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October 05 2013

Drafting the blueprint for Palestinian refugees' right of return - Haaretz By Gideon Levy and Alex…

Drafting the blueprint for Palestinian refugees’ right of return -
Haaretz By Gideon Levy and Alex Levac | Oct. 5, 2013 |
http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/twilight-zone/1.550550

For two days, participants in the international conference of the Zochrot organization, which took place this week at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, discussed how to promote the return of the Palestinian refugees, how to plan their villages that are to be rebuilt, and whether their houses will be similar to those that were destroyed.

Was it a hallucination?

There was probably no more appropriate venue than this: the Eretz Israel Museum, with vestiges of the lovely Palestinian stone houses belonging to the village of Sheikh Munis, standing among its exhibition pavilions; a place that describes itself on its official website as a “multidisciplinary museum dealing with the history and culture of the country.” Even the posters that were hung outside on the street where the museum is located spoke of “Cultural Memory” − although they were referring to the seventh Israeli Ceramics Biennale.

There was probably no less appropriate time: When the only issue on the agenda is the Iranian bomb; when the possibility of a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians seems more distant than ever; and when the term “right of return” is far more threatening to Israelis than the term “the Iranian bomb” − this was the time and this was the place for holding the Zochrot conference, under the headline of “From Truth to Redress,” with its declared intention of promoting the return of the Palestinian refugees to their lost villages.

About 200 Israelis, Jews and Arabs, along with several guests from abroad, participated in the event. Had a passerby found himself there, he would have been persuaded to believe that the return was imminent, any day now. Someone in the lobby said, “It’s a little bizarre” − but under the radar, there is a tiny minority of Israelis, Jews and mainly Arabs, who are working seriously toward making it all happen.

For one, the Udna ‏(Our Return‏) project is in full force. There are already several groups of young Israeli Arabs, third- and fourth-generation refugees, who are not only dreaming about return but are also planning it, recreating their grandparents’ villages in their imagination and planning their reconstruction.

And, in fact, the most powerful part of this conference was the revelation of the existence of such groups − descendants of the uprooted, refugees in their own
country − who already have architectural models of the villages slated to be rebuilt. Some of these people even live now among their ruins, in a quasi-underground manner. In a country where there are people who are seriously planning the construction of the Third Temple; where an outpost is established on every barren hill of the West Bank; where every furrow of land is sacred to the Jews − there is room for them, too, of course.

But the construction of the Third Temple or the establishment of innumerable illegal settlements threatens the Israelis far less than the implementation of past decisions by the High Court of Justice and Israeli governments to restore the uprooted residents of Ikrit, for example, to their land. It turns out that a group of 15 young people has been living for about two years in the village’s church; they are descendants of the original uprooted residents, Arab hilltop youth, who are determined to rebuild the village.

“Transitional justice” is the legal term for what they dream of, and they tried this week ‏(in vain‏) to pursue justice in the museum.

When Aziz al-Touri, a representative of the unrecognized Negev village of Al-Araqib, asked why Jews are allowed to move to the Negev, to kibbutzim, moshavim and isolated farms there, but the Bedouin are not allowed to live in their villages, the question of justice echoed through the museum in full force, reminding everyone that, in effect, 1948 never ended. Over the past three years the huts of Al-Araqib have been rebuilt 59 times. That, too, constitutes a return of sorts, after Israel demolished them 58 times, an unmarked Guinness record, perhaps, that few people in this country have even heard about.

The question of justice also reverberated when the homes of tens of thousands of citizens of the nascent state were destroyed in 1948 and afterward. When some of these people were forced to abandon their houses in the heat of battle, when some were promised they could return quickly. To date, no Jewish communities were built on the ruins of some of their villages − and still Israel stubbornly refuses to allow even them, and not only the refugees in the camps and the residents of the diaspora, to return to their land. Why? After all, they aren’t a threat to Israel’s “Jewish character.”

Amnon Neumann, a former fighter for the Palmach − the pre-state Jewish commando force of the Haganah − opened the second day of the Zochrot conference with a manifesto he wrote against Zionism and in favor of the one-state solution. A video clip that was produced by Zochrot and screened at the gathering brought his testimony about 1948: He took part in the occupation and expulsion campaigns in the south of the country, between Sderot and Gaza.

“In all the Arab villages in the south,” he said in the clip, “almost nobody fought. The villagers were so poor, so miserable, that they didn’t even have weapons ... The flight of these residents began when we started to clean up the routes used by those accompanying the convoys. Then we began to expel them, and in the end they fled on their own. They didn’t think they were fleeing for a long time. They didn’t think that they wouldn’t return. Nor did anyone imagine that an entire nation wouldn’t return. We began expelling them, and then we began to spread out to the sides ... We expelled them because of Zionist ideology. Plain and simple: We came to inherit the land and that’s why we didn’t bring them back ...

“I don’t want to get into these things, these aren’t things that you get into. Why? Because I did it. During that period, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I received the same education as everyone else. I carried it out faithfully, and if they told me things that I don’t want to mention, I did them without having any doubts at all. Without thinking twice. I’ve been eating myself up for 50-60 years already, but what was done was done. It was done on orders.”

Dr. Munir Nuseibah, a lecturer and researcher in law from Al-Quds University, spoke of the right of return of the tens of thousands of Palestinians who over the years lost their right to return to the Gaza Strip, where Israel continues to control the population registry.

Amir Mashkar, a young man of 19, told about his and his friends’ outpost in the Ikrit church: “There was no longer a war, the war was over, there weren’t any confrontations, and suddenly the village disappeared. Only the church and the cemetery remained ... to this day we bury our dead in Ikrit. We return to our village only as corpses.”

Everything he and his friends try to plant or build around the church is uprooted or destroyed by the Israel Lands Administration. The land was confiscated, after all. One day, members of Mashkar’s group put down synthetic grass, imagined there was a soccer stadium there, played against the team Ahi Nazareth − and won. Ikrit the champion. “Oh, tanks and cannons, we are returning to Ikrit,” they wrote on the victory poster.

Said Salameh Heibi, 30, a mother of three with a bachelor’s degree in economics, an Israeli woman descended from the community of Maghar, who lives today in the northern town of Kabul ‏(south of Acre‏) and wears a black kerchief and keffiyeh: “They always said that the young people would forget. The young people won’t forget: Here I am. I live five minutes from Maghar and I’m a refugee. Someone else lives in your place and you’re a refugee. It’s not easy. Every time I open the window I can see the mountain that belonged to my family. I don’t aspire to return to the entire territory − others deserve something, too − but the right of return is a right, not a dream, a right that’s not up for negotiation.

“They succeeded in 1948, but we won’t forget. The generation after us won’t forget. We visit there almost every day. For a Maghari who meets another Maghari, it’s like meeting a cousin. I feel as though I was expelled. This land is ours and it caused pain to my father. I saw him crying many times because of it, every time they said: Maghar. It’s not easy. We’re the third generation and we’re saying: Enough.”

Another young man, whose family comes from Lajoun, in Wadi Ara, presented a digitized preview of his ancestral village, which he intends to rebuild: cobblestone “Dutch” streets, stylish stone houses, pergolas, promenades, water canals − a lovely village.

Michal Ran, an American doctoral student from the University of Chicago, presented her vision of return, urban planning based on research of several villages. She says that al-Ruways, a village northeast of Haifa, can be rebuilt, that nobody lives on its ruins and all its descendants live in Tamra. Ran is deliberating as to whether to build high-rises, and recommends developing green spaces and pedestrian paths.

And Aziz al-Touri, of Al-Araqib, spoke about the wheat fields that the Israel Lands Administration sprayed with poison from a plane in the late 1990s. And also about the special forces of the Israel Police, the planes, horses, bulldozers, commandos, the Border Police and members of its counter-terrorism unit − all of whom came in the middle of the night on July 27, 2010, three generations removed from 1948, and destroyed his village. Since then, he said, they repeatedly destroy, and the residents repeatedly rebuild and repeatedly return.

The vision of the pergolas and the promenades in Lajoun simply evaporated.

October 04 2013

*Juifs et pas israéliens* - Les blogs du Diplo

Juifs et pas israéliens - Les blogs du Diplo
http://blog.mondediplo.net/2013-10-04-Juifs-et-pas-israeliens

« Une défaite de l’israélièneté » (« A defeat for Israeliness »), tel est le titre de l’éditorial du quotidien Haaretz du 4 octobre.
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.550428

« Le refus de la Cour suprême d’approuver la pétition de 21 citoyens israéliens qui cherchent à être reconnus comme membres de la nation “israélienne” plutôt que juive, et de changer la façon dont leur nationalité est consignée dans le registre de la population, est une indication supplémentaire que la lutte civique sur la nature de l’Etat d’Israël a échoué. Soixante-cinq ans après la création de l’Etat, les autorités ne reconnaissent toujours pas une nationalité israélienne indépendante de l’appartenance religieuse ou ethnique. »

@alaingresh @ag #Israël #Palestine #Citoyenneté

September 09 2013

Document confirms World Zionist Organization allocates land to settlers in Jordan valley | Haaretz

Document confirms World Zionist Organization allocates land to settlers in Jordan valley | Haaretz
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.545856

An internal Civil Administration document confirms a Haaretz report that the World Zionist Organization has allocated to settlers in the Jordan Valley more than 5,000 dunams (1,235 acres) of private Palestinian land located east of the border fence, namely, between that fence and the actual border with the Kingdom of Jordan.

This area between the border fence and the actual border — the Jordan River — is a closed military zone that in some places is two kilometers wide. A military order prevents the Palestinian owners from accessing their lands in this area. On the other hand, Jewish settlers are allowed to farm the lands.

In January, Haaretz reported that under the aegis of this order, the WZO had allocated to settlers in the Jordan Valley over 5,000 dunams of private Palestinian lands. Following this report, the Civil Administration began to investigate how this situation had come about and how much land had been allocated in this manner.

The documents that have come into the possession of Haaretz indicate that following the June 1967 Six-Day War and after the border fence was completed, Palestinians continued to farm their lands located close to the border. But following a number of incidents in which Palestinian farmers in this area helped infiltrators to cross the border into Israeli-controlled territory, the entire area was declared a military zone. Several Palestinians who owned plots in the area submitted applications requesting permission to farm their lands; however, their requests were denied.

(...)
The Civil Administration subsequently signed three agreements with the WZO, allocating to the latter organization some 29,000 dunams (7,250 acres) for farming purposes. An examination conducted by the Civil Administration shows that a total of 8,565 dunams (2,116 acres) are cultivated beyond the border fence; of these, 4,765 dunams (1,177 acres) are Palestinian lands, 578 dunams (143 acres) are privately owned and another 3,222 dunams (796 acres) are state lands.

Discussions have recently been held in the Civil Administration and in the office of the coordinator of government activities in the territories on this matter. It is a complex legal issue, because the settlers farming these lands are not trespassers but are persons who were legally allocated the lands by the WZO. On the other hand, the lands also legally belong to their Palestinian owners. The coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, has instructed that all Palestinians who request compensation for the lands they cannot farm should be compensated by the Civil Administration.

#Palestine #Israël #Jordanie

September 08 2013

AIPAC to deploy hundreds of lobbyists to push for Syria action - Haaretz

AIPAC to deploy hundreds of lobbyists to push for Syria action - Haaretz

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.545661

The influential pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee will deploy hundreds of activists next week to win support in Congress for military action in Syria, amid an intense White House effort to convince wavering U.S. lawmakers to vote for limited strikes.

“We plan a major lobbying effort with about 250 activists in Washington to meet with their senators and representatives,” an AIPAC source said on Saturday.

Congressional aides said they expected the meetings and calls on Tuesday, as President Barack Obama and officials from his administration make their case for missile strikes over the apparent use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

The vote on action in Syria is a significant political test for Obama and a major push by AIPAC, considered one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, could provide a boost.

The U.S. Senate is due to vote on a resolution to authorize the use of military force as early as Wednesday. Leaders of the House of Representatives have not yet said when they would vote beyond saying consideration of an authorization is “possible” sometime this week.

Obama has asked Congress to approve strikes against Assad’s government in response to a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 that killed more than 1,400 Syrians.

But many Republicans and several of Obama’s fellow Democrats have not been enthused about the prospect, partly because war-weary Americans strongly oppose getting involved in another Middle Eastern conflict.

Pro-Israel groups had largely kept a low profile on Syria as the Obama administration sought to build its case for limited strikes after last month’s attack on rebel-held areas outside Damascus.

Supporters of the groups and government sources acknowledged they had made it known that they supported U.S. action, concerned about instability in neighboring Syria and what message inaction might send to Assad’s ally, Iran.

But they had generally wanted the debate to focus on U.S. national security rather than how a decision to attack Syria might help Israel, a reflection of their sensitivity to being seen as rooting for the United States to go to war.

September 02 2013

Israel, stop kibitzing and let Obama work - Haaretz 2nd of September Editorial

Israel, stop kibitzing and let Obama work -
Haaretz 2nd of September
Editorial
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.544796

The disappointed voices that arose on Sunday from belligerent circles in Israel in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision on Saturday night to put on hold for now the military operation against Syria might create the false impression that most, if not all, Israelis are eager to see an attack on Damascus.

The long lines at the gas mask distribution centers and the traffic jams that can be expected on the roads leading out of major population centers in the event of an American attack against Bashar Assad’s regime teach us that the disappointed voices belong only to a few. The majority of people in Israel are breathing much easier upon hearing of the postponement and even the burial of the operation. It is important for the American public and administration to know that Israelis – both those who fear a Syrian response against Israel as well as those who doubt such a response will occur – have no interest in encouraging Washington to once again be drawn into a war in the Middle East.

Obama was right in not allowing his actions to be dictated by his personal pride – in the face of Assad ignoring his warnings – or by concern that the American superpower would turn into a laughingstock. The outcome of an operation is determined by the advance planning. Countries do not go out to battle assuming the perfect scenario will unfold. In this case this means the complete destruction of all the weapons of mass destruction by precision attacks from the air without injuring civilians and without American casualties or captives. Accidents and surprising developments are an inherent part of a military action. What can go wrong is sometimes worse than the situation the military blow was intended to fix. This is especially true under the conditions of a civil war in a political entity split between ethnic groups and religions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters were quick to praise his exceptional wisdom in being skeptical about American policy regarding Iranian nuclear weapons. This is a complete distortion of the Syrian lesson. Israel depends on American aid – from war planes to the veto in the United Nations Security Council – and this dependence is increasing as the government’s policy on the occupied territories and the peace negotiations is isolating Israel from the rest of the world. The American policy, for its part, cannot be based on a whim. In democratic nations clear-cut evidence is required to convince the public – weary of war – to pull the trigger before the diplomatic alternatives have been exhausted.

It is possible that at the end of a bitter debate in the Congress and votes in the committees and full House and Senate, Obama’s decision, now frozen, to use military force against Assad’s chemical stockpiles will be approved. In any case, it is essential that the decision be made on Capitol Hill, and not in Jerusalem.

August 26 2013

Dutch government urges local firm to cancel East Jerusalem project - Diplomacy & Defense Israel…

Dutch government urges local firm to cancel East Jerusalem project - Diplomacy & Defense Israel News Broadcast | Haaretz

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.543535

Dutch government urges local firm to cancel East Jerusalem project
Royal HaskoningDHV is considering pulling out of the sewage treatment project after warnings from Dutch Foreign Ministry that it would be violating international law.

http://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.501470.1377492462!/image/118331449.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_640/118331449.jpg

#israël #colonisation #bds #pays-bas #palestine

August 20 2013

Sympathy for the devil : Israel's efforts on behalf of Cairo's generals By Chemi Shalev 20th of…

Sympathy for the devil: Israel’s efforts on behalf of Cairo’s generals
By Chemi Shalev
20th of August 2013
Haaretz
http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/.premium-1.542403

In June 1941, on the eve of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Winston Churchill famously told his personal secretary John Colville “If Hitler invaded hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” The next day he expressed unequivocal support for his arch-enemy Stalin and dispatched military assistance to beleaguered Moscow.

This “principle of the lesser evil” that Churchill so pithily expressed has been the guiding principle of much of America’s post-World War II policy. In its name, the U.S. has supported a long line of disgusting dictators and terrible tyrants who were considered to be critical for vital American interests such as combatting Communism and terror or safeguarding oil supplies in the Middle East. Democracy and human rights, in most cases, took a back seat, often for many decades.

This is the general theme of the Israeli effort to persuade Washington not to cut U.S. military aid to the Cairo regime, despite its transgressions. America and Israel share an overriding interest in preserving the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and in preventing Sinai from turning into a launching pad for Al-Qaida attacks, Israel says. Former ambassador to Egypt Eli Shaked told the New York Times on Monday, “We don’t have good guys. It is a situation where you have to choose who is less harmful.”

August 07 2013

Being a Palestinian intellectual's daughter in post-9/11 New York - Haaretz 7th of August 2013

Being a Palestinian intellectual’s daughter in post-9/11 New York -

Haaretz 7th of August 2013
http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.540082

Najla Said, daughter of the late Palestinian intellectual and leading post-Modernist Edward Said, tried to ignore the Palestinian culture and heritage handed down to her by her parents in their Manhattan home when she was young. But the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the subsequent souring of attitudes towards Arab-Americans, caused her to think again. A

fter staging a one-woman show called Palestine in New York in 2003, Said decided to describe her childhood in her debut memoir, Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family.

Excerpts from the book were published on Sunday on the Salon cultural affairs website.

“I am a Palestinian-Lebanese-American Christian woman, but I began my life as a WASP,” writes Said in her new book. “I was baptized into the Episcopal Church and sent to an all-girls private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, one that boasts among its alumnae such well-groomed American blue bloods as the legendary Jacqueline Onassis. It was at that point that I realized that something was seriously wrong — with me.”

She tells of the differences between her and the other pupils. “I was proud of my new green blazer with its fancy school emblem and my elegant shoes from France. But even the most elaborate uniform could not protect against my instant awareness of my differences. I was a dark-haired rat in a sea of blond perfection. I did not have a canopy bed, an uncluttered bedroom, and a perfectly decorated living room the way my classmates did. I had books piled high on shelves and tables, pipes, pens, Oriental rugs, painted walls, and strange houseguests. I was surrounded at home not only by some of the Western world’s greatest scholars and writers — Noam Chomsky, Lillian Hellman, Norman Mailer, Jacques Derrida, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion — but by the crème de la crème of the Palestinian Resistance.”

Edward Said was born in Jerusalem to an Arab Christian family in 1935 and raised in Jerusalem and Cairo, where his father ran extensive business ventures. In 1951, Said went to study in the United States and later became a professor of literature at Columbia University in New York. Following the Six-Day War, Said began to take an interest in the Palestinian issue, and became close to the leaders of the PLO. His book, Orientalism, reached a wide audience, placing him in the center of controversy among intellectual circles worldwide. Orientalism, published in 1978, is a brilliant and eloquent critique of the West — of academia, scholars and artists who investigated the Eastern way of life, not necessarily in the interests of knowledge but to perpetuate the West’s conquest and domination of the East. Thus, according to Najla Said, the Arab world was seen as stagnant, submissive and backward — as opposed to the supposedly superior Western world.

Najla writes that when she pressed her father to explain the concept of orientalism in simple words, he said: “’Historically, through literature and art, the ‘East’, as seen through a Western lens, becomes distorted and degraded, so that anything ‘other’ than what we Westerners recognize as familiar is not just exotic, mysterious, and sensual, but also inherently inferior.” She adds: “You know, like Aladdin.”

In the book, Najla recalls that, like many children of immigrants, she grew up confused by the conflicting values to which she was exposed. “Growing up the daughter of a Lebanese mother and a prominent Palestinian thinker in New York City in the 1980s and ’90s was confusing and unsettling. I struggled desperately to find a way to reconcile the beautiful, comforting, loving world of my home, culture and family with the supposed ’barbaric’ and ’backward’ place and society others perceived it to be.” In an interview with Boise State Public Radio, Najla said that, after the September 11 attacks, she felt terrified and feared dying, but at the same time she feared the Americans who suddenly began to call her Arab-American.

Najla also tackles father’s political legacy in the autobiography. Edward Said’s struggle for Palestinian independence made him a controversial figure in Israel and in the American Jewish world. In 2000, a photograph of Said throwing a stone toward Israel from the Lebanese border earned him widespread publicity. For some people, writes Najla, “he is the symbol of Palestinian self-determination; a champion of human rights, equality, and social justice. And then still other people insist he was a terrorist, though anyone who knew him knows that’s kind of like calling Gandhi a terrorist.”

August 04 2013

Israel's new development plan to benefit more settlements - Diplomacy & Defense - Israel News |…

Israel’s new development plan to benefit more settlements - Diplomacy & Defense - Israel News | Haaretz
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.539667

Le « processus de paix » se déroule le plus normalement du monde,

The cabinet on Sunday approved a new map of national priority areas, which includes an additional 20 West Bank settlements and communities inhabited by former Gaza settlers.

The list of national priority areas features hundreds of towns and villages that are entitled to government benefits in housing, infrastructure, education, culture and security. The list was last updated in 2009 to include dozens new West Bank settlements.

Fifteen out of 20 communities to receive national priority status are strongholds of Habayit Hayehudi, one of Netanyahu’s chief coalition partners. Conversely, two Haredi communities have been removed from the list. However, the government claims that the reason for including settlements on the list has to do with security and is not at all linked to a policy of settlement expansion.

#foutage_de_gueule monumentalissime #colonisation #Palestine monumentalissime #impunité.

August 03 2013

Israeli envoy : EU formed guidelines 'under the radar', broke promise to show us draft by Barak…

Israeli envoy: EU formed guidelines ’under the radar’, broke promise to show us draft
by Barak Ravid
Haaretz, 3rd of August 2013
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.539246

Israeli ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, David Walzer, admitted in a document sent to Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Ministry Director-General Rafael Barak that he was indeed surprised by the formulation and timing of the EU guidelines on settlements. In the document, which is part of an inquiry held on the guidelines, Walzer insists that he and his staff were not guilty of negligence.

A senior official in the ministry revealed that several days after Haaretz first published the new EU guidelines as to settlements, Elkin directed Barak to hold an investigation as to possible failings of the Israeli delegation to the EU and the Foreign Ministry in the matter.

July 25 2013

Israel pushing ahead with grandiose West Bank railway plan, ignoring political borders By Chaim…

Israel pushing ahead with grandiose West Bank railway plan, ignoring political borders
By Chaim Levinson
Haaretz 25th of July 2013
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.537737

The Civil Administration decided Wednesday to go ahead with its grandiose railway plan for the West Bank and open it up for public objections, after the Palestinian Authority refused Israel’s request to participate in the planning.

The program is being aggressively promoted by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud). Some NIS 1 million has already been invested in the planning process. The plan, first made revealed by Haaretz, included 473 kilometers of rail with 30 stations on 11 lines, meant to connect all cities and regions within the West Bank and the West Bank with Jordan and Syria. Due of the West Bank’s hilly terrain, the plans include dozens of bridges and tunnels.

The railway plan, which is supposed to accommodate all populations living in the West Bank, completely ignores all current political borders. Initial discussions were held about 18 months ago. Even if the hundreds of billions of shekels needed to realize the plan are never found, the mere existence of the plan means that any construction program from now on will have to take the theoretical railway lines into account.

Today the Civil Administration discussed the details of the plan, presented by Alex Schmidt , who was hired by Israel Railways to planning the lines. “There are 11 tracks. The central line runs parallel to the route connecting Jenin, Nablus, Jerusalem’s outskirts, Hebron and Be’er Sheva. Another line runs along the Jordan Valley and connects to Jordan and Syria. There will also be latitudinal lines connecting the two main lines: a line between Nablus and the Adam Bridge, Tul Karm and Nablus, and Nablus and Rosh Ha’ayin; a line connecting the Allenby Bridge to Jerusalem and Ramallah; a line from Ramallah to Lod and Tel Aviv; a line connecting Kiryat Gat to Hebron; and another line in Gaza that will make it possible to connect Ramallah with the Gaza Strip using Israeli trains.”

In terms of the demand for railway services, Schmidt said: “We used the data provided by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics. We got the number of residents who work in the industrial areas. We checked how many people use private vehicles compared to how many use public transportation. We also calculated population growth. We expect 12,000 people to use the mountain ridge line between Jerusalem and Ramallah during the morning rush hour, and 3,000 between Hebron and Beer Sheva at the same time. We estimate that 2035 will see 30 million train rides.”

During the discussion, it was revealed that the Civil Administration forwarded the plans to ask the Palestinian Authority asking for its input but that PA personnel refused the request. The issue was also raised at a meeting between the Civil Administration head and the director general of the PA’s Interior and Civil Affairs Ministry but to no avail. It was therefore decided to proceed without Palestinian input. Survey Staff Officer Eli Livni, who is also a member of the Supreme Planning Council in Judea and Samaria (and brother of Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni), asked if such a small area really required so many lines. Schmidt responded, saying “This is what reality on the ground requires considering the cities that have to be connected.” Committee member Benny Weil added “OK, let’s say you’re right about the mountain ridge. But the Jordan Valley?! There are hardly any buses traveling there today. Is there really a demand for trains?” Schmidt responded that “The mountain ridge line is for local passengers and commuters, whereas the valley line would serve tourists traveling to the Dead Sea, Eilat and the Sea of Galilee. In any case, it’s the last of our priorities.”

At the end of the discussion it was decided to publish the plan for submission in another 30 days, which means that the documents will now be made public so that reservations and comments may be submitted. Once these objections are discussed, the plan will be published for final validation, whereupon concrete discussions of each and every railway line will begin. Committee chairman Daniel Halimi said that he hopes that the Palestinians will cooperate this time. “From our perspective, publishing the plan for comment submission is an important step for including the public in the planning process.”

July 23 2013

Catherine Ashton : Israeli settlement products to be labeled in EU by end of 2013 By Barak Ravid…

Catherine Ashton: Israeli settlement products to be labeled in EU by end of 2013
By Barak Ravid
Haaretz, 23rd of July
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.537315

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is seeking to draft comprehensive guidelines on labeling settlement products by the end of this year, she told several senior EU officials last week.

She made the comment in a letter - a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz - sent on July 8 to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the seven commissioners responsible for justice, industry, consumer protection, agriculture, taxation, trade and internal market. The commission is the EU’s executive arm.

July 17 2013

How the EU caught Israel off guard with its new settlement guidelines by Barak Ravid Haaretz

How the EU caught Israel off guard with its new settlement guidelines
by Barak Ravid
Haaretz
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.536229

A senior Israeli official Tuesday described new guidelines conditioning future EU agreements with Israel on the latter’s recognition of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as occupied territories as an “earthquake.”

The guidelines, which were drawn up by the European Commission, are expected to be officially released on Friday. Haaretz revealed Tuesday that the document was circulated among all the EU institutions, foundations, investment funds and aid organizations two weeks ago, as well as to all 28 EU member states. They go into effect on January 1.

In a scathing response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We will not accept any external edicts on our borders.” Most cabinet ministers were caught by surprise. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called the decision an “economic terror attack.” Finance Minister Yair Lapid said it was “unfortunate and badly timed,” adding, “every day that Israel is not in talks harms its international status even further.” Meanwhile, opposition chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich called for an immediate resumption of talks.

C'était trop beau, le coup de la directive européenne. En fait, il s'agirait d'une _"soft law"_…

C’était trop beau, le coup de la directive européenne. En fait, il s’agirait d’une "soft law" (recommandation ?) et elle entrerait en application en janvier 2014. Ci-après, copie de la lettre adressée à Pierre Galland (coordination des comités Palestine en Europe) par Aneta Jerska :

Subject: [ECCP] EU guideliness - final confirmation
To: ECCP Google Groupe <eccp-coordination@googlegroups.com>

Dear all,

As there was a lot of confusions today regarding the publication in Haaretz and Guardian I called several EU officials and this is what they confirmed:

1.The EU did not pass an EU directive, these are public EU guidelines “on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards”.

These have been in the pipeline for a while now, are a follow up to the EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of 10 December 2012, and are meant to be officially published on 19 July in the official EU Journal. It is not a “directive” as such but is rather “soft law”. It does not introduce new EU legislation but rather provides guidance on how EU MS should implement existing legislation. The guidelines will however indicate a determination to ensure that the guidelines are adhered with. They relate to the execution of the Commission’s budget until 2020. They will apply in all situations in which the Commission is called upon to grant financial assistance to outside parties (e.g. under programmes such as Horizon 2020, Erasmus, Mundus, Marie Curie, twinning programmes...) They will not be binding on Member States’ programmes.

2. They will come into effect on 1st January 2014, not on 19 July 2013.

3. They will apply only to grants made to legal entities, not natural persons. Thus if a university within Israel proper has students from Maale Adumin, for example, that university will not be blocked from receiving EU funds. Nor will a business established in Israel proper but employing workers residing beyond the green line. But entities like Ahava and Ariel University would be excluded.

all the best

Aneta Jerska
Coordinator, Policy officer
European Coordination Committee for Palestine

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