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Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News: 15th-21st December

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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.
Story of the week: Australia's recognition of Israeli capital met with international backlash
 
BBC: Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israeli capital
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that his government will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, he said Australia's embassy would not move from Tel Aviv, until a peace settlement was achieved. He added Australia also recognised the aspirations of the Palestinians to a state with a capital in East Jerusalem... "Australia now recognises West Jerusalem, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel," said Mr Morrison, speaking in Sydney on Saturday. "We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical... and after final status determination." Mr Morrison said that in the interim Australia would set up a defence and trade office in West Jerusalem.
Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-46576716

Reuters: Israel signals displeasure at Australia's 'mistaken' West Jerusalem move

Israel signalled displeasure on Sunday with Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as its capital, with a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying it was a mistake to gainsay Israeli control over the whole city... On Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Canberra formally recognises West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but reaffirmed his country’s support for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem under a two-state peace deal. Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded tepidly, calling the Australian move “a step in the right direction”... Morrison’s move first surfaced in October, when it was viewed cynically in Australia because it came days before a crucial by-election in an electorate a strong Jewish representation. His party lost that poll. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Saturday’s move was born of Australian “petty domestic politics”. 
Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-australia/israel-signals-displeasure-at-australias-mistaken-west-jerusalem-move-idUSKBN1OF0E8

Al-Jazeera: Malaysia slams Australia's decision on Jerusalem

Australia's Muslim-majority neighbour Malaysia has said it "strongly opposes" the decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The announcement was "premature and a humiliation to the Palestinians and their struggle for the right to self-determination," the Malaysian government said in a statement on Sunday, advocating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... Morrison said on Saturday that the embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved. With the embassy move delayed, Morrison said that his government will establish a defence and trade office in Jerusalem, while work on the new site for an embassy is under way. The Israeli embassy in Canberra on Sunday said the decision was a "step in the right direction". "Israel congratulates the Australian government for its stance regarding sanctions on Iran," it said in a statement.
Read more: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/malaysia-slams-australia-decision-jerusalem-181216052655431.html

The Jerusalem Post: Australia's Labour Party Calls for Recognition of 'Palestine'

Three days after Australia’s Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Canberra recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the rival Labor party at its national conference called for recognition of a Palestinian state. The motion, which passed on a voice vote, is not binding. The resolution said that the conference “supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognized borders,” and “calls on the next Labor Government to recognize Palestine as a state.”... Labor’s shadow foreign minister Penny Wong, who introduced the motion, said it is important “because we, in Labor, not only deal with the world as it is, we seek to change it for the better.” Wong was among the leading voices in Labor who decried Morrison’s recognition of west Jerusalem on Saturday. “Labor does not support unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in government would reverse this decision. The status of Jerusalem can only be resolved as part of any peace negotiations and two-state solution,” she said.
Read more: https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Australias-labor-Party-calls-for-recognition-of-Palestine-574708
Arab News Sources:
Ma'an News: Knesset votes on bill to expel families of Palestinian attack suspects
The Israeli Knesset voted, on Wednesday, on the first reading of a bill to expel families of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis. According to the Hebrew-language "Maarev" news site, the bill was approved by 69 votes with, and 38 votes against. The Israeli Jewish Home political party presented bill for its first reading at the Knesset... The bill, if passed into law, would allow the Israeli army's Central Command to expel families and relatives of Palestinians, who had carried out or were involved in attacks or attempted against Israelis, of their hometowns to other areas of the West Bank within a week of the attack or attempt... 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told lawmakers, during a Likud party faction meeting, that "The expulsion Expulsion of terrorists is an effective tool. In my opinion, its benefit exceeds its damage."
Read more: http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=782127

Al-Jazeera: Airbnb denies Israel claim it reversed its settlement ban
Global online rental marketplace Airbnb has denied a claim by Israel's tourism minister that it had reversed a decision to stop listings in the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.  The statement on Monday comes after former Public Security Minister of Israel Yariv Levin said in a Facebook post that Airbnb pledged "not to implement" its decision during a meeting between the two sides... Airbnb had announced in November that it would "remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians."
Read more: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/airbnb-denies-israel-claim-reversed-settlement-ban-181218080049964.html

Middle East Eye: Half a million fewer Palestinian refugees set to receive UN aid next year

The United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees on Monday said that it planned to support half a million fewer people in 2019 because of “record low funding levels” as a result of US funding cuts... Launching the plan in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority's seat of government, [UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories Jamie] McGoldrick said the budget and the number of people targeted for aid had been reduced despite a “serious deterioration” in the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and in Gaza in particular. He said about 2.5 million people had been identified as needing humanitarian assistance, but that an “increasingly constrained operation environment” meant that UNRWA had shifted away from a “business as usual” approach to one that reflected “the current realities in which we operate”.
Read more: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/half-million-fewer-palestinian-refugees-set-receive-un-aid-2019-2044727633

Hebrew News Sources:
The Times of Israel: Russia said to make push for intra-Palestinian reconciliation
Russia plans to make efforts to assist embittered rivals Fatah and Hamas in achieving reconciliation, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, a London-based Arabic daily, reported on Thursday, citing “well-placed” sources... Russia’s intention to advance a possible rapprochement was a “major reason” for its recent decision to invite Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh to Moscow, the sources told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat... Haniyeh is expected to leave for Egypt this weekend or at the beginning of next week before traveling to Moscow, the sources said, adding he may also visit Qatar, Turkey, Lebanon, Sudan, Kuwait and other countries while abroad... Russia informed “all parties” including Israel that reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas would help to maintain calm and support the future establishment of a Palestinian state, the sources remarked to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Russia has previously made efforts to advance reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
Read more: https://www.timesofisrael.com/russia-said-to-make-push-for-intra-palestinian-reconciliation/

Ynet News: Settlers rebuild at evacuated outpost in wake of attacks
Dozens of settlers have returned to rebuild the site of an unauthorized West Bank outpost evacuated by the state, in what they said was a response to recent deadly Palestinian attacks on Israelis... The settlers returned for ceremonial event at the Amona outpost in the Mateh Binyamin region, which was evacuated less than two years ago. During the event, they placed two units on plots of land they said former Amona residents purchased from Palestinians, with the assistance of private investors and donors. Amona was evacuated in February 2017, following a court ruling that it was built on private Palestinian land... Avihai Boaron, who led the Amona residents in recent years, said: "The night we were expelled from our homes we swore to do everything to bring back Jewish life here, to raise the Israeli flag high up so that all our enemies will know — we will be victorious! This land is our home and we will fight for our home to the end."
Read more: https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5426997,00.html

The Jerusalem Post: Ofra and Givat Assaf Terrorists Reported to be Barghouti Brothers
Twelve hours after the Ofra terrorist, Saleh Omar Barghouti was assassinated, it's suspected that his brother As'am Barghouti was the terrorist who carried out the attack in Givat Assaf, Palestinian media reported on Thursday. Saleh Omar Barghouti, 29, the son of West Bank Hamas leader Omar Barghouti, from the village of Kobar, shot and injured seven Israeli civilians at a bus stop outside of the Ofra settlement on December 9. Among the wounded was a pregnant woman who gave birth prematurely. Her baby boy died three days later. Security forces are now conducting a wide-scale hunt for his brother As'am Barghouti, 32, who murdered two IDF soldiers, and critically wounded another soldier at Givat Assaf on December 13. 
Read more: https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Ofra-terrorist-eliminated-on-Wednesday-is-brother-of-Givat-Asaf-terrorist-574932

International News Sources:
The Guardian: Netanyahu’s son banned from Facebook over hate speech
The son of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been temporarily banned from Facebook after a series of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posts the social network said broke its rules on hate speech. The company confirmed the ban after Yair Netanyahu, 27, claimed in a tweet on Sunday that Facebook had blocked him for 24 hours for posting criticism after it removed a post last week in which he called for revenge against “those monsters” following the fatal shooting of two Israeli soldiers by a Palestinian at a bus station in the West Bank... In his tweet on Sunday, Netanyahu included a screenshot of one of the removed posts in which he wrote: “The thought police of the radical progressives at Facebook have reached me as well!”... Yair Netanyahu, the eldest of the prime minister’s children, has previously stoked controversy on his social media platforms, echoing his father’s message that Israel’s media and left are against him.
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/17/netanyahus-son-banned-from-facebook-over-hate-speech

Voice of America: Haley Urges Palestinians to Accept a Peace Deal with Israel
Outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is urging the Palestinians to accept a peace deal, saying they have more to gain than Israel. “It is time we faced a hard truth: both sides would benefit greatly from a peace agreement, but the Palestinians would benefit more, and the Israelis would risk more,” Haley said Tuesday at her final appearance at the monthly Security Council meeting on the Middle East issue. “Israel is a thriving, strong, prosperous country,” Haley told fellow ambassadors. “It has always wanted peace with its neighbors. It has clearly demonstrated its willingness to make big sacrifices for peace, including giving up large areas of land, but Israel will not make a peace agreement at any price, and it shouldn’t,” she said... A peace agreement, she said, would offer the Palestinians the possibility of a “massive improvement” in their living conditions and greater control over their political future.
Read more: https://www.voanews.com/a/haley-urges-palestinians-to-accept-a-peace-deal-with-israel/4705880.html

The Forward: Palestinian Flag Painted Over Part Of Anti-Semitism Awareness Mural

A mural painted on Pomona College’s “free speech” wall intended to raise awareness of the rise in anti-Semitism in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting was partially painted over by a Palestinian flag, the Claremont Independent reported. “Palestine exists. Acknowledge it,” was painted next to the original phrase, “Anti-Semitism Exists. Acknowledge it.” Claremont College’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine condemned the action on Facebook, saying it “does not condone derailing conversations about anti-semitism.” The mural, which featured several Stars of David, was first painted in October, following the shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead.
Read more: https://forward.com/fast-forward/416168/anti-semitism-awareness-mural-on-california-campus-covered-by-palestinian/

Opinion:
Ben Judah for The Atlantic: Bibi Was Right
The arc of history was not supposed to look like this, I thought, as I followed Matteo Salvini, the most powerful man in Italy, through the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. Another day, another world leader was in Israel to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, known to most here simply as “Bibi.” And just like Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Rodrigo Duterte, and Jair Bolsonaro before him, Italy’s populist interior minister was not coming to scold the Israeli prime minister. Here was another strongman both happy to be in Jerusalem and ready to work with Bibi...Without a resolution to the Palestinian question, the arc of history was supposed to have bent toward consigning Israel to pariah status—not this. The U.S. embassy has transferred to Jerusalem. A slew of other nations have moved to support some or all of Israel’s claims to the city, including Guatemala, Brazil, the Czech Republic, and even Australia... Salvini met with nobody from the Palestinian Authority. Watching Salvini’s press conference, I felt forced to admit that Bibi was right and I was wrong about the shape of the 2010s. My theory of history had failed me. Back when Bibi was elected in 2009, I believed fervently that Obama was on the right side of history—and that Netanyahu, and Israel, were destined to suffer for their failure to reach a just settlement with the Palestinians.

Hugh Lovatt for the Two State Index Special Edition: The Unfulfilled Promise of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334
On December 23, 2016, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 2334 (UNSCR 2334) which called on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” Three years on, the promise of a stronger international stance toward Israeli settlements remains largely unfulfilled despite scattered progress. UNSCR 2334 did not create any new international legal determinations, but it was important in highlighting the international law-based duty of third states not to recognize or assist Israel’s settlements project. In doing so, the resolution spotlighted an already ongoing process of third state differentiation between Israel and the settlements located in East Jerusalem and the West Bank (as well as the Golan Heights) — all of which are considered to be occupied territory under international law. The EU and its member states are commonly associated with this process of differentiation. And in many ways, they have been important trailblazers...In October 2017, the UK Charity Commission warned that making grants to Israeli settlements could potentially constitute a breach of the Geneva Convention. Perhaps most significantly, the Danish parliament passed a resolution in January 2018 adopting UNSCR 2334’s differentiation requirement, and encouraging the government to strengthen its guidance to private and public investors. The Irish parliament is also considering legislation to ban settlement products...Despite important advances since December 2016, significant challenges remain in implementing UNSCR 2334’s call to distinguish between Israel and the OPT.

Abigail Klein-Leichman for Israel 21c: Words are weapons of peace in Jewish-Arab dialogue groups
On November 1, 2018, the Interfaith Encounter Association inaugurated its 100th dialogue group in Israel. This wasn’t headline news, but for founder and executive director Yehuda Stolov, it was another stepping stone on the path to peace. The IEA is one of several organizations facilitating dialogue among people from all sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict... In 2017, the IEA oversaw a record 328 encounters and events. “On a regular basis we have 1,300 participants plus 2,000 who come every year to one or two encounters. Among our groups are one with settlers and Palestinians, and — maybe most surprising — a group in Hebron,”...“People connect and overcome prejudices and stereotypes and replace them with real encounters with real people. We’ve had several academic studies that examined the effectiveness of our work and they all concluded that it is happening.”
Read more: https://www.israel21c.org/words-are-weapons-of-peace-in-jewish-arab-dialogue-groups/
Listen to this: Life in Gaza
 
It's the end of a year that has seen renewed tension and violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Mishal Husain speaks to young people and families living either side of the Israel-Gaza divide about the difficult conditions there.

Listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06vttg0
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