Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News 26th November - 2nd December 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. 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

Israel Hayom: Anti-Balfour Declaration campaign amounts to political warfare. Former Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold and Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. Mark Regev spoke at the House of Commons in London on Tuesday at an event called "Refuting Balfour's Detractors." The event comes 99 years after British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour wrote his historic letter stating that his government views "with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." Gold, who has resumed his work as president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, attacked the Palestinian efforts to cast the letter in a negative light. "The campaign waged by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority against the Balfour Declaration is part of the political warfare waged against the State of Israel; it is unacceptable that groups that are associated with Hamas are allowed to use the British Parliament as a venue for undermining the legitimacy of the State of Israel," Dore said, referring to a event held in the House of Lords in October.

Times of Israel: US officials: Obama has nearly ruled out UN action on Israel. President Barack Obama has nearly ruled out any major last-ditch effort to put pressure on Israel over stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians, US officials said, indicating Obama will likely avoid one last row with Israel’s government as he leaves office. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Obama for more than a year had considered giving a major speech describing his vision for a future peace deal or, in a more aggressive step, supporting a United Nations resolution laying out parameters for such a deal. Although the goal would be to impart fresh urgency to the moribund peace process, either step would have been perceived as constraining Israel’s negotiating hand while strengthening the Palestinians’ argument on the world stage. Discussions about those potential maneuvers, underway before the US election, have fallen off since Donald Trump’s surprise victory, officials said. Obama is now highly unlikely to approve either of those options presented to him by US diplomats, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss internal deliberations and requested anonymity.

Haaretz: Ministry Summons Jerusalem School Principal for Hosting Anti-occupation Group Breaking the Silence. A principal of a Jerusalem high school was summoned by the Education Ministry after he invited members of the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence to meet with students. Guy Paz, principal of the Adam High School, was asked to come to the ministry after it received a complaint that the representatives of the organization engaged in incitement at the school program, sources in the Education Ministry said. Breaking the Silence was founded by Israeli army veterans to expose what they claim are Israeli abuses of Palestinians in the territories. Sources familiar with the program denied that there was any such incitement. The meeting was controversial, they acknowledged, but stated that there was no incitement or defamation of the government. Ministry officials said that an initial inquiry into the program found that the complaint over incitement was baseless and also revealed that the school had invited representatives of other groups to speak to the students to provide a range of views.

Times of Israel: Police minister: Nearly half of fires were arson. Israel’s minister for public security said on Wednesday that forty to fifty percent of the fires that broke out across Israel last week were the result of arson. Speaking at the Knesset, Gilad Erdan said that his claim regarding the percentage of fires started by arson was based upon “the estimates of professionals” and that the Fire Services back up his claim, according to a transcript of his speech distributed by the Knesset. “These estimates are based upon facts. When you see two Molotov cocktails with flammable materials, and you see that the fire started from there, you understand that this is arson, and there were a number of cases like this,” Erdan said.
According to Yoram Levy, spokesman of the Fire Services, firefighters battled 1,773 brush fires around the country and the West Bank from November 18 to November 26.
The Jerusalem Post: Ehud Barak indicates forming new movement to take on PM. Barak intends to form a new protest movement that will try to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, he hinted in private conversations on Tuesday. Barak called for a new movement to be formed Monday night at a speech in Herzliya, though he did not say that he intends to form it himself. But when asked Tuesday if he had started fund-raising for the new movement in America, he replied “not yet.” Barak has been spending much of his time in Boston, due to his business consulting for companies around the world and public speaking. He was recently shown on television sitting next to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft at a game. Kraft is a strong supporter of Israel, but is unlikely to contribute to an anti-Netanyahu movement.
Arabic News Sources

Ma’an News Agency: Israeli ministry orders bus company to stop Arabic announcements in Beersheba. The Israeli Ministry of Transportation ordered that an Israeli bus company stop broadcasting announcements in Arabic in the city of Beersheba, a spokesperson for Dan Bus Company told Ma’an on Thursday. The spokesperson said to Ma’an that the company had been asked by the Israeli Ministry of Transportation to cease broadcasting announcements in Arabic on Tuesday, only four days after opening its new bus line in Beersheba. They said that “many, many people complained to the municipality,” which in turn took the matter to the Ministry of Transportation. The Dan spokesman stated that the company was “not comfortable” with the request to stop the Arabic announcements, adding that “40 percent of our drivers are Muslim,” but that it would comply with directives from the Ministry.

Middle East Eye: Watch: Hackers broadcast call to prayer on Israeli TV. Hackers interrupted broadcasting on an Israeli television channel on Tuesday night to stream an Islamic call to prayer, amid anger over official moves to silence mosques in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. Israel's privately owned Channel 2 was interrupted for around 30 seconds, with images of Muslim holy sites broadcast instead of normal content. Channel 10 was also disrupted, with messages suggesting that a recent spate of forest fires that devastated much of Israel were "divine retribution" for a bill that would see the call to prayer banned. "This is a hostile takeover of the satellite carrying the broadcast," the Israeli broadcasting authority said of the hacking in a statement. "We view this with the utmost severity and consider it an act of sabotage." The Hebrew text broadcast on the screen read: "God is great / This is punishment from God / The fire burned hearts / Stopping the call to prayer is a war on God."

PNN: WHO releases latest health access report for the occupied Palestinian territory. On the occasion of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, marked by the UN since 1977[1], WHO launched a 2-year report on health access today at an event in Gaza to highlight how the Israeli permit system and physical barriers obstruct health access for Palestinian patients, ambulances and health workers. The study “Right to health: crossing barriers to access health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2014 – 2015,” was based on data provided by Palestinian Authority ministries and non-profit health providers, as well as patient interviews and field studies. “Access is a fundamental element of the right to health. Every mother and child has the right to be together during a child’s cancer treatment,” said Dr. Gerald Rockenschaub, the WHO head of the office in the West Bank and Gaza.

Al-Jazeera: Palestinians in Israel decry removal of Arabic on buses. Palestinian citizens of Israel have criticised an Israeli bus company's decision to remove Arabic-language announcements in Beersheba, a 200,000-person city in the country's southern Negev region. Israel's Ministry of Transportation instructed the Dan Bus Company to remove Arabic announcements after several local Jewish-Israeli residents lodged complaints to the company and the Beersheba's city hall. The company previously had announcements in Hebrew and Arabic, both of which are official languages. Knesset member Yousef Jabareen, who is a member of the predominantly Arab Joint List electoral coalition, denounced the move as an effort to depict "Arabic as the language of the enemy". "It is the duty of transportation companies to respect [the Arabic language] and use it in all their work and projects, including on buses and trains," Jabareen told Al Jazeera.

Ma’an News Agency: Israeli minister calls Abbas 'number one enemy' of Israel. Right-wing Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the “number one enemy” of Israel on Thursday, Israeli media reported. In an interview with Israel Radio, Steinitz reacted to a speech made by Abbas a day earlier during the Fatah party’s seventh congress, during which the Palestinian head of state reiterated that he did not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and that Palestinian recognition of Israel “would not last forever” so long as Israel did not recognize a Palestinian state. “Abbas is talking about stopping his recognition of Israel, but first he should start recognizing Israel. Abbas has never recognized Israel’s right to exist. To this very day he rejects Israel’s right to exist,” the Times of Israel quoted Steinitz as saying. “Let's not kid ourselves. From an ideological perspective, Abbas is the number one enemy of the very existence of Israel, even more so than Arafat,” he added, referring to deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

International News Sources

ABC News: Palestine's Fatah party holds first congress in seven years; talk of appointing deputy for President Abbas. It has been quite a few years in the waiting, but this week 1,400 handpicked Fatah party faithfuls gathered in the West Bank capital Ramallah for the movement's seventh congress. The party is expected to shake up its central committee and there is speculation over whether it will appoint a deputy to 81-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is now a decade into a four-year presidential term. The meeting takes place amid growing disquiet over a crackdown on freedom of speech and dissent in the West Bank under Mr Abbas' rule, allegations of corruption in the Palestinian leadership and concerns over abuses by the Palestinian security forces. However one person not on the guest list for the meeting was Fatah MP Dr Najat Abu Baker, who came into headlines in March when she accused a PA cabinet member of corruption.

The New York Times: Mahmoud Abbas Proposes Palestinian Unity Government With Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority that operates in the West Bank, proposed on Wednesday the creation of a temporary unity government along with Hamas, the militant rival faction that controls the Gaza Strip. In a three-hour address at a conference of his Fatah party, Mr. Abbas sought to push forward long-stalled efforts to reconcile the two major competing Palestinian factions, and to present an image of unity amid wide discord outside the hall where he spoke. Mr. Abbas invited Hamas to send representatives for negotiations to bridge the divide, and he thanked Khaled Meshal, the organization’s political chief, for offering a supportive message that Mr. Abbas passed along to the conference. A month after meeting with Mr. Meshal in Qatar, Mr. Abbas told his supporters that the two parties should form a joint government to be followed by presidential, legislative and other elections.


Arutz Sheva: The Israel-Palestinian impasse after Trump. Soon after the end of the June 1967 Six Day War, Israel's Foreign Minister Abba Eban met in New York with U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Eban was asked about Israel's thinking on a future political settlement following her extraordinary military victory and territorial conquests.  He responded that the Israeli government had decided on June 19 that in exchange for peace agreements, Israel would return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria, while considering granting autonomy to the Arab population in the 'West Bank'. Rusk, Eban later recorded in his autobiography, could hardly believe what he was saying and responded that "he did not know of any case in modern history where a country, which had been attacked and emerged victorious, put forward such daring proposals so soon after." President Johnson considered that Israel's position was "constructive;" while Gideon Rafael, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, later wrote that the Secretary of State was impressed by Israeli "moderation."

Times of Israel: Netanyahu learned the Carmel fire’s lessons. The fires in Israel are now dying down, and Israelis can breathe a sigh of relief that the worst of the crisis is over. As focus shifts from fire fighting to helping those who have lost their homes, it is worth examining Israel’s response to see how the country has evolved on fighting fire since 2010. That year’s Carmel forest blaze killed 44 Israelis and prompted a much needed reexamination of Israel’s approach to fires. Many nations fail in response to crises. The real test is whether they can learn from failure and improve in the future.

Guardian: Now is the moment for us Palestinians to renew our national movement. Anti-establishment sentiment has just produced two shockwaves: Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Millions used the polls to protest against their economic marginalisation and political alienation. Elites were firmly told: no more business-as-usual. The Palestinian national movement is similarly on its deathbed, and the symptoms that are leading to its demise run parallel to events taking hold in the rest of the world. Palestinians feel marginalised by their broken political system, feuding political parties and lack of economic opportunities. They are frustrated by the Palestinian elite, who have led us to this point and sit disconnected from their people.

Ma’an News Agency: Less symbolism, more action: towards meaningful solidarity with Palestine. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) has designated the week of Nov. 25 to Dec. 3 as the 'Biggest-Ever Campaign' aimed at boycotting Israeli products and those of companies that contribute to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. In a recently issued press release, the civil society-led group highlighted "99 actions that will take place across the world to highlight what they described as "HP companies' complicity in Israel's violations of international law and human rights abuses." BDS activities are expected to be staged across at least 18 countries, spanning six continents. The sharp increase in the boycott campaign activism is a direct result of Israeli pressure -- joined by western governments -- to thwart the boycott movement. Even financial institutions, such as the Bank of Ireland, have joined in on these efforts, shutting solidarity groups' accounts and simply trying to raise the price tag for those who dare to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

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