Jerusalem, Israel, And The Palestinian People

Jerusalem, Israel, And The Palestinian People

 

So, tomorrow December the 6th President Trump is supposed to say whether or not he is going to officially recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and if the U.S. is going to move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, this article this evening is simply my thoughts on this issue, I am not consulting other writers nor any pre-written documents. I am only going by articles that I have already read during my lifetime, up to this point in time. I know that no matter what I say, I am going to get a lot of people angry simply because I don’t agree with them.

Today the President of Turkey, Mr. Erdogan threatened to cut relations with Israel if Mr. Trump goes ahead with the Jerusalem Capital issue. To me, this is a fraudulent concept, if Mr. Erdogan wants to cut relations with any country it should be the U.S. not Israel. Israel cannot control what comes out of the mouth of Donald Trump, no one can. It is said that the whole of the ‘Arab League’ will cause many deaths if Mr. Trump goes through with this announcement. These type of threats help show the ‘low road’ of the Islamic leaders, not their intelligence. It is also because of threats like this that would cause a narcissists like Trump to not bow down to such a threat because it would/will make him look weak and in this case, that is actually true.

Now, for my personal thoughts on how to make the Jerusalem Capital issue work for all sides, yet at the same time not make any side totally happy. Isn’t that pretty much what the definition of what a compromise is? My idea is for Jerusalem to be declared the Capital of Palestine, all of Palestine. This would encompass all of Palestine and all the people of Palestine, Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, the people of Gaza and of the West Bank. This way it is everyone’s Capital. All people of this region, no matter if they are Israeli Jews or residents of the ‘so called’ Palestinians of the West Bank can prove that they are capable of recognizing each others right to exist, in peace with each other.

Because of the current security issues raised by terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and the PLO plus the fact that Jerusalem was the Capital of Israel at least 1,600 years before Mohammad was even born, Israel would have to have control of the security issues within all of the city. Maybe in time these folks who are hell-bent on violence will mature into civilized human beings and the ‘walls’ of security can be let down. Israel on their side would need to allow the Palestinian people to have such things as their Embassy in Eastern Jerusalem once there is a two State agreement in place. All sides of this issue should be allowed to call Jerusalem their Capital. Jerusalem is the ‘City of God’ and it should be able to be an ‘International’ City. Yet the only way for this to come about is if groups like Hamas who refuse the existence of the State of Israel to lay down all of their weapons. Israel can not allow its citizens to continue to be fodder to murderers, so until all Islamic groups in the Palestine region agree to commit no violence, there can not be a safe and secure two State compromise.

Another reality is that even though Mr. Trump seems to think that he decides if Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel, he actually has no say so in the matter. Jerusalem is and has been the Capital of the people of Israel for more than 2,600 years. It is God who decided that Jerusalem is His City. The world can call Tel Aviv Israels Capital, but it has never been Israels Capital, Jerusalem is. But there is no reason that all of the people of Palestine can not call Jerusalem their Capital as it is the Capital of all of Palestine.

 

 

Trump Will Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in Wednesday speech — report

A White House official will not confirm the Axios report, saying only that president ‘is still considering options and we have nothing to announce’

US President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran deal from the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2017. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

US President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran deal from the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2017. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

WASHINGTON — Defying longstanding American policy, US President Donald Trump will give a speech Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to an Axios report on Friday.

A White House spokesman, contacted by The Times of Israel on Friday afternoon, would not confirm the story. “The president has always said it is a matter of when, not if,” the official said. “The president is still considering options and we have nothing to announce.”

The Axios report cited two sources with direct knowledge of Trump’s intentions.

The US Embassy building in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, December 28, 2016. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Multiple reports surfaced this week that the president would for the second time waive a congressional mandate requiring the US embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but that he would take the dramatic step of formally recognizing the holy city as Israel’s capital.

An Israeli television report on Wednesday, for instance, said that the Israeli government considered it extremely likely that Trump would declare in the next few days that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that he is instructing his officials to prepare to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The White House rejected that report as “premature.”

On Tuesday, US Vice President Mike Pence said Trump “is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Pence spoke at a gathering of UN ambassadors, diplomats and Jewish leaders at an event in New York commemorating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote for partition of Palestine, which led to the creation of the State of Israel.

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks as he attends a Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote calling for ‘the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel’ at the Queens Museum on November 28, 2017 in New York. (AFP/ Timothy A. Clary)

Declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a highly controversial move, with the potential to spark unrest in the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal reported that US officials were contacting embassies in the region warning them to prepare for the possibility of violent protests.

A presidential declaration could risk producing an angry response from the Palestinians and other Arab allies, like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, just as the Trump White House is preparing to move forward with its attempts to broker a Mideast peace accord.

Israel says Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish state, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been tasked with leading the administration’s peace efforts. He will participate in a highly anticipated keynote conversation this Sunday at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington, DC, marking a rare occasion when he will give public remarks and discuss the administration’s peace push.

Jared Kushner exits the West Wing of the White House October 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via JTA)

At that event, he will likely face questions about the Trump team’s position vis-a-vis Jerusalem and how that might impact their quest to forge an agreement between the sides.

A 1995 law requires the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but provides the president with the prerogative to postpone the move every six months on national security grounds.

Each of Trump’s three immediate predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — repeatedly exercised that right. Trump, for his part, signed the waiver when faced with his first deadline in June. He will have to decide whether to sign it for the second time in his presidency on Monday. (While the official deadline is December 1, since that date falls on a Friday this year, the deadline is extended until after the weekend.)

Israel’s Channel 10 TV news, citing sources in Israel,  said there were three camps in the White House with differing opinions on how to deal with the issue.

The first was pushing the president not to sign the waiver and start the process of moving the embassy, and also recognize Jerusalem at Israel’s capital. “It could happen” that the president “simply doesn’t sign” the waiver, Channel 10 reported Friday.

A second camp says don’t do anything, sign the waiver and don’t recognize Jerusalem as it would harm prospects for a peace process and hurt ties with Arab states. The third group is urging the president to sign the waiver, but make a symbolic gesture by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, the report said.

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Christians Must Think Differently About Israel, Jews in Light of Past Atrocities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

Christians Must Think Differently About Israel, Jews in Light of Past Atrocities: Gerald McDermott

 

Jun 22, 2017 | 10:05 AM

 The majority of Christians have been wrong about Israel for most of their history, according to a leading Anglican theologian and Israel scholar.
(Photo: Reuters) An Israeli flag flies high in Tel Aviv, December 28, 2010.

For many reasons, Christians ought to think differently about the land of Israel and the Jews as God’s covenant people, Gerald R. McDermott, Anglican chair at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, explains in a new book.

In an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday, McDermott explained that his latest work, Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently About the People and the Land, articulates why it’s important for believers in Jesus to engage Israel with the utmost humility. This is necessary not only because of the geopolitical complexities present there but especially because “the Jews have been horribly wronged by Christians over the millennia.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Gerald McDermott)Gerald McDermott, author of Israel Matter: Why Christians Must Think Differently About the People and the Land.

“Even before the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Jews were murdered over the last 1,800 years by Christians as “Christ-killers,” McDermott said, noting at the time of the Holocaust Germany was the most Christianized nation in the world.

“Jews know these things and are afraid of us,” he said.

The error in thinking that Jesus departed from Judaism and began a new religion furthers the distance between Christians and Jews and makes Jews into an “other,” he said.

Yet in the past several decades, especially in the United States, a resurgence of what is known as Christian Zionism, the view that the land of Israel and ethnic Jews remain central to God’s eternal purposes, has occurred.

McDermott did not personally subscribe to this perspective because he associated it with dispensationalism, theology that considers biblical history as divided intentionally by God into specific ages to each of which He has allotted distinctive administrative principles. This teaching was popularized in the 1800’s by Anglo-Irish preacher John Nelson Darby.

But all that began to change for him upon doing further study of the Bible and history and he found that throughout the ages a minority has believed that one day, in accordance with Scripture, a massive in gathering of Jewish people to their historic homeland would take place.

(Photo: Courtesy of Gerald McDermott)Cover of the book “Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land,” by Gerald R. McDermott.

He realized he did not have to accept a dispensationalist approach to regard the land and people of Israel as an essential component of God’s ongoing work in the world. Nor did he have to subscribe to the often wild, apocalyptic end times scenarios some Christian Zionists have espoused in the past.

In Chapter 3 of Israel Matters the author showcases “Those Who Got It Right.”

From early Church fathers like Tertullian to more recent figures like American theologian Jonathan Edwards and Swiss theologian Karl Barth, each of these men believed that a day would come when the Jews would return to their ancient homeland.

During his ministry Edwards repeatedly warned against spiritualizing biblical promises to the Jews. When the modern state of Israel was established in 1948 Barth wrote that it was a “secular parable” and that the large numbers of Jews returning to the land was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

As is expressed throughout The New Christian Zionism, a volume of Christian scholarship on Israel released last year for which McDermott was the editor, Israel Matters argues strongly against supercessionism. This is also known as “replacement theology” which holds that the Church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.

Today, what is known as “fulfillment theology,” which some assert is merely an updated form of replacement theology, also holds that Jews do not have a God-given destiny in their ancient land. But instead of the Church replacing Israel, its proponents contend that Jesus fulfills in his life and redemptive work all the promises that God ever made to the Jews, including the promise that the land of Canaan would be their everlasting possession.

This theology considers the land insignificant and that the only Jews who are now significant to God are Messianic Jews, those who believe Jesus is the Messiah.

But several passages in the New Testament suggest both beliefs are wrong, McDermott explained.

“Paul says in Romans 11:28 that the Jews who did not accept Jesus as Messiah were ‘enemies of the Gospel’ but nevertheless ‘are beloved’ to God, and that their ‘gifts and calling of God’ to be His special people ‘are irrevocable,'” he said.

Moreover, the Apostle Paul was writing to the Romans 30 years after Jesus’ resurrection but even then was still saying that God’s covenant with ethnic Israel remains in place. This did not mean that all Jews were saved, but that they were still special to God in a particular way.

Likewise, in his Beatitude in Matthew 5:5, Jesus was quoting Psalm 37:11 word for word when he said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the [earth.]” The Hebrew word for “earth,” which is used five times in Psalm 37, in every one of these five instances in Psalm 37 refers to the land of Israel, McDermott continued. So the Beatitude is better translated, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Land.”

And in Acts 1:6, “when Jesus’ disciples asked him just before his ascension, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ Jesus did not tell them they were wrong to think there would be a future Israel that God would establish,” he said.

“Instead, He (Jesus) said that the timing of that future was not to be known then.”

(Photo: Reuters)People walk near Damascus Gate leading into Jerusalem’s Old City, 2017.

In addition to the theological objections McDermott unpacks in the book, he explores the modern political history of the region, which is often characterized by intense and bloody conflicts.

Yet unlike some Christian Zionists who appear to think that the nation of Israel can do no wrong, McDermott is not afraid to criticize the Israeli government when it’s warranted.

He acknowledges in the book where Palestinians have been mistreated at times, how the Israeli government has broken promises, and how certain policies have been unwise. He also writes that the state of Israel should do more to protect Messianic believers. Whether an unjust action is perpetrated by a Jew or an Arab, he says, Christians need to feel free to raise their voices to criticize whoever is responsible when it is clear such an injustice has occurred.

Although imperfect, the state of Israel, “an oasis of freedom and democracy in the Middle East,” is inextricably linked with the Jews, McDermott insists.

“Even if the covenanted people of Israel and the state of Israel are not one and the same, they are intertwined in a complex way,” he writes in the book.

“The state could not exist without its people, and the covenanted people could not survive or flourish without the state. The state shelters the people, and the people — though not all are religious Jews — support the state. One without the other is unthinkable and impossible.”

For Christians who care about the Palestinians and their rights, McDermott encourages them to visit Israel since tourism helps everyone there, and to support the largely-unreported incremental steps Israel is taking to improve the lot of Palestinians.

(PHOTO: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN/FILE PHOTO) The facade of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel as seen on Jan. 20, 2017.

Written in a scholarly yet accessible tone, Israel Matters is likely to be a important resource for Christians looking to bring their faith to bear on current events unfolding in the United States and in the Middle East. Earlier this month President Donald Trump signed a waiver delaying the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, skirting a key campaign promise that he might or might not revisit.

CP asked McDermott if moving the embassy would constitute a blessing to Israel, as some scholars have argued.

Such a move would “help the cause for peace, not hurt it,” he replied.

“First of all, it would be the simple recognition of reality: Jerusalem and no other city is Israel’s capital,” McDermott said.

“Second, the Palestinian leaders are thugs who would realize by this move that they can no longer dictate as they did to Obama, whose policies hurt both Jews and Arabs.”

The only hope for improvement is for [Palestinian President] Abbas to understand that he has to talk to the Israelis and moving the U.S. diplomatic outpost to the capital would signal to him that he can no longer circumvent the Israelis and try to get what he wants from the United Nations, he added.

Aside from the fulfillment of prophetic scriptures and political considerations, Christians need to think differently about the people and land of Israel because Jesus was and is Jewish, McDermott stressed. And in order to relate to Jewish friends, getting in touch with His Jewishness is essential.

“The Jews were raised up by God as representatives of humanity,” McDermott said. “So that if the Bible shows their departures from God, it is really illustrating ours.”

“Jesus prized Jewish law, said that salvation is from the Jews, predicted that one day Jerusalem will welcome Him, and foresaw that His Apostles will one day rule over the tribes of Israel,” McDermott said.

If Christians begin to think they are somehow better because they believe in Jesus as Messiah and the Jews do not, they fail to understand God’s grace, he added.

“When we realize how profoundly Jewish Jesus was and is, we will feel greater kinship with those for whom Paul said he had ‘unceasing anguish in his heart.'”

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Trump The Habitual Liar Strikes Again: This Time Too The American People And Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

The United States embassy in Tel Aviv in August 2013. CreditAriel Schalit/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed an order keeping the American Embassy in Tel Aviv rather than move it to Jerusalem as he promised during last year’s campaign, aides said Thursday, disappointing many Israel supporters in hopes of preserving his chances of negotiating a peace settlement.

Mr. Trump made no mention of his pending decision during a visit to Jerusalem just last week and waited to announce it until almost the last minute he could under law, underscoring the deep political sensitivity of the matter. The order he will sign waives for six months a congressional edict requiring the embassy be located in Jerusalem, after which he will have to consider the matter again.

The decision is the latest shift away from campaign positions upending traditional foreign policy as Mr. Trump spends more time in office and learns more about the trade-offs involved. He has reversed himself on declaring China a currency manipulator, backed off plans to lift sanctions against Russia, declared that NATO is not “obsolete” after all, opted for now not to rip up President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and ordered a punitive strike against Syria that he previously opposed in similar circumstances.

In this case, Mr. Trump may invite the wrath of powerful supporters like Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate and Republican donor who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and owns a newspaper in Israel. Some hard-line Israel backers have privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump has not lived up to his campaign pledges because he has been seduced into thinking he may reach the “ultimate deal” that has eluded every other president.

Continue reading the main story

Mr. Trump began backing away from his promise to move the embassy shortly after taking office when King Abdullah II of Jordan flew to Washington without a White House invitation to buttonhole the new president at a prayer breakfast and explain what he viewed as the consequences. The king warned that a precipitous move would touch off a possibly violent backlash among Arabs, all but quashing any hopes of bringing the two sides together.

Mr. Trump has also urged Mr. Netanyahu to hold off on provocative housing construction in the West Bank pending peace talks, despite appointing David M. Friedman, a staunch supporter of such settlements, as his ambassador to Israel. But the president pleased many in Mr. Netanyahu’s right-leaning coalition by abandoning automatic support for a Palestinian state unless both sides agree.

The embassy question has assumed enormous symbolic significance over the years. The United Nations once proposed that Jerusalem be an international city, but after Israel declared statehood in 1948, it took control of the western portion of the city while Jordan seized the eastern side. During its 1967 war with Arab neighbors, Israel wrested away control of East Jerusalem and annexed it.

Over the 50 years since then, Israel has declared that Jerusalem is its eternal capital and would never be divided again, even as it has built more housing in the eastern parts of the city intended for Jewish residents over the objections of the Palestinians and much of the international community. Most of its main institutions of government are based in Jerusalem.

Like every other country with a diplomatic presence in Israel, the United States has kept its embassy in Tel Aviv to avoid seeming to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital at the expense of Palestinians who also claim it as the capital of a future state of their own. The United States does have a consulate in Jerusalem that mainly deals with Palestinians but could be converted on a temporary basis into an embassy until a permanent site is found and a full-fledged facility constructed.

Like Mr. Trump, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both promised to move the embassy as presidential candidates only to drop the idea once they got into office. In 1995, Congress passed a law requiring the embassy be moved to Jerusalem by 1999 or else the State Department would have its building budget cut in half.

But lawmakers included a provision allowing a president to waive the law for six months if determined to be in the national interest. So every six months since 1999, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama and now Mr. Trump have signed such waivers.

Mr. Trump had promised that he would be different and presented himself as the best friend Israel would ever have in the Oval Office. During the campaign, he said he would move the embassy “fairly quickly” and on the eve of his inauguration reiterated his commitment by telling an Israeli journalist, “You know I’m not a person who breaks promises.”

But he has become enamored of the idea that he, unlike all of his predecessors, could be the one to finally negotiate a permanent peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, and he was persuaded that an embassy move would hinder that. The president has assigned Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, his former personal lawyer, to lead the peace efforts.

Anticipating that Mr. Trump would back off the embassy move, some in Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition hoped that the president at least would say during his trip last week that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital, but he did not do that.

Mr. Trump did visit the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish prayer site in the country, becoming the first sitting American president to do so — an act that some interpreted as indirect recognition since the wall is in a part of the city that Israel took control of during the 1967 war.

Fatah Deputy Chief: We Accept A One-State Solution—Where Israel Does Not Exist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASHARQ AL-AWSAT SAUDI NEWSPAPER)

Interviews

Fatah Deputy Chief: We Accept a One-State Solution

Ramallah – Since I met him a few months ago, nothing has changed in Mahmoud el-Aloul’s entourage even though he has been elected the deputy party chief of Fatah, which means he could become leader of the movement in case of any surprises, and consequently president of Palestinian Authority.

On our way to his office for an interview, we were not questioned once and we were received by his office manager who delayed our interview several times due to unorganized appointments. Many members of Fatah believe this is a “creative chaos”.

Before the interview, I asked Aloul about his few security guards. His answer was that he didn’t like the fuss they create and wished he could carry out his duties without any assistants.

The first question was about US President Donald Trump and his numerous statements about Palestine and Israel.

Aloul acknowledged that it’s the question asked by everyone. No one can understand Trump’s policy, which he said is “mysterious and confusing.”

“As soon as he got into office, he created problems with the US and international community including Europe, China, and Japan. His policies are completely different from all his predecessors, so we are faced by a mysterious case. We have to wait and we are doing our best,” Aloul said.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that Fatah is trying to contact the Trump administration and has sent direct messages and via Arab leaders.

He said Fatah advised Trump not to rush into any decision concerning the region. But, regardless of anything, Abbas’ deputy stressed that Fatah holds onto the people’s rights and will defend them.

When asked if the movement received any response to its demands, Aloul said a number of Fatah figures had met with senior officials at the US administration and confirmed that discussions touched on both political and security matters.

Concerning what Trump had stated about moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Aloul said there might be some changes in the president’s stance, but, like the rest of the world, nothing can be predicted.

Trump retracted from the two-state solution, which Aloul is not entirely against given that it protects Palestinians’ rights and grants them freedom, independence and sovereignty.

Whereas, he added, a one state democratic solution has been proposed by Palestinians.

Concerning Trump, Aloul said that negotiations are an inevitable part of any war or conflict in the world and the Palestinian conflict with Israel has been ongoing for years.

The VP said that resistance is legitimate, as Fatah has said in its political declaration that resistance is a right. But, Aloul, didn’t deny that each phase has its own requirements and the current stage requires public resistance.

Such resistance is necessary as long as there are crimes and there is occupation, he said, adding that it should be a way of life for all Palestinians.

When asked about his position of Fatah deputy chief, Aloul said the position has certain authorities in line with the movement’s bylaws. He also mentioned that this post is up to review a year after it was created.

He said his main goal is to move forward with the movement and reconcile with the Palestinian people in order to create a state of unity within the movement itself and between the movement and the society.

He added that choosing him for this position put an end to a number of foreign interventions that had been going on for a long time.

Certain observers expected Marwan al-Barghouti to be chosen for the position of Abbas’ deputy. Aloul expressed his pride in everything Barghouti has done and confirmed that Fatah will continue battling for his freedom. He did however explain that not choosing Barghouti for the post was due to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to perform any executive duties from his prison cell.

He criticized the people trying to create strife out of this issue.

When asked about Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) elections, he said a committee is preparing for the polls but negotiations are ongoing on where they should take place.

Concerning the elections, Aloul explained that the election of a PLO deputy chief is under discussion. However, Hamas announced that the head of council can be the head of authority, to which Aloul said that Hamas has to determine first if it wants to be part of the Palestinian Authority or not.

Aloul said Fatah is a national liberation movement that hasn’t achieved its goals and will remain active until it does.

He also expressed his lack of interest in what Israelis think about his statements.

Finally, the Fatah deputy leader ruled out an Arab Spring in Palestine, saying the people are not against the government, they are all against one enemy: the occupation.

Israel Says It Is Not Ready To Confront Hezbollah’s Rockets?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ONLY LEBANON.NET’ NEWS AGENCY)

December 7, 2016 Last Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 – 7:58
Israel is ready to confront Hezbollah rockets .. but

Ali Haider – News

Titled “Israel: The home front is not ready to face the Hezbollah rockets,” Ali Haider wrote in the “News”: Ten years after the 2006 war, and three bloody military confrontations against the Gaza Strip, Israel acknowledged that the home front is not ready to face the Hezbollah rockets, and that the government and the leadership of the army’s performance has not lived up to the level of threat that shaped tunnels Gaza Strip.

Read More …

“The state comptroller,” announced that the Israeli home front is not ready to face the Hezbollah rockets, ten years after the July aggression. Although the state comptroller’s report dealt with the readiness of the home front during the recent aggression on the Gaza Strip.

However, the notes and warnings, which involved them, targeting mainly the willingness to confront Hezbollah on its northern front.

He Amos Harel, military affairs commentator in the newspaper “Haaretz”, that this concept is based on the fact that there is no similarity between the seriousness of the threat posed by Hezbollah on the domestic front and fronted by Israel in the recent war with Hamas. The paper warned of the lack of understanding of the threat to Israel from its northern front, in light of Hezbollah’s possession of tens of thousands of rockets that have part of it accurate and extents cover all occupied Palestine.

Can not be separated between the conclusion of the Israeli newspaper, and understood by policymakers and security decision in Tel Aviv that Hezbollah, despite the concern to confront the threat posed by terrorist groups and infidels, we still have the will of the decision to activate its capabilities in the event of Israel to overcome some of the red lines that have evolved during the past years.

The “Haaretz” that the deep gap between the facing Israel on its northern front and facing the South forehead, which could explain the gap between the Israeli discourse firm against Hezbollah, and approaches the operational disorderly and justification for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who as much as possible try to avoid the outbreak war with the party. And Chi-sum referred to by Harel that cost calculations and feasibility of any war with Hezbollah is preparing strongly in the consciousness of policymakers and security decision in Tel Aviv, and explain a lot of the vocabulary of the political and operational performance.

Report of the State Comptroller for the home front put through the process of “steadfast shelf” against the Gaza Strip, is only a pre-emptive strike preliminary final report, which is supposed to be released in January, which will address the core issues that have held the opinion of the Israeli public, and formed the focus of disputes between Netanyahu’s hand and all of the ministers at the time of Naphtali built and Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni. These issues revolve around preparing for the threat of tunnels, and the performance of the cabinet in the war, and the image of intelligence and other dimensions.

In the case of the internal front, the prime minister was not the central goal of the criticism of the State Comptroller’s report, but the criticism focused on the leadership of the army and the Ministry of Security and former its Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The report included a series of flaws, starting with the work of the Cabinet and the government and the end of the field activity. The report, in this context, that the Cabinet as the observer, not until June held this year a broad discussion about the preparations of the home front’s meeting, given that this issue is one of the most critical questions by Israel in any future battle against Hezbollah in Lebanon or against the Gaza Strip.

As for Netanyahu, Vtantzerh three personal notes in the main report, relate not to study alternatives to war, and the failure to involve the cabinet in the seriousness of the threat of tunnels and lack of control on the army’s preparations for the threat. On this issue, Netanyahu still ran a focused campaign to influence the final report of the observer, Joseph Shapira, next month, in order to soften the draft version of the semi-final.

Although Shapira aware that he would be a media attack by the vicinity of the prime minister, but he skewered to the Ministerial Council on ways to warn and protect the population in Israel, especially in light of the expectations of their exposure in any future war with Hezbollah for tens of thousands of rockets, at the time still in it Department of defense systems and objection is not valid, and a large section of public and private shelters is not ready to meet the expectations.

He pointed to the observer that since the government decided to reduce the differences in fortify buildings, partly implemented, and in some places has never carried out, which prevented achieve equality at this level. The report pointed out that there are institutions not been vaccinated in the buildings around the Gaza Strip into Israeli towns, despite a decision in this regard by the Supreme Court. The report also warned that the ability to defend the north of Israel is extremely limited, given the lack of immunization buildings.

On the other hand, the observer’s report confirmed that the army and the Ministry of Security Ablora did not plan to evacuate towns in northern Israel and there were deliberations on the military and political levels about the gaps in the means of air defense of northern Israel. Also included criticism of the National Security Authority for being not pursued as it should implement the decisions of the prime minister, given that this matter of the roles specified in the law.

Palestinian UN envoy threatens US if Trump moves embassy to Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PALESTINIAN NEWS AGENCY MA’AN)

Palestinian UN envoy threatens US if Trump moves embassy to Jerusalem

US President-elect Donald Trump (AFP/File)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — In response to a pledge by US President-elect Donald Trump to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour threatened to “[unleash] all of the weapons that we have in the UN” against the United States, Israeli media reported on Sunday.On Tuesday, Trump won the presidential election in a victory which came as a surprise to many after a grueling and controversial presidential campaign.Trump’s victory was greeted with enthusiasm by Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu calling him “a true friend of the State of Israel.”In comments during his campaign, Trump had pledged to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a controversial move given Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem since 1967 and similar Palestinian claims to the city.While many countries have consulates in Jerusalem which cater to citizens residing in the occupied Palestinian territory, embassies to Israel are majoritarily located in the Tel Aviv area.However, members of Trump’s team were seemingly evasive or backpedaling on the issue, leaving observers in the dark as to whether Trump would indeed enact such a change once sworn into office.Meanwhile, during the annual conference of the Palestine Center in Washington, D.C., Mansour threatened to “make life miserable” for the United States at the United Nations should Trump move the embassy, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday.Mansour said that an embassy move would represent a violation of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 regarding the status of Jerusalem, and constitute “belligerency” towards Palestinians.“If the US administration wants to defy international law they are doing something illegal. I hope they will do nothing,” Mansour said. “Many candidates gave the same election promise but didn’t implement it because what you do when you are campaigning is one thing but when you have to deal with the legal thing it is something else.”“If they do that nobody should blame us for unleashing all of the weapons that we have in the UN to defend ourselves, and we have a lot of weapons in the UN,” Mansour added.He stated that the Palestinian Authority (PA) could force the US to use its veto in a Security Council over the PA’s admission as a member state, or “reopen the whole Pandora’s Box” with regards to International Criminal Court rulings regarding Israel’s illegal settlements and separation wall in the occupied Palestinian territory.The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the ‘Judaization’ of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.

An Aussie Intern in Israel – Part One: The Personal Experience

 

An Aussie Intern in Israel – Part One: The Personal Experience

I once thought that I fell for a young man, a love completely against my will and every subjective, objective, emotional thought I had and yet there he was plaguing my mind despite me. The facts are that he certainly has a ridiculous personality, divided between his willful submission to societal norms caused by a desperate need for approval and his frustrated anxiety to be who he wants to be. In fact, he claims to be a determinate as a way to escape his own will and freedom due to the intensity of his self-doubt and yet plays deceitful games, lies and tricks the people around him to satisfy his ego and covert the misery he feels for being such a coward. His life is an image creation and though he despises such mediocrity, he tames the desire for freedom by creating fictional characters and stealing the experiences from others. This, and finding happiness in other peoples’ misery. I desired nothing more than to see him embrace his freedom as I could sense a purity or goodness within him beyond what I had ever seen before but time and time again, despite every comment made, every lesson thrown in his direction, he always withered back into his shell, hiding himself behind the shadows. In all the bad he did to me – all of which I knew as I knew what he was – I realized I fell in love with the belief in his potential to break out of this repetitive stupidity, to become honest to himself which is the only way to obtain what genuine morality provides; everlasting peace. But last Christmas, seeing him only worsen I realized to my immediate disappointment that his refusal to better himself was much stronger than I could impress and being profoundly saddened at his failure to a point of making myself seriously sick, to save myself from the heartache I decided to search elsewhere for what I had hoped to find in him.

And I think I found him. His name is Israel.

From the soundless alarm made from the gentle, orange sunrise piercing through the giant tree outside my bedroom window that form shapes on the wall to the random crazy man shouting for no apparent reason on the side of the street. The impolite service, the politics, history, feeling lost in the maze of an unknown language as I stand in shock as people ride hand-made motorized bicycles in the middle of a busy, disorganized road. The combination of young, perfectly tanned girls wearing short dresses that expose their tattoos to women dressed modestly in long skirts and shirts with a scarf over their heads. The dilapidated buildings and infrastructure that is nevertheless functional and the sudden silence during shabbat. On one end I see an overweight, bearded man wearing a payos and hat with a gun strapped around his thigh and on the other I see young, attractive men sipping beers in their board shorts. I am lost in the chaos, overwhelmed by the constant honking of the horns, the failure to understand where to go or what bus to catch. And I love every minute of it.

It goes against every rational, subjective, emotional understanding I have of a place to call home, living in Melbourne – the most livable city in the world – and having an attitude of refined simplicity and quality. Such is the appeal of this country, with the ridiculous personality divided between a strong, almost mad ego and a genuine goodness. There is so much to learn, so much to change for the better and I want to play my part, to flow in the chaotic tide of its beauty and terror even if multiple barriers causes him to reject me, trick me or hurt me. I have fallen in love with the endless possibilities that Israel has to offer.

 

Desert Queen

At the onset of my Masters degree in Human Rights Law, I was told that there would be opportunities to pursue international internships funded by Monash University and noticed several availabilities in Israel. Though I had yet to apply, something told me that I was going and I could only go if I was offered the funds to do so since financial constraints would prevent me from visiting independently. You could imagine how overwhelmed I felt the moment I received the ‘congratulations’ letter, but certainly not as accomplished and confident the moment I stood on the balcony at my Tel Aviv apartment knowing that throughout October I will be in the most complex, beautiful place in the world. Since completing my studies in Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies several years back at the Australian National University, I have always wanted to come and experience everything that I had learnt about the Arab/Israeli conflict and about Middle Eastern politics in general, of Islam and Judaism and the legal and social issues – something I shall write more about in Part Two: The Political Experience of this blog post. But my love of history and of biblical history in particular was the source of what really compelled me to this region.

Interestingly, however, I though it would be in Jerusalem that I would find a sense of belonging but – as I had experienced in Rome – it was certainly not what I had anticipated, on the contrary. I unwittingly found a love of the rustic and almost cruel Negev region and also in restricted and abandoned streets of Bethlehem. Perhaps it was simply just a string of bad luck, yet I was hoodwinked on several occasions in Jerusalem, losing a substantial amount of money to a taxi driver who intentionally dropped me off at the wrong place, from staying in a terrible apartment though the images showed it otherwise, to be given incorrect directions from a mini-market employee when all I needed to do was walk less than thirty seconds away from the location, I became confused and a little disgruntled. The attitude to Tel Aviv – where I am primarily based – is a liberal city, left-wing and youthful and yet here I have felt welcomed, the vibe being that of kind solicitation, a warmth and eagerness. When I was in Rome, a similar and overwhelming experience had occurred just the same and I felt a strong desire to leave the city and return back to Tuscany where I felt at home in the hills with its peaceful culture, music, art and the medieval architecture. Perhaps, as I said, it was just bad luck and I will endeavor to try Jerusalem once more in anticipation of a better experience.

It was nevertheless unexpected that traversing the Judean Desert, from the Dead Sea to Ein Gedi, from Eilat and even to Jordan where experiencing Wadi Rum since watching Laurence of Arabia would have been as appealing as it has to me. Like most adventurers, some find it appealing to climb mountains, others hiking forests or out at sea, for me it would seem that there is a desert appeal, the richness of archaeological and historical artifacts and stories, the cruelty and beauty.

Mar Saba Monestary
masada
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Staying in Israel until the end of October, I also find myself being a part of the most celebratory month of the year. Though I have rented an apartment near the beach and so locally there appears to be options to buy groceries or visit a cafe despite the public holiday, I still want to get myself involved and learn more about the customs and traditions. At the moment, the celebration of Rosh Hashanah is underway or the Jewish New Year and Jews all over the world traditionally eat apples dipped in honey to promote a sweet new year. I wish for nothing more than the sweetest New Year and being an avid – perhaps way too avid – fruit lover, I spent a portion of my funds on apples, pears, plums, honey and pomegranates for the two-day holiday. Oh, how I love fruit so I thank Rosh Hashanah for the excuse to eat it all! In the Book of Leviticus, Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of the Trumpets is traditionally a way of reflecting over the past year, to be penitent and to ask God for forgiveness for any wrongdoing made in addition to celebrating the beginning of the harvest. Challah bread – which is circular – is also traditionally served to symbolize the cycle of the year. Shanah tovah u’metukah

Following Rosh Hashanah will be the celebration of Yom Kippur, considered the holiest of holidays for the Jewish community all around the world. Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement require fasting and prayer over the day and night, asking for forgiveness and atoning for any sin or wrongdoing. This is followed by Sukkot or the Feast of the Tabernacles and is a celebration of the exodus through the wilderness as signified in the Book of Leviticus as well as marking the agricultural year from the Book of Exodus. It ends over a period of seven days on Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. To be a part of a country celebrating these festivities, I feel honored to be present during October.

A Personal Journey of Recovery

I went through the worst year of my life last year. I found myself being bullied and harassed, I lost all my savings and ultimately my dreams, I had a car accident, I was seriously threatened, physically injured and ill with rapid weight loss, amenorrhea and severe angina, twice hospitalized where I nearly died. All this while I was alone. It felt like the whole world hated me and all I really wanted was one person, a friend, to say that I was going to be okay, only it was the contrary. There were days that I spent hours in physical agony from the angina that I never left the house and to avoid the severity of the situation, I would utilize social networking sites as a way to pretend that I was not as incredibly vulnerable, confused or afraid as I was. It was only when the angina suddenly disappeared to the dismay of my doctor and myself that I was able to slowly stand from the distress and work my way out of the sense of emptiness and hurt. Though I permanently injured my left leg and without a car, despite the pain I forced myself to walk and get groceries, to catch two trains to my new job and back. Slowly but surely and now with an income and employment that gave me purpose, I moved into my own unit and took control of my life once more. I started a master’s degree and began writing my own blog, making a pact with myself that 2016 will be a New Year that will never repeat what I had experienced previously. Step by step, struggle-by-struggle, I gained the strength and did so with independence, hard work, a strong will and my faith in the loving-kindness of God.

In saying all that, the terrible experiences awakened a part of me that I had long kept hidden. I never realized how much my family had hurt me until the recent events because – being alone for so long – the severity of the experience made me realize that I did not want to be alone anymore, which made me question why I was. After a childhood spent being rejected from my parents and relentlessly told by my siblings that I was ugly and stupid, unawares, I believed it and pushed all men away as I kept myself hidden from the fear of being hurt just the same as I never had ambition professionally since I thought I was never good enough. Though no one would know of my inherent isolation, year after year was lost in the acceptance that I was less worthy than everyone else. All these experiences has in a cyclic fashion encapsulated everything that I have decidedly become. Though it was incredibly difficult for me, a photo in my swimsuit at Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea was an effort to express in symbolic format that I will no longer believe that I am ugly and that beauty is the confidence to have self-respect, to commit to a life of moral worthiness, to be genuinely kind and to love with all my heart and though I have not yet been in a relationship, I am no longer embarrassed or afraid neither do I nor will I ever believe in other people’ viciousness. I have conquered hate. My passion now lies in children and my philosophy will remain that every child deserves a childhood. My mother, being a victim of severe domestic violence, failed to adequately care and I know that a childhood can only develop correctly with a mother who is of right mind. Thus, by extension, women’s rights is fundamental to the rights of children. Though I myself can never have children, my fierce maternal instincts, genuine sense of love for all of humankind, honor in my person and respect for myself has led me to commit myself to this purpose. I am also learning to appreciate beauty both physically and subjectively.

Which is why my purpose was found on the day I decided to travel into Bethlehem, the West Bank. Encountering the Palestinian/Israeli conflict directly, it was quite overwhelming to hear stories of Palestinian children being shot dead, something that reaches deep into my soul as completely and unequivocally unacceptable. The restrictions particularly with movement and self-determination, the poverty and lack of opportunity will certainly impact on the well-being of mothers. To change the conditions of society, to prevent the growth or maturation of a negative culture, children need to experience love, happiness, freedom. It was in Bethlehem that I met the founder of the organisation Alrowwad For Culture and Arts, a wonderful organisation in the UNRWA managed refugee camp Aida that provides both women and children with hope through creativity and education.

BanksySpraying on the wall West Bank Wall Aida Camp GraffitiMe with Palestinian Children

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Aida Camp is managed by UNRWA and with more than 3000 inhabitants covering a mere 0.070 square kilometers, it is one of many camps in the region that is susceptible to violence being in a vulnerable location and overcrowded. Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour gave me a plethora of information regarding the work of the organisation and I was so moved by its validity that I have decided to establish Australian Friends of Alrowwad when I get back home to Melbourne as a way of supporting the organisation and the children in the camp. I am apolitical and will ensure that it remains so, my only concern being the rights of women and children despite Israel and Palestine being divided withe a long and intricate history of violence and fear among other delicate issues. My personal experience with hardship and my current state of subjective peace was only possible when I stopped focusing on the evils of the past but took the necessary steps to develop change for the better. It is unfruitful and unproductive otherwise as all experiences should never be forgotten but it is essential to overcome.

I want to end with a quote that I believe stands at the heart of this personal post of mine.

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Don’t Act Like You Are Ignorant: Palestinians Want Every Hector Of Israel

 

(This article is courtesy of the Times of Israel)

Netanyahu: Palestinians won’t accept our existence

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, briefing reporters during a state visit to the Netherlands, claims that the Palestinian Authority celebrates terror and refuses to countenance Israel’s existence.

“The Palestinians want Acre, Jaffa and Tel Aviv,” he says, according to quotes reported by Israel National news and confirmed by Netanyahu’s spokesman. “The Palestinians and [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas won’t agree to the existence of Israel. The Palestinians celebrate murderous terror around the world and in Israel, they name their streets after murderers,” he says.

While Abbas has refused Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the PA has recognized Israel and regularly called for a peace deal based on a two-state solution.

Netanyahu also claims that settlements are not at the heart of the conflict.

“Their problem is not the West Bank, it’s our very existence,” he says.

In a meeting with Dutch lawmakers, Netanyahu says that they have Israel to thank for their safety.

“Israel doesn’t only protect itself, but also protects Europe,” he says. “Israel is the most stable actor in the Middle East and the most stabilizing force in the Middle East.”

Editors note: An earlier version of this post paraphrased Netanyahu’s quote as claiming Palestinians won’t recognize Israel. According to his spokesman, he only said Palestinians won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Hamas, Fatah: The Palestinian People Are Facing Another Civil War With Hamas

 

In Hebron, Fatah faces a civil war at the polls

While Hamas has a low profile, and just as low stakes, in upcoming local elections, its Palestinian rival is trying to keep other moderates from splitting the secular vote, and preparing for the worst if it doesn‘t succeed

August 28, 2016

Flags of Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian movements atop the West Bank security barrier during a protest in November 2015. (illustrative photo: Muammar Awad/FLASH90)

Flags of Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian movements atop the West Bank security barrier during a protest in November 2015. (illustrative photo: Muammar Awad/FLASH90)

Wednesday noon, downtown Hebron. Registration for the various slates for the local elections will be closing in roughly 36 hours, and it is hard to sense anything special in the air. Those who see themselves as candidates are meeting with their advisers and their friends in anticipation of the official announcement of their candidacy, but no election posters have yet gone up in the West Bank city.

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The well-known restaurants here — Al-Khalil, Abu Mazen, the Pasha’s Palace — are full of customers, and one would be hard-pressed to say that the residents are all that excited about the municipal elections planned for October 8.

The talk of the day, of all things, is an incident that took place here just about two weeks ago, when an argument between two kids devolved into a deadly armed battle between two clans in the city.

Yet although the public in Hebron seems somewhat indifferent to the elections, for the Fatah party, tensions are as high as the stakes.

These are the first elections in more than a decade in which voting is taking place at the same time in both Gaza and the West Bank, and Hamas and Fatah are going head-to-head against one another.

Whatever the result may be, it will affect not only the status of these organizations but also of their leaders, and could even seep into the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel.

While these elections are local, and won’t directly change anything politically or security-related between Israel and the Palestinian, a sweeping win by the hardline Islamist movement Hamas is still liable to ramp up the amount of suspicion and lack of trust between the two peoples.

As in the other cities in the West Bank, the trouble in Hebron is that because there are so many secular slates of candidates, there is a reasonable chance that the more moderate camp of Fatah and groups of their ilk will split the secular vote, paving the way for victory by Hamas candidates.

For Hamas’s leaders in Gaza and abroad, the vote marks an extraordinary opportunity to take stock of where public opinion stands.

But fear of arrests by Israel or the Palestinian Authority have kept Hamas from openly running their members for office in the municipalities, forcing the movement to content itself with semi-independent figures who are known as Hamas supporters.

The flip side is that should Hamas lose at the polls, the movement will be able to claim that the lists it ran were not really part of the group, exposing it to less potential damage in the vote than Fatah.

Like the parliamentary elections of 2006, these elections are more liable to show the degree of weakness of Fatah and the secular camp than the strength of Hamas.

Where enemies become friends, and friends enemies

One need only travel to nearby Yatta to see what the risks of Fatah and the other moderates tearing themselves to bits looks like in action.

A 20-minute drive from Hebron, Yatta is a town that has metastasized into something resembling a city of 120,000 people.

Although the elections are a month and a half away, the fighting has already begun. Attacks, violence, threats and the like have been reported, mainly between groups considered to be associated or affiliated with Fatah.

Hamas has refrained from running a list under its own name in Yatta. As in other locales, its leaders are in no hurry to present their candidates for fear of Israeli or Palestinian security. But they are promoting figures who are identified with them on independent or semi-independent lists.

One of those candidate slates is the Joint List, headed by outgoing mayor Musa al-Muhamra, who resigned from his position just last week to run in the election.

If his last name is familiar to readers, its because the two terrorists who opened fire inside a restaurant at the Sarona entertainment center in Tel Aviv are from the same clan, and the ruins of their demolished home can be seen fairly close to his own.

Palestinians check the damage in the house of Mohammad Mahamra after it was demolished by the army in Yatta, south of Hebron, August 4, 2016. Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinians check the damage in the house of Mohammad Muhamra after it was demolished by the army in Yatta, south of Hebron, August 4, 2016. Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

“My list contains representatives from the Arab Liberation Front, the Popular Front,” Muhamra says. “Several political movements are represented there. My list contains [representatives from] Hamas as independent representatives.”

In the past, Muhamra was a member of the People’s Party movement, which is considered left-wing, but quit over its support of the Oslo Accords in 1993. His lefty past makes him an odd bedfellow for Hamas, and shows the length to which the movement is willing to go in order to see its candidates defeat Fatah.

The threat to Fatah is real enough that COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who heads the Israeli Defense Ministry body which administers the West Bank, and top Shin Bet officials even warned high-ranking PA officials that holding the elections could be a dangerous gamble.

But PA President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted on holding the elections on schedule in order to demonstrate the existence of even a shred of democracy in the territories.

When I asked Muhamra about Israel’s connection with the local elections, he could hardly stem the flow of words.

“Unfortunately, there is more than one sign that [Israel] is interfering with the Palestinian elections, using people who are connected with the Israeli Civil Administration and also through direct interference by the State of Israel and its mechanisms to influence the elections.”

When asked if that means people are being “pushed” as candidates by Israel, he says “exactly.”

File: COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, left, at the Bitunya Crossing near Ramallah. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

File: COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, left, at the Bitunya Crossing near Ramallah. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

“It is pushing people, and it is playing a role in heating up the security situation and in the change that took place in the security situation on the Palestinian street as a result of this unfair and wrong interference,” he says.

Asked to explain how they are interfering, though, he answers in generalities, accusing Israel of using Palestinians who used liaise with the Civil Administration as agents to do its bidding.

“It interferes in everything that happens on the Palestinian street that has to do with elections and acts to keep Palestinian citizens from voting freely in the local elections,” he says. “Everybody knows that. It’s known on the street and in the Palestinian Authority that Israel is interfering directly in the elections. It has a certain specific attitude toward the various candidates.”

While Muhamra uses the term “Mordechai’s friends” again and again to refer to the colleagues of the COGAT commander , he never mentions the name of Ismail Abu Hamid, the other candidate, who is at the center of a political furor in Yatta.

Abu Hamid was mayor of Yatta until 1995. When the Palestinian Authority came into being, he left his position but is now considering running for mayor again.

Abu Hamid, who has Israeli citizenship, is the owner of a large fuel station at the entrance to the town. “I have a home in Beit Safafa,” he says, referring to a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, as well as businesses in the territories and in Israel.

A Hamas member he is not and posters denouncing him as a collaborator with Israel were put up all over town.

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Amjad Hatem Al-Jundi during his funeral on October 10, 2015 in the village of Yatta, south the West Bank town of Hebron. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Amjad Hatem Al-Jundi during his funeral on October 10, 2015 in the village of Yatta, south the West Bank town of Hebron. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

When we meet him, he is surrounded by people, and says his decision will come in the next few hours. (Indeed, the next day he filed as a candidate). Some are trying to help him decide, while others appear to be guarding him for fear that someone might try to harm him.

Abu Hamid says that his people had found the ones who were putting up the posters. “They fired a shot at me, but my cousins managed to get the gun away from them and hand it over to the Preventive Security Service,” he says.

What he leaves out is the fact that the people putting up the posters were member of Fatah who did not want to see Abu Hamid run in the elections and split the moderate vote.

“They put up posters against me saying that I was an agent, a member of Hamas, a member of the Civil Administration, that Israel had sent me. It is known who is responsible for these posters, but the PA is not taking any action. It’s not doing a thing. I demand that the PA act on the issue and prosecute all those responsible,” he says.

He says time and again that no Israeli ever spoke to him about the topic, and attacks everyone who criticized him for his connection with Israel.

“There is security coordination, after all,” he says, referring to cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on security matters in the West Bank. “There is coordination with the PA. So they’re attacking me for my own connection with Israel?”

Threat level: Moderate

It’s not only in Yatta that Fatah faces a threat from a candidate likely to nab votes from its clutches.

One of the most popular radio stations in Hebron is al-Huriya (Liberty), headed by journalist Ayman al-Qawasmeh. Just 43 years old, Qawasmeh is considered a key figure in the city and the district. One can see photographs of Yasser Arafat in his office, as well as the Palestine soccer cup that the Al-Ahli soccer club from Hebron won only several weeks ago in a game against the team from Khan Yunis.

Qawasmeh, who reopened the station in April after IDF troops shuttered it for for incitement to violence in November, has put his name up for mayor, leading a list of candidates entitled The Martyr Fahd al-Qawasmeh, named for the mayor of Hebron in the 1970s who was assassinated in Amman in 1984.

Qawasmeh says the decision to run was not made by him.

This image posted by Palestinian social media users overnight Saturday purports to show IDF soldiers outside the offices of a Hebron radio station in November, 2015. (screen capture: Facebook)

This image posted by Palestinian social media users overnight Saturday purports to show IDF soldiers outside the offices of a Hebron radio station in November, 2015. (screen capture: Facebook)

“The heads of 19 of the city’s families met in the Harat a-Sheikh [a neighborhood] and chose me,” he tells me.

When I ask him whether the list will represent only his clan, he assures me that it contains representatives of many other families.

“We took into account the city’s geographical division into many neighborhoods and the division into clans, and we chose people of extraordinary quality,” says Qawasmeh,.

Known in the past as being closer to Fatah, Qawasmeh now says he is trying to distance himself from the movement, and demurs when asked even if he defines himself as Hamas or Fatah.

“We define our movement as representing the people on the street, who actually represent the majority. Forty percent of the people belong to the movements, while 60% have no connection with, and are not members of, any group. Those people are our constituency,” he says.

Our representatives are members of the new generation, he adds. We have brought in new faces. Our list contains more than one woman, he says proudly.

He admits that he was pressured not to run, but repeats “The decision to run for mayor was made for me.”

As we speak, it is still not clear who from Hamas or Fatah will run against him come October. But from a look at the candidates on his list, which includes friends gathered in his office, it’s clear, as in the case of Abu Hamid, he’ll steal more votes from Fatah.

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