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Israeli lawmaker Resigns over Harassment of Palestinians – plunges government into Minority Parliament

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Alan Kotok via Flickr.com

A lawmaker of the left wing Meretz party resigned from the Israeli government after the attacks on Palestinians on the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh.

Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi’s resignation means that the current Prime minister of Israel has the support of 59 of the 120 members of Parliament. In her unexpected resignation letter, she mentioned that “In recent months, out of narrow political considerations the leaders of the coalition have chosen to preserve and strengthen its right-wing flank.”

Rinawie Zoabi wrote: “The scenes from the Temple Mount of violent policemen confronting a crowd of worshipers, and the funeral of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, led me to only one valuable conclusion: no more. I cannot continue to support the existence of a coalition that disgracefully harasses the society I came from.”

The footage from Shireen Akleh’s funeral show how Palestinian mourners were beaten down with baton, while carrying the coffin of their beloved journalist. The mourners were harassed by the Israeli police repeatedly. Palestinian flags were removed from the coffin, even though Shireen Abu Akleh was a Christian Palestinian. 

Shireen had been a Palestinian reporter for Al-Jazeerah for over 20 years and her funeral was one the biggest gathering of Palestinian mourners in years. 

Abu Akleh’s death and the days following to her funeral showed the world an image of Israel, that the Palestinians see on a regular basis. Israels police force has been criticized and called out for their action by central media as well as social media. 

One of these voices calling out Israel for its actions is their own parliament member. Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi where she accuses the government about “disgracefully harassing the society I come from.” 

Zoabi ends her letter of resignation to the Prime Minister Naftali Bennett by emphasizing:
“I believed and continue to believe in Arab-Jewish coexistence with every part of my being, in academia, business, as well as politics. I also believe and continue to believe that real Jewish-Arab partnership must come from a place of equality, with both sides seeing eye-to-eye.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Israel

Israel’s Collapsing Government and Election Cycles

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PikiWiki Israel 7260 Knesset Room

The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, is set to dissolve next year, with Yair Lapid to become the caretaker Prime Minister. With a shared goal to oust the allegedly corrupt Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, eight political parties formed the most diverse coalition in Israeli history over a year ago.

With the Knesset set to dissolve, another round of elections will be held in the fall. These will be the fifth elections held in less than four years and has supporters of Netanyahu celebrating. Despite an ongoing corruption trial, Netanyahu could be back in power by the end of this year. 

According to Yohanan Plesner, a former member of the Knesset, Lapid could automatically become Prime Minister until a new government is formed, if the Knesset does indeed dissolve. However, if the election results are inconclusive, then Lapid would continue as Prime Minister until the next election.

 For Netanyahu to return to power, he would require at least 61 votes from current Knesset members. Many polls suggest Netanyahu’s Likud party will be the largest in the next Parliament, but they would not have enough allies to assemble a true parliamentary majority. This could lead to months of coalition negotiations.

If the Knesset dissolves, the new government elections will need to take place within three to five months. Since 1996, Israel has had elections, on average, every 2.6 years. Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute,  stated “This ongoing crisis will not come to an end until Israel’s leaders put their political differences aside and enact long over-due electoral and constitutional reforms, such as making any attempt to initiate early elections dependent on a two-thirds majority in parliament and amending the current law that demands new elections when a budget fails to pass.”

The coalition of eight political parties has had a tough time uniting on voting decisions. Ideological differences and pressure from Netanyahu’s right wing alliance has already caused two members of the coalition to defect, which removed the coalition’s majority in Parliament. Many left wing and Arab members rebelled on key votes, making it impossible for the coalition to govern. Then finally last week, the government was unable to find enough votes to extend a two-tier legal system in the West Bank. This two tier system has differentiated between Israeli settlers and native Palestinians since 1967. 

Some Palestinian lawmakers were also rejoicing at the government’s collapse. An opposition lawmaker in the minority government, Aida Touma-Sulieman, shared her views saying “This government implemented a radical far-right policy of expanding settlements, destroying houses, and carrying out ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories. It threw crumbs to the Arabs in exchange for conceding fundamental political principles.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Israel

Israel patrols its Gaza Border with robots and AI machine guns

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Flickr Israel Defense Forces Storming Ahead

The so-called world’s largest open-air Prison also known as the Gaza Strip has a new set of guards.

Consisting of a 1.5-ton unmanned vehicle armed with a machine gun, “The Jaguar” was created by the Israeli Aerospace Industries in cooperation with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). With a semi-autonomous system, the Jaguar can receive directions from a human operator as well as perform tasks independently.

The Gaza Strip is a small, fenced off piece of land, about the size of Malta but with two million inhabitants – four times the population. The unemployment rate is at above 50.2%. It faces regular shortages of food, water, medical supplies, fuel and on top of that, constant power outages.

Israel said that the fence was a measurement of safety, to protect its nation from “suicide bombers”. This fence, which is 65 km long, has been used to block out Gazans from even leaving the poor conditions they have been made to suffer in. It is already equipped with surveillance. The Jaguar is an addition to the already high-tech iron fence to “protect the Israeli-Gaza border”.

Israel uses this blockade on a regular basis to cut off supplies coming to Gaza. The rising tensions between Palestinians and the Israeli forces have scarred news headlines for 70 years and triggered some of the biggest humanitarian crises on earth.

As Israel appears to tighten its grip, the power of social media is being used by the Palestinians and those sympathetic to their plight to highlight the double standard that the world applies when it deals with Israel. Even Israeli politicians are leaving their government in protest of its extreme harassment of the Palestinian population.

Pictures like the ones from Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral are making their rounds on social media, calling out the behaviour of the Israeli Defense Force.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Politics

Israeli Blockade Causes Depression in 80% of Palestinian Children

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A recent report put out by Save the Children, titled “Trapped”, shows that four out every five children living in Gaza suffer from depression, sadness and fear. The report followed 488 children and 168 parents and caregivers in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Blockade of the Gaza Strip began in 2007. Not only did The Israeli government prevent items such as livestock, shampoo and musical instruments from going into Gaza, but they also blocked aid groups from sending basic learning items such as paper and crayons. The blockade severely impacted the area’s economy and restricted travel of its citizens. 

800,000 Palestinian children have only ever known life within the blockade, living through traumatic violence by Israeli military and living in constant fear for the duration of their whole lives. 

Building upon past research, the latest report by Save the Children shows that the mental health of not only children, but also youth and caregivers, has deteriorated severely since their last report four years ago. The number of children with emotional distress increased from 55% to 80%. The report also showed an increase in children feeling fearful, sad, nervous, depressed and in grief. 

More than half of Gaza’s children have had thoughts of suicide, with three out of five children thinking of self-harm.

Many factors have been contributing to the poor mental health of Gaza’s children due to the blockade, such as  lack of basic services such as healthcare and other needs. Another study published in 2020, showed high levels of anxiety disorders and PTSD in Palestinians. It reported that they were at a higher risk for these mental illnesses due to continuous exposure to polital violence, prolonged displacement, and limitations of education, professions, financial opportunities and mental health services. 

Before the blockade even started, a study was conducted in 2004, under Israeli occupied Gaza, of 403 refugee children living in four camps on the Gaza Strip. The study included that children living in occupation and blockade zones were at high risk of suffering from PTSD.

According to the Save the Children report, 59% of children show signs of speech, communication and language difficulties, even temporary reactive mutism, a sign of trauma or abuse. In the last few years, 79% of children have suffered from bed-wetting.

The effect of these symptoms on the children’s learning, development and social interaction is immediate and long term, warned Save the Children. Jason Lee, Country Director in Palestine for Save the Children, said “The physical evidence of their distress – bedwetting, loss of ability to speak or to complete basic tasks – is shocking and should serve as a wakeup call to the international community.”

Save the Children called on Israel to take immediate steps on lifting the blockade on Gaza and ending the ongoing occupation. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Israel

Why Extremist Jews in Israel Want The Temple Mount

Exclusive interview with a leading expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and Jewish supremacy

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Temple Mount & Jewish Supremacy

Hundreds of ultra-right Jewish nationalists brandishing Israeli flags and shouting “Death to Arabs”, “Another Nakba”, “Let your village burn down” and other obnoxious slogans stormed the Haram-al-Sharif (Temple Mount) compound in East Jerusalem in a show of Jewish supremacy.

It marked the beginning of the national Israel Day parade – a celebration of Israel’s victory of the six day war in 1967. Israeli forces occupied the rooftop of the prayer hall, and fired rubber bullets at Palestinian worshippers to disperse them and make way for the passage of Israelis streaming through.  

After Israel’s victory in 1967 and its capture of East Jerusalem, which caused the displacement of about 80% of Palestinians, it handed back the custodianship of the Temple Mount to Jordan, and thus arrived the internationally recognised ‘status quo’. Jews may visit the compound but due to their religious belief that the site was too sacred under Jewish law to have any Jew pray there, only Muslims could pray within the compound. Last week saw yet another violation of this internationally recognised agreement as radicalised nationalist sentiment within Israel increases.

Jewish Supremacy

We spoke to Mouin Rabbani, a leading Middle East analyst and expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict about the origins of the contention over the rights to the Temple Mount.

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He explained: “During the 1980s, radical extremist groups, including militias, began fairly regular attempts to blow up Al-Aqsa Mosque, and then in 1990 there was an invasion of the Haram-e-Sharif by the Israeli police and military which resulted in 20 or 21 dead.”

One of the most notorious Zionist Jews in history was mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, who walked into the Ibraheemi Mosque of Hebron in Ramadhan and shot dead 29 Palestinian worshippers, injuring 125. 

A shrine was built honouring Goldstein after his death and it became a pilgrimage site for many Jews who aligned with his mindset of a Jewish Supremacist state; the epithet on his tombstone today still reads that Goldstein was a martyr with a clean heart who “gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.”

The predominantly Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah, was the site of forced evictions by the Israeli state last year. The overwhelming support among Israelis  for the events in Sheikh Jarrah was an alarming but normal indicator of the increasing militarisation of Israeli society as a whole. 

Rabbani says this kind of Jewish supremacy is “nothing new” and “Israel has often been described as, not least by Israeli political scientists and commentators, an army with a state as opposed to a normal country where a state has an army. The security establishment is thoroughly dominant in Israeli politics and society in ways that have few contemporary parallels.”

Temple Mount, Zionism & Jewish Supremacy

So what exactly is the issue over the right to the Temple Mount?

Rabbani explains.

Temple Mount and Jewish Supremacy

“Zionism as it emerged in the late 19th century… was a preponderantly secular movement that made use of religious imagery and religious symbolism when it suited it, to rationalise and justify its position. Zionism is often characterised and rightly so as Jewish nationalism, but it is Jewish in the ethnic sense, not the religious sense. 

What you have is these groups who are increasingly powerful and influential within the Israeli state. For them, the ultimate prize is full, exclusive hegemonic dominance over the Haram-e-Sharif, ultimately tearing down the  Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock and replacing them with a Jewish temple.”

The racist, ethnic centred slurs of the scores of Jewish-Israeli youths and their acts of aggression towards Palestinians within the Haram-e-Sharif compound are a telling show of Jewish supremacy.

And such a mindset is loudly echoed in Israel’s recent efforts to ban the Palestinian flag from University campuses and other state funded institutions in Israel. 

Does Israel Want Peace?

“Well, peace is not an agenda. Sure, you say if I managed to get you to capitulate and fully eradicate your rights and you stop fighting back then we’ve achieved peace. What is really going on is Israel is seeking to establish its uncontested domination and hegemony over the land and the people. The maxim that is often used in this respect is – maximum land and minimum Arabs.”

“And the fact that Palestinians have such corrupt and incompetent leadership and really don’t have the organisation and wherewithal to contest these Israeli acts of aggression, there isn’t organised resistance, certainly can’t be mistaken for peace.” 

Hamas

But how about Hamas attacks on Israel?

“Well, you know, Israel is a nuclear power and the only nuclear power in the Middle East. It has the most powerful army in the region. Ariel Sharon used to brag that the Israeli army could conquer Algiers, Baghdad and all territory between in the space of a week. You can choose to believe that or not but the fact that he said, I think says something. Israel has not only the most sophisticated armaments in the region at its disposal but has the full, unconditional and uncritical backing and support of the most powerful state that has existed in history, namely the United States, and it also enjoys what I call the active acquiescence of the European Union and its member states. That is pretty hard to beat. “

“Hamas by contrast, you know if we talk about the same collection of states, is effectively a delegitimised pariah, with very few military means at its disposal. The one territory it does control, the Gaza strip, has been under international and particularly Israeli- Egyptian blockade since 2006. Has it managed to substantially improve its military capacity? Yes very much so. But are these in any way a match for Israel’s military capabilities? Absolutely not. I mean it’s the contest between a goldfish and a great white shark.”

Israel got away with it

Shireen Abu Akleh

To demonstrate the utter neglect for Palestinians, the murder of Palestinian journalist and American citizen Shireen Abu-Akleh is summed up by Rabbani“Israel got away with it.”

“That’s the hard and bitter truth. It is definitively confirmed that she was shot dead by a trained Israeli sniper. Snipers don’t usually make up their own minds and act independently in these situations. They follow the orders and authorisation of their commanding officers. And there is growing evidence, some would say also conclusive, that she was deliberately targeted, not only as a journalist but her individually. And she was also a US citizen. The normal procedure in such cases when an American citizen is murdered abroad in this kind of situation is that the U.S government and particularly the FBI launches an independent investigation to get to the bottom of things and then ensures that the perpetrators are brought to justice in the U.S court. 

Shireen Abu Akleh was summarily executed by the Israeli military. Judging by the international response thus far which I don’t expect to change, Israel will enjoy continued impunity and lack of accountability and as a result Israel will feel itself free to murder additional journalists and there has been one more case at least since then.”

How can peace be achieved?

“The international consensus calls upon Israel to fully withdraw from all occupied territory including the West Bank, the Gaza strip and the Syrian Golan heights. 

Another formula would be a secular democratic or bi-national arrangement in which all those who either reside within the territory of what was formally mandatory Palestine, including those who were ethnically cleansed from that territory in 1948 and to a lesser extent after 1967 would enjoy either equal individual rights or a combination of equal individual and communal rights, and ultimately of course that is the preferred outcome for anybody who believes in justice and equality. 

It would take many decades to achieve a one state solution. In fact there already is a one-state, now and to transform that would require massive efforts and entail truly horrific levels of suffering, not least because the west, Europe and the United States are thoroughly committed to the perpetuation of Israel as a Jewish state. 

Peace cannot be achieved by bilateral negotiations and agreement the way that you can resolve the outstanding issues of Brexit between London and Brussels. You’re here talking about a colonial reality, where to put it simply, Israel is too powerful and the Palestinians too weak to reach a just, comprehensive and durable resolution of the Question of Palestine.”

“Israel don’t even intend to negotiate with the Palestinians, they are, again, committed to this regime of Jewish Supremacy, not only its perpetuation but its expansion. 

On the Palestinian side you have a leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who is wholly committed to a negotiated two-state solution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict but is essentially completely powerless, completely illegitimate in the eyes of his own people.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Israel Flexes Muscle Over Iran’s Growing Nuclear Program Expansion

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Naftali Bennett 2019 February
  • Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has reiterated his country’s right to pursue actions against Iran for their alleged nuclear development activities that are outside the scope of peaceful use of nuclear materials.
  • Iran has countered that Israel lacks the capacity to effectively attack Iran but if they do, they will suffer the consequences.
  • The tense exchange between the two countries comes at a time when intermediaries are trying to bring parties back to the table for the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, informally known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, which was signed in 2015; Then U.S. President Donald Trump subsequently pulled out of the agreement in 2018.
  • The international community has cited uranium traces at unrecognized sites in Iran as evidence of their nefarious intentions.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Israel

Sickening chants by far-right extremists in Jerusalem

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Video footage has shown far-right Israeli nationalists chanting racist, offensive and extremist slogans in Jerusalem.

They marched through Muslim areas of East Jerusalem in a highly provocative rally to celebrate the capture of that part of Jerusalem after the 1967 war.

East Jerusalem is internationally considered to be illegally occupied and annexed by Israel, which considers the whole of the city as its rightful capital.

As the march progressed, chilling chants rung around the city. Extremists shouted abuse and threats to Arabs like “death to Arabs” and “may your village burn.

“Video also captured them shamelessly abusing the killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

They also insulted the Prophet Muhammad in a highly provocative and unprovoked attack on Islam’s founder.

The media covering the march were also abused and attacked.

Waving Israeli flags, they entered the Al Aqsa compound which Palestinians described as desecration of a holy site.

“Israel is irresponsibly and recklessly playing with fire by allowing settlers to desecrate the holy sites”, a Palestinian spokesman said. There is an agreement that Jews and non-Muslims can visit but not pray there, not can they display any nationalistic symbols.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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