Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News 30th July - 5th August 2016
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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 said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different perspectives. 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. Please BE RESOURCEFUL and research for yourself a diversity of sources for everything you read or hear about Israel-Palestine. 
Arabic News Sources (English versions)
Al Arabiya: Netanyahu says he backs Egypt’s peace push
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his support for Egypt’s efforts to mediate peace with the Palestinians Thursday, in a further sign of improving relations with Cairo. Speaking at an event hosted by Cairo’s envoy near Tel Aviv to celebrate Egypt’s national day, Netanyahu thanked President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for his commitment to the peace process. “We welcome the efforts to advance peace by President Sisi and we welcome the effort to incorporate other Arab states in this larger effort of a broader peace,” he said. “Through storms, turbulence, earthquakes, (Israel and Egypt) have remained at peace and we shall remain at peace.” Egyptian ambassador Hazem Khairat said that Egyptian relations with Israel “could certainly be warmer if we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Cairo remains committed to implementing the Arab Peace Initiative, a 2002 Saudi-led peace proposal for Gulf states to recognize Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab territories, he said. Netanyahu and Khairat also held private talks. Egypt and Israel have been bound by a peace treaty since 1979 but relations have been formally cold over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. Ties further soured after the June 2012 election of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi but improved after he was ousted the following year by then army chief Sisi. Also speaking at the event, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said his country stood “shoulder to shoulder with Egypt in its struggle against terror.”

Ma’an News Agency: Israeli police detain 4 Al-Aqsa employees as Israelis tour compound
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli police officers detained on Wednesday morning four employees of the rehabilitation committee of the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), which manages the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, as groups of right-wing Israelis toured the site. The detainees were identified to Ma’an by Waqf officials as the director of the rehabilitation committee Bassam al-Hallaq, as well as Issa Salhab, Saed Abu Sneina, and Bahaa Sbeih. They were taken to an Israeli police station outside the compound’s Chain Gate. Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli police officers stormed the compound and obstructed employees doing maintenance work on the Dome of the Rock’s arabesque reliefs, and detained the four workers without providing an explanation. Separately, groups of right-wing Israelis toured the compound Wednesday morning after entering via the Moroccan Gate, which is designated by Israeli police for entry of "non-Muslim" visitors and connects to the neighboring Western Wall. Witnesses said two Jewish Israelis prostrated on the ground in prayer, in violation of regulations regarding non-Muslim worship at the site, based on an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Witnesses said Israeli police officers watched as they performed the ritual. An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the two incidents. Israeli authorities have launched a crackdown on Waqf employees over the last week, detaining some, banning others from entering the compound, while hindering the ongoing repair works at the holy site.
Middle East Eye: Israel destroys 11 Palestinian homes as demolitions hit decade high
 Israeli bulldozers have destroyed 11 Palestinian homes in Qalandiya, near Jerusalem, as Israeli authorities step up demolitions to levels not seen in a decade. Among the structures destroyed was a two-storey building, leaving 44 people homeless, including 11 children. The demolitions were carried out early on Tuesday. Authorities did not respond to requests for information on why. Their destruction adds to the 78 demolitions already carried out this year in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - higher than the whole of last year's 74, and any other year over the last decade according to the rights group Bt'Selem. Clashes broke out during the Qalandiya demolitions, leaving several Palestinians wounded, according to the rights group Ir Amim. Mohammed al-Jouri, a resident whose home was destroyed, said Israeli authorities "warned us on Monday afternoon that they were going to destroy our houses, some which were still under construction". According to Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, Israel has demolished more Palestinian homes in the West Bank over the last seven months than every other year in the past decade. Israeli authorities say many of the demolished Palestinian homes are built illegally. Permits are however nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain in the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control, which amounts to 60 percent of the territory.
Al Arabiya: Palestinians urge timeframe for Mideast peace talks
 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said any reboot of peace talks with Israel should happen within a clear timeframe and under international supervision, after meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris. Abbas also held talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on the prospects of achieving a two-state solution, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said, describing both discussions as “very constructive”. “We need a timeline for the negotiations, we need a timeline for the implementation, and we need an international framework that will ensure the implementation of any agreement reached,” Erakat told reporters. France has been leading a fresh initiative to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, after the last round of negotiations collapsed in 2014. But while Palestinians have welcomed the French push, Israel has said it favors direct negotiations. Abbas “reiterated our full support to the French initiative that aims to convene an international conference before the end of the year,” Erakat said. The Palestinian negotiator added that there was “no contradiction” between the French, US and more recently Egyptian efforts to break the deadlock and move the peace talks forward. “All these efforts aim to revive the peace process, to achieve the two-state solution (based) on the 1967 lines. They are complementary,” he said. The diplomatic initiatives showed that the “status quo can't be sustained”, he added, reiterating the need for Israel to “stop all settlement activities” in order to give “credibility to any peace process”.
Al Jazeera: Israel blocks Olympics-bound Palestinian from travel
Israeli authorities have prevented the head of the Palestinian Olympic team from leaving the Gaza Strip to be with his team in Brazil, according to a senior Palestinian official. "Israel did not give Issam Qishta a permit to leave Gaza and therefore he was not able to join the rest of the Olympic team in Brazil," Munther Masalmeh, secretary-general of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, told the Dpa news agency on Tuesday. Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said his government was working on allowing Qishta to join the rest of the Palestinian team. "We do our best to let him leave as soon as possible," he told Dpa. Masalmeh said two others also from Gaza, a trainer and the deputy head of the committee, were given permits. Gaza's nearly two million residents are forced to apply for permits from Israel to travel to the West Bank in order to reach Jordan from where they can travel abroad. The only other exit option for people in Gaza is through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which is rarely open. The Palestinian Olympic team comprises 22 people, including six athletes, coaches and administrators. It includes two swimmers, two track and field athletes, a judo player and one equestrian competitor. The Palestinian team taking part in the Games had to buy equipment and other things in Brazil after Israel had prevented entry of their equipment into the Palestinian areas, Masalmeh said.
Hebrew News Sources (English versions)
The Times of Israel, PM ‘shocked’ by clip of Palestinian father urging soldiers to kill son
In the latest in a string of social media videos, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged the Palestinian leadership to stop encouraging “parents to call for the death of their own children,” citing recently filmed footage of a Palestinian father telling Israeli soldiers to shoot his own son. The clip by the prime minister was spliced with footage filmed by Palestinian activists during a protest in the West Bank village of Ni’lin last week. In that footage, a Palestinian man was seen carrying a young boy toward Israeli border police, who were standing next to an armored jeep. The man then pushed the boy toward the officers, challenging them to “shoot this little boy.” As the boy turned back, his father urged him to approach the armed police, while shouting at them, “Kill him. Shoot him.” “I’ve just watched a video that shook me to the core of my being,” Netanyahu told the camera in English from his Jerusalem office. “In just a few seconds, it shows why our conflict persists,” he said. When the boy, described by Netanyahu as having “his shirt tightly tucked into his bright red shorts,” reached the officers, one of them extended his hand and the boy gave him a high-five. This interaction was cut out of a version of the footage broadcast on Palestinian TV, according to the Palestinian Media Watch watchdog. The boy in the video “is not an isolated example,” said Netanyahu. The prime minister proceeded to denounce Palestinian Authority-sponsored incitement of children, giving examples of summer camps in Gaza, student events, and PA publications praising violence and martyrdom. “Today I appeal to every father and mother around the world. I ask you to join me in calling for an end to this abuse of children.” Netanyahu concluded. “The Palestinian leadership must stop encouraging children to kill. They must stop encouraging Palestinian parents to call for the death of their own children. It’s horrendous!”

Israel Hayom, Palestinian student plotted horrific attack on Jerusalem train
The Palestinian man arrested two weeks ago in Jerusalem after a light rail security guard found explosives in his bag had planned his attack weeks in advance, seeking revenge for Israelis and tourists' visits to Al-Aqsa mosque, a joint Jerusalem District Police and Shin Bet security agency statement said Tuesday. The man was identified as Ali Abu Hassan, 21, a civil engineering student from Beit Ula, near Hebron. Hassan has reportedly left a letter and a will at the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron, where he studied. Hassan was arrested on July 17 by the Jerusalem District Police, who were called to one of the capital's light rail stations by a security guard, who suspected he found explosives in the young man's backpack. The suspicion proved true when the police found two knives and three pipe bombs in the backpack. The investigation found Hassan had been planning the attack on the light rail for weeks, learning online how to assemble pipe bombs, and testing them in open fields on the outskirts of Hebron. The Jerusalem Magistrates' Court on Tuesday granted the police's motion and remanded Hassan to police custody for an additional five days. Next week, the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office plans to indict him for attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a crime and illegally producing weapons. Sources privy to the investigation told Israel Hayom that Hassan was not affiliated with any major terrorist group and was apparently working alone.

The Jerusalem Post, Israel criticised by UNSC for mistreating Palestinian children
NEW YORK - Israel was criticised for committing violations against Palestinian children by countries including Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as the United Nations Security Council, presided this month by Malaysia, held a meeting focusing on Children in Armed Conflict. Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United Nations Rafael Ramirez said that Israel “denies Palestinian children their status as minors, and subjects them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” “We note with shame that while some countries call for accountability for violations against children in armed conflicts, when it comes to violations committed against Palestinian children by Israel, they remain silent,” Ramirez said. “We view with concern the policy of double standards, in discussing the case of Palestine and call for redoubling efforts to fulfill obligations under international humanitarian law, including the principle of proportionality." In addition, Iran stated that the international community should “bring an end to Israeli impunity” when it comes to “restricting the rights of Palestinian children.” Saudi Arabia, which has been blamed by the UN for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year as a result of its military intervention in the region, also joined the criticism of Israel, describing the country’s policies as “terrorist and aggressive.” The country also blamed Israel for using excessive force against Palestinian children and said it was holding and torturing them in Israeli jails. The Israeli Mission to the UN’s legal adviser Amit Heumann, who delivered Israel’s position to the council, noted the importance of both tackling Palestinian exploitation of children as well as protecting Israeli children living in fear.
“In the North, the internationally recognized terrorist group Hezbollah has transformed the villages of Southern Lebanon into terror outposts. They place rocket launchers next to kindergartens where youngsters play, and store missiles under the homes the children return to after school,” Heumann said. “In Gaza, the terrorist group Hamas uses young boys to dig their terror tunnels, and uses children of all ages – along with their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, to serve as human shields.” “No child should play in a schoolyard which doubles as a rocket launching site,” he added. “And no child should spend their summer being drilled for war.”

Israel Hayom, PA President meddled in Israeli election in bid to unseat Netanyahu, mayor claims
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas actively meddled in 2015 Knesset election in an effort to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam told Israel Radio on Tuesday. Salam said that on election day, March 17, 2015, Abbas called him and enticed him to bolster the turnout in his city, the largest Arab city in Israel, with the hope that this would translate into more votes for the Arab parties (which ran on a joint list called the Joint Arab List). Prior to the election, some speculated that if no clear winner emerged, the Arabs could make Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog prime minister by throwing their support behind him (although they were principally opposed to entering a coalition). Salam confirmed that he worked hard to bolster turnout that day and his efforts paid off: Voter turnout spiked from 20% at noon to 90% in the evening. Salam said Abbas promised him a quid pro quo, by pressing one of the factions in the city to sign a coalition deal with his administration and thus increasing his clout. It is unclear when that promise was made. On Wednesday, Israel Radio interviewed Muhammad Al-Madani, a senior Palestinian official and a close associate of Abbas, who refuted Salam's version of events. He denied Abbas tried to pressure Salam to increase turnout to the benefit of the Joint Arab List. But shortly after Madani's interview ended, Salam spoke with the station and reiterated his claim again.

The Jerusalem Post, Palestinians issue international appeal: stop Israel from demolishing Sussiya
The Palestinian Authority has appealed to the international community to prevent Israel from razing the Palestinian village of Sussiya, which is located in the South Hebron Hills. “We call on Israel to abide by international law and we ask the international community to stop Israel from destroying Palestinian villages,” PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said on Tuesday, as he warned that Israeli action against the Palestinian herding village could be imminent. On Monday, the High Court of Justice appeared to frown on a petition to save the village, as it ordered Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to issue an opinion on the matter within two weeks. Supreme Court President Miriam Naor told attorneys during a hearing on the matter, “Speaking for myself, this petition should be rejected.” The petition was filed by the residents of Sussiya together with the Israeli nongovernmental group Rabbis for Human Rights in 2014. At issue is the fate of some 100 modular structures, mostly tents or shacks, that house 300 people and provide shelter to their livestock. The petitioners, together with Rabbis for Human Rights, asked the High Court to force the civil administration to accept the master plan they had submitted for the village in 2013, which would legalize the structures, which were erected without the proper permits. Hearings on the matter were halted last year, when the villagers and the civil administration agreed to sit down to see if they could agree on a plan for the village, either in its current location or in a nearby alternative one. Four meetings were held, in which progress appeared to have been made. But the process was halted when Liberman took over the Defense Ministry in June, as the civil administration waited for him to issue an opinion on the process, so they would know if it made sense to proceed. In the absence of any direction from Liberman, a July meeting prior to the August 1 hearing was canceled. He has in the past called for the demolition of the Sussiya village,which has been in a land battle with the state since the 1980s.

US-UK News Sources
Independent: Israel approves new law to jail child ‘terrorists’ as young as 12
The Israeli parliament has approved a new law allowing child "terrorists" as young as 12 to be jailed. Politicians supporting the Youth Bill said it was “borne of necessity” amid a wave of attacks by Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank. Children as young as 13 have been shot dead by security forces while allegedly attempting stabbing attacks and the Israeli mission to the UN said juveniles were responsible for 47 “acts of terrorism” since September. The new law, which passed its second and third readings in a Knesset committee on Tuesday, allows authorities to imprison minors under the age of 14 for crimes such as murder, attempted murder and manslaughter. It was opposed by 16 politicians, with support from 32 MKs and one abstention. Courts will be allowed to postpone prison transfers and shorten or cancel jail sentences as part of the legislation, which called for a “more aggressive approach”. The introduction to the bill reads: “The seriousness that we attach to terror and acts of terror that cause bodily injury and property damage, and the fact that these acts of terror are being carried out by minors, demands a more aggressive approach including toward minors who are convicted.” The law was proposed by Anat Berko, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, who said: “This law was borne of necessity.  “We have been experiencing a wave of terror for quite some time.  “A society is allowed to protect itself. To those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15.  “Perhaps this law will also do something to protect these children from being used to slaughter people.”

Fox News: Israel demolishes West Bank homes of 2 Palestinian attackers
JERUSALEM - The Israeli military says forces have demolished the homes of two Palestinians behind a deadly attack in Tel Aviv in June. The military says the West Bank homes of Mohammed Mahamra and Khaled Mahamra were demolished early Thursday. In the Tel Aviv attack, the cousins, both dressed in black suits, opened fire at a restaurant in a popular shopping and dining district. Four people were killed and several were wounded in one of the deadliest attacks in a 10-month wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence. The attackers were apprehended near the scene. Israel says house demolitions are an effective deterrent against attacks. Critics counter that the tactic amounts to collective punishment.

Reuters: U.S., Israel close many gaps in defence aid talks, hope for deal soon
The United States and Israel have closed many of the remaining gaps in negotiations over a new multibillion-dollar military aid package for Washington's top Middle East ally, and the two sides hope to reach a deal soon, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday. Jacob Nagel, acting head of Israel's national security council, wrapped up three days of closed-door discussions in Washington over a new 10-year defence pact, including a meeting with U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice. Drawn-out aid negotiations have underscored continuing friction between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over last year's U.S.-led nuclear deal with Iran, Israel's arch-foe. The United States and Israel have also been at odds over the Palestinians. However, with Obama due to leave office in January, both sides have appeared increasingly determined to come to an agreement to enshrine U.S. assistance to Israel over the next decade. “We've made progress and closed many of the remaining gaps. We hope soon to be able to reach final agreement,” the senior official told Reuters after the talks concluded. However, the official declined to elaborate or provide a precise timetable for completing negotiations. Raising hopes for removal of a key sticking point, Israel had signalled at the start of the talks that it might accept the Obama administration's demand that U.S. military funds, until now spent partly on Israeli arms, will eventually be spent entirely on U.S.-made weapons, according to U.S. sources. It would mark a major concession by Netanyahu.

CNN: Former Israeli PM: Current government has hidden 'one-state' agenda

A former Israeli prime minister has accused Benjamin Netanayhu's government of consciously dragging the country toward a one-state solution that threatens the very essence of Zionism. They "are interested basically in continuation, extrapolation of the present situation," Ehud Barak told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview, "which is a one-state, or headed toward a one-state solution, against all the declarations for the opposite." It is "a hidden agenda" he said, masked by lip service paid to the two-state solution that has long been accepted by the United States and the rest of the international community as the basis for any eventual resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Barak, a former general and chief of the armed services, served as defense minister for nearly six years - first under Ehud Olmert and then four years under Netanyahu. He was prime minister from 1999 to 2001. "I don't underestimate Netanyahu. He's a serious person; he was elected more than once. He tries to do what he believes is good for Israel." But, Barak said, he has allowed his party, Likud, to be taken over by "extremists." As a result, he said, the government has "drifted into a mindset of pessimism, passivity, fear, and victimhood." Offering a response on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spokesman David Keyes placed blame for lack of peace progress on the Palestinians. "You can't negotiate with yourself," Keyes said. Netanyahu, he said, has "the greatest of intentions, the most sincerest of desires to engage in peace negotiations," but "the problem is not the Israeli Prime Minister, who is desirous of peace, who constantly calls to the Palestinian leadership to meet and to sit down. The problem is that the other side says no."


Al Arabiya: How the Israeli govt is undermining democratic values
Yossi Mekelberg argues in this article that the Israeli government is undermining the democratic values of the country, by ‘limiting freedom of speech, threatening legislators with sanctions, harassing human rights organisations and constantly attacking the High Court of Justice.’ In the view of the author,   by bestowing ‘ privileges on the Jewish population that others do not necessarily enjoy, and introducing immigration laws that almost exclusively favour those with Jewish origins’, an inherent difficulty is created with a country also striving to be a democracy. Mekelberg acknowledges that ‘some of these discriminations were justified, though not always very convincingly, by the history of the Jewish people and the state of war with the surrounding Arab countries’. However, Mekelberg points out that ‘there have always been elements in the Israeli society that resented that everyone could enjoy all rights equally’, and that regrettably these elements constitute ‘the majority of those in government’ at the moment. Mekelberg then highlights different acts which show that the current Israeli government demonstrates ‘little regard for civil and political rights.’  The first is the ‘transparency bill’, which requires NGOs to give details of overseas donations if more than half of their funding comes from foreign governments or official bodies such as the European Union or US Government. On  close examination, Mekelberg notes however that ‘this piece of legislation is a clear attempt to muzzle the human rights and pro-peace watchdogs of the Israeli society’, given that financial support from official international bodies goes for the most part to human and civil rights organisations and those who are pro-active in advancing peace with the Palestinians. Mekelberg also highlights the fact that media networks and journalists are often ‘on the receiving end of venomous verbal attacks by members of the coalition for what can only be regarded as fulfilling their public duty of overseeing government activities and informing the public.’ For instance, the commander of the Army Radio was summoned for a ‘chat’ by the Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to discuss the radio station’s broadcast of a program that discussed the works of the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish. Mekelberg notes that ‘Mahmoud Darwish, may be controversial in Israel, but his works are still taught in high schools in Israel’, questioning, ‘what value is there to a pluralist society if it cannot at least intelligently discuss, in a civilized manner, political art, even if it challenges or even upsets part of that society?’ The author finally notes that these recent trends demonstrate a worrying attempt to ‘diminish the freedom of expression’ in Israeli society, concluding that although the country ‘still has strong democratic tenets…recent trends represent a slippery slope.’

The Jerusalem Post: Arafat is not a hero
Aviva Klompas argues in this article that the legacy of Yasser Arafat, former chairman of the PLO, is still very much alive in the streets of Ramallah. She goes on to point out that the Palestinian people longingly remember Arafat as a ‘hero who gave voice and vision to their dreams of a Palestinian state’, yet ignore the fact that he failed to establish a Palestinian state when he ‘rejected the deal offered by Bill Clinton and Ehud Barack’ in the year 2000. The author then cites Arafat’s statement in Stockholm in 1996, that ‘’ “We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion... We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem’’ - making it clear that Arafat’s intention was ‘total victory over Israel’.  Klompas then goes on to point out that Arafat ‘poisoned Palestinian culture by saturating media outlets, school curriculums, sporting events and even summer camps with anti-Israel rhetoric.’ This legacy continues today in Klompas’ view, given that Palestinian children today are still ‘raised in a society that denigrates Jews and Israelis, denies a Jewish connection with the land and rewards terrorism.’ With regards to the latter statement, Klompas points to the fact that ‘approximately 10 percent of the PA’s budget is devoted to paying stipends to the families of Palestinian terrorists’, as well as the fact that an additional fund is in place to ‘compensate the families of ‘’martyrs’’.  Indeed, this ‘veneration of terrorists’ is deemed ‘pervasive’ by the author, who then points to the report by the international Middle East Quartet which noted that “Palestinian leaders have not consistently and clearly condemned specific terrorist attacks. And streets, squares, and schools have been named after Palestinians who have committed acts of terrorism.” The author ends by describing the case of Muhammad Halabi who stabbed Aharon Banita-Bennet who was on his way to pray at the Western Wall. Klompas concludes by stating, ‘Halabi’s attack helped catalyze the past nine months of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings attacks that have left 33 Israelis and two visiting Americans dead.’ It is this legacy that Arafat has left in Klompas’ view, and that remains a key barrier to the ‘dream of peace.’

Al Jazeera: Is the BDS movement facing new challenges in the US?
Alex Kane, in this article, highlights the range of perspectives on the BDS movement in the US - particularly pointing to recent legislation that prevents state governments from ‘contracting or funding entities that support the boycott of Israel’. Noah Pollak, head of the Emergency Committee for Israel, spoke at a conference against the BDS movement last year, stating: "While you were doing your campus antics, the grown-ups were in the state legislatures passing laws that make your cause improbable”. This message, Kane highlights, referred to a strategy pursued by pro-Israel groups in the US, who are presenting bills to BDS advocates that condemn the movement as "anti-Semitic" and “prevent state contracts from funding what they see as a discriminatory movement.” Legislation that prohibits state funds from going to pro-BDS entities has been enacted in 10 states and is being debated in many more. Yet, in some states such as Virginia and Maryland, coalitions of free speech advocates and Palestine solidarity groups have banded together to defeat anti-boycott bills. Kane highlights however, that ‘the legislative measures are the most significant challenge the BDS movement has faced in the US.’ Palestine solidarity activists say that the BDS movement is not anti-Semitic, and that the measures are an attack on free speech and seek to stigmatise action for Palestinian rights. Kane points out some recent trends: The New York State Senate became the first body to pass a bill to prohibit state colleges from funding academic groups that boycott Israel. The New York measure ultimately did not become law. But since then, a wave of anti-BDS legislation has swept across the country. Twenty states have considered anti-BDS laws. Nine have enacted the legislation, and in June, the governor of one state - New York - issued a first-of-its-kind executive order against the movement, according to a count by Palestine Legal, a group that defends the right to advocate for Palestine. States such as Illinois, New York, South Carolina and others have enacted measures that prohibit state pension funds or state contracts from going to companies or institutions that support BDS. Kane ends by pointing to the split in U.S  opinion on the issue of BDS, with civil liberties groups arguing that ‘these measures are unconstitutional attacks on the right of activists to boycott Israel’, while the US Congress recently ‘passed a trade law that includes language requiring the US to discourage European boycotts of Israel.’ Kane states that the dispute over whether anti-BDS bills are constitutional will most likely end up in a US court.
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