A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Posts Tagged ‘Settlers’

Israel’s Fading Democracy – NYTimes.com

In News, Politics, Really?!? on August 5, 2012 at 12:34

Israel’s Fading Democracy 

WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States.My generation, born in the ’50s, grew up with the deep, almost religious belief that the two countries shared basic values and principles. Back then, Americans and Israelis talked about democracy, human rights, respect for other nations and human solidarity. It was an age of dreamers and builders who sought to create a new world, one without prejudice, racism or discrimination.Listening to today’s political discourse, one can’t help but notice the radical change in tone. My children have watched their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kowtow to a fundamentalist coalition in Israel. They are convinced that what ties Israel and America today is not a covenant of humanistic values but rather a new set of mutual interests: war, bombs, threats, fear and trauma. How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?Mr. Netanyahu’s great political “achievement” has been to make Israel a partisan issue and push American Jews into a corner. He has forced them to make political decisions based on calculations that go against what they perceive to be American interests. The emotional extortion compels Jews to pressure the Obama administration, a government with which they actually share values and worldviews, when those who love Israel should be doing the opposite: helping the American government to intervene and save Israel from itself.Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash.In the early years of statehood, the meaning of the term “Jewish” was national and secular. In the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers, to be a Jew was exactly like being an Italian, Frenchman or American. Over the years, this elusive concept has changed; today, the meaning of “Jewish” in Israel is mainly ethnic and religious. With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world. I see the transformation in my own family. My father, one of the founders of the state of Israel and of the National Religious Party, was an enlightened rabbi and philosopher. Many of the younger generation are far less open, however; some are ultra-Orthodox or ultranationalist settlers.This extremism was not the purpose of creating a Jewish state. Immigrants from all over the world dreamed of a government that would be humane and safe for Jews. The founders believed that democracy was the only way to regulate the interests of many contradictory voices. Jewish culture, consolidated through Halakha, the religious Jewish legal tradition, created a civilization that has devoted itself to an unending conversation among different viewpoints and the coexistence of contradictory attitudes toward the fulfillment of the good.

 

Israel legalizes West Bank settler outposts – The Guardian

In News, Politics on April 24, 2012 at 09:28

Israel legalizes West Bank settler outposts 

This doesn’t help the peace process. 

Israel legalized three unsanctioned West Bank settler outposts and was trying to save another on Tuesday, infuriating the Palestinians as the chief American Mideast envoy was in the region laboring to revive peace efforts.

The decision fueled suspicions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline coalition would try to legalize as many rogue settlement sites as possible to cement Israel’s hold on occupied land the Palestinians claim for a state.

Netanyahu faces stiff pressure from pro-settler hardliners within his own coalition to fend off legal challenges to the unauthorized construction. Some hardliners have even warned that the coalition, which until now has been remarkably stable, could unravel over the issue.

Palestinians claim all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem as the core of their hoped-for state, and see all Israeli settlement as illegal encroachment on those lands. They have refused to restart peace talks until construction halts.

“We call upon the Israeli government to immediately stop all unilateral acts,” said senior Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdeneh. “Netanyahu is pushing things into deadlock once again.”

A string of Israeli governments have pledged not to build any new settlements. But critics say the settler movement, with quiet support from the government, has used the outposts to grab more West Bank land. Dozens of clusters of houses or mobile homes dot the West Bank, in addition to more than 120 authorized settlements.

Netanyahu says the issue of settlements should be resolved through peace talks, which broke down more than three years ago over the settlement issue.

Israel began settling the West Bank and east Jerusalem immediately after capturing them in the 1967 Mideast war, and 500,000 Jews now live there. The international community widely condemns the construction.

 

Israel Evicts Settlers From Hebron House – NYTimes.com

In Politics, Really?!? on April 4, 2012 at 17:07

What one hand giveth… the other hand taketh away- 

Israeli police and border officers swiftly evicted a group of Jewish settlers from a contested house in the volatile West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday on the orders of the minister of defense, officials said, though at the same time, the Israeli government signaled strong support for more Jewish settlement in areas it captured in the 1967 war.

Among the signs of official support, the Ministry of Housing, on its Web site, invited bids for plots for the construction of more than 800 apartments in Har Homa, a Jewish development across the 1967 lines in southeast Jerusalem, and in Givat Zeev, a settlement north of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

“The principle that has guided me is to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said later on Wednesday, using the biblical names for the West Bank. “But there is one principle that we uphold,” he added, in a warning to unruly settlers. “We do everything according to the law.”

The official support complicates any prospect of renewed peace talks, as Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare for a rare high-level meeting later this month.

 

UN body to probe Israeli settlements – Al Jazeera English

In News on March 22, 2012 at 16:52

UN body to probe legality of  Israeli Expansionist Settlers Actions

The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution ordering a first probe into how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of the Palestinians.

The resolution was adopted on Thursday, with 36 votes in favour and 10 abstentions. Only the United States voted against it.

Presenting the resolution, a Pakistani envoy criticised Israel for insisting on building more settlements in the occupied territories, saying that they are “in violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws”.

“This resolution seeks to respond to the humanitarian and human rights challenges this illegal Israeli practice has created in the occupied territories,” he said.

Beyond ordering an investigation into the implications of settlements, the resolution also calls on Israel to “take and implement serious measures” such as confiscating arms to prevent acts of violence by Israeli settlers.

The United States, however, spoke up against the move, saying it was “deeply troubled by this Council’s bias against Israel”.

If there is any “Bias” here… it’s certainly not the Council’s.