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Editorial: Mahmoud Abbas’ folly Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

On October 22, Palestinian terrorist Abd al-Rahman al-Shaloudi ploughed his car into a packed light-rail stop in Jerusalem, murdering newborn Chaya Zisel Baron and Ecuadorian student Karen Yemina Mosquera and injuring eight other Israelis. Al-Shaloudi, who was shot and killed by Israeli police, appears to have been affiliated with Hamas. However what was particularly worrying was the response by official media and senior officials in the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas' Fatah movement published an online tribute describing al-Shaloudi as a "heroic martyr" to be saluted for his "Jerusalem operation, in which settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem were run over." A senior aide to Abbas, Sultan Abu al-Einein, hailed him as a "heroic Martyr" who was "murdered in cold blood."

This is part of a larger trend.

The Success of Islamist Propaganda

The Success of Islamist Propaganda Categories: Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

In the wake of a series of apparent Islamist "lone wolf" terror attacks in Canada and New York, this Update looks at the sophisticated media strategy that Islamist groups - and especially ISIS - are increasingly employing to further their cause and recruit volunteers and sympathisers. It also looks at Hamas' social media strategy during the recent Gaza conflict.

Moral clarity about Islamic State needs zero tolerance of terrorism

Moral clarity about Islamic State needs zero tolerance of terrorism Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Terrorism    

IN Ottawa on Wednesday, a lone gunman rampaged in and around Canada's parliament, killing a Canadian soldier before being killed. Authorities said he was a convert to Islam, radicalised to commit his act of terrorism.

That day in Jerusalem, a newborn girl was run down and killed in her pram when a vehicle intentionally rammed a crowded tram stop. The Palestinian driver, killed while fleeing, had an extensive ­arrest record for nationalistic violence and familial connections to Hamas. He was glorified on Hamas-affiliated websites as a martyr and a Hamas spokesman said his attack was only "natural".

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The reality TV test

The reality TV test Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Furore erupted throughout the Arab world last week when the Saudi owned MBC TV network referred to "Israel" on a world map it showed on its popular TV program, Arab Idol, rather than using the name "Palestine". MBC was forced to issue an apology after it identified Israel as the country of origin of two female Arab Israeli contestants, Manal Moussa and Haitham Khalailah, both from villages in northern Israel. Almost immediately, fuming viewers took to social media to air their anger with what they referred to as the Saudi-TV network’s "serious offence."

The two women, aged 24 and 25 respectively, are the first Arab Israelis to ever participate in the singing competition, which launched its new season in mid-September. The reality TV show, based on the original British version of Pop Idol, boasts tens of millions of viewers and reportedly, is the most widely watched program across the entire Arab world.

US$5.4 Billion Pledged for Gaza

US$5.4 Billion Pledged for Gaza Categories: Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update deals with the international donors conference for Gaza that took place in Cairo on Sunday, and led to pledges of US$5.4 billion in money to be divided equally between Gaza reconstruction and the Palestinian Authority.

We lead with a critique of the likely effects of the conference from veteran Israeli Arab Affairs journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Toameh argues that despite the promises to funnel the money through the Palestinian Authority (PA), the donors are nonetheless empowering Hamas, which will benefit politically from the money and be able to use its other resources to dig tunnels and rebuild weapons.

Givat Hamatos – the origins and significance of yet another settlement controversy

Givat Hamatos – the origins and significance of yet another settlement controversy Author: Gabrielle Debinski and Tzvi Fleischer Categories: America, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Media coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House on October 1, was largely dominated by concurrent statements from the White House and US State Department respectively, denouncing an Israeli decision to persevere with the planning of 2,610 housing units in the Givat Hamatos area in east Jerusalem.

This not only detracted from other important issues but also symbolised of dysfunctional and immune from basic factual reality the debate about Israeli settlements has become internationally.

Terror apologist Yvonne Ridley given a free ride on the ABC

Terror apologist Yvonne Ridley given a free ride on the ABC Author: Gabrielle Debinski and Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

On September 26, controversial British Muslim convert and journalist, Yvonne Ridley, delivered an address at a radical Islamic conference in Melbourne. Promoting her ‘speaking tour' in Australia, the contentious Ridley, who converted to Islam in 2003 after she was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, appeared on ABC Radio's "AM" program the following day. Ridley is well-known for her role as a former presenter and current frequent guest on Press TV, the Iranian government's English language station, notorious for its anti-Zionist, anti-Western propaganda, and for her apologetics - sometime sounding almost like justification - for Islamist and Arab terrorism.

Not that you would know any of this from the ABC interview itself.

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Abbas/Netanyahu Speeches at the UN

Abbas/Netanyahu Speeches at the UN Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Over the past week, both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the opening session of the UN General Assembly (their speeches are available in full here and here respectively). Abbas' speech was regarded almost universally in Israel as particularly confrontational - not only accusing Israel of planned "genocide" in Gaza and seeming to justify terrorism, but apparently declaring it "impossible" to return to negotiations -  and was even condemned by the US State Department as "counterproductive" and containing "offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing". Netanayhu's speech - a useful summary of its key points is here -  responded in detail to Abbas on Gaza making it clear Hamas was to blame for the destruction and death in Gaza (and showed a photo of Palestinian kids playing around rocket launchers);  addressed the spread of Islamist extremism in the Middle East while especially warning of the threat of a nuclear Iran; and finally contained a new element - a call for a " “broader rapprochement” between Israel and the wider Arab world which might help faciliate a two-state peace. This Update deals with the implications of both speeches.

Scribblings: Bring Gaza to the West Bank?

Scribblings: Bring Gaza to the West Bank? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

An increasing number of people seem to have a very simple - perhaps simplistic is a better word - prescription for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

It is not the negotiated two-state peace deal favoured by both sides of Australian politics, almost all Western governments, and both the Israeli public and successive Israeli governments over the last 15 years.

Essay: Moral Defence

Essay: Moral Defence Author: Asa Kasher Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

I first heard air raid sirens during Israel's 1948 War of Independence, and I heard them most recently in August, during Operation Protective Edge. In 1948, an Egyptian plane dropped bombs on the centre of Rishon Lezion, where I then lived; more recently the threat took the familiar form of rockets launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip and intercepted by the Iron Dome system far above my head in another town near Tel Aviv.

Hamas and the welfare of Gazans

Hamas and the welfare of Gazans Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

This Update, dealing with some realities of Gaza post-conflict, and especially Hamas' role in them, leads with an extraordinary collection of testimony from Gazans.

The testimony, collected by British-based Palestinian writer and commentator Mudar Zahran, comes from an impressive variety of anonymous individuals from different walks of life in Gaza explaining their experience of the recent conflict and the general situation of living under Hamas rule.

Ceasefire talks offer chance of lasting peace in Gaza

Ceasefire talks offer chance of lasting peace in Gaza Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

All attention has turned to Australian military personnel being sent to Iraq to destroy the Islamic State. But crucial talks are set to commence soon on another critical battleground in the quest for Middle East peace.

This week talks are expected to begin in Cairo to produce a long-term ceasefire for Gaza. Israeli representatives and a joint Hamas-Palestinian Authority delegation are supposed to meet under Egyptian mediation to discuss relaxation of border controls by both Israel and Egypt, Israeli demands for demilitarisation of Gaza, Hamas demands for a sea port and airport and payment of Hamas salaries, and reconstruction arrangements.

After the Gaza conflict: The view from Israel

After the Gaza conflict: The view from Israel Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

I arrived at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport at the end of August, less than 48 hours after Gaza's rulers Hamas accepted an open-ended ceasefire effectively ending a two-month long conflict with Israel.

Along with the signs giving directions to passport control and baggage claim were signs indicating the nearest bomb shelters - a reminder of rocket attacks that briefly led to the suspension of most flights to and from Israel.

For the first time, Israelis realised that Hamas' rockets not only posed a terror threat, but could physically isolate Israel.

What really happened in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that broke down in April?

What really happened in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that broke down in April? Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

One of the most persistent myths, and one which was repeatedly hammered before, during and after the recent Gaza war by some supposedly knowledgeable commentators, was the accusation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ultimately to blame for the war's outbreak because he has stymied all efforts at establishing a Palestinian state.

Yet if one looks at the totality of the evidence the picture being painted of Israeli intransigence spoiling peace hopes does not hold water.

43 out of tens of thousands in 8200

43 out of tens of thousands in 8200 Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

The international media has been abuzz with stories about the petition letter signed by 43 reservists of the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200 on September 12. The letter, which is addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF General Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz and Military Intelligence Director, Major General Aviv Kochavi, states that the reservists refuse to continue service in the elite intelligence division, citing mistreatment and "extortion" of Palestinians under Israeli surveillance as the driving force behind their "moral" stance.

Abbas' new "peace plan"

Abbas' new "peace plan" Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Last weekend, at a closed session of the Arab League Summit in Turkey, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly announced his plan to move ahead with peace process with Israel, and had it endorsed by the Arab League. While the details have not been publicly announced, they have been leaked in various news reports and reportedly entail a plan that the UN Security Council would make Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 boundaries within three years - or else Israel would be brought before the International Criminal Court and security cooperation with the Palestinians ended - if agreement on a final peace is not reached between the parties during a nine-month negotiating process. The plan has reportedly been rejected by the US Administration. This Update deals with the difficulties of this plan, and the wider problem of Israeli-Palestinian peace making after the Gaza conflict.

A map essential to understanding Israel’s decision to declare 1000 acres of land in the Etzion bloc “state land”

A map essential to understanding Israel’s decision to declare 1000 acres of land in the Etzion bloc “state land” Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

There has been fierce debate and confusion regarding the recent decision of Israel's civil administration to declare 988 acres of land in the West Bank Gush Etzion area as "state land." The decision, announced by the Israeli government on August 31, is reportedly the precursor for the expansion of the small Gva'ot settlement into a much larger town.

Almost immediately after making the pronouncement, the Israeli government came under fire from the US, the EU and the Palestinian Authority, with such condemnations reverberating throughout the international press. Yet, as Dr Tzvi Fleischer highlighted in an AIJAC blog post last week, much of the critique circulating in the press omits essential background information regarding where this land is and what this move actually means.

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The truth about the Gaza war (hint: it's not what Ruth Pollard tells you)

The truth about the Gaza war (hint: it's not what Ruth Pollard tells you) Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Over the past couple of months, readers of the Fairfax papers the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times have been subjected to Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard's coverage of the Gaza conflict.

In our opinion, her general coverage – especially her feature article in the Saturday August 30 editions of the papers – has been full of misrepresentations, omissions and lack of context. The August 30 article appears intended to portray Israel as the villain, and the party that has come out of the conflict in the worst possible light, as compared to Hamas.

Below is the article, with our comments inserted where relevant.

Letter to the UN from two bereaved parents

Letter to the UN from two bereaved parents Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On August 22, Gila and Doron Tregerman suffered a tragic loss when their four-year old son, Daniel, was killed by a mortar round that allegedly was fired from next to a Gaza school. On September 3, the couple, who live in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the Gaza border, wrote an emotional and heartfelt letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on the UN to also investigate Hamas for its war crimes committed during the latest conflict. The letter concludes, "We do not seek the people responsible for our Daniel's death. We only wish your response and your voice against this crime and the crime Hamas committed against their own people."

What should be understood about Israel's controversial decision to zone 1000 acres as state land in the Etzion bloc

What should be understood about Israel's controversial decision to zone 1000 acres as state land in the Etzion bloc Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On August 31 Israel made a controversial decision, announcing that it would designate around 988 acres of land in the West Bank Gush Etzion region as "state land". According to reports, the decision will pave the way for the expansion of a small existing settlement known as Gva'ot into a much larger town. This has been controversial within Israel, with even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni criticising the move. However, some Australian media coverage of the issue has lacked basic context.

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Letter: Apology falls short Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In her belated apology for the use of photos of dead children from the Syrian conflict to represent purported Israeli slaughter in Gaza (29 August), Sonja Karkar of Australians for Palestine claims the statistics alone tell the story. There is no question that large numbers of civilians, including children, have been killed in Gaza, and this is a tragedy. However, the oft-quoted statistics are also very dubious. They come from Gaza health authorities, under the control of Hamas, which has a clear interest in exaggerating the civilian numbers, and are passed on to UN agencies.

Some maps of Gaza, based on UN data, that everyone should see Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

On August 15, OCHA- the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, released its 100-page report called the “Gaza Crisis Atlas.” Its key findings should be essential reading for anyone interested in what happened in Gaza. While it seems doubtful that this is what was intended by OCHA – which has a reputation for pro-Palestinian activism – the data the UN supplies destroys a lot of myths and misconceptions about Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

 Erez crossing attack illustrates Hamas' attitude to its own civilians

Erez crossing attack illustrates Hamas' attitude to its own civilians Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

The Erez Crossing is perhaps the most important lifeline for the provision of medical aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Tragically, Hamas repeatedly launched mortars at the crossing during the recent Gaza conflict, in blatant disregard for the safely and well-being of Gazans, even those who are the most vulnerable- the sick or injured.

The myth of the "siege" of Gaza

The myth of the "siege" of Gaza Author: Glen Falkenstein and Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The whole notion of a "siege" of Gaza is a myth, even though mainstream media figures insist it is the key issue in the Gaza conflict. First of all, it is simply not true that Israel has been preventing humanitarian aid from entering Gaza up until now, as many seem to assume or imply. As a recent AIJAC post demonstrates, even throughout the Gaza conflict, the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza remained open and tens of thousands of tons of aid, food and medical supplies entered Gaza.

Three experienced journalists critique media coverage of Gaza

Three experienced journalists critique media coverage of Gaza Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

There has been much criticism of the media's performance during the recent Gaza conflict (where, happily, the ceasefire agreed to on Tuesday seems to be holding.) Examples from AIJAC include the Australian piece by Gabrielle Debinski, Tzvi Fleischer and Or Avi-Guy last month and Israeli academic Eytan Gilboa's piece in the latest edition of the Australia-Israel Review. This Update features detailed critiques of aspects of the media's performance by three senior, experienced journalists who appear to be in a good position to know what they are talking about - including two former Middle East correspondents for major international wire services. 

The prospects of the latest Gaza ceasefire

The prospects of the latest Gaza ceasefire Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

A new Gaza ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, came into effect last night at 7:00pm Israel time. Unlike all previous ceasefire, this one is indefinite in duration and many commentators are treating it as likely ending the Gaza conflict for the time being - although of course Hamas has broken numerous previous ceasefires. It is being celebrated in Gaza as a supposed victory. This Update deals with the terms of the ceasefire, evaluations of why Hamas agreed to a deal which looks very similar to previous offers they turned down, and what might happen from here.

War crimes in Gaza?

War crimes in Gaza? Author: David Knoll Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Riad Malki, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, reportedly has approached International Criminal Court officials in the Hague to discuss "putting Israel in the dock on war crimes charges". The Palestinian plan reportedly is to "join the ICC and set a war crimes investigation in motion to be one of the bargaining chips on the table in Cairo." A strange way to proceed, but given the need to shift the focus away from the real cause of the human suffering in Gaza, an understandable political tactic.

The Cine File: Tragedy and Divided Loyalties

The Cine File: Tragedy and Divided Loyalties Author: Sharyn Mittelman & Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Bethlehem is not a typical film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, its Israeli director Yuval Adler and screenwriter Ali Waked, an Arab journalist, have created a nuanced and complex portrait of divided loyalties that takes it beyond the news headlines.

Praised in some quarters - including an award in Venice, first prize at the Haifa Film Festival and six Ophir Awards (Israel's national film awards) - it has also received criticism from the likes of far-left Israeli columnist Gideon Levy of Haaretz for being too apolitical.

Media Microscope: "F" for Fairfax Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The perception that Fairfax's metropolitan newspapers and associated websites were glaringly biased against Israel over the course of the Gaza war to date has left many of their pro-Israel readers annoyed.

A significant factor in this irritiation was the reporting of Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard, whose work appeared to focus largely on civilian deaths and injuries in Gaza, frequently seemed to suggest that most were deliberate, and appeared to uncritically accept Palestinian statistics and claims when reporting.

Letter: Ignoring the facts on Israel-Palestine issue Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

David Rothkopf is deluding himself if he thinks that it is only Israeli intransigence that has prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state ("A High Price", Review, August 22).

An in-depth report by Ben Birnbaum in the New Republic on the recent failure of US Secretary of State John Kerry's peace initiative showed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to accept the US formula of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 boundaries with minor, mutually agreed, land swaps.

Deconstruction Zone: The great myth of Gaza Author: Daniel Mandel Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

As a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is hammered out, much talk is heard about aid packages for Gaza, as though none previously existed. The refrain is heard that Gazans are living in a teeming, open-air prison. Repeated endlessly by those under obligation to know the facts, the myth has it that Gaza is...

Seeing the light: Hamas' terror tunnels

Seeing the light: Hamas' terror tunnels Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

It takes us a little bit to our childhood fairy tales of demons... [the] environment I live in, the quiet, the green grass, the trees. It's not a pleasant thought that you sit one day on the patio drinking coffee with your wife and a bunch of terrorists will rise from the ground.

Such is the reality for a resident of southern Israel - only a mile from his house, 13 Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel, reaching from the Gaza Strip to his community - with the intention of attacking civilians during the recent conflict.

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Editorial: Part of the Problem Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

While the conflict between Hamas and Israel begins to resemble a protracted war of attrition, the unhelpful and dysfunctional role that most of the United Nations' organs have played in the unfolding drama is becoming clearer. Like so many times before, when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the UN has not been part of the solution, but rather part of the problem.

Scribblings: The price of a gross over-reaction

Scribblings: The price of a gross over-reaction Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

There have been a lot of costs to the over-the-top reaction among many commentators, activists and political leaders to the undoubtedly tragic situation in Gaza over recent weeks. The inability of so many to view the confronting and emotive images coming out of Gaza with some perspective is something likely to cause a series of severe negative consequences - and not just for Israel.

Hamas left eyeless in Gaza

Hamas left eyeless in Gaza Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Named by the IDF Operation Protective Edge, successor to Pillar of Defence in 2012 and Cast Lead of 2008-09, the fighting had yet to produce a ceasefire by mid-August - and on the night of 19 August it resumed, when rockets were fired from Gaza several hours ahead of an extended five-day ceasefire's expiration, and Israel responded by bombing Hamas targets. Yet the violence that raged between July 8 and August 7 seems to have peaked while some new military, political, and diplomatic facts were emerging through the scattering battle fog.

The Media Failure in Gaza Author: Eytan Gilboa Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The media is the main source of information about damage to infrastructure and casualties, especially civilian. Western media coverage of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza has been marred by an anti-Israeli bias and professional and ethical failures.

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Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Since Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and the subsequent take over of the strip in a violent coup by Hamas in 2007, Israel has faced an evolving threat from the coastal enclave. For most of that period, Israel's primary security and strategic concern in regards to Gaza was preventing the build-up of Hamas' rocket arsenal and finding suitable defence measures to protect Israeli civilians from the persistent rocket fire emanating from Gaza... However, the most recent bout of Israel-Hamas fighting has indicated that Israel is now confronted with new strategic considerations in regards to Gaza - primarily the threat of Hamas' terror tunnels.

Gaza fighting resumes, what happens now?

Gaza fighting resumes, what happens now? Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

With Gaza fighting resuming on Tuesday when Hamas fired rockets after 8 days of agreed ceasefires, this Update is devoted to where matters might go from here.

First up is Israeli journalist Shmuel Rosner, who outlines 4 different scenarios about how this round of conflict might proceed and end. Among them are a ceasefire without negotiations, resumption of negotiations and a ceasefire, a renewed campaign of Israeli bombing and other military pressure and an escalation by Israel into a large-scale ground attack.

Hamas’ failed strategy

Hamas’ failed strategy Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians    

This morning, Israel and Hamas agreed to a 24-hour extension of a five-day truce to negotiate a longer-lasting ceasefire, following weeks of conflict. Israel wants the Gaza Strip to be demilitarised, while Hamas wants unrestricted movement in and out of Gaza, no restrictions on goods coming into the Strip and new construction of sea and airports.

AIJAC response to the Canberra Declaration on Gaza

AIJAC response to the Canberra Declaration on Gaza Author: AIJAC Categories: Australasia, Documents, Israel, Media Releases, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations    

71 current and five former members of Australian Federal and State parliaments, mostly Labor and Greens, but also Malcolm Fraser and some independents, have signed what they call the "Canberra Declaration on Gaza" (the Declaration), calling on "all Australian politicians to condemn the ongoing Israeli military bombardment and invasion of Gaza."

A link to the Declaration is here. The Declaration reflects a one-sided and misguided view of the current conflict in Gaza, and of the Israeli/Palestinian situation in general. This document explains why.

Fairfax doubles down on poorly informed and tendentious commentaries

Fairfax doubles down on poorly informed and tendentious commentaries Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Peter George was the ABC's first Middle East correspondent, dating back to the 1980s. Yet by the looks of an op-ed that he wrote and was prominently published on August 6 in Fairfax' flagship papers - The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times, he is still living in the past - refusing to acknowledge the numerous concessions and policy risks Israel has taken since the 1993 Oslo Agreement towards reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians, including under current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, nor the shift in Israeli views since then, with clear public majorities and all major political parties supporting a two-state resolution.

Instead, George literally rewrites history in his op-ed, bizarrely seeming to blame Netanyahu for the security fence and unfairly portraying him as an impediment to Palestinian statehood.

Foreign Press Association condemns Hamas threats to journalists - and vindicates claims intimidation is affecting Gaza coverage

Foreign Press Association condemns Hamas threats to journalists - and vindicates claims intimidation is affecting Gaza coverage Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The Foreign Press Association has issued a strong condemnation of Hamas' harassment of foreign media in Gaza on August 11. It stated, "The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month..."

Mideast peace possible if Hamas chooses

Mideast peace possible if Hamas chooses Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

As of this writing, the war that raged between Israel and Hamas over the past month appears to have ebbed.

If it is over, it is only because Hamas finally made the decision that Australia and the world had been imploring them to do for weeks - that is, to stop committing the war crime of firing indiscriminate rockets on Israel.

Israel continues to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, despite Hamas’ efforts

Israel continues to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, despite Hamas’ efforts Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

In recent weeks, the media has focused overwhelmingly on the ‘humanitarian crisis' developing in Gaza. Interestingly, neither the media nor the UN or other ‘human rights' groups - quick to condemn Israel for imposing a partial ‘blockade' on the Gaza Strip - have made any mention of the thousands of trucks of humanitarian aid that have continued to pour in from Israel. They continued coming even in the face of incessant Hamas rocket fire hitting Israeli towns and cities, and they continued coming even as Hamas attacked the border crossing itself.

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A demilitarised Gaza would improve prospects for an Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel

A demilitarised Gaza would improve prospects for an Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

AS an uncertain ceasefire holds between Israel and Hamas for now, Israeli and Palestinian delegations are in Cairo to meet Egyptian mediators, turning attention to how a long-term settlement can be achieved in Gaza.

Israel believes that the answer lies in the demilitarisation of the Gaza strip, tied to significant investment in reconstruction - a view backed by the US, EU, Canada, a number of Arab states and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

If Gaza is not demilitarised, a rearmed Hamas will likely provoke yet another major conflict with Israel, as it has already done three times.

Gaza's border in a lasting ceasefire deal/ Hamas and the Media

Gaza's border in a lasting ceasefire deal/ Hamas and the Media Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The three day ceasefire that has been in effect in Gaza since Tuesday morning ended a few hours ago, and sadly, Hamas has chosen to resume rocket fire, firing 11 rockets in the first hour. This seems to pretty much guarantee the recent Gaza war will resume and Gazans are reportedly fleeing the border area, though as of this writing, Israel had not yet started to respond. Before the ceasefire's expiration, Hamas refused calls to extend it despite an Israeli agreement to do so. Already, a few hours before the ceasefire ended, two rockets struck Israel from Gaza.

This Update focuses on what a long-term ceasefire deal might look like, and more specifically on what arrangements for Gaza's borders might make possible Gaza's demilitarisation, a key demand of Israel, backed by much of the international community, including many Arab states (Sharyn Mittelman had a great deal on the demilitarisation issue in a blog yesterday.)

The only long-term solution: demilitarise Gaza

The only long-term solution: demilitarise Gaza Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Attention is now focused on how a long-term solution can be reached to prevent a repeat of this Israel-Gaza conflict as well as the ones that had been played out before in 2012 and 2009. Israel believes that the answer is the demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip through diplomatic means in exchange for significant investment in reconstruction and the easing of border restrictions. The demilitarisation of Gaza is also supported by the EU, US, Canada and many Arab states.

Support Israel if you care about Gazans' suffering

Support Israel if you care about Gazans' suffering Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The nightly television images of the suffering in Gaza are heartbreaking. A vital challenge is what can actually be done to stop the suffering there and in Israel and prevent it recurring.

Gazans need far more than simply an end to the current fighting. They need leaders who put their interests first, rather than treating them as cannon fodder for extremist political goals.  

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Crucial context and facts missing in media’s reporting on shelling of UN schools in Gaza

Crucial context and facts missing in media’s reporting on shelling of UN schools in Gaza Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

“US ‘appalled’ by ‘disgraceful’ Israeli shelling of UN school,” “UN Chief calls attack ‘moral outrage’ and ‘criminal act’” as well as “Another UN school hit in Israeli bombing in Gaza” are just some of the hyperbolic headlines that have been attached to reports on Israel’s ‘supposed’ shelling of a UN school in Rafah, southern Gaza, on August 3.

The international media has been abuzz with this story of an apparent Israeli shelling of the UN school, which was reportedly being used to shelter 3,000 displaced Palestinians in Gaza.

The truth about the population density of Gaza and Hamas tactics

The truth about the population density of Gaza and Hamas tactics Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

The piece by former ABC correspondent Peter George, published in three Fairfax papers today, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times, is replete with misinformation, lack of knowledge, and dubious claims. This is not the place to confront all of them in detail, but one telling example is his repetition of an increasingly common but easily disproven myth - that Gaza is so densely populated, Hamas has no choice but to locate its military infrastructure and launch missiles from built up areas. 

Gaza ceasefires, a history

Gaza ceasefires, a history Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Israel has just announced its acceptance of another 72-hour ceasefire to begin this morning, Israel time. Following yesterday's seven-hour humanitarian ceasefire announced by the IDF there have now been seven ceasefires the IDF has accepted in the current conflict. On the Hamas side, some of the ceasefires were accepted, some were rejected, but regardless, none have been respected by Hamas, which has continued to bombard Israel and carry out attacks during times the IDF has been holding its fire.

Lets take a look at some of those ceasefires, and their outcomes.

Foreign journalists in Gaza witness rockets fired from Shifa hospital and other civilian populated areas

Foreign journalists in Gaza witness rockets fired from Shifa hospital and other civilian populated areas Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Hamas' tactic of using civilians in Gaza as ‘human shields' by firing rockets from highly populated areas and institutions, and storing military assets in civilian buildings has been a central issue during debate over the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. While this has been the subject of some controversy, new reports from journalists should now lay to rest any doubts.

 What happened in Shujaiyeh?

What happened in Shujaiyeh? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Ruth Pollard's report from Gaza on the Age ("Israel calls up 16,000 reservists after school hit," 1 Aug.) was accompanied by a UN satellite image of Shujaiyeh. The image highlighted large areas of destroyed structures. However, reports in Israeli media about Shujaiyeh provide important insight and context about the scope of destruction.

So what did happen in Shujaiyeh?

Tunnels provide yet more evidence of Hamas’ use of ostensibly civilian buildings for military purposes

Tunnels provide yet more evidence of Hamas’ use of ostensibly civilian buildings for military purposes Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

As the war in Gaza moves into its fourth week, additional information about Hamas' extensive network of underground tunnels is beginning to surface. One thing that has become increasingly clear is that, in keeping with Hamas practice, the entrances to many tunnels are located in clinics, homes, and mosques (Some evidence of this Hamas policy was discussed by Sharyn Mittelman in a previous post). Meanwhile my post yesterday contained additional video evidence of sniper fire and rocket storage at Gaza's al-Wafa hospital - which is also alleged to have contained a terror tunnel complete with fake IDF uniforms to carry out terror attacks.

A Demilitarised Gaza?/ Hamas' capabilities

A Demilitarised Gaza?/ Hamas' capabilities Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

With a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire coming into effect in Gaza a couple of hours ago, along with plans to spend the three days on intensive efforts in Cairo to negotiate something more lasting, this Update focuses on the prospects and modalities of Israel's key demand for the conflict's outcome, Gaza's demilitarisation - a policy also supported in principle both by US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. It also includes some new valuable background material on Hamas' military capabilities and tactics in this conflict so far.

Trapped in Gaza: How Hamas punishes reporters for the truth

Trapped in Gaza: How Hamas punishes reporters for the truth Author: Gabrielle Debinski, Or Avi-Guy & Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Palestinians    

HAMAS is not just targeting Israeli civilians, threatening Gazans and using them as humans shields. It has another terror tactic: intimidating foreign journalists.

Journalists who have taken pictures of Hamas operatives preparing to shoot rockets from civilian structures and/or fighting in civilian clothing have been threatened by Hamas operatives and had their equipment confiscated.

Reporter Peter Stefanovic, of the Nine Network's news, stationed in Gaza, received a surge of abuse and threats when he tweeted that he had seen rockets fired into Israel from near his hotel, in a civilian area.

More evidence Gaza casualty figures are unreliable Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

My recent blog post pointed out how casualty data from Gaza is unreliable, noting that the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry is the main source of information about casualties in Gaza. In yet more evidence that commonly employed casualty claims are unreliable, it has now been shown that the al Jazeera casualty list includes numerous duplicate names.

Editorial: Hamas’ War Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

With the decision on July 22 by most airlines to suspend services to Tel Aviv, the stakes of Israel's military confrontation with Hamas were taken to an unprecedented level.

With the termination of this vital lifeline for Israel, no longer can it be claimed, even by those most cynical of Israel, that the missile defence system Iron Dome - as revolutionary and life-saving as it is - has neutralised Hamas' rocket threat and obviated the need for Israel to use force to respond to Hamas' rocket strikes.

Such arguments were always weak.

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Scribblings: Proportionality Again

Scribblings: Proportionality Again Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Africa, Iraq, Israel, Palestinians    

In Nigeria, on July 19, the Boko Haram terror group reportedly took the town of Damboa, gunned down everyone they saw and burned most of the town to the ground. At least 100 people were killed - but the death toll may actually be considerably higher. Know about that one?

Further, more than 15,000 people were displaced over a few days around July 19-20 by Boko Haram attacks. It is estimated that at least 2,000 civilians have been killed in Boko Haram attacks this year.

Of course none of these tragic situations lessens the suffering of Gazans, or are themselves, a justification for Israel's action there (however, there are ample others).

Gaza War - Again

Gaza War - Again Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Escalation was quick. What began with the abduction on June 12 of three Jewish teenagers, and the discovery of their bodies on June 30, resulted in the arrests of Hamas activists throughout the West Bank and intensified rocket barrages from Gaza on Israel - while Jewish extremists kidnapped and murdered a Palestinian boy on July 1, thus unleashing riots in east Jerusalem.

Why Hamas wanted a war

Why Hamas wanted a war Author: Harel Chorev Categories: Palestinians    

Unlike in the past, the latest escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel is not another tactical and limited round. It is instead part of a new strategic direction taken by Hamas in an effort to capitalise on the circumstances created by the July 2 murder of a Palestinian youth, apparently by Jewish extremists, in Jerusalem. In so doing, Hamas intended to create a meaningful change in its difficult geopolitical, economic, and intra-Palestinian position.

The Implications of Hamas' Attack Tunnels

The Implications of Hamas' Attack Tunnels Author: Jonathan D. Halevi Categories: Palestinians    

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas Prime Minister, delivered a revealing speech on March 23, 2014, in which he stressed the strategic importance of the Hamas attack tunnels, which, he argued, have changed the balance of power with Israel, when taken together with his organisation's military build-up. In the meantime, the IDF's war against the tunnels continues. On July 21, IDF forces thwarted another terror attack after two groups of Hamas operatives (numbering about ten) infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel, apparently on their way to carry out a mass casualty attack at Kibbutz Erez and/or Kibbutz Nir Am.

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British Commander: "Israel had no Choice"

British Commander: "Israel had no Choice" Author: Arsen Ostrovsky Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Col. Richard Kemp is a former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and one of the most highly decorated and respected officers in the British army. He has spent over 30 years fighting terrorism in the UK and around the world, including serving in overseas missions with NATO and the United Nations, commanding troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Macedonia, and participating in the Gulf War.

That makes him amply qualified to comment on the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas, which entered a new phase with an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza on July 18.

Media Microscope: Foreign correspondents Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

It is far from scientific, but the quality of local television and radio coverage of the latest Hamas-Israel war seemed to dip when it relied upon foreign news services.

Two reports from Jeremy Bowen, a long time senior BBC reporter, were yet further reminders of why his anti-Israel reporting has long generated controversy.

Hamas’ other terror tactic: intimidating foreign journalists

Hamas’ other terror tactic: intimidating foreign journalists Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas enters its third week, foreign journalists are increasingly flocking to the region, reporting from both Gaza and within Israel. In addition, more and more accounts of intimidation and abuse towards foreign journalists stationed in the Strip, both via social media as well as from Hamas operatives on the ground, are emerging.

In recent weeks several foreign journalists have released details of threats, intimidation and blackmail directed against them in the wake of their reporting on the reality as they see it in Gaza. Much of this abuse has stemmed from journalists' coverage of Hamas' tactic of firing rockets into Israel from civilian institutions or highly populated civilian areas. At the same time, reports relating to Hamas' use of Gaza's Shifa hospital - the largest and most important in the Gaza Strip - as a ‘hotbed' for storing weapons and launching rockets has also elicited intimidation from Hamas operatives in Gaza - as well as threats and abuse from pro-Palestinian advocates online.

Hamas makes civilian casualties a tragic certainty

Hamas makes civilian casualties a tragic certainty Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

More than 2,200 rockets have been fired by Hamas and other terrorist groups from the Gaza Strip into Israel since July 8, and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have responded by attacking terrorist targets in Gaza.

Israel initially countered the rocket fire by telling Hamas, "quiet will be met with quiet", yet Hamas continued to fire rockets. Israel also accepted a ceasefire proposal by Egypt, backed by the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which on July 15 was rejected by Hamas.

Letter in The Age: Under threat Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Your editorial (''Might overwhelms the right to defend'', 23/7) was inflammatory. Hamas, a terrorist organisation proscribed by many nations, including Australia, initiated this conflict by escalating rocket attacks across Israel. It rejected Israel's overtures to de-escalate, as well as three Arab ceasefire proposals Israel accepted. Hamas positions its military assets - rockets, launchers, weapons, command centres and tunnel entrances - amid civilian homes and buildings, even mosques, schools and hospitals; a war crime.

Many Arab commentators “get it” with respect to Hamas

Many Arab commentators “get it” with respect to Hamas Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

In the past, whenever there was violence between Israel and the Palestinians or other Arab groups, the Arab media have generally been pretty uniform and predictable in denouncing whatever Israel is doing as an evil crime, and defending whatever the side fighting with Israel is doing as completely justifiable, even heroic. This seems to be changing in the current Gaza conflict.

In first interview Netanyahu explains to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Israel’s war aims

In first interview Netanyahu explains to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Israel’s war aims Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: America, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

On July 20, Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave his first formal media interview since Israel launched ‘Operation Protective Edge' in response to incessant Hamas rocket fire just over two weeks ago.

The full interview can be viewed here.

Speaking to CNN reporter, Wolf Blitzer, Netanyahu talked extensively for almost fifteen minutes about the objectives of Israel's operation, which has seen over 40,000 Israeli soldiers and reservists called up to deter Hamas from continuously firing rockets at Israeli cities from what has become a terrorist enclave in the Gaza Strip.

Memo to ABC, SBS: Al-Jazeera has a conflict of interest

Memo to ABC, SBS: Al-Jazeera has a conflict of interest Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Gulf states, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The integrity of coverage of the current fighting between Hamas and Israel by Australia's national broadcaster, ABC, and its sister organisation SBS, has been compromised by their problematic and repeated use of reports by al-Jazeera, an organisation owned by the government of Qatar.

Biased against Israel in its coverage even at the best of times, al-Jazeera must be seen as having an egregious conflict of interest when it comes to the Israel-Hamas conflict, because Qatar is currently the biggest funding source for Hamas, and, together with Turkey, had been actively shilling a ceasefire plan that transparently serves Hamas' interests.

Why Gaza "civilian casualty" numbers should be taken with a grain of salt Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

One of the most often cited criticisms of Israeli military operations is the supposedly disproportionate civilian death toll, which is all too often based on unreliable or heavily biased sources.Several detailed analyses of the actual casualty figures confirm that it is clear that Israel is definitely not indicriminately targeting Gazans - despite the rhetoric one often hears about the Palestinian casualties.

The Tunnel Dilemma

The Tunnel Dilemma Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Tonight’s Update focuses solely on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the wake of Israel's ground penetration into Gaza and, more specifically, the need to destroy the extensive Hamas tunnel network, snaking into Israel, that is at the heart of the Israeli incursion.

Hamas' rocket attacks provoked Israel's ground offensive into Gaza Strip

Hamas' rocket attacks provoked Israel's ground offensive into Gaza Strip Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Israel is currently under attack as Hamas and other jihadist groups have fired more than 1600 rockets into its territory this month. The rockets have sent millions of Israeli citizens - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze - sprinting into bomb shelters. They have as little as 15 seconds to run for cover. It is not a situation any county would tolerate.

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Proof positive that Hamas hiding military assets in civilian infrastructure - 20 rockets found in an UNRWA school

Proof positive that Hamas hiding military assets in civilian infrastructure - 20 rockets found in an UNRWA school Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

While some commentators have been claiming that Hamas' placing of military assets in civilian areas can be explained by the small dense nature of the Gaza Strip, there is in fact overwhelming evidence that these claims are wrong. It is not simply a situation of Hamas fighters shooting rockets from in or near residential buildings but of Hamas using civilian infrastructure including hospitals, mosques and, even UN administered schools to hide or store its weaponry.  Just this Wesdnesday, rockets were found in a school in Gaza operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Why Hamas does not want Gazans to heed Israel warnings

Why Hamas does not want Gazans to heed Israel warnings Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

While many Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups seek shelter in a network of fortified underground tunnels, the civilian population of Gaza is denied access to this shelter and is instead being encouraged to act as human shields against Israeli airstrikes intended to target terror infrastructure intentionally embedded in civilian areas.

How did the latest Gaza War start? Despite the claims of some, it is no mystery

How did the latest Gaza War start? Despite the claims of some, it is no mystery Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Ruth Pollard, while reporting on operation "Protective Edge", claimed that "Any attempt to mark a starting point in the latest hostilities is a fraught process."
Apparently the obvious idea that this war was caused by Hamas' decision to shoot rockets at Israel in vastly greater numbers is one that some reporters are simply unwilling to consider.

Israel continues to try to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, Hamas blocks it

Israel continues to try to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, Hamas blocks it Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Hamas' disregard for the suffering of civilians can also be seen in its recent orders to deprive Gazans of Israeli humanitarian assistance. On Tuesday, Hamas closed the Erez border crossing into Israel, which stranded a group of around 20 Palestinians planning to travel to Israel for medical treatment.  Despite the current conflict, Israeli hospitals continue to regularly provide medical care to patients from Gaza and the West Bank.

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Hamas and the Ceasefire Failure/Proportionality and Gaza

Hamas and the Ceasefire Failure/Proportionality and Gaza Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

With Hamas having rejected an Egyptian ceasefire deal on Tuesday (the full text of the proposal is here), even after Israel unilaterally ceased fire for several hours (some excellent coverage from Gaza of how Gazans felt about the ceasefire is here) this Update explores what Hamas is trying to achieve via its continued rejection of an end to the fighting. Plus, it also discusses the legally incorrect and counter-productive nature of the focus of so many in the media on the "disproportion" in this conflict between Israeli and Palestinian casualties.

Machinations over a Gaza ceasefire

Machinations over a Gaza ceasefire Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

As the fighting between Israel and Gaza continues into the seventh day, a ceasefire proposal brokered by Egypt is on the table and has been supported by both the US and Arab League. Israel has accepted the cease-fire proposal, but the proposal has been rejected by the armed wing of Hamas.

Real issue is no peace partner

Real issue is no peace partner Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

ISRAEL has again been forced to defend its civilians against unprovoked and indiscriminate massive rocket and other terror attacks from Hamas, a partner in the new Palestinian unity government, and kindred groups in Gaza...

Israel responded at first with low-intensity raids, stating several times that if the rockets stopped, so would the retaliation.

Hamas instead significantly escalated the rockets, and attempted to infiltrate Israel by tunnel and by sea, forcing Israel to degrade Hamas's ability to continue these attacks.

Hamas rockets beg response

Hamas rockets beg response Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

With confrontation between Israel and the Hamas in the Gaza Strip escalating, it is important to understand the conflict's context. Israel is currently under attack, with over 180 rockets fired into its territory from the Gaza Strip in recent days. The rockets have sent Israelis from central Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, from southern Beersheba to northern Hadera, running into bomb shelters.

Israel's options for stopping Hamas' rockets

Israel's options for stopping Hamas' rockets Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Today’s Update looks at Israel’s military and strategic options as “Operation Protective Edge” enters a fifth day. With Israeli air strikes targeting Hamas’ command and terror infrastructure in Gaza, rockets are still being fired deep into Israeli territory - including reports some fell close to Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona. There are also reports that rockets have been fired into northern Israel from Lebanon.

Hamas ramps up attacks as Israel launches “Operation Protective Edge”

Hamas ramps up attacks as Israel launches “Operation Protective Edge” Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Over 225 rockets and missiles have been fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip since Monday night. Red alert sirens sounded throughout the country as rockets reached as far north as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and even Hadera- which is around 110 kilometres from Gaza. Israel's Iron Dome defence system shot down approximately 40 of these rockets.

AIJAC condemns horrific Jerusalem murder Categories: Israel, Media Releases, Palestinians    

AIJAC strongly condemns yesterday's horrific murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem.

While all leads are being explored, the possibility raised by Israeli authorities that this could have been a revenge attack for the brutal murder of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers is absolutely abhorrent.

After the kidnappings and murder

After the kidnappings and murder Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Today’s Update looks at developments since the burial of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, amid conflicting reports that Muhammed Abu Khudair, a 16-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem might have been murdered in an act of revenge (although other reports suggest criminal, not racist, motives). The murder has been roundly condemned overseas and in Israel, including by PM Benjamin Netanyahu. AIJAC’s statement of condemnation can be seen here. In Jerusalem, 1,000 people demonstrated against anti-Arab incitement, while hundreds of right-wing Jews and Arabs have rioted in Jerusalem.

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AIJAC condemns horrendous act of terrorism

AIJAC condemns horrendous act of terrorism Categories: Israel, Media Releases, Palestinians    

AIJAC mourns Israeli students Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach and condemns, in the strongest terms, their cowardly, despicable murder. We call for the perpetrators and their facilitators to be swiftly brought to justice.

Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go to the brave families of these precious teenagers as they confront this unspeakable tragedy.

Hamas' undeniable terror trail

Hamas' undeniable terror trail Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

The discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists last night in Israel brought to a heartbreaking close the IDF's exhaustive search which began on June 13, some seven hours after they were taken while trying to make their way home from Gush Etzion by hitchhiking.

Some of the media's coverage of the kidnappings has been sceptical about Israel's claim that Hamas was responsible for the attack, however, a closer look at Hamas' own statements and actions shows that it is Hamas' denials that should be looked at sceptically.

Hamas seeks to inflame tension on two fronts

Hamas seeks to inflame tension on two fronts Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

The manhunt for the three Israeli youths missing since June 12 drew to a close last night as three bodies were found in an open field outside Hebron. The search for the abducted youths in the West Bank over the past two-and-a-half weeks has coincided with a dramatic escalation of tensions in Gaza, as terrorist groups in the Strip have stepped-up attacks on southern Israel. While Hamas has not claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and killing of the three teens; Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaer and Naftali Frankel, Prime Minister Netanyahu has stressed that Israel is certain that Hamas is responsible. 

Exposing the Palestinian sub-culture of hate and incitement

Exposing the Palestinian sub-culture of hate and incitement Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Today’s Update looks at the destructive sub-culture in Palestinian society that legitimises hate for Israel and its people, and results in such all-too-familiar scenarios as the sickening kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenage boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel. The trio who went missing 18 days ago, are believed to have been merely trying to hitchhike from the West Bank back to Israel and were abducted and murdered by Hamas members. Their deaths followed months of intense incitement by Hamas for Israelis to be abducted.

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Editorial: Rhetoric and Reality Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians    

The June 25 announcement by Palestinian delegation to Australia head Izzat Abdulhadi that there would be no trade sanctions imposed by Arab and Muslim countries on Australia over the Government's position of refraining from referring to east Jerusalem as "Occupied" was both anticlimactic and to be expected.

Three Boys, Big Implications

Three Boys, Big Implications Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Two decades after they last successfully abducted an Israeli hitchhiker, Palestinian terrorists have done it again. Contact with three teenagers who were hitchhiking south of Jerusalem was lost on Thursday night, June 12, after they had boarded an unidentified vehicle outside the West Bank community of Kfar Etzion.

A week on, with military activity intense, there was no news of the three's fate or whereabouts, while political, diplomatic, and strategic implications were piling up.

Essay: Crimea and the West Bank

Essay: Crimea and the West Bank Author: Eugene Kontorovich Categories: Europe, Israel, Palestinians, Russia    

US Secretary of State John Kerry spent the past few months shuttling between his two major foreign-policy concerns - Russia's control over Crimea and Israel's control over the West Bank - entirely unaware that he was engaged in a world-historical irony. Both these situations turn on identical international-law principles. Indeed, the failure of the United States to apply these principles consistently has led to the long-standing failure of its Middle East initiatives, while inadvertently opening the door for Russian aggression.

The legal principle that explains why Crimea was and remains under Ukraine's sovereignty also validates Israel's presence in the West Bank.

Palestinian opinion poll: drifting away from a 2-state solution?

Palestinian opinion poll: drifting away from a 2-state solution? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

A new poll shows a hardening of Palestinian public opinion regarding the peace process with Israel, and a sharp decline in support for the two-state solution. The poll was conducted among 1,200 West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinian residents between 15-17 June. It is the first public opinion poll since the kidnapping crisis began.

Gaza's Fuel Woes

Gaza's Fuel Woes Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

In the midst of an ongoing fuel crisis in March, Qatar agreed to donate the funds necessary to supply Gaza with fuel for three months. The Qatari fuel donation, valued around US$32 million which was part of wider Qatari support of Hamas ran out last week. The end of Qatari donated fuel- delivered by Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing- spurred the closure of Gaza's only power plant, leaving Gaza's residents without sufficient electricity and subject to long periods of blackouts.

Sensationalising 'settlement announcements'

Sensationalising 'settlement announcements' Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

In my blog post from June 2, I showed how construction in Israel's West Bank settlements had slowed, but that the media had failed to report it.

This month, two pieces of commentary by former Bush Administration deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams - who was the official in charge of monitoring Israel's settlement policies - reinforced some of the very same points I made.

Letter: Foggy thinking on Israel's "occupation" Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Laura Tingle makes the unsubstantiated, ill-informed claim that the Australian Government's articulation of its position on east Jerusalem was a result of the "Israel lobby" switching its "funding allegiance" to the Coalition ("The fog of war rolls from Jerusalem to Canberra", 20 June). This is not simply a fiction, but deeply offensive.

Australia right to stay out of Middle East's semantic games

Australia right to stay out of Middle East's semantic games Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In response to the recent controversy over the Australian government's clarification to continue to avoid referring to east Jerusalem as 'occupied', The Age editorialised 'the goal of a two-state solution ... is not helped by pretending Israel is not in control of lands claimed by the Palestinians' (June 20).

No one would disagree that Israel has indeed been 'controlling lands claimed by the Palestinians' - but the word for land controlled by one party but claimed by another is 'disputed' not 'occupied'.

The reality of Hamas-Fatah “unity”

The reality of Hamas-Fatah “unity” Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

It has become clear over recent days that the crisis created by the kidnapping of three Israeli teens is severely straining the Fatah-Hamas unity pact, signed in April, and implemented via a new "technocratic cabinet" earlier this month. A senior Fatah official was quoted as saying that if Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping, the unity deal will be "void". Meanwhile, Hamas and Fatah have been trading barbs about whether the Palestinian security forces should be helping find the missing teens.

Clinton reveals some vital peacemaking home truths

Clinton reveals some vital peacemaking home truths Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

It has not received much coverage in Australia, but Hillary Clinton's new book "Hard Choices" chronicling her time as US Secretary of State in President Barack Obama's first administration, upends the oft-made assumption that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were stillborn between 2009-2012 because of the stances of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Australia's Jerusalem stance welcomed in Israel, Washington, mostly ignored in Arab world

Australia's Jerusalem stance welcomed in Israel, Washington, mostly ignored in Arab world Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Attorney General George Brandis' and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's recent terminological clarification - that the Abbott Government would not refer to east Jerusalem with any pejorative descriptor, and explicitly not "Occupied East Jerusalem" - was welcomed in the Israeli press but drew limited attention elsewhere, including, tellingly, in most Arab and Muslim countries.

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Fatah Gloats: Kidnapping and Palestinian Discourse

Fatah Gloats: Kidnapping and Palestinian Discourse Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Immediately after reports emerged that three Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, had apparently been abducted last Friday, speculation began as to who was responsible, and where blame lay for this crime. There is one aspect though, in the background of this event, which also deserves our attention - the disturbing reaction of official outlets of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Fatah movement.

The Kidnapping of three Israeli Teens and the Fatah-Hamas Unity Deal Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Israeli security forces are engaged in an operation to find three Israeli teenagers apparently kidnapped in the West Bank last Thursday night. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said Israel has strong evidence Hamas was responsible and it is clear that Israeli security forces are engaging in a broader crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, as well as searching for the three missing teens. This Update looks at both Israeli efforts and the implications for the Hamas-Fatah unity deal of the kidnapping and Israeli response.

AIJAC concerned for kidnapped Israeli teenagers Categories: Israel, Media Releases, Palestinians    

AIJAC is deeply concerned for the welfare of the three Israeli teenagers - Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Frenkel who were kidnapped in the West Bank on June 12 by Palestinian terrorists, and calls for their immediate release.

AIJAC's Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said, "Together with Israelis, and all people of good will, our thoughts and prayers are with the kidnapped boys and their families, and we hope for their safe and immediate return.

A response to Bob Carr and Gareth Evans in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Commonwealth Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has been attacked from various quarters - including by former ALP Foreign Ministers Bob Carr and Gareth Evans ("Australia hinders progress in Middle East peace process", June 10) - for announcing that the Australian government will no longer refer to east Jerusalem as "occupied".

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ABC breaks the silence on inanity

ABC breaks the silence on inanity Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

ABC Newsradio Drive host Tracey Holmes is an accomplished journalist with Middle East experience. As such, it was puzzling that she would use the controversial NGO Breaking the Silence - an organisation dealing exclusively with IDF conduct in the West Bank - as her source for a lengthy interview regarding Australian policy towards east Jerusalem, a territory both she and her subject should be well aware is covered by Israeli law and not subject to military administration.

Pejorative words will not give peace a chance

Pejorative words will not give peace a chance Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Federal Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has been attacked from various quarters - including by Joseph Wakim in these pages (''An occupied land suffers from preoccupied minds'', Times2, June 9, p5) - for announcing that the Australian government will not refer to east Jerusalem as "occupied".

Yet what has been portrayed by detractors as a "radical" step, and as taking sides in the conflict is actually the opposite.

Hamas still committed to Israel’s destruction, despite unity deal

Hamas still committed to Israel’s destruction, despite unity deal Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

A new Palestinian unity government was sworn in on Monday, following an agreement struck between Fatah and Hamas on April 23 to end years of division. Israel is reportedly disappointed that the US has said it will work with the Palestinian unity government, despite the fact that Hamas is considered a terrorist group in the US, and remains committed to Israel's destruction through violent "resistance".

The new Palestinian Fatah-Hamas government

The new Palestinian Fatah-Hamas government Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

This Update deals with the establishment of a new "technocratic" Palestinian government  - agreed on by Fatah and Hamas and sworn in yesterday - following on from a unity deal reaced in late April. It probes the reasons for the agreement between bitter rivals Fatah and Hamas, the issues likely to come up between them, and the implications for hopes of progress toward peace.

Settlement housing starts slowing, yet media fails to report it

Settlement housing starts slowing, yet media fails to report it Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics released its quarterly statistics on housing starts on Thursday, a document which includes data on Israel's construction in its West Bank settlements. That report showed that construction is down 76.4 per cent from the same quarter in 2013.

The announcement marked the fourth straight quarter of decreases, and housing starts in the settlements are now at its second lowest point since Israel's unilateral construction freeze in 2010.

These facts have not been reported outside of Israel. Instead, foreign correspondents have unfailingly chosen to focus on alarmist reports issued by left-wing NGOs, especially Peace Now, over the same period which are based almost entirely on the misleading criteria of Israeli government "announcements" or the "promotion" of settlement plans to create an illusion that settlement growth was increasing. In fact, it demonstrably was not.

Editorial: At a Crossroads Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

The apparent failure of US Secretary of State John Kerry's Israeli-Palestinian peace talks initiative - launched under a self-imposed nine-month deadline last July and concluding at the end of April - was unfortunately not altogether unexpected.

Nevertheless, it was a disappointment for those of us who support a negotiated two-state peace resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Scribblings: Israeli Arabs for a Jewish State

Scribblings: Israeli Arabs for a Jewish State Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Extreme critics of Israel tend to argue that Israel's existence as a Jewish homeland is inherently racist. Never mind that most countries in the world have some sort of ethnic identity associated with them - including almost all of Israel's Arab neighbours - and that both Israel's constitution and Israeli public opinion are very clear that the national goal is to both embody the Jewish people's right to self-determination and be completely democratic, with absolutely equal rights for minority citizens.

Deconstruction Zone: Palestinian Magical Thinking Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

So April 29th has passed, and the nine-month period allotted by the current US Administration for its effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute has come and gone. Entirely predictably, it has failed, in its entirety.

What can be learned from the failure?

The failure of the talks was predictable first and foremost because of the irreconcilable positions of the sides. This is not a matter of small details, as is sometimes maintained...

The Deep UN

The Deep UN Author: Ben Cohen Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

The April reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian Authority's dominant Fatah faction and the Islamist Hamas movement has come as a shock to many. It shouldn't have. In the weeks before the deal, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had already taken steps with a profoundly negative impact on the US-sponsored peace talks. Building on his modest success in winning a 2012 UN General Assembly vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's status to that of a non-member state - a designation it shares only with the Vatican - Abbas returned to this unilateralist strategy of peace avoidance by signing 15 applications for membership in a variety of international agencies, conventions, and treaties.

Decision Time

Decision Time Author: Robert Satloff Categories: America, Israel, Palestinians    

As narratives about the root causes of the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations take shape, US leaders have a major decision to make about whether to disengage from diplomacy or deepen involvement in less high-profile ways.

The contours of that choice emerge from a detailed, impassioned, and painstakingly evenhanded speech delivered by Ambassador Martin Indyk to The Washington Institute's Weinberg Founders Conference on May 8, 2014, chronicling the nine months of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations he stewarded on behalf of Secretary Kerry.

The Biblio File: The Triumph and Tragedy of Ari Shavit

The Biblio File: The Triumph and Tragedy of Ari Shavit Author: Sol Stern Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Ari Shavit's My Promised Land may well be the most commercially successful, yet also critically acclaimed book by an Israeli writer explaining his country's complicated history to English-speaking readers.

Some of this adulation is well deserved. Shavit is the most talented Israeli journalist of his generation. Like most of his Haaretz colleagues Shavit started out as an enthusiast for the Oslo accords and the peace process, but then experienced second thoughts. He broke with the Israeli left after becoming convinced by facts on the ground that the Palestinians were not reliable partners for achieving a compromise, two-state solution.

Palestinian Journalists abet attack on Israeli journalists in West Bank

Palestinian Journalists abet attack on Israeli journalists in West Bank Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Journalists don't get off easy. As has been widely reported, Australian journalist Peter Greste has been detained and held in appalling conditions in Egypt since December on charges of allegedly defaming their government and having ties to the ousted Muslim Brotherhood. He is one of many journalists detained by the Egyptian government for doing his job and reporting the news.

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"How dare you talk to one another!" The ‘Anti-Normalisation’ campaign continues to obstruct reconciliation in the Middle East

"How dare you talk to one another!" The ‘Anti-Normalisation’ campaign continues to obstruct reconciliation in the Middle East Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

What if someone told you that Israelis and Palestinians weren't fighting each other, but were fighting together, for peace and reconciliation. There are NGOs and individuals based in Israel and the Palestinian territories doing just that; working together to promote dialogue, co-operation and ultimately peaceful co-existence.

Fatah officials also embrace rejectionism following unity deal with Hamas

Fatah officials also embrace rejectionism following unity deal with Hamas Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

In a previous post, we documented the extremist rhetoric emanating from Hamas officials in the aftermath of the recent unity deal with Fatah, including their unwillingness to recognise Israel under any circumstance, or adhere to the Quartet’s conditions and renounce violence as a means to pursue their goals. Now it would appear that even within Fatah, officials are making disturbingly similar statements.

Rewriting history

Rewriting history Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Jordan, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Pro-Palestinian propagandists often allege that measures such as checkpoints and the Security Barrier are not necessary for security but are rather there merely to subjugate Palestinians. They also claim that Israel never seriously considered returning the land to Jordanian control or, alternatively, weighed the possibility of the creation of a Palestinian state. Such claims ignore mountains of evidence to the contrary - dating back to 1967, including the eyewitness accounts of journalists which form part of the historical record of the period.

Part two of a two-part blog.

Through the eyes of a dove: the truth about the early years of Israeli rule over the West Bank

Through the eyes of a dove: the truth about the early years of Israeli rule over the West Bank Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

As one of Israel's most highly respected legal scholars, columnists and politicians who spent his political career in parties left of Labor - and a fierce critic of Israeli West Bank settlements - Amnon Rubinstein has never been accused of sugarcoating his country's policies in the West Bank and Gaza.

This is why - as we approach 47th anniversary of the Six Day War next month - it is revealing to take a look back at some of Rubinstein's earlier writings on the subject - especially, his body of seven feature-length articles that he wrote for the New York Times between mid-1968 and mid-1973.

Part one of a two-part blog.

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Where to now for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking?

Where to now for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking? Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

With the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks indefinitely suspended since the Fatah-Hamas deal in late April, this Update focuses on where the quest for peace might go from here.

First up is Dr. Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who takes as his starting point a much-analysed speech at the Institute a few days ago by American Middle East mediator (and former Australian) Martin Indyk.

Hamas’ response to Palestinian unity deal: Urging kids to “shoot all the Jews”

Hamas’ response to Palestinian unity deal: Urging kids to “shoot all the Jews” Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Antisemitism, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

After Fatah and Hamas announced a Palestinian national reconciliation deal , Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other Fatah officials tried to argue that the deal means that Hamas would de facto recognise Israel, at least within pre-67' borders. It quickly became clear that Hamas had some very different ideas and views regarding the unity government, and very publicly contradicted the Fatah claims.

Buzzwords and Blunders: John Kerry's 'Apartheid' Comment

Buzzwords and Blunders: John Kerry's 'Apartheid' Comment Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned a room of world leaders last Friday that Israel was in danger of becoming an Apartheid state, according to The Daily Beast. He reportedly said: “A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”

The latest Fatah-Hamas deal

The latest Fatah-Hamas deal Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement agreed to a unity deal with Hamas, which rules Gaza, last week - an agreement which appeared to rule out an extension of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks whose scheduled end-date was Wednesday. This Update deals with the details, background, and implications of the deal, as well as the motivations of the players involved.

Peace eludes Israel amid unrealistic expectations

Peace eludes Israel amid unrealistic expectations Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Tony Walker is certain Israel's West Bank settlements are illegal. (Out on a limb over settlements, AFR 12-13 April). International law is far less certain. Many eminent experts have argued strongly that the claim they are illegal is based on an incorrect reading of Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention. These include Professor Julius Stone, who was professor of international law at Sydney University for 30 years, and former International Court of Justice president Stephen Schwebel.

Scribblings: History of the Recognition Condition Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Jewry, Israel, Palestinians    

I've written before about the fallacy of media claims alleging that Israel's requirement that a peace treaty with the Palestinians recognise Israel as a "Jewish state" or "nation-state of the Jewish people" is a "new demand". Rather than something the current Netanyahu Government just thought up - possibly to thwart progress toward peace as is sometimes alleged - the idea was pushed during 2007 negotiating sessions by Tzipi Livni, then-Foreign Minister in the Olmert Government, according to the leaked Palestinian documents called the "Palestine papers".

Down, but not yet out

Down, but not yet out Author: Dennis Ross Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

In 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry looked at the Middle East, saw enormous upheaval, and judged that the last thing the United States needed was to add to this upheaval. In his view, as long as there was a certain level of stability between Israelis and Palestinians, Washington's task was to build upon it and make certain it was not lost. He also believed that his personal relations with the two leaders gave him the potential to produce an agreement.

All wet on West Bank water

All wet on West Bank water Author: Akiva Bigman Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

The issue of water rights in the West Bank is constantly raised in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, appearing again and again in public discourse around the world. According to critics of Israel, the Jewish state selfishly exploits the area's water supplies and denies access to the local population. In doing so, the critics say, Israel is not only abandoning its responsibilities to the West Bank Palestinians, but ruthlessly and illegally abusing the natural resources of the occupied territory. 

Peace process crisis/ Palestinians learning about the Holocaust?

Peace process crisis/ Palestinians learning about the Holocaust? Categories: Holocaust/ War Crimes, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update leads with the crisis in the peace process, with US Secretary of State John Kerry cancelling a planned trip to the Middle East after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed applications for "Palestine" to join 15 international bodies in violation of the agreement underlying the deal to hold talks for nine months. This occurred after Israel failed to release a scheduled group of 26 Palestinian prisoners on March 29, arguing that Palestinians were not living up to their side of the deal by refusing to negotiate directly since November.

Three "noes" from Abbas?

Three "noes" from Abbas? Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met US President Obama last week. The meeting, which one Palestinian negotiator described as "difficult",  received relatively low-key coverage at the time, but later Israeli coverage, based on US Administation sources, suggests that Abbas was particularly negative and rejected three key elements of the US Secretary of State John Kerry's "framework agreement" for peace. Yesterday, Kerry met with Abbas in Amman to try to narrow the gaps, as the US scrambles to try to find a way to keep the talks alive after their scheduled end date in late April, with the PA placing new conditions on any such continuation. This Update looks at the state of play in the peace process in the wake of Abbas' apparent "three noes" in Washington.

Palestinian propaganda's "free kick" in Australian Parliament

Palestinian propaganda's "free kick" in Australian Parliament Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In remarks in federal Parliament on Monday, South Australian MP Tony Zappia, citing an unspecified report, claimed that "two teenage Palestinian soccer players were allegedly shot in the feet [by Israeli troops] to prevent them from ever playing soccer again."
In referencing this incident, Zappia stumbled across one of the most egregious and vile cases of anti-Israel propaganda in recent months, yet one which is most easily disprovable.

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Palestinian rhetoric and the rejection of recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland

Palestinian rhetoric and the rejection of recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Palestinians, Updates    

The question of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is now at the centre of the public debate about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. While Israeli officials and expert commentators have explained the logic behind Netanyahu's pursuit of Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state, the opposite question was too rarely posed to the Palestinians- why not?

Essay: With Friends Like These...

Essay: With Friends Like These... Author: Efraim Karsh Categories: Middle East, Palestinians    

For most of the twentieth century, inter-Arab politics were dominated by the doctrine of pan-Arabism, postulating the existence of "a single nation bound by the common ties of language, religion and history... behind the facade of a multiplicity of sovereign states". No single issue dominated this doctrine more than the "Palestine question" with anti-Zionism forming the main common denominator of pan-Arab solidarity and its most effective rallying cry. But the actual policies of the Arab states have shown far less concern for pan-Arab ideals, let alone for the well-being of the Palestinians, than for their own self-serving interests.

Editorial: Abbas' Moment of Truth Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

As US Secretary of State John Kerry's self-imposed nine-month deadline for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations approaches, evidence is growing that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas' true objective may not be to strike a deal that would give his people a state, but rather to run away from such a pact and the difficult compromises it would entail.

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Recognising Reality

Recognising Reality Author: BICOM Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's position that a permanent status agreement resulting in a two state solution must include explicit Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is rejected by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, and is a key point of contention in the peace process.

Peace and the Partnership Problem

Peace and the Partnership Problem Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Khaled Abu Toameh, veteran Palestinian Affairs reporter for the Jerusalem Post and other major international media, told a group of AIJAC supporters in Melbourne on February 28 that current US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians appeared almost certain to fail no matter what Israel says or does, principally because Israel's negotiating partner Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas lacks the credibility and mandate to implement any agreement.

Yaari: Coping Without a Peace Deal

Yaari: Coping Without a Peace Deal Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Syria    

The Palestinian leadership will never agree to a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines and an end to the conflict with Israel unless all of its demands are met, but that does not mean Israel should not take the initiative towards a two-state outcome. That was a core message of renowned Israeli journalist, commentator and author Ehud Yaari who recently visited Australia as a guest of AIJAC. 

Confirmed: Construction in settlement outside major blocs very low

Confirmed: Construction in settlement outside major blocs very low Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In a follow-up to my blog post from March 6 on the subject of the reality of construction in Israel's West Bank settlements, a new look at the numbers from former Bush Administration deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams. Abrams' detailed figures confirm more definitely that, as I said, "housing construction within Israel's West Bank settlements under the Netanyahu government remains at some of the lowest levels in years". In fact, construction outside major settlement blocs - areas that Israel is expected to keep through mutually agreed land swaps in any potential peace agreement - was very low, and probably amounted to not more than a few hundred homes.

Moreover, even that extremely limited construction may no longer be taking place, now that Israeli media has reported on what appears to be a silent settlement freeze that has been put into effect outside of the settlement blocs.

Why Abbas looks unready to say "yes" to Kerry

Why Abbas looks unready to say "yes" to Kerry Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is due to visit Washington this weekend, following on from the visit last week by Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. While reports say that Israel is prepared to say yes, with reservations to the "Framework agreement" on Israeli-Palestinian peace that US Secretary of State John Kerry is brokering, signs from Abbas have been less positive, with reports from Palestinian sources that Abbas "exploded with rage over the US Secretary’s proposals, and described them as 'insanity'" at a meeting in late February. He even gave a speech on March 6 to young Fatah activists which emphatically ruled out compromise on both the right of return or any recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland (video here, transcript here.)

Lyons' angry roar hides lack of substance

Lyons' angry roar hides lack of substance Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

In a nearly 1,100 word response to Greg Sheridan's dismissal of his "Four Corners" hatchet job on Israel, one might have expected John Lyons would have found space to answer the factual questions raised by his critics. Instead he preferred to attack Sheridan for relying on analysis by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) that debunked many of Lyons' claims (Australian, March 8).

In Gaza, some NGOs place water politics over public health

In Gaza, some NGOs place water politics over public health Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Gaza's water quality issues, due to years of overpumping from their coastal aquifers as well as other factors such as agricultural pollution, and sewage dumping, are well documented. However, efforts by some NGOs to implement what has been determined by experts to be the most effective solution - desalination - has been met by staunch opposition by some 30 Palestinian and pro-Palestinian organisations and NGOs. They made this clear in a position paper they issued on March 9 through the Palestinian water issue-focused NGO umbrella coalition EWASH. It's enlightening to examine their reasons for opposing desalination, in their own words.

AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 - Highlights and Controversies

AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 - Highlights and Controversies Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The annual AIPAC (America-Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference wrapped up on March 4, following an eventful three days with important statements made by US and Israeli leaders.

The conference came at a critical time for US-Israel relations, as US Secretary of State John Kerry is soon expected to announce a ‘framework' for continued Israeli and Palestinian negotiations, and after AIPAC's decision to withdraw its support for a new Iran-sanctions Bill, following strong pressure from the US Administration. The conference also came on the same day that US President Barack Obama had some strong words for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg.

Not all doom and gloom in Hebron

Not all doom and gloom in Hebron Author: Michael Thurin Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In a display that would leave anti-Israel proponents seething, Israeli media has captured an incident of Israeli-Palestinian harmony.

The Elder of Ziyon posted the following video on March 4, showing an IDF soldier giving two young Palestinian boys sandwiches in the West Bank town of Hebron. One of the boys spontaneously hugged the soldier and then cheekily replied "shukran" ("thank you" in Arabic) after receiving the gift.

Israel seizes an Iranian arms shipment to Hamas/ The Kerry Plan

Israel seizes an Iranian arms shipment to Hamas/ The Kerry Plan Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On Wednesday, the Israeli Navy stopped a merchant vessel, the Klos-C, in the Red Sea. It was carrying advanced Syrian-made long-range surface to surface missiles allegedly bound for Gaza and sent there by Iran (all probably unknown to the crew). The IDF has released a detailed video explaining the origins and previous movements of the missiles, and another showing their discovery by Israeli soldiers in shipping containers supposedly carrying cement.

Settlement housing starts, by the numbers

Settlement housing starts, by the numbers Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

During an interview published on Sunday between Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg and US President Barack Obama, the President made the allegation that "we have seen more aggressive [Israeli West Bank] settlement construction over the last couple years than we've seen in a very long time".

Then on Tuesday, the Australian news portal Yahoo7 published an AFP story headlined "West Bank settlement starts double in 2013: Israel". The wire story, apparently distributed without a byline, used newly released data from the Israeli Bureau of Statistics as the basis for a story that relied on comments from Obama, Palestinian official Jibril Rajub and Peace Now to promote a narrative that the construction is out of proportion to previous trends and imperils the possibility of creating a contiguous Palestinian state as part of a two-state peace outcome. 

Beyond the rhetoric, however, the real questions that must be asked are whether current construction in the settlements are actually at high levels, and does the character of construction taking place adversely affect the possibility of a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement? In response to both questions, the evidence overwhelmingly says "no".

Video: Ehud Yaari on the Middle East

Video: Ehud Yaari on the Middle East Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Multimedia, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Ehud Yaari is a renowned veteran Israeli journalist, arguably Israel's most authoritative and influential foreign affairs analyst. He is a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel 2 news, has written eight books on the Israeli-Arab conflict and has won top prizes for journalism in Israel.

He addressed AIJAC supporters in Melbourne on the regional turmoil surrounding Israel – including Syria, al-Qaeda, Egypt and the Palestinians – on February 23, 2014.

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On Israel, Amnesty shoots first, asks questions later

On Israel, Amnesty shoots first, asks questions later Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

On February 27, Amnesty International (AI) released a sensationalist report titled "Trigger Happy: Israel's use of excessive force in the West Bank".  This report, perhaps not surprisingly, is arguably biased against Israel. This is not because of the subject matter - it is certainly legitimate to examine the way the IDF uses force - but both in the way that it singles Israel out for intense scrutiny compared to other countries and because of the double standard AI has used against the IDF in determining what constitutes excessive force.

In a poor sign for a two state solution, Palestinians refuse to pay for utilities services

In a poor sign for a two state solution, Palestinians refuse to pay for utilities services Author: Michael Thurin Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

AIJAC senior policy analyst Ahron Shapiro previously reported on Dec. 4 on the electricity and fuel crises in Gaza. Now a recent development is highlighting continuing difficulties in delivering utilities to Palestinians.

The Jerusalem District Electricity Company's (JDEC) has proposed to raise the price of electricity across the West Bank in response to the Palestinian Authority's refusal to repay millions of shekels of debt.

Editorial: Sense and Sensationalism Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

Last year, the Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons interviewed Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor on camera over the treatment of Palestinian minors arrested by the Israel Defence Forces for violent crime.

Asked about a critical report on the subject by UNICEF in March 2013, Palmor answered: "I have to say one thing that may come as a surprise to you. UNICEF did not write this report by themselves. They were assisted all along by Israeli lawyers, from the Military Attorney General, from the Ministry of Justice, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by Israeli civil servants who deal with this issue day by day and who want the situation to improve with the help of UNICEF."

Scribblings: Building up "Resistance" Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians    

In the past, Hamas, as rulers of Gaza, have repeatedly reacted strongly to reports the UN agency UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), which runs almost half of the schools in Gaza, planned to teach students about the Holocaust as part of its "human rights" module. This was called a "crime against Palestinians" and even a "war crime" while the Holocaust was described as "a lie made up by the Zionists." (Indeed, even Palestinian teachers unaffiliated with Hamas working for UNRWA have said that they will never teach about the Holocaust.)

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Red Hot Injustice

Red Hot Injustice Author: Jamie Hyams and Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

The ABC's Four Corners, together with the Australian newspaper's Middle East correspondent John Lyons, produced a story, "Stone Cold Justice" about the alleged Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian minors it arrests in the West Bank. Their basic thesis is that Israel has a new policy of arresting Palestinian children in the West Bank in the middle of the night, then torturing them to create a culture of fear and to gather information to use against Palestinian non-violent resistance. This is categorically untrue.

Abbreviated version - Red Hot Injustice

Abbreviated version - Red Hot Injustice Author: Jamie Hyams and Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

This analysis is a shortened summary of a much longer and more detailed critique of the ABC Four Corners program in question - complete with full sourcing for all claims made in it - available on the AIJAC website. We urge anyone interested in the subject to view the full critique at www.aijac.org.au/news/article/red-hot-injustice

The ABC's "Four Corners", together with the Australian newspaper's Middle East correspondent John Lyons, produced a story, "Stone Cold Justice" about the alleged Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian minors it arrests in the West Bank. Their basic thesis is that Israel has a new policy of arresting Palestinian children in the West Bank in the middle of the night, then torturing them to create a culture of fear and to gather information to use against Palestinian non-violent resistance. This is categorically untrue.

Elements of the current Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Elements of the current Israeli-Palestinian peace process Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features three enlightening pieces on important elements of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process currently being mediated by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry is currently trying to get both sides to sign up, albeit with reservations, to a US-written "Framework agreement" that would broadly outline the principles of peace before the current round of talks expire in early April - Israeli analyst Shlomo Brom discusses more of the detail here.

Proven performance - PA system of incentives for terrorism shown to work

Proven performance - PA system of incentives for terrorism shown to work Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

In my blog post from December 10, I attempted to shine a spotlight on the financial benefits showered upon Palestinians convicted of attacking Israelis - including monthly stipends while in prison and high-paying jobs upon release. I pointed out that essentially, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was encouraging and incentivising Palestinians to commit acts of terrorism. Now, here's a case that exemplifies it.

Carr's view on settlements is counter-productive

Carr's view on settlements is counter-productive Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

BOB Carr ("West Bank settlements always illegal", February 11) has accused the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council of directing "a furious effort at trying to block" his "routine criticism" of settlements while he was foreign minister, "as if this were more vital than advocating a two-state solution or opposing boycotts of Israel".

This accusation grossly misrepresents AIJAC's position...

"Stone Cold Sensationalism" from ABC's Four Corners

"Stone Cold Sensationalism" from ABC's Four Corners Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The ABC has done it again - this time in the massively promoted "Four Corners" program on Monday about Israeli treatment of children - created together with the Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons. Most of the allegations in the program about abuses of Palestinian minors during arrest and interrogation were just that - uncorroborated allegations, with no supporting evidence provided by the ABC or the Australian. While the story claimed that UNICEF "found" the allegations to be true, this is wrong - the UN agency merely "found" that these concerning allegations exist but did not investigate further.

When a journalist becomes a storyteller

When a journalist becomes a storyteller Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

In an extended version of a viewpoint that originally appeared in the Australian Jewish News, AIJAC Policy Analyst Ahron Shapiro slams the ABC's latest Four Corners episode, "Stone Cold Justice". In the essay, Shapiro suggests Middle East correspondent John Lyons may have sacrificed basic principles of ethical journalism in order to create an unsubstantiated documentary script that fit a particular world view.

Three telling factual problems with 4Corners' "Stone Cold Justice"

Three telling factual problems with 4Corners' "Stone Cold Justice" Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

AIJAC is currently researching and compiling a detailed critique of all the elements of the controversial ABC Four Corners documentary "Stone Cold Justice", made with John Lyons of the Australian, and aired on Monday (Feb.10). We hope this will be available shortly.  In the meantime, here are three examples of obviously inadequate fact-checking or failure to provide proper context in the documentary and the parallel article in the Australian by John Lyons last Saturday (Feb.8). Sadly, they seem to be typical of a larger pattern in a documentary that appears to have been much more about sensationalist point scoring than about the careful weighing of evidence or fair and balanced journalism.

Four Corners "Stone Cold Justice" - links to useful sources

Four Corners "Stone Cold Justice" - links to useful sources Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

On February 10 ABC "Four Corners" broadcast an episode titled "Stone Cold Justice", in cooperation with John Lyons from the Australian, which looked at Israel's policies regarding the treatment of Palestinian minors arrested in the West Bank.

While the episode raises important issues regarding the treatment of Palestinian minors, the ABC's report failed to provide adequate background and its approach was sensationalised and one-sided. In addition, Israel has already publicly committed to changing its practices as a UNICEF report in October 2013 confirmed, which the program only mentioned in passing.

We recommend that those interested in the problems with the ABC Four Corners report read the following sources...

Scarjo stands up for SodaStream's Palestinian workers

Scarjo stands up for SodaStream's Palestinian workers Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

It is not unusual for Superbowl advertisements to spark controversy in America and around the world. This year, before it has even gone to air, an advert for SodaStream starring Scarlett "Scarjo" Johansson has caused considerable hysteria. ...

Ordinarily, a leading Hollywood actress appearing in a Superbowl advertisement to promote a company that sells machines to carbonate water would seem unremarkable. SodaStream, however, happens to be Israeli. ... After the BDS activists were riled up, it did not take long for Johansson's position as an ambassador for global charity Oxfam to be thrown into the spotlight....

US "Framework" for peace document on the way?

US "Framework" for peace document on the way? Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Today's Update deals with reports that the US is only weeks away from issuing a "framework" document outlining broad principles for Israeli-Palestinian peace that it is hoped both sides can adopt with reservations.

We lead with a news report based on off-the-record briefings given by former Australian Martin Indyk, the American mediator, about the content of, and plans for, the "framework document." Indyk reportedly told US Jewish leaders in the phone hook-up that the document will be released within a few weeks and will contain few surprises for either side, because it is based on extensive consultations with them.

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Editorial: Honouring Sharon's Legacy Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians    

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who passed away on January 11, will surely be remembered as one of Israel's greatest military and political leaders.

This is not because he was universally beloved - he was not - nor because his judgement was necessarily always superior - on the contrary, his various missteps are a matter of record.

Rather, Sharon earned his place in Israel's pantheon of leaders as a battle-tested man of action whose vigorous defence of Jewish national rights was only superseded by his desire for a lasting peace.

Scribblings: Erdogan's Dubious Friends

Scribblings: Erdogan's Dubious Friends Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Turkey    

Here's a fascinating - and very telling - story from Turkey which has not really made it into the Australian media.

On Jan. 14, Turkish police staged a sweep in which they arrested 28 people alleged to be recruiting or otherwise working for al-Qaeda in raids across six provinces. Police also raided an office of the IHH, a Turkish Islamist NGO best known for coordinating the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza in 2010.

Yarmouk - A real case of Palestinians living "under siege"

Yarmouk - A real case of Palestinians living "under siege" Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

The civil war in Syria has created a humanitarian crisis on a huge scale. Yet some aspects of that catastrophe have received little media attention. For instance, the reported intentional, cruel and cynical blocking of the provision of urgently needed humanitarian aid is one such aspect. Now another issue deserving of international attention, but not receiving it, has become apparent - the starvation of Palestinian refugees in Syria, most notably in the Yarmouk camp on the edge of Damascus.

UN strikes expose Palestinian internal tensions

UN strikes expose Palestinian internal tensions Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

To those who follow events in the West Bank, the reports coming out of the "refugee camps" administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would sound quite familiar. ...

Indeed, the image of the refugees throwing stones at police and receiving tear gas in response has to some extent defined Israeli/Palestinian relations at least since the eruption of the First Intifada in 1987.

This incident however, has one caveat. ... The police who were firing tear gas at, and apparently lobbing rocks back at, the protestors were Palestinian Authority police.

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There can't be peace without compromise between Israel and the Palestinians

There can't be peace without compromise between Israel and the Palestinians Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

JOSEPH Wakim's metaphor of refugees taking over a home ("Australia must find balance on Palestinians," January 10) is all very nice, but completely irrelevant to the Israeli/Palestinian situation.

It falsely assumes that the Palestinians were there first and the Jews came later and forced them out and that Israel has never offered to share the land nor been subjected to violence.

Signs of hope

Signs of hope Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Often when discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is easy to despair, but if we search there are stories waiting to be told about every day people that give us hope and inspiration. Here are some of those stories....

Dam lies

Dam lies Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Gaza's Hamas government makes wild accusations against Israel all the time, but not all are as easily disproven as the latest one - their claim that Israel had "opened dams" along Gaza's border during the recent winter storm, flooding neighbourhoods and causing thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes.

Aspects of Peacemaking Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update contains insightful new articles dealing with three different important issues that will have to be resolved in any Israeli-Palestinian final peace agreement - or even a "framework agreement" of the sort that US Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to broker by April. Specifically, it deals with the subjects of recognition of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, borders and settlements in the West Bank, and Palestinian refugees.

Securing Peace

Securing Peace Author: Ron Ben Yishai Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

US Secretary of State John Kerry's meetings in Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the second week of December - focussed on US proposals for security arrangements for a final agreement - were historic. That can be said without fear of overstatement and even without knowing all the details, because the security issue is the matter which has locked the current peace negotiations into a deadlock. It is also the matter that was most difficult to solve in the previous negotiations held in a bid to reach a permanent agreement.

Opportunity created by Hamas disarray

Opportunity created by Hamas disarray Author: Ely Karmon Categories: Middle East, Palestinians    

A string of major regional developments over the past two years has left the Islamist Hamas government in Gaza in dire straits and opened up new opportunities for Israel and Palestinian moderates.

In backing the Sunni rebels in the Syrian civil war, Hamas forfeited its special ties with its biggest arms supplier, Iran; the military ouster of its Muslim Brotherhood allies in Cairo put serious strains on its relations with Egypt; and a change of leadership in Qatar left a big question-mark over the extent of financial aid from the oil-rich Gulf state it can continue to count on.

ABC, terrorists aren't soldiers

ABC, terrorists aren't soldiers Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

In a special year-end edition of ABC's Correspondents Report, host Elizabeth Jackson took her staff on the air with her for a "behind the scenes" look at the program and gave them a chance to discuss some of their favourite segments of the past year.

During the segment, Jackson recalled the most memorable report she heard in her seven years with the show. To her credit, it was a 2006 report by David Hardaker detailing a 1979 Palestinian terror attack on an Israeli family. Unfortunately, by erroneously describing the terrorist infiltrators as "soldiers", Jackson left listeners needlessly confused.

Lee Rhiannon's sin of omission

Lee Rhiannon's sin of omission Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Palestinians, Updates    

Greens spokesperson for Animal Welfare Senator Lee Rhiannon has never missed an opportunity to name countries that import live Australian cattle, especially when cases of abuse arise, and often right in the headline of her media releases and tweets.

It's more than a little curious then, that when the abuse case occurred in the Gaza Strip, as what happened in the most recent incident reported in the Australian press on Thursday, Senator Rhiannon not only omitted the location where the abuse took place in the headline, but conspicuously failed to mention it once in her entire 277-word media release, on her Facebook page, or in any of her tweets on the subject that we've seen - despite the fact that she called the abuse "the worst we've seen yet".

New Phase of Israeli-Palestinian Talks?/ The Media and Disinformation

New Phase of Israeli-Palestinian Talks?/ The Media and Disinformation Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Today's Update deals with reports that, as US Secretary of State Kerry visits Israel yet again, the US is apparently preparing to change its currently low-key role in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and present a "framework agreement" setting out the broad outlines of a peace deal. It also contains an important article on an increasing willingness by both some journalists and others to recognise propaganda outfits as legitimate media outlets.

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Cooperation with Israel on water could solve Arab water crises

Cooperation with Israel on water could solve Arab water crises Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Israel is a world leader in water technology, and has made itself effectively ‘drought proof' in a region suffering a severe water crisis, through its investment in areas such as desalination, waste water recycling and drip irrigation. Israel's achievements in water technology stand as a ready example of best practice for the Arab region and the Palestinians in particular.

Salafist terror spreads to the West Bank

Salafist terror spreads to the West Bank Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The deaths of three Palestinian terror suspects who had opened fire on Israeli troops sent to arrest them near Hebron on Tuesday was unfortunately not an altogether rare occurrence.

The decline in successful terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent years has been widely attributed to the effectiveness of Israel's intelligence and security forces in capturing terrorists before they have a chance of executing deadly attacks. Occasionally, the suspects choose to attempt to kill the soldiers who come to arrest them, with unfortunate but predictable results.

However, the details of these suspects and several of their associates who had been arrested earlier without incident, was very unusual, as analysts noted this marked the first time Salafist Palestinians in the West Bank, allied ideologically with al-Qaeda, have been caught red-handed planning terror attacks.

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Hamas in difficulties/ Saudi Arabia and the Iran nuclear deal

Hamas in difficulties/ Saudi Arabia and the Iran nuclear deal Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on Hamas' increasingly difficult situation in Gaza. It also includes an analysis, following up on the last Update, on the Saudi Arabian reaction to the interim nuclear deal signed with Iran last weekend.

First up is Israeli counter-terror specialist Ely Karmon on Hamas' increasingly isolated situation internationally and domestic difficulties within their Gaza fiefdom. He notes that the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and the subsequent all-out efforts of the Egyptian army to close down smuggling into Gaza from Sinai have not only left Hamas in shock but also affected Hamas' internal regime in Gaza.

Hamas-Fatah dispute causes major Gaza blackouts - why no coverage?

Hamas-Fatah dispute causes major Gaza blackouts - why no coverage? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

A dispute between Hamas and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) over the price of fuel has resulted in Hamas shutting down the Gaza Strip's power plant, which has left Gazans with blackouts lasting between 12 to 18 hours a day. It has also caused a sanitation crisis, with raw sewage flooding the streets of a southern Gaza City neighborhood after a pump station flooded.

This dire situation is getting almost no coverage in Australia - though you could bet if Israel was responsible, it would likely be major news.

Scribblings: The Arab States and Palestinian "return" Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Middle East, Palestinians    

As is widely known, most Arab states have not exactly been welcoming to the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants. Virtually all Arab states deny Palestinians citizenship even when they are born on their territory - Jordan being the one major exception. There are often additional restrictions that keep Palestinians from building a normal life even after living in a country for generations - restrictions on holding many jobs, on accessing the national education and health systems, on owning land and even where they can live. Lebanon is the worst offender in this regard, but not the only one.

Highly Inciteful

Highly Inciteful Author: David Pollock Categories: Antisemitism, Palestinians    

Even as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are underway, official Palestinian Authority (PA) media are still broadcasting girls singing about Jews as "the sons of apes and pigs," and still paying effusive tribute to Palestinian terrorists convicted for murdering Israeli civilians. To get these negotiations started, Israel agreed to release 104 such prisoners; but the Palestinian government continues to glorify them as heroes, offering them as role models for the next generation. If this kind of incitement keeps up, how can Israel reasonably take risks for peace - and how could any peace agreement endure?

One woman’s story illustrates some Gaza realities

One woman’s story illustrates some Gaza realities Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Sara Rogers' story sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster. While living in New Mexico she met Hatem Abu Taha. Hatem proposed three days after they met, and they went on to get married and have three kids together. Then the plot thickened: in 2001, when Sara was pregnant with their fourth child, Hatem decided they should all visit his family, in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Upon arrival, Sara was forced to stay in Gaza, trapped in her husband's family home for four years, until she finally managed to escape with her children across border to Israel, and then back to the US.

Now living in Boston, she recounts her story, and her experiences shatter some of the most prevalent misperceptions about the Gaza Strip

The truth behind the wrecking ball

The truth behind the wrecking ball Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

The Palestinian Authority-aligned news agency Ma'an is hardly ever used as the primary source for an article in major international outlets, and for good reason. They produce advocacy journalism for the Palestinian cause, and have a pattern of one-sided and sometimes wildly inaccurate, biased and misleading reporting.

On November 2, however, John Lyons did just that in a story for the Weekend Australian. The story, "New wave of demolitions in Jerusalem", was based on a story published online by Ma'an on October 31. In his story, Lyons uncritically parroted a claim by a Palestinian official that 200 buildings were threatened with demolition, potentially displacing 15,000 Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders praised prisoners’ crimes of murder

Palestinian leaders praised prisoners’ crimes of murder Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Last week Israel released an additional 26 Palestinian prisoners, as part of a deal made in July to encourage the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel. The prisoners were all convicted for murder before the 1993 Oslo Accords were signed, and were serving life sentences. Despite the horrific nature of their crimes, they received a hero's welcome upon their return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as virtually all Palestinian prisoners do upon their release.

Hamas faces isolation and its own domestic "resistance" movement

Hamas faces isolation and its own domestic "resistance" movement Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

As the Palestinian Authority (PA) receives international plaudits for participating in peace talks with Israel and a domestic fillip for securing the release of a second batch of long-term Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, Hamas, its Islamist rival in Gaza is at a low ebb, battling declining popular support and regional influence.

The deterioration in its fortunes is described in the Times of Israel by Avi Issacharoff who writes that "This isn't the same terror organization - it's now a movement more occupied with its survival as a ruling government."

Jerusalem Arabs being treated as political pawns

Jerusalem Arabs being treated as political pawns Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

As peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians continue, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to an agreement. ... The status of Jerusalem involves complex considerations of unity and division, and fiery debate on this issue has become a staple of Israeli politics. Many of these realities were brought to light in last week's municipal elections...

The crimes of the latest batch of Palestinian prisoners released

The crimes of the latest batch of Palestinian prisoners released Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The crimes of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released today are shocking with all having committed murder including some who kidnapped and then axed, tortured or burned their victims to death. All were supposed to be serving life sentences for their crimes. Israel's agreement to free these prisoners is a strong reminder of the painful price Israel is willing to pay for the prospect of peace with the Palestinians.

Scribblings: The meaning of "Jihad" Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians    

Religion, any religion, can be a source of spiritual fulfilment and guidance for ethical behaviour or a mandate for fanaticism, intolerance and violence. (That includes Judaism - followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane are a good example of the latter.) As Prof. Efraim Inbar, a religious man as well as a distinguished academic scholar, put it during his recent visit to Melbourne, all religious traditions have to "pick their verses."

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Arafat NOT poisoned? Media yawns

Arafat NOT poisoned? Media yawns Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

In a sane world, it would not be al-Jazeera's overblown boast on Saturday of supposed scientific confirmation for its 2012 'scoop' that Yasser Arafat might have been poisoned by polonium-210 which would have made headlines, but instead the revelation on Tuesday of genuinely new and apparently decisive information contradicting any such theory. That's when a senior Russia toxicologist who had access to testing of samples of Arafat's body tissues stated that, according to these definitive tests, Arafat "could not have died of polonium poisoning."

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The Yom Kippur War in Australian editorials and analysis

The Yom Kippur War in Australian editorials and analysis Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: America, Australasia, Egypt, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

In June, AIJAC took a look back at the coverage of the Six Day War of 1967 in two major Australian newspapers, the Age of Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald. Now, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, we open the archives once again to look at the coverage of that war in Australia, this time expanding the scope of our research to include the Australian, as well as touching upon the coverage of the Canberra Times, and the Melbourne Herald.

As a much longer war, there is more to take in, so the retrospective will be split into two parts. This blog will discuss the editorials and some of the in-house analysis of the period, while the second will revisit some of the on-the-spot coverage by the newspapers' foreign correspondents covering the war. Finally, similar to our blog from June, we'll conclude by weighing some of the key contextual facts of the Israeli-Arab conflict that were widely understood by journalists at the time but are largely absent from the narrative in the news today.

Syria and the extremist rebels/ Hamas' latest terror tunnel

Syria and the extremist rebels/ Hamas' latest terror tunnel Categories: Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

This edition of Updates from AIJAC focuses on the reality of growing Islamist extremism among Syrian rebels, the reasons this happened and what can be done, if anything, to increase the role of more moderate groups. It also focuses on the implication of the discovery of a new tunnel from Gaza into Israel, apparently designed to facilitate kidnappings or other terror attacks inside Israel.

Bar-Ilan revisited, four years later

Bar-Ilan revisited, four years later Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

On Monday, four-and-a-half years after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies and formally committed to the two-state formula, he returned to deliver a follow-up of sorts, that has been unfairly maligned in some quarters for being too hawkish.

Yet, for those with the time and inclination to read or listen to Netanyahu's words, the 2009 and 2013 talks are are actually mostly congruent. Indeed, elements of it appear to be an effort to simply re-emphasise key themes he struck in 2009...

Overview of Developments in Gaza and the West Bank

Overview of Developments in Gaza and the West Bank Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Today’s Update focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian situation and highlights a number of important happenings that have taken a back seat while the mainstream media lavishes attention upon Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

First, Khaled Abu Toameh analyses Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the United Nations General Assembly. Abu Toameh criticises Abbas for devoting the bulk of his speech to attacking Israel and only Israel, whilst ignoring the suffering, slaughter and expulsion of Palestinians in neighbouring Arab countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. 

Scribblings: Why Palestinians are a terrorism outlier Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Islamic Extremism, Palestinians    

The latest Pew survey of the attitudes of Muslims in Muslim-majority countries towards terrorism and al-Qaeda is mostly good news. Al-Qaeda's popularity seems to continue to wane across the Muslim world, with the group viewed unfavourably by 57% of all those surveyed, against 13% favourably, and viewed more unfavourably than favourably in every one of the 11 countries and regions that took part. The highest unfavourability ratings were in Lebanon (96%), Jordan (81%), Turkey (73%), and Egypt (69%). This may not sound that impressive, but in 2003 and 2004, there were majority or near majority expressions of confidence in Osama Bin Laden in several of the countries surveyed, including Jordan, Pakistan, Indonesia and Morocco.

The self-defeating Palestinian ‘anti-normalisation’ campaign

The self-defeating Palestinian ‘anti-normalisation’ campaign Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

A culture of ‘anti-normalisation' has become so dominant, that even an upbeat article in Forbes ‘Peace Through Profits' by Richard Behar that praised and reported Israeli and Palestinian high-tech business cooperation led to a backlash. The reporter has been criticised by Palestinians featured in the report, with some saying they now fear harassment by extremists.

Three Anniversaries - Oslo, the Yom Kippur War and 9/11 Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update highlights the fact that we have just passed three important anniversaries in Middle Eastern and world history - the 20th anniversary of the original Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians (signed on Sept. 13, 1993), the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1973 Middle East war, which began on Yom Kippur, 1973, and of course, the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks in the US. We feature pieces discussing each of these anniversaries.

Duplicate stories, multiple personalities

Duplicate stories, multiple personalities Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

It is common for two different newspapers in the same country to present a wire story on Israel in two different ways. In such a case, one version can be interpreted as being subtly more pro-Palestinian or more pro-Israel than the other.

It is rare, however, for such a discrepancy to surface on the same wire story that appeared twice in the same paper on the same day. Such a bizarre occurrence, however, happened last week in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the paper The Press.

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Another ABC fact-checking fail: Gaza and Breast Cancer

Another ABC fact-checking fail: Gaza and Breast Cancer Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Why does the ABC continue to improperly fact-check its stories about the Gaza Strip?

In her report for Newsline, "Charities raising breast cancer awareness in Gaza", the ABC's reporter/producer Rania Zaydan abandoned her critical faculties, offering up a story riddled with inaccuracies and baseless anti-Israel innuendo.

The real obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace

The real obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

A great deal has been said and misrepresented regarding Israel's recent announcement that it plans to build settlement units.  For example, Amin Saikal wrote in "Peace not on Israel's agenda" (16/8) that it was a "deliberate" attempt to "sabotage ‘current peace talks'".

However, such a response ignores US Secretary of State John Kerry's statement that Israel pre-warned the US and the Palestinians that there would be some building announced during the talks.

Media Week - Hand wringing over Iran; Tom after Tom

Media Week - Hand wringing over Iran; Tom after Tom Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is a good guy the West can do business with according to an Age editorial (Aug 9).

Whilst it admitted that Rouhani was vetted by "Iran's overlords", that "he is not signalling capitulation on the issue that triggered sanctions - a uranium enrichment program that raises the spectre of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons", the paper still places its faith in his ability to make a deal because "he wants to resume talks 'with seriousness and without wasting time'".

However, as Rouhani himself noted in 2004 when he was Iran's main nuclear negotiator, time wasting with a smile is his forte - "While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the nuclear conversion facility in Isfahan. By creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work there."

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Notes from a journalist who has "been everywhere, man"

Notes from a journalist who has "been everywhere, man" Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Israeli journalist Boaz Bismuth has had a remarkable and fascinating career, having covered several war zones such as Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo and having managed to find ways, despite his Israeli nationality, to interview some of the world's most infamous leaders - Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Having visited 91 countries in his journalistic role, Bismuth is currently the Foreign News Editor and Senior Analyst at Israel Hayom, and prior to this role served as Israeli Ambassador to the Islamic majority state of Mauritania, from 2004 to 2008. At an August 13 journalist briefing, Bismuth discussed the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

AIJAC statement responding to Foreign Minister Carr's legal claims on settlements

AIJAC statement responding to Foreign Minister Carr's legal claims on settlements Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Israel, Media Releases, Palestinians    

On Friday, August 9 , AIJAC put out a statement responding to controversial remarks on Israeli settlements by Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr at Lakemba the previous day... A spokesperson for Senator Carr has now responded to criticisms of his remarks in a statement published on J-wire .... AIJAC has released the following statement in response to Senator Carr's latest comments...

Al-Jazeera’s Ramadan hypocrisy      

Al-Jazeera’s Ramadan hypocrisy       Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In an article, al-Jazeera recasts the Israeli concession of allowing increasing numbers of Palestinians into Israel during the holiday in order to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and visit relatives, as a "sinister" plot to funnel Palestinian holiday shopping shekels away from local Palestinian merchants and into Israeli coffers.

Media Week - Dense & density, Background checks please; Cycle of stupidity

Media Week - Dense & density, Background checks please; Cycle of stupidity Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

ABC "Radio National" host Phillip Adams (July 23) introduced an interview with Dr. Mona El Farra, who works for the Red Crescent in Gaza, with the fallacious claim that "the Gaza Strip...[is] the most populated strip of land in the world. Yes, the most populated strip of land on Earth!"

In fact, it's not even close to being the most densely populated area of land in the world.

According to the CIA World Fact Book (2008), there are 4,603 people per square kilometre in Gaza. This is positively roomy compared to Calcutta (24,718), Paris (20,246), Athens (20,235), Singapore (6,816) or even nearby Tel Aviv (7,524) and Jerusalem (6,045).

 The Importance of Mutual Recognition as a Parameter of Peace

The Importance of Mutual Recognition as a Parameter of Peace Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

As Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams come together in Washington in an attempt to reignite serious peace talks, there is one issue which tends to be excluded from mainstream reporting and analysis of the prospect of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While core issues such as territorial compromise, refugees, Jerusalem and settlements often appear in the media, a central question for Israel, mutual recognition - including the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people - is rarely mentioned.

Risks aplenty in minefield of Mid-East peace talks

Risks aplenty in minefield of Mid-East peace talks Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

ON Sunday, Israel's cabinet made the agonising decision to authorise the staggered release of 104 Palestinian prisoners - including notorious mass murderers convicted for acts of wanton terror - in order to satisfy a Palestinian precondition for peace talks that began this week in Washington.

The risky move underscores some of the perils accompanying US Secretary of State John Kerry's herculean efforts to reconvene negotiations which have substantively floundered since the Palestinians walked away from a generous, comprehensive peace offer from then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in late 2008...

 

 Netanyahu and the Case for Peace Process Optimism

Netanyahu and the Case for Peace Process Optimism Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

With new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks under way in Washington after a three year hiaitus - though with very little information coming out of them about what is being discussed - there remain ample grounds for pessimism about their prospects, some of which were highlighted in the Australian recently by AIJAC editorial chairman Dr. Colin Rubenstein. 

This Update seeks to round out this picture by canvassing some of the arguments that are being put forward that there are reasons for hope that this time the talks could make significant progress - and focussing especially on the approach to the talks of Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu.

Statement: Israel's prisoner releases

Statement: Israel's prisoner releases Categories: Israel, Media Releases, Palestinians    

While obviously agonising, especially for the distraught families of the victims, the Israeli Government's decision for the staggered release of convicts involved in brutal acts of violence reflects the high priority it attaches to bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table and resuming peace talks - consistent with its claim it was acting "for the good of the country".

Editorial: To Washington, with realism Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

US Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement on July 19 that Israel and the Palestinians had reached an agreement that establishes a "basis" for the resumption of peace negotiations was certainly a very welcome development after almost five years without substantive peace talks. But this does not change the fact that a cloud of uncertainty surrounds where matters currently lie and where proposed negotiations go from here.

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Scribblings: Abbas and Al-Aqsa Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

There is an ongoing and to my view, generally inconclusive debate in Israel and among Israel watchers about the genuineness of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a peacemaker. It is certainly true that, in terms of his consistent opposition to violence and terrorism, he represents a major improvement over his predecessor Yasser Arafat. And some who have met him insist that he sincerely wants to reach a genuine and final peace deal that Israel can live with.

On the other hand, sceptical analysts can point to a lot of uncompromising statements in Arabic - honouring terrorists; engaging in apparent incitement; characterising Israel as an eternal, zero-sum enemy; and rejecting any Jewish historical connection to Palestine or Jerusalem. This is on top of behaviour vis-à-vis peace talks which seems to indicate an unwillingness - or perhaps political inability - to reach a final deal, or, for the past five years, even negotiate about one.

Back to the Table

Back to the Table Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Two decades after the signing of the Oslo Accords, and half a decade after they last discussed peace, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) agreed to resume negotiations for a final-status agreement on July 19.

The deal, which followed US Secretary of State John Kerry's hectic shuttling between Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Amman, is an accomplishment for him, but for the protagonists themselves it is fraught with uncertainty, acrimony and risk.

Squeezing Hamas for the Sake of Peace

Squeezing Hamas for the Sake of Peace Author: Jonathan Schanzer Categories: Egypt, Palestinians    

The downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt earlier this month has been widely described as a blow to Hamas and its de facto government in the Gaza Strip, but the real damage has been to the Islamist group's pocketbook. The Egyptian Army's ongoing operations against the subterranean tunnels connecting Egypt to the Gaza Strip, which have long served as key arteries for bulk cash smuggling, are wreaking havoc on Hamas' finances. One senior Israeli security official told me that, in the current environment, an additional reduction of 20 to 30% in Hamas' revenues could "destroy" the movement.

The crimes of the prisoners to be released for ‘peace talks’

The crimes of the prisoners to be released for ‘peace talks’ Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

For peace talks to resume between Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority insisted on a number of preconditions, one of which was the release of Palestinian prisoners.  Israel's decision to release the prisoners is a good faith gesture that reflects the difficult price it is willing to pay for progress towards peace. That price can be seen more clearly when you look at the list of horrific crimes committed by the prisoners who are likely to be released.

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Qanta Ahmed: BDS harms Israeli Arabs

Qanta Ahmed: BDS harms Israeli Arabs Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Following my previous blog post which looked at how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement undermines peace-building efforts between Israelis and Palestinians and discriminates against Israeli Arabs, an article in Haaretz by Dr. Qanta Ahmed has exemplified this point.

Ahmed is a physician and author of Pakistani descent, and on her website describes herself as an "anti-Islamist Muslim". In her article "The poverty of boycotting Israel" she makes a scathing attack on the BDS movement for the harm caused by academic and cultural boycotts, and especially the damage potentially being done to the advancement of Israeli Arabs.

TV Holiday Specials, Middle East-style

TV Holiday Specials, Middle East-style Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Egypt, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

When watching holiday specials on TV, even cold-hearted cynics often find it hard not to get swept away by the wholesome feel-good and uplifting messages about the importance of family and friends and the meaning of the "holiday spirit" - saccharine and sentimental as these messages might be. In recent years across the Arab and Muslim world, TV holiday specials have gained popularity, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

Unfortunately, the messages of some of these programs are less about the holiday spirit, and more about hateful incitement. The new series, "Khaybar", airing this year is a prime example. A "prime time" example, even.

Peace talks set to resume?

Peace talks set to resume? Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed on a "basis" to resume peace talks. Israel has reportedly agreed to release 85 Palestinian prisoners from the pro-Oslo period as part of the deal, but other details of this "basis for talks" remain unclear. But despite the announcement, and reported  expectations that negotiators from the two sides will arrive in Washington next week, new talks do not appear to be a completely done deal yet, with a number of Palestinian spokesmen saying that the deal is not finalised and obstacles to renewed talks still remain. Meanwhile, the Israeli government has welcomed this development in a cabinet statement.

Media Week - Antony blowin’ steam; Do the math; Don’t bank on Barclay

Media Week - Antony blowin’ steam; Do the math; Don’t bank on Barclay Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Channel Seven's "Weekend Sunrise" (July 7) featured the authors of a new book debating religion called "For God's Sake" which includes a Christian, an atheist, a Muslim and a Jew. The Christian, Muslim and atheist were committed believers.

The "Jew", however, was that well-known non-authority on Judaism, the self-described atheist and extreme anti-Zionist Antony Loewenstein.

Predictably, Loewenstein preferred to bash Israel rather than talk about Judaism.

Views on Egypt, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and Turkey Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Turkey, Updates    

Today’s Update looks at the ongoing developments in Egypt; the attempts to coax the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table; and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s increasingly offensive statements.

First, top Israeli media commentator and analyst Ehud Yaari - who enjoys some of the best contacts in the Middle East - talks to the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre on the outlook for Egypt, Hamas and Israel. Yaari explains that Israel’s main challenge relates to the freedom of movement enjoyed by armed jihadists in the vast and largely lawless Sinai Peninsula.

Amnesty International focusing on the wrong protesters

Amnesty International focusing on the wrong protesters Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Amnesty International has it hands full in the Middle East at the best of times, and now it seems that they are busier still. Yet Amnesty still finds the time to deal with... the so-called "bullying and judicial harassment" faced by one Palestinian "rights activist", Nariman Tamimi. Yes, to Amnesty it seems that a Palestinian woman facing trial for entering a closed military zone during the weekly protests in Nabi Saleh is as much of a human rights violation and an injustice as the killing of protesters in Turkey and Egypt.

Talking about peace talks

Talking about peace talks Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

With US Secretary of State John Kerry currently visiting Israel as part of an ongoing quest to restart substantive peace talks between Jerusalem and Ramallah that have been in mothballs since 2008, today’s Update looks at why the chances of talks resuming or leading to a deal are unlikely.

Return to sender

Return to sender Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

A kerfuffle raised by Australian Palestinian activists over Australia Post's recent joint issue stamp with Israel offers a teachable moment about the nature of Palestinian activism Down Under.

The incident offers yet more evidence that there is nothing pro-peace about these activists, who often claim to be acting in support of Palestinian self-determination, but place far more importance on fulfilling their fantasy of delegitimising Israel and erasing the country politically in a way their armed comrades in the Middle East have never succeeded in doing so on a battlefield.

The Cine File: Meeting the Other

The Cine File: Meeting the Other Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

The film is told in French, English, Hebrew and Arabic and is wonderfully brought to life by excellent actors. The cast and crew included Israelis and Palestinians who reportedly had an input into the screenplay to enhance its authenticity. The movie is also shot on location in Israel and the West Bank, showcasing and contrasting the modern vibrancy of Tel Aviv with the cultural traditions of Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

AIR
Essay: A Textbook Case

Essay: A Textbook Case Author: Adi Schwartz Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

For years, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been accused of inciting violence by promoting the delegitimisation of Israel and its people and, in some cases, even outright antisemitism, in its education system. According to both Israeli and third-party observers, the PA was ingraining future generations with a worldview that essentially prevented any long-term commitment to peace (let alone coexistence). So it was no surprise that a US State Department-funded study called Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the "Other" in Israeli and Palestinian School Books, published in February, sparked a firestorm that leapt from the otherwise parochial world of education policy straight into the headlines of newspapers around the world.

Palestinian prisoners and the betrayal of the Human Rights regime

Palestinian prisoners and the betrayal of the Human Rights regime Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

On May 27, during the 23rd session of the Un Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay delivered her opening statement. While counting what she views as the most severe human rights abuses in the world she predictably listed Israel, this time for its treatment of Palestinian prisoners. It seems that no speech before the Human Rights Council would be complete without mentioning Israel.

Soccer Championship gives Israel chance to show off diversity and multiculturalism

Soccer Championship gives Israel chance to show off diversity and multiculturalism Author: Jeni Willenzik Categories: Europe, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Israel, Palestinians    

Over the past two weeks, Israel hosted the UEFA Under-21 Soccer Championships, one of Israel's biggest sporting events in history. In spite of protests and accusations before the event, Israel rose to the challenge, displaying the Jewish state's demonstrated ability to bring together people of various races, religions, and nationalities.

Media Week - Moaning Mona

Media Week - Moaning Mona Author: Allon Lee Categories: Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Speaking to SBS Radio's Ron Sutton (June 5), Dr Mona El Farra, head of the health committee for the Red Crescent for Gaza Strip, blamed Israel and to a lesser extent, Egypt, for a litany of health problems in Gaza.

SBS's website noted that El Farra held a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and no doubt plied him with her propaganda.

Which is a pity, because she would do better to demand the world hold Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to account for their woeful and negligent governance...

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Waze and means: The tactical and strategic failure of BDS

Waze and means: The tactical and strategic failure of BDS Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Antisemitism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The cult-like and self-aggrandising Boycott, Diverstment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel campaign suffered another embarrassing setback this month when Facebook and Google wooed the Israeli content-savvy phone GPS app company Waze.

Meanwhile, the Israeli company SodaStream's unfettered growth continues to expose just how ineffective BDS really is.

Finally, the annual BDS conference once again exposed the movement as fringe, extremist and hostile to peace.

Lifesaver and Model of Coexistence, yet still Condemned: The Israeli Health System

Lifesaver and Model of Coexistence, yet still Condemned: The Israeli Health System Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

It would be fair to say that the Israeli health system has been a unique success story - a model of humanitarian considerations trumping politics, as well as providing benefits both to neighbours such as the Palestinians living under their own health systems and Syrians, and offering unique medical innovations whose benefits are felt worldwide. It's just a pity that it is politics which largely prevents this success story being recognised - and where possible, emulated.

The Six Day War and the changing face of journalism: The view from Australia

The Six Day War and the changing face of journalism: The view from Australia Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Palestinians, Reference, Syria, Updates    

The recent passing of the Associated Press' acclaimed journalist Hal McClure at the age of 92 coincides closely with the event that brought him his greatest fame - his coverage of the 1967 Six Day War, which began 46 years ago yesterday.

His passing is yet another reminder of a bygone era when a journalist took pride in reporting the news, rather than acting as a partisan advocate for or against the newsmakers themselves.

Before refecting on that, however, the anniversary of the Six Day War offers us an opportunity to review some of the coverage of the war at the time in two of Australia's leading newspapers - the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age.

Media Week - Birds of a feather; Trigger-happy headliners; Down the memory hole

Media Week - Birds of a feather; Trigger-happy headliners; Down the memory hole Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Lebanon, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

SBS TV's "Dateline" program (May 21) travelled to Greece to look at the worrying rise in the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn movement which has used the economic crisis there to increase its Parliamentary representation through scapegoating Jews, foreigners, homosexuals and other rival political groupings.

Whilst it is clear that Golden Dawn mirrors its behaviour on the intimidatory tactics of fascism, Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panayotaros told Evan Williams that they take inspiration from Hezbollah, which has cannily attracted supporters over the years through the provision of social services.

As Panayotaros explained, "Golden Dawn wants to become and will become like the Hezbollah in Lebanon which in effect is a second government which helps even its poorest citizen and over time Golden Dawn will do more for our fellow citizens."

But that, of course, doesn't tell the full story. It's a pity that Williams did not follow up on the Hezbollah angle, and point out how it is not only a proscribed terrorist organisation in many countries but actually controls the Lebanese government.

The problem with blaming it all on the settlements

The problem with blaming it all on the settlements Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

US Secretary of State John Kerry had just concluded yet another visit to the Middle East. On his agenda were visits to Oman and Jordan to discuss the horrific Syrian civil war, and day and a half in Israel and Ramallah to continue his ongoing - but still unsuccessful - effort to reignite direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. His plane barely took off before some commentators started putting forward an old but very flawed theme - ‘it is all because of settlements'.

Media Week - One sided conversation

Media Week - One sided conversation Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

The Conversation is a website funded by Australian universities and the Federal government for academics and post-grad students to share the fruits of their enquiring minds.

Unfortunately, where the topic of Israel is concerned the Conversation is fast devolving into an outlet for a great deal of slothful, partisan and just plain stupid analysis.

Scribblings: Tortured Logic Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Israel, Palestinians    

Readers of the Australian media will recall several instances of reports highlighting NGO claims that Israel engages in "torture" of Palestinian prisoners. What they will not likely have heard is that there are far more credible allegations of torture on a large scale against Palestinian security forces in both the West Bank and Gaza. Moreover, the worst of the cases on the Palestinian side appear to be genuine torture as most people would understand it - which is not necessarily the case with many of the Israeli cases alleged.

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Proposals, Past and Present

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Proposals, Past and Present Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Today's Update features some new revelations concerning an old Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal - the Olmert offer of 2008 - as well as the revised Arab League Peace plan, as brought to Washington by the Qatari Foreign Minister early this month.

First is a scoop offering new details on the 2008 Olmert peace proposal to the Palestinians, with details obtained in part from Olmert himself, as written up by Haaretz's highly-regarded Palestinian affairs reporter Avi Issacharoff  and published in The Tower, a new online magazine.

A Teen's Life in Gaza - Terrorism training, with beatings for anyone sporting "cool" haircuts or skinny jeans

A Teen's Life in Gaza - Terrorism training, with beatings for anyone sporting "cool" haircuts or skinny jeans Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Much of the attention regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects have been focused on "hard" policy issues. Yet over-emphasising "hard" policy questions means that crucial precursors for both making peace and for the long term sustainability of any peace agreement end up being overlooked.

One such crucial aspect is the willingness of each side's general public to view the other side as a legitimate entity, and to engage in interaction with it by peaceful means. This is a key element in building stable and lasting peace. such a change in perceptions starts with education.

Education in the Palestinian territories has long been a major source of concern for analysts and commentators, who emphasised the dangers of ‘teaching hate,' and thus perpetuating the conflict. Nowhere is this ‘teaching hate' trend more troubling than in Gaza.

West Bank crossings and checkpoints explained

West Bank crossings and checkpoints explained Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

West Bank crossings and checkpoints exist to protect Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks and they have been highly successful in doing so.  However, in recent years as security conditions have improved, Israel has greatly eased security restrictions in the West Bank, removing most checkpoints and streamlining procedures at both the remaining checkpoints and border crossings.

The Israel Defence Force has posted an information page "Reality check: The truth behind crossings in Judea and Samaria", which further explains what checkpoints and crossings are, why they exist, and especially, how they work - including the process for West Bank residents to obtain a permit to enter Israel.

AIR
Media Week - A sprinkle of BDS;  Minority report

Media Week - A sprinkle of BDS; Minority report Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

In a bizarre move, the hardcopy edition of the Daily Telegraph failed to run any coverage before or after a BDS protest on April 30 at the University of NSW against a planned Max Brenner outlet set to open on campus in June.

However, in the paper's "They Said It" section (May 1) which highlights quotes of the day, this appeared:

"‘These brigades have committed war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza and are involved in Israel's continual ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Students and staff of conscience demand that the Max Brenner be shut down! We don't want companies that endorse the apartheid state of Israel and it's apartheid practices.' A Facebook page set up by UNSW students opposes a campus chocolate shop."

Fayyad and the problem of Palestinian leadership

Fayyad and the problem of Palestinian leadership Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Today's Update deals with the aftermath of a candid interview recently "allegedly" given to the New York Times by Salam Fayyad - the Palestinian Authority PM who resigned last month but is still in office in an interim role - and especially what it says about the problematic state and policies of the Palestinian leadership. The nature of this problem is partly highlighted by the word "allegedly" in the previous sentence, because Fayyad is now denying having given the interview at all, calling the whole story a " forgery that carries political dimensions with the goal of causing damage and fomenting strife."

Media Week - So near, and yet so far; Justified fears;  Shalom Salam; Justice done; Conspiracy-land; Howe's that

Media Week - So near, and yet so far; Justified fears; Shalom Salam; Justice done; Conspiracy-land; Howe's that Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians    

On Fairfax's "Daily Life" site (April 23) Ruby Hamad, who has previously penned some ill-informed and one-sided pieces on Israel, presented a sober account of the escalating restrictions imposed by Hamas on Gazans.

Unfortunately her explanation for Gaza's economic difficulties was entirely predictable...

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The millionaires of Gaza

The millionaires of Gaza Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

While many Gazans struggle with poverty like many people across the Middle East, one may be surprised to find that there is another side to Gaza's economy - a booming property development industry supported by the smuggling trade that is estimated to have made a thousand millionaires in the last five years. In fact, property prices for luxury villas and apartments in elite Gaza areas like El Remal are reportedly on par with London and New York. 

This certainly came as a surprise to television presenter Seyi Rhodes, who filmed the documentary "Unreported World: Gaza's property ladder" which aired on the UK's Channel 4 on April 26.

Scribblings: Israel's Emotional Rollercoaster Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

One of the most interesting and original aspects of Israeli national culture has been the coupling of Israel's Independence Day, Yom Haatzmaut, with the memorial day for victims of war and terrorism, Yom Hazikaron. Yom Hazikaron, is the 4th of Iyyar in the Jewish calendar, one day before Yom Haatzmaut, the 5th of Iyyar. These fell on April 15 and April 16, respectively, this year.

Fayyad Out

Fayyad Out Author: David Makovsky Categories: Palestinians    

Fayyad's tenure has since been defined by institution-building, including in the areas of finance and security - an approach that became known as "Fayyadism". Security cooperation with Israel became the norm. As violence decreased and order returned to the street, Israel lifted many of its West Bank checkpoints, while the PA built 1,700 community development programs, 120 schools, 50 health clinics, and three hospitals. More than 1,600 kilometres of roads were paved and 1,360 kilometres of water pipes were installed.

The Biblio File: Scholarshipwreck Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

Did you know that "the Israel-Palestine conflict" is "the central factor in Islam-West relations"? Not one of a number of factors, not an element of a larger, multi-faceted engagement, but "the" central factor?

Readers of the latest volume in Australia's "Islamic Studies Series" are presented with this "fact" as an attempt to justify a thin book on "Making Australian Foreign Policy in Israel-Palestine" being published as part of its catalogue.

Media Microscope: A week of weak coverage Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The death of convicted Palestinian terrorist Maysara Abu-Hamdiya from throat cancer in an Israeli jail on April 2 amid Palestinian accusations that he did not receive adequate treatment prompted rocket fire from Gaza and violent demonstrations in the West Bank.

Coverage of these clashes unfortunately followed a familiar pattern of focussing primarily on Palestinian claims against Israel and on Israeli actions against Palestinians.

After Salam Fayyad

After Salam Fayyad Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, Palestinian Authority PM Salam Fayyad  - widely seen internationally as a competent, efficient and moderate state-builder - submitted his resignation on Saturday and had it accepted by President Mahmoud Abbas. This Update is devoted to analysis of how Fayyad's resignation came about, and the implications of this change for the future of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Palestinian polls and arriving at the two state resolution, which "everbody knows" is the answer

Palestinian polls and arriving at the two state resolution, which "everbody knows" is the answer Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

There is a re-appearing assumption that "everybody knows" the general outline of a future two-state peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, that both peoples support the idea, and that it is only distrust and the politics and limitations of the leaders of both sides that prevents it from coming about.

But what do Palestinians really think about the "everybody knows" peace deal? Well, there's good news and bad news.

Media Week - No experience necessary?; Flotilla details sink; McGeough shrugs; Doubting Thomas; One among the pack; Relationships advice

Media Week - No experience necessary?; Flotilla details sink; McGeough shrugs; Doubting Thomas; One among the pack; Relationships advice Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Turkey, Updates    

Ahead of PM Julia Gillard's cabinet reshuffle Michael Danby's name was touted in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald (March 25) as a potential foreign affairs parliamentary secretary (in the end he got the gig for the Arts instead).

Danby of course has excellent foreign policy credentials...Unfortunately, unlike the five other MPs profiled whose professional experience was touched upon, Danby's only qualification appears to be that he is a "staunch supporter of Israel", according to the Fairfax papers.

Blood libel surfaces at Hanan Ashrawi's MIFTAH organisation

Blood libel surfaces at Hanan Ashrawi's MIFTAH organisation Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

The Jewish people recently celebrated the festival of Passover, which recounts the Jewish exodus from Egypt. In the Middle East, this festival often leads to new outbreaks of the ugly antisemitic lie of blood libel - the claim that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to make Passover Matzah.  This year a particularly concerning case of blood libel promotion occurred in an article by Jordanian writer Nawaf al-Zaru published on the Arabic website of MIFTAH, an NGO founded in 1998 by Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who still plays a senior role there.

Scribblings: Time to retire the "Demographic Threat" Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Palestinians    

Many well-meaning pundits and politicians seem to base their whole approach to the Middle East peace process on a single "fact" - namely, that if a two-state solution is not reached soon then "Arabs living under Israeli control" will outnumber Jews, thus either destroying Israel's democratic character or else turning it into a majority Arab state.

Guess what? This "fact" - postulating an imminent "demographic threat" to Israel and a two-state outcome - is simply wrong...

The Case for Peace Process Optimism

The Case for Peace Process Optimism Author: Steven Rosen Categories: America, Israel, Palestinians    

I think the world is headed towards a surprise. I think the United States and Israel are converging on a fresh initiative towards the Palestinians. I don't think this is merely being imposed on Netanyahu from the outside - I think this is what he wants.

AIR
Essay: A Lapse into Seriousness

Essay: A Lapse into Seriousness Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

Few outside of certain circles would be aware that a draft of the report by the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (‘OHCHR') to the UN Human Rights Council (‘HRC') on last year's Gaza conflict was released in March.

Any report that the HRC releases on Israel should immediately arouse suspicion - it is not without reason that Israel is currently refusing to participate in any of the HRC's functions.

Media Week - One-Way Traffic

Media Week - One-Way Traffic Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

It is one of the seminal images that appeared over and over again in the early stages of last November's Second Gaza-Israel war. 
 
Distraught Palestinian father Jihad Masharawi, holding the dead body of his 11-month-old son, Omar, who was reported to have been the victim of an Israeli rocket hitting the family home.
 
Except on March 6 2013, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights announced that its investigation into the circumstances of Omar's death suggests he was most likely a victim of a rocket fired by Hamas or one of its affiliates that fell short.
 
So, yes, in a very real sense, Omar was a symbol - a tragic victim of the callous indifference of the so-called Palestinian resistance movement that is based in, and operates from, built up civilian areas in Gaza.

Obama wins hearts and minds in Israel

Obama wins hearts and minds in Israel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

US President Barack Obama's trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories has been vitally important - and apparently highly successful. In only three short days Obama seems to have been able to address core issues that appeared to be straining the US-Israel relationship and press ‘reset'.

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Hamas "moderates" don't accept Israel

Hamas "moderates" don't accept Israel Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Following the Israeli elections and just ahead of US President Barack Obama's first visit to Israel, last Tuesday The New Republic published a lengthy feature examining the current state of the peace process, penned by Ben Birnbaum.

In part, the essay "The end of the two-state solution: Why the window is closing on Middle-East peace", looked at the prospective problem of Fatah uniting with the terror group Hamas, which remains in sole control of Gaza and maintains considerable support among the population in the West Bank.

The new Israeli coalition in a nutshell

The new Israeli coalition in a nutshell Author: Talia Katz Categories: America, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

After six weeks of haggling, Israel's thirty-third Knesset was reported on Wednesday to include 22 cabinet ministers (down from 30 in the previous cabinet) and several deputy ministers from the 68-strong coalition of Likud-Beiteinu, Yesh Atid (There is a Future), HaBait Yehudit (The Jewish Home) and HaTnua (The Movement) The new government is due to be sworn in on Monday, and there are already signs that its agenda will be administered with pragmatism.

Media Week - Friendly advice; Immoral equivalence

Media Week - Friendly advice; Immoral equivalence Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

When Australia's federal government decided to abstain and not oppose a UN vote to upgrade Palestinian representation, Foreign Minister Bob Carr justified the move explaining how "a good friend will share with his friend reservations about that friend's behaviour".

It would be interesting to know if Carr feels similarly after reading the Australian foreign editor Greg Sheridan's very public and eye watering critique of his and predecessor Kevin Rudd's attempts "to put more distance between Australia and Israel" (March 9).

The take down was even more startling given Sheridan's acknowledgement that he is broadly admiring of both Carr and Rudd in most respects.

 Israel offers positive water policy example to the region - the Palestinians, sadly, offer the opposite

Israel offers positive water policy example to the region - the Palestinians, sadly, offer the opposite Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Jordan, Palestinians, Updates    

Through resource management, innovation and planning, the Israeli water authorities ... have now beaten the intense drought which has gripped the country for several years. Now, the Israeli example stands ready to help others in the region to do the same. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to take advantage of this opportunity.

The 'segregated buses' canard

The 'segregated buses' canard Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

How did the story about a goodwill gesture by Israel in the form of increased Palestinian employment inside Israel, combined with another goodwill gesture of improved bus service for some of these workers, became twisted into another story of Israeli "injustice" against Palestinians? 

Palestinian prisoner issue plagued by selective reporting

Palestinian prisoner issue plagued by selective reporting Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Who are Samer Issawi and Ayman Sharawneh, the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners that have become the latest "cause célèbre" for pro-Palestinian activists?

(See our update on how the prisoner issue appears to be a deliberate pretext for creating unrest in an effort to push the Palestinian agenda prior to US President Barack Obama's visit to the region later this month).

Unfortunately, many recent news reports on the pair have neglected to report on the background of terror activity of these and other Palestinian prisoners. In doing so, the media has omitted crucial information to give perspective and balance to their coverage on a very contentious issue.

Love letter to Hamas - Paul McGeough's front-page profiles of Khaled Meshal

Love letter to Hamas - Paul McGeough's front-page profiles of Khaled Meshal Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Palestinians, Updates    

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday dedicated their front pages to a profile of Hamas leader Khaled Meshal - interviewed in Qatar by Fairfax senior journalist Paul McGeough. There were also a number of subsequent articles on Meshal by McGeough over the weekend in those papers.

McGeough's articles over the weekend with photos to match, provided a glorified picture of Meshal - painting him as a resistance leader capable of moderating but also an ‘every man' - a grandfather who plays with his grandchidren, a man who plays table-tennis and goes to the gym. McGeough does not detail Meshal's reported funding and organising of terrorist attacks on innocent Israelis.

West Bank Unrest

West Bank Unrest Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features three pieces providing background to the growing - though still limited - West Bank demonstrations. While presented by Australian media as primarily the result of the death in Israeli custody of Arafat Jaradat on Saturday, and Palestinian claims he was tortured, this ignores the fact that demonstrations were already escalating last week, amid PA calls for the release of prisoners and threats of a new "Intifada". As all three of the pieces in this Update make clear, the death of Arafat Jaradat has simply become the latest justification for a campaign of demonstrations already being encouraged by the Palestinian Authority.

Kids to Jihadists

Kids to Jihadists Author: Petra Marquardt-Bigman Categories: Palestinians    

On January 24, many Sunni Muslims celebrated the birth of Islam's founder Muhammad. As the Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh reported, Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced during a ceremony to mark this occasion that Hamas was planning to establish a "military academy" that would offer training to children as young as 12. The children attending the school would be able to "graduate with a diploma or a BA in military affairs."

North Korea and Iran/ The PA's democracy deficit

North Korea and Iran/ The PA's democracy deficit Categories: Asia, International Security, Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

Following the North Korean nuclear bomb test earlier this week, and the failure of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting with Iran, this Update discusses the potential implications for the ongoing problems of preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capabilities.

First up is an editorial on the subject from the Jerusalem Post, which notes that at the very least, the North Korean test was a morale-booster for Teheran.

Hamas' housing demolitions met with deafening silence

Hamas' housing demolitions met with deafening silence Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Europe, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Are NGOs imposing a double standard when it comes the demolition of Palestinian houses?

That is the question that Elliott Abrams asked Wednesday on his blog on the Council of Foreign Relations' website.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian news website Ma'an reported that Hamas was moving ahead with plans to demolish 75 homes belonging to the Abu Amrah clan in the al-Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza. The Hamas government claims the homes were built illegally. The family is protesting the move, and resisting relocation.

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Egypt's chaos/ West Bank realities

Egypt's chaos/ West Bank realities Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features two pieces related to the increasing street violence in Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government's response to it, plus an important piece on the sad reality behind the Palestinian Authority's state building efforts in the West Bank, led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Palestinian Activist: Gaza's real problem is too much high quality food

Palestinian Activist: Gaza's real problem is too much high quality food Author: Talia Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Gaza is under siege and Gazans are struggling to get in basic items to feed their families, right? You might think so if you follow most of the coverage and comment and you see on the Gaza situation, but it is actually far from the reality. Don't take my word for it - read the Al-Monitor article by Rana Baker, who lives and studies in Gaza and writes for the vehemently and violently anti-Israel website Electronic Intifada.

Media Week - Sensible on Syria; Lazy lines; Neither doom nor gloom

Media Week - Sensible on Syria; Lazy lines; Neither doom nor gloom Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Israel's attack on a Syrian weapons convoy generated considerable interest on ABC Radio.

Radio National's "Breakfast" (1/2) spoke to Ehud Yaari via telephone in Israel.

Yaari told Fran Kelly that Israel attacked a convoy carrying weapons that would give Hezbollah capabilities such as the "Yakhont coast-to-sea missiles that could threaten, for example, the Israeli gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean."

He also said that the Assad regime accused anti-government Islamist rebels in Syria of co-responsibility for the Israeli attack, "a collusion, which does not exist, of course."

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Media Week - Inane Faine; Spot the difference; Out of sync

Media Week - Inane Faine; Spot the difference; Out of sync Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

ABC Radio's Melbourne host Jon Faine (23/1) should hang his head in shame for his line of questioning to Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the results of the Israeli election.

Even though the evidence showed the opposite, Faine claimed that "the Coalition likely to be elected in the new Knesset in Israel looks like it is going to oppose the peace process."

Editorial: After the Ballot, the Hard Part Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians    

The ballots have been counted for Israel's 19th Knesset, and Israelis have demonstrated once again why the Middle East's first genuine democracy is still the most mature and successful - a country where every citizen, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or political persuasion has an equal opportunity to decide the nation's future.

AIJAC comments on Carr/Hague AUKMIN 2013 Communique

AIJAC comments on Carr/Hague AUKMIN 2013 Communique Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases, Middle East, Palestinians, United Kingdom, Updates    

On Friday January 18 at the close of the Australia-UK Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN) conference in Perth, Foreign Minister the Hon Senator Bob Carr and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague released a joint statement on the Middle East peace process, condemning Israel's settlements as "illegal under international law".

AIJAC released the following media statement to the press in response on Friday 18 January.

Abbas goes Radical

Abbas goes Radical Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

In a speech on January 4, marking the occasion of the anniversary of Fatah's establishment, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority President and leader of both the PLO and the Fatah movement, expressed a political vision about the aspirations for the future of Palestinians.

The speech was described by leading Israeli analysts as espousing "a radical political doctrine" expressed "using extremist rhetoric" that "may have marked a turning point in the relations between the Palestinian Authority president and the State of Israel".

Breaking through the silence on the plight of Middle Eastern Christians

Breaking through the silence on the plight of Middle Eastern Christians Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Updates    

Up to 100 million Christians are facing persecution globally, mostly by Islamic extremists, and especially in the Middle East and African regions, according to a new report by the Christian NGO Open Doors.

According to the organisation, of the top 10 countries on their list - North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen and Eritrea - eight are majority Muslim states threatened by Islamic extremism, with North Korea and Eritrea being the sole exceptions.

The report puts a spotlight on the underreported plight of minority Christians worldwide, particularly in the Islamist-dominated Middle East, where the number of Christians relative to the global Christian population has plunged to less than one percent. This is in contrast to a century ago, when the Middle East was home to 20 percent of the world's Christians.

Video: Ehud Yaari on Israel and the Middle East

Video: Ehud Yaari on Israel and the Middle East Categories: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Multimedia, Palestinians, Syria    

Ehud Yaari addressed an AIJAC luncheon on Monday 14 January 2013 on the following topics:

  • Australia and Israel, including Woodside's successful bid for developing Israel's gas reserves
  • Israel's elections
  • Egypt and challenges for the region
  • Syria
  • Israel, the Palestinians and the Two-State outcome
  • Iran's march towards nuclear weapons capability and American and Israeli strategy

Settlements - International Law and the physical and political realities

Settlements - International Law and the physical and political realities Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features some information and argument related to the always contentious issue of Israeli West Bank settlements.

First up is noted Israeli international law expert Alan Baker looking at the arguments about the legality of the settlements. He summarises the case that they are legal in the most concise way I have yet seen. He also has a strong discussion of the relationship between the settlement question and the Oslo accords, noting that the Palestinian demand for a settlement freeze as a precondition for talks is actually a violation of Oslo, just as the recent UN decision to upgrade Palestinian status to a "non-member state" was.

Israel’s Blockade and Construction Materials for Gaza

Israel’s Blockade and Construction Materials for Gaza Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Everyone knows that, while Israel has eased its blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, it is still blocking the import of almost all construction materials, arguing they can be used for military purposes, right?

You would certainly think so if you read the Australian and New Zealand press coverage of a recent deal between Israel and Egypt to allow 20 trucks worth of construction material into Gaza this week... But it is just not true that Israel has banned construction materials entering into Gaza...

Technology and the Gaza War/ Taking Iran at their word

Technology and the Gaza War/ Taking Iran at their word Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update includes two pieces analysing some of the innovations in military technology and tactics which affected the Gaza conflict/Operation "Pillar of Defence", which occurred in November.

First up is an evaluation by Dr. Uzi Rubin, the father of Israel's missile defence program, discussing both Israel's Iron Dome missile and rocket defence system, and the innovations in rocket design and use on the Hamas side of the Gaza conflict.

Hamas over-reporting civilian casualties in Gaza, again

Hamas over-reporting civilian casualties in Gaza, again Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Media/ Academia, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

The most heartbreaking consequence of any conflict is the unavoidable toll taken on the local civilian population. Sadly, in the hyper-politicised realm of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, these events seem unable to remain mere tragedies. Instead, each civilian killed takes on the additional mantle of a propaganda point scored in the conflict of public opinion.

This leads to the unfortunate tactic that Hamas and other Gaza-based groups seem to have adopted of cynically exploiting international sympathy...

AIR
Setting Things Straight

Setting Things Straight Author: Alan Baker Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

Now that the dust has settled on the Palestinian UN upgrade bid; now that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has received his applause and kudos from the UN Plenary, from the Europeans, and from many Israelis as the hero and saviour of the Palestinian people; now that the UN General Assembly has returned to its regular and wasteful agenda of repetitive, pointless, and inane resolutions; now that some Israeli legal and non-legal commentators are already forecasting that Israeli leaders, officials, officers, and settlers are about to be put on trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity; now that Palestinian lawyers are busy preparing their criminal charges against Israel - now it is perhaps the time to place things in their correct proportion, without misleading exaggeration, imaginative embellishment, wishful thinking, and false predictions.

Planning for the Next Phase of the Syrian Civil War/ After Abbas

Planning for the Next Phase of the Syrian Civil War/ After Abbas Categories: Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

This Update features two good pieces on the pitfalls in the upcoming phase of the Syrian civil war, especially in terms of US policy.

First up, repeat visitor to rebel-held regions of Syria Jonathan Spyer discusses the recent US decision to recognise the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), recently formed in Qatar, as the rightful Syrian government in waiting. Spyer argues that this decision appears to be a part of a larger strategy he feels is misguided, namely working with Muslim Brotherhood Islamists against the more extreme Salafists.

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Lessons in Israeli-Palestinian reality from two Middle East experts

Lessons in Israeli-Palestinian reality from two Middle East experts Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy awarded its 2012 Scholar-Statesmen Award to Dennis Ross and Elliott Abrams on December 6. Ross served as special Middle East negotiator to President Clinton and Iran policy adviser to President Obama, and is currently counsellor to the Washington Institute. Abrams, served as Deputy National Security Advisor in the George W. Bush Administration, and is currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In a post-award panel discussion, Ross and Abrams reflected on their careers in foreign policy and provided insights into the challenges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran's nuclear program and the 'Arab Spring'.

Editorial: A Wrong Turn Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

The United Nations General Assembly vote on November 29, upgrading the Palestinian mission at the UN to the status of an "observer state" was a unilateral move which violated a core tenet of the Oslo Accords, stipulating that neither party would attempt to unilaterally change the legal status of the West Bank and Gaza.

While the UN vote may lack the authority to effect such change, it's clear that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to use the vote as a political crowbar in order to pry away the West from their allegiance to the principles set in place by the vastly more weighty UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967.

Scribblings: What Palestinians want Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal made international headlines on Dec. 7 when he made a particularly uncompromising speech in Gaza promising never to recognise Israel and to liberate all of Palestine "from the river to the sea" via armed "resistance".

It's worth specifically parsing what he had to say about why all of Palestine must be liberated by armed violence. He said "Palestine - from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south - is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it... Palestine was, continues to be, and will remain Arab and Islamic... Palestine belongs to us and to nobody else."

AIR New Zealand: NZ's Vote for Palestinian UN upgrade

AIR New Zealand: NZ's Vote for Palestinian UN upgrade Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Palestinians, United Nations    

Questions have been raised by some members of New Zealand's Jewish community over the country's recent vote in favour of the United Nations (UN) resolution that Palestine be given "non-member state" status at the international organisation.

There has been some surprise, and even annoyance, that - under Prime Minister John Key's Israel-friendly government - New Zealand did not abstain on the vote.

The state of Israeli/Palestinian relations

The state of Israeli/Palestinian relations Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update deals with three pieces of analysis on the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations in the wake of the UN  vote on "non-member state" status and other recent events.

First up is noted Israeli academic analyst and former UN Ambassador Dore Gold, offering some advice on Israeli diplomacy in the wake of the UN vote. He notes that, despite hints to the contrary prior to the UN vote, there is no sign that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is at all prepared to drop its preconditions and resume peace negotiations with Israel - and indeed the long-standing pre-conditions for talks have now been publicly re-affirmed by PA President Abbas.

Getting inside the head of Khaled Meshal

Getting inside the head of Khaled Meshal Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

December 7th was a big day for Khaled Meshal, head of Hamas political bureau. Hamas marked its 25th anniversary, and on the occasion Meshal made his first ever visit to Gaza, which was not only a personal experience, but also his opportunity for a political resurrection.

In his speech, Meshal proved once again that he is just as committed to the "resistance" and "liberation" of Palestine as the most extreme voices. He also proved that not much has changed in the 25 years since Hamas first emerged, with its hateful, antisemitic charter and the call for the annihilation of Israel.

Journalist or terrorist? Why choose when you can be both!

Journalist or terrorist? Why choose when you can be both! Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Recently it has been reported that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, blaming Israel for allegedly targeting Palestinian journalists during operation "Pillar of Defence" in the Gaza Strip. New York Times journalist David Carr went even further, as he accused Israel of intentionally targeting journalists.

Two main issues are mixed up in the story. Firstly, the use of journalists and press as human shields for terrorist activity, further endangering journalists reporting from conflict zones. And secondly, terrorists' use of journalist status to cover up for their violent activities.

The aftermath of the PA UN bid and the debate over Israeli building in settlements Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

This Update deals with the aftermath of the UN vote to upgrade Palestine to "non-member state" status last week, the Israeli response in terms of announcements of preparations to build new housing units in east Jerusalem and settlements, and the strong reaction this decision has promoted from many foreign governments, including Australia's.

Behind the 'Palestine' vote, a paradox

Behind the 'Palestine' vote, a paradox Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

In order to fully understand all the implications of the upgrade of Palestinian status to non-member observer state at the United Nations, it is worthwhile to begin by revisiting their more ambitious first attempt to bring Palestinian UN membership to a vote in the United Nations Security Council last year.

At the time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the notion of bringing a resolution to the General Assembly naming "Palestine" a "non-member state" as too weak a gesture - not worth the damage such a move would cause the PA, especially regarding US aid.

Hillary Clinton on Palestinian missed opportunities for statehood

Hillary Clinton on Palestinian missed opportunities for statehood Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was honoured at the Saban Forum in Washington on November 30, where she delivered an insightful speech on the challenges confronting the Middle East and Israel in particular. It's worth reviewing because Clinton offered a number of insights and historical reminders that anyone seeking to unravel the Middle East Gordian knot should understand.

E-1: Beyond the myths and hype

E-1: Beyond the myths and hype Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

An international furore has arisen over Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to move forward with the long-stalled planning of a new Jewish neighbourhood in the area between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim known by the name E-1. Construction on the project itself would not begin for, at the earliest, one or two years, and would require additional political approvals...

Beyond the exaggerated rhetoric, however, evidence shows that the reality of the E-1 plan, which was originally developed by the Rabin government in the early 1990s, is far less sinister than these reports would suggest.

AIR
Palestine's spurious UN bid relied on some unsavoury supporters

Palestine's spurious UN bid relied on some unsavoury supporters Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Sudan, United Nations    

"Mr President: independence, freedom, the right to self-determination; these are principles that have been enshrined in the United Nations Charter." Those words were spoken by Daffa Alla Elhag Ali Osman, the Sudanese Ambassador to the UN as he introduced the draft resolution at the General Assembly to recognise the non-member state of Palestine.

Nothing could better signify the absolute farce taking place before the representatives of the international community than the government of Sudan pontificating about justice and human rights. As Osman spoke, the government that he represents was busy waging a brutal campaign to deny the Nuba people the rights to independence, freedom and self-determination.

What Palestinians think they have achieved from passage of the UN "Non-member state" resolution

What Palestinians think they have achieved from passage of the UN "Non-member state" resolution Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Western countries that abstained or voted for the United Nations General Assembly resolution on Thursday upgrading the Palestinian representation in the UN to that of a non-member state have depicted their decision as a vote in favour of a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians and a two-state solution.

However, Palestinian officials have been telling their own people that the vote was a substantive step towards forced Israeli capitulation, not compromise. Significantly, Palestinian officials say they intend to argue that their increased recognition of statehood automatically entitles them to massive political dividends, including a presumption of final borders.

Voting for "lawfare", not Palestinian statehood

Voting for "lawfare", not Palestinian statehood Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

It appears that Australia chose to abstain from the UN General Assembly's vote to upgrade the status of the Palestinian delegation from "observer" to "non-member state". This was reportedly due to lobbying from within the Labor Party - particularly by former foreign minister Gareth Evans - to the effect that Australia would be on the "wrong side of history" if it were to "resist the tide of international sentiment now in favour of recognising Palestinian statehood".

UN vote on PA upgrade to "non-member state" status

UN vote on PA upgrade to "non-member state" status Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

The Palestinians introduced a much-anticipated resolution giving "Palestine" a status of "non-member state" at the UN General Assembly on Monday.  A vote is expected today, New York time, which is Friday here, and the Australian Government's decision to abstain has been much in the news given that Prime Minister Julia Gilliard was reportedly forced by cabinet and caucus colleagues to abandon her own preference to vote "no". This Update is devoted to analysis of the significance and likely effect of the resolution - which is widely expected to pass easily.

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Palestine's future lies in negotiations with Israel, not UN

Palestine's future lies in negotiations with Israel, not UN Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

BARRING a last-minute change of heart, tomorrow the UN General Assembly will vote on upgrading Palestine's representation in the forum to the status of non-member "observer state".

On these pages, former foreign minister Gareth Evans (November 24) encouraged Washington, and by implication Australia, to support the measure.

Evans notes, correctly, that the resolution will certainly pass, given the automatic pro-Palestinian majority in the General Assembly, and that it contains little extreme language.

Yet no matter how you sugar-coat it, this resolution is a poison pill for the peace process. It should not be supported by any country that supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure Israel.

Editorial: A Tactical Success Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Israel's eight-day "Operation Pillar of Defence", which ended with a ceasefire agreement on November 21, was a limited operation with a primary objective - to staunch the flow of rockets launched from Gaza and landing on southern Israel's cities and villages.

Some 764 rockets had struck Israel from the beginning of this year until the onset of the operation, 150 in the four days before the operation commenced. A further 1,506 rockets struck Israel during the operation itself, bringing the year's total to more than 2,200.

Scribblings: Body Counts and Proportionality Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Israel, Palestinians    

In the recent Gaza conflict, as in 2008-2009, the media was obsessed with "disproportionate" body counts - the fact that more Palestinians were dying than Israelis. Such counts of course, have nothing to do with the actual international law principle of "proportionality", which says that the damage from military attacks must not exceed "the direct military advantage anticipated." That is, anticipated non-military damage and casualties must be proportionate to a legitimate military goal. Nothing to do with relative casualty counts.

The Rockets of November

The Rockets of November Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Tel Aviv tends to revel in its image as a bastion of hedonism and frivolity that defies Middle Eastern tensions, but as autumn's seagulls overflew its fishermen's piers the city received a stark reminder of where it is situated.

As sirens ululated across the cosmopolitan metropolis, sending thousands running for cover, Tel Aviv's elegant boardwalk absorbed what it had last heard in 1991, when Saddam Hussein lobbed Soviet-made Scud missiles in its direction. Saddam and his supplier are now long gone, but the urge to target Israel is alive and well, and it now produced a week-long military conflict whose military, political, and diplomatic repercussions will become apparent in upcoming months.

How Gaza Changes the Mideast Game

How Gaza Changes the Mideast Game Author: Lee Smith Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

In mid-November, Israel embarked on "Operation Pillar of Defence", the second time it's gone to war against Hamas in the past four years. The proximate cause of this campaign, according to Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, was "the incessant rounds of artillery rockets and mortars into the heart of our southern communities." But that rationale was surely coupled with a build-up in Hamas' weapons arsenal - including the Iranian-made Fajr-5 missile, capable of striking Tel Aviv, and Kornet anti-tank missiles, one of which was fired on an IDF jeep and injured four soldiers on Nov. 10.

Essay: The Great Refugee Trap

Essay: The Great Refugee Trap Author: Nitza Nachmias Categories: NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations    

The twentieth century experienced some of the worst instances of population displacement in history: the 15 million ethnic Germans forced out of their homes in Eastern Europe after World War II; the millions of Muslims and Hindus fleeing the newly established states of India and Pakistan during the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947; the millions of Armenians, Greeks, Turks, Finns, Bulgarians, Jews, and Kurds, among others, driven from their lands and resettled elsewhere.

By contrast, the 600,000 Arabs who fled their homes in mandatory Palestine and the nascent state of Israel during the 1947-48 war have been kept in squalid camps for decades by their Arab hosts as a means of derogating Israel in the eyes of the West and arousing pan-Arab sentiments. And as if to add insult to injury, the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), established in December 1949 as a temporary means for relieving the plight of the newly-displaced refugees, has transformed into a permanent organisation that has substantially exacerbated the problem whose resolution it was supposed to facilitate.

Hamas the real villain in attacks on friends and foe

Hamas the real villain in attacks on friends and foe Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Now the terms of a ceasefire have been agreed upon, Israel hopes this means the rockets from the Gaza Strip will stop, despite the fact rockets have already been fired into Israel from Gaza since the ceasefire came into effect.

But, when a ceasefire was negotiated between Israel and Hamas in 2009, it did not bring an end to rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. In fact, even before this conflict hundreds of rockets were launched at southern Israel this year alone, disrupting and terrifying the lives of Israelis who had to flee to bomb shelters on a regular basis.

Remember Syria?

Remember Syria? Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

From the moment Israel's Operation Pillar of Defence began last week, news of Syrian President Bashar Assad's bloody suppression of the rebellion against his rule was pushed down the news page, and in some cases knocked out of the paper entirely.

This, in spite of the fact that more Syrians than Palestinians were killed over the same period and that the death toll in Assad's crackdown is approaching 40,000 - many times more than the total number of Palestinians killed during fighting with Israel in decades of conflict.

Did the current round of violence start because of the death of a 13-year-old boy on November 8?

Did the current round of violence start because of the death of a 13-year-old boy on November 8? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

In the first few days of the current escalation in Southern Israel and Gaza (which hopefully may now be coming to an end) most of the media reported that the violence escalated after a Kornet anti-tank missile was launched at an Israeli military jeep on November 10, injuring four soldiers. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) took responsibility for the attack. Shortly afterwards, a barrage of dozens of rockets aimed at Israeli cities and towns was launched from Gaza.

Perhaps the 10 days that have passed since that incident has blurred the memory of some reporters. Some media reports are now framed around the assumption that this whole thing began on the 14 with the strike on Jabari. And even more bizarrely, other reporter and commentators are stating or implying that it was the death of 13-year-old Hamid Younis Abu Dika on Nov. 8 near Khan Younis that sparked the current round of violence.

Gaza: How we got here and how it might end

Gaza: How we got here and how it might end Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update offers more top-flight analysis of how the Gaza conflict got to this point - with more than 1150 rocket hits on Israel since Wednesday (on top of the 150 in the few days before that) and over 1400 Israeli strikes on terror targets in Gaza - and what the end of the conflict might look like. (Report now say a deal on a ceasefire being negotiated in Cairo might be close to completion, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now in the region to try to assist in a ceasefire deal.) Good constant updates on what is going on militarily are being provided by the IDF's website.

Human rights NGOs, and their half-hearted, belated, and weasel-worded condemnations of rocket attacks

Human rights NGOs, and their half-hearted, belated, and weasel-worded condemnations of rocket attacks Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Human rights organisations are supposed to advance a universal approach, according to which every person in entitled to certain rights and liberties, based simply on his or her humanity. The most basic of these rights is the right to life. Yet time after time those very same organisations prove that some humans - those from groups they personally identify or sympathise with - have more rights than others. Most recently, this double-standard was evident in the response by various human rights organisations to the ongoing rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza on Israeli cities and towns. In between 'code red' sirens, you could almost hear the silence of human rights organisations.

Rockets from civilian areas: Hamas and Islamic Jihad are fooling no one

Rockets from civilian areas: Hamas and Islamic Jihad are fooling no one Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

The most unfortunate consequence of any war is that innocent people are invariably caught in the crossfire. The current conflict in Gaza is no exception, as can be seen by the tragic deaths of members of the Dallu family on Sunday from what appears to have been an erroneous airstrike on the part of the Israelis. The IDF were trying to target Hamas commander Yihya Abayo and, for reasons still unclear, hit the nearby Dallu household instead. The incident is currently under investigation.

Nevertheless, there is overwhelming evidence that the human toll that the war is taking is being exacerbated substantially by the tactics that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad ('PIJ'), and other Gaza militant groups are employing...

AIR
Propaganda, lies and the Gaza conflict

Propaganda, lies and the Gaza conflict Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

The conflict between Israel and Hamas is also being played out in the media including social media, with Hamas and anti-Israel activists attempting to demonise Israel with false accusations.

The latest fabrication exposed concerns the tragic death of four-year-old Mahmoud Sadallah from Gaza - whose picture made international headlines when his body was cradled by the Egyptian Prime Minister. News agencies including CNN wrongly reported that the child was killed by Israeli missile fire. However, it has now been revealed that he was killed by a Palestinian rocket fired from within Gaza that did not reach Israeli territory.

Operation Amud Anan ("Pillar of Defence")

Operation Amud Anan ("Pillar of Defence") Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Following on from Daniel Meyerowitz Katz's news roundup yesterday, this Update looks at the reasons for and the possible trajectory of the current round of violence sparked by Gaza rockets, which the IDF has dubbed Operation Amud Anan ("Pillar of Defence").

Since the targeted killing of Hamas' military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, there are now reported to have been around 340 strikes by Israel on targets in Gaza - reportedly killing 15 Palestinians (it is unclear how many are combatants versus civilians) - and 305 rockets fired into Israel, killing three civilians, including a pregnant woman. This also included perhaps four rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv area - the first since the 1991 Gulf War - which fortunately caused no damage or injuries. Israel claims to have neutralised most of Hamas' medium range Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv in its initial strikes.

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Military operation in Gaza: News round-up

Military operation in Gaza: News round-up Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Last night's Update dealt with the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas over Israel's border with Gaza, and included a number of analyses predicting that if the constant rocket fire on southern Israel did not cease, Israel would launch a large-scale military operation to destroy terrorist infrastructure there associated with Hamas and other violent groups.

The operation was actually launched very shortly after. This post rounds-up all of the important information that has been coming out since the Israeli airstrikes began...

Gaza powder keg flares up again

Gaza powder keg flares up again Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update deals with the latest major outbreak of violence from Gaza - resulting in more than 140 rocket hits on Israel since Saturday, a number of Israeli retaliatory strike on Gaza targets, and rocket attacks still occurring as of a few hours ago, despite claims of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. Details of the rockets and the injuries that they have caused are summed up in this pdf document prepared by Israeli security officials.

 Video shows children determined to provoke in Palestinian propaganda war

Video shows children determined to provoke in Palestinian propaganda war Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

The West-Bank village of Nabi Saleh has become a battleground for local Palestinians and international activists. But this is no ordinary battleground, it is a battleground in a propaganda war. Based on what could now be called the "Bil'in model", every Friday a supposedly "non-violent" demonstration takes place, in which protesters intentionally confront and clash with Israeli soldiers in front of dozens of photographers, who document the soldiers' every move. The most disturbing aspect of these staged demonstrations is the involvement of Palestinian children in the weekly "production". A new video shows just how far Palestinian children are prompted to go in this effort to provoke a reaction by Israeli soldiers that can be used for propaganda purposes.

In Arafat exhumation, Abbas digging for dirt to use against Israel

In Arafat exhumation, Abbas digging for dirt to use against Israel Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he is determined to go forward with an exhumation of the remains of Yasser Arafat for forensic tests following a controversial investigation by al Jazeera earlier this year. 

According to reports, French investigators, Swiss experts and a Russian government team will take part in the probe following the November 26 exhumation of the former Palestinian leader, who died in France in 2004.

The original al Jazeera documentary on the subject, which reignited the controversy over Arafat's death, was shown here in Australia for the first time on free-to-air channel ABC 24 this week.

UNRWA’s double standards in Syria

UNRWA’s double standards in Syria Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: NGOs, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Five UNRWA employees have been killed in the Syrian conflict and shells have hit and damaged both an UNRWA health centre and an UNRWA school. However, UNRWA has only issued weak statements deploring the deaths and calling for "all sides must refrain from conducting the conflict in civilian areas..." This significantly contrasts with the condemnations and calls for war-crimes investigations that occurred when an Israeli shell struck outside an UNRWA school during the 2009 Gaza conflict. Analysts Asaf Romirowsky and Alex Joffe explore UNRWA's obvious "double standards".

Palestinians finally submit draft statehood request: analysis and implications

Palestinians finally submit draft statehood request: analysis and implications Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Last night, the long-awaited Draft Resolution for the Palestinian UN statehood bid was filed by the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine. The Draft's most substantive point is the request to alter Palestine's status in the UN General Assembly (UNGA). This is contained in the third paragraph, which reads that...

Palestinians killed in Syria receive little attention

Palestinians killed in Syria receive little attention Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad once painted himself and his father as the champion of the Palestinian cause. But now the situation appears to have changed, as Assad's army reportedly fired on the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk killing 20 on November 4, raided Hamas offices and there are fears of mass Palestinian deportations from Syria.

Over 400 Palestinians have been killed in the Syrian civil war, with little to no coverage by the Australian media. The self-proclaimed Palestinian advocates have also been all-but silent.

Younger Israeli Arabs see engagement, not hostility, as path to equality

Younger Israeli Arabs see engagement, not hostility, as path to equality Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Earlier this year, I was standing at the top of a ridge in the Wadi Ara Valley in Israel, overlooking the Arab settlement of Arara. I was with representatives from Givat Haviva, an Israeli-Arab reconciliation organisation. In the town below, I was told, lived a man who represented a new trend within Israel's Arab citizenry.

On reaching 18, some form of national service is mandatory for non-ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, but Arabs are exempt from the requirement. As a rule, members of the Druze and Bedoin communities voluntarily serve in the Israeli Defence Forces, however the vast majority of Israel's Arab population refuses even non-military national service...

Abbas' Five Non-Options

Abbas' Five Non-Options Author: Tal Becker Categories: Palestinians    

At a time when the Middle East is in upheaval, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been pushed to the margins of the diplomatic agenda. The Islamist surge in the region has emboldened Hamas' political ambitions and is making Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party feel ever more isolated and anachronistic. The loss of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, and the Arab uprisings more broadly, have relegated Abbas to the back burner. As crisis escalates with Iran, the bloodbath in Syria continues, Egypt undergoes unprecedented change, and the region as a whole finds itself in a period of profound uncertainty, the goal of Palestinian statehood alongside Israel seems, to many, neither possible nor pressing.

"Palestine" as a "State" of Mind

"Palestine" as a "State" of Mind Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

Last year, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas went to the UN Security Council (UNSC), attempting to have "Palestine" admitted to the UN as a member state. It soon became clear, however, that the Council was not going to approve the bid, as "Palestine" does not yet meet the criteria for statehood.

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Hamas and the latest rocket barrage

Hamas and the latest rocket barrage Categories: Gulf states, Palestinians, Updates    

Southern Israel suffered through an intense rocket barrage from Gaza earlier this week, with more than 80 rockets fired in a 24-hour period, before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took hold yesterday. Hamas has been itself taking credit for many of the rocket launches, a break with its behaviour over most of the past year. This Update explores why, and whether the visit to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad al-Thani, the first by any Arab leader since Hamas took power there in 2007, had anything to do with it.

Media Week - Shalit - the Fairfax directors’ cut; Christians in Israel – the gospel truth; Headline misfire.

Media Week - Shalit - the Fairfax directors’ cut; Christians in Israel – the gospel truth; Headline misfire. Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

As a matter of course newspapers make changes to stories. Some of these can be spelling or cuts for length.

But a number of questionable alterations were made to a story from the New York Times' Middle East correspondent Isabel Kershner that appeared in Fairfax papers noting Gilad Shalit's first major interview.

The UN's forgotten policy of resettling Palestinian Refugees

The UN's forgotten policy of resettling Palestinian Refugees Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

The issue of Palestinian refugees is arguably the single largest impediment to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. None of the other 'final status issues' -- borders, security, and sovereignty over Jerusalem -- seem to leave such a gulf between the positions of the two parties that a compromise is difficult to imagine. Yet, as new research demonstrates, the refugee situation could have been solved very early on.

The solution to the borders issue is relatively clear: Israel will hold on to the major population blocs in the West Bank in exchange for equivalent land from Israel proper. Similarly, current security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority ('PA') has already gone most of the way towards resolving this issue. Jerusalem is a little more contentious, however there are several proposals that could be adopted...

Sketching out a red line for stopping Iran's nuclear program

Sketching out a red line for stopping Iran's nuclear program Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

This Update takes us to New York, at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Taking centre stage is a headline grabbing speech by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu following the predictably defiant, caustic and offensive anti-Israel speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas once again announced a renewed effort to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority at the UN to non-member observer state. The gathering also offered US President Barack Obama an opportunity to speak out on US foreign policy ahead of November elections, while Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi had his first turn at a UN podium. Finally, for Australia, this session was fraught with import, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech before the plenum culminating her government’s intensive effort to secure Australia’s first temporary seat on the UN Security Council since the 1980s.

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Hamas admits: Gaza is not occupied, nor under siege

Hamas admits: Gaza is not occupied, nor under siege Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

The summer of 2005 was especially hot in Israel, but not just because of the high temperatures and Middle-Eastern climate. That summer the heat was political, as Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. It wasn't long before Hamas took over the strip. The showers of rockets into Israel proper never stopped.

Seven years later, Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of Hamas finally admitted the obvious. In a recent (18.9.2012) interview to the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency he declared that "Gaza is free of occupation."

Editorial: Leadership Failures Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

What do the Palestinian Authority's (PA) deep-seated economic problems have in common with its unstinting hostility towards Israel and reluctance to work towards resolving the conflict?

They are each symptomatic of a failure of Palestinian leadership. And, if you feel a sense of déjà vu over the PA's intention to circumvent the peace process by again seeking to upgrade its status at the United Nations, you may also appreciate the repetitive character of these failures. Those who fail to learn from their past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

The Cine File: The Camera Does Lie

The Cine File: The Camera Does Lie Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

There is no doubt that "5 Broken Cameras" is a moving, emotional and powerful film. It tries to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by telling the story of one Palestinian town, Bil'in, which became a symbol of what the film describes as the non-violent resistance against the security fence. In the film, Bil'in is presented as a metaphor for "Palestine", while the security fence is cast as "the occupation". This is achieved via a sophisticated, almost subtle, technique - focusing on one very personal story of a man, Emad Burnat, the film's co-director, a self-proclaimed Palach [farmer], journalist and now filmmaker, along with his youngest son, Gibreel, who was born around the time the construction of the fence had begun.

Media Week - And they called it Pappe love; Randa does the rounds

Media Week - And they called it Pappe love; Randa does the rounds Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Anti-Zionist historian Ilan Pappe told Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National's "Breakfast" program  (17/9) that the "mainstream Zionist leadership from the very beginning understood that... they could not have a Jewish state as long as the Palestinians remained in Palestine".

The fact is that the mainstream Zionist leadership accepted and still accepts partitioning the disputed territory into Jewish and Arab states - in 1922 (when Jordan was created), 1937, 1947, 2000, and 2008.

Moreover, Zionist documents have always discussed the expectation that the Jewish state would have a non-Jewish minority.

Media Week - Sound off; Clear as mud

Media Week - Sound off; Clear as mud Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

ABC Radio National's "360documentaries" series (9/9) featured a 50-minute program from Australian anti-Zionist activist Peter Slezak with interviews he recorded on a recent trip to Gaza and the West Bank.

The program's producer was Cathy Peters - the Marrickville Councillor from the NSW Greens party who was instrumental in proposing the notorious BDS motion in 2010.

Despite this pedigree, ABC presenter Kirsti Melville meekly introduced Slezak as a "Jewish writer and commentator" without mentioning his activism.

The program itself is the equivalent of "the best of the worse of the anti-Israel" NGO and UN brigade featuring the usual array of one-sided claims. Neither Hamas nor any Palestinian violence was so much as mentioned.

UNWRA, Hamas and the plight of refugees

UNWRA, Hamas and the plight of refugees Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Israel came under some criticism lately when Israeli authorities were refusing to allow entry to a group of Eritrean asylum seekers stuck at the Egyptian border. The Israelis eventually relented after one week and permitted some of the asylum seekers to cross the border.

One of the most prominent critics of this incident was William Tall, the local representative from the UN High Commission for Refugees ('UNHCR'), one of the two UN bodies tasked with catering to the world's refugee populations.

The other body is, of course, the UN Relief and Works Agency For Palestine Refugees -- which regularly goes by the acronym 'UNRWA'.

The omission of the 'FPR' from the acronym makes it sound as though UNRWA were simply another arm of the UN, rather than an organisation established soleley to cater to one population. Unfortunately, the 'FPR' is a part of UNRWA's name and mandate, which must be glaringly apparent for the unfortunate Africans who attempt to find refuge in Israel...

 Hanan Ashrawi and the attempt to write Jewish refugees out of history

Hanan Ashrawi and the attempt to write Jewish refugees out of history Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Hanan Ashrawi has caused controversy by recently writing in an article intended for an Arabic-speaking audience that there were no Jewish refugees from Arab countries. She wrote, "the emigration of Jews was a voluntary act that was influenced by factors of pressure and temptation by Zionist movements and the Jewish Agency." Ashrawi explained that: "If Israel is their homeland, then they are not ‘refugees;' they are emigrants who returned either voluntarily or due to a political decision."

However, Ashwrawi is clearly ignoring history for political reasons. In 1945, there were more than 870,000 Jews living in the various Arab states, some communities dated back 2,500 years. From the 1940s onwards many of these Jews were persecuted, their property and belongings confiscated and in some countries they were expelled - including Egypt, Libya and Algeria.

Palestinian NGO muddies the waters with Dead Sea claims

Palestinian NGO muddies the waters with Dead Sea claims Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Anti-Zionism, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Mud-slinging allegations by the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq that Israel had committed "war crimes" by purportedly allowing the Israeli Dead Sea cosmetics company Ahava to "plunder" Dead Sea resources inside the West Bank became the focus of a controversial article by Fairfax's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard this week.

In the September 4 article "Cosmetics firm accused of plundering Dead Sea", Pollard regurgitated uncritically allegations from the Palestinian group that Ahava has been using materials in its products supposedly excavated from an undisclosed mining site in the jurisdiction of the Megilot Regional Council, where Ahava maintains a factory and outlet store.

Carr gives Middle East process a shot in the arm

Carr gives Middle East process a shot in the arm Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

During his recent visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr showed true statesmanship by giving the moribund Middle East peace process a shot in the arm.

Stressing the need to ''bring the two parties together'', Carr met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah, nudging the Palestinian Authority back towards the negotiating table and emphasising the need for a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians negotiated directly between themselves.

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PA unable to afford electricity but still pay terrorists six times the average Palestinian wage

PA unable to afford electricity but still pay terrorists six times the average Palestinian wage Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

With the cost of living skyrocketing as falling revenues forces the Palestinian Authority ('PA') to stop paying salaries to its employees, the PA is struggling to hold onto what legitimacy it has left amongst its people. In spite of this, the PA is reportedly increasing the money it pays in support of terrorists who have murdered innocent Israelis.

This blog has been following the PA's escalating financial crisis as foreign aid donations have dwindled over the past few years. We have also been following the repeated attacks on the pipeline through the Sinai that used to supply Israel with natural gas from Egypt and the Egyptians' eventual decision to unilaterally call-off the trade agreement.

It seems that these two issues are now coming to a head...

Media Week - Newton’s gravity-free zone; Village idiots; Exceptionally bad

Media Week - Newton’s gravity-free zone; Village idiots; Exceptionally bad Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Australian Palestine Advocacy Network vice-president Robert Newton offered up a series of red herrings in the Canberra Times (21/8) to justify why "Unless Israel stops the illegal construction of settlements in the West Bank there will be no resumption of negotiations which have been stalled since December 2010".

Between 1993 and 2009 the Palestinian Authority (PA) did not insist on a settlements building freeze as a precondition to peace talks.

"Breaking the Silence" - Creating headlines with the same old controversial material

"Breaking the Silence" - Creating headlines with the same old controversial material Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

An anthology of stories by former IDF soldiers regarding the treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza assembled by the controversial left-wing Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence has drawn the attention of Yediot Ahronot in Israel, the UK's Guardian and Independent, Iran's PressTV, as well as News Limited's John Lyons and Fairfax' Ruth Pollard here in the Australian press - but few other journalists worldwide.

This isn't really surprising, as there is evidently little new information contained in the report, which is essentially a repackaging of some 30 self-styled "testimonies" cherry picked from the organisation's 850-case archives (collected gradually over the past seven years) in an attempt to portray the IDF as systematic abusers of Palestinian children.

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The truth (and lies) behind Rachel Corrie's death

The truth (and lies) behind Rachel Corrie's death Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Yesterday, Israeli Judge Oded Gershon of the District Court of Haifa handed down his verdict in the civil case between the State of Israel and the parents of a young American woman killed in Gaza in 2003, acquitting the State on all counts. The circumstances surrounding the death of then 23-year-old Rachel Corrie are well known, however there has been a long-standing dispute regarding some key facts. 

Corrie's parents had claimed that the IDF either deliberately killed Corrie or was guilty of gross negligence. Judge Gershom dismissed the claim on the grounds that the IDF could not be liable for civil damages that occurred in a 'war zone' during the course of armed conflict.

Nevertheless, he went on to...

Scribblings: Abetting Iran at NAM Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Iran, Palestinians    

It is very disappointing to read reports that Australia has announced it plans to send two senior Australian diplomats to Teheran to participate as "guests" in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference there from August 26 through 31. This forum is being exploited by the Iranian regime to gain support for its non-existent "right" to enrich uranium, and to erode the increasing isolation Iran has experienced as sanctions mount because of its defiance of the UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency over its illegal nuclear weapons program. Moreover, it is highly likely that the conference will be used by the Iranian regime to promote their unconscionable efforts to demand Israel's destruction - following on from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's August 17 claim that "The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour" which must be "excised," as well as various other antisemitic and Holocaust denying rants.

The plight of Palestinian nationalism

The plight of Palestinian nationalism Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Palestinians    

There is a strong case for saying that the Fatah-led Palestinian national movement, as we have known it from the late '60s onward, is fading from the scene.

But while, in practical terms, the Palestinian national movement is an increasing irrelevance, the symbolic cause of Palestine nevertheless retains great emotional appeal both for the Muslim world as a whole and for a wide spectrum of Western leftists. The result is that a new, loose, global, Islamist-led movement is emerging in its stead to carry the Palestinian banner.

Media Week - Time out;  Growth is good; A quote without foundations

Media Week - Time out; Growth is good; A quote without foundations Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Time's Karl Vick (13/8) offered a simplistic account of the effect of the growing population of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.

Vick implied that Jewish control over Jerusalem since 1967 has been bad for Christians and Muslims: "Millions visit the Holy City each year. Most are pilgrims to the signal sites of Christianity, though Muslims gather at their own great shrine above the Western Wall. Neither, however, are terribly welcome as residents. Since 1967, Jerusalem has become a resolutely Jewish city."

Except that Jerusalem has been a majority Jewish city since the 1850s. Furthermore the 68,000 Palestinians living there in 1967 have quadrupled to 288,000 in 2012, with Palestinian Arabs now making up 37% of Jerusalem's residents, compared to 25.8% in 1967.

Incitement watch: Saudi cleric's Blood Libel and PA honours terrorists while forbidding Jews from praying at holy site

Incitement watch: Saudi cleric's Blood Libel and PA honours terrorists while forbidding Jews from praying at holy site Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Updates    

The Times of Israel reported an official statement from the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday accusing Israel of "incitement". The source of the alleged incitement was a call from opposition MK Aryeh Eldad, from the hard-line National Union party, demanding that Jews be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

In an ironic twist, this statement was reported on the same day as reports emerged of a new mausoleum that the PA is building to honour the eight terrorists responsible for an attack on an Israeli hotel in 1975, which resulted in the deaths of eight civilian hostages and three Israeli soldiers...

What we can learn from Ahmadinejad's "400 years of Zionism"

What we can learn from Ahmadinejad's "400 years of Zionism" Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA, 2.8.2012), published some statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made last Wednesday night in a meeting in Teheran with ambassadors and diplomats from Muslim countries . These reveal that while the Iranians love to claim they are only critical of Israel and "Zionism", and have nothing against Jews per se, the Iranians in fact simply and transparently use the word "Zionism" to paper over dangerously antisemitic views directed against Jews generally.

The Future of Fatah / Preventing military conflict with Iran

The Future of Fatah / Preventing military conflict with Iran Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features two pieces of analysis which discuss worrying signs for the secular nationalist Fatah movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority -  emanating from both current Middle East trends, as well as developments in the West Bank itself.

First up is academic expert and recent visitor to Australia Dr. Jonathan Spyer, who sees the entire Palestinian nationalist movement as looking very vulnerable to the Islamist trends which are eclipsing Arab nationalist regimes across the Middle East.

Incitement watch: Hamas denies Holocaust and Israeli-Arab Parliamentarian supports Burgas bombing

Incitement watch: Hamas denies Holocaust and Israeli-Arab Parliamentarian supports Burgas bombing Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Palestinians, Updates    

When Hamas is criticised for its antisemitic and genocidal rhetoric, the common trend is to refer to its 1988 charter, which repeats traditional antisemitic conspiracy theories, specifically cites notorious antisemitic propaganda document 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion', and contains some explicit calls to murder Jews. In return, apologists for Hamas have alleged that the charter is no longer a relevant document and accused Hamas detractors of using the document deceptively to demonise an innocent organisation.

Unfortunately, repeated statements from Hamas indicate that the spirit of the charter pervades the organisation to this day. A recent episode concerning Palestinian Authority (PA) official Ziad Al-Bandak is a case in point...

Scribblings: Goodbye Gaza

Scribblings: Goodbye Gaza Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians    

There is little doubt that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's presidential and parliamentary elections has been a major setback for Israel's foreign and security policy. It is too early to tell how bad this setback is - much will depend on how much control over Egypt's foreign and defence affairs the Muslim Brotherhood succeeds in wresting from the military, and how much the Brotherhood chooses to focus on consolidating its internal power versus courting popularity and distracting the public from domestic problems by sparking crises with Israel. But at the very least it is possible to say that the situation will not be an improvement.

Except perhaps in one respect, and it concerns Gaza.

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Law and Peace

Law and Peace Author: Dore Gold Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

In January 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Yaakov Neeman, the Justice Minister, turned to former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy to head a panel of legal experts that would look into questions of land ownership in the West Bank. The initiative came about when it was discovered that a housing project in the settlement of Beit El, north of Jerusalem, had been built years earlier on Palestinian private land, and the government decided to adhere to the judgment of the Supreme Court to have the Israeli building project removed. The panel was intended to study how Israeli decision-making had been made in the past and what could be done to avoid such situations in the future.

What the "Levy Report" actually says Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

The "Levy Report" (officially the "Commission to Examine the Status of Building in Judea and Samaria", led by retired Supreme Court judge Edmond Levy) had been released in Israel for barely two hours when critics began accusing it of "undermining Israeli democracy" and signifying the "final death blow" to the peace process. (So many "final death blows" seem to have struck the peace process over the past decade that I can only conclude that it is continually reanimating in some form of undead state, only to be killed again by yet another announcement or report released by one party or another.)

Continued IOC refusal to remember Munich darkens tomorrow’s Olympic Opening Ceremony

Continued IOC refusal to remember Munich darkens tomorrow’s Olympic Opening Ceremony Author: Andrea Nadel Categories: Europe, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Despite calls from the victims' families and world leaders across the globe, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will reportedly not honour the memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians and one West German police officer murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics in Munich at the opening ceremony for the London games tomorrow.

Christians in Gaza face an uncertain future

Christians in Gaza face an uncertain future Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

The plight of Christians in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip has recently been in the spotlight following allegations by the Orthodox Christian Church, that a group of armed Islamists kidnapped five Christian Palestinians and forced them to convert to Islam.

On July 16, hundreds of Christians staged a rare protest in Gaza's main church, demanding the return of members of their community. A solidarity protest was held at the same time in Bethlehem on the plaza of the Church of Nativity.

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Hamas on the Rise in the "Islamist Spring"?

Hamas on the Rise in the "Islamist Spring"? Categories: Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features pieces covering the rising regional and financial clout of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas as a result of the changes re-shaping the Middle East over the past eighteen months in what is sometimes called the "Arab Spring."

First up is noted American Palestinian Affairs analyst Jonathan Schanzer, who focuses on the financial signs of Hamas' growing clout compared to the Palestinian Authority (PA). He notes that while the PA is effectively broke, Hamas is riding high financially thanks to growing support from two new benefactors - Qatar and Turkey - despite the weakening of Hamas' ties to traditional patrons Syria and Iran.

Media Week - Remembering Shamir; Grave doubts; Over the top

Media Week - Remembering Shamir; Grave doubts; Over the top Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Ruth Pollard in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald (2/7) asserted that former Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir's "most criticised decision...was to undermine the 1987 agreement on Palestine reached by his foreign minister Shimon Peres and Jordan's King Hussein".

Contrary to Pollard's implication, the agreement would not have created an independent Palestine but seen a resumption of Jordanian rule over the West Bank.

Administrative detention: facts and figures

Administrative detention: facts and figures Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

A petition calling on Australian Jews to denounce Israel's administrative detention policy has apparently been circulating for some weeks without attracting much attention. The handful of signatories, including most of the regular anti-Israel crowd, claim that "the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike" highlights the policy - not seeming to have realised that a deal to end the strike had been reached more than a month before the petition was launched.

Media Week - Delusional on Damascus; Major doubts; Holey claptrap

Media Week - Delusional on Damascus; Major doubts; Holey claptrap Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Joseph Wakim revealed on ABC "Unleashed" (27/6) the true cause of internecine violence that has roiled Syria since February 2011 and blackened the good name of the Assad dictatorship:

There is nothing civil about the war in Syria - it is a proxy war to protect Israel from a nuclear Iran. This was confirmed when Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak declared that toppling Assad 'will be a major blow to the radical axis [Iran] ... It's the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the Arab world ... and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza'.

But this hardly amounts to a smoking gun for proving Israel is fomenting civil war in which more than 13,000 people have been killed; more a desperation to blame shift onto the usual scapegoat.

Experts: Radioactive residues on Arafat's clothing no proof of poisoning

Experts: Radioactive residues on Arafat's clothing no proof of poisoning Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

After the media excitement over the allegation polonium poisoning might have caused Yasser Arafat's death in 2004, some sober and cogent analysis is debunking the thrust of the al-Jazeera report - that the radioactive levels that were reportedly found recently on Arafat's personal effects, could have come from Arafat himself.

Dr. Ely Karmon, of the Interdisciplinary Centre, Herzliya's Institute for Counterterrorism, a specialist in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism, told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the half-life of the substance would make it impossible for polonium to have been discovered at such high levels after eight years.

IMF denies Israel’s request for loan to help struggling PA

IMF denies Israel’s request for loan to help struggling PA Author: Andrea Nadel Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has denied Israel’s request for a loan to assist the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA). Conflicting numbers have been reported regarding the precise amount of the loan that Israel requested, with some news outlets reporting that it was for US $1 billion and others reporting that it was for US $100 million. Regardless of the exact amount, Israel’s request highlights not only its interest in preventing the collapse of the Palestinian economy but also the precariousness of the funding situation the PA currently faces thanks to a global economic downturn that has decreased the ability of donor countries worldwide to make good on their funding promises.

UNESCO bucks own experts to pass Palestinian "emergency measure"

UNESCO bucks own experts to pass Palestinian "emergency measure" Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Last Friday at the 36th meeting of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee, held in St. Petersburg, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List as an endangered heritage site, registered under the location "Palestine."

You may be thinking "Another pro-Palestinian vote at the UN, so what else is new?" But the baffling and telling part of the story is not simply that the motion passed, but that it passed despite the better judgment of UNESCO's own advisory body and secretariat, and even against the wishes of the church's own custodians.

Putin's Israel visit showcases diplomacy's strengths and limitations

Putin's Israel visit showcases diplomacy's strengths and limitations Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Russia, Syria, Updates    

Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Israel last week, as part of a larger Middle East tour by the newly re-elected leader, is seen by analysts as a productive diplomatic exercise between the two countries.

At the same time, analysts agree, the visit demonstrated the limits of diplomacy in persuading Russia to change its policies regarding matters of key national interest to Jerusalem, especially regarding Iran and Syria.

Muslim Brotherhood leader: Liberating Jerusalem and Palestine should be "sole goal"

Muslim Brotherhood leader: Liberating Jerusalem and Palestine should be "sole goal" Author: Allon Lee Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

A June 14 speech by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's leader Mohammed Badie in which he dreams of a Muslim leadership ready to make the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem "the sole goal" does not engender hope the world's leading Sunni Islamist organisation is ready to moderate its extremist positions now that it's candidate has won the country's presidency.

In the speech, Badie, who selected Mohammed Mursi to run for the Egyptian presidency, says:

"How happy would be the Muslims if all Muslim rulers made the Palestinian cause a pivotal issue, around which Muslims, rulers and the ruled, would line up [and ally to make] the sole goal for all of them the recovery of al Aqsa Mosque, freeing it from the filth of the Zionists, and imposing Muslim rule throughout beloved Palestine."

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 Media Week - Waterlogged; Horse and cart reporting; Simplistic moralising

Media Week - Waterlogged; Horse and cart reporting; Simplistic moralising Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Age/Sydney Morning Herald (June 23) Middle East correspodent Ruth Pollard reported on an NGO study claiming that Gaza drinking water is "too contaminated", "never in continuous supply because of daily power shortages," and the infrastructure distributing it is in disrepair because Gazans have lived under an "Israel-imposed military blockade for five years."

Nowhere in the article was Hamas mentioned, which is astounding given that it has been the sole governing authority in Gaza since 2007 and has been effectively at war with Israel while doing little for its own population's welfare or water needs.

Furthermore, she ignored or was unaware of IDF reports documenting at least 27 water and sewage purification projects in place in Gaza - all of them facilitated by Israel, and not a single one funded by Hamas.

Scribblings: The Other Problem with the Muslim Brotherhood Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians    

There are a lot of things to worry about following the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Morsi in the Egyptian Presidential election. The Brotherhood is of course effectively the parent organisation and model for all radical Sunni Islamist groups - from al-Qaeda, through Hamas, to Somalia's al-Shabaab, Nigeria's murderous Boko Haram and Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiyah. It also comes with a worldview which places absolutely no intrinsic value on democracy - to them, democracy is tactically valuable only as long as it helps achieve Islamist ends and the moment other ways of doing so appear to be better, it becomes an obstacle to be eradicated. Even if the Brotherhood allows relatively free elections to continue, its theocratic worldview makes it unlikely to encourage the development of the free public square which is essential for genuine democracy to flourish.

Essay: Legal Blindness

Essay: Legal Blindness Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Since Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced on May 28 that he would be increasing funding to the UN Relief and Works Association for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), there has been a great deal of focus on the true nature of UNRWA and its activities.

UNRWA is the single biggest influence on the current situation of Palestinian refugees (or more correctly, ‘Palestine refugees'), which itself is perhaps the most serious outstanding issue in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians insist that the millions of descendants of Palestinians who fled the 1947-1948 war have a "right" to return to what is now Israel. This would mean, in effect, the destruction of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. For this reason, it is a condition that no conceivable Israeli government could accept, but on which Palestinians refuse to compromise.

Romirowsky: Challenging UNRWA

Romirowsky: Challenging UNRWA Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, United Nations    

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), formed as a temporary organisation in 1949 to take care of the immediate needs of the Arab refugees from Israel's existential War of Independence, has evolved into a sprawling, politically compromised advocate of the Palestinian narrative, according to Asaf Romirowsky, an adjunct scholar at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Romirowsky, who has devoted a decade of post-graduate studies to UNRWA, visited Australia in early June.

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Media Microscope: Refugees Revisited Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

For the first time in many years there has recently been an intense media focus on how international aid is spent on the Palestinians and why the number of Palestinian refugees in the world is constantly increasing.

Phillip Adams interviewed United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner General Filippo Grandi, who visited Australia in June. Whilst Grandi was here, the Australian Government agreed to gift UNRWA A$90 million over five years.

One comment by Grandi partly showed how UNWRA helps delay an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He said "To be a refugee, to maintain one's rights as refugees does not mean that you don't have a right to a better life, to better opportunities." If assistance comes wrapped in a promise that you are entitled to maintain your "rights" as a refugee even if you have citizenship in another country, then no realistic peace plan will ever satisfy Palestinian refugee demands.

The Last Word: Of Walls and Words

The Last Word: Of Walls and Words Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Europe, Palestinians    

From the tastefully placed pavement plaques to the grand museums, from the confronting and disorientating Holocaust Memorial to the larger than life-sized photographs of citizens fleeing Communist dictatorship, Berlin is a city steeped in memory.

It is also a lively, vibrant locus of arts and anarchic extravagance. In a way, the east of the city, which I visited this June, feels as if it is consciously contradictory and self-mocking - acknowledging the cruelty which has emanated from, and engulfed, the metropolis.

Declassified documents from '67 show Israel's willingness to trade land for peace

Declassified documents from '67 show Israel's willingness to trade land for peace Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Egypt, Jordan, Palestinians, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

Did Israel's government covet the land it captured as part of the defensive war of June 1967, which ended with Israeli forces in control of the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza?

For the most part, not at all, according to 200 pages of newly declassified transcripts from cabinet and committee meetings in the days following the war, released by Israel's National Archive this month.

Media Week - Antisemitic poster boys; Radio daze; Go Canada

Media Week - Antisemitic poster boys; Radio daze; Go Canada Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

A Sydney Morning Herald story (16/6) on the Egyptian Supreme Court overturning a ban on the presidential candidacy of former Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq featured a picture of a male protester holding a poster of Shafiq covered in at least five Star of Davids.

The paper's accompanying caption stated: "Hatred....protesters hold a defaced poster of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq". Perhaps "Stereotypical antisemitism that is a feature of Egyptian political discourse" might have been a more apt description.

The blindness behind the NGO petition to end the Gaza blockade

The blindness behind the NGO petition to end the Gaza blockade Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Fifty international charities and UN agencies have made a joint media appeal to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Some of the charities that have signed the petition have Australian branches including: Amnesty International, Oxfam, Care International, War Child and HelpAge International.  The petition states:

"For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. We the undersigned say with one voice: 'end the blockade now'".

The petition appears to overlook a number of key issues which are discussed in this blog post.

Hamas: We're responsible for major new outbreak of rocket attacks

Hamas: We're responsible for major new outbreak of rocket attacks Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Dozens of rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel during a new outbreak of fighting this week. Also, in a new twist, Hamas has taken responsibility for the attacks, rather than merely passively permitting other groups such as Islamic Jihad to launch rockets from its territory - a policy that had been in place for the past year.

Why worry about Syria when you can pick on Israel?

Why worry about Syria when you can pick on Israel? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Syria    

In a famous incident on an episode of ABC's QandA, almost exactly one year ago, comedian Sandy Gutman (aka Austen Tayshus) berated Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon for her defence of the NSW Greens’ decision to adopt a boycott of Israel.

The implementation of this boycott policy in Greens-controlled Marrickville Council had caused a huge PR disaster for the Greens and probably cost them the State seat of Marickville in the then-recent NSW elections. Referring to Rhiannon’s support for the 2010 "flotilla to Gaza", Gutman said to her:

Can I just ask you why you’re so obsessed with Israel? Why not, say, North Korea or China or Somalia or Cuba or any other country… In fact, why don’t you send a flotilla to Syria? Because Syria has now murdered 1100 people of its own citizens. Why aren’t you on – why aren’t you on that flotilla? That’s what I want to understand.

The big lie, redux

The big lie, redux Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In 1985, following the murder of wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer by Palestinian terrorists aboard the cruise ship Achille Lauro, Palestine Liberation Organisation Foreign Secretary Farouq Qaddumi famously denied responsibility for the attack, suggesting that perhaps his terminally ill wife had killed her husband for insurance money.

This unique brand of chutzpah resurfaced again this week.

For UK journalists, a kinder, gentler Gaza

For UK journalists, a kinder, gentler Gaza Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, United Kingdom, Updates    

Five years ago this month, Hamas militants turned their guns on Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) forces in the Gaza Strip. Following eight days of fighting, during which time over 160 people were killed, Hamas completed its purge of the PA from the Gaza Strip. In response, PA President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved a Fatah-Hamas unity government, replaced Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh with technocrat Salam Fayaad, and consolidated his control of the West Bank. Israel and Egypt instituted a blockade of Gaza, while the US and EU lifted diplomatic sanctions on the PA while at the same time imposing harsher ones on Hamas in Gaza.

With help from Iran, Hamas built a stockpile of smuggled imported arms - including longer-range rockets - and increased its rocket production as well as the number of attacks it launched against Israel. This eventually lead to Israel's strong military response in the form of Operation Cast Lead, launched in the final days of 2008.

None of this context, however, has found its way into recent coverage of the anniversary of the Hamas takeover in two UK newspapers, the Guardian and the Independent.

Only way ahead is through talking

Only way ahead is through talking Author: Sharyn Mittleman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In his recent article, Robert Newton of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network offered Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr ("Carr should press Obama on peace for Israel and Palestine", June 4) some poor advice on moving forward with the Israeli-Palestinian Peace negotiations.

Newton suggests that Israel alone is wholly to blame for the current ‘impasse' in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, ignoring the element of Palestinian responsibility for perpetuating the conflict which has been all too apparent in the events of recent months. He neglects to tell readers that Israel has been continually stating that it seeks the "immediate resumption of peace talks without any preconditions whatsoever", but it is the Palestinian Authority that is refusing to talk with Israel, and has been doing so, with a few minor exceptions, over the past three years.

The ABC and UNRWA

The ABC and UNRWA Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

ABC radio's "World Today" reported on the growing recognition that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) may actually be perpetuating the ongoing Palestinian refugee issue (see AIJAC's update from June 6 2012 for more on the issue).

Unfortunately, a serious issue suffered from the not-so-subtle insinuation that the enterprise is essentially a right-wing plot to deprive aid to Palestinians rather than a question of who should rightfully be deemed a Palestinian refugee and how it might just be hampering solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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UNRWA and Refugees/ More Glorifying of Terrorism

UNRWA and Refugees/ More Glorifying of Terrorism Categories: Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

There has been considerable comment of late, both in Australia and the UN, about the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in the wake of a legislative proposal being discussed in Washington, and a recent grant of increased aid provided to UNRWA in Canberra. This Update provides some background on the controversy over UNRWA, and the idea behind the UNRWA-related legislative amendment which passed out of a Committee in the US Senate last week.

First up is a backgrounder on the American UNRWA proposal, sponsored by Senator Mark Kirk, written by American scholars Alexander Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky (Mr. Romirowsky is currently visiting Australia to speak at the annual Limmud Oz conference of Jewish educators.) They make it clear that the intent of the Kirk legislation is not to cut off Palestinians from needed aid, but to provide some clarity about the state of UNRWA's clients, the vast majority of whom are not refugees by the standards applied to every other refugee population in the world.

Media Week - BDS is anti-peace; Worrying findings; Sandstorm on the horizon?

Media Week - BDS is anti-peace; Worrying findings; Sandstorm on the horizon? Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

In the Australian (25/5) academic Philip Mendes analysed the conceptual and practical flaws underpinning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement noting that it "is a by-product of the second Palestinian intifada and the collapse of the Oslo peace process.... It is essentially war by other means...and intended to coerce Israel into surrendering to Palestinian demands".

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Israel returns bodies of 91 Palestinians, in goodwill gesture

Israel returns bodies of 91 Palestinians, in goodwill gesture Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In a move intended to encourage the Palestinians to return to peace negotiations, Israel returned the remains of 91 Palestinians on May 31, most of whom were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said:

"We hope that this humanitarian gesture will serve both as a confidence-building measure and help get the peace process back on track... Israel is ready for the immediate resumption of peace talks without any preconditions whatsoever."

No reporting of Palestinian Christians living in fear in the West Bank

No reporting of Palestinian Christians living in fear in the West Bank Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Updates    

The recent plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt has been the subject of significant attention since last year's revolution. The community suffered yet another outrage last week, as an Egyptian court sentenced 12 Copts to life-imprisonment, while acquitting eight Muslims, for their involvement in an incident of mob violence that resulted in dozens of Coptic homes burned and destroyed.

This incident did not receive the coverage that it deserved, however the world is at least broadly aware of the struggle that the Copts in Egypt are currently facing. What has been receiving even less press coverage is the similar situation in which Palestinian Christians are reportedly finding themselves in....

Scribblings: Hamas "Hudna" offer revealed Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

A lot of international commentators have been taken in by Hamas claims to be ready to accept a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders as part of a deal with Israel (though most commentators gloss over the fact that Hamas always also demands a Palestinian "right of return" - which would lead to Israel's demographic destruction.) And Hamas has made enough ambiguous noises about accepting the results of a referendum of all Palestinians on a peace deal that some have rushed to argue that Hamas will agree to a permanent two-state peace if such a referendum can be passed.

But Hamas' deputy political leader Moussa Abu Marzouk made it very clear in an interview with the New York-based Forward published on April 27 that Hamas is saying nothing of the kind. He did say that any Israel-Palestinian agreement must be ratified by a referendum, stating "All of the Palestinians should vote about this." But he was explicit that even if such a referendum passes, it will still be merely a temporary ceasefire - a hudna in Arabic - to Hamas. He said "When we reach the agreement, our point of view is, it's a hudna." Abu Marzouk went on to mention ten years as an appropriate time frame for such a ceasefire.

The rift behind Hamas' secret elections

The rift behind Hamas' secret elections Author: Ehud Yaari Categories: Palestinians    

Secretive elections for new Hamas leadership bodies unofficially continued until the end of May, but even before then, it was already safe to point out some emerging trends as the movement struggles to cope with fierce debate over its future course. Top leader Khaled Meshaal has been considerably weakened as his rivals in Gaza gain more influence and commanders in the military wing assume a much broader political role. In all likelihood, these developments will further complicate the group's stalled reconciliation efforts with the Palestinian Authority (PA), accelerate its dash to achieve mass self-production of longer-range, more accurate missiles, and prevent - at least for the foreseeable future - a political divorce from Iran.

Our misguided boycotters

Our misguided boycotters Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Peter Beinart's call for a boycott of Israelis in the West Bank opposes the policy advice of almost everyone involved in the debate on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Similarly, the choice of my friend and former colleague in AUJS, Liam Getreu, to adopt Beinart's policy has place Liam at-odds with everyone in Australian Jewry bar the handful who fall far enough to the fringe of the political spectrum that they would consider a boycott, but are not quite ready to boycott Israel in its entirety.

Palestinian factions announce broken record

Palestinian factions announce broken record Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

New New York Times Middle East Correspondent Judy Rudoren wrote yesterday that:

The rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement late Sunday in Cairo that paves the way for elections and a new unity government for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, officials said.

If that sounds a little fimiliar, that's because it is...

Striking prisoners are no Gandhi-esque resisters

Striking prisoners are no Gandhi-esque resisters Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Before the deal that ended it last week, the recent Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike in Israeli prisons was being presented as some kind of grand, Gandhi-esque "resistance" movement, pitting peaceful Palestinian "political prisoners" against cruel Israelis. This is certainly the impression that Randa Abdel-Fattah attempted to give in her recent piece on the subject.

As with many claims in the sadly still-unresolved Arab-Israel conflict, this general narrative is little more than a propaganda exercise, aimed at winning undeserved sympathy for people who are far from innocent.

Hamas' internal politics / PA misgovernment allegations Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

This Update is focussed on Palestinian politics - and especially the significance of the recent, secretive elections within Hamas which chose that organisation's leadership bodies.

First up is Ehud Yaari, leading Israeli journalist renowned for his sources in both Palestinian and other Arab governments, offering unique insights into both how the Hamas elections were carried out, the results, and what they likely mean. The key trends Yaari notes are an increasing predominance of the military wing over politics - as has occurred in Iran - and a growing dominance of the internal leadership in Gaza over Hamas leaders in exile, including especially the increasingly side-lined theoretical top leader Khaled Mashal.

Shhh, Australia is resettling Palestinians

Shhh, Australia is resettling Palestinians Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Palestinians, Updates    

Even as some Australian Palestinians and their supporters spent Tuesday evening disrupting commuters in Sydney in the course of their Nakba Day protests against Israel, SBS World News ran a segment on the recent resettlement of several dozen Iraqi Palestinian refugees in Australia.

(While the video will only be accessible on the SBS website for the next week, a transcript of the segment has been created for the purposes of this blog and can be referenced here.)

While the segment was framed by the SBS presenters as an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of Palestinian refugees on the anniversary of Israel's creation, in reality the story had very little to do with Israel.

Media Week - Go figure; Bergs of a feather; Inclement comparison; Total fiction

Media Week - Go figure; Bergs of a feather; Inclement comparison; Total fiction Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Go figure

An unattributed Age story (12/5) on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails stated that a "fifth of all Palestinians living under occupation - some 700,00 people - have served time in Israeli jails, according to activist groups."

Although the article did not include the origin of the claim of 700,000, it is a number pushed by the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian NGO, and is not credible.

More on the PA's Media Freedom deficit - Housebreaking the Watchdogs

More on the PA's Media Freedom deficit - Housebreaking the Watchdogs Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians    

Following my previous blog post about the hypocrisy of media freedom under the Palestinian Authority (PA), new reports reveal that an independent Palestinian television station is facing legal charges over an investigation into corruption allegations at a Palestinian university, after claims that a son of a senior PA official was accepted into the university despite having failed to meet the academic requirements arose. The station in question is Wattan TV, a not-for-profit station founded in 1996 by civil society organisations. According to its mission statement, it "advocates democracy, peace, justice and political pluralism" and "promotes human rights and a transparent government accountable to the Palestinian people". Despite the station's claim that it has evidence to support the allegations, it was sued for one million dollars, and it is feared that its executives could face prison sentences. Imposing crippling legal sanctions on a television station for investigating corruption allegations seem like yet another blow to the 'democracy watchdog'.

Media Week - Unbelievable, because it's wrong!; New Blood; Not so popular front

Media Week - Unbelievable, because it's wrong!; New Blood; Not so popular front Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

The Australian's John Lyons (5/5) reported on an Israeli law passed during the Second Intifada in 2003 designed to prevent terrorists exploiting family reunion laws to enter Israel.

This has meant Israeli Arab Taiseer Khatib's wife, Lana, who is from Jenin on the West Bank, can only stay in Israel on a temporary residency visa, something Khatib denounces as "beyond apartheid".

The newspaper offensively headlined the piece Living under the cloud of Israel's cruel apartheid implying this was a statement of fact rather than Taiseer Khatib's opinion. The online edition has since rectified this error.

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Jewish refugees - Addressing historical injustice as a key to reconciliation

Jewish refugees - Addressing historical injustice as a key to reconciliation Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Palestinian refugees and the claims made of "right of return" for them have long been a major issue within the debate over a 'just solution' to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The claimed "right of return'" is still seen as a core obstacle to overcome in any future peace negotiations. Yet the refugees question is even more complex. Palestinian refugees actually represent the smaller of the two refugees groups created by the regional conflict between the Arab countries and Israel - the larger group being Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries.

The voices of these Jewish refugees, sadly, have hardly ever been heard or are generally too quickly dismissed. Listening to these voices could potentially shed light and new perspectives not only on the refugees question, but also on the nature and history of the regional context of the conflict. It might even promote reconciliation.

PA goes from jailing Facebook critics to blocking critical websites

PA goes from jailing Facebook critics to blocking critical websites Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

As World Press Freedom Day approaches on Thursday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) looks to be headed in the other direction.

The PA has come under widening criticism of late for its worsening record on press freedom (as reported in a recent blog post by Or Avi-Guy). Part of that story centres on a number of Palestinians arrested after making critical comments about the PA or its leaders on Facebook. Now reports say the PA is also blocking off access to critical news websites.

According to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, Palestinian internet providers have been instructed to block access to news web sites critical of Fatah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Muslim stigma on visiting Jerusalem waning?

Muslim stigma on visiting Jerusalem waning? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In what was was considered another sign of the rapidly deteriorating ties between Israel and Egypt, a visit to Jerusalem by Egyptian Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa -- accompanying Jordanian officials -- caused outrage in Egypt's new Islamist-dominated Parliament last week. The Parliament demanded Gomaa's resignation for behaviour that risked "normalising" relations with Israel.

Despite Gomaa's statements that the visit was unofficial and that it took place under the supervision of the Jordanian authorities, the visit angered those opposed to normalizing relations with Israel.

Parliament Speaker Saad al-Katatny read out...

 

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Hamas interview reveals no hint of moderation

Hamas interview reveals no hint of moderation Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Give him credit for his candour. In an extensive interview with the Forward published on April 19, Mousa Abu Marzook, Deputy Director of Hamas' political bureau and the group's second-highest-ranking official, told the Jewish newspaper that Hamas would not respect a peace treaty with Israel signed by the Palestinian Authority, even if the agreement was endorsed by a referendum of all Palestinians, as Hamas has always demanded.

Moreover, Abu Marzook vowed that Hamas would never recognise Israel. The most Hamas would consider would be a ceasefire agreement, he said.

Abbas' letter to Netanyahu/ Netanyahu on Iran, settlements and other issues

Abbas' letter to Netanyahu/ Netanyahu on Iran, settlements and other issues Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features some analysis of the aftermath of the meeting between Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian negotiators last week, where he was given a letter from Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Also included is a long but informative interview in which Netanyahu discusses several recent controversies in a German newspaper.

"Pro-Palestinian" in name only

"Pro-Palestinian" in name only Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Jordan, Palestinians, Updates    

Jerusalem Post Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh has recently been writing prolifically on the oppression of the Palestinian people. Unusually for an Arab writer broaching this subject matter, while he does have some criticisms of Israel, the Israelies are not the primary objects of his criticism. In fact, the oppression that he is exposing comes at the hands of the Jordanians, the Syrians and even fellow Palestinians.

One of these pieces noted the redoubled efforts by the Jordanian King to marginalise Jordan's Palestinian population -- which he sees as a threat to his hold on power:

In 2009, Amman quietly began revoking the Jordanian citizenship of thousands of Palestinians, triggering strong protests from human rights organizations and pro-Palestinian groups around the world. ...

First Iran meeting/ Netanyahu and Fayyad meet to exchange letters

First Iran meeting/ Netanyahu and Fayyad meet to exchange letters Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update deals with the "P5+1" talks with Iran that occurred on Saturday - with reports suggesting little diplomatic progress accomplished beyond agreement to another meeting in five weeks in Baghdad. On a separate issue, it also contains a look a the significance of the planned meeting tonight between Israeli PM Netanyahu and Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad to present a letter outlining the Palestinian position.

The Truth About Settlement Growth

The Truth About Settlement Growth Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

During a recent CNN interview, former Israeli Prime Minister and current Defence Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak noted that the all too common perception of an historically high rate of settlement expansion taking place is just wrong - not a single new settlement has been built under the current Netanyahu government. Barak also notes that construction in settlements is actually currently occurring at a slower rate than under previous Israeli governments.

Incitement watch:  Palestinian death penalty for selling land to Jews and Jordan expelling the "prophet killers" from Jerusalem

Incitement watch: Palestinian death penalty for selling land to Jews and Jordan expelling the "prophet killers" from Jerusalem Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Jordan, Palestinians, Updates    

The recent controversy over a house in the West Bank city of Hebron is having severe consequences for one unfortunate Palestinian. There was an outcry when Israeli settlers purchased and moved into a house in the "Arab" section of Hebron, ending with their eviction in a controversial move by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak. While the evicted settlers are unhappy about the result, the man who sold them the house is facing a far worse outcome.

[Muhammad Abu] Shahala  reportedly was sentenced to death for his part in selling what has become known as the Machpela House to a group of Jews. He reportedly confessed to the sale after...

How about an award for hypocrisy?

How about an award for hypocrisy? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Hypocrisy frequently rears its ugly head in the Middle East, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) has just succeeded in producing something close to a new examplar on the issue of media freedom. As a Jerusalem Post editorial ("Palestinian responsibility", 2/4/2012) has documented, the Palestinian Authority is intensifying an ongoing crackdown on journalists operating in the West Bank, while at the same time it's introducing a new award honouring press freedom.

Easter in Jerusalem

Easter in Jerusalem Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Each year thousands of Christians make their way to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter. Israel's Tourism Ministry expects 125,000 visitors during Holy Week and 300,000 throughout April.

Over the weekend as Catholics and Anglicans celebrated Easter, there were media reports that claimed many Palestinian Christians were being denied entry into Jerusalem for their pilgrimage, claims which Israel strongly denies.

Media Week - Which lobby?, A wolf in wolf's clothing, Take a hike

Media Week - Which lobby?, A wolf in wolf's clothing, Take a hike Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

In its first story since December 2011 looking at Iran's nuclear program, ABC TV "7.30" (21/3) reporter Michael Brissenden described the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as "the most powerful Jewish lobby group in the United States". This may surprise the many non-Jews who attended AIPAC's recent annual conference, including pro-Israel Latinos, African-Americans and Christian delegates.

Global march to hypocrisy takes shape

Global march to hypocrisy takes shape Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Palestinians, Updates    

An annual Palestinian day of protest commonly known as Land Day has been rebranded this year as the Palestinian camp seeks to maximize international exposure to their agenda with a "Global March to Jerusalem", scheduled for later today, March 30.

What groups are behind it? There is growing evidence that Iran has a significant role behind the event, as GLORIA Centre analyst Jonathan Spyer wrote for PJ Media this week...

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Aussie ex-pat brings Murray-Darling spirit to Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians

Aussie ex-pat brings Murray-Darling spirit to Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Israel, Jordan, Palestinians, Updates    

On a family rip back to Australia, Gidon Bromberg, an Australian environmental activist now living in Israel, picked up a copy of Chris Hammer's book The River: A Journey Through The Murray-Darling. Bromberg was inspired by Hammer's description of the process that led to the Federal Government passing legislation in 2007 to protect the river basin; so inspired, in fact, that he decided to bring Hammer to Israel and attempt to replicate the feat and help the long-suffering Jordan River.

Bromberg has written about this in today's Jerusalem Post...

Power shortage fuelling anti-Hamas sentiment in Gaza

Power shortage fuelling anti-Hamas sentiment in Gaza Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

A fuel shortage in Gaza Strip has created some genuine hardships in the Hamas-run entity, affecting power generation as well as transportation. 

The crisis has produced a rare glimpse into the state of play between Hamas, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, as each side has begun blaming one another for the situation, with no role for Israel, except for Hamas to conspiratorially smear against its political opponents.

Editorial: Gaza's Bitter Harvest Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Palestinians    

In four days in early March, well over 200 rockets were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, injuring several people, sending up to a million Israelis to the bomb shelter, and cancelling school for approximately 200,000 students. Israeli air strikes targeted the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) - the groups responsible for the rocket attacks - killing 25 Palestinians of whom 22 were terrorists, mostly from Islamic Jihad, and many hit in the act of firing rockets.

The violence was triggered when Israel carried out a targeted killing of Zuhair al-Kaissi, the leader of the PRC, whom it said was planning a major attack on Israel through Sinai. This was the fourth major outbreak of conflict around Gaza over the past year. 

Scribblings: The Media, the Disease and the Cure

Scribblings: The Media, the Disease and the Cure Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The Finkelstein Inquiry into the Australian media has provoked a great deal of comment in the Australian media, most of it critical. And I share the view of the majority of commentators that the major proposal put forward by Finkelstein - for a government-funded body empowered to make legally enforceable and unappealable rulings on any alleged failure to meet agreed standards by any media outlet (including small blogs) - is, at the least, problematic. Any cure worse than the disease would be a mistake.

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Europa Europa: Keeping the Faith Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, Israel, Palestinians    

The "Israel Apartheid Week" festival continues to excite students on campuses across Europe (forget those pesky events in Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Iran). But while Apartheid Week has come and gone for another year, the BDS campaign - Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions - plods relentlessly on. Why has the Jewish state, the only liberal democracy in the region, become the obsessive focus of vilification, demonisation and delegitimisation? Why is it considered so uniquely evil - a "racist, genocidal state," in the words of one of the leading Israel Apartheid Week celebrants in London?

Southern Exposure

Southern Exposure Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

After a week of intermittent barrages of mortars, rockets, and missiles, relative quiet befell southwestern Israel, in bizarre synchrony with a blessed winter's belated departure.

The weather has been one happy story in Israel this year. After seven years of drought, the skies opened up and by early March, the Water Authority reported that overall rainfall for this year had already exceeded by more than 10% the annual average. 

Iran's War in Gaza

Iran's War in Gaza Author: Jonathan Schanzer Categories: Iran, Palestinians    

When Israeli jets pounded the Gaza Strip on March 9-12, in the latest round of major fighting around the enclave, they were not fighting Hamas, Israel's traditional bête noire in Gaza. Though radical factions fired more than 300 rockets at Israel, the self-described Islamic Resistance Movement did not claim responsibility for a single attack. It may be the first time the organisation has refused to lead the charge to battle against Israel.

Hamas has a different fight on its hands. Iran, through the use of its proxies, is fomenting instability in Gaza that it is ill-equipped to handle. Indeed, Teheran is punishing Gaza's de facto rulers for leaving their long-standing alliance.

The Aftermath of Toulouse

The Aftermath of Toulouse Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Updates    

With the self-confessed murderer, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origins named Mohamed Merah, now having been killed by French police, this Update looks at the aftermath of the horrific shootings of three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, earlier this week. (Some chilling details of the murderers actions at the Ozer HaTorah school, as revealed on security camera footage, are here.)

Rather than compromising, Hamas is gaining confidence

Rather than compromising, Hamas is gaining confidence Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians    

Over the past weekend, over two hundred rockets were fired into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, injuring several people, sending up to a million Israelis to the bomb shelter, and canceling school for approximately 200,000 students. Israeli air strikes targeted the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - the groups responsible for the rocket attacks - killing 26 Palestinians of whom 22 were terrorists, many hit in the act of firing rockets.

The facts and the hearsay on Israel

The facts and the hearsay on Israel Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Terrorism    

Terror sponsorship has been around for as long as terrorism.

It's a phenomenon that has been widely recognised, which allows a group to use terrorism as a tool while insulating themselves from direct responsibility. As an added benefit, in some cases it allows for additional logistical possibilities in planning a terror attack.

Naturally, nobody should be fooled: a terror sponsor who provides planning and support for a terror attack is as responsible as those who are sent to pull the trigger.

Assad's Email, Iran and the Palestinians

Assad's Email, Iran and the Palestinians Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Documents, Iran, Palestinians, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

As has been widely reported in the Australian press today, on Wednesday the Guardian went public with a trove of messages that they had obtained which purportedly had been mined out of Syrian President Bashar Assad's personal email account.

What was less widely reported was that, as a key strategy, in the emails the Iranians told the Alawite Assad to shore up his image among the country's majority Sunni Muslim population by fashioning himself as an uncompromising opponent of concessions to Israel and as a defender of Jerusalem.

 UN Commission on the Status of Women singles out Israel for condemnation

UN Commission on the Status of Women singles out Israel for condemnation Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

The United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has done it again - in its annual session it condemned only one country - Israel, while ignoring the human rights violations of women around the world, including especially the current crisis in Syria - where women are being raped and murdered...

Another child's death falsely blamed on Israel as leaked emails reveal Assad's scapegoating

Another child's death falsely blamed on Israel as leaked emails reveal Assad's scapegoating Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Just days after being exposed for fraudulently blaming the accidental death of a 15-year-old boy on an "Israeli airstrike", Hamas officials have again attempted to implicate Israel in the death of a Gaza youth -- this time, seven-year-old Baraka al-Mughrabi. Just after Mughrabi passed-away last night, reports started emerging that he had been killed by an Israeli strike.

Not long after, however, these remarks were retracted as the truth of his death emerged...

Gaza Academic: Israel's targeted killing policy works

Gaza Academic: Israel's targeted killing policy works Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Israel, which has sometimes been criticised in the media for targeting terror kingpins in Gazan airstrikes, has received a validation of the policy's effectiveness in curbing terrorism from an unlikely source: A Gazan university professor.

Mukhaimer Abu Saada, professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, told the AFP in an article published March 12 that Israel's strategy has been very successful.

 

False reports about the death of 15-year-old Gaza boy - and other internet falsehoods about the Gaza situation

False reports about the death of 15-year-old Gaza boy - and other internet falsehoods about the Gaza situation Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

The Kony2012 campaign was not the only viral campaign in recent days that spread some dubious information. A number of allegations of Israeli targeting of civilians that surface over the past few days have been outed as downright lies.

The most glaring example is the death of 15-year-old Nayif Shaaban Qarmout, who was killed in northern Gaza on Monday. The first reports emerged from Palestinian Authority-controlled media outlet Ma'an News, citing unnamed "witnesses" who attested that the boy was hit by an Israeli airstrike.

The claim caught the eye of the Israeli military, who were understandably confused, given that they had not launched any airstrikes on northern Gaza during the time that he was killed. An AFP reporter confirmed that there did not appear to be any evidence of an airstrike in the area, but the dead boy did seem to have been killed by an explosive device, albeit apparently one that he himself was carrying...

The Latest Gaza Flare-Up

The Latest Gaza Flare-Up Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update deals with background to and details of the intensive flare-up over the weekend around Gaza, which saw over 200 rockets fired into southern Israel from Gaza (sending up to 1 million Israelis into bomb shelters) and Israel staging numerous counter-attacks at terrorist targets and rocket sites which reportedly killed around 25 Palestinians, all but three of them armed combatants, according to Israel. The violence was triggered on Friday when Israel assassinated Zuhair al-Qaissi, the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), and an assistant, who Israel said were planning attacks into Israel from Sinai...

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The problematic Palestinian unity government deal

The problematic Palestinian unity government deal Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians    

While the fractured rule of the Fatah-dominated PA in the West Bank and the Hamas-led Gaza Strip has been an obstacle to a two-state peace solution with Israel, it does not follow that this move towards Palestinian unification will improve the chances for peace. On the contrary, though the prospect of a functioning Palestinian unity government is by no means assured and indeed looks like being postponed yet again, even if it can be realised, any such government may carry with it dangerous implications...

Peace through falsehood

Peace through falsehood Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Context is king and without it the most outrageous slurs can be given legitimacy.

Unfortunately, some pro-Palestinian activists are prone to only offer facts in isolation to give their false allegations the air of authenticity and aid the ongoing campaign to delegitimise Israel.

The most recent example of this appeared on Tuesday in an op-ed hosted on the ABC "Unleashed" website from Professor Stuart Rees called "Palestine matters, not Gillard-Rudd soapies"...

Arab commentators: Syria far worse than Israel, but treated more softly

Arab commentators: Syria far worse than Israel, but treated more softly Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

As official estimates of Syrian civilians killed in the Assad regime's bloody crackdown climb steadily past the 7,500 mark, a couple of recent Op-Eds in the Arab media have compared the Arab world's strong outrage to Israeli military actions in the West Bank, Gaza and southern Lebanon to their muted response to Syrian slaughter of their own people.

Putting aside the moral inequality of such a comparison (the pieces make no effort to differentiate the defensive nature of Israeli military campaigns from the cold-blooded ruthlessness of the Syrian dictatorial regime suppressing dissent from its own citizens) the pieces nevertheless mark a significant break from the traditional narrative in Arab media that the Palestinians are the region's principal human rights victims...

Inside Hamas/ Israel's Iran dilemma

Inside Hamas/ Israel's Iran dilemma Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features two new and penetrating analyses of the ructions and political disagreements currently roiling Hamas, as well as an important new expression of Israel's dilemmas vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear program in the lead up to Israeli PM Netanyahu's trip to Washington next week.

First up is the always excellently informed top Israeli journalist, Ehud Yaari, sorting out the power struggles within Hamas. Yaari says that the once unassailable Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal now seems to be in deep trouble, cut off from a base of operations and with increasingly public denunciations of his policies from within Hamas' senior ranks...

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Editorial: Abbas' Unfortunate Choice Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Recently, detailed accounts were published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz of the January round of Israeli-Palestinian "negotiations about negotiating" held in Amman, Jordan.

According to the Haaretz account, Israeli negotiators offered a somewhat vague but important statement of the principles which would underly a peace agreement to include a Palestinian state in the vast majority of the West Bank plus Gaza - one which Haaretz described as "similar, if not identical to that which was presented by [then Foreign Minister] Tzipi Livni during the negotiations that took place in 2008 after the Annapolis Conference."

Trojan Horse or Force Multiplier?

Trojan Horse or Force Multiplier? Author: Jonathan D. Halevi Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

On February 6, 2012, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal signed a new agreement to create a Palestinian national unity government for the West Bank and Gaza.

The Doha Declaration, like previous Fatah-Hamas agreements, emphasises the need to implement the agreements between the sides - once again demonstrating the difficulty of achieving institutional unity in the Palestinian arena in light of Hamas' declared ambition to assume senior status in representing the Palestinian people. The two sides will have to show great creativity to overcome the many obstacles facing the holding of elections, from unifying the separate civilian and security institutions in the West Bank and Gaza, to budget allocations.

Investors find their fortunes in Israeli, Palestinian stock markets

Investors find their fortunes in Israeli, Palestinian stock markets Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

While peacemaking visionaries talk about a future Israeli-Palestinian peace dividend - the concept that peace between Israelis and Palestinians will usher in a new era of mutual prosperity - the two peoples aren't waiting, as both Israeli and Palestinian stock markets continue to impress.

On February 20, the financial news organisation Bloomberg named Israel's stock market number one in the world in its Riskless Return Ranking - a measure of the safest investments for investors over the past decade...

Feckless Palestinian leadership fuels unnecessary suffering in Gaza

Feckless Palestinian leadership fuels unnecessary suffering in Gaza Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Did you hear the one about the shipments of fuel from Egypt to Gaza stopped by Hamas because they refused to let them pass through the Israeli crossing at Rafah?

No? Well, that's because stories of Palestinian suffering caused by Hamas and Fatah rarely make the grade in most Australian and Western newsrooms. It's a case of news editors saying: "No Israel angle? Then there's nothing to see here folks"...

Sticks and stones

Sticks and stones Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The large crash sounded like something very big and heavy had fallen, hard - at least for those of us at the front of the bus. One friend at the back had grabbed his girlfriend and gone for cover, the loud bang and shattering glass made him think of a gunshot. Thankfully, we were not under fire. We were, however, under attack.

We were 13 Australian students on a tour through Arab East Jerusalem, there to learn about the situation in which the local population finds itself. Our bus was a clearly marked tour bus (albeit from an Israeli company) of a kind that is hardly rare in one of the world's most popular cities for tourists. We had nothing at all to identify us as anything other than Western tourists and, at that moment, we were between stops and not even paying much attention to our surroundings. What, then, motivated a local youth with an impressive arm to hurtle rocks at us as we drove past?

Intervention in Syria?/ Hamas' internal divisions

Intervention in Syria?/ Hamas' internal divisions Categories: Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

With the Syrian city of Homs dominating news from the Middle East as shelling there continues, (excellent reporting on the ground from Homs comes from Richard Spencer of the London Telegraph - see here and here.)  and international calls for action to put a stop to the bloodshed in Syria growing, this Update looks at some careful analysis of what could be done, and what could not be done, if a decision to intervene was made...

A political storm over Israel in Malaysia

A political storm over Israel in Malaysia Author: Michael Shannon Categories: Asia, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

A political storm in Malaysia over controversial remarks by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's on Israel has not yet come to a close.

Back in January, a war of words erupted between Anwar and several top government officials, including his former mentor Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, regarding Malaysia's policy on Israel - a raw nerve among the country's Muslim-majority population...

Angelic Arabs and murderous Jews add up to televisual propaganda

Angelic Arabs and murderous Jews add up to televisual propaganda Author: Jamie Hyams & Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Palestinians    

PROPAGANDA comes in many forms. The British/French mini-series, The Promise, recently shown over four consecutive Sundays on SBS TV, is a particularly insidious example. It tells the story of a British girl, Erin, just out of school, who stays with the family of her closest friend in Israel during the second intifada.

She has taken the diary of her grandfather Len, who served as a British soldier in mandate Palestine from 1945 to 1948, so the action switches between the British battling the treacherous Jews in the 1940s and the brutal Israelis oppressing the Palestinians today.

Hamas doubles down on intransigence

Hamas doubles down on intransigence Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Terrorism    

Following up on yesterday's post on the extreme statements of Hamas Prime Minister Ismael Haniyah in Iran, The Jerusalem Post reports that Haniyeh made some additional extreme statements on his final day in the country - vowing Hamas will continue to rely on violence against Israel and reject compromise.

Hamas Gaza leaders reiterate "We'll never recognise Israel"

Hamas Gaza leaders reiterate "We'll never recognise Israel" Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

In the aftermath of the recent Qatari-brokered reconciliation agreement between Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, many have suggested that Hamas is moderating both its long-standing goals of Israel's destruction and its traditional rejection of any negotiations with Israel. But Hamas' leadership in Gaza, spearheaded Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, has been making it very clear that they do not support any such change...

Earth-shattering news from Gaza

Earth-shattering news from Gaza Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

Literally Earth-shattering, according to Iranian state media outlet Press TV:

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the powerful feelings of the regional nations towards Gaza have been instrumental in the eruption of the region's volcano.

There is, of course, a chance that he was speaking figuratively, although this would not be the first time an Iranian cleric linked a natural disaster with global politics. There was, for instance, those earthquakes two years ago caused by promiscuous women, or the time that European countries stole Iran's rain, leading to a widespread drought. The more sinister part of Khamenei's statement, which emerged from a recent meeting with Ismail Haniyeh -- Hamas' leader in Gaza -- concerned Iranian support to Hamas...

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The latest Fatah-Hamas agreement in Doha

The latest Fatah-Hamas agreement in Doha Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

This Update is dedicated to the latest Fatah-Hamas unity agreement, signed in Doha, Qatar on Monday, which calls for current PA President Mahmoud Abbas to also become Prime Minister.

First up is Robert Danin from the Council on Foreign Relations, who examines the actual significance of this agreement, the latest of many, as well as the key questions that will have to be settled if the agreement is to stick. He is sceptical Abbas can succeed with Hamas and says Abbas is likely to have to make the tough choice between the two he has been seeking to avoid.

UN pre-occupied with politicising Gaza's status

UN pre-occupied with politicising Gaza's status Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Why does the United Nations continue to consider the Gaza Strip to be "occupied territory" when Israel dismantled all settlements and withdrew the IDF from the area as part of its disengagement in September 2005?

Even Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since it overthrew the Palestinian Authority in June 2007, concedes that Gaza is no longer occupied...

In support of Assad, Hezbollah threatens war with Israel

In support of Assad, Hezbollah threatens war with Israel Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Lebanon, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

While they come from opposing Muslim factions, Palestinian Sunni group Hamas and Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah have much in common: they are both designated terror organisations in most Western countries, Australia included; they both hold extremist and violent ideologies; they both fought wars with Israel in the second half of the last decade; and they have both received significant backing from Iran and Syria. That said, they seem to be diverging on that last point. With the ongoing violence in Syria, the last Hamas operative from the Damascus-based political bureau seems to have fled for Gaza, however it seems that Hezbollah is unwilling to follow suit and remains resolutely behind the ruling Assad regime...

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A divided Palestine makes for a hopeless peace process

A divided Palestine makes for a hopeless peace process Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Jordan, Palestinians, Turkey, Updates    

An AFP report yesterday indicated that, as predicted, Hamas and Fatah are dragging their feet on actually implementing the latest reconciliation deal.

This suggests that the current deal will go the way of the three previous deals: all have been introduced to much fanfare and then quietly lapsed as, once away from the public eye, no agreement could be reached on how to actually implement the requirements. The reason for this is that while "Palestinian unity" as an idea is appealing to both factions, they...

When propaganda masquerades as fact

When propaganda masquerades as fact Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

To its great discredit, the Melbourne Age has republished a Guardian newspaper feature that alleges mistreatment by the Israeli judicial system of West Bank Palestinian youths detained on suspicion of terrorism.

As a previous AIJAC blog post revealed, many allegations of Palestinian children being tortured, kept in solitary confinement, denied legal representation, and forced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit, rely on half-truths, manipulation of facts and figures and unsubstantiated claims by anti-Israel organisations.

That is, organisations with anti-Israel political agendas that extend beyond the remit of the specific goals they profess to be concerned with and into areas of delegitimising the Jewish state.

Palestinian-Israeli relationship: the good, the not-always-so-bad and the ever-ugly

Palestinian-Israeli relationship: the good, the not-always-so-bad and the ever-ugly Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Two news stories emerged today, both reporting positive steps forward in the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. The first of these concerns an online conference being held by a group called YaLa-Young Leaders, designed to bring people together from both sides and have a productive conversation about the conflict, hoping to form some genuine reconciliation efforts.

As Kel Si Loos reported in the Miami Herald, the group has been attracting a large number of members from the Middle East and...

Europa Europa: Eyes Wide Shut Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, Israel, Palestinians    

When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas swung through Europe in January he was feted by European leaders for pursuing the two-state formula, while obloquy was, as usual, heaped on Israel - if not for settlements then for roadblocks or water or the wall or the tunnel or the occupation or, most recently, for being niggardly about handing out citizenship on demand to Palestinians... the list goes on.

Back to the table?

Back to the table? Author: BICOM Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Quartet    

Lead Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho met with his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat in Amman on January 9 for the second time in as many weeks, with the aim of restarting direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. These were the first direct contacts between the parties since the breakdown of peace talks in September 2010.

The truth behind the "water libel"

The truth behind the "water libel" Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians    

The claim of Israel maliciously depriving Palestinians of water, in order to steal more for its own citizens, has been often repeated amongst Israel's critics. To Jerusalem Post blogger Petra Marquardt-Bigman, the accusation is reminiscent of Medieval accusations of Jews poisoning water supplies:

I think of it as the "water libel" because it often echoes the medieval accusations that Jews were poisoning wells.

Most recently, it surfaced in a formal report by the French parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, which described...

Positive Palestinian racers profile couldn't avoid token Israel swipes

Positive Palestinian racers profile couldn't avoid token Israel swipes Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

This weekend's Fairfax papers included a report on an all-female Palestinian racing team by Ruth Pollard. While the piece was an interesting read overall, there are one or two small inconsistencies that are worth noting. In addition to this, there were a number of instances where the Age inserted small changes to make the tone of the article seem more anti-Israel. Some of these have been noted below.

Pollard profiles Noor Daoud, a Palestinian woman who won an Israeli formula-three competition last month. In the interview, Daoud explains how it is that she can no longer drive on the road.

''It is not the first time I have driven 200km/h - I lost my licence in 2009 when...

International Parliamentary Union apologises for Hamas invitation

International Parliamentary Union apologises for Hamas invitation Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

According to a recent AP report, after facing criticism from Israeli Knesset members for hosting two Hamas MPs at its recent conference, the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) has reportedly apologised to Israel.

Israel objected because the militant group has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks over the years. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the EU. and U.S.

The union's secretary-general, Anders Johnsson...

On the danger of being a human rights activist in Gaza

On the danger of being a human rights activist in Gaza Author: Allon Lee Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

It is lucky that freedom of speech is not the main selling point for Palestinian statehood because the stabbing of a human rights activist in Gaza who dared criticise the Hamas government and resistance groups would undermine the enterprise’s bona fides.

Mahmud Abu Rahma, international relations director at the al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, was “stabbed multiple times by several masked attackers on Friday evening”, according to an AFP report.

The Muslim Brotherhood's plan for Egypt/ PA PM Fayyad speaks out on Iran

The Muslim Brotherhood's plan for Egypt/ PA PM Fayyad speaks out on Iran Categories: Egypt, Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

This Updates leads with two articles on the likely policies of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood now that it has won the parliamentary election, gaining approximately 41% of seats with other Islamist groups taking the Islamist bloc up to something like 2/3 of all seats.

First up is Washington Institute expert on Egyptian politics Eric Trager, looking at the likely agenda of the Brotherhood in power. He says that the agenda will be theocracy internally, and confrontation internationally, and that expectations that the group will moderate are very unlikely to be met - offering some behavioural evidence for this.

Back to the negotiating table?

Back to the negotiating table? Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The last two weeks have seen two meetings in Amman Jordan between Israeli and Palestinian representatives, in what are being called "preparatory talks", but are the first direct public contacts between the two sides since 2010. (Some more details on the latest rounds of talks are reported here, here and here.)

A good backgrounder from BICOM on both the significance of the talks and the political factors influencing them is first up. It puts the meetings in the context of the Quartet efforts to restart talks and significant pressure on the Palestinian side to renew negotiations, and discusses what is known about the contents of the two meetings.

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What does Hamas really believe?

What does Hamas really believe? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Recently Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader in Damascus, agreed during reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas on December 22, that "there will be no military resistance" and also agreed that "the permanent solution is on the ‘67 borders." Abbas and Meshaal also agreed to a new temporary leadership for the PLO, for the first time in tandem with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

However, it is unclear both the extent to which Meshaal accepts what Abbas said they agreed to and more importantly, whether Meshaal is speaking for Hamas - as many in Hamas have openly denied this new strategy, suggesting a rift between the Hamas leadership in Syria and the Gaza strip.

Palestinian rights activist confirms Hamas puts terror bases in civilian areas

Palestinian rights activist confirms Hamas puts terror bases in civilian areas Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations    

A Palestinian human rights activist has inadvertently confirmed what Israel has always insisted, that terrorist groups live, train, operate and run riot throughout the Gaza Strip's residential neighbourhoods.

In a piece written for the Palestinian website Maan, Gaza human rights activist Mahmoud Abu Rahma reveals that the "resistance movements" are so entrenched and widespread in residential areas that civilians are suffering frequent injuries because of their activities.

 

The Media is the Message

The Media is the Message Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

A young Italian journalist named Ruben Salvadori has prepared a film about how he and other photojournalists reporting from the West Bank not only report what they see but help to create the clashes and dramatic scenes which helps them sell photographs...

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Don't throw stones!

Don't throw stones! Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Two recent stories in the Australian newspaper by Middle East correspondent John Lyons - "Stone cold justice" (Weekend Australian Magazine, Nov. 26) http://tinyurl.com/6puavp9 and "Rudd seeks action on torture allegations involving Palestinian children" (Australian, Dec. 17) http://tinyurl.com/6rdzqjr - have generated a degree of controversy about Israel's judicial treatment of Palestinian minors in the West Bank accused of using stones and rocks as weapons.

On Dec. 3, the Australian published an opinion piece from NGO Monitor's Gerald Steinberg that provides context for the treatment of Palestinian minors and largely disputes the substance of the claims made in Lyons' stories. Steinberg's article can be read here - http://tinyurl.com/7m6j3wf...

 PA continues to glorify terrorists

PA continues to glorify terrorists Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Despite its claimed opposition to terrorism, the PA continues to glorify terrorists.

This was reinforced again when Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met with freed Palestinian terrorist Amna Muna in Turkey on December 21, along with ten other Palestinians freed and exiled to Turkey as part of the deal to release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in October.

Muna is a 35-year-old West Bank woman who was serving a life sentence for using an Internet promise of romance to lure 16-year-old Israeli Ophir Rahum to the West Bank, where he was killed by waiting militants in 2001.

According to a PA statement Abbas "praised the prisoners for remaining steadfast in the face of Israeli wardens' mastery."

Palestinian Choices

Palestinian Choices Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Today's Update features three pieces looking at the choices currently being made by  the Palestinian political leadership - both those associated with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah in the West Bank, and with Hamas in Gaza.

First up is veteran Israeli Palestinian affairs analyst Pinhas Inbari, who looks at the push by Fatah and PA head Mahmoud Abbas for preparations for the election scheduled for May in which he says he will not run. Inbari notes that Fatah seems to be resisting Abbas' call to name a successor candidate and argues this is because Fatah is totally ill-prepared for either succession or elections.

Scribblings: Judaising Jerusalem?

Scribblings: Judaising Jerusalem? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians    

Both Palestinian groups and pro-Palestinian Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) often accuse Israel of seeking to "Judaise" Jerusalem. For instance, following their admission to the UN cultural organisation UNESCO in October, one of the things the Palestinian Authority said they wanted to do was sue Israel in international forums for supposedly "systematically destroying and forging Arab and Islamic culture in Jerusalem." Similarly, at a controversial rally in Cairo on November 25 at which there was also recitation of a hadith [saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad] about killing all Jews, Sheikh Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of al-Azhar University, proclaimed, "we shall not allow the Zionists to Judaise al-Quds (Jerusalem)."

Hard Choices for Hamas

Hard Choices for Hamas Author: Pinhas Inbari Categories: Jordan, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia    

In December 2011, reports from several directions converged to suggest that Hamas is abandoning the sinking ship of Syria: that many senior cadres have already settled in Gaza and only the upper echelon of leadership that bears symbolic meaning still remains in Damascus. By and large those reports are correct. At the same time, Iran has cut its subsidy to Hamas, which now relies mostly on revenues from commerce through the smuggling tunnels, which can hardly support the Gazan economy.

Why can’t Israelis and Palestinians “get back to the damn table”?

Why can’t Israelis and Palestinians “get back to the damn table”? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

There has been much written about the impasse in restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in recent years. Most recently, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta sparked controversy at the Brookings Institute on Dec. 2 when, following a speech, he was asked about what steps Israel "should take now" to move toward peace and replied "Just get to the damn table."

When the media becomes the story

When the media becomes the story Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

It wasn't even close. In fact it was a "landslide". That is how pro-Israel media watchdog Honest Reporting describes its decision to bestow the Guardian newspaper the 2011 "Dishonest Reporting Award" for its relentless anti-Israel coverage.

Readers of Fairfax newspapers will be familiar with the Guardian's news stories and one-sided selection of opinion pieces via their regular appearance in the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times.

Media Microscope: Unpromising Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

SBS TV showed a four-part drama, "The Promise", from Britain's Channel 4 and France's Canal+ and Arte France, which was characterised by rampant and crudely propagandistic political messages directed against Israel and Jews, selective, distorted portrayals of historical events, and the sanitising of Arab behaviour throughout the past seven decades.

Hamas and Hezbollah in Flux/ Sanctioning Iran's Central Bank

Hamas and Hezbollah in Flux/ Sanctioning Iran's Central Bank Categories: Iran, Lebanon, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on how Damascus-dependent terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah have coped with the possible loss of President Bashar al-Assad as a key ally in the wake of the recent unrest in Syria.

First up is veteran Israeli Arab Affairs analyst Pinhas Inbari, who looks at Hamas' situation in the wake of the uncertain future in Syria and also Egypt. He notes that the leadership of Hamas is quite happy to be moving its alliance from Damascus to a Cairo dominated by their Muslim Brotherhood allies, as looks likely to eventuate.

Relocation of Bedouin misrepresented by Sherwood

Relocation of Bedouin misrepresented by Sherwood Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Today both the Age and Sydney Morning Herald published an article by Harriet Sherwood regarding Israel's plans to relocate the Jahalin Bedouin from their camps on land which they do not own to a permanent Bedouin town.

The article, originally published in the Guardian does not provide a balanced understanding of the issues at hand. The Bedouin are living on land to which they have no legal title that has been within the municipal boundaries of Ma'aleh Adumim since 1977. Relocation has been periodically discussed with the Bedouin since the 1980s...

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Fatah on Hamas: "Why should they get all the credit? We reject Israel too!"

Fatah on Hamas: "Why should they get all the credit? We reject Israel too!" Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Despite the widely-trumpeted new reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, the two factions appear to remain irreconcilable.

... The Palestinian Authority (PA) itself seems to resent these accusations of reliance on Israel. This was made clear by Adli Sadeq, the PA's ambassador to India, in an article written for PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. The article, translated by Palestine Media Watch, unequivocally rejects the "common mistake or misconception" that the PA in any way recognises the right of Israel to exist. As Sadeq explains, this is merely a line of thinking that Israelis have "fooled themselves" into following...

Responses to gay Israel slur

Responses to gay Israel slur Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Following on from this post concerning an accusation of Israel supposedly "pinkwashing" its public image by spruiking its record on gay rights to hide alleged injustices, a number of gay writers have penned scathing responses in the Jewish and international media.

Writing in the Forward, Jay Michaelson gives a critique of the piece by Sarah Schulman in the New York Times that began the whole kerfuffle...

 The 1947 UN Partition Plan mis-remembered by the UN

The 1947 UN Partition Plan mis-remembered by the UN Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

On 29 November 64 years ago, the UN General Assembly voted on the partition plan, and the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 was adopted by a vote of 33 to 13, recommending the establishment of two states - Arab and Jewish. The Jews accepted the partition plan, the Arabs did not and five Arab states went to war with Israel.

However, November 29, is not called ‘Israel day' but rather the ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People'. Marking this day at the UN was a General Assembly resolution on the "Question of Palestine" which condemned Israel, pre-empted the results of final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and failed to acknowledge Israel's legitimate security rights, amongst other concerning features of the resolution.

In response to the UN resolution, Ron Prosor, UN Representative to Israel delivered a stirring speech that condemned the UN's consistent attack on Israel and outlined the real reasons that have so far prevented peace...

“The Promise”

“The Promise” Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Jewry, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

On Sunday night, SBS-TV screened the first of four episodes of a controversial British historical drama set in pre-state and contemporary Israel, entitled "The Promise". When it was screened in Britain by Channel 4 in February, it led to an official letter of complaint by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as well as strong critiques from Booker prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson, noted British academic expert on the Holocaust David Cesarani, and others....

I include below some of the critiques of "The Promise" from Britain for the benefit of Australian audiences.

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Arab Spring or Islamist Surge?

Arab Spring or Islamist Surge? Author: Benny Morris Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Tunisia    

Rioting in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 unleashed a tidal wave of unrest across the Arab world that was soon designated the "Arab Spring." Enthusiasts in the West hailed a new birth of freedom for a giant slice of humanity that has been living in despotic darkness for centuries. But historians in 50 or a hundred years may well point to the 1979 events in Teheran - the Islamist revolution that toppled the Shah - as the real trigger of this so-called "spring" (which is looking more and more like a deep, forbidding winter). And the Islamist Hamas victory in the Palestinian general elections of 2006 and that organisation's armed takeover of the Gaza Strip the following year probably signified further milestones on the same path.

Dershowitz: UN an important reason why there is no peace

Dershowitz: UN an important reason why there is no peace Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Anti-Zionism, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

World-renowned Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz gave an important speech at "The Perils of Global Intolerance: the United Nations and Durban III" conference that took place on 22 September 2011 - designed to coincide with and counter the UN Durban III conference which promoted an anti-Zionist agenda and focussed on Israel as the world's sole nation mentioned as a source of "racism." It has just been made publicly available.

In his speech Dershowitz condemned the UN for failing to live up to its own Charter, and began his speech with this statement:

"One important reason why there is no peace in the Middle East an be summarised in tragically in two letters - U.N. That building dedicated in theory to peace has facilitated terrorism, stood idly by genocide, given a platform to Holocaust deniers, and disincentivised the Palestinians from negotiating a reasonable two state solution."

"Pinkwashing" pejorative wiping tolerance away

"Pinkwashing" pejorative wiping tolerance away Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Gulf states, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Multimedia, Palestinians, Updates    

Fast becoming a viral sensation, a new YouTube video (below) shows two Spanish men "photobombing" an al-Jazeera broadcast by engaging in a long, passionate kiss in frame as the reporter is talking. 

The irony of the video is that while the two were supposedly making a point about marriage equality in Spain, they happened to do so on a state-owned network from a country in which homosexuality is punishable by lashings and imprisonment. Indeed, a report from the UN High Commission for Refugees has this to say on homosexuality in Qatar:

Homosexual behavior is illegal [in Qatar]. Islamic laws against homosexuality are applied. [In Qatari society], homosexuality is taboo. There is no visible social support for gay and lesbian rights.

On the topic of homosexuality in the Middle East, Sarah Shulman has written in the New York Times on the prominence of the gay community in Israel and Israeli officials speaking out against the intolerance shown to homosexuals in...

Negotiations only way ahead in Israel-Arab conflict

Negotiations only way ahead in Israel-Arab conflict Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

One of the many admirable characteristics of the Australian archetype is a propensity for plain speaking.

So it is to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's credit that Australia sent the Palestinian Authority a clear message by voting against admitting the non-existent state of Palestine to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In essence Australia was reaffirming its repeated stance that the only way to end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is through negotiations.

As it is, the Palestinians will now apply to 16 other UN affiliated bodies for admission on the specious basis of being a state, which they are not yet according to the criteria set out under international law.

Media Week - Wild Woolcott; Bedouin Brouhaha; Sober Warning

Media Week - Wild Woolcott; Bedouin Brouhaha; Sober Warning Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Former DFAT head Richard Woolcott wrote a piece for the Age (11/11) critical of Australia's vote against Palestinian membership of UNESCO. Having spent more than half his article setting out the merits of Australia obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council, he then wrote, "In these circumstances, I find it both surprising and a decisive setback to our election prospects that the Prime Minister decided Australia should vote against the admission of Palestine to UNESCO."

Freedom to print falsehoods

Freedom to print falsehoods Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

A media stunt by a group of Palestinians trying to falsely tar Israel as an apartheid state not only caused some in the fourth estate to fall hook, line and sinker but to abrogate basic journalistic standards.

Six Palestinians called The West Bank Freedom Riders cynically tried to lay claim to the legacy and imagery of African Americans who fought against segregation in the 1950s/60s in the United States by "proving" they are banned from using Israeli public buses to cross over from the West Bank into Jerusalem.

But an analysis by Simon Plosker from Honest Reporting of the claims made by the six "Freedom Riders" and the media coverage shows the absurdity of the stunt and how easily it could be proved as dishonest propaganda.

Palestinians at a strategic crossroads

Palestinians at a strategic crossroads Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

The Palestinians appear to have failed in their bid to even force the US to veto a UN Security Council decision to recognise them as a UN member state, and seem a bit confused about their next step. PA President Mahmoud Abbas seems to be now pushing for a unity government with Hamas following secret talks in Cairo. He is planning to meet Hamas head Khaled Meshaal next week, and it seems likely PA Prime Minister Salem Fayyad may be forced out of office.

This Update deals with the general state of play in terms of where the Palestinian could head next.

Only one path can lead to two states

Only one path can lead to two states Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

Australians should be proud of the fact that our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have consistently and publicly supported, with bipartisan agreement, a genuine, negotiated two-state resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This is why Australia wisely voted against the admission of Palestine to UNESCO and why Australia should vote against Palestinian 'statehood' if and when it comes to the United Nations General Assembly.

UNESCO: Palestine -  in, Freedom of Speech - out

UNESCO: Palestine - in, Freedom of Speech - out Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Eric Falt, assistant director general for external relations and public information at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has issued an official letter of protest from UNESCO's director general, Irina Bokova regarding a cartoon which UNESCO claimed constituted incitement.

This could have been an encouraging sign that UNESCO is finally acting against incitement, racism and specifically antisemitism prevalent in Arab and Muslim media, especially in the state-sponsored press. However, the cartoon that so inflamed UNESCO officials was published in Haaretz, an Israeli independent newspaper, which is protected under Israel's laws regarding freedom of the press. Moreover, the only incitement that seemed to concern UNESCO is incitement against UNESCO.

Leaked UN report reveals cognitive dissonance on Palestinian statehood

Leaked UN report reveals cognitive dissonance on Palestinian statehood Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Just after the Palestinian Authority admitted that they are not going to win the votes needed to secure UN Security Council recognition as a state, a report prepared for the Security Council on the subject has been leaked to the media. The report, written by the UN's Committee For the Admission of New Members, has has been leaked to American Arabic news network Al Hurra and published by Foreign Policy's Colum Lynch. The general impression from the report is that the Committee was unable to determine whether or not Palestine can qualify for statehood, but there were a few points that were a little curious.

For starters, see if you can pick what stands out from the following paragraph...

Palestinians admit that they do not have statehood support

Palestinians admit that they do not have statehood support Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

A breaking report from the AP reveals that the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Malki, has admitted that they have failed to muster the nine votes needed in the UN Security Council in order to approve their statehood bid.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told The Associated Press Tuesday, "It is clear now, with the U.S. counter effort and intervention, that we are not going to have these nine votes." They can still apply to the General Assembly.

That the US has been campaigning strongly against the bid is unsurprising given the difficult situation that the PA has been placing the Obama administration in through its recent UN antics...

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UNESCO vote on Palestine triggers UN backlash

UNESCO vote on Palestine triggers UN backlash Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

The acceptance of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was criticised within the UN by none other than the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

In an interview during the G20 summit in Cannes, France, he warned against further attempts by the Palestinians to join other UN bodies and agencies and stated that such efforts are "not beneficial for Palestine and not beneficial for anybody." He warned that "millions and millions" of people could be affected if UN agencies suffer budget cuts as a result of the Palestinian bids: "This will have implications for all the agencies of the United Nations. When an organisation is not properly functioning because of a lack of resources, you have to think about the millions and millions of people who are being impacted and affected," he said.

Ban's concerns are based on actions by the United States and Canada, which contributed 25% of UNESCO's funding, and have cut off their funding following the PA vote.

Another flotilla stunt on its way!

Another flotilla stunt on its way! Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On Wednesday a flotilla of two ships - the Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse quietly left a Turkish port with the aim to breach the Gaza blockade by Friday.

News of this latest flotilla "Freedom Waves to Gaza" was kept secret until the ships reached international waters.

According to the organisers, the 27 activists on board came from Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States, and included Palestinians and at least one Israeli Arab citizen.

 

The Palestinians and UNESCO/ An Attack on Iran? Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

This Update features two comments on the vote by the UN Educational, Social and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) to admit "Palestine" as a full member on Monday, a measure opposed by the Australia (see AIJAC's media release on the Australian vote here).  It also contains some comments on reports originating in the Israeli press alleging that the Israeli Government is stepping up preparations for a possible military strike on Iran's nuclear program.

Sudden jump in odds on Iran attack

Sudden jump in odds on Iran attack Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Kingdom, Updates    

A whole series of events last night made an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities suddenly seem far closer than had previously been the case. After a week of speculation in the Israeli press, Haaretz reported yesterday that the Prime Minister and Defence Minister are trying to gain cabinet support for a strike.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are trying to muster a majority in the cabinet in favor of military action against Iran, a senior Israeli official has said. According to the official, there is a "small advantage" in the cabinet for the opponents of such an attack.

Netanyahu and Barak recently persuaded Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who previously objected to attacking Iran, to support such a move.

This report coincided with the test-firing of a new long-range Israeli missile, which could be capable of reaching targets in Iran...

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Is the PA qualified to protect Christian and Jewish holy sites?

Is the PA qualified to protect Christian and Jewish holy sites? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

As Fairfax's Ruth Pollard reported this morning, now that they have been admitted to UNESCO, the Palestinian Authority (PA) will begin pushing for heritage protection of holy sites in the West Bank.

JERUSALEM: Significant religious sites throughout the West Bank, including the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, will be among the first to be pushed forward for world heritage status now Palestine has been granted membership of UNESCO.

A Palestinian Authority spokesman there were many sites and shrines in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that until now had been unprotected because of a lack of recognition and funding.

''Now we will be able to protect them and make sure they are known around the world,'' he said. ''We believe that becoming a member of the UNESCO is an overdue right for a country that has such a significant amount of heritage sites.''

This follows from a bid launched earlier this year to gain heritage status for the Church of Nativity, believed to be the site where Jesus was born. The idea of the PA being responsible for the care of this church and other non-Muslim holy sites should raise a few eyebrows amongst those who are even vaguely familiar with their recent history...

Goldstone assaults 'Apartheid Slander'

Goldstone assaults 'Apartheid Slander' Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

South African Judge Richard Goldstone has written an op-ed in this New York Times on 31 October condemning the false allegation that Israel is an ‘apartheid' state. He writes:

"The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony."

This is the same Goldstone who did a great deal of damage to Israel by lending his name to the biased UN fact-finding mission into the Gaza conflict in 2009 which condemned Israel for deliberately killing civilians and war crimes while all but ignoring the Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel.

Goldstone later recanted his support for the report after realising that much of the information relied upon in the ‘Goldstone Report' was not credible and biased. In an op-ed in the Washington Post in April this year he stated, "if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."

AIJAC says UNESCO vote “undermines genuine progress towards peace”

AIJAC says UNESCO vote “undermines genuine progress towards peace” Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Media Releases, Palestinians, United Nations    

The decision of the General Assembly of UNESCO to "further the folly and fiction" that there is a State of Palestine which can participate in international organisations "undermines genuine progress towards peace", the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council said today, while stressing that "it is heartening to see that the Australian government was not party to the cynical and destructive political decision".

"The Palestinian leadership is fully aware that they do not control a 'State' and rather than work on state-building and peace building are indulging in self-defeating grandstanding" Mark Leibler, National Chairman of AIJAC said.

Two victims from Palestinian UNESCO ploy: UNESCO and the US

Two victims from Palestinian UNESCO ploy: UNESCO and the US Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

The admission of Palestine into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, little more than a symbolic victory for the Palestinian Authority (PA), has severe repercussions on the largest funder of both the PA and UNESCO: The United States. As AFP has reported, US legislation prevents US funding of any UN body that admits the Palestinians as a member.

"We were to have made a $US60 million ($A57.11 million) payment to UNESCO in November and we will not be making that payment," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday.

Nuland said the Palestinian admission "triggers longstanding (US) legislative restrictions which will compel the United States to refrain from making contributions to UNESCO."...

Editorial: An Extraordinary Society Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Finally Gilad Shalit, who became known in Israel as ‘everyone's son', has returned home. His liberation led to what can only be called a sense of national euphoria across the Jewish state.

The costs to gain his release after five years of captivity were, objectively, enormous. Among the 1,027 prisoners freed were those estimated to have the blood of 599 people, mostly civilians, on their hands. They include the masterminds of some of the most horrific terror bombings in Israeli history.

Scribblings: Poster Child for Palestinian Terror

Scribblings: Poster Child for Palestinian Terror Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Palestinians, Terrorism    

The Gilad Shalit deal led to the release of many heinous murderers, and one cannot but feel enormous sympathy for the distress this caused the families of those they murdered.

But if there is one individual who symbolises the incomprehensibly ugly belief system, the determination to murder at all costs, behind the Palestinian cult of suicide terrorism, it is female releasee Wafa al-Bis.

 

The Price: Palestinian Prisoners released Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism    

Four hundred and seventy seven Palestinian prisoners were released by Israel in the deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive by Hamas since 2006, with another 550 to be released in November. The prisoners include some of the most notorious terrorists perpetrators against Israel including individuals involved in the Sbarro and Café Moment suicide bombings, murderers of Nachshon Wachsman and the videotaped October 2000 lynching of IDF reservists Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami in Ramallah.

Canada's Palestinian envoy in antisemitic twitter impasse

Canada's Palestinian envoy in antisemitic twitter impasse Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Palestinians, Updates    

According to AP reports, the Palestinian Authority (PA) envoy to Canada, Linda Sobeh Ali, was recalled yesterday after she tweeted a link to a Youtube video calling upon "millions" to "destroy the Jews".

Of course, the Canadian Authorities were very hostile towards the video and pressured the PA into recalling Ali. The PA, however, not only made excuses for the poem but went on to blame the "Jewish Lobby" for having to bring their envoy home.

Joseph Lavoie, a spokesman for Canada's foreign affairs minister, said Monday it was a serious enough matter for the Palestinian Authority that they recalled Sobeh Ali...

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The Shalit prisoner swap agreement - The Arab reaction

The Shalit prisoner swap agreement - The Arab reaction Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinians, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

Many reactions in the Palestinian street and media to the release of prisoners in exchange for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit reveal a worrying and disturbing narrative of glorification of the returning terrorists and support for their heinous crimes and violent ways. Calls for future abductions of Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips for future prisoner releases were also common.

Gilad Shalit is free... What now?

Gilad Shalit is free... What now? Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is free after five years and four months in captivity in Gaza, and the elation in Israel is overwhelming. (An excellent collection of news and analysis on the release and its aftermath has been assembled by Britain's Telegraph. Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu's remarks welcoming Shalit home are here.) This Update focuses on the significance and aftermath of his release.

Does Australia have the strength to show weakness like Israel?

Does Australia have the strength to show weakness like Israel? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Interviewed last night by ABC Lateline's Ali Moore, former Haaretz editor David Landau, who once infamously told then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he wished to see Israel "raped" in a US intervention forcibly imposing a settlement to the conflict, expressed his horror at the "weakness" that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is displaying to the world. According to Landau, Netanyahu did so through his sudden reversal of his previous refusal to agree to a prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit.

I find myself in a strange and invidious situation because I'm not naturally of the right. I'm very much of the peace camp of the side of the sort of, so to speak, political spectrum that's always encouraged dealing with the Palestinians in the hope of making a final peace deal with the Palestinians, yet I find myself frankly horrified and, as an Israeli, also mortified by this shameless turnabout by the prime minister, Mr Netanyahu...

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What price to free one man?

What price to free one man? Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

As the five-year hostage ordeal of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit draws to a close, we offer up some of the standout commentary from the last week on the merits of the deal reached by the Israeli government with Hamas.

The tension in the debate concerns the personal interest and the national interest and how these two forces interact have caused intense heartache and headaches for Israel.

 

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Palestinians prisoners to be released - many with blood on their hands

Palestinians prisoners to be released - many with blood on their hands Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Israel released the names of the Palestinian prisoners to be released in deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit who has been held captive by Hamas since 2006. The prisoners include some of the most notorious terrorists perpetrators against Israel including individuals involved in the Sbarro and Café Moment suicide bombings, murderers of Nachshon Wachsman and the video taped October 2000 lynch of IDF reservists Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami in Ramallah.

Yesterday, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected four petitions against the prisoner swap deal to free Shalit. The petitions were filed by the Almagor Terror Victims Association and relatives of Israelis killed in Palestinian attacks.

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Misrepresenting 'Palestinian Prisoners' Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Media commentators on the Palestinian prisoner swap deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas have at times wrongly insinuated that there is a degree of moral equivalence on both sides.

For example, in Ruth Pollard's "Israel names prisoners to be free" on The Age (17/10/2011), she writes:

"For Palestinians, who have at least 6000 loved ones in Israeli prisons, some for serious crimes, some for political activism and many held without charge or trial, the release of 1027 is not enough. Anxious relatives of prisoners gathered in town squares throughout the West Bank at the weekend, holding photographs of family members and praying their names would be on the list of those to be released."

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Not so new Middle East for Jews

Not so new Middle East for Jews Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

It would appear that there is no room for Jews in the Arab Spring.

Last year, before the Arab Spring, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas caused outrage when she recommended that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else."

As an American of Lebanese descent, the 89-year-old Thomas should have known that the Arab Middle East was home to approximately 850,000 Jews known as Mizrahi (Eastern) Jews for thousands of years.

 

In 1949, who wanted a Palestinian state? Only Israel!

In 1949, who wanted a Palestinian state? Only Israel! Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

It won't stop the revisionist propaganda underpinning the Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence campaign, but newspaper accounts from 1949 prove that the nascent State of Israel supported the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza and opposed the land being absorbed by surrounding Arab countries.

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Gilad Shalit may finally be released

Gilad Shalit may finally be released Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The Israeli Government confirmed that a deal has been reached with Hamas for the release of 25-year-old IDF soldier Gilad Shalit - kidnapped by Hamas on 25 June 2006 - in exchange for 1027 Palestinian prisoners.

As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced:

"In the coming days we will return Gilad to the bosom of his parents, Aviva and Noam, to his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Tzvi and the entire people of Israel".

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A Deal on Gilad Shalit/ Egypt and the Copts Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

As readers are hopefully aware, the big news out of Israel is the approval given overnight by the Israeli cabinet to a deal that will see long-captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit released by Hamas in exchange for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners. (The reported details of the deal have been summarised by AIJAC's own Sharyn Mittelman.) Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's statement on the Egyptian-German mediated agreement is here. AIJAC's statement on this news is here.

No progress on peace until Palestinians change stance

No progress on peace until Palestinians change stance Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Speaking to ABC "Lateline" recently, Palestinian Authority (PA) official Nabil Shaath lamented that the Israelis have been "in full occupation of [his] country for years, 62 years." There is a subtle but profound message in that number. Going back 62 years, Israel existed in the territory set by a 1949 armistice agreement with the surrounding Arab countries, within the so-called "Green Line" that now delineates what is internationally recognised indisputably as Israeli sovereign territory.

Until June 1967, the West Bank was occupied and annexed by Jordan and Gaza was placed under military rule by Egypt. That Shaath considers Israel's existence in 1949 as an "occupation" speaks volumes about the true mindset of the PA - for all of the rhetoric about a return to the "pre-1967 borders", even mainstream PA figures consider Israel's existence, even within the 1948 borders, as illegitimate...

 

AIJAC UPDATE - The political and moral costs of the failure to sanction Syria

AIJAC UPDATE - The political and moral costs of the failure to sanction Syria Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Europe, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, Turkey, United Nations, Updates    

Today's Update looks at Syria, Iran and Turkey against the backdrop of the veto by China and Russia of sanctions by the UN Security Council against the Assad regime in Damascus for its ongoing violent crackdown against anti-government protesters. The resolution was supported by nine members but, significantly, Lebanon, which occupies a temporary seat on the Security Council, abstained from the vote, as did South Africa, India and Brazil. After the vote the EU indicated it intended passing its own sanctions against Syria. Meanwhile Turkey's PM Recep Erdogan continues to use the Syria issue and relentlessly attacks Israel for his own regional ambitions. We offer a number of articles that reveal the changing dynamics in the Middle East that are are not receiving sufficient attention in Australia and elsewhere.

Explaining the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock

Explaining the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock Categories: Israel, Middle East, Multimedia, Palestinians, United Nations    

AIJAC Senior Policy Analyst Jamie Hyams interviewed on ABC News24 (28/9/11) explains why Palestinian intransigence and not Israeli settlement building is the real reason peace talks have not resumed since 2008.

He also discusses why the announcement of approval for a proposed application to build 1,100 homes in the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo does not warrant international attention or condemnation.

 

UNESCO Board Recommends Palestinian Membership

UNESCO Board Recommends Palestinian Membership Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

On October 5, the Palestinians passed the first stage towards full membership at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), when the UNESCO board voted in favour of a Palestinian state being given UNESCO membership.

Forty of the 58 countries voted in favor, 14 abstained and the four countries that voted against were the US, Germany, Romania and Latvia.

The Palestinian application for UNESCO membership will now move to the General Conference, where UNESCO's 193 member states will vote on it. The next General Conference is scheduled from October 25 to November 10. A two-thirds majority of conference members is necessary for membership.

The Palestinian application to UNESCO has been highly criticised. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

"I ... would urge the governing body of UNESCO to think again before proceeding with that vote because the decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary groups that are subsidiary to the United Nations."

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AIJAC UPDATE - The Principles and Principals of the Gilo Housing Project

AIJAC UPDATE - The Principles and Principals of the Gilo Housing Project Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Quartet, United Nations, Updates    

Today's Update looks at last week's controversial approval for a proposed plan to build 1,100 homes within the boundaries of the Jewish suburb of Gilo in Jerusalem. Gilo lies just over the Green Line and is now home to 40,000 Israelis. As Commentary's Jonathan Tobin explains, Gilo is a symbol for many Israelis, having been a target for numerous terrorist sniper shootings during the Second Intifada and "was the laboratory where Palestinian terrorists sought to discover whether they could force Jews into abandoning their homes. They failed".

Hamas calls for Palestinian 'Resistance'

Hamas calls for Palestinian 'Resistance' Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The latest news on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has focused on the announcement of the planned construction of new homes in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo, which is located over the 1967 Green line.

Meanwhile, on October 1, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal also made an announcement that is a serious blow to peace efforts, yet this announcement was barely reported by the media.

Meshal told an international conference in Iran called the ‘5th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada', that: "Palestinians must resort to resistance no matter how costly it is, until Palestine is free and Israel is destroyed". Hamas' founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel and a Palestinian state in all of the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

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Netanyahu and Abbas at the UN Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Today's Update focuses on the recent events at the UN. The Palestinians submitted their formal application for full membership of the UN, and both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly. The Palestinian application is here, the speech by Abbas is here and the speech by Netanyahu is here. Following the speeches, the Quartet of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the US released a proposal for the resumption of negotiations. Israel has decided to accept the proposal, but the Palestinians seem likely to reject it.

On ABC Lateline, Palestinian official's veiled rejection of Israel's existence

On ABC Lateline, Palestinian official's veiled rejection of Israel's existence Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

ABC TV Lateline's Ali Moore interviewed Palestinian Authority official Nabil Shaath last night about the PA's UN statehood bid. Shaath , an experienced statesman, gave what on the surface may be perceived as a compelling argument for supporting the statehood bid; however, further analysis reveals inherent problems in his argument.

A key point that Shaath was attempting to put across was the PLO's supposed recognition of Israel:

Up till this minute, Israel have not recognised the right of the Palestinians to a Palestinian state on the border of '67. We still recognise Israel as an Israeli state...

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