For longest Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner, Samer Issawi, Israel is now proposing…a real deportation

Samer Issawi, on hunger strike for over 200 days [off and on water with supplements], has refused being sent from Israeli jail to Gaza.

So, AP reports this evening, Israel is now proposing a real deportation:

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has offered to deport a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner to Europe or a U.N.-member country, an Israeli official said Friday, in an effort to reach a compromise over the high-profile detainee.  But a lawyer for the 33-year-old hunger striker says he has refused to be deported, and a European Union official denied that Israel had officially made the offer to deport him…The Israeli official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the prime minister’s office offered to deport Issawi after EU and UN officials expressed concern about his health. The Israeli official said neither body had replied to the offer. The official said if an EU or U.N.-member country was willing to take him, Israel would be more than happy to let him go, but that so far, no country had offered…Jawad Bulous, a lawyer for Issawi, said the prisoner had turned down a previous offer to be sent to the Gaza Strip, and would not accept deportation to any other country. ”He refuses all of these options’, Bulous said”.  This AP report is posted here

.

The AP report contains other real news, which was previously not reported: “The Israeli official said Issawi was re-arrested for trying to reestablish a Hamas cell in the West Bank”.

AP also reported that “Issawi was sentenced to 26 years prison for his role in a series of shooting attacks targeting Israeli police cars and students at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. He was released from prison as part of a 2011 exchange that freed hundreds of Palestinians…But Issawi was arrested again for violating the conditions of his release by entering the nearby West Bank. He is expected to carry out his entire sentence as a result”.

Another agency, AFP, reported that “Issawi, 33, was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for military activities on behalf of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel was willing to deport Issawi ‘to any EU member country, or any UN member country’, said the official, noting that they had yet to receive an answer from either. An EU spokesman told AFP that ‘Israel has not formally approached the EU on this subject’. However, the Israeli official insisted the issue ‘came up in official communications between officials on both sides’. Lawyer Jawad Boulos said that while ‘Israel had tried to make him agree to being deported’ to any of a number of countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Finland and Switzerland, Issawi had ‘strongly refused in principle to be deported to any state’.” This AFP story is published here.

Guest Post: There are people who are hurting in Gaza

British humanitarian health workers
barred entry into Gaza

By Peter Smith and Catherine Thick

Although passage to and from Gaza via Israel’s crossing points is severely restricted by the Israeli military, until now we have been fortunate to be granted entry permits. But, our recent request for entry has been refused – without explanation — despite the Israeli general claim that restrictions are easing.

As osteopaths and acupuncturists we have volunteered in Gaza and the West Bank over the last five years, treating those with limited access to health care. We have made eight trips to Palestine since 2008 , and worked three times in Nablus before concentrating more on Gaza. Our motivation is neither political nor religious, but rather simply to help relieve suffering.

We are, however, strongly opposed to the inhumane treatment of the people of Gaza, and concerned at media under-reporting of the lives of the Palestinian people.

This leaves room for virtually-unanswered parodies about the high life lived by some of Gaza’s rich and privileged – a life which the international media sees and even shares during their visits to the Gaza Strip. These parodies have been devised and promoted by Israeli government officials whose responsibilities include dealing with the media. Pro-Israeli organizations working to influence the media have also produced similar pointed commentaries.

But, the existence of this apparent paradox does not in any way negate the reality facing many of Gaza’s 1.6 million Palestinian residents who are poor and suffering and struggling.

Waiting once at the Erez crossing, we spoke to a foreign journalist who explained that Israel banned all its journalists from working in Gaza after Israel’s “disengagement” in 2005.

While Israelis are now barred from personally witnessing what is going on in Gaza, the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza, meanwhile, have no way to move in or out of Gaza, from which Israel carried out its unilateral “disengagement” of some 8,000 Israeli settlers and the Israeli forces protecting them in September 2005. The “protection” the Israeli forces offered in Gaza, however, was only for the Israelis; the Palestinian population living under Israel’s military occupation suffered from severe clamp-downs on their own internal movement, and the military firing that constituted much of that “protection”.

We witnessed life in Gaza under the sanctions imposed in mid-2007 by the Israeli government and administered by the Israeli military, when Hamas took control in Gaza after its rout of Fatah/Palestinian security services. There have been recurring hostilities ever since, including two large-scale Israeli military operations against Gaza.

The sanctions include denying millions of Palestinians the right to travel to and from Gaza, and are still in effect, although they were “adjusted” after the international outcry following Israel’s May 2010 interception of the Freedom Flotilla and boarding of the large Turkish passenger ship, the Mavi Marmara, during which 9 Turkish men were killed.

These sanctions, however, are collective punishment – which is forbidden under international law.

On one visit, we walked through the Israeli crossing at Erez and out through a long cage in “no-man’s land” inside Gaza, and were waiting for a car to take us to the Hamas border control, when a bomb exploded uncomfortably close. An old man sitting on the ground looked up at us and said “bad”. That pretty much sums up life for many, as we saw it, who are now locked inside Gaza.

During our work in Gaza, we treated a 65 year old man with very painful advanced osteoarthritis of the knees. He was a qualified accountant but could not get a job in his profession and works as a builder’s labourer for 12 hours every day which exacerbated his pain. He was desperate for relief so that he could continue working to support his family. “Those of us who are fortunate to have a job often have to support an extended family which puts us under great pressure”. he said. “Hourly wages are very low so we have to work long hours. We Palestinians are hard-working but we cannot use our skills. We used to manufacture and export furniture to many countries.” But now, he said gloomily, “We can do nothing.”

Another patient drove a truck, delivering and collecting goods at the commercial crossing[s]. “The catastrophe in Gaza is not an earthquake or a flood, it’s man-made,” he said. Shutdowns were frequent and truck drivers are angry about the exorbitant prices exacted by the export companies and Hamas. “They operate like a mafia,” he shouted, “Israel, Egypt, and our government, everybody, are all restricting movement at the crossing and the people of Gaza are paying the price.”

Continue reading “Guest Post: There are people who are hurting in Gaza”

Palestinians: is "keeping the lid on" a strategy?

All this talk about a possible Third Intifada…

One of the most irritating things about this discussion is the assumption that violence is the strategy of choice for Palestinians.

Palestinians are not ready for violence, and there are absolutely no indications either that they have in any way prepared for it. Moreover, the sentiment most often heard is a refusal to be the one to go out on the street to protest and get arrested, with all the consequences, while their families will be left alone without support and the others will stay in their offices and continue to be comfortable, making money…

But, the situation is getting worse and worse.

Nevertheless, this speculation about another Intifada is a classic example of “the boogeyman” approach: the suggestion is made that if x or y does not happen, then one’s worst fears will come true…

UPDATE: On Thursday 28 February, Dalia Hatuqa wrote about the Third Intifada speculation in The National here, saying that “Of late, Palestinians have become an afterthought for the Israeli public. This was evident in the latest Israeli elections … There is a too-little discussed acceptance in Israel that the denial of rights and the self-determination of millions of Palestinians is a normal status quo”. She added that ‘Neither Israel nor the PA has an interest in another intifada and, as long as security cooperation between the two continues, Israel can rest easy. But the ongoing policies of Israel’s occupation are unsustainable and it is clear that Palestinians will not tolerate them in perpetuity. As long as Israel continues to rely on carrots and sticks to temporarily quash popular outrage, the PA will be walking a fine line between an angry constituency and a demanding occupying force’. Meanwhile, she reported, “A senior Fatah official, Jibril Rajoub, went on Israel Radio to echo Mr Abbas’s statement, declaring ‘on behalf of the entire Palestinian leadership that there is no plan to lead to bloodshed’.”

Continue reading “Palestinians: is "keeping the lid on" a strategy?”

Arafat Jaradat: detained 18 February on suspicion of throwing stones, died in Megiddo Prison on 23 February, buried today

The funeral today in Sa’ir village, near Hebron, of Arafat Jaradat, who was beaten badly when detained near his home on 18 February — and whose lawyer saw him showing pain, fear and anxiety in court on 21 February — and who then died on 23 February.

This photo, taken by Yotam Ronen for Activestills, is posted in a slideshow published here:

Funeral of Arafat Jaradat who died in Megiddo jail on 23 February [after 5 days of detention]

Another photo shows Arafat Jaradat’s body minutes before the funeral – photo by Oren Ziv for Activestills, published in the same slideshow.

The body of Arafat Jaradat minutes before his funeral
The body of Arafat Jaradat minutes before his funeral

Addameer Prisoner Support organization, a Ramallah-based NGO, reported that the Israeli Army “and the Shin Bet arrested the martyr Arafat Jaradat (30 years old) from his home in the small town of Sa’eer, near Al-Khalil (Hebron) at midnight on 18 February 2013, with claims that he threw stones at cars from a nearby settlement. Arafat was transferred to Jalameh Interrogation Center in the northern West Bank before being transferred to Megiddo Prison. Mr. Kamil Sabbagh, Arafat’s lawyer from the Ministry of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoner’s Affairs who defended him in a court hearing at Jalameh on 21 February 2013, reported that Arafat was subjected to torture during his interrogation, including being forced to sit for long hours in stress positions with his hands shackled behind his back. Arafat suffered from pain in his back, and therefore, during the court hearing on 21 February, his lawyer requested that he be given a health examination due to the severe conditions that he was detained under. Despite this, the judge ruled to extend his detention for a further twelve days, reducing the prosecution’s request of a fifteen day extension by only three days. The judge also ordered that the medical officials in the interrogation center examine his psychological and physical health and to report the results to the Shin Bet and the court. Two days later, on Saturday 23 February 2013, it was learned that Arafat Jaradat had passed away in a special section for the Shin Bet in Megiddo Prison, under conditions which are still unclear”.   This report is published here

An autopsy was performed on Sunday at the Abu Kabir institute near Tel Aviv.  There is no final autopsy report, yet.  Palestinian officials were present at the autopsy — a first. Reuters reported here that “The Palestinian Authority state pathologist [Dr. Saber Al Aloul] was present at the autopsy on Jaradat’s body, which was carried out in Israel”. The Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqa’a and Palestinian Prisoners’ Society head Qaddoura Fares said at a press conference in Ramallah Sunday evening that Arafat Jaradat appeared to have been tortured, and most likely died of shock.  They said there was no sign that Jaradat had a heart attack.  Hours later, under pressure, the Israeli Government Health Ministry issued a statement saying: “This afternoon (Sunday, 24 February 2013), at the National Center for Forensic Medicine, an autopsy was performed on the body of Arafat Jaradat by Prof. Yehuda Hiss, in the presence of Prof. Arnon Afek, Director of the Health Administration at the Ministry of Health, and Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Aloul. During the autopsy, no signs of external trauma were found apart from those pertaining to resuscitation [attempts] and a small graze on the right side of his chest. No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy. Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest. Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts. The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death. At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings”.

Reuters also reported that “An Israeli police spokesman said the investigation into Jaradat’s death was still ongoing”. This is posted here.

Whatever the cause of Arafat Jaradat’s death, Israeli military court in Jalameh allowed continued interrogation after he admitted charges of stone-throwing, and after his lawyer told the military court judge that Jaradat seemed fearful and unwell.

Even after Arafat Jaradat admitted stone-throwing charges [certainly by the hearing at which his lawyer was present on 21 February], and even after the warnings from Jaradat’s attorney, the judge ordered interrogation continued for 12 days. But, Jaradat died.

What possible justification can there be for allowing Arafat Jaradat’s interrogation to continue beyond his admission of charge against him?

Continue reading “Arafat Jaradat: detained 18 February on suspicion of throwing stones, died in Megiddo Prison on 23 February, buried today”

Amira Hass explains horrifying implications of the amendments to Israeli military order 1651

There is a lot that happened that is not public in the negotiations to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit [seized near Gaza in June 2006], in exchange for the release of some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners [in 2 lots].

And there is a lot that was not publicly reported, or well-explained.

Amira Hass wrote in Haaretz today that some of it amounts to “another act of sabotage and erosion of principles of fair process by military law”.

Her article, posted here, and entitled “Guilty until Proven Innocent”, focuses on rearrests, by the IDF and by the Shin Bet security agency, of some of the Palestinian prisoners released in the exchange for Shalit, who was allowed to go out from Gaza in October 2011. The re-arrests are justified by claims that the Palestinian ex-prisoners had violated the conditions of their release — conditions that are either unclear or possibly secret. The evidence that these ex-prisoners had violated these secret conditions is also secret.  She explained:
“The military legislators took a page from civil law, borrowing the damaging clauses concerning releasing prisoners with suspended sentences. At the same time, they ignored the balances in civilian law. They copied from the tradition of administrative detention (imprisonment without trial), and more than anything else, were inspired by the rage of political and defense officials, who believed Hamas managed to twist their arm. Thus, in 2009, two changes were made to the security decree clauses 184 and 186, and decree 1651, which deals with reprieves.

And this is how we have a military release committee, consisting exclusively of officials from the same apparatus that convicted the prisoner in the first place (and does not include social workers or education officials, as its civilian counterpart does.) In fact, the military law allows the arrest of a person until a military release committee decides if an offense has been committed (a civilian committee has no authority to arrest people), with automatic punishment and no need for a conviction.

The IDF and Shin Bet can hide behind ‘confidential evidence’, just as in administrative detention, but without the judicial review every several months, and we also have the committee’s lack of power of discretion: The committee, according to new changes in the decree and in contrast to a civilian committee, must return the released prisoner to jail for the entire term.

And even if a new indictment is submitted, based on new evidence; and even if the offense is not considered serious by the occupying power’s laws, who tend to see every Palestinian as guilty unless proved otherwise, and create offenses from seemingly daily actions such as talking to someone in the grocery store or participating in a demonstration; if convicted, the released prisoner will be sent back to prison, possibly for decades”.

This is more than chilling.

Continue reading “Amira Hass explains horrifying implications of the amendments to Israeli military order 1651”

Assn for Civil Rights in Israel [ACRI] releases timeline of its long involvement in Prisoner X case

ACRI, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has released information of all of its efforts in 2010 and 2011, and in the past few days, to narrow the “gag order” concerning the detention of Prisoner X. Here is ACRI’s account, which is also posted on its website here:

    On 13 May, 2010, the Ynet website published an article about Prisoner X, who according the report was being held in solitary confinement in a cell at the Ayalon Prison. Shortly after the story broke, the article was removed from the website. Following this revelation, Dan Yakir, ACRI’s Chief Legal Counsel, wrote to the Attorney General and expressed concern about the article’s claim that a detainee was being held in isolation from the outside world in violation of his fundamental rights. He further noted that undisclosed detentions and secret trials contradict the basic tenets of a democratic country and damages the right of the public to know. The appeal to the Attorney General was made six months prior to the detainee’s death.

    Attorney Raz Nizri, who was then a senior assistant to the Attorney General (now the Deputy Attorney General), responded on July 13, 2010, explaining that a gag order had been applied to the affair by the Central District Court on March 4, 2010. It was evident from his letter that the media were not informed of the gag order at the time, but only two-and-a-half months later when Ynet published the story. A clarifying decision was issued over a month later, under which the gag order applied to the conditions of the detention, including details of the cell where the prisoner was being detained. The letter further clarified that the Attorney General and other relevant supervisory bodies were ensuring that all individual rights were being upheld according to the provisions of the law.

    The gag order was particularly broad: it included a prohibition against publishing the fact that a gag order had been issued, and even prohibited publishing information on the affair based on information gained from foreign sources.

    On December 15, 2010, Prisoner X was found dead in his cell.

    Continue reading “Assn for Civil Rights in Israel [ACRI] releases timeline of its long involvement in Prisoner X case”

Israel is not happy at all with the UN Human Rights Council's report on West Bank settlements

Dear Readers, a bout of Pneumonia made it  impossible to blog for several weeks.  Now, in a convalescence period, we are re-starting. With apologies, this post is currently under construction, and will be completed within the next 24 hours…

And we will analyze the UNHRC report itself in a separate post…

Update: Israeli international law expert Ruth Gavison wrote in Haaretz on 8 February that Israel “shouldn’t ignore the recent report on West Bank settlements which was written [on behalf of the UN Human Rights Commission], since it reflects the maturation of a prolonged process, typical of international law.  The report reflects the views of the international community that sees Israel not only as an on-going occupier in the West Bank, but one that conducts itself as proprietary owners, perceiving their rights as overruling the Palestinians’ quest for self-determination on part of their homeland.  It should be noted that in contrast to the Human Rights Council’s report, which views the 1967 borders (the Green Line) as the only criterion for the legitimacy of Jewish settlement projects, the Israeli government has before it the report prepared by retired Justice Edmond Levy which states otherwise. This report, basing itself on the same international law, states that the entire West Bank is a legitimate target for Jewish settlement, subject to proprietary rights of Palestinian residents. The state and its courts have done their utmost to avoid taking an unambiguous stand regarding the legality of Jewish settlement beyond the Green Line in the context of international law. The courts have dealt mainly with property rights of individual Palestinians, such as in the case of Elon More, where expropriation of private land by settlers was forbidden. However, the courts have never addressed the significance and ramifications of the injunction against an occupying state transferring its population into conquered territories. The international community was always critical of the settlement enterprise, but the terminology used was more vague, such as ‘obstacles to achieving peace’, rather than explicitly about its illegality, as is now the case”…

Gavison continued: “If Israel continues to argue that it is permissible for Jews to settle anywhere in Mandatory (pre-1948) Palestine (other than on private land), which is what the Levy report recommends, rather than claim that this was how it interpreted international law until the issue was clarified, the country and its leaders will face mounting criticism and even sanctions.  After a deliberate suppression of the topic during the election campaign, the new government will have to decide: It must declare either that it supports a two-state solution or that it continues to see the West Bank as part of the Jewish homeland. It must be aware of the fact that the second choice, based on the Levy report, will be an explicit rejection of the commitment to the concept of international law, as perceived by the entire world. So, in fact, the government has no choice. It’s time that it accepted the fact that, even according to its own courts, these are occupied (or held) territories. As such, they are not part of the state and no ‘annexation’ can alter this fact. According to international law, a country cannot act as the owner of such lands and settle them with its citizens. Such conduct is no longer merely forbidden, but now constitutes a crime” …

It is the Treaty of Rome, which is the foundation for the International Criminal Court, that makes it a crime, Gavison says:  “The Rome Treaty of 1998 that established the International Criminal Court laid the foundation for the UN’s new report. The treaty explicitly defined the transfer of population to occupied territories by a victorious combatant as a war crime. This treaty had the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind when choosing the wording of this definition. Thus, the declared and consistent policy of transferring Israeli citizens into the West Bank, in the context of a territorial dispute, is now perceived not only as undesirable, but as patently illegal in the eyes of the entire international community, including the United States. This puts Israel on a collision course with international opinion, and it’s only bound to get worse. Changing the debate over the settlement enterprise into a legal one is indeed bad for Israel. There is no distinction between legal and illegal settlements, as judged by Israel, or between Jerusalem, settlement blocs or more isolated settlements. The new discourse entirely ignores local political and security considerations and does not encourage negotiations and mutual concessions”.  This is published here.

Gavison then argues that “it is of vital urgency that Israel makes a distinction between settlements that are already established, and thus probably not subject to the treaty’s clauses, and settlements not yet built. Negotiations should be based on this distinction. Not every inch of conquered territory must be repatriated. A conquest that follows a defensive war is terminated when an agreement is reached over security concerns that may have underlain the original conflict. The Palestinians are currently not addressing some of Israel’s legitimate concerns. There is also some weight given to facts that were established on occupied territory, even if they turn out to have been unlawful, and to the length of time that has elapsed, not all of which was the fault of Israel. Israel is right in arguing that a total dismissal of the entire settlement project and a call for full withdrawal is unrealistic, and not conducive towards finding a solution”.

She then recommends that “Israel should submit a proposal for solving the conflict in which it relinquishes its claims to the entire area, and recognize the Palestinians’ rights for self-determination in part of their homeland, subject to adequate security arrangements”…

UPDATE: On 2 February

Nachman Shai, reelected to Knesset [for Labor Party, after Kadima imploded], denounces UN HRC report on settlements – http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/israel-right-to-say-enough-to-grotesquely-biased-unhrc-inquiry.premium-1.500876 …

#PT Nachman Shai: “Israel quite rightly will not engage in a process that is effectively a rubber stamp for the Sudans of this world” …

#PT “we will not engage in disc abt report calling, outrageously, for sanctions against our country, by a body whose VP is rep from Sudan”

 

UPDATE: On 1 February
MT @emilylhauser – #Israel can ignore the facts…but abuses & perfidies won’t magically become something else: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

MT @emilylhauser only way to be comfortable w/ these facts is to say the Jewish past is more binding than intl law & our lives more special

Emily Hauser: “there’s simply no way to explain away the entire corpus of Israeli actions in the occupied territories” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

Emily Hauser: “The Israeli government and the settler movement know exactly what they’re doing”. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

 

On 29 January:
louis charbonneau @lou_reuters —#Israel boycotts U.N. rights scrutiny session http://tinyurl.com/ax2ayh3 

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — “Israel cut ties with the UNHRC in March after the HR Council approved a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli settlement activity”

#PT from Jerusalem Post article – http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?ID=301417 …

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Human Rights Council “regretted” Israel’s decision not to participate in the review of its compliance with HR obligations “at sched time”

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva called on Israel “to resume its cooperation” w/ Universal [for every member] Periodic Review mechanism [by November 2013]

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch in Geneva: Israel decision was due to 1) Israel’s 2012 decision to sever all ties w/ the UNHRC [b/c ofperm agenda item on Israel]

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 2) Israel review wld be under “newly-elected UNHRC member Venezuela, the Iranian-allied dictatorship of Hugo Chavez”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk –UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 3rd reason for Israel’s non-participation = “in reality, the UPR is, for the most part, a mutual praise society”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Watch “is concerned by a deepening culture of mutual praise, where members of large voting blocs grant each other immunity” [via email].

Marian Houk @Marianhouk – UN Watch statement cont’d: “The danger of the mutual praise is that the UPR review is then used as a seal of legitimacy”.

E-1 — oh yeah, it's a big deal

Here is a graphic published by Haaretz showing the E-1 area to the east of Israel’s “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”:

Haaretz graphic of E-1 - published 4 December 2012 <a href=
Haaretz graphic of E-1 - published on 4 December 2012 - click to enlarge

So, if there actually were an agreement that Anata + Abu Dis would go to Palestine, you can see what E-1 would do to that…

UPDATE: Daniel Seidemann has published another good graphic showing the E-1 in context, posted here.  But there is one settlement missing – Anatot – on the western edge of E-1, not far from Hizmah and Pisgat Zeev.

Here’s what Chemi Shalev, author of the Haaretz Q+A on “What is area E-1, anyway?”, posted here, which this graphic illustrates, wrote:

“In 2004, the Housing Ministry began massive earthworks in the area. The Palestinian Authority complained to the Bush Administration. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who was the liaison with the Prime Minister’s Bureau, asked for clarifications. Dov Weissglas, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s envoy, promised that Israel would not build in E-1. And indeed, in 2005 the plans were frozen, and have remained so ever since”.

…[Under Rabin] in 1994, the government started the initial planning of the area.

Shaev explained what was done — despite the period of “clarifications” — by the Housing Ministry in that period [and some since]:

Q. What did they build there?
A. The Housing Ministry prepared, with an investment of millions of shekels, the infrastructure for putting up residential buildings in the southern neighborhood. This included a cloverleaf interchange over Highway 1, a three-lane highway in each direction, excavation in the rock in order to flatten the hill, preparation for sewage infrastructures and the like.

In another Q+A, Shalev explains what seems to be a contradiction:
Q. How did they start building if there are no building permits?
A. From 2003-2005 the Housing Ministry, under the leadership of Minister Effie Eitam, did massive illegal building in a number of places. E-1 was only one of them.

Shalev also took issue with the claim [advanced by Camera.org + The Israel Project, as we reported here yesterday] that Israel’s contiguity of from Jerusalem to Maale Adumum would be disrupted if E-1 were not developed [with Israeli settlements]:

Q. Another argument the right is raising is that this is essential for creating contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
A. False. There is no possibility of creating contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim because even if E-1 is built, a belt made up by the Arab towns of Anata, Al Zaiyim and Azariya will stand in between.

And, as with everything related to Palestinians — whose consent is never needed for Israel to act unilaterally as it wants — Shalev notes:

“There are also enclaves of Palestinian land in the area, but the plan does not relate to them”.

In fact, it seems that they will be displaced, including the Jahalin Bedouin who have already been displaced in 1948 + 1967, without any care for what happens to them… no nice settlement-style houses with public facilities will be constructed for them…

[One minor point of correction to Shalev’s Q+A:   The way it’s written, you could read his third Q+A to mean that Mitzpe Yeriho is part of the E-1 area.  But, it seems that particular answer was a general description of the E area, as Mitzpe Yeriho  which was originally a kind of civil defense avant-guard front line settlement, is built on a hilltop overlooking the Palestinian city of Jericho [which will become a surrounded enclave if the Israeli plans are realized]… But Mitzpe Yeriho also overlooks a large swath of the Jordanian border just north of the Dead Sea.  In other words, Mitzpe Yeriho, one of many Israeli settlemets of all kinds in the Jordan Valley, is much further east than the E-1 area.]

UPDATE: Isabel Kershner reported some Israeli reaction in the New York Times: “ ‘Bibi had to do something’ in response to the United Nations vote, said Prof. Shmuel Sandler of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan Universiy, referring to the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname, ‘first because he is Bibi and second because of the elections’.” [Netanyahu has called general elections for 22 January.]  This NYTimes story also reported that Mark Heller, foreign policy analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, in Tel Aviv, said that “the top-level people making decisions here in recent years are completely insular and out of touch with the rest of the world, especially regarding the Palestinians and the settlements … Self-righteousness may be good for domestic politics, but it is not a policy’.”   Kershner also noted in her report, posted here, that “A press officer for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Sunday that construction in E1 ‘would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution’.”

Reuters Bureau Chief in Jerusalem Crispin Balmer wrote that “Israelis have already named the prospective settlement Mevasseret Adumim – Tidings of Adumim. Maale Adumim itself means Red Heights – a reference to the surrounding mountains that glow at sunset. Preparation for building started long ago and a sealed-off bridge stands ready to link Maale Adumim with its projected sister settlement, while a major road intersection swings up into E1 from the highway that heads down to the nearby Dead Sea…Israeli authorities drew up plans in 2006 to move the Arab Bedouin to another site. They have yet to act on it, but rights groups say the project is specifically designed to clear the way for E1 development”. But, Balmer noted, the general director of the municipality of Maale Adumim, Eli Har Nir, told him that “‘The media are telling lies about this conflict all the time … You can’t even see Jerusalem from here. There is still six kilometers of open land that does not belong to E1 or to Maale Adumim’, he said, arguing that this space could be used to build roads for Palestinians”. This is published here.

 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

UPDATE More on E-1 [and various boasts and then assurances] from Twitter over several days —

Sunday 2 December 2012

Aluf Benn @alufbenn — BB will probably not build E1 for now, merely push the project through approval channels

Dan Williams @DanWilliams — “Today we are building and will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all the places on the map of Israeli strategic interests” – @Netanyahu

@DanWilliams — There’ll be no Palestinian state without an accord recognising the Jewish state and guaranteeing its security needs – @Netanyahu statement

Amir Mizroch @Amirmizroch — If US and UK can’t stop Abbas going to UNGA what their chance of stopping settlement construction @sheikhNB @DanWilliams

Peter Beinart @PeterBeinart – For the American Jewish establishment, 138 countries voting to upgrade Palestine is “unilateral” but settling E1 is not

Monday 3  December 2012

Barak Ravid @BarakRavid — White House: U.S. calls on Israel to reconsider settlement plan in E-1 – http://bit.ly/Vr594d

@BarakRavid — State Department: We have made clear to the Israeli government that promoting E1 plan is contrary to U.S. policy

@BarakRavid — State Department: building in the E-1 area is particularly sensitive

4 or  5 December 2012

@DanielSeidemann — @yaacovlozowick Is it it be possible to locate documents in State Archives about the origin of the name E-1. The name isn’t controversial.

@yaacovlozowick — @DanielSeidemann Were looking. Sometime around 1994, I assume?

@DanielSeidemann — @yaacovlozowick State Archives should find that planning of E-1 began in ’93-4, but the name was given to area by Min. of Constr. in ’70s

Thursday 13 December 2012:

@Marianhouk — [ On E-1 ] RT @jacobkornbluh “@BarakRavid @PeterBeinart did anyone condemn Rabin for approving the plans back then?”

@DanielSeidemann — @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart E-1 planning began under Rabin, but he quietly agreed with Clinton: E1 would be negotiated, not built

@DanielSeidemann — @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart Rabin was as good as his word: no steps were taken for the statutory approval of E-1 under Rabin.

Michael Pitkowsky @mpitkowsky — @DanielSeidemann @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart See this doc from Pal Papers r.e. E1 and alleged Isr promise http://bit.ly/Twljnj

Excerpt from this Palestine Papers document, posted on the Al-Jazeera website here: “Saeb Erekat: We gave Barack Obama a file that gave him all the details on this issue, on E1, on Ma’ale Adumim, etc. Hilary Clinton told us that E1 wasn’t going to happen but to be quiet. She got something from the Israelis”.

@DanielSeidemann — @mpitkowsky @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart  Thanks! , My reliable US sources say: Bibi told us “no action will be taken on E1”.

Yes, after UNGA vote, Palestinians do now have rising expectations

Yes indeed, it’s clearer each day since Thursday’s vote in UNGA, Palestinians do now have rising expectations…

This is something that Israeli Ambassador Ron  Prosor had warned of, in his address at the UNGA  in New York, just before the vote last Thursday that he by then had no hope of averting.

Posters hung on lamp posts in the city center [in English + Arabic] which say: “Warning: this is Palestinian land.  Occupation forces must leave”.

Palestinian TV has gone all out to remind viewers, over and over, that Palestine is now a state.

PLO Chief Mahmoud Abbas returned to an organized hero’s welcome in the Ramallah Muqata’a today, after travelling to the UNHQ in New York for the General Assembly vote that gave Palestine state status  [albeit still non-member in the UN].

The photo below was taken inside the Muqata’a by French journalist Emilie Baujard, and Tweeted here.

Mahmoud Abbas given a hero's welcome at Ramallah Muqata'a after returning from UN vote
Photo of poster held by Palestinian waiting in Ramallah Muqata'a to welcome Mahmoud Abbas as a hero after UNGA vote in New York

Abbas’ first words were: “Yes, yes, we are now a state”…
He ended by citing these words: “hold your held up, you’re Palestinian!”

After the Israeli announcements last week of expediting procedures to begin building in the E-1 area, as well as another 3,000 settlement units in the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”, and then today’s announcement that some 460 million NIS [new Israeli shekels = $121 million US dollars] in Palestinian VAT + Customs Tax fees collected at Israeli ports would  now be withheld and instead diverted to pay outstanding PA electricity bills of some $200 million dollars, there apparently is still more to come.

Barak Ravid tucked the following revelation down at the bottom of his Haaretz article, published here, on strong European protests being made about the settlement announcements: “a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Israel is planning to take more steps against the Palestinian Authority. ‘The Palestinians will soon come to understand that they made a mistake when they took unilateral action and breached their treaties with Israel’, the source at the PMO said”.

Continue reading “Yes, after UNGA vote, Palestinians do now have rising expectations”

The day after the UNGA voted to give Palestine status of state

The day after the vote in the UN’s General Assembly, the sky is blue + cloudless, sun is shining, everything glistens  It is Friday, so it is quiet.

On Palestine Television, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Awqaf  [Islamic Trusts, Mahmoud Habbash, gave the Friday prayer sermon in a mosque in Al-Bireh, next to Ramallah, that was shown on Palestine TV: he was happy about the UN vote.

The PA Minister of Awqaf [he is a former member of Hamas] said that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas had followed pathway indicated by long line of martyrs [including Hamas co-founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin + Fatah co-founder Yasser Arafat].

He said:  West Bank, Gaza. Fateh, Hamas. Palestine is above all this, bigger, more important.

Now that the borders of Palestine are outlined and recognized by the UNGA, he said, the question is: why did the settlers decide to live here?  Why in this spot on earth?  Eventually, he asserted, the settlers will leave, they won’t stay here forever.  But, he said, the settler-terrorists — those who have attacked Palestinians and/or their property, must go.

Reaction seemed mixed in the all-male congregation at the Friday prayer sermon given by the PA’s Minister of Awqaf.  Some men looked at floor; some stared intently, unblinkingly, at the speaker. One old man wearing a kuffiyeh on his head, wiped away tears.

Judging from the Friday prayer sermon given by the PA Min of Awqaf, a more proprietary attitude may appear: “We will be masters on our land”…

Hanan Ashrawi, the public face of the push behind yesterday’s UNGA vote, said on Palestine TV [was it a re-play from last night?], explaining the effect of the UNGA vote: “We are now a state”.   She did not waiver in her optimism, despite the polite and well-mannered scepticism of the program host about the lack of prospects for any reach change.

Continue reading “The day after the UNGA voted to give Palestine status of state”