“An Israeli Bedouin ran over and killed a police officer Wednesday morning during clashes in the southern Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. He was then shot and killed. The violent clashes erupted between residents and police forces after officers arrived to secure the demolition of illegally built structures. Clashes continued into the morning on Wednesday. Israeli Arab lawmaker Ayman Odeh was lightly hurt during the event….Police said the resident rammed his car into security forces, injuring several of them. However, local residents who were at the scene said that the driver lost control of his vehicle after he was shot by police. Police said Abu al-Kian was a member of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement. Locals said he was a well-known mathematics teacher.”
“The deadly incident in the Negev, in which a Bedouin civilian and a policeman were killed, is a flash point in the relationship between the State of Israel and the Bedouin living in Israel’s south….The demolition of homes in Umm al-Hiran came just one week after a widely publicized mission to raze illegally built homes in the Arab town of Kalansua in central Israel. In late December, the whole nation was virtually paralyzed by the crisis over evicting the settlers from Amona. Meanwhile not a single home in Amona has been demolished, even though efforts to legislate a way out of the problem have proved unsuccessful. But Netanyahu and Erdan lost no time leveraging their enforcement of the law against Arabs. The impression is that what is driving aggressive enforcement in Israeli Arab towns within the Green Line is the Amona crisis and public expectation of strong moves against terrorism after attacks like the one in Jerusalem last week.”
Israel as the Lights Go Out, The New York Times
Roger Cohen writes, “[L]et’s be clear on the settlements. They may or may not constitute a primary cause of the conflict, but they do demonstrate Israel’s decades-long commitment to building in a way that makes a viable Palestinian state impossible. You cannot be a Palestinian in the West Bank watching the steady growth of Israeli settlements, outposts and barriers without concluding that Israel’s occasional murmurings about a two-state peace are mere camouflage for a project whose objective is to control all the land in perpetuity without annexing it. Annexation would be awkward; some 2.75 million Palestinians would demand the vote. Better to play games and let millions of strangers squirm….Why was this unremarkable formula unsayable for so long? Because cowardice inhabits Washington, Jerusalem and Ramallah: This little diplomatic flurry has been obscene. Kerry was honorable; Obama lacked courage. Netanyahu dismissed the ‘last twitches of yesterday’s world.’ It is a measure of where we are that tomorrow’s may well be worse.”
Dan Rothem argues, “Kerry’s collection of final status orthodoxies was underwhelming. There was nothing new or advanced in his vision of borders based on the 1967 lines, of Jerusalem as a city that fulfills the aspirations of both parties, of resolving the plight of Palestinian refugees in a manner consistent with the two-state solution, and of arrangements that ensure Israeli security and Palestinian sovereignty. Since the sides couldn’t reach agreement even in earnest negotiations, since traditional U.S. positions like the Clinton Parameters were flawed and did not bring about a breakthrough, since Kerry represents a futureless administration, and since the political blowback was generally predetermined, Kerry could have moved American positions, and international consensus with them, to where a two-state solution actually is. But he did not.”
Frederica Mogherini writes, “Against a dramatic regional background, the nuclear deal is a glimpse of what is possible in international relations, by tackling the conflicts affecting the region in a cooperative manner. We can mark the first anniversary of the start of the implementation of the nuclear deal by clearly saying that it is working, thanks to the commitment and determination of all. And we can start 2017 by reaffirming our strong collective interest in living up to the commitments we have all made, building security not only for the region but for the entire world.”
The main Palestinian parties on Tuesday announced a deal to form a national unity government prior to the holding of elections, after three days of reconciliation talks in Moscow. “We have reached agreement under which, within 48 hours, we will call on (Palestinian leader) Mahmud Abbas to launch consultations on the creation of a government” of national unity, senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told a press conference, speaking in Arabic. After the government is formed, the Palestinians would set up a national council, which would include Palestinians in exile, and hold elections.
President Barack Obama said his administration had remained “steadfast” in countering Iranian threats to Israel in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal. Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, in their final week in office, marked the anniversary Monday of the implementation of the deal reached between Iran and six major powers led by the United States exchanging sanctions relief for a nuclear rollback. In separate statements, they said Iran was complying with the agreement, thus significantly reducing the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons. Obama additionally noted that he has stepped up bids to counter Iran’s non-nuclear-related hostility in the region.
Poll shows most Israelis think Netanyahu lying in corruption probe, Times of Israel
More than half of Israelis do not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he denies any wrong doing in his corruption investigation, a survey indicates. According to Channel 2, 54 percent of Israelis do not believe the prime minister’s assertion that “there was nothing.” It says 28 percent do believe him and 18 percent don’t know. In addition, among the general public 44 percent say he should resign, 43 percent think he should stay and 13 percent don’t know.
The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed a controversial bill on Tuesdaythat would allow verdicts from military court proceedings in the occupied West Bank to be submitted as evidence in Israeli civilian courts, a move which critics claim is another step aiming to illegally annex the West Bank by applying Israeli domestic laws in the territory. During a debate over the bill — proposed by MK Anat Berko from the ruling Likud party — opposition MKs argued that the bill constitutes an extension of the Israeli occupation and the government’s control over the West Bank, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
A Palestinian man who attempted to stab an Israeli soldier was shot and killed in the West Bank on Tuesday, the military said. The statement said no soldier was wounded in the incident, which took place at a checkpoint near Tulkarm in the northern West Bank. Palestinian reports said the suspected attacker as Nidal Daoud Mahdawi, 44, from Tulkarm.
Right-wing Israeli lawmakers and leaders of the settler movement reportedly will attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. The lawmakers, according to the Forward, include Likud Party member Yehuda Glick, a former U.S. citizen and Temple Mount activist who lives in the West Bank settlement of Otniel, and Likud lawmaker Sharren Haskel, an immigrant from Canada. Among the settler leaders reportedly coming are Oded Revivi, chairman of the Yesha settlers’ council. The Yesha council was invited to send a delegation to the inauguration, The Times of Israel reported.
Israeli rights group Yesh Din submitted a complaint to Israeli civil authorities on behalf of Palestinian landowners, claiming that they own four plots of land allocated for the building of alternative housing for residents of the soon-to-be demolished Israeli settler outpost of Amona, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.
Amos Harel observes, “the tension and demonstrations in Gaza show that Hamas isn’t sitting pretty as it once did. The organization is still rife with divisions over the effort to appoint a new political leader to replace Khaled Mashal, and over the gap in positions between the political and military wings. Iran, which has renewed financial support to Gaza and supplied Hamas with $80 million last year, is trying to exploit the tension. Israel also has reason to follow events. If Gazans step up their protests over the next crisis, which could be about water supply or sewage, Hamas could be tempted to fire into Israel. Israel’s steps to improve Gaza’s living conditions, which the United Nations warns will become intolerable in three years, remain slow and negligible.”
James Zogby argues, “Those who think that Arabs and Muslims will simply bow down before a Trumpian display of decisive strength are playing with fire. It is true that the region is divided and distracted by the unraveling consequences of the Arab Spring, but messing with Jerusalem would be the catalyst for a focused and unified Arab and Muslim response. There would be massive unrest across the region and demands for a response. Should governments fail to act, it would be provide revolutionary Iran and extremist Sunni groups the opening they want to discredit those governments and further destabilize the region.”
Debra Nussbaum Cohen reports, “There has perhaps never been so much interest and effort invested in the relationship between Muslims and Jews in the United States. A number of organizations have recently initiated and expanded a multiplicity of projects – all aimed at reducing animosity between the two groups and building an alliance at a time when minorities’ civil rights are being threatened by the advent of a new administration, and civil discourse between people who disagree appears to be increasingly far-fetched.”
Daniel Yadin argues, “With American Jewish institutions like the Zionist Organization of America and the Jewish Federations of North America encouraging some of Israel’s most destructive policies under the auspices of being “pro-Israel,” American Jews risk enabling more war, violence and injustice. The American Jewish community has the power to change this. By embracing our singular relationship with Israel, entailing both a root understanding of the Israeli reality and a firm set of values often contrary to Israel’s actions, we can effect positive change in a way no international body or student group can. American Jews who care about equality should be actively critiquing Israel’s myriad unjust policies, engaging with their local communities, supporting organizations that advocate for their values, and actively building a better and fairer Israel.”
“A Haaretz investigation….reveals that the two main players in the probe – billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer, who allegedly showered Netanyahu and his family with these expensive gifts – were linked to a global security firm run by former top Israeli security and intelligence experts.”
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