Monday, June 29, 2009
Israqel "Fed up" with US Declarations against Yesha
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Israel ‘Fed Up’ with US
A senior Israeli government official said that Israel is “fed up” with American statements against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the Hebrew-language Yisrael HaYom (Israel Today) newspaper reported Monday.
As Defense Minister Ehud Barak flies to Washington for meetings with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, the unnamed senior official stated, “Israel will demand that any compromise be part of a wider program of regional peace, and only after agreement on the basic principles outlines by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his [recen speech at Bar-Ilan University.” The Prime Minister declared for the first time that he would accept the creation of a new Arab state on part of the land of Judea and Samaria on condition that it be de-militarized and that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has categorically rejected both conditions after having been encouraged by American and European support for the Arab-world demands that Israel surrender all of the land restored to the Jewish state in the Six-Day War in 1967, including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Government sources told Yisrael HaYom that during Defense Minister Barak’s visit, “The Americans will hear decisive statements regarding the possibility of freezing construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria. Israel will be prepared to listen to a freeze only if it is temporary and if the Americans will explicitly state” that it will later approve building in communities with a high concentration of Jewish residents.
Israel has stated for public consumption that good relations with the U.S. are important, but any freeze, even temporary, is likely to meet stiff opposition from Shas and Likud party ministers. Shas leader Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said, "This kind of thinking is incorrect. The discussion needs to be not only about ‘settlements’ but also about obligations of the PA.”
The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) is thoroughly opposed to any restrictions on building for Jews but is willing to vacate certain hilltop communities, also called “outposts.”
Pinchas Wallerstein, a long-time leader in Yesha, wrote in a local newspaper in Samaria this week that if an outpost was built on Arab land that cannot be purchased by Jews, the Yesha Council would agreed to transfer it to another location on condition that the current building freeze is removed.
He charged that the new American government is trying to take "Barak Hussein Obama's pound of flesh for the Arab world towards which he now sets his sights.” President Obama stated in his Cairo University speech earlier this month that “the U.S. does not view the settlements as legitimate." he has issued repeated calls for a halt to building for Jews,
Even the Washington Post, which usually sides against Israeli policies in Yesha, is concerned with the Obama administration having painted itself a corner in the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Jackson Diehl, the newspaper’s deputy editorial page editor, wrote Monday morning: “The administration made the mistake of insisting that an Israeli settlement ‘freeze’ - a term the past three administrations agreed to define loosely - must mean a total stop to all construction in the West Bank and even East Jerusalem.
“This absolutist position is a loser for three reasons. First, it has allowed Palestinian and Arab leaders to withhold the steps they were asked for; they claim to be waiting for the settlement "freeze" even as they quietly savor a rare public battle between Israel and the United States. Second, the administration's objective -- whatever its merits -- is unobtainable. No Israeli government has ever agreed to an unconditional freeze, and no coalition could be assembled from the current parliament to impose one.
"Finally, the extraction of a freeze from Netanyahu is, as a practical matter, unnecessary. While further settlement expansion needs to be curbed, both the Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have gone along with previous U.S.-Israeli deals by which construction was to be limited to inside the periphery of settlements near Israel -- since everyone knows those areas will be annexed to Israel in a final settlement.”
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4. 50 Houses for Migron Residents - Who Don't Want Them
by Hillel Fendel Gov't Entices Migron With Houses The State announces: A new neighborhood in the developing Yesha city of Adam will be built for the residents of the outpost of Migron – who have not given their consent.
State representatives informed the Court that in accordance with a year-old agreement with the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria – though, significantly, not with the residents themselves – 50 houses would be built for them in the town of Adam, three aerial kilometers to the south.
50 Now, 1,400 at a Date to be Named Later - if Ever
The Defense Ministry announced that it had approved in principle no fewer than 1,450 new housing units in the burgeoning town of Adam, but that at present, only 50 units would be built. Every additional group of units will require a special permit from the Defense Ministry.
Politicians on both sides of the spectrum see the move as designed to liquidate the Jewish settlement enterprise. MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) called on the residents not to accept the plan, saying, “The Prime Minister means to destroy Yesha, beginning with the dismantling of the smaller communities. There is no room here for compromises and concessions.” The residents have thus far been adamant in refusing to give up their homes.
MK Amir Peretz (Labor), a former Defense Minister, said that the idea of relocating Migron is a very important one: “It is very positive that little outposts are being included inside larger towns, in anticipation of a final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority,” he told Army Radio.
The timing of the announcement coincides with Defense Minister Ehud Barak's trip to Washington, where he will reportedly offer to freeze new Yesha construction for the next three months.
Migron was founded in March 2002 on a strategic hilltop overlooking the highway leading from Jerusalem to Beit El, Shilo and northward. It grew to 30 families within only a few months, and later to 43 – but its growth was abruptly cut short by a government order to ban new caravans and construction in the area. Within a year of its founding, it began appearing on lists of outposts to be destroyed by Ariel Sharon’s government, and has lived under the shadow of destruction every since.
The Biblical location Migron is mentioned in Samuel I 14,2 and Isaiah 10, 28.
Cabinet Minister Moshe Yaalon, a former IDF Chief of Staff and a strong force behind Migron's establishment, said at the time that it was strategically important for Israel to grab that spot - a high hilltop overlooking a highway leading to Psagot, Beit El, Kokhav Yaakov, Michmash, Ofrah, and more.
In October 2003, Migron and other outposts were granted a form of government recognition. Ron Shechner, Settlement Affairs Advisor to then-Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz , explained, "This is a recognition of the fact that people who live in these places are entitled to basic services such as security and defense, lighting, children's nurseries, and the like. The fundamental question of the outposts' legality must still be decided by the government."
Just two months later, Defense Minister Mofaz gave the order to uproot and dismantle Migron. Within two weeks, though, when the government saw it would have to deal with thousands of people planning to come and defend the site, and when strong opposition arose within the Likud, Migron was taken off the immediate chopping-block list. The long-term threat was never removed, however.
Peace Now Seeks Out Arab Claimants
Sometime afterwards, Peace Now sought out Arabs who claimed to own some of the land on which Migron was built, and a court suit demanding its destruction was filed. Residents of Migron emphasize that though some of the land on which Migron was founded is officially listed as Arab-owned, these Arabs had never come forward to make their claim, nor had they ever cultivated these lands - until Peace Now sought them out and encouraged them to do so.
Dozens of outposts have been established throughout Judea and Samaria before and since the Oslo Accords, and many of them have developed into full-fledged communities, including synagogues and educational facilities. The only thing rendering them illegal and unauthorized, Yesha leaders say, is the fact that Defense Minister Barak refuses to sign the final approval. Many towns throughout Israel were established in a similar manner: first facts on the ground, then official approval.
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5. PA Blocking Dead Sea from 7 Wonders of the World Contest
by Yehudah Lev Kay PA Blocks Dead Sea From Contest
The Palestinian Authority has refused to nominate the Dead Sea for a worldwide contest to select the new seven natural wonders of the world, and as a result the famous salty sea will probably be disqualified from the contest next week.
The Dead Sea is currently ranked number six in voting in the "Lakes, Rivers and Waterfalls" category, which would guarantee it a spot in the next round of the New Seven Wonder contest. However, in order to advance according to the contest rules, the PA must join Israel and Jordan in forming a committee of support for the lake's nomination, which it refuses to do.
“We will not be forming a committee,” PA Tourism Minister Khouloud Douaibes told Reuters, claiming the Israeli part of the committee “has been consulting with settler councilmen on occupied land.”
Jordan has already agreed to participate, and its Dead Sea committee of support is headed by Nayef Al-Fayez, the country’s Health Minister.
The Israeli committee to support the sea was formed by the Megilot Dead Sea Regional Council, which consists of six communities to the northwest of the sea, just inside the Green Line. It did not include communities in Judea and Samaria, although these also neighbor the Dead Sea, but aroused the ire of the PA anyway.
“We’re very disappointed by their decision,” Megilot spokewoman Gura Berger told Israel National News. “We hope that in any case the Seven Wonders committee will allow the Dead Sea to move on to the next stage of the contest.”
Berger explained that if the Dead Sea overcomes the political barriers in its way, it will most likely be nominated for the final stage of voting, in which she hopes dedicated Dead Sea fans can propel it to the top slot.
Voting for the New Seven Wonders of the World is currently underway at http://www.new7wonders.com/
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6. AOL Director In Country To Join Israel's 'GarageGeeks'
by Malkah Fleisher AOL Chief in Israel Monday
AOL chief executive officer Tim Armstrong arrives in Israel Monday, representing the global Internet services and media company at a GarageGeeks event in Holon hosted by Israeli entrepreneur Yossi Vardi.
GarageGeeks "is an Israeli based not-profit physical and virtual space for innovative and creative people to introduce, network, expose, create, brainstorm, innovate and build," says the group's website. "People that take part in the activities come from different disciplines such as electronics, software, mechanical, art, design, music, hacking and gaming. The spirit of GarageGeeks promotes building non-commercial projects that otherwise may not have come to life."
True to their name, the geniuses who are responsible for many of Israel's modern inventions meet periodically in a machinery garage in Holon, where Armstrong will also give a speech and mingle.
AOL's chief is a welcome visitor in Israel, not just because of his prominence, but also because of the international business relationship he represents. While Yahoo has an investment in Israel and Google co-founder Sergey Brin visited in the spring of 2008, AOL has by far the largest stake in Israeli companies of the major internet giants. The company, formerly known as America Online, employs 200 Israelis.
The communications company has already purchased Israeli companies Mirabilis (developers of ICQ instant messaging), Relegence (real-time intelligence automation), Quigo (online advertising), and Yedda (search technology) to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
While in country, Armstrong – who was named CEO in March- will continue AOL's work to foster a link between Israel's high-tech community and the conglomerate, meeting with various Israeli start-ups.
During his stay, Armstrong will focus on companies suited to AOL's profile.