Category Archives: Israel

Gideon Levy: Netanyahu Deserves the Israeli People, and They Deserve Him

Gideon Levy writes for Haaretz:

The first conclusion that arose just minutes after the announcement of the exit polls was particularly discouraging: The nation must be replaced. Not another election for the country’s leadership, but general elections to choose a new Israeli people – immediately. The country urgently needs that. It won’t be able to stand another term for Benjamin Netanyahu, who emerged last night as the man who will form the next government.

If after six years of nothing, if after six years of sowing fear and anxiety, hatred and despair, this is the nation’s choice, then it is very ill indeed. If after everything that has been revealed in recent months, if after everything that has been written and said, if after all this, the Israeli phoenix succeeded in rising from the ashes and getting reelected, if after all this the Israeli people chose him to lead for another four years, something is truly broken, possibly beyond repair.’

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Netanyahu Victory Lays Bare Israel as Racist, Colonial State: Interview with Shir Hever

Netanyahu Says There Will Be No Palestinian State

Ten of thousands of Israelis protest against Netanyahu

Oren Ziv reports for Middle Easy Eye:

‘Ten days before Israel’s general election, more than 40,000 Israelis took to central Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, calling for the replacement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The protest, organised by the V15 movement, a grassroots movement that stands for Victory 2015, was the largest demonstration so far during this year’s elections – and the first time since Netanyahu came to power in 2009 that Israeli voters in such large numbers have demanded a new government.

Their main message, shared in the city’s Rabin Square, was that Netanyahu has led Israel into a catastrophe both diplomatically and domestically.’

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Meet the Family with a Megaphone in US and Israeli Politics

Netanyahu under fire over election campaign ads

Iran FM: Open to 10-Year Partial Freeze on Some Aspects of Nuclear Program

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Just days after it was reported that he had ruled out the nuclear deal along those terms outright, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said his nation was in fact open to accepting 10-year limits on certain aspects of their civilian nuclear program.

Zarif didn’t go into detail, saying he was “not prepared to negotiate on the air” during the CNN interview, but seemed to leave open the possibility that the deal was going to be acceptable.’

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Former IAEA Director says No Basis for Netanyahu Iran Claims: Interview with Robert Kelley

Netanyahu’s hard line on Iran: A four-point reality check

Tony Karon and Tom Kutsch write for Al Jazeera:

Thumbnail image for Netanyahu warns Obama nuclear deal would pave Iran’s ‘path to bomb’Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged U.S. lawmakers to reject the nuclear deal being negotiated between Iran and world powers, warning that it would help Iran acquire nuclear weapons and threaten Israel’s survival. Iran’s regime could not be trusted to abide by any agreement, he warned, and he urged the United States to increase pressure on Tehran until it agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear program and change its regional behavior.

The White House has long warned that abandoning the current negotiating framework would open a path to war — an argument he rejected. But the Israeli leader’s characterization of the deal and of Iran’s current nuclear efforts have long been challenged by Western governments involved in the talks.

Here is a reality check of four of Netanyahu’s key arguments.’

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The long history of Israel gaming the ‘Iranian threat’

Gareth Porter, author of Manufactured Crisis, writes for Middle East Eye:

Western news media has feasted on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s talk and the reactions to it as a rare political spectacle rich in personalities in conflict. But the real story of Netanyahu’s speech is that he is continuing a long tradition in Israeli politics of demonising Iran to advance domestic and foreign policy interests.

The history of that practice, in which Netanyahu has played a central role going back nearly two decades, shows that it has been based on a conscious strategy of vastly exaggerating the threat from Iran.

In conjuring the spectre of Iranian genocide against Israelis, Netanyahu was playing two political games simultaneously. He was exploiting the fears of the Israeli population associated with the Holocaust to boost his electoral prospects while at the same time exploiting the readiness of most members of US Congress to support whatever Netanyahu orders on Iran policy.’

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Noam Chomsky: Despite Iran Spat, U.S. Support for Israeli Occupation Continues Without Pause

Rebuilding Gaza could take a century if Israel keeps blockade, says Oxfam

Kieran Guilbert reports for Reuters:

‘The rebuilding of homes, schools and hospitals in Gaza could take more than a century to complete unless an Israeli blockade restricting imports of construction materials into the Gaza Strip is lifted, aid agency Oxfam said on Thursday.

Gaza needs more than 800,000 truckloads of building materials to repair infrastructure damaged in the 2014 war with Israel, yet less than a quarter of one percent of the materials needed have entered Gaza in the last three months, Oxfam said.”

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IDF broke international law in dozens of Gaza war strikes, Israeli rights group says

Gili Cohen reports for Haaretz:

Two boys walk past destroyed homes in the northern Gaza strip a few miles away from the border with The Israel Defense Forces broke international law at least in some of the dozens of strikes it made against homes during the fighting in Gaza last summer, according to a report released this week by the human rights group B’Tselem.

[…] More than 70 percent of the people killed in 70 incidents examined by B’Tselem were non-combatants, according to the report, a copy of which was also given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In these 70 strikes, 606 Palestinians were killed, B’Tselem says, including 93 children under age 5, 129 children ages 5 to 14, and 42 teens, ages 14 to 18. This figure also included 135 women ages 18 to 60, and 37 men over 60 years old.’

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Is Hezbollah a Terrorist Organization or a Legitimate Political Party? Interview with Dr. Naseer al-Omari

Abby Martin interviews political commentator, Dr. Naseer al-Omari, on the recent exchange of fire between Israel and Hezbollah in the contested Golan Heights region, as well as on the historic roots of this decades old conflict.’ (Breaking the Set)

Over 90% of Netanyahu reelection funds from US donors

The Times of Israel reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Tel Aviv, January 1, 2015 (photo credit: Amir Levy/Flash90)More than 90 percent of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection funds have come from the United States

Of the total contributions of nearly $259,000 — slightly over 1 million shekels — about $237,000 came from American donors, according to records made public by Israel’s State Comptroller and published by BuzzFeed.

Three wealthy families donated about half the amount from the Americans.

Israeli politicians may accept a maximum donation of about $11,500.’

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A City Divided: Jerusalem’s Most Contested Neighborhood

‘Throughout the past several months, Jerusalem has been a scene of clashes and violent attacks. Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood just steps away from Jerusalem’s Old City, has been at the heart of the unrest, and is becoming one of the most contentious neighborhoods in the most contested city in the world. As settlement expansion into East Jerusalem continues, Israeli authorities have ramped up their practice of demolishing homes built without proper permits — permits which are near impossible for Palestinians to acquire. In addition to the demolitions due to lack of permits, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in early November the reinstatement of the policy of demolishing terrorists’ homes, which Palestinians claim is a form of collective punishment. VICE News traveled to Silwan and met with Palestinians and Israelis living in this contested neighborhood at a time when Jerusalem is more divided than ever.’ (VICE News)

Palestinian step to join ICC will have implications, says U.S. State Dept.

Reuters reports:

‘The US State Department said on Friday that the Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court will have “implications” for US aid to the Palestinian Authority.

“It should come as no surprise that there will be implications for this step, but we continue to review,” the official told Reuters.

“US assistance to the Palestinian Authority has played a valuable role in promoting stability and prosperity not just for the Palestinians, but also for Israel as well,” the official added.

Washington sends about $400 million in economic support aid to the Palestinians every year. Under US law, that aid would be cut off if the Palestinians used membership in the International Criminal Court to make claims against Israel.’

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Behind the UN vote: How the Palestinian bid was defeated

Itamar Eichner reports for Ynet News:

  “There was a clear message from international community to the Palestinians: Do not try to use tricks to replace negotiations,” a top Foreign Ministry official told Ynet, but the American effort to torpedo the Palestinian’s UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel end its ‘occupation’ of the West Bank proved once again the importance of maintaining good relations with Washington.

Furthermore, the abstention by African nations also demonstrated the importance of the visits made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the African continent. However, the change of power set to take place in the Security Council on Thursday will change the balance of power against Israel.

The rejection of the Palestinian resolution by the UN Security Council on Tuesday night was a reminder of the great extent to which Israel-US relations serve as a critical factor in Israeli national security. It only strengthens the need for Israel to maintain good relations with Washington in general and more specifically with the White House, and prevent disagreements such as the one that occurred between Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israeli diplomats say that the US played a crucial role in the effort to block the Palestinian resolution which sought to set a time table for Israel’s disengagement from territories for a future Palestinian state without direct negotiations.’

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“When they say effective, they’re talking about the killing of civilians” – Interview with John Hilary on Drones

‘John Hillary, director of War on Want, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about drones. The UK is working with Israel, who are now the largest exporter of drones around the world, to develop drones.’ (Going Underground)

Why The Guardian Censored One of Its Top Journalists: Interview with Nafeez Ahmed

Editor’s Note: Nafeez Ahmed recently launched a crowdfunding drive in order to support his great journalism and with the hopeful aim of creating his own investigative journalism collective. Please support him in any way you can. You can find links to more of his work here.

Abby Martin interviews investigative journalist, Nafeez Ahmed, about what was not discussed in the torture report and his claims of censorship at the Guardian newspaper, where he used to work.’ (Breaking the Set)

New Evidence Suggests Israel Is Helping Syrian Rebels in the Golan Heights

Samuel Oakford reports for VICE News:

‘Israel continues to interact with Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights and allow them to cross the border, according to a new UN report corroborated by a VICE News team that visited the area in November, uncovering additional incidents beyond what has been described by the UN.

Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since the Six-Day War in 1967, when it captured it from Syria. In 1974, a UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNDOF, was established to police a 50-mile-long disengagement zone between the Israeli “Alpha” and Syrian “Bravo” lines. At the disengagement zone’s narrowest southern points, the distance between the two lines can be less than a kilometer.’

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Syria Complains to UN After Israel Attacks Damascus Airport

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Syria has filed a formal complaint with the United Nations about the attack [in and around Damascus airport], saying they believe the Netanyahu government attacked to try to distract attention from the early elections. Syria’s Foreign Ministry is pushing for immediate sanctions.

What was attacked is still a subject of no small speculation, as the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it was conceivable the sites were Hezbollah arms dumps, though they appeared to have no evidence supporting that.

By contrast, Lebanese TV was reporting that the sites hit were “crucial intelligence-linked locations” that Syria’s military was letting Iran use. Syrian state media said Russian anti-aircraft defenses were attacked, and Israel is refusing to either confirm or deny the attacks.’

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US, Israel are the only countries to oppose UN ban on weapons in outer space

Ali Abunimah reports for Electronic Intifada:

‘Israel and the United States were the only two countries to vote against a UN resolution calling for the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

The resolution was among several dealing with international disarmament passed by the General Assembly on 2 December, including one calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and bring its rogue nuclear program under international supervision.

China and India, which both have space programs, along with the member states of the European Space Agency, voted for the initiative aimed at keeping space free of weapons.

The US and Israel were also the only two countries to vote against a separate UN resolution calling for a prohibition on the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction.

That resolution passed with 174 countries voting in favor and a single abstention, Ukraine.’

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‘Palestine is not an environment story’: How Nafeez Ahmed was censored from The Guardian for writing about Israel’s war for Gaza’s gas

Editor’s Note: Nafeez Ahmed recently launched a crowdfunding drive in order to support his great journalism and with the hopeful aim of creating his own investigative journalism collective. Please support him in any way you can. You can find links to more of his work here.

Nafeez Ahmed writes Medium:

‘After writing for The Guardian for over a year, my contract was unilaterally terminated because I wrote a piece on Gaza that was beyond the pale. In doing so, The Guardian breached the very editorial freedom the paper was obligated to protect under my contract. I’m speaking out because I believe it is in the public interest to know how a Pulitizer Prize-winning newspaper which styles itself as the world’s leading liberal voice, casually engaged in an act of censorship to shut down coverage of issues that undermined Israel’s publicised rationale for going to war.

I joined the Guardian as an environment blogger in April 2013. Prior to this, I had been an author, academic and freelance journalist for over a decade, writing for The Independent, Independent on Sunday, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, among others.

On 9th July 2014, I posted an article via my Earth Insight blog at The Guardian’s environment website, exposing the role of Palestinian resources, specifically Gaza’s off-shore natural gas reserves, in partly motivating Israel’s invasion of Gaza aka ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ Among the sources I referred to was a policy paper written by incumbent Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon one year before Operation Cast Lead, underscoring that the Palestinians could never be allowed to develop their own energy resources as any revenues would go to supporting Palestinian terrorism.’

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‘Coercive diplomacy’ and the failure of the Iranian nuclear negotiations

Gareth Porter writes for Middle Easy Eye:

‘After more than a year of negotiations between the United States and Iran, the two sides have failed to reach an agreement by the agreed deadline in July.  They have agreed to continue negotiating, but the failure to meet the deadline was clearly not caused by the lack of time.

To understand why the talks have remained deadlocked, it is necessary to review the Obama administration’s stance on diplomacy with Iran in the context of the long US history of favouring “coercive diplomacy” over traditional negotiations in managing conflicts with adversaries.

Reliance on coercive diplomacy is deeply imbedded in the strategic culture of US national security institutions. It has evolved over decades of US military and economic dominance in international politics, which has allowed the United States to avoid genuine diplomacy repeatedly.’

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Editor’s Note: The below interview with Gareth Porter, author of “Manufactured Crisis:The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” begins at around 16:05

U.S. Firms Accused of Enabling Surveillance in Despotic Central Asian Regimes

Cora Currier reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - U.S. Firms Accused of Enabling Surveillance in Despotic Central Asian Regimes‘U.S. and Israeli companies have been selling surveillance systems to Central Asian countries with records of political repression and human rights abuse, according to a new report by Privacy International. The U.K.-based watchdog charges that the American firms Verint and Netronome enable surveillance in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Verint’s Israeli arm provides those countries with monitoring centers “capable of mass interception of telephone, mobile, and IP networks,” the report says, as does the Israeli company NICE systems. Verint also enlisted California-based Netronome to give Uzbek agents the ability to intercept encrypted communications, Privacy International says, though it’s not clear whether the program was carried out successfully.

The report provides a broad picture of surveillance in a region that is marked by repression. Kazakhstan has been condemned for laws restricting free speech and assembly, flawed trials, and torture. As for Uzbekistan, Human Rights Watch bluntly characterizes the country’s human rights record as “atrocious.”

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On Berlin Wall’s collapse anniversary, Palestinians punch hole through West Bank wall

Haaretz reports:

West Bank wall, Nov. 8, 2014.‘As the world marks the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse Sunday, Palestinians knocked a hole through an altogether different wall this weekend.

Palestinian activists affiliated with local popular resistance committees broke through the West Bank separation barrier Saturday, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

“No matter how high walls are built, they will fall,” the popular committees said in a statement cited by Ma’an. “Just as the Berlin Wall fell, the wall in Palestine will fall, along with the occupation.”‘

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Iran’s Non-Existent Nuke Program: Interview with Gareth Porter

Editor’s Note: Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and historian who specialises on the Iranian nuclear issue. His latest book is ‘Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare‘. The below interview was recorded over two weeks ago. 

Inside the UN Resolution on Depleted Uranium

John LaForge writes for CounterPunch:

‘On October 31, a new United Nations General Assembly First Committee resolution on depleted uranium (DU) weapons passed overwhelmingly. There were 143 states in favor, four against, and 26 abstentions. The measure calls for UN member states to provide assistance to countries contaminated by the weapons. The resolution also notes the need for health and environmental research on depleted uranium weapons in conflict situations.

This fifth UN resolution on the subject was fiercely opposed by four depleted uranium-shooting countries — Britain, the United States, France and Israel — who cast the only votes in opposition. The 26 states that abstained reportedly sought to avoid souring lucrative trade relationships with the four major shooters.

Uranium-238 — so-called “depleted” uranium — is waste material left in huge quantities by the nuclear weapons complex. It’s used in large caliber armor-piercing munitions and in armor plate on tanks. Toxic, radioactive dust and debris is dispersed when DU shells burn through targets, and its metallic fumes and dust poison water, soil and the food chain. DU has been linked to deadly health effects like Gulf War Syndrome among U.S. and allied troops, and birth abnormalities among populations in bombed areas. DU waste has caused radioactive contamination of large parts of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and perhaps Afghanistan.’

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Hawks Triumph in Senate; Will Push More Aggressive US Policy

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The Republicans took control of the Senate in Tuesday’s elections, but much more important than which party took control is the nature of the incoming Senators from the new ruling party.

It’s not an influx of Tea Party members, reluctant to waste US funds on overseas adventures and suspicious of federal power, but rather a series of hawks in the model of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC) that seized the reins of power last night.

The new senators are typified by Jodi Ernst (R – IA) and Tom Cotton (R – AR), who campaigned heavy on escalating the ISIS war in Iraq and Syria, as well as being more hawkish at essentially every opportunity.”

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