Israeli ministers address pro-settler event on AIPAC sidelines


Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, Mar 5, 2018. (photo: AIPAC)

Organized by Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs and a pro-settler group, the focused on fighting against calls to boycott products made in settlements.

By Amir Tibon and Jonathan Lis | Haaretz | Mar 6, 2018

“Refraining from visiting, talking, buying, and knowing each other — that’s bigotry.”
— Dani Dayan, Israel’s Consul General in New York

Supporters of Israeli settlements in the West Bank held an event on the sidelines of the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington on Monday, at the same time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump held talks at the White House.

The event, organized by Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs and the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of the settler movement, focused on fighting against calls to boycott products made in settlements.

More than a hundred people gathered to hear Israeli ministers from the right-wing coalition — including Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) — all of whom expressed their strong support for maintaining Israel’s presence in the West Bank and for rejecting any peace plan that involves the creation of a Palestinian state there.

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Emboldened by Trump, Israelis try redrawing Jerusalem’s boundaries


Palestinian laborers work at a construction site in a new housing project in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, in Feb 2017. (photo: Oded Balilty / AP)

Israeli leaders are re-engineering Jerusalem’s demographic balance by redrawing the city’s map to exclude Arab neighborhoods and include Israeli settlements.

By Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash | The Washington Post | Jan 12, 2018

The director of Israeli human rights group B’Tselem [says] there is a battle underway between those who want to continue “smart occupation,” which manages to “fly two inches below international outrage” while incrementally shifting facts on the ground, and those who advocate “dumb occupation” — moving forward with formal annexation.

Since becoming mayor of Maale Adumim more than 20 years ago, Benny Kashriel has doggedly campaigned for his community to be recognized as part of Israel.

Now, with President Trump in the White House, Kashriel thinks it may just happen.

His settlement is around four miles east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. Most of the international community, including the United States, considers its construction to be illegal, built on land captured during the 1967 war.

Still, it has steadily grown from what began as a cluster of prefabricated buildings erected by 23 families in the 1970s into a burgeoning satellite city of Jerusalem. Palm trees line the wide roads of what looks like a Florida suburb. Red-roofed houses and high-rises are home to 42,000 people, who are served by all of the accoutrements of a modern city: schools, restaurants, cafes and a shopping mall.

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Jared Kushner’s diplomatic role complicated by his financial ties


Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, at the end of a diplomatic trip to Israel in May. Shortly before, Kushner Companies received a $30 million investment from one of Israel’s largest financial institutions, Menora Mivtachim. (photo: Mandel Ngan / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

Kushner continues to do business with major Israeli investors, and continues to donate to West Bank settlements.

By Jesse Drucker | The New York Times | Jan 7, 2018

“The ethics laws were not crafted by people who had the foresight to imagine a Donald Trump or a Jared Kushner. No one could ever imagine this scale of ongoing business interests . . . that give the president and his top adviser personal economic stakes in an astounding number of policy interests.”
— Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit government ethics group

Last May, Jared Kushner accompanied President Trump, his father-in-law, on the pair’s first diplomatic trip to Israel, part of Mr. Kushner’s White House assignment to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Shortly before, his family real estate company received a roughly $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim, an insurer that is one of Israel’s largest financial institutions, according to a Menora executive.

The deal, which was not made public, pumped significant new equity into 10 Maryland apartment complexes controlled by Mr. Kushner’s firm. While Mr. Kushner has sold parts of his business since taking a White House job last year, he still has stakes in most of the family empire — including the apartment buildings in and around Baltimore.

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Israel must not divide Jerusalem


An Israeli flag hangs outside a settler’s home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. (photo: Emil Salman)

Arbitrarily altering a city’s boundaries based on demographic forecasts is hardly the way to manage a municipality. Instead, all of East Jerusalem should be rehabilitated.

By Moshe Arens | Haaretz | Dec 3, 2017

Instead of fiddling with Jerusalem’s boundaries, the ministers and mayor should set in motion a plan to rehabilitate all East Jerusalem’s neighborhoods. That a Palestinian refugee camp, Shoafat, has existed for 50 years within Israel’s sovereign borders is inexcusable.


Ministers Zeev Elkin and Naftali Bennett are sponsoring legislation that would let the government change Jerusalem’s borders, making the Kafr Aqab and Shoafat refugee-camp neighborhoods that have been within the city’s  boundaries for 50 years separate municipal entities.

Both ministers have impeccable records regarding their opposition to the division of Jerusalem, but still the legislation they’re trying to move through the Knesset at lightning speed constitutes a shrinking of the municipal boundaries of Israel’s capital by separating off certain neighborhoods. Like it or not, this is a division of Jerusalem. No wonder Mayor Nir Barkat objects.

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Israeli settlers turn archeological sites into political tools


The Biyar Aqueduct has become a tourist attraction for Israeli settlers. (photo: Duane Vander Klok)

Every year, some 100,000 women, children and men visit the Biyar Aqueduct, built some 2,000 years ago to supply water to Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple.

By Akiva Eldar / Al-Monitor / Oct 3, 2017

“There is clear evidence at the Biyar Aqueduct — as there is at other sites — of the presence of the sons of the Judean Kingdom or of Jews at various periods. The problem is that these sites are being used as propaganda tools to establish the right of Jews to those lands, and the multicultural aspect of thousands of years of history is sidelined or even wiped out of the whole story.”
— Archaeologist Yonathan Mizrachi

The Israeli left made no bones about its glee over the empty bleachers at the September 27 jubilee celebration of the liberation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights organized by the settlers in the occupied West Bank. The left views the photos of the empty seats as proof of the settlers’ failure to occupy the hearts and minds of the general Israeli public. The leftists argue that not only did the billions poured by successive Israeli governments into the settlements for 50 years lure fewer than 5% of Israelis to live there — about 400,000 according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics — the vast majority avoided the wasteful “liberation festival.”

Yet the pleasure taken by the left in the seeming failure of the settlers and their patrons is somewhat pathetic. Granted, the right-wing concept of a return to the land of the forefathers has not created a major demographic shift of Israelis moving to the settlements. Nonetheless, the notion has ingrained itself in the minds of broad swathes of the Israeli public and of tens of thousands of visitors from around the world. It happens daily in Jerusalem’s Old City and throughout the West Bank.

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Human Rights Activist Arrested for Facebook Post


Human rights activist Issa Amro being apprehended by Israeli security forces in an undated photo. (photo: Mairav Zonszein / +972 Magazine)

Issa Amro declares hunger strike as he remains under detention by the Palestinian Authority because of Facebook post.

By Ariel Gold / Youth Against Settlements, via email
September 5, 2017

“All my writings on social media are part of the freedom of opinion and expression stipulated by the Palestinian Basic Law and are protected by all international laws and conventions. My arrest will not affect my defense of human rights and the rights of journalists to exercise their work freely and without pressure from the government.”
— Issa Amro

Yesterday morning, Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro was arrested by Palestinian Authority police for posting a message on Facebook stating that the PA should respect freedom of expression after it arrested journalist Ayman Qawasmi. That was yesterday morning around 10:00 AM, Palestine time. Issa is still in custody almost 30 hours later. His detention has now been extended and Issa has declared he is on hunger strike, refusing all food, water and medicine until he is released.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have condemned the PA’s detention of Issa and called for his immediate release. He was arrested under a new law issued by the PA that gives it broad powers to arrest and imprison Palestinians for statements made online that harm “national unity” and to block access to websites. The PA, which was created under the Oslo Accords during the 1990’s and was supposed to be a temporary body on the way to statehood, operates under the overall control of Israel’s occupying army.

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Mr. Friedman, Where Do You Stand on the Demolition of a Palestinian Village and School?


Students at Khan al Ahmar village school, Palestine (photo: Vento di Terra)

An open letter to Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel.

By Donna Baranski-Walker /
March 8, 2017

My question: Do your own donations to support education in the Israeli settlement of Beit El and President Trump’s trust in you put you in a unique position to stop Israel’s demolition of Palestinian communities?

David Friedman, esq.
Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I am writing with urgency. I have asked my Senators Feinstein and Harris to forward my questions to you and request your reply. I am bringing these questions forward because although many speculate about what shape peace between Israelis and Palestinians will take in the future, I am most concerned with how you will assure a future for Palestinians who are being forced from their land right now.

The stakes were always high, but since January 2017, this situation is critical. These past two weeks, I have once again been urging everyone I know to write to their Senators and Representatives to urgently request that they call the Israeli Embassy and the U.S. State Department to prevent the imminent demolition of a West Bank Palestinian school and village, this time the village of Khan al Ahmar. Simultaneously we await word of the State of Israel’s position re the appeal by the Palestinian village of Susiya, calls are arriving from the village of Umm al Kheir about the Israeli Army’s demolition of water catchment cisterns in their area, and more.

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