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Westlake Legal Group > Palestinians

Israel Intercepts Four Rockets Launched From Syria

Westlake Legal Group 19israel-rockets-1-facebookJumbo Israel Intercepts Four Rockets Launched From Syria Palestinians Palestinian Islamic Jihad Netanyahu, Benjamin Israel golan heights Defense and Military Forces Damascus International Airport (Syria) Damascus (Syria)

Four rockets were launched from Syria toward the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights at dawn on Tuesday, setting off air-raid sirens but causing no harm, according to the Israeli military.

The military said that the incoming fire was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system and that it appeared no rockets had fallen on the Israeli-controlled side of the line.

It was not immediately clear if the rocket fire from Syria was meant as a surprise attack or came in response to Israeli activity across its northern frontier. Around the same time as the rocket launches, Sana, the official Syrian news agency, reported that explosions were heard in the vicinity of the Damascus airport.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no comment on the report from Syria.

After decades of quiet, there have been occasional exchanges of fire across the old Israeli-Syrian armistice line as Israel has worked, mostly clandestinely, to curb Iran’s growing influence in Syria, largely under cover of the chaos of Syria’s civil war.

Abandoning years of ambiguity over Israeli involvement in specific attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged early this year that Israeli forces had attacked Iranian weapons warehouses at Damascus International Airport.

Israel’s shadow war against Iran became even more public this summer when it carried out a series of strikes in the region, including one that killed two Iranian-trained militants in Syria who Israel said were preparing to dispatch armed drones to attack it.

The latest tensions in the north came days after a flare-up across Israel’s border with Gaza to the south. Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, and Israeli warplanes struck targets in Gaza, in a two-day clash set off by Israel’s killing of a senior Islamic Jihad commander there in a surprise airstrike.

The Syrian authorities and Islamic Jihad also blamed Israel for another, almost simultaneous, missile attack on the Damascus home of Akram al-Ajouri, describing him as a member of the group’s political bureau in Syria. Mr. al-Ajouri survived the attack, but his son and another person were reported killed in the strike. Maintaining its more customary silence in an effort to avoid retaliation, Israel neither claimed nor denied responsibility for that attack.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Israel Intercepts Four Rockets Launched From Syria

Westlake Legal Group 19israel-rockets-1-facebookJumbo Israel Intercepts Four Rockets Launched From Syria Palestinians Palestinian Islamic Jihad Netanyahu, Benjamin Israel golan heights Defense and Military Forces Damascus International Airport (Syria) Damascus (Syria)

Four rockets were launched from Syria toward the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights at dawn on Tuesday, setting off air-raid sirens but causing no harm, according to the Israeli military.

The military said that the incoming fire was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system and that it appeared no rockets had fallen on the Israeli-controlled side of the line.

It was not immediately clear if the rocket fire from Syria was meant as a surprise attack or came in response to Israeli activity across its northern frontier. Around the same time as the rocket launches, Sana, the official Syrian news agency, reported that explosions were heard in the vicinity of the Damascus airport.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no comment on the report from Syria.

After decades of quiet, there have been occasional exchanges of fire across the old Israeli-Syrian armistice line as Israel has worked, mostly clandestinely, to curb Iran’s growing influence in Syria, largely under cover of the chaos of Syria’s civil war.

Abandoning years of ambiguity over Israeli involvement in specific attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged early this year that Israeli forces had attacked Iranian weapons warehouses at Damascus International Airport.

Israel’s shadow war against Iran became even more public this summer when it carried out a series of strikes in the region, including one that killed two Iranian-trained militants in Syria who Israel said were preparing to dispatch armed drones to attack it.

The latest tensions in the north came days after a flare-up across Israel’s border with Gaza to the south. Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, and Israeli warplanes struck targets in Gaza, in a two-day clash set off by Israel’s killing of a senior Islamic Jihad commander there in a surprise airstrike.

The Syrian authorities and Islamic Jihad also blamed Israel for another, almost simultaneous, missile attack on the Damascus home of Akram al-Ajouri, describing him as a member of the group’s political bureau in Syria. Mr. al-Ajouri survived the attack, but his son and another person were reported killed in the strike. Maintaining its more customary silence in an effort to avoid retaliation, Israel neither claimed nor denied responsibility for that attack.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Are West Bank Settlements Illegal? Who Decides?

Westlake Legal Group 18settlements-explainer-facebookJumbo Are West Bank Settlements Illegal? Who Decides? West Bank United States International Relations Politics and Government Palestinians Palestine Liberation Organization Netanyahu, Benjamin Israeli Settlements Israel International Criminal Court International Court of Justice (UN) General Assembly (UN) Defense and Military Forces

The Trump administration’s declaration Monday that Israeli settlements on the West Bank are “not inconsistent with international law” reversed American policy on the settlements and contradicted the view of most countries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel applauded the announcement as a “policy that rights a historical wrong,” while Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said it was an attempt by the Trump administration “to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

Who is right? What does international law say? What difference does the United States announcement make?

Here’s a brief guide.

The United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice have all said that Israeli settlements on the West Bank violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war and has occupied the territory ever since. The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by 192 nations in the aftermath of World War II, says that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The statute that established the International Criminal Court in 1998 classifies such transfers as war crimes, as well as any destruction or appropriation of property not justified by military necessity.

Israel argues that a Jewish presence has existed on the West Bank for thousands of years and was recognized by the League of Nations in 1922. Jordan’s rule over the territory, from 1948 to 1967, was never recognized by most of the world, so Israel also argues there was no legal sovereign power in the area and therefore the prohibition on transferring people from one state to the occupied territory of another does not apply.

The International Court of Justice rejected that argument in an advisory opinion in 2004, ruling that the settlements violated international law.

The Israeli Supreme Court and the government do consider settlement construction on privately owned Palestinian land to be illegal.

Under the Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s, both sides agreed that the status of Israeli settlements would be resolved by negotiation. However, negotiations have stalled and there have been no active peace talks since 2014.

Israel has built about 130 formal settlements in the West Bank since 1967. A similar number of smaller, informal settlement outposts have gone up since the 1990s, without government authorization but usually with some government support.

More than 400,000 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank alongside more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

Some of the settlements are home to religious Zionists who believe that the West Bank, which Israel refers to by its biblical names of Judea and Samaria, is their biblical birthright. Many secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews also moved there largely for cheaper housing.

Some settlements were strategically located in line with Israel’s security interests. Other, more isolated communities were established for ideological reasons, including an effort to prevent a contiguous Palestinian state.

Israel also captured East Jerusalem in 1967, and annexed it. The Palestinians demand East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and much of the world still considers it occupied territory.

Most of the world views the expansion of Israeli settlements as an impediment to a peace agreement. While most blueprints for a peace agreement envisage a land swap — Israel retains the main settlement blocs, where a majority of the settlers live, and hands over other territory to the Palestinians — the more remote and populated the settlements, the harder that becomes.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is currently fighting to remain prime minister after two inconclusive elections, has promised to annex the settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, constituting up to a third of the West Bank.

In June, the American ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, said that Israel had a right to retain at least some of the West Bank.

The Trump administration’s declaration may be seen by supporters of the settlement enterprise as giving a green light to Israeli annexation plans. But Israeli experts cautioned that might not be the case.

“It’s one thing saying the settlements are not in violation of international law and another to say whether they are good for peace or not,” said Michael Herzog, an Israel-based fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The Trump administration neither rejected nor endorsed Mr. Netanyahu’s annexation proposal, he said, and it remains “an open question” how it would react if Israel unilaterally annexed West Bank territory.

He and others said that while the policy change could affect the public perception of the settlements, the legal question would have little bearing on a comprehensive peace deal, which is ultimately a political act.

“The settlements are an agreed upon issue for negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “It’s an issue that has yet to be negotiated.”

But in the absence of negotiations, the American policy could be used to justify even more settlement construction.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Are West Bank Settlements Illegal? Who Decides?

Westlake Legal Group 18settlements-explainer-facebookJumbo Are West Bank Settlements Illegal? Who Decides? West Bank United States International Relations Politics and Government Palestinians Palestine Liberation Organization Netanyahu, Benjamin Israeli Settlements Israel International Criminal Court International Court of Justice (UN) General Assembly (UN) Defense and Military Forces

The Trump administration’s declaration Monday that Israeli settlements on the West Bank are “not inconsistent with international law” reversed American policy on the settlements and contradicted the view of most countries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel applauded the announcement as a “policy that rights a historical wrong,” while Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said it was an attempt by the Trump administration “to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

Who is right? What does international law say? What difference does the United States announcement make?

Here’s a brief guide.

The United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice have all said that Israeli settlements on the West Bank violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war and has occupied the territory ever since. The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by 192 nations in the aftermath of World War II, says that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The statute that established the International Criminal Court in 1998 classifies such transfers as war crimes, as well as any destruction or appropriation of property not justified by military necessity.

Israel argues that a Jewish presence has existed on the West Bank for thousands of years and was recognized by the League of Nations in 1922. Jordan’s rule over the territory, from 1948 to 1967, was never recognized by most of the world, so Israel also argues there was no legal sovereign power in the area and therefore the prohibition on transferring people from one state to the occupied territory of another does not apply.

The International Court of Justice rejected that argument in an advisory opinion in 2004, ruling that the settlements violated international law.

The Israeli Supreme Court and the government do consider settlement construction on privately owned Palestinian land to be illegal.

Under the Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s, both sides agreed that the status of Israeli settlements would be resolved by negotiation. However, negotiations have stalled and there have been no active peace talks since 2014.

Israel has built about 130 formal settlements in the West Bank since 1967. A similar number of smaller, informal settlement outposts have gone up since the 1990s, without government authorization but usually with some government support.

More than 400,000 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank alongside more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

Some of the settlements are home to religious Zionists who believe that the West Bank, which Israel refers to by its biblical names of Judea and Samaria, is their biblical birthright. Many secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews also moved there largely for cheaper housing.

Some settlements were strategically located in line with Israel’s security interests. Other, more isolated communities were established for ideological reasons, including an effort to prevent a contiguous Palestinian state.

Israel also captured East Jerusalem in 1967, and annexed it. The Palestinians demand East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and much of the world still considers it occupied territory.

Most of the world views the expansion of Israeli settlements as an impediment to a peace agreement. While most blueprints for a peace agreement envisage a land swap — Israel retains the main settlement blocs, where a majority of the settlers live, and hands over other territory to the Palestinians — the more remote and populated the settlements, the harder that becomes.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is currently fighting to remain prime minister after two inconclusive elections, has promised to annex the settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, constituting up to a third of the West Bank.

In June, the American ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, said that Israel had a right to retain at least some of the West Bank.

The Trump administration’s declaration may be seen by supporters of the settlement enterprise as giving a green light to Israeli annexation plans. But Israeli experts cautioned that might not be the case.

“It’s one thing saying the settlements are not in violation of international law and another to say whether they are good for peace or not,” said Michael Herzog, an Israel-based fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The Trump administration neither rejected nor endorsed Mr. Netanyahu’s annexation proposal, he said, and it remains “an open question” how it would react if Israel unilaterally annexed West Bank territory.

He and others said that while the policy change could affect the public perception of the settlements, the legal question would have little bearing on a comprehensive peace deal, which is ultimately a political act.

“The settlements are an agreed upon issue for negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “It’s an issue that has yet to be negotiated.”

But in the absence of negotiations, the American policy could be used to justify even more settlement construction.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration declared on Monday that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law, reversing four decades of American policy and removing what has been an important barrier to annexation of Palestinian territory.

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the latest political gift from the Trump administration to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed in two elections this year to push for the annexation of the West Bank. His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, has until Wednesday night to gather a majority in Israel’s Parliament or he will relinquish his chance to form a new government, raising the prospect of a third round of elections.

The United States has in the past described the settlements as illegitimate, and Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state, a goal that has been backed by the United Nations, European governments and American allies across the Middle East.

But President Trump has been persistent in changing United States policy on Israel and the Palestinian territories — moves aimed at bolstering political support for Mr. Netanyahu, who has failed to form a government after two rounds of elections with razor-thin outcomes.

Mr. Pompeo said the new decision — reversing a 1978 legal opinion by the State Department — was not inconsistent with international law. As it stands, he said, the earlier settlements ruling “hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.”

“We’ve recognized the reality on the ground,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

The settlements have been a main sticking point in peace negotiations that have failed to find a solution for generations. The settlements are home to Israelis in territory that Palestinians have fought to control, and their presence makes negotiations for a two-state solution all the more difficult.

Mr. Netanyahu praised the decision and said it reflected “historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria,” a term for the West Bank. He said Israeli courts were better suited to decide the legality of the settlements, “not biased international forums that pay no attention to history or facts.”

Mr. Gantz, a former army chief and centrist candidate who has the support of the Israeli left and some Arab lawmakers, politely welcomed the announcement but said that the fate of West Bank settlements “should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote peace.”

Palestinian officials, by now used to unwelcome policy shifts from Mr. Trump, nonetheless summoned new outrage.

“We cannot express horror and shock because this is a pattern, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestine Liberation Organization official. “It sends a clear signal that they have total disregard for international law, for what is right and just, and for the requirements of peace.”

And Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the Trump administration’s decision was the latest of “unceasing attempts to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

In Washington, Mr. Pompeo said the decision would provide greater space for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate over the status of the settlements. He said that the issue could be largely left to Israeli courts to decide, and that it had no bearing on legal conclusions regarding similar situations elsewhere in the world.

Instead, Mr. Pompeo said, the issue must be solved by the Israelis and the Palestinians. “And arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” he said.

The new policy was first reported by The Associated Press.

The timing of Mr. Pompeo’s announcement is almost certain to bolster Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes should Israel be headed to a third round of elections this year.

If Mr. Gantz fails to form a government by midnight Wednesday, the Israeli Parliament has 21 days to come up with a candidate who can command a majority of 61 of the 120 seats. And if that effort falls short, Israel will call a new election.

Before the first vote, in April, Mr. Trump officially recognized the contested Golan Heights as Israeli territory. It then was widely expected that the Trump administration would soften its stance on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank before the second round of elections, which were held in September.

And earlier, in December 2017, Mr. Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the United States Embassy to move there from Tel Aviv, a symbolic decision that outraged Palestinians who also claim territory in the city.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160562358_f4c1174a-9541-4861-a2c5-c7e320f68618-articleLarge In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law West Bank United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J State Department Palestinians Israeli Settlements Israel

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, at the White House in September.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A prime mover in the policy change was David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, who has pushed each of the Trump administration’s major policy gifts to Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Friedman signaled a shift in United States policy toward settlements in occupied Palestinian territory in June, in an interview with The New York Times. He said that Israel had the right to annex some, but “unlikely all,” of the West Bank.

Oded Revivi, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, an umbrella group of West Bank settlements, said that Mr. Friedman confided to him recently that he had been pressing within the Trump administration for the policy change on the Hansell Memorandum for months.

Mr. Revivi said he believed the timing of the announcement — which Mr. Friedman tipped him to two weeks ago — sought to both help Mr. Netanyahu remain in power and also bolster Mr. Trump among evangelical and Jewish voters in the United States who support the current right-wing government in Israel. He also said it served as a reminder to right-wing Israelis to reap whatever more windfalls the Trump administration might supply.

“It’s an indication to the Israeli public, look where you can go with this president — you’re wasting time,” said Mr. Revivi, the mayor of Efrat, a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

He said the policy shift was a move toward endorsing annexation and also served as a clear indication to the Palestinians who have resisted reopening negotiations with the Trump administration. “You’re not willing to hear a compromise; the train has left and you’ll be left with nothing at the end of the day,” he said.

Opponents of annexation, however, warn that it puts Israel’s status as a Jewish democracy at risk in two ways: If the West Bank’s Palestinians are made Israeli citizens, the country’s Arabs could quickly outnumber its Jews. If they are not given full citizenship rights, Israel would become an apartheid state.

“We are strong enough to deter and defeat our enemies,” said Nimrod Novik, a former aide to Shimon Peres and longtime supporter of a two-state solution. He added, referring to Israel’s air-defense system: “What we don’t have is an Iron Dome system to defend us from friends who threaten to end the Zionist vision.”

A secretive Trump administration plan to revive peace negotiations has been delayed repeatedly, but it is widely believed to bolster Mr. Netanyahu and fail to break a stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians. Few details have been released beyond a call for major new economic development in Palestinian areas.

The Trump administration’s peace effort is run by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, to deliver what the president has described as the “ultimate deal.”

Ilan Goldenberg, who worked on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the State Department during the Obama administration, said Monday’s decision undercut the United States’ ability to credibly mediate the stalled peace process.

“The notion this somehow advances peace, as Secretary Pompeo claims, is laughable,” said Mr. Goldenberg, who is now director of Middle East security at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

Lara Jakes reported from Washington, and David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem. Edward Wong contributed reporting from Washington, and Isabel Kershner from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration declared on Monday that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law, reversing four decades of American policy and removing what has been an important barrier to annexation of Palestinian territory.

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the latest political gift from the Trump administration to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed in two elections this year to push for the annexation of the West Bank. His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, has until Wednesday night to gather a majority in Israel’s Parliament or he will relinquish his chance to form a new government, raising the prospect of a third round of elections.

The United States has in the past described the settlements as illegitimate, and Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state, a goal that has been backed by the United Nations.

But President Trump has been persistent in changing United States policy on Israel and the Palestinian territories — moves aimed at bolstering political support for Mr. Netanyahu, who has failed to form a government after two rounds of elections with razor-thin outcomes.

Mr. Pompeo said the new decision — as outlined in a 1978 legal opinion by the State Department — was not inconsistent with international law. As it stands, he said, the earlier settlements ruling “hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.”

“We’ve recognized the reality on the ground,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

The settlements have been a main sticking point in peace negotiations that have failed to find a solution for generations. The settlements are home to Israelis in territory that Palestinians have fought to control, and their presence makes negotiations for a two-state solution all the more difficult.

Mr. Netanyahu praised the decision and said it reflected “historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria,” a term for the West Bank. He said Israeli courts were better suited to decide the legality of the settlements, “not biased international forums that pay no attention to history or facts.”

Mr. Gantz, a former army chief and centrist candidate who has the support of the Israeli left and some Arab lawmakers, politely welcomed the announcement but said that the fate of West Bank settlements “should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote peace.”

Palestinian officials, by now used to unwelcome policy shifts from Mr. Trump, nonetheless summoned new outrage.

“We cannot express horror and shock because this is a pattern, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestine Liberation Organization official. “It sends a clear signal that they have total disregard for international law, for what is right and just, and for the requirements of peace.”

And Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the Trump administration’s decision was the latest of “unceasing attempts to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

In Washington, Mr. Pompeo said the decision would provide greater space for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate over the status of the settlements. He said that the issue could be largely left to Israeli courts to decide, and that it had no bearing on legal conclusions regarding similar situations elsewhere in the world.

Instead, Mr. Pompeo said, the issue must be solved by the Israelis and the Palestinians. “And arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” he said.

The new policy was first reported by The Associated Press.

The timing of Mr. Pompeo’s announcement is almost certain to bolster Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes should Israel be headed to a third round of elections this year.

If Mr. Gantz fails to form a government by midnight Wednesday, the Israeli Parliament has 21 days to come up with a candidate who can command a majority of 61 of the 120 seats. And if that effort falls short, Israel will call a new election.

Before the first vote, in April, Mr. Trump officially recognized the contested Golan Heights as Israeli territory. It then was widely expected that the Trump administration would soften its stance on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank before the second round of elections, which were held in September.

And earlier, in December 2017, Mr. Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the United States Embassy to move there from Tel Aviv, a symbolic decision that outraged Palestinians who also claim territory in the city.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160562358_f4c1174a-9541-4861-a2c5-c7e320f68618-articleLarge In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law West Bank United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J State Department Palestinians Israeli Settlements Israel

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, at the White House in September.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A prime mover in the policy change was David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, who has pushed each of the Trump administration’s major policy gifts to Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Friedman signaled a shift in United States policy toward settlements in occupied Palestinian territory in June, in an interview with The New York Times. He said that Israel had the right to annex some, but “unlikely all,” of the West Bank.

Oded Revivi, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, an umbrella group of West Bank settlements, said that Mr. Friedman confided to him recently that he had been pressing within the Trump administration for the policy change on the Hansell Memorandum for months.

Mr. Revivi said he believed the timing of the announcement — which Mr. Friedman tipped him to two weeks ago — sought to both help Mr. Netanyahu remain in power and also bolster Mr. Trump among evangelical and Jewish voters in the United States who support the current right-wing government in Israel. He also said it served as a reminder to right-wing Israelis to reap whatever more windfalls the Trump administration might supply.

“It’s an indication to the Israeli public, look where you can go with this president — you’re wasting time,” said Mr. Revivi, the mayor of Efrat, a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

He said the policy shift was a move toward endorsing annexation and also served as a clear indication to the Palestinians who have resisted reopening negotiations with the Trump administration. “You’re not willing to hear a compromise; the train has left and you’ll be left with nothing at the end of the day,” he said.

Opponents of annexation, however, warn that it puts Israel’s status as a Jewish democracy at risk in two ways: If the West Bank’s Palestinians are made Israeli citizens, the country’s Arabs could quickly outnumber its Jews. If they are not given full citizenship rights, Israel would become an apartheid state.

“We are strong enough to deter and defeat our enemies,” said Nimrod Novik, a former aide to Shimon Peres and longtime supporter of a two-state solution. He added, referring to Israel’s air-defense system: “What we don’t have is an Iron Dome system to defend us from friends who threaten to end the Zionist vision.”

A secretive Trump administration plan to revive peace negotiations has been delayed repeatedly, but it is widely believed to bolster Mr. Netanyahu and fail to break a stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians. Few details have been released beyond a call for major new economic development in Palestinian areas.

The Trump administration’s peace effort is run by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, to deliver what the president has described as the “ultimate deal.”

Ilan Goldenberg, who worked on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the State Department during the Obama administration, said Monday’s decision undercut the United States’ ability to credibly mediate the stalled peace process.

“The notion this somehow advances peace as Secretary Pompeo’s claims is laughable,” said Mr. Goldenberg, who is now director of Middle East security at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

Lara Jakes reported from Washington, and David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem. Edward Wong contributed reporting from Washington, and Isabel Kershner from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Israel’s West Bank Settlements Do Not Violate International Law, U.S. Says

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-diplo-facebookJumbo Israel’s West Bank Settlements Do Not Violate International Law, U.S. Says West Bank United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J State Department Palestinians Israeli Settlements Israel

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration declared on Monday that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. The policy shift may doom any peace efforts with Palestinians.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move on Monday afternoon. The decision was first reported by The Associated Press.

The United States has in the past described the settlements as illegitimate, and Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state, a goal that has been backed by the international community.

But President Trump has been persistent in changing United States policy on Israel and the Palestinian territories — moves aimed at boosting political support for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who has failed to form a government after two rounds of elections with razor-close outcomes.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Elizabeth Warren Threatens Israel With a Quid Pro Quo

Westlake Legal Group ElizabethWarrenAPimage-620x317 Elizabeth Warren Threatens Israel With a Quid Pro Quo Ukraine threat terrorists quid pro quo Politics Palestinians negotiate Mick Mulvaney Israel impeachment Front Page Stories Front Page Foreign Aid Featured Story Elizabeth Warren donald trump democrats Allow Media Exception 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks about her two-cent tax plan during a campaign event, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in Hampton Falls, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Oddly enough, the media aren’t describing Warren’s threat as a quid pro quo even though it clearly is. Weird, right?

The presumptive (but not necessarily actual) frontrunner of the Democratic party primary went on record yesterday announcing that she’ll withhold aid from Israel unless they do what she wants, which is negotiate and make concessions with terrorists.

Lest we pretend this isn’t to Warren’s political benefit, this is a major, major issue on the left and there’s no logical reason to punish Israel outside of quelling her base. Sticking it to the Jewish state and delivering the goods to the terrorist supporting Palestinian Authority is like crack for liberals.

Andy McCarthy notices the hypocrisy here.

Of course it’s extortion, or more aptly a quid pro quo. She’s quite literally saying that unless Israel does what she wants, she’ll cut off vital military aid (we stopped giving economic aid a while ago). And this is a far more relevant and damaging quid pro quo to U.S. interests than anything to do with Ukraine.

Now, some might say “well, that’s different!” How? How is different than Mulvaney saying we weren’t going to give Ukraine money unless they investigated corruption dealing with 2016? Because I’m pretty sure the media lost their minds and published half a million “Mulvaney Admits to Quid Pro Quo” headlines in response.

The answer is that it is not different. All foreign policy is a quid pro quo. All aid comes with strings attached. The only question involving Ukraine was whether Trump did something that could provably be shown to only be political. Mulvaney clearly said that situation had nothing to do with Biden and only legitimate concerns about corruption, something Joe Biden himself threatened Ukraine over, yet the media still called it an evil “quid pro quo” and feigned outrage.

Even on the legal aspects, this is hypocritical. If Congress appropriates the money for a certain country to receive aid, the President either has power to hold it up or not. With Trump, we are assured it’s impeachable and illegal for him to do so. So why are the media not pointing out what Warren is saying would be impeachable and illegal as well?

What you see here is a prime example of how the left uses language to push their narratives. When Mulvaney points out that all foreign policy has conditions, it’s a quid pro quo and super bad. When Elizabeth Warren threatens to extort one of our closet allies by withholding aid, it’s just her being tough.

Also, note that Warren whined and complained when the Trump administration cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority for not negotiating in good faith, yet she wants to punish Israel. That’s some mighty fine anti-Semitism on display because there’s no other logical reason for her flip-flop on the issue.

In closing, our mainstream media are partisan hypocrites and Elizabeth Warren shows that she toes the typical Israel hating line of her party. We also call that Tuesday.

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Arab Parties Back Benny Gantz as Israeli Leader, to End Netanyahu’s Grip

Westlake Legal Group 22israel-facebookJumbo Arab Parties Back Benny Gantz as Israeli Leader, to End Netanyahu’s Grip Politics and Government Palestinians Odeh, Ayman (1975- ) Netanyahu, Benjamin Likud Party (Israel) Joint List (Israel) Israel Gantz, Benny Blue and White (Israeli Political Party) Appointments and Executive Changes

JERUSALEM — After 27 years of sitting out decisions on who should lead Israel, Arab lawmakers on Sunday recommended that Benny Gantz, the centrist former army chief, be given the first chance to form a government over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a watershed assertion of political power.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List, wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed published on Sunday that the alliance’s 13 incoming lawmakers — the third-largest faction in the newly elected Parliament — had decided to recommend Mr. Gantz because it would “create the majority needed to prevent another term for Mr. Netanyahu.”

“It should be the end of his political career,” Mr. Odeh wrote.

The Arab lawmakers’ recommendation, which Mr. Odeh and other members of the Joint List delivered to President Reuven Rivlin in a face-to-face meeting Sunday evening, reflected Arab citizens’ impatience to integrate more fully into Israeli society and to have their concerns be given greater weight by Israeli lawmakers.

“There is no doubt a historic aspect to what we are doing now,” Mr. Odeh said in the meeting with the president, which was broadcast live.

It was also a striking act of comeuppance for Mr. Netanyahu, who for years had rallied his right-wing supporters by inflaming anti-Arab sentiments. Before the Sept. 17 election, he accused Arab politicians of trying to steal the election and at one point accused them of wanting to “destroy us all.”

Israeli Arabs “have chosen to reject Benjamin Netanyahu, his politics of fear and hate, and the inequality and division he advanced for the past decade,” Mr. Odeh wrote in the Op-Ed for The Times.

Still, Mr. Odeh wrote that the Joint List would not enter a government led by Mr. Gantz because he had not agreed to embrace its entire “equality agenda” — fighting violent crime in Arab cities, changing housing and planning laws to treat Arab and Jewish neighborhoods the same, improving Arabs’ access to hospitals, increasing pensions, preventing violence against women, incorporating Arab villages that lack water and electricity, resuming peace talks with the Palestinians and repealing the law passed last year that declared Israel the nation-state only of the Jewish people.

The last time Arab lawmakers recommended a prime minister was in 1992, when two Arab parties with a total of five seats in Parliament recommended Yitzhak Rabin, though they did not join his government.

“We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens can no longer be rejected or ignored,” Mr. Odeh wrote.

In the 1992 election, Mr. Rabin initially held a narrow majority in the 120-seat Knesset even without the Arab parties’ support, though he came to rely on it a year later after Shas, an ultra-Orthodox party, quit the government when Mr. Rabin signed the Oslo peace accords.

Mr. Odeh wrote that the decision to support Mr. Gantz was meant as “a clear message that the only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Palestinian citizens.”

Mr. Gantz narrowly edged the prime minister in the national election last Tuesday. Afterward, both candidates called for unity, but differed on how to achieve it.

The former army chief appears to lack a 61-seat majority even with the Joint List’s support. He emerged from the election with 57 seats, including those of allies on the left and the Joint List, compared with 55 seats for Mr. Netanyahu and his right-wing allies.

Avigdor Liberman, leader of the secular, right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won eight seats, is in the position to be a kingmaker, but said on Sunday that he would not recommend any candidate. He said that Mr. Odeh and the Joint List were not merely political opponents, but “the enemies” and belonged in the “Parliament in Ramallah,” not in the Knesset.

Mr. Rivlin began hearing the recommendations of each major party Sunday evening and was to finish on Monday, before entrusting the task of forming a government to whichever candidate he believes has the best chance of being successful.

In remarks at the start of that process, Mr. Rivlin said the Israeli public wanted a unity government including both Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White party and Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud.

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Israeli Election Hinges on a Mosaic of Competing Groups

Israeli politics can be tribal, with loyalties to ethnic groups, religious factions and ideologies as strong a factor in voting as views on particular issues. Here’s a guide in words and pictures.

By

Photographs by

Sept. 17, 2019


JERUSALEM — Tuesday’s do-over election in Israel may not, by itself, decide who will be the next prime minister. That could take weeks of arduous coalition negotiations.

But the vote will almost certainly provide fresh evidence that the United States has nothing on this country when it comes to identity politics.

The April election was the first I’d covered as a foreign correspondent in Israel, and it shocked me that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly expressed desperation in the campaign’s final days and hours. At 11:25 p.m. on the night before votes were cast, he even had his American pollster join him on camera to declare, gravely, “Right now, we’re losing the race.”

In the United States, political candidates are programmed never to let the voters see them sweat, no matter how abysmal the poll numbers. In Israel, Mr. Netanyahu has perfected the art of setting his hair on fire and dialing 911 to get his voters to put out the flames.

There’s a reason this works so well for him. Israeli politics in many ways is tribal, and when a member of your tribe sounds the alarm, your instinct is to run to their aid.

Unlike the biblical tribes of Israel, these groups do not spring so much from bloodlines, but from loyalties to ethnic groups, religious brethren or ideology, and they erupt into plain view during election seasons.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160539459_ac35fea8-8400-44b0-a984-0a5352c20b29-articleLarge Israeli Election Hinges on a Mosaic of Competing Groups Zionism Voting and Voters Race and Ethnicity Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Legislatures and Parliaments Jews and Judaism Israel elections

An Israeli settler schoolgirl in the West Bank town of Hebron.

A rooftop bar in Tel Aviv, a bastion of secular liberalism.

President Reuven Rivlin took a stab at defining Israel’s tribes in a landmark speech in 2015, noting that secular Zionist Jews, once a majority, had dwindled to a large minority, as three other groups had grown: the ultra-Orthodox, the national-religious and Arab citizens.

“Israeli politics to a great extent is built as an intertribal zero-sum game,” he warned, urging all four groups to figure out a way to work in partnership. (They haven’t.)

A new book by Camil Fuchs and Shmuel Rosner, “#IsraeliJudaism,” categorizes the Jewish population along two axes: how strictly they follow religious tradition, or how Jewish they are; and how much they embrace Israel’s nationalist symbols and rites, or how Israeli they are. A majority, they find, strongly identifies with both, but many ultra-Orthodox reject nationalism and many secular Israelis reject Jewish religious practice.

What has made Mr. Netanyahu so formidable a force over the years is his melding of nationalists and the religious into a single, right-wing political bloc.

But Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the influential Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, identifies no fewer than 17 tribes in present-day Israel, breaking down the ultra-Orthodox according to their attitudes toward Zionism and modernity, so-called traditional Jews according to how much they adhere to Jewish ritual, and Arabs according to religion and whether they take pride in being citizens of Israel, among other cohorts.

“That’s why coalition government is so important,” Rabbi Hartman said. “Because when you have all of this, each group sees itself as a persecuted minority.”

Israel’s Do-Over Election: Déjà Vu or a Chance for Change?

Sept. 16, 2019

Just as President Trump relies on support from white, working-class Americans, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party draws much of its political strength from working-class Israelis, many of them Jews living in the so-called development towns on Israel’s periphery, where immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa were resettled beginning in the 1950s. These Mizrahi, or eastern, and Sephardic Jews, who account for around half the Jewish population of Israel, have long harbored resentments toward the European-descended, Ashkenazi liberal elite, who discriminated against them while governing Israel from its founding until the 1970s, when Likud first came to power.

Likud is not the only party that caters to Mizrahim: Shas, the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party, also attracts some of the many Mizrahi Jews who are “traditional” in their religious practice — a broad range of people who may not attend synagogue regularly but are perfectly at home there when they do, Rabbi Hartman said. And Labor’s Moroccan-born leader merged the party with one led by the daughter of a Moroccan-born former Likud leader, but its politics remain anathema to most Mizrahi voters.

Mizrahi, or eastern, Jews at the Tomb of Baba Sali in Netivot, Israel.
A Mizrahi child receives the ritual first haircut at the tomb of Baba Sali.
A weekend market in the largely Mizrahi city of Sderot.

To tourists who enjoy Tel Aviv’s beaches and nightclubs and never venture farther afield, Israel can seem a bastion of ultraliberalism that is difficult to reconcile with the country’s right-wing national politics.

And to Tel Aviv’s largely secular population, the election is a battle to stop Mr. Netanyahu from undermining Israeli democracy for the sake of retaining power and from allowing the ultrareligious, through their influence on government agencies, to try to brainwash their children into becoming observant Jews. Secular Israelis have been sounding the alarm to preserve an open-minded, live-and-let-live Israel before it is too late.

A major problem for secular Israelis, who are no longer the political force they once were, is that their votes are being split among too many parties. For the first time, what remains of the storied Labor Party may not clear the threshold to be seated in Parliament. The fledgling left-wing Democratic Union is in similar shape. Both have been threatened by Blue and White, the centrist party that is vying to topple Mr. Netanyahu but is vacuuming up the votes of many on the left.

To tourists who never venture past  Tel Aviv’s beaches and nightclubs, it can be difficult to reconcile the city’s liberalism with the country’s right-wing national politics. 
Israelis wait to meet political candidates at a bar in Tel Aviv.
People enjoy a sunset on the beach in Tel Aviv.

The most outwardly recognizable tribe because of their traditional black-and-white attire, the ultra-Orthodox, also known as Haredi Jews, vote en masse, generally heeding the instructions of their rabbis — which means that Sephardic ultra-Orthodox back Shas and the Ashkenazi support United Torah Judaism.

Their ability to turn out the vote is the envy of other tribes: Bnei Brak, a Haredi city, reported a stunning 77 percent turnout in the April election. And it is the source of their political power, which among other things has given them exemptions from military service, financial subsidies and rabbinical control of marriage, divorce and religious conversions.

In a small country, having a party that represents the ultra-Orthodox means being able to seek help from someone in power who shares a similar worldview, said Binyamin Rose, a U.T.J. voter who is editor at large of Mishpacha Magazine. “If I need something, who am I going to go to?” he said. “If I go to Likud, they’ll take one look at me and say, ‘Why should we help you?’”

A growing number of ultra-Orthodox are stepping out of their insular, yeshiva-centered communities, serving in the army or taking jobs at technology companies, and engaging with broader society. But the current battle between secular politicians and the religious is driving many back to the fold.

“We’re closing ranks,” Mr. Rose said. “They say, ‘This is who represents me.’

Ultra-Orthodox Jews at a rally for the United Torah Judaism party. 
Ultra-Orthodox Jews rally in Jerusalem for United Torah Judaism, the main party for Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews.
The ulta-Orthodox, or Haredim, tend to vote as blocs, generally heeding the instructions of their rabbis.

Perhaps the most interesting tribal warfare of this campaign has been for the votes of religious Zionists, about 12 percent of the Jewish population. These Sabbath-observant Israelis encompass a broad range of views, but most tilt to the right, and include the ideological foot soldiers of the settlement enterprise.

By promising last week to annex a large portion of the West Bank, Mr. Netanyahu was making a play for these voters, whose natural home is the Yamina, or rightward, party. Yamina argues that it needs a large contingent in Parliament to force Mr. Netanyahu to keep his promises.

But Yamina is also having to protect its own right flank from an even more extreme faction, Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power — an overtly anti-Arab party whose leaders call themselves disciples of Meir Kahane, the Brooklyn-born militant who was assassinated in 1990 and whose Kach party was outlawed in Israel and declared a terrorist group by the United States.

The leader of Otzma Yehudit, Itamar Ben Gvir, is demanding a cabinet post if the party makes it into Parliament and delivers its support to Mr. Netanyahu.

The Jewish settlement of Efrat, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. National-religious Jews tend to support West Bank settlements.
Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron at an election rally for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A farm in the Jewish settlement of Itamar, near the West Bank city of Nablus. 

The wild card in this election, Arab citizens of Israel make up about one-sixth of the eligible voting population, and they vote in large numbers in municipal elections. But only 49 percent voted in April, a record low, and turnout is not expected to rise dramatically on Tuesday.

Arabs give plenty of reasons for not participating in the Israeli political system: in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, in reaction to Zionist parties’ refusal to consider including Arab parties in a governing coalition, or out of impatience with Arab lawmakers’ focus on the Palestinians’ problems rather than their own voters’ needs. But Arab and center-left Jewish politicians are at least making an effort to woo them, by promising to address crime, housing shortages and other tangible problems in their communities.

Arab citizens of Israel at a wedding in Baqa al Gharbiye.
A mosque in Jisr al Zarqa, an Israeli Arab town on the Mediterranean coast.
Arab Israelis make up about one sixth of eligible voters. 

For a while, it seemed as if the premiership might be decided in places like Bat Yam, a seaside town heavily populated by immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Mr. Netanyahu has tried to make inroads with supporters of Avigdor Liberman, the Moldova-born leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, after Mr. Liberman refused to join Mr. Netanayhu’s coalition after the April election. Mr. Liberman’s refusal to compromise with the prime minister’s ultra-Orthodox allies prevented Mr. Netanyahu from forming a government and precipitated the new elections.

Mr. Liberman’s Russian-speaking supporters, who have backed him for more than 20 years, do not appear to be deserting him. But they are aging, and their children are fully Israeli and vote for a variety of parties, prompting Mr. Liberman to reinvent himself as a champion of secular Israelis, whatever their native tongues.

One hot-button issue, among many: the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens, including many former Soviet immigrants and their offspring, who are considered Jewish by the state but not by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate, meaning they cannot get married in Israel.

Israel Ditman, 94, a World War II veteran from Russia who emigrated to Israel in 1995, at his home in Rehovot.
Israelis of Russian origin at a cultural gathering in Tel Aviv. 
A Russian bookshop in Tel Aviv. 

Not every tribe in Israel can muster enough votes to gain representation in Parliament through its own party. The roughly 130,000 Ethiopian-Jewish Israelis have yet to wield much muscle in politics, despite the election of a handful to the Knesset since the waves of immigration in the 1980s and in 1991.

But after a string of fatal police shootings, they are working hard to assert themselves politically, with frequent protests against police brutality aimed at forcing a national reckoning with what black Israelis say is a history of racism.

Ethiopian Israelis protested police violence and discrimination in Netanya.
Ethiopian women at a sewing class in  Sderot. 

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