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

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

October 8, 2014 | Gabrielle Debinski and Tzvi Fleischer

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.

Some take-out from Julia Gillard’s “My Story”

Some take-out from Julia Gillard’s “My Story”

October 3, 2014 | AIJAC staff

This week former Prime Minister Julia Gillard released her autobiography, My Story – detailing and justifying her experiences and decision-making during her three year and three day term as Prime Minister of Australia. It contains her personal account of Australia’s developing relationship with the international community, the government’s efforts to secure a seat on the UN Security Council and of her relationships with key government figures, among other things.

Terror apologist Yvonne Ridley given a free ride on the ABC

Terror apologist Yvonne Ridley given a free ride on the ABC

October 2, 2014 | Gabrielle Debinski and Tzvi Fleischer

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.

On Hebron’s Palestinian agitprop tours

On Hebron’s Palestinian agitprop tours, it’s all Israel’s fault

October 2, 2014 | Ahron Shapiro

Targeting curious tourists who venture into Hebron to see the Cave of the Patriarchs, a cadre of Palestinian “guides” flog “pay what you feel” tours aimed at delegitimising Israel and portraying it as a villain through a one-sided and non-contextual traipse along the seam between Israeli and Palestinian neighbourhoods.

Abbas/Netanyahu Speeches at the UN

Abbas/Netanyahu Speeches at the UN

October 2, 2014

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.

Hamas and the welfare of Gazans

Hamas and the welfare of Gazans

September 24, 2014

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.

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?

September 17, 2014 | Allon Lee

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

September 16, 2014 | Gabrielle Debinski

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.

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Video: Israeli Labor’s Hilik Bar MK on settlements

September 12, 2014

Hilik Bar MK of the Israeli Labor Party explains why settlements are not such a barrier to a two-state resolution.

He spoke to an AIJAC luncheon briefing in Melbourne on 5 September 2014, courtesy of the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue.

Abbas' new "peace plan"

Abbas’ new “peace plan”

September 12, 2014

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.

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