Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News 31st December 2016 - 6th January 2017
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Purpose: to provide a varied selection of articles from Arabic, Hebrew and English mainstream media outlets so readers get a flavour of what is being read by the general public about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different perspectives. The aim is to shine a spotlight for readers on the polarised narratives and constant one-sided messaging that appears in the media of each society, and often also in the international media. Solutions Not Sides makes no attempt to reconcile or support any of these narratives, but we believe it is important to understand each side’s perspective and the way that their society presents events if a negotiated solution is to be reached. 

We do not currently have the capacity to provide translations of actual Hebrew and Arabic media, so bear in mind that news agencies that issue articles in those languages may not produce the same content as the English versions of their outlets provided here (e.g. Aljazeera Arabic and Aljazeera English do not simply produce the same content in both languages). The content and opinions of these articles do not reflect our aims or opinions. Our main educational point about media sources on this issue is that they are almost always biased and should never be trusted in isolation. Please BE RESOURCEFUL and research for yourself a diversity of sources for everything you read or hear about Israel-Palestine. 
Hebrew News Sources
The Jerusalem Post: Right wing politicians call for Rivlin, Liberman to pardon Azaria
Politicians on the Right and Left were divided in their reactions to the guilty verdict in the trial of Hebron shooter Sgt. Elor Azaria, with many on the Right calling for Azaria to be pardoned. “The court had its say, and now the government and the IDF must take responsibility and pardon the soldier that we sent to the front lines to defend the citizens of Israel from Palestinian terrorist attacks,” said Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz. Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said she will work toward Azaria’s pardon, and that there should not have been criminal proceedings against him in the first place. Some on the Right questioned the legitimacy of the trial, with Education Minister Naftali Bennett expressing the expectation that Defense Minister Liberman will pardon Azaria, in addition to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely calling for President Rivlin to do the same. In an unusual move, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit – responding to claims that the trial was unfair – threw his support behind the military courts system, which he said “fulfills its job independently, without fear or bias, and through professional legal considerations alone.”
Ynet News: Haifa shooting victim laid to rest: 'He was murdered for being Jewish'
Hundreds came to pay their final respect on Thursday to Guy Kafri, who was murdered on Tuesday in what was likely a terror attack, as he was laid to rest at the Moshav Ofer cemetery in the Haifa area. Hundreds came to pay their final respect on Thursday to Guy Kafri, who was murdered on Tuesday in what was likely a terror attack, as he was laid to rest at the Moshav Ofer cemetery in the Haifa area. "We're all shocked and in pain. We're having a hard time internalizing that you have been murdered," Dror said at the funeral. "The pain is enormous and it's hard to comprehend that you will not return to us." As Guy's mother Berta eulogized her son, his father Yigal and sister Keren wept alongside his friends. The 48-year-old Kafri was shot on HaGiborim Street in Haifa. He worked as a driver, transporting disabled children. "Guy was one of the most charming and kind hearted people I know, who always loved to help everyone. No one had a bad word to say about him. He was a driver for disabled children and did so out of a sense of mission. He loved the children—and they him," brother-in-law Dror said. "It's clear to us he had no conflict with anyone and that this shooting was a mistake.",7340,L-4903531,00.html
The Times of Israel: Hasidim arrested after illegal visit to West Bank holy site
Police arrested a group of Hasidic Jews who had traveled without escort to the Joshua’s Tomb holy site in the Palestinian village of Kifl Hares early Thursday morning and came under attack by local residents, authorities said. According to the IDF, 10 members of the Bratslav sect “illegally entered” the village, southwest of Nablus, after midnight on Thursday in order to visit a site that is traditionally believed to be the burial place of the biblical figure Joshua. At some point during their visit, the men were attacked by residents of the village, who hurled rocks at them and their car. Once the soldiers got them out, they handed the 10 men over to police for further questioning, the army said. Israeli citizens are not allowed to enter parts of the West Bank under Palestinian Authority security control — known as Area A — without escort or prior authorization, as such incursions often result in violence, like in this case. “Every few weeks, the IDF regional brigade allows an organized and guarded visit to the tomb; any entrance without prior coordination presents a risk and a violation of the law,” police said in a statement.
Haaretz: U.S. House Votes to Condemn UN Over Israel, but Two-state Solution Clause Irks Hardliners
The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Thursday a bipartisan resolution condemning United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which calls for it be repealed or significantly altered. The resolution, introduced by Republicans Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, passed 342-80, was met with initial criticism by some Republicans who opposed the pro-Israel resolution because it included a clause calling for a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Conversely, for many Democrats and left-wing Jewish-American organisations, the clear reference to the two state solution was the attraction of the resolution. The resolution also called on the Obama administration to desist from taking any further steps on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the January 15th Paris peace conference, a possibility that has been mentioned by Prime Minister Netanyahu as a cause for concern. Some Republicans thought that  getting Democrats to strongly condemn the Security Council's anti-settlement resolution, was worth the price of a verbal and harmless reference to a political solution that isn't likely to be implemented anytime soon. David Friedman, President-elect Donald Trump's candidate to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel is a staunch opponent of the two-state solution. However, when incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated last month Friedman's appointment that President Trump won't be bound to his ambassador's position. It is worth noting that Prime Minister Netanyahu said in an interview to 60 Minutes in November he hopes to work together with Trump towards a two-state solution.

Arabic News Sources

PNN: PLO leader calls Trump to respect international legitimacy concerning Jerusalem
Tayseer Khaled, member of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Head of the Palestinian Expatriate Affairs Department (PEAD), called the US president elect to act responsibly and respect international legitimacy resolutions on East Jerusalem, expressing Palestinian concerns also stemming from the appointment of David Friedman, who is notorious for his extreme and aggressive stances against the Palestinians and for backing Israel’s settlement expansion, as US ambassador to Israel. Khaled stressed that “in light of Trump’s pick of Freidman, and new administration’s statements about moving US embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, we have to keep in mind UN Security Council resolutions on East Jerusalem, such as resolution 252 of 1968 of and the following resolutions that condemn Israel’s defiance of UN General Assembly on acts and measures taken by Israel to change the status quo of the holly city”.
Middle East Eye: Israel sentences Palestinian UN worker for aiding Hamas
An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian UN worker to seven months in jail on Wednesday for aiding the group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to the UN agency that employed him. Wahid Abdallah al-Bursh was detained in July, and Israel's Shin Bet security agency claimed he confessed to being recruited by the group in 2014. Bursh was convicted of "rendering services to an illegal organisation without intention," his lawyer, Lea Tsemel, told AFP. Under the terms of a plea deal, Israel plans to release Bursh next week, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said. The Israeli justice ministry confirmed the plea deal, saying that it also included eight months of probation. A Shin Bet statement in August said Bursh had provided assistance in the building of a maritime jetty for Hamas "using UNDP resources". But Tsemel stressed that her client had been convicted only of unintentionally aiding Hamas by "moving some rubble," which was allegedly used to build the jetty. The aid organisation said in a statement on Wednesday that the court's decision "confirms that there was no wrongdoing by UNDP".
Al Jazeera: 'deadliest year' for West Bank children in decade          
Israeli forces have killed more Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2016 than any other year in the last decade, rights group Defence for Children International (DCI) has said. The organisation's chapter in the occupied Palestinian territories recorded the killings of 32 Palestinian children (under 18), making 2016 "the deadliest year of the past decade" for them, the group said in a recent report. Many of those killings happened during Israeli military raids on Palestinian towns in the occupied West Bank, confrontations with the Israeli army or during unarmed protests. Out of the 32, 19 were between the ages of 16 and 17, while 13 were in the age group of 13 to 15 years old, according to DCI-Palestine.
Ma’an News Agency: Netanyahu supports pardon for Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came out on Wednesday in support of pardoning Elor Azarya, as right-wing Israeli officials further coalesced in support of the Israeli soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for the point-blank shooting of a Palestinian in Hebron. While Azarya has garnered mass support from Israel’s far-right citizens and government, who have labeled the soldier a national hero, the outcome of the trial has been described by the Palestinian Authority as a “show trial” handing down a lenient sentence on the soldier, while focusing on the case to distract from a wider culture of impunity for Israeli forces. Israeli human rights group Gush Shalom issued a statement on Wednesday calling the verdict “very far from justice.” “The great miscarriage of justice is in the very fact that a single young soldier was placed alone in the dock, to be condemned for a crime in which very many others share guilt,” Gush Shalom added. “Missing in the dock at Azarya’s side were government ministers and Knesset Members, government supporters as well as those from the 'opposition', who had outspokenly called upon soldiers to do precisely what Azarya did...The soldier Elior Azarya is a minor accomplice, the main culprit is the occupation.” Meanwhile, the al-Sharif family has vowed to take the case to the International Criminal Court to obtain justice for their slain relative, arguing the video-documented case was in fact cold-blooded murder.
International Sources

BBC News: Israeli PM Netanyahu backs pardon for manslaughter soldier
Elor Azaria, 19 at the time, shot Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the head while he was lying immobile on a road. A military court convicted the soldier after dismissing his assertion that the Palestinian still posed a danger. The case has divided Israeli opinion. Azaria, a sergeant, will be sentenced next Sunday January 15th, Israel's military says. There have been rallies to support the soldier, but top military figures say his actions do not reflect the values of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Mr Netanyahu issued his call on Facebook, writing: "I support giving Elor Azaria a pardon." "This is a difficult and painful day for all of us - and first and foremost for Elor and his family, soldiers and for the parents of our soldiers, and me among them." He joins some other members of the governing coalition in calling for a pardon, including right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett. But centre-left politician and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the verdict should be accepted. In their indictment, prosecutors said Azaria "violated the rules of engagement without operational justification as the terrorist was lying on the ground wounded and represented no immediate threat for the accused or others who were present".
Washington Times: Bipartisan Senate resolution avoids blaming Obama in call for repeal of U.N.’s anti-Israel vote. A bipartisan Senate coalition moved Wednesday to reject the U.N.’s anti-Israel Security Council Resolution 2334 vote with a resolution that avoids blaming President Obama for his refusal to exercise the U.S. veto. Unlike the House resolution, the Senate document describes “the Obama Administration’s decision” of withholding its veto as “inconsistent with long-standing United States policy.” A total of 19 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle have signed onto the Senate resolution, sponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat, and Marco Rubio, Florida Republican. “Our Senate Resolution sends the message that the U.S.-Israel partnership is ironclad,” Mr. Cardin said in a statement on Wednesday. “Going forward, Congress will take action against efforts at the UN or beyond that use Resolution 2334 to target Israel.” The Senate resolution also calls for the administration to take “no action” at the 70-nation conference slated for Jan. 15 in Paris on the parameters of a separate Palestinian state, which Israelis fear could become the basis of an international accord dividing Israel.
The Independent: Israeli officials back shoot-to-kill policy of Palestinian suspects, says Human Rights Watch
Leading Israeli officials have been encouraging soldiers and police officers to kill Palestinians suspected of attacks regardless of whether lethal force is necessary, according to a new report by a leading human rights organisation. Human Rights Watch has compiled numerous statements by senior members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration and the country’s police force, which appear to endorse using lethal force against suspects, irrespective of whether anyone is in danger. International human rights law limits lethal force to circumstances in which it is necessary to protect life, and in which no other less extreme option is available. In October 2015, after a civil rights group wrote to the Attorney General raising concerns about officials endorsing a shoot-to-kill policy, the office said it had told its security forces to only kill when there is an imminent threat to life. Yet Human Rights Watch claimed high-ranking officials had continued to support shooting to kill.
The News & Observer: The four lenses of the Israel/Palestine conflict
Thoughtful people are often frustrated at our inability to have productive discussions about Israel/Palestine for a good reason: we view the problem through one of four different lenses. We might label these lenses ethical, historical, religious, and realpolitik. Advocates of each view defend the “facts” let in through their own lens and discount as secondary, or irrelevant, the lens used by others. Through the ethical lens we see people who are suffering. The most idealistic among us will see this problem through an ethical lens and favor the weak over the powerful. The historical lens is convincing to those who take a broader look at the problem. For Jews, Israel is a legitimate state, created, with Palestine, by a vote of the UN in 1948. For Palestinian Arabs.. they see Zionism as an imposition of 19th century European colonialism into the Middle East. The religious lens lets in the light of ideology, of faith, and of the human spirit. Religious Jews understand Judaism to be a program for national life—“ethical nationhood,” Mordecai Kaplan called it—and have prayed for a Return since the Roman exile in 70 CE. For Muslims, Muhammad’s ascent to heaven from Jerusalem makes the sanctity of this city third only to Mecca and Medina. The lens of realpolitik sees Israel at the crossroads of three continents and thus having strategic value to any power seeking to grow. In its close relationship with Israel, the U.S. created for the Arab world a window into America’s vision for the entire Middle East, whose market economy and accompanying benefits would be available to any nation that would ally with us. To promote peace, Arabs and Jews, and their allies and patrons, will need to acknowledge the legitimate views seen through all four lenses.
Haaretz: The Azaria Verdict Is a Temporary Setback for Right-wing Enemies of the Israeli Republic
The unequivocal verdict against Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier accused of killing an unarmed terrorist in Hebron, was a rare victory for human rights, the IDF and the rule of law. This is the part of the glass that is half-full: The system still works. The army is still capable of resisting politicization. The prosecutors and the judges can still resist overwhelming political pressure. When push comes to shove, IDF officers will still stand up for what is right, judges are still able to render verdicts without fear or favor and the legal system, for the most part, will still come down on the side of justice rather than its perversion. But this is the part of the glass that is half empty, at least, if not more: The rule of law in Israel is living on borrowed time. Its enemies grow stronger every day and they are on the ascendant. The willingness to replace objective testimony and evidence with politically motivated narratives that may distort reality but serve a greater ideological purpose is growing day by day. In its efforts to reduce Israeli democracy to majority rule, if not mob rule, the settlers and the right have cast the courts and the legal system as sinister, illegitimate, and treasonous.

Times of Israel: Elor Azaria and Israel’s moral core
A decade ago, I was interviewing Eliezer Shkedi, who was the commander of the Israeli Air Force at the time, and he made the then shattering revelation that Hamas’s Kassam rocket crews in Gaza often took children along with them when they went out to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel. Why so? I asked. Because they knew, explained Shkedi, that the IAF wouldn’t fire on them if there was a risk that the children would be hit. I thought about that for a second or two, and then I asked, somewhat provocatively, whether perhaps an argument could be made that the IAF had a moral obligation to open fire nonetheless — since the Israeli military’s prime obligation is to protect Israel’s citizens, and holding fire in order to safeguard children that the enemy had deliberately brought into a combat zone meant exposing Israeli innocents to fatal risk. “That is the kind of dilemma we live with every day and I’m very pleased you asked me about it,” Shkedi replied. Of course, he explained, the IAF wouldn’t fire if the pilots knew there was a likelihood they would hit children. Instead, the air force worked endlessly to improve its accuracy — so that if, a few years ago, it wouldn’t fire when there was a child within a few meters of the Hamas rocket crew, it now had that distance down to a meter or a meter and a half. The goal, in short, was to tackle the terrorists while doing the utmost not to harm the children, even at a certain consequent risk to the terrorists’ Israeli targets. “If we know that [the terrorist] is holding his son’s hand, we do not fire,” Shkedi said then. “Even if the terrorist is in the midst of firing a Kassam, and the Kassam is aimed to kill. We do not fire.” “I’m very proud of what we do. I think it is unprecedented,” he added. “I’m proud of our morals. I’m proud of our operational capabilities.”

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