Netanyahu: “the Right of Protection”

Josep Goded

Days after the UN (United Nations) condemned the expansion of the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced that Israel will not abide by the UN resolution because it is an attempt against Israeli’s security. Instead, Netanyahu announced mass punishments against the countries that voted for the resolution.

Netanyahu considers that the expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories serves to protect Israel from terrorism. Nevertheless, the international community reflects that the existing dispute between Israel and Palestine will increase.

Netanyahu is leading a radical coalition, considered to be the most right-wing in Israeli history.Avigdor Lieberman, who heads Yisrael Beiteinu – the other major party in the ruling coalition – opposes to recognise Palestine as a state. He has also proposed to transfer the Arabic community (including Israeli Citizens) from Israel to Cisjordania to evade a forthcoming Arabic majority in Israel.


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Israel can now legally seize Palestinian homes in Jerusalem under ‘absentees’ property law

Original post from The Independent


 The law has rarely been applied in the city because of legal problems

The Israeli government can now legally seize Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem after judges approved the use of a controversial law.

The Palestinian side of the holy city had previously been exempt from the Absentees’ Property Law, brought in after the 1948 war to allow arriving Israelis to move into abandoned homes.

But now Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that it can be applied to East Jerusalem, effectively allowing the state to take control of property whose owners live in the West Bank or Gaza.

Palestinians living in the West Bank but still owning property in Israel can be declared 'absent'
Palestinians living in the West Bank but still owning property in Israel can be declared ‘absent’

The panel of seven judges warned that it should be used only in the “rarest of rare cases” because of manifold legal problems and must be approved by the attorney general each time, Haaretzreported.

Judge Asher Grunis, who led the panel of seven judges alongside court President Miriam Naor, pointed out that the literal use of the law could result in Jewish settlers who own property in Israel but have moved to the West Bank losing their former homes.

“The authorities should avoid wherever possible to use the law,” Judge Grunis said, according to Arutz Sheva.

“With that, I do not see any reason to strike down the law and impede its use under all circumstances.

Israeli police officers patrol near a house purchased by Jews in the mostly Arab neighbourhood of Silwan, East Jerusalem
Israeli police officers patrol near a house purchased by Jews in the mostly Arab neighbourhood of Silwan, East Jerusalem

“In our opinion there may be rare situations where the law will be enacted on property in Jerusalem that had been owned by Arabs living in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

“Under those circumstances, the government would need to get the permission of the Attorney General before acting.”

Haaretz reports that in recent years, the law has “become a tool for right-wing groups seeking to increase the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem”, which is traditionally dominated by Arab neighbourhoods.

An absentee is defined as anyone who lives in a nation designated hostile, including Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, or in an area of Israel outside state control.

That includes parts of the West Bank and Gaza controlled by the Palestinian Authority, where many former residents of modern-day Israel moved to during the 1948 war.

The West Bank is split between areas A, B and C under varying levels of Palestinian and Israeli control
The West Bank is split between areas A, B and C under varying levels of Palestinian and Israeli control

Boundary changes during the Six Day War almost 20 years later saw Palestinians with property in Jerusalem declared “absentee” because of the new boundaries of the city, even though they had not moved.

The law could even be interpreted to mean soldiers sent into the Occupied Palestinian Territories or to fight in an enemy country would be declared absentees and return to find someone else living in their homes.

Control is passed to the Custodian of Absentee Property to be used for the “development of the country”, usually to be repurposed for Israeli residents.

The application of the Absentees’ Property Law has been wrangled over for decades and the latest Supreme Court ruling was in response to high numbers of appeals from Palestinians who have lost their homes.

Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said the decision “allows the continued application of one of the most racist and arbitrary laws in Israel, which was enacted in 1950 with the goal of confiscating the property of Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes”.


Can Israel remain a democracy?

Original post from The Washington Post

‘…………Can Israel remain a democracy?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv March 18, 2015. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv March 18, 2015. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

  Opinion writer March 20 2015

Eleven years ago, I carried my infant daughter into a synagogue basement and plunged her tiny body, head to toe, underwater.

She emerged sputtering and coughing, then wailing. The procedure, immersion in a Jewish ritual bath called a mikvah, felt barbaric. But it was for an important reason: Her mother isn’t Jewish, and by Jewish custom — and Israeli law — the faith is passed on by matrilineal descent, so I converted my daughter. Making sure she is Jewish in the eyes of the Jewish state gives me peace of mind. If the Gestapo ever comes again, she and her descendants will have a place to go. Just in case.

Such a threat seems unimaginable now. There probably never has been a better time or place to be a Jew than in 21st-century America. Yet there remains a deep sense of anxiety — some might say paranoia — hard-wired into Jews by centuries of persecution.

Israel, the Jewish state, is the antidote to this fear. The Law of Return, enacted by David Ben-Gurion’s government in 1950, guarantees Israeli citizenship to all Jews who move to Israel. This was meant to guarantee that Israel would remain Jewish (Palestinians, controversially, are not granted this right) but it also meant that, after the Holocaust, and thousands of years of wandering, there was finally a place to which all Jews could go, and defend ourselves, if nowhere else was safe.

This is why Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions on the eve of this week’s Israeli elections were so monstrous. In a successful bid to take votes from far-right parties, the prime minister vowed that there would be no Palestinian state as long as he’s in charge. It was an unmasking of sorts, revealing what many suspected all along: He had no interest in a two-state solution.

 Netanyahu backed off that position after the election, assuring American news outlets NBC, NPR and Fox on Thursday that he still backs a two-state solution, in theory. His backtracking seemed nominal and insincere, but even that gesture is reassuring, for abandoning the idea of a Palestinian state will destroy the Jewish state just as surely, if not as swiftly, as an Iranian nuclear bomb.

This is a matter not of ideology but of arithmetic. Without a Palestinian state, Israel can be either a Jewish state or a democracy but not both. If it annexes the Palestinian territories and remains democratic, it will be split roughly evenly between Jews and Arabs; if it annexes the territories and suppresses the rights of Arabs, it ceases to be democratic.

There are roughly 4.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and another 1.4 million living inside Israel . That puts them in rough parity with Jews, who number just over 6 million. Higher Palestinian population growth and fertility rates indicate that Jews will be a minoritybetween the Jordan River and the Mediterranean in a few years.

Some right-wing outfits contest these numbers and try to make the dubious case that Israel can annex the Palestinian territories and still survive as a democratic Jewish state. Those were the type of voters Netanyahu was fishing for when he said before the election that he would not allow a Palestinian state — and when he warned on election day that “Arab voters are coming out in droves.” But in the end there can be no democratic Jewish state unless there is also a Palestinian state.

My friend Jeffrey Goldberg, in a powerful new article in the Atlantic on the tenuous future of Europe’s Jews, recalled an event he attended in the fall with American Jewish leaders at Vice President Biden’s residence. Biden, Goldberg recalled, told the story of a long-ago visit with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who told him that Israel’s “secret weapon” was that the Jews “have no place else to go.”

“Folks,” Goldberg quoted Biden as saying to the American Jews, “there is no place else to go, and you understand that in your bones. You understand in your bones that no matter how hospitable, no matter how consequential, no matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved you are in the United States . . . there’s only one guarantee. There is really only one absolute guarantee, and that’s the state of Israel.”

Goldberg thought Biden had “antiquated notions about Jewish anxiety.” And it’s true that Jews are safe and happy in the United States today — but that could change. This is why I plunged my baby in the mikvah. And this is why I was appalled by Netanyahu’s disavowal of a two-state solution.

 Without two states, there won’t be even one Jewish state if — God forbid — my daughter or her progeny someday have no place else to go.  ……………’