“Israeli human rights groups representing Arab villages in the West Bank petitioned the high court Wednesday to block a contentious new law that would allow Israel to seize private Palestinian land and award it to Jewish settlers. The first legal challenges to the law came amid especially blunt condemnation by Israel’s allies. Israel’s own attorney general warned that the bill violated international law and was likely to be blocked by the high court….The White House said the Trump administration was withholding comment until Israel’s courts rule on the legality of the bill. That could take weeks or longer.”
An organization headed by David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador-designate to Israel, is behind a new construction project in the West Bank settlement of Beit El recently approved by the government. The project includes a five-story building – part of which has already been constructed illegally on private Palestinian land and will be retroactively legalized – and 20 housing units, according to the Peace Now Settlement Watch project. It is being funding by American Friends of Beit El Institutions, which raises several million dollars a year for this particular settlement.
Israel’s anti-missile Iron Dome system intercepted at least three missiles fired from the Sinai at its southernmost resort town, Eilat. The Israeli media quoted the army as saying the missiles were fired Wednesday evening. There were varying counts on the total number of missiles fired, between four and seven. There were no injuries.
Ori Nir observes, “Netanyahu will learn that among almost all the Jewish organizations and Jewish communities – including (perhaps to his surprise) a large part of the Orthodox – Trump is considered the antithesis of what they call “Jewish values” and “American values.” American Jews overwhelmingly and with very few exceptions, see Trump as a threat not only to the values of freedom, justice and tolerance, but also to them as Jews, personally and collectively. They view Trump as fomenting anti-Semitism and therefore as a strategic threat to American Jewry. No less. In many places in the United States, Jewish organizations and Jewish communities are at the forefront of the anti-Trump protest movement. Trump’s draconian immigration policy is anathema to the post-Holocaust ethos that American Jews have forged out of belief and experience. Netanyahu seems mesmerized by the pro-settlement consultants who surround Trump. American Jews, however, fear the racists, xenophobes and anti-Semites drawn to Trump. They focus on Steve Bannon. They see the increase in hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents in the U..S over the past couple of years, and link them to the kind of ultra-nationalism that drove Trump to the Oval Office.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) issued strongly worded denunciation on Wednesday to Israel’s outpost-legalization bill, which was passed by the Knesset earlier this week.
Feinstein said in a statement that the bill was “a dramatic step away from peace” and that it “not only legalizes thousands of settler homes throughout the West Bank, but also encourages further expansion of settlements and outposts on land that the Oslo Accords envisioned for a future Palestinian state.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on world nations to officially recognize the state of Palestinian as soon as possible to help save the two-state solution. Abbas, speaking from Paris, told members of the French parliament that the two-state solution requires countries who recognize Israel to also recognize Palestine.
Ireland will likely recognize a Palestinian state, Israel’s ambassador to the country reportedly warned in a cable to Jerusalem. Zeev Boker sent the cautionary dispatch Tuesday, Haaretz reported. Israel had already expected Dublin would officially recognize Palestine, and the Knesset’s recent passage of a law to legalize thousands of West Bank settlements strengthened that assessment, an Israeli official told the Israeli daily.
The vice president of the New Israel Fund, Jennifer Gorovitz, was delayed at Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday by Israeli immigration personal. Gorovitz, who came to Israel to patriciate in a NIF board meeting, told Haaretz that she was delayed for three and a half hours and was questioned thee different times. She says she was asked about the NIF’s activities and on the funding it supplies to different NGOs in Israel.
The Jewish resettlement agency HIAS has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on refugees. The complaint, filed Tuesday by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union in U.S. District Court in Maryland, alleges that the order violates the Constitution by discriminating against one religion and favoring others. Trump’s order specifically gives preference to persecuted religious minorities once the refugee resettlement program is resumed.
An elderly Palestinian died after being run over by an Israeli settler on Wednesday near the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Daniel in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem.
Allison Kaplan Sommer reports, “Any hope of a congressional repudiation of the White House Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that left out Jews and anti-Semitism fell victim to partisan politics on Tuesday. A proposed resolution in the House of Representatives would have contravened the White House statement, declaring “the indisputable fact that the Nazi regime targeted the Jewish people in its perpetration of the Holocaust and calling on every entity in the executive branch to affirm that fact.” Introduced by Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York last week, the resolution would have pushed back against the statement and the White House’s defense of the decision as an intentional move to be “inclusive” of all Holocaust victims….Crowley was ultimately unsuccessful. Republicans rejected his plan in a party-line vote.”
Senators Donnelly and Young: Reject the President’s Dangerous Israel Ambassador Nominee, Indiana Daily Student
Leah Grynheim and Esther Roselaar write to their senators, “as proud American Jews, Indiana residents and pro-Israel college students. As strong advocates for Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state and Palestinian human rights, we strongly support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with a strong US-Israel relationship based on our shared values. It is with these important goals and principles in mind that we urge you to vote against the confirmation of David Friedman, President Trump’s nominee to serve as US ambassador to Israel. David Friedman is unequivocally unfit to serve in this sensitive and important position as a representative of our country. His extreme views, rhetoric and temperament make clear that he is deeply unqualified and would present a danger to US and Israeli interests, undermining the prospects for peace in a tumultuous region.”
Yehuda Shaul writes, “On Monday the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with his British counterpart, Theresa May. Among other things, he asked her to stop the UK government’s funding of the group I co-founded, Breaking the Silence, as well as other human rights organisations in Israel and Palestine. This is regardless of the fact that Breaking the Silence has not received funding from the British government since 2011….Friends of Israel in the UK should ask themselves what it means to be pro-Israel: is it helping Netanyahu maintain the occupation, turning us into an apartheid state? Or is it helping to restore democracy through ending the occupation, thus actualising a two-state solution?”
Mazal Mualem reports “Mor Yosef runs the political and media campaign to legalize nine houses in the settlement of Ofra that were built on privately owned Palestinian land and are slated for demolition, according to a Supreme Court ruling. His campaign’s aggressive, intimidating messages target the leaders of HaBayit HaYehudi, calling on them and their party to deliver. After all, the settlers believe that the circumstances are more favorable now than they have been in a very long time. An obviously right-wing government rules Israel, while the Donald Trump administration in the United States appears to support the settler enterprise.”
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