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Israel

The time of Netanyahu comes to an end

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In the elections to the Knesset, the right-wing party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party received the most votes. Likud got 30 mandates, this is 6 less than the party received a year ago. The main question now is whether Netanyahu will be able to form a coalition to gain a majority in the Knesset and retain the PM post for which the incumbent Prime Minister led the country into the biggest parliamentary crisis in Israeli history. The situation was further complicated by the fact that the active phase of this political showdown happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another problematic factor for the political life of Israel is the change of administration in Washington, DC. Finally, the main thorns in Netanyahu's side are the active corruption investigations against him, by State Attorney Shai Nitzan and Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Even counterattacks from Netanyahu's pocket media killer Yoav Yitzhak have not slowed down the investigation against the Israeli Prime Minister, writes Tom Vesman.

WILL THE USA SUPPORT THE PRIME MINISTER?

The Israeli parliamentary crisis affects the interests of not only Europe, but the entire world. Israel's exceptional position in the explosive Middle East puts this small country of 9 million in the cross-sights of international political and economic interest. The elections for the Knesset, that were held in Israel on 23 March, the results of which were approved just two weeks ago, show how far Israeli political intrigue is from democratic values ​​and moral norms. This could be considered an exclusively internal matter for Israel, if it were not for the possibility of a big war on the fields of Syria between Israel and Iran.

Benjamin Netanyahu's government has relaxed its domestic policies towards groups such as Hamas over the years, in the hopes of reaping long-term benefits. However, this ultimately led to the fourth elections to the Knesset in two years, in which the Arab party Ra'am for the first time overcame the 3.25% barrier required to enter parliament.

For the past four years, Netanyahu has enjoyed the support of the United States, provided by President Donald Trump, an implacable fighter against international terrorism and a true lobbyist for Israel's interests. The paradox is that the level of support for Israel from Washington will decline, despite the fact that the US Democratic establishment is inclined to sympathise with the Palestinians. This is not new, actually. Just remember Hillary Clinton, who sharply criticised Israel for building houses in East Jerusalem, and later met with Palestinian leaders. It is unlikely that Joe Biden will withdraw the decisions of his predecessor to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Golan Heights as part of Israel, as well as to return the US Embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but at this stage Israel definitely loses unconditional international support from the United States until the Prime Minister is Netanyahu.

In general, the Israeli political landscape is an ideal illustration of the game of thrones according to the laws, described in the 16th century by Niccolo Machiavelli. Over the past years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demonstrated all the skills of a sneaky leader: he betrayed partners, leaked compromising info on rivals, deceived followers, and received accusations of corruption.

For instance, last December, Netanyahu once again refused to approve the budget, in order to prevent his coalition partner Benjamin Gantz, leader of the “Kaḥol Lavan alliance” (Blue and White, in English), from taking the rotation post of prime minister, as enshrined in the coalition agreement between the Likud and Kaḥol Lavan. The démarche of the Prime Minister automatically led to the dismissal of the Knesset. To cite another example: in the last round of the Knesset race, Netanyahu gave the green light to journalist Yoav Yitzhak, who released daily on his website News1 (www.news1.co.il) materials that discredited opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu. The same Gantz was highlighted in a series of publications. Yoav Yitzhak wrote about sex videos that leaked from the politician's phone, accusing him of security negligence in mobile technology.

Unsurprisingly, activists chose to stage anti-government demonstrations last March instead of voting. Voter turnout in Israel on 23 March was the lowest in 12 years. And here's the icing on the cake: Netanyahu could join a coalition with Mansour Abbas (Ra'am - United Arab List) to get the coveted majority in the Knesset.

ISRAEL'S RAT RACE

Israel's political structure differs from most European countries. Israeli voters do not follow two or three main parties, but distribute their votes among at least 20 parties, half of which enter the Knesset. In Israel, almost 6.5 million citizens can vote, respectively, the threshold of passage is 3.25% - this is only 211 thousand votes with 100% turnout. In the latest elections to the Knesset, the turnout was 67.2%, which means that the real threshold for entering the Knesset is about 140 thousand people. This is an unprecedented opportunity for small political groups and parties to influence the politics and economy of the most important state in the region.

Any party that won seats in the Knesset and entered the ruling coalition can apply for a ministry post. The low physical barrier of entry into the Knesset turns election campaigns into a war of compromising materials. Dwarf and radical parties form volatile alliances to gain more votes. Those who entered the Knesset are beginning to trade mandates, because to form a government, a simple majority in the Knesset is needed - 61 out of 120 deputies. Alliances are created and disintegrate just as rapidly. Even the statement of the formal head of Israel, President Reuven Rivlin following the results of these elections, confirms the absurdity of the situation: he hoped Knesset members will 'hear the nation’s demand for unusual collaborations and inter-community cooperation’.

What is exotic in other countries is the norm in Israel. Over the past five years, Prime Minister Netanyahu has invited all political forces in Israel to partnership in order to stay in office. And the Prime Minister outwitted absolutely all partners. Now it is the turn of the Arab bloc, without which Netanyahu cannot get the majority. But cooperation with Islamists could be the final political move in Netanyahu's career.

During the election campaign in Israel, politicians do not hesitate to humiliate their rivals in their official statements. For example, Prime Minister and leader of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu, in his election advertising, explicitly called on Russian-speaking electors not to vote for his main opponents Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the “Yisrael Beiteinu” (Israel Our Home, in English) party, and Yair Lapid, leader of the “Yesh Atid” party (There Is A Future, in English): 'Voting for Lieberman is a threat to Israel's economic growth, because Lieberman will be forced to enter a rotation government with Lapid, who was the most failed finance minister in the country's history'. During this race, there was another story with an attempt to bribe Russian speakers by the Likud.

A special role in the dirty political game is played by the media, which, following the politicians, are not shy in expressions and falsification of facts, but sometimes play more subtly. And here is the best example of the already mentioned Israeli news site News1. If we talk about dirty methods, then the main electoral topic that Yoav Yitzhak fanned is the alleged gay scandal around Avigdor Lieberman, who allegedly refused to meet with a gay deputy. The topic is very sensitive for Israelis, because Tel Aviv is considered one of the main LGBT capitals in the world. At the same time, News1 observers showed a more clever game: after the elections, they persistently predict the entry of the Islamic party Ra'am into a coalition with Lapid and Lieberman, which, according to the initial idea, was to create a conflict situation and lead Ra'am to Likud. After all, Lieberman is known for his irreconcilable stance to radicals. He left the government in 2018 precisely after Prime Minister Netanyahu allowed financial help to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation in Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Journalists, prosecutors, lawyers and the military are fighting for Israeli politicians. Israel is perhaps the only civilised country where investigative journalism is an instrument of undercover political struggle, and Israeli lawyers fall under criminal investigations more often than Swedish lawyers go to sauna.

NETANYAHU'S HAND GRENADE

Benjamin Netanyahu is known to have appreciated the energy of Yoav Yitzhak back in the mid-90s, during his first term as prime minister. A reporter for the economic newspaper Globes Yitzhak has filed a legal claim against the appointment of attorney Yaakov Neeman, Netanyahu's Likud ally, as Minister of Justice. In 1996, it was about the alleged perjury pointed out by Yoav, although how this issue had to do with the stock exchange news, which the journalist was covering at the time, remains open to this day. The Minister of Justice was forced to resign and an investigation was launched against him, which did not confirm Yoav Yitzhak's claims. Neeman returned to government, but this time as finance minister. When Benjamin Netanyahu regained his post as prime minister in 2009, he used Yoav Yitzhak's skill as intended - attacking and drowning his rivals, supporting associates such as attorney Pinhas Fishler. Perhaps this is one of the secrets of the political longevity of Netanyahu, who has not let go of the reins of government in Israel since 2009.

Yoav Yitzhak is a famous person in Israel. He started as a reporter for the Maariv newspaper, worked for the economic publication Globes, and in 2000 founded his own news website News1. He became famous in the late 90s when he published an investigation into the financial misuse of Israeli President Ezer Weizman, which led to his resignation. Yoav Yitzhak's star peak struck in 2006 when his News1 website posted a series of stories about the deceptions of the former Jerusalem mayor and current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. These materials later formed the basis of the criminal case against Olmert, who was succeeded by Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister. It is still unknown how and from whom Yoav Yitzhak received documents on the financial frauds of Ehud Olmert, which led to the imprisonment of the former Prime Minister.

Yoav Yitzhak obviously has access to the most classified documents like no other reporter in Israel. This is simply impossible in a small transparent country without support from the very top. This is probably the reason why the only enemies of Bibi, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is called in Israel, become the targets of News1. The journalist is not liked in the Israeli media community. For a couple of decades, he managed to sue all national newspapers and even challenged the appointment of Yossi Bar-Mocha as CEO of Tel Aviv's Journalists Association.

Yoav Yitzhak acts on behalf of his patron without aesthetics, but with the effect of a human hand grenade. He floods Israel's Supreme Court with public claims, holds press conferences, manipulating facts, and publishes revealing stories. True, he receives many defamation counterclaims and regularly pays for them, as in the case of the Haaretz' publisher Amos Shoken, who demanded from Yoav and News1 500 thousand shekels (125 thousand euros).

Yoav used his entire tactical set in the last elections, where his main victim was Avigdor Lieberman, a former coalition partner of the prime minister. It all started with a series of lawsuits against Lieberman. In 2019 he and his family were the subject of seven complaints filed with police, prosecutors and tax authorities: five of them anonymous and two made by journalist Yoav Yitzhak.

'It's clear to me that behind this move are Netanyahu and his lawyer Amit Hadad,' Lieberman said, claiming that private investigators and journalists had been sent to dig up dirt on him.

Yoav did not forget about Lieberman in his Twitter, using every opportunity to denigrate the opponent of Netanyahu. For example, in early February, Yoav Yitzhak posted two polls on his Twitter page: 'what do you think about the moral purity of Lieberman and Netanyahu'. The results of voting on Twitter could not surprise anyone: 96.6% of respondents chose the definition of 'rotten and corrupt mafioso' for the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, the rest voted for 'a decent politician with clean hands'. For Netanyahu, in addition to 'clean hands', Yoav proposed the definition of 'hedonistic and not corrupt', recalling the words of Avichai Mandelblit in 2017: 'Bibi is a hedonist, not a criminal'. Naturally, half of the voters on his page supported the hedonism of 71-year-old Netanyahu. That was also a mockery of Lieberman, whom News1 accused of drinking expensive wines on the eve of elections to raise doubts among poor voters. It is important to note, that this technology of promotion and counteraction did not help the Likud party too much in the elections, but it certainly enriched the owner of the News1 website.

YOAV'S UNDERGROUND TUNNELS

Yoav Yitzhak claims that he starts all his investigations for the sake of justice. Perhaps this motivation was candid in the 90s, but during the past decade, the former reporter has spent all his talent on things that can bring him direct benefit.

Yoav's particular passion is judges, attorneys and lawyers. And not only as victims of the site News1, but also as its authors. One of the regular columnists of the news site is his brother, lawyer Reuben Yitzhak, who likes to discuss the activities of prosecutors and rabbis. Some posts on the site are also written by the real estate lawyer Tzvi Shoob, who, however, unlike Reuben Yitzhak, pays for such an opportunity. Tax lawyer Moshe Drucker, head of M. Drucker & Co’s Law Office, also pays to News1, although there is no mention of him on the site. But this is probably why there is no mention of either the lawyer or some of his clients, because Yoav Yitzhak regularly receives money from the law firm.

The most recent investigation by the once famous journalist concerns Hannah Rish Rothschild, former Judge of the Family Court Tel Aviv, whom Yoav Yitzhak accused in an article published on News1 on February 11, 2021, in making decisions in favour of friends. The author builds conclusions about the conflict of interest of Hannah Rish Rothschild not on facts, but on assumptions. He especially focuses on attorney fees in those cases that Hannah dealt with, as if hinting at something about the heroine of the publication.

Uninformed readers are unlikely to understand what drove such a great reporter to delve into the former family justice judge's longstanding cases. The answer to this can be found in the case of the lawyer Yossi Cohen, who became the hero of several articles on the News1 website. Yoav Yitzhak was covering Cohens' divorce, exposing filed claims of violence towards his wife which had been submitted to the police. Yossi Cohen tried unsuccessfully to sue News1. Finally, he chose to pay 1 million shekels (€250,000), after which the articles on divorce disappeared from the site, and the lawyer himself got the opportunity to work with Netanyahu's wife in 2015. Probably Hannah Rish Rothschild refused to pay to keep questionable information from appearing on the site. Therefore, it was released.

The news site News1 has long turned into a universal tool for extortion of money. Everyone in Israel is well aware that any documents submitted anonymously could become a reason for publication. The journalist uses his underground media tunnels not only to obtain sensitive information, but also to get money for publishing it, or vice versa. According to the former top editor of the News1 website, such a 'business' brings Yoav Yitzhak at least 10 million shekels a year (2.5 million euros), and some of the sums go to his accounts legally for consulting, and some for advertising on the News1 website. By the way, no advertising for Erika Carmel Ltd. (B-Cure Laser), Zur Zigdon Technical Supply Ltd. (gardening supplies), Tsabari Magen & Co, Arad Urban Design, Silentum, Bar Group or I.4.B Software Development Ltd. appeared on the site, although Yoav Yitzhak received payments from all listed companies. Funds were also received from the Eldad Perry Group, which operates in the real estate market. Several years ago, News1 actively covered the problems of this company. In order to stop the negative publicity Eldad Perry started paying a monthly contribution of $5,000 to Yitzhak.

There were other stories in the career of the reporter, less sticky in terms of corruption, but more dramatic. Six years ago, Yoav Yitzhak was in the centre of scandal around Efraim Bracha, head of the National Fraud Investigation Unit, who committed suicide after a number of articles, accusing him of bribery. Yoav's News1 started that suicide campaign. After suicide the allegations were not finally confirmed. Some analysts in Israel think that Yoav was hired by an undisclosed group for the negative PR attack, that led to suicide. Bracha had initiated a number of investigations against biggest business groups and politics in Israel.

We understand who could initiate such a journalistic investigation. It is also understandable that Yoav Yitzhak's illegal business flourished only because its activities are completely covered by the permanent Prime Minister of Israel and his associates. For the past ten years, Yitzhak has felt complete impunity and has long ceased to engage in socially significant investigations, with which he once began. Investigative reporting is a dirty business in Israel now, and Yoav Yitshak is CEO of this business. However, when investigative journalism turns into a business, one has to fantasise about sexual relations or conflicts of interest of local lawyers and judges, not presidents or prime ministers.

YITZI SCHEME

News1's love for lawyers and judges is really great. Those who doubt the need to pay to Yoav are handled by his reporters. Writers, who are paid fees by Yoav Yitzhak, descend to sexual scandals in legal practice, such as savouring the details of the recently closed case against Judge Eti Karif and lawyer Efi Naveh called 'Sex for judgeship'. The 'sexual' trial involved lawyer Yoram Muszkat, one of the few lawyers in Israel who received money from Yoav Yitshak, defending him back in the 90s, in particular, during litigation with the stock exchange.

Perhaps the same lawyer will defend the journalist if it turns out that Yoav Yitzhak is an adept of the idea of ​​polygamous marriage, which is a common practice in some Arab countries, including lawfully in Yemen, where Yoav's parents are from. Yoav Yitzhak is officially married, but he also dates a jewellery shop assistant, Zinaida Yamini, with whom the journalist has a common child. Several years ago, Zinaida's husband disappeared without a trace.

Dr. Shirley Ben-Shlomo, who heads the School of Social Work at Bar-Ilan University, is also a longtime girlfriend of Yoav. They both live in the city of Petaq Tiqwa, Shirley even divorced her husband because of her extramarital affair with Yoav. It is unlikely that the matrimonial thriller from the life of Mr. Yitzhak will be of interest to News1, although the website actively covers family and private topics. And not only about Avigdor Lieberman.

In fact, male politicians are not very attractive to Yoav, but there is one exception. Communication adviser Ronen Tzur is without a doubt the main male person in Yoav's life, the 'affair' with him is more than sex with married women. Tzur was a member of the Knesset, sued his PR partner Moti Moral and worked with many politicians as a publicist. Ronen Tzur is Yoav's main go-between for his 'underground' work with lawyers and politicians. Yitzhak rarely gets money in his account - he has Ronen for that.

A couple of years ago Tzur consulted Benjamin Gantz, leader of the Kaḥol Lavan, and, of course, purely by chance, News1 was very supportive of the politician. In 2019 Gantz and his party received the most votes, but Netanyahu still prevailed in the behind-the-scenes struggle. In the latest election, the situation changed radically, as described above, and Gantz is no longer viewed by Yoav Yitzhak as a partner of the Prime Minister. Taking part in the political rat race isn't Tzur's main mission after all. His core business is accepting money from those torpedoed by Yoav in order to mitigate or cancel the attack. Ronen is an extremely important person for a journalist, as he helps him hide most of the illegal income from the tax authorities. But how long will this 'Yitzi Scheme' still work?

Benjamin Netanyahu's days are clearly coming to an end. And the point is not even a corruption investigation against him. Netanyahu is holding on to power with the last bit of strength, but when his fingers open, Yoav Yitzhak will face the real problem, and this will definitely not be a showdown with his 'wives' or another defamation lawsuit; the investigative scam should come to an end too.

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EU

EU, US and Quartet express concern over the rise in tensions and violence in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza border

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Arab rioters clashed with Israeli police on Saturday outside Jerusalem’s Old City in violence that threatened to deepen the holy city’s worst religious unrest in several years. Riots also erupted in Hebron and along the Gaza security fence, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

Early Sunday, the Israeli army said Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at the country’s south that fell in an open area. In response, aircraft struck a Hamas military post. There were no reports of casualties in either attack.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and opposes Israel’s existence, has called for a new intifada, or uprising.

Late Saturday, several dozen protesters gathered along Gaza’s volatile frontier with Israel, burning tires and throwing small explosives at israeli soldiers. Israeli forces fired tear gas at the crowd.

According to the Palestine Red Crescent, more than 60 people were wounded in the clashes in Jerusalem on Saturday.

Israel Police chief Koby Shabtai said he had deployed more police in Jerusalem following Friday night’s clashes, which left 18 police officers wounded. After weeks of nightly violence, Israelis and east Jerusalem Arabs were bracing for more conflict in the coming days.

“The right to demonstrate will be respected but public disturbances will be met with force and zero tolerance. I call on everyone to act responsibly and with restraint,” Shabtai said.

A large crowd of protesters chanted “God is great” outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, and some pelted police with rocks and water bottles. Police patrols fired stun grenades as they moved through the area, and a police truck periodically fired a water cannon.

In a statement, the European Union called on authorities ‘’to act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions in Jerusalem. Acts of incitement around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif must be avoided and the status quo has to be respected.’’

‘’Political, religious and community leaders on all sides should show restraint and responsibility and make every effort to calm down this volatile situation,’’ the statement added.

‘’The situation with regard to the evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and other areas of East Jerusalem is also of serious concern. Such actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and only serve to fuel tensions on the ground,’’ the EU said. .

The United States also said it is ‘’extremely concerned’’ about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem, including on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah.

State Departement spokesperson Ned Price issued a statement saying: ‘’There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan. This includes Friday’s attack on Israeli soldiers and reciprocal ‘price tag’ attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, which we condemn in no uncertain terms.’’

He added, ‘’we call on Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence. It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount – in word and in practice. Leaders across the spectrum must denounce all violent acts. Security services must ensure the safety of all of Jerusalem’s residents and hold all perpetrators to account.’’

‘’We are also deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations. As we have consistently said, it is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism,’’ he added.

The spokesperson said the State Department was in touch with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work to deescalate the situation. ‘’We also urge the authorities to approach the residents of Sheikh Jarrah with compassion and respect, and consider the totality of these complex historical cases and how they impact real lives today.’’

In a joint press statement, the Middle East Quartet envoys from the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations, said they are ‘’closely monitoring the situation in East Jerusalem, including in the Old City and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.’’

‘’The envoys express deep concern over the daily clashes and violence in East Jerusalem, in particular last night’s confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount. We are alarmed by the provocative statements made by some political groups, as well as the launching of rockets and the resumption of incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel, and attacks on Palestinian farmland in the West Bank.’’

The statement added, ‘’The envoys noted with serious concern possible evictions of Palestinian families from homes they have lived in for generations in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and voice opposition to unilateral actions, which will only escalate the already tense environment.’’

The envoys called upon the Israeli authorities ‘’to exercise restraint and to avoid measures that would further escalate the situation during this period of Muslim Holy Days.’’

‘’We call on all sides to uphold and respect the status quo at the holy sites. All leaders have a responsibility to act against extremists and to speak out against all acts of violence and incitement. In this context, the Quartet Envoys reiterated their commitment to a negotiated two state solution,’’ the statement concluded.

The current wave of protests broke out at the beginning of Ramadan three weeks ago when Israel restricted gatherings at a popular meeting spot outside Jerusalem’s Old City. Israel removed the restrictions, briefly calming the situation, but protests have reignited in recent days over threatened evictions in east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The Israeli foreign ministry has accused the Palestinians of seizing on the threatened evictions, which it described as a “real-estate dispute between private parties,” in order to incite violence.

Other recent developments also contributed to the tense atmosphere, including the postponement of Palestinian elections, deadly violence in which yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta, 19, was murdered in a shooting attack at Tapuah junction last week, and three armed terrorists opened fire at a Border Police base in northern Samaria.

Fearing the situation could escalate further, the Israeli army’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi ordered a comprehensive reinforcement of the units already operating in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Speaking on the riots and clashes in his city, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon insisted that “there is no connection between Sheikh Jarrah and the Temple Mount, in Sheikh Jarrah this is a property dispute. This is an unprecedented incitement by the Palestinian Authority that is trying to lead to violence and unnecessary acts.”

“The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are trying to ignite Jerusalem, this is the problem and it needs to be addressed. It happens every year. There is no doubt that we all need to act to calm down and have zero violence, and we have zero tolerance for violence. The ministers are doing everything to calm the situation down.”

Israeli diplomats have contacted officials in Jordan and Egypt in an effort to get them to pressure the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas to cease inciting violence.

In a call to Palestine TV on Friday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas praised the “courageous stand” of the protesters and said Israel bore full responsibility for the violence. Abbas last week postponed planned parliamentary elections, citing Israeli restrictions in east Jerusalem as an excuse for the delay.

At a special cabinet meeting on Sunday, at Jerusalem City Hall to mark Jerusalem Day, the reunification of the city since 54 years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin addressed the ‘’violent disturbances in Jerusalem under the influence of agitators.’’

‘’We will not allow any extremist element to undermine the quiet in Jerusalem. We will uphold law and order – vigorously and responsibly. We will continue to guard freedom of worship for all faiths but we will not allow violent disturbances,’’ he said.

‘’Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Our roots in Jerusalem go back to Biblical times. Our continuous link with Jerusalem has been maintained in all generations.’’

‘’When one looks back over thousands of years of Jewish rule and the foreign rule, and today again under the state of the Jews, only under the sovereignty of Israel has full and consistent freedom of worship been ensured for all faiths, and thus we will continue,’’ Netanyahu said.

‘’We emphatically reject the pressures not to build in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, these pressures have been increasing of late. I say to our best friends as well: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Just as every people builds its capital and in its capital, so too do we reserve the right to build Jerusalem and in Jerusalem.’’

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Israel

Borrell condemns violence in Sheikh Jarrah, says Israel’s actions are illegal under international humanitarian law

Catherine Feore

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Foreign ministers meeting in Brussels today (10 April) discussed the situation in Jerusalem and the postponement of Palestinian elections. EU High Representative Josep Borrell said that ministers were deeply concerned over the recent clashes and violence in and around the Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah in East Jersusalem where Israeli forces are forcing Palestinian residents from their homes.

Borrell called for the full respect of the status quo of the holy sites. Ministers also said: "Political, religious and community leaders on all sides should show restraint and responsibility and make every effort to calm down this volatile situation."

In response to attacks from Gaza this afternoon, German foreign minister Heiko Maas tweeted: "All sides have a duty to prevent further civilian casualties."

On Sheikh Jarrah, Borrell reminded Israel that its actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and fuel tensions on the ground. He described the decision to stop Jewish worshippers from accessing the esplanade as a positive one that could calm the situation.

Borrell said that the EU had been pushing the Palestinian Authorities to hold elections but that Israel not allowing the holding of the elections in East Jerusalem has led them to opt for a further delay. 

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Africa

South African political parties and civil society plan mass Palestine protest march

EU Reporter Correspondent

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South African political parties and civil society will be uniting in a Palestine protest march to take place this week in Cape Town. The Palestine protest march is being organized by, among others, the Muslim Judicial Council, Al Quds Foundation, National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P), the ANC,  GoodParty, Economic Freedom Fighters, SACP, ANC Youth League, NFP, Al Jamaah, Kairos Southern Africa, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and #Africa4Palestine. To this end a protest notification submission has been made to the City of Cape Town and we are awaiting the outcome of the application. The organizers are committed to adhering to all COVID-19 protocols. Organizations that would like to endorse and form part of the mass Palestine protest can contact the MJC, Al Quds Foundation or #Africa4Palestine. Final details, upon approval from the City of Cape Town, of the Mass Palestine Protest March will be made public tomorrow (Tuesday 11 May).  

On Friday and Saturday nights (7-8 May), Israeli forces stormed the AlAqsa mosque attacking worshippers who were praying. Hundreds of Palesintinian civilians were left injured, with several losing their eyes . Israeli forces have recently resorted to shooting directly in the face. One Palestinian youth had to have both his eyes removed (see image above). One Palestinian has also been killed.    The weekend violence by Israeli forces against Palestinians comes on the back of the forced removals currently underway in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah where Israeli extremists are forcibly removing Palestinian families from their homes. So far several families have already lost their homes to Israeli vigilantes who have, in the dark of night, illegally entered the homes of Palestinian families and unlawfully evicted them. The crime of the Palestinian - they are the wrong ethnicity. 

Click here for a short 25 minute video explaning what is happening in the area. 

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