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Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won`t changeBarak Ravid - Israel`s Channel 13 News - PM Netanyahu said at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset that Israel has "the biggest opportunity since 1948" to annex the West Bank, that "he will not let this opportunity pass" and that he will stick to his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation. Netanyahu`s agreement with Benny Ganz`s Blue and White Party says that he can bring "the understandings with the Trump administration" on annexation up for a vote in his Cabinet or the Knesset as early as July 1 — but only on condition that he has the full agreement of the White House for the details of annexation. For their part, The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation "needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks". Israel`s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer - a close confidant of Netnayahu - has been lobbying American officials in recent weeks to back annexation, fearing that the plan could be derailed if Joe Biden wins the presidency in November. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Abbas said the Palestinian Authority considers itself free of all agreements and understandings with both Israel and the U.S. — including on security matters — because of Israel`s annexation plans. [ak] 26/5/2020
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Coronavirus a boon to Israeli military techMaureen Clare Murphy - EI - "Much of the rhetoric around the global response to the coronavirus pandemic has been militarized, inviting the harms that fear- mongering war metaphors tend to evoke. In Israel that militarization has been more than metaphor" [ry] 25/5/2020
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Netanyahu: Corruption trial an attempt to `depose a strong PM`Al Jazeera - Netanyahu becomes first serving Israeli PM to face criminal charges as he goes on trial over corruption allegations [ry] 25/5/2020
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Emirati foreign minister condemns Israel’s annexation plansRaphael Ahren - Times of Israel - The United Arab Emirates has long been one of the Gulf states advancing increasingly close, but clandestine, ties with Israel. Last week, the Emirati ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, openly declared that her country was not opposed to cooperation with Israel in the joint global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. However, this should not be implying the UAE accepting Israeli annexation plans. in fact, the Emirates now joined a growing chorus of states condemning the incoming Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank. “This unilateral step is illegal, undermines chances for peace and contradicts all efforts made by the international community to reach a lasting political solution” said the Gulf country’s foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In the statement, carried by the state-owned Emirates News Agency, Al Nahyan explicitly dismissed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s often-made claim that the Arab world will ultimately accept annexation. Such suggestions “contradict the reality of the Arab position, as the Arab consensus is declared and fixed" the UAE’s top diplomat affirmed. [ak]19/5/2020
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Pompeo warns International Criminal Court of ‘consequences’ for potential war crimes probe of IsraelThe Times of Israel - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday warned the International Criminal Court against asserting jurisdiction over Israel, saying the United States will “exact consequences” for what he termed "illegitimate” investigations" - referring to the ICC’s prosecutor’s recent decision to accept Palestine as a state with the status to file a complaint could lead to a potential investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel as well as by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. Pompeo asserted that "Palestine", though recognized as a stater by the UN Assembly General does not qualify to join the Rome Statute under which the ICC was established, and that recognizing the Palestinian complaint would show that the ICC is "a political body, not a judicial one". The government of Israel had made great efforts to gain American support against the ICC, and has gotten Congress members from both parties to support its position. Israel is trying to make use of American objections to the ICC taking up allegations of war crimes in Afganistan, which would include the acts of American troops as well as those of Taliban members and other afghan militias. [ak] 19/5/2020
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40 British MP: Response to Israeli annexation should be like to Russian annexation of the CrimeaMiddle East Mirror - In the British Parliament, a cross-party Early Day Motion (EDM) sponsored by Conservative MP Crispin Blunt and Labour MP Andy Slaughter, and signed by 40 MPs, called on the government to make clear there would be “severe consequences” for Israel’s relationship with the UK if the annexation plan went ahead.The EDM called on the government to “make clear to the Israeli Government that such a step will have severe consequences for the UK-Israel relationship; and further calls on the Government to introduce sanctions similar to those imposed on Russia [for its annexation of Crimea] in the event that an annexation of occupied territory takes place.For his part James Cleverly, UK Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, said that Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank are “contrary to international law” and "could make a sustainable two-state solution harder", but declined to specify what steps the British government would take in such a situation. [ak]19/5/2020
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King Abdullah II: If Israel really annexes the West Bank, it would lead to a massive conflict with Jordan Der Spiegel - King Abdullah II: Is now, in the midst of the corona pandemic, really the time to discuss whether we want a one- or two- state solution for Israel and Palestine? Or should we be discussing how we can fight the pandemic together? The two-state solution is the only way for us to be able to move forward. DER SPIEGEL: Politicians like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu want to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Trump and annex large parts of the Palestinian territories.King Abdullah II: Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean. What would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed? There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexes the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Der Spiegel: You would suspend the peace treaty with Israel? King Abdullah II: I don`t want to make threats and create a loggerheads atmosphere, but we are considering all options. [ak] 19/5/2020
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France pushing for tough EU response to any West Bank annexation: diplomatsRobin Emmott, Francesco Guarascio - Reuters - Also Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg, like France, want to discuss the possibility of punitive economic measures. However, all member states would have to agree to any collective action. [ak]12/5/2020
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Jewish, Israeli scholars back African intellectual smeared for Israel criticismMairav Zonszein - +972 - Germany`s antisemitism czar sparked backlash after trying to cancel an event with Achille Mbembe for comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa [ry] 11/5/2020
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US court tosses lawsuit against Palestinian leadersNora Barrows-Friedman - EI - "The suit was brought by US citizens who alleged that Palestinian leaders were responsible for an individual’s 2002 bomb attack in an Israeli settlement built in violation of international law in the occupied West Bank. The attack killed two Americans and injured several other people" [ry] 11/5/2020
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ICC responds to Israel`s `misinformation campaign` targeting its war crimes probeTheNewArab - ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda affirmed the court`s objectivity in investigating war crimes allegations against Israel, refuting recent smear campaigns by Israeli media [ry] 11/5/2020
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Israel announces plan to build 7,000 homes in EfratJewish News Syndicate - Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday announced the approval of a plan to build some 7,000 new housing units in the town of Efrat in Gush Etzion. The town, which lies southwest of Jerusalem and about halfway between the capital and Hebron, is currently home to more than 11,500 people, many American immigrants. An additional 7,000 homes could potentially more than triple its population. The move comes ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned visit to Israel next week, and amid recent statements by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reiterating U.S. support for Israeli sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley within the framework of the Trump peace plan. Bennett, whose term is nearing its end as a new government is expected to be sworn in next week, said in a statement released by his office that the move would allow new residents to flow into the area, “as part of reinforcing the greater Gush Etzion region.” [bz]9/5/2020
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Former US national security officials urge Dems to oppose annexationEric Cortollessa — Times of Israel - More than 30 former Democratic foreign policy officials have urged the Democratic National Committee to take a stronger stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its 2020 platform than it did in 2016.“The 2020 platform should expressly state a commitment to a resolution of the conflict that ensures both Israel’s security and future as a Jewish and democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens, as well as Palestinian rights, including self-determination, security and freedom. “It should include clear opposition to ongoing occupation, settlement expansion and any form of unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank as well as clear opposition to violence, terrorism and incitement from all sides.” Such language would reflect a shift for the party, which in past platforms has been reluctant to criticize Israel. This year, however, there may be increasing pressure on the DNC and presumptive nominee Joe Biden to change that.[ak] 9/5/2020
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Israel`s Top Court Denies Settlers` Appeals in `Terrorist` anti-Palestinian AttacksHagar Shezaf - Haaretz - Mazuz wrote that [the settlers`] actions indicated a clear ideological motive and that they had committed a “series of crimes centered around doing bodily harm and damage to the property of innocent Palestinians to terrify them.” -- In reducing the sentence of one defendant from three years in prison to 30 months, the court noted that, although he had played a major part in the offenses for which he and his associates were convicted, he had successfully undergone rehabilitation for his acts and had cooperated with teachers and therapists from the moment of his arrest. All of the defendants’ names were barred from publication, either because they were minors at the time of the crimes or because they were at that time serving in the army. [bz]  | 5/5/2020
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MPs press for sanctions against Israel over West Bank annexationsPatrick Wintour - The Guardian - PM urged to impose sanctions if Netanyahu carries out threat to annex parts of West Bank [ry] 4/5/2020
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Ending first day of hearings, High Court signals it won’t veto Netanyahu gov’tThe Times of Israel - Justices indicate they’re unpersuaded there’s a legal imperative for them to bar indicted Likud leader from serving as PM; will discuss his unity deal with Gantz on Monday [ry] 4/5/2020
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Israel may ask for double its usual $3.8 billion from the US this yearAlison Weir - Information Clearing House "Breaking Defense magazine reports that Israel may ask to get its yearly aid ahead of time, and possibly twice as much as usual… But 26 million Americans out of jobs and U.S. companies closing due to coronavirus might object… A petition proposes: ‘Israel has received over $10 million per day, year after year. This year it’s time to keep our money home.’" ca1/5/2020
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Portrait of a crisis: Asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv facing coronavirusOren Ziv - +972 "Earlier this month, an independent survey published by a committee of Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel revealed that 50 percent of Eritrean asylum seekers are in need of financial assistance, and more than 40 percent are unable to pay rent. The past two months have seen countless families moving into one- bedroom apartments together. These are families in which both parents have lost their jobs and are living at home with their children, or who are only able to survive because of the assistance they receive from non-profit organizations and private citizens." ca1/5/2020
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Landmark trial against alleged Syrian war criminals: What next?Cathrin Schaer - Al-Jazeera "Ex-members of Syrian military accused of torture were living in Germany as refugees until they were arrested and jailed...This week in Koblenz, a picturesque German town on the banks of the Rhine river, local prosecutors have been demonstrating how the world could try war criminals." ca1/5/2020
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Israeli court stops government anti-coronavirus phone spyingStaff Al-Monitor "The Cabinet of Israel’s new unity government voted earlier this month to allow the internal spy service to access private cellphone data of citizens via an emergency order. The government called it necessary and the Shin Bet said the information would only be used to fight the pandemic. The agency worked with the Health Ministry to identify at-risk people, according to The Times of Israel. The court’s decision came after petitions against the program, according to the Israeli news outlet Haaretz. The court gave parliament until Thursday to enact legislation pertaining to the practice, AP reported." ca 1/5/2020
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Israeli official offered Trump campaign ‘critical intell’ to avoid defeat in 2016 — FBI docPhilip Weiss - Mondoweiss "... evidence that Trump’s friend Roger Stone was in touch with high Israeli officials in the runup to the 2016 election to discuss efforts to help Trump win. One official says “we have critical intell” that can help Trump avoid “defeat.” The declassified FBI affidavit is a smoking gun insmuch as it reveals an apparent willingness on the part of high Israeli officials, including those close to the “PM” — Benjamin Netanyahu — to interfere in the election on behalf of Donald Trump. At least one of these officials met with Trump in July 2016 at the St. Regis in New York. " ca1/5/2020
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A Call to Collective International Action against Israeli Annexation PlansDr. Hanan Ashrawi - PLO Department of Public Diplomacy - The Palestinian leadership welcomes important statements made by many states and regional organizations, including the European Union, Russia, China, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Italy, and Norway rejecting Israeli plans for the annexation of Palestinian territory as illegal and unacceptable. Immediate corrective measures are required to confront unilateralism, annexation, and land grab and save the prospects and requirements of peace. It is time for preemptive and concrete measures that can change the dangerous dynamics on the ground. [ak]28/4/2020
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Likud officials: If High Court meddles with deal, we’ll go to 4th electionsThe Times of Israel - Party representatives warn even small changes to delicate unity agreement will spell its end; Blue and White says it won’t appoint full number of ministers after criticism of cost [ry] 27/4/2020
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Israel`s Top Court Strikes Down Law Requiring Asylum Seekers to Deposit 20% of SalariesLee Yaron - Haaretz - Israel`s High Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that a law meant to encourage asylum seekers to leave the country by requiring them to deposit 20 percent of their monthly salary into a locked account is unconstitutional, and therefore null and void. Under the law, asylum seekers can withdraw this money only when they leave Israel. The petitioners, who included both asylum seekers and rights organizations, argued that the law seriously eats into asylum seekers’ already low salaries and thereby prevents them from supporting themselves. The government has recently debated the possibility of letting asylum seekers withdraw some of the money in their locked accounts due to the coronavirus crisis. But, the government delayed such a move as the result of pressure from right-wing organizations. [bz]23/4/2020
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‘Monstrous’ coalition deal neuters Knesset. Should judges intervene? Will they?HAVIV RETTIG GUR - Times of Israel - The Knesset began legislating Thursday the many convoluted amendments to Israel’s constitutional Basic Laws, such as laws establishing a new kind of “alternating” government composed of a prime minister and an “alternate” prime minister; creating a new “emergency” form of executive government with the power to freeze all legislation not connected to the coronavirus crisis or approved by the two (current and future) prime ministers; setting the current Knesset’s lifespan at 36 months and establishing a date for the next election; and passing the so-called “skipping Norwegian law” that allows some of the eventually envisaged 52 ministers and deputy ministers of the new government (nearly half of parliament) to temporarily resign their Knesset posts to let new MKs into the parliament in their stead — but not according to their slate’s original order, so as not to inadvertently increase the size of the Yesh Atid and Telem factions. Meanwhile, Israel’s top court is hearing six petitions against the Netanyahu-Gantz ’emergency’ agreement. [bz]23/4/2020
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EU: Israeli annexation would `not be left unanswered`EU observer - The EU has threatened to take action if Israel`s new government annexed Palestinian land in the West Bank, Europe`s foreign affairs spokesman said Wednesday. "If this proceeds, it will not be left unanswered," Peter Stano said. The EU deemed annexations were "illegal" under international law, he added. The Israeli coalition agreement foresees talks on annexation, a central election promise of right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to start on 1 July. [bz]23/4/2020
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Israel Emerging from the Coronavirus Crisis: What Say the Elder Population?Pnina Sharvit Baruch - INNS - They should be allowed to decide whether to remain in isolation. They must not be forced to remain in isolation only “for their good,” but must be allowed to decide for themselves. There is no place to make the last years of the lives of Israeli seniors miserable in the name of protecting their health. [bz]21/4/2020
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Surveillance in Israel: Tool to fight Covid-19 or to infringe on privacy rights? Umar A Farooq - Middle East Eye - While Israeli intelligence had developed the tools as a supposed counterterrorism measure, experts say that their use on its own citizens has ignited a new conversation on privacy rights. (...) Use of surveillance tools in Israel would be nowhere if it not for testing of them in Palestinian Territories. [bz]21/4/2020
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Rotation, annexation et al: Key elements of the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition deal\Times of Israel - The “emergency national unity government” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz agreed to is supposed, for its first six months, to focus on tackling the Coronavirus pandemic, and will not pass major legislation that does not relate to the crisis - with, however, one important exception: annexations on the West Bank. On July 1, 2020, Netanyahu will be allowed to have the government and/or the Knesset vote on annexing parts of the West Bank, on the basis of the Trump administration’s peace plan. Such a vote would be held “as quickly as possible,” the agreement states, with no delays at the committee stages. Although coalition members will be able to vote as they see fit, the pro-annexation camp in the Knesset is likely to enjoy a majority.[ak]21/4/2020
Palestinian village chooses self-isolation during coronavirus pandemicY-Net - The West Bank community of Sinjul restricts access to non- residents, forming committees tasked with enforcing closure, supplying food and essentials to families and monitoring workers returning from Israel. [ak]16/4/2020
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From Covid-19 to the ‘Deal of the Century’ — Palestine and international lawYaser Alashqar - Mondoweiss - As of April 5th, the occupied Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem, have registered 228 cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and one death. While COVID-19 represents a difficult challenge to advanced nations and their strong healthcare systems, it poses a more complex and dangerous challenge to conflict zones and occupied territories, such as Palestine. Decades of displacement, dispossession, conflict, military occupation and blockade have weakened existing medical services and systemically disregarded Palestinian rights to life and health. (rh)14/4/2020
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The Joint List stripped illusions about Gantz and showed it is Israel’s only progressive partyNaim Mousa and Amir Toumie - Mondoweiss - Following a contentious third election, Israel seemed to have yet another political deadlock. However, no one could have foreseen the developments which have occurred over the past couple of weeks. Benny Gantz, blindsiding his own political allies, abandoned his claim to change the right-wing government and instead decided to join them in their coalition. Consequently, he brought about the collapse of Blue and White – which consists of 3 parties – by pulling his party, Hosen Le-Israel, out and joining Netanyahu’s bloc. The other two parties, Yesh Atid and Telem, left the union, but had the necessary majority to continue using the name Blue and White. Meanwhile, Gantz and the 14 MKs in his own party became part of the right-wing bloc in an “emergency government” to fight the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. (rh)14/4/2020
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Coronavirus as a political toolDr. Ibrahim Nawar - Ynet - From Saudi Arabia to Israel and the U.S. to Iran, various regimes across the globe are using the virus to curb unrest and to promote agendas that are in no way related to the health of their citizens [ry] 13/4/2020
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Solidarity in the Age of Coronavirus: What the Arabs Must DoRamzy Baroud - CounterPunch - “Late March, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, issued a ‘global ceasefire appeal’, pleading to the world, especially to warring Middle Eastern nations, to cease fire and to unite all efforts in one single war against the Coronavirus. Sadly, that call has so far gone unheeded” [ry] 13/4/2020
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Millions of Egyptians out in the streets despite coronavirus lockdown Doaa Fareed - Al-Monitor "Despite the government warning citizens about the country entering the third stage of the outbreak of the pandemic — which is when the source of the infection becomes untraceable and difficult to control — thousands and even millions are yet to realize the seriousness of the virus and are struggling to secure a livelihood.Mohammed Jaber, who works in construction, told Al-Monitor, “I have to work to feed my family. If I do not work every day, who will feed my children? I heard about the coronavirus, but what can I do? I must work every day; health is the least of my worries. We are basically dead already.”ca 10/4/2020
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`I don`t understand why I`m good enough to work in Israel but not good enough for the Israelis to test me`Hagar Shezaf - Haaretz - “What happened with the group of workers at Glatt Chicken demonstrates the impossible reality that tens of thousands of Palestinian workers find themselves in,” said Assaf Adiv, the director of the Maan trade union. “Having no choice and lacking any unemployment compensation, they are forced to agree to leave their families and work in Israel under a sleepover arrangement, which could lead them to get sick and endanger their lives.” [bz] 7/4/2020
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Amid last-minute threats, Netanyahu and Gantz try again for unity dealHaviv Rettig Gur - Times of Israel - It took a few days for Netanyahu’s right-wing camp to realize the extent of his promises to Gantz, including not only an unprecedentedly generous 15 ministers (for perhaps 19 MKs — Gantz’s Blue and White, two Labor MKs and two from the new Derech Eretz splinter group), but also control over the defense and justice ministries, granting Gantz a de facto veto over the right’s most important policy aspirations. Right-wing Yamina threatened to leave the coalition “rather than sit in a leftist government” — that is, a government that won’t carry out a West Bank annexation or push conservative judicial and legal reforms. [bz]2/4/2020
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