

Instead, on labeling, “it has taken three years and two ministerial letters to write three pages,” one exasperated diplomat pointed out. “We organized the Crimea sanctions against Russia in three weeks! It’s unfortunate, if this had gone ahead three years ago we would have avoided the hysterics.”

This article was written by Vince Chadwick and Maia De La Baume and was published on the Politico website on 04/01/2016


What Israel should do to lay the groundwork for peace

As I write this, there is no currently viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no diplomatic process underway, and no indication of imminent negotiations. Yet, even with no way forward, even with no clear timetable for an end to the conflict — the tragedy that envelops us all — we are duty bound to recognize where and how we can take effective action to improve the prospect that we willbe able to live together, Jews and Arabs, in our region as we are destined rather than doomed to do.YE0632926_l

Israel must take steps to improve the situation independent of the geopolitical territorial debate — steps that every sensible person understands serve simultaneously Israel’s moral and practical interests. Without resolving the question of whether or not Israel today has a Palestinian partner for peace, it is self-evident that the building of the new Palestinian city, Rawabi, is in Israel’s interest. Likewise, it is clear that cultivating channels of communication and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen, educators and cultural figures improves our situation. Is there anyone who does not see the value and importance of the majority of the Jewish population being able to speak Arabic (a plan for which I am pleased to see has been brought before the Knesset)? When it comes to all these possibilities, we should have started yesterday.

Even in Jerusalem, seen by many as the greatest diplomatic challenge to any peace treaty, there is much we can do. It is worth understanding that the Israeli right has long ignored the eastern part of the city for reasons of internal political differences, while the left has equally neglected investing in the need for infrastructure to serve the 300,000 Palestinians of the city as part of an ideology of political separation from the Palestinians. Thus, in debating the future, we have neglected to deal with eastern parts of Jerusalem in the present — and thereby literally abandoned the security of Jewish inhabitants and the welfare of Arab ones. Does anyone think that dealing with the sewage, roads, schools and medical centers of eastern Jerusalem can or should wait until the end of the conflict? Is there anyone who thinks the consequences of these economic disparities in the city will stop at genuine or fictitious political borders? At concrete walls or fences? Or as a result of this or that agreement on sovereignty?

In the heat of our internal controversy over the country’s borders, the character of our neighbors and the nature of the final settlement or its feasibility, we are prone to ignore the necessity of managing relations between people in the present. But it is the here-and-now in which people — including children and young people — actually live. It is the present in which their consciousness is formed and their path in life crystalized.

Confidence, however, cannot be built unilaterally. It is clear that the Palestinians must end the incitement and violence against Israel. They must end the rejection of the very existence of Israel. To Palestinian youths I say: For too many years, blood has been shed like water on this land. No blood is redder than any other. Lives matter. Our lives matter. Your lives matter. I urge Palestinian parents and teachers to foster in their young dreams of life, not aspirations of death. The struggle between our peoples has already seen so much death and bloodshed — more death and bloodshed is not going to solve it.
This Op-Ed was written by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and was published on The Washington Post

Comical Abbas?

Mahmoud Abbas is such a master of stretching the elasticity of the truth, such a perverter of language, that in ordinary circumstances you couldn’t help but admire his downright deluded chutzpah. This week he reminded us here at Europe Israel Public Affairs of Comical Ali, the information minister during the Iraq War, with his lies and deluded pronouncements.

But this is not something that we can laugh at. He is the Leader of Israel’s supposed partner in peace. He is supposed to represent Palestinian interests. In short he is supposed to be a statesman.

Instead, he continues to incite violence and terror, firstly by feeding Palestinian paranoia about Israel’s desire to change the status of the Temple Mount (something that is patently and unequivocally untrue, as Israel has repeatedly stated), secondly by lying about Israel murdering a teenager (said teenager is in fact being treated well in an Israeli hospital despite his attempt to murder in a stabbing attack), thirdly by his downright refusal to accept responsibility for starting the fire of violence and terror, and lastly, and perhaps most sinisterly, his continuing and frankly shameful refusal to condemn the attacks and call on them to end.

People on both sides are dying because of it.

This week we were also treated to another word bending extravaganza worthy of the world finest linguistic contortionist. These acts against innocent Israelis (including the stabbing of a 70 year grandmother at a bus stop) are deemed as “popular resistance”.

Now, when most people think of “popular resistance” they think of a strike, a picket line, a demonstration, or something like social protests. For Mahmoud Abbas scores of teenagers roaming the streets, shops, bus stops, trams, synagogues, restaurants, bars, schools, wherever to stab Jews (any Jew will do) is not attempted or wilful murder. Its not terrorism. Its popular resistance.

A Palestinian man ran into a group of orthodox Jews at a tram stop this week, got out and used a hatchet to hack at the injured. In this distorted Palestinian world, the assailant told his attorney (remember that Israel affords the basic human right to legal representation despite the lack of respect of human right shown by those committing such abhorrent crimes), that this was in fact…wait for it…A car accident. He had clearly learned a trick or two from his master in Ramallah.

What are European Leaders saying about this? They are urging both sides to restrain. Both sides. Is the lunacy of Abbas’s language so contagious that it has spread to the EU Institutions? Has political correctness got so bad and so twisted that the attempted murderer and the 70 year old are treated the same? As if she prompted the attack? Mr Abbas must be laughing to himself at such a false premise.

13 MEPs, all friends or members of EIPAs’ political advisory board, wrote last week to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, urging them to send a strong and unambiguous message to Mahmoud Abbas that incitement to hatred and silence in the face of murder would not be tolerated by the Brussels institutions.

As of today, still nothing. Not even a courteous acknowledgement of the letter by democratically elected parliamentarians from across the political divide and across the continent. Mr Schulz delivered his state of the Union speech to the European Summit yesterday here in Brussels and didn’t even mention events in Jerusalem.

Despite all of this, despite a bewildered, afraid and traumatised Israeli public, may of whom are calling for a tough response, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again, and only yesterday, extended his invitation for peace talks with Mr Abbas, at a place of his choosing and without pre-conditions.

Like him or loathe him. Mr Netanyahu is showing statesmanship and solid political leadership.

One doesn’t expect any reciprocity from the Palestinian leader.

But one certainly does from Brussels. The fact that a strong statement is not forthcoming from the EU’s leadership, that outright murder is couched and downgraded through political language and that the aggressor is treated in equal terms as the victim, is indeed worthy of the late comical Ali.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.58.57 PMExcept nobody in Israel, nor indeed the hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Europe, are laughing.

Instead they feel nauseous. It feels to them like Israeli and Jewish lives don’t matter.

And Europe, right now, is doing nothing to prove that this is not, in fact, the case.

Alex Benjamin is the director of EIPA


EIPA Advisory Board Breakfast Briefing

Today Members of the European Parliament and EIPA’s Advisory Board took part in a special breakfast briefing with H.E. Ambassador of Israel to the European Union, David Walzer on the recent wave of terror attacks on Israeli civilians. The MEPs discussed other pressing issues for the EU-Israel relationship such as the security implications of the ISIS presence in Iraq and Syria and the new dynamics in the region as a whole.