Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News: 11th - 17th August

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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. Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera 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.
Gaza a week on: between ceasefire and truce
Reuters: Israel lets food, commercial goods back into Gaza as Egypt seeks truce
Israel allowed commercial goods back into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, in a sign of easing tensions as neighbouring Egypt pursued a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian enclave’s dominant armed faction...Israel’s security cabinet, a forum of senior ministers headed by Netanyahu, discussed the situation. In a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office, an Israeli “diplomatic official” said Hamas would have to prove its commitment to the truce...As well as wanting calm along the border, Israel has said Hamas must return the remains of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and release two civilians whose fate is unknown, whom it says are being held by Hamas in the Strip...Israel announced on Tuesday it would lift the commercial goods ban it imposed on July 9 in response to the launching by Palestinians of incendiary balloons across the frontier...Israel also expanded Gaza’s fishing zone, in waters under Israeli naval blockade, from 3 to 9 nautical miles off the southern coast and to six nautical miles in the north, the head of Gaza’s fishermen’s union said.
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The Jerusalem Post: Egypt Summons Palestinian Groups for Israel Truce, Unity Talks 
Representatives of various Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip headed to Cairo on Tuesday for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on the possibility of reaching a truce agreement with Israel, and ending the Hamas-Fatah power struggle. The visit coincides with unconfirmed reports in the Arab media that the Palestinian factions and Israel are close to reaching a long-term cease-fire agreement under the auspices of Egypt and the United Nations. The faction representatives were invited by the Egyptian authorities in the context of Cairo’s continued effort to avoid a military confrontation between Hamas and Israel, and persuade Hamas and Fatah to agree to the formation of a unity government...Hamas leaders have informed the Egyptians that any cease-fire agreement with Israel should be taken by all Palestinian factions, and not only Hamas, the sources added. The same thing applies to efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift, the sources said, adding that Hamas does not want to be seen as striking any deal with Israel or Fatah on its own.
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Palestinian News Network: Katz: reunified Palestinian government is a threat to Israel’s security
Israeli Minister of Intelligence and member of the Cabinet Yisrael Katz expressed strong opposition to the Return of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip, claiming it constitutes a direct threat to Israel’s security. “Any attempt to bring Mahmoud Abbas back into the Gaza Strip and connect the Gaza Strip to the West Bank via safe passage across Israel will constitute a direct threat and seriously affect the security of the state and the demographic balance between Israel and the Palestinians,” Katz told the Israel Hayom newspaper. According to Katz, this issue should be brought to the attention of the Ministerial Council. He said that Israel’s policy toward the Gaza strip should be clear “a civil separation between Gaza and Israel and a clear security border between Israel and Gaza.” “Hamas will never give up power in the Gaza Strip,” said Yisrael Hayom, another junior Likud cabinet member. “Therefore such proposals are unrealistic.”
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Haaretz: In Nearing Deal With Israel on Gaza, Hamas Wins Achievements Through Military Resistance

The two sides clashing in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas, seemed to be closer on Tuesday evening than anytime during the past few months to “the small arrangement” – a full cease-fire that includes a halt to all acts of violence, alongside the first easing of the blockade on Gaza. If the efforts to broker the deal by the United Nations and Egyptian intelligence work out, and optimism in Israeli defense circles could be heard for the first time on the matter Tuesday evening, then it is possible that quiet could return to the border between Israel and Gaza for at least a few months. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has examined the possibility of calling early elections over the past few days, because of the coalition crisis over the law on drafting the ultra-Orthodox, along with other considerations. A stable cease-fire in Gaza would allow Netanyahu to conduct the election campaign from a position of relative stability, without having to continually fight back against the accusations that he has abandoned the residents of the south to rockets and incendiary kites.

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Wafa: Fatah official says truce agreement between Hamas and Israel a national betrayal

A senior Fatah official Wednesday described the proposed truce between Israel and Hamas as a national betrayal. “The truce reached between Hamas and Israel a few days ago is a betrayal of the Palestinian people and its national cause," said Azzam al-Ahmad, member of both Fatah Central Committee and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee. He told Voice of Palestine radio that what is happening now is not negotiations, but a carnival to announce the agreement, indicating that he asked the Egyptians to avoid coinciding the announcement of the truce between Hamas and Israel, which Israel has started to implement, with the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council that is scheduled to convene in Ramallah on Wednesday evening...Ahmad stressed that all of the PLO factions agree that any agreement for calm should be reached with the PLO similar to what happened after the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in 2014.
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Hebrew News Sources
Israel Hayom: Fearing Gaza crisis, Israel asks US to scale back aid agency cuts
Israel has asked the United States not to withhold funds from the U.N. agency responsible for assisting Gazans out of concern that this would exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in the Hamas-ruled enclave and increase the probability of armed conflict. Sources familiar with the details told Israel Hayom on Sunday that the Israeli position was presented to the Trump administration several months ago, and remains unchanged. Officially, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East provides educational, health and social services to some 5 million Palestinian "refugees" living in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. However, the agency has been accused of engaging in anti-Semitic incitement, and Hamas terrorists have used UNRWA facilities in Gaza to target Israeli civilians.
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The Jerusalem Post: Bennett Says Israel's Policy of Restraint in Gaza Has Failed
"If we had struck the first kite launchers when there were still one or two of them, it would not have reached thousands," Minister of Education Naftali Bennett said on Monday, saying that Israel's policy of restraint has thus far not been successful. Bennett, a member of the security cabinet, told Kan, Israel's public broadcaster, Israel's policy of restraint in the Gaza Strip has failed and an alternative response to Hamas must be considered. "They are terrorists in the full meaning of the word and we must eliminate them," Bennett said. Bennett asserted "if we follow the formula of 'quiet in return for quiet' we will end up with a stronger Hamas, and we will have a second Hezbollah in Gaza." "We have no interest in hurting the residents of Gaza.  But we have a clear goal. Just like we had the strategic threat of tunnels and ignored it for years, until Operation Protective Edge, we have to do the same with a militarized Gaza," he said.  "It is inconceivable that Hamas will fire on us when they wish and we will remain silent."
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i24: Israeli police say prevented stabbing attack in Jerusalem, suspect in custody

Israeli Police said on Wednesday afternoon that last week they prevented a stabbing attack planned by a Palestinian in the Old City of Jerusalem. The suspect is reportedly a 26 year-old man from Hebron in the West Bank. On August 8, he was stopped and searched in the Old City by Israeli police officers who found pepper spray and a knife on his person, the police said in a statement. The suspect told officers that he was in Jerusalem to pray. Based on suspicion that the suspect may have been concealing something, the officers detained and questioned him. “Police interrogators used a number of investigative techniques by which they succeeded in uncovering the true intentions of the suspect,” the statement said. “The suspect illegally entered Israel with a knife and pepper spray in order to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on citizens and/or security forces. According to police, the court extended the suspect’s remand until August 20 to allow enough time for a comprehensive investigation.
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Arab News Sources

Al-Bawaba: Israel Bulldozes Palestinian Building in East Jerusalem Under Pernicious 'No Permit' Control
Israeli bulldozers demolished a residential building in the Palestinian neighborhood of Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem, on Wednesday morning, under the pretext of building without an Israeli permit. Local witnesses said that large numbers of Israeli forces and special units, accompanying bulldozers, stormed the neighborhood from its eastern entrance. Israeli forces raided the neighborhood, surrounded the are and prevented movement near the building. Witnesses added that the bulldozers demolished an under-construction residential building under the pretext that it was built without the nearly impossible-to-obtain Israeli building permit...Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of a local follow-up committee in the Issawiya neighborhood, confirmed that Israeli bulldozers demolished two apartments, which were still under construction, in the residential building. [He] added that the Israeli municipality purposely delays approval procedures of the structural map of Issawiya.
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Ma'an News: UNRWA schools to start on time

At an extraordinary session of the UNRWA Advisory Commission, in Amman on Wednesday, the UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl announced that the school-year for 526,000 Palestinian refugee girls and boys will open on time in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Krähenbühl emphasized that students and teachers will be returning to the 711 schools on time "because it is crucial to protect the fundamental right to education for Palestine refugee girls and boys and the community's unwavering attachment to learning and the development of skills". He added that schools will open, taking into account the fact that host countries have repeatedly drawn attention to the serious risks to regional stability if this were not the case. The Commissioner-General also underlined the ongoing severe risks facing the Agency: "While announcing today the opening of the school year, I wish to be clear that UNRWA is by no stretch of the imagination out of the woods. Since January 2018, UNRWA has mobilized $238 M of additional funding, which is very encouraging. However, we currently only have funding to run the Agency's services until the end of September. We need a further $217 M to ensure that our schools not only open but can be run until the end of the year."
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Al-Jazeera: Gaza halts treatment for cancer patients as siege worsens

Asmaa al-Bahnasawi is a 45-year-old cancer patient who has been unable to receive chemotherapy sessions in the besieged Gaza Strip. She was diagnosed with breast cancer months ago, and like more than 8,200 cancer patients, has been denied treatment until further notice because of a scarcity of chemotherapy drugs...Earlier this week, health officials in Gaza announced the al-Rantisi hospital was no longer able to provide patients with chemotherapy sessions, citing medication shortages. The 80 percent deficit places thousands of patients at risk of deteriorating conditions, the health ministry warned on Monday...Many who attempt to leave the Strip in search of treatment are often denied medical permits by Israel and neighbouring Egypt. Gaza has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007. The Erez checkpoint is the main exit for two million residents of Gaza, connecting them to medical care in Israel and the occupied West Bank. Over the years, Israel has placed obstacles in the way of those seeking medical permits, which facilitate the movement of the ill.
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International News Sources
Reuters: Israel's Arab minority rallies against new nation-state law
Thousands of protesters rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday against Israel’s new law declaring it the nation-state of the Jewish people, legislation that has angered the country’s Arab minority and drawn criticism abroad. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the law, which says only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country and downgrades Arabic from an official language, saying it is necessary in order to fend off Palestinian challenges to Jewish self-determination. The protesters, mostly Israeli Arabs, waved Palestinian flags and held up signs that read ‘equality’ in Arabic and Hebrew. “The law legitimise racism,” said Laila al-Sana, 19, from a Bedouin village in Israel’s southern Negev desert. “It’s very important to show we are here, to resist,” she said. Israel’s Arab population comprises mainly descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 war at the time of the creation of the modern state of Israel. Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled.
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Al-Monitor: Palestinian police patrol Hebron in rare sight for locals
Palestinians in the old town of Hebron were recently surprised to see armed and uniformed officers of the Palestinian security forces patrolling the town for the first time since 1997. The city in the southern West Bank is divided into two parts under the Hebron Protocol signed in 1997 between Israel and the PLO. Area H1 covers 80% of the city and is under Palestinian control. Area H2 includes the old town, the Ibrahimi Mosque and some neighborhoods and is under both Israeli security control and Palestinian civilian control. The pact followed bilateral agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the redeployment of Israeli military forces in Hebron based on the Oslo Accord...Although the Palestinian security services won't be able to stay in the area permanently or carry out security operations without coordinating with the Israeli side, they have devised a plan to help residents. “We formed a security committee with locals and we have officers already residing in these areas. We keep in touch with residents to solve outstanding problems such as arresting outlaws and drug traffickers,” [Col. Ahmed] Abu Rab said.
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BBC: Palestinian mail blocked by Israel arrives eight years late

Packages, letters and even a wheelchair intended for Palestinians have arrived in the occupied West Bank after Israel released years of undelivered mail. The post, which includes internet orders that never arrived, had been held in Jordan since 2010 and was released under a one-time agreement. Palestinian postal workers in the city of Jericho are now faced with sorting through more than 10 tonnes of goods. An official told AFP it would take another two weeks to sort and deliver.
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Jane Eisner for The Forward: Just What Is Israel Afraid Of — Why Detain Critics At The Airport?Just what is the Israeli government afraid of? I asked myself this question on Sunday afternoon after receiving a text message and subsequent phone call from Peter Beinart, a senior columnist for the Forward, who had been detained at Ben Gurion International Airport on his way to attend his niece’s bat mitzvah in Israel. I understand why a sovereign nation, especially one in as dicey a neighborhood as Israel, would carefully scrutinize incoming visitors for risk of terrorism and other violence. Honestly, I’ve been impressed by Israel’s sophisticated vetting of travellers ever since I was in London’s Heathrow airport in 1986 when El Al security guards, and not their British counterparts, foiled an attempt to bring explosives on an airplane carrying 376 passengers bound for Tel Aviv. But treating a journalist like a potential terrorist only because he has challenged Israeli government policies using words and argument, while still proclaiming — and living out — his love for Israel? How does that keep anyone safer?...It seems that these attempts to prevent visits or harass individuals at the border have increased since a law, enacted last year, allows Israel to bar entry to people who advocate boycott of the country or of the illegal settlements in the West Bank. But I could not find independent analysis to confirm that suspicion. So the question remains: What is Israel afraid of?
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Jonathan Freedland for The Guardian: For Corbyn, precision and honesty are the way out of this wreath mess
Jeremy Corbyn did an event in Stoke last night, and a reporter interviewed some of the 400 or so supporters who had turned out to hear him. Among other things, Lewis Goodall of Sky News sought their views on “wreathgate”, the ongoing row about the ceremony Corbyn attended in Tunis in 2014. “Everyone we spoke to agreed,” Goodall wrote afterwards. “Corbyn is being smeared, Labour does not have a problem with antisemitism and that the whole thing is largely concocted by the media and Tories.”...Which is how a set of photographs from a Tunis cemetery has become the object of such controversy. Neutrals are probably either confused by the whole business and tune out, or they tend towards the view of that crowd in Stoke: that the media have falsely trashed Corbyn in the past – witness the baseless Czech spy accusation – and therefore are not to be taken too seriously now. For those reasons, Corbyn and Labour will surely ride out this current storm...In these conflicts, Corbyn did not sit on the fence or act as some even-handed negotiator. He chose sides. That’s what makes him who he is; it’s what many people admire about him. To his most loyal supporters he can perhaps pretend that he spent decades as some kind of unofficial UN peace envoy. But for everyone else, he needs to have an honest, precise reckoning with his past. Otherwise, what happened this week will keep happening.
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Ash Sarkar for The Independent: Israel-Palestine is not an equal conflict – for that reason we can’t let people like Corbyn be tarnished as terrorist sympathisers

As the wreath scandal rolls into a fourth day of rolling news coverage, one would be forgiven for thinking that the prime antagonism in the Israel-Palestine conflict is actually between Jeremy Corbyn and his detractors. The volume of column inches generated by this story is in inverse proportion to its clarity...Allies of the Labour leader have highlighted the disparity between the opprobrium directed at Corbyn, and the deafening sound of crickets which greeted Jack Straw’s visit to Yasser Arafat’s grave; in return some have accused Corbyn supporters of perpetuating a cult mentality. It is a gross indictment of the British commentariat that the Israel-Palestine conflict is treated as a mere proxy for the political divisions in Westminster politics. Despite this month’s renewed bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces, and the deaths of at least 161 Palestinian border protesters and one Israeli soldier since March of this year, none of the major political debate shows have thought it prudent to include Palestinian activists in discussions of Corbyn’s expressions of affinity with their cause. This is not just poor journalistic practice: the erasure of Palestinian voices in narrating their own history is itself in concurrence with the Israeli state’s strategy to delegitimise Palestinian struggle for self-determination in all its forms.
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Deal or no deal – Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks and the path to a wider agreement

James Sorene interviews Gershon Baskin the founder of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, Jerusalem Post columnist and the man who negotiated the secret back channel with Hamas for the release of Gilad Shalit in 2011.

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