Israel — Latest News since July 28th 2017

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Click here to look at earlier maps (and events) over 4000 years of history for Israel — Deep inside the plucky country

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Distances:Tel Aviv to Jerusalem 63 kms
Tel Aviv to Haifa 95 kms
Source: Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 7th edition — Sir Martin Gilbert;
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2002;
ISBN: 0415281172 (paperback),
0415281164 (hardback); Map: NPR Online

Extract: Six days and 40 years since Israel asserted itself
Abraham Rabinovich
June 05, 2007

FORTY years after the Six Day War, the consequences of Israel's extraordinary victory are yet to be sorted out. Israel was a tiny Middle Eastern backwater in 1967, with a population of 2.6 million surrounded by a hostile Arab world of 80 million. This disparity seemed to defy the natural order of things and it was a virtual consensus in the Arab world that the Jewish state would fall, sooner rather than later. In Israel itself, the enthusiasm and energy that marked the founding of the state out of the ashes of the Holocaust had been dimmed by the petty problems of getting by in a country with a massive defence burden and a lame economy.

It was the Soviet Union, for reasons never adequately clarified, that lit the fuse that would transform the region. In mid-May 1967, it declared that Israel was massing troops in the north in preparation for an attack on Syria. Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol offered to personally tour the north with the Soviet ambassador to show it wasn't true. The ambassador declined.

There had been small-scale skirmishing between Israel and Syria over the headwaters of the Jordan and Israeli leaders had issued warnings, but there was no massing of troops. Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leading figure in the Arab world, felt impelled to come to Syria's aid by moving his divisions through the Sinai desert towards Israel. With a hostile army deploying on its border, Israel mobilised its reserves.

Nothing happened for more than two weeks. But mobilisation had paralysed the Israeli economy and Jerusalem had to either stand down or strike. On the morning of June 5, Israeli planes, flying low to avoid radar, suddenly rose into the Egyptian skies. Within three hours, the Egyptian air force was destroyed. Soon after, the Jordanian, Syrian and part of the Iraqi air forces were gone, too.

On the third day of the war, the West Bank and Jordanian Jerusalem fell. Syria's Golan Heights followed. The Arab world was stunned, Israel euphoric. The war catapulted Israel into a new era. Brimful of self-confidence and renewed energy, it attracted Jewish immigrants from the West and more than a million from the Soviet Union. Since 1967, Israel's population has tripled to 7.1 million (of whom 1.4 million are Israeli Arabs), its gross national product has grown by 630 per cent and per capita income has almost tripled to $21,000.

A major result of the Six Day War was to persuade the Arab world that Israel was too strong to be defeated. Internalising that view, Nasser's successor, Anwar Sadat, became in 1970 the first Arab leader to declare readiness to make peace with Israel if it withdrew from all territory it had captured in the Six Day War. Israel insisted, however, on territorial changes.

It took the 1973 Yom Kippur War to persuade Israel to withdraw from all Egyptian territory and for Egypt to agree to peace without insisting on Israel's withdrawal on other fronts as well.

The Oslo accords in 1993, marking the beginning of a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians, also enabled Jordan to make peace with Israel without being accused of betraying the Palestinian cause.

In 2000, Syria announced its readiness for peace. Though negotiations with Damascus broke down, virtually the entire Arab world now accepted the legitimacy, or at least the existence, of the Jewish state in its midst.

But increasing radicalisation has brought to the Palestinian leadership a movement dedicated to Israel's destruction. If there is an answer for Israel, it lies, as in 1967, in bold and imaginative leadership — but this time on the political playing field.

Click here for the whole article.

 

West Bank Fence

The barrier route as of July 2006.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_West_Bank_barrier

 

Extract: Article by Amos Harel, Haaretz.com
July 14, 2009

Seven years after construction work began on the West Bank separation fence, the project seems to have run aground. Work has slowed significantly since September 2007. With fierce opposition coming from the United States, Israel has halted work on the "fingers" — enclaves east of the Green Line that were to have included large settlement blocs such as Ariel, Kedumim, Karnei Shomron and Ma'aleh Adumim, within the fence. The military has, in practice, closed up the holes that were to have led to these "fingers." But giant gaps remain in the southern part of the fence, particularly in the southern outskirts of Jerusalem, in the Etzion bloc and in the Judean Desert.

Since the cabinet under former prime minister Ariel Sharon first approved construction of the fence, in June 2002, the route has undergone some dramatic changes. The original route, which was inspired by Sharon, was to have effectively annexed about 20 percent of the territory of the West Bank to Israel.

In February 2005, the cabinet amended the route to include just nine percent of the West Bank. In April 2006 an additional one percent was shaved off by the government of Ehud Olmert.

In practice, however, the route encompasses only 4.5 percent of West Bank land. The four "fingers" in the last map (and which Israel presented at Annapolis in November 2007) were never built, not at Ariel and Kedumim (where a "fingernail" was built, a short stretch of fence east of the homes of Ariel); not at Karnei Shomron and Immanuel; not at Beit Arieh, nor south of that, at Ma'aleh Adumim. Instead, with little publicity, fences were put up to close the gaps closer to the Green Line, at Alfei Menashe instead of at Kedumim, at Elkana instead of Ariel and in the Rantis area instead of at Beit Arieh.

About 50,000 people in these settlements remain beyond the fence. West of Ma'aleh Adumim the wall built along Highway 1 blocks the gap in the barrier and leaves the city's 35,000 residents outside of the barrier, forcing them to pass through a Border Police checkpoint in order to reach Jerusalem.

Large gaps remain in the southern West Bank. Between Gilo in south Jerusalem and Gush Etzion are tens of kilometres of barrier, work on which was suspended due to High Court petitions. As a result access to Jerusalem from the direction of Bethlehem (now a part of the Palestinian Territories) is relatively easy — for commuters and terrorists both.

Click here for some news in Sep 2014.

A second, 30-kilometre gap in the fence, stretches from Metzudat Yehuda (Yatir) in the west to the Dead Sea in the east. The state announced during a recent High Court deliberation of a petition submitted by area Bedouin that work on the barrier there was suspended.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak is "determined to complete the security fence, despite the delays," his office said in a statement. "The minister and the military establishment are working to solve the problems delaying its completion."

Defence Ministry officials pointed out that Barak was "among the first supporters of the fence and did much to advance its construction."

Security officials claim the rate of construction depends on finding a solution to the legal issues and point out proudly that there is an unbroken barrier from Tirat Zvi in the Beit She'an Valley (in Northern Israel, just west of the Jordan River) to the southern entrance to Jerusalem, and from southern Gush Etzion (south west of Jerusalem) to Metzudat Yehuda (south east of Hebron).

 

Ma'ale Adumim and East Jerusalem

Click here for a larger picture

Click here for an article on East Jerusalem published by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) in mid 2011.

 

Unilateral Thinking in April 2006

Finally, after years in the planning, construction of an Israeli police station is under way in the now infamous E1 area, 12 square kilometers, a patch of empty West Bank land that stretches from the eastern municipal boundary of Jerusalem to the settlement-city of Ma'ale Adumim, which sits across the Jerusalem-Dead Sea highway some five kilometers (three miles) to the east.

Infamous, because every prime minister of Israel for the past decade has wanted to develop E1 in order to fill in the space between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem, with the intention of securing Israel's hold over the settlement and its smaller satellite communities, which together constitute the Ma'ale Adumim settlement bloc. And every US administration up until now has nixed Israeli development here, on the grounds that it would seriously hamper Palestinian territorial contiguity between the north and south of the West Bank, as well as access from the West Bank to Jerusalem, thereby undermining the viability of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, the only realistic formula on the table for Israeli- Palestinian peace.

Click here for the full article

 

Updated photo December 1, 2012

The police station built in area E1, now many years ago. Notice there
are no residential areas around it. That will hopefully soon change.
Picture source A Goldstein

 

Gaza Strip

 

Map of Gaza Strip
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Gaza_Strip_barrier

Israeli Gaza Strip Barrier
Wikipedia

The Israel and Egypt — Gaza Strip barrier is a separation barrier first constructed by Israel in 1994 between the Gaza Strip and Israel. An addition to the barrier was finished in 2005 to separate the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The fence runs along the entire land border of the Gaza Strip. It is made up of wire fencing with posts, sensors and buffer zones on lands bordering Israel, and concrete and steel walls on lands bordering Egypt.

Background: The Gaza Strip borders Egypt on the south-west and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about 41 kilometres long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a population of about 1.5 million people. The shape of the territory was defined by the 1949 Armistice Agreement following the creation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent war between the Israeli and Arab armies. Under the armistice agreement, Egypt administered the Strip for 19 years, to 1967, when it was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

In 1993, Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation signed the Oslo Accords establishing the Palestinian Authority with limited administrative control of the Palestinian territories. Pursuant to the Accords, Israel has continued to maintain control of the Gaza Strip's airspace, land borders and territorial waters. Israel started construction of the first 60 kilometres long barrier between the Gaza Strip and Israel in 1994, after the signing of the Oslo Accords. In the 1994 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, it was agreed that "the security fence erected by Israel around the Gaza Strip shall remain in place and that the line demarcated by the fence, as shown on the map, shall be authoritative only for the purpose of the Agreement" (ie. the barrier does not constitute the border). The barrier was completed in 1996.

The barrier was largely torn down by Palestinians at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000. The barrier was rebuilt between December 2000 and June 2001. A one-kilometre buffer zone was added, in addition to new high technology observation posts. Soldiers were also given new rules of engagement, which, according to Ha'aretz, allow soldiers to fire at anyone seen crawling there at night. Palestinians attempting to cross the barrier into Israel by stealth have been shot and killed.

 
Jordan's king thanks Trump for US role in tempering Temple Mount crisis
US president, who has not spoken with Netanyahu or Abbas, discusses ongoing situation with Jordanian leader in phone call
Eric Cortellessa, Times of Israel
Friday July 28, 2017, 11:09 pm Jerusalem time

WASHINGTON: — US President Donald Trump and King Abdullah II of Jordan spoke by phone Friday about the crisis in recent weeks surrounding the Temple Mount, the Royal Hashemite Court announced. A statement in Jordanian state media said the king thanked Trump for his administration's role in helping to defuse tensions and stressed the importance of deepening US-Jordan ties "to avoid the recurrence of such crises." The call marks the first time Trump has personally injected himself into the crisis that has spurred violent protests, deep tension between Israel and the Palestinians, and a diplomatic imbroglio between Israel and Jordan.

"Both leaders said they were encouraged by the efforts taken to de-escalate tensions and by the progress that has been made," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "They pledged to continue to stay in close communication. President Trump also emphasized Jordan's important role in regional security."

Jordan, the custodian of the Temple Mount, and the Palestinians pressured Israel to remove security measures at entrances to the sensitive holy compound, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock sanctuary. These were set up after a July 14 terror attack in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers with weapons they had smuggled onto the site. The introduction of the new Israeli security measures, including metal detectors and cameras, set off near-daily clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in and around the Old City, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It also triggered a boycott by Muslim worshipers who threatened not to return to the site until all the installations were removed.

Israel removed the new measures early Thursday, and Muslim worshipers returned to pray at the compound later that day. Friday prayers at the site ended peacefully. Last week, five Palestinians died in weekend clashes and a Palestinian terrorist killed three members of a family sitting down to Shabbat dinner in the West Bank settlement of Halamish.

A diplomatic dispute also erupted between Israel and Jordan this week after the killing of two Jordanians by an Israeli security guard near the Israeli embassy in Amman, including a teenager who had stabbed the security officer in what the Foreign Ministry said was a nationalistically motivated attack. Jordan had demanded the guard be questioned by its security forces, but Israel refused to hand him over, citing his diplomatic immunity. Only after US intervention did Amman relent, allowing the guard and the rest of the embassy staff to leave Jordan. Following their return on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Jordanian monarch and the US president for their efforts in securing the staff's safe passage back into Israel.

Jordan, however, was angered by Netanyahu's warm welcome of the guard, who has been named only as Ziv, with the king calling for him to be tried. Abdullah accused Netanyahu of "political showmanship" and of using "this crime to score personal political points," after the Israeli leader posted photos of himself embracing the guard. The monarch said this episode would have a negative impact on bilateral ties between Amman and Jerusalem.

On Thursday, Jordan charged the guard with murder in absentia. It went on to say the Israel embassy staff would not be allowed to return until a proper investigation was conducted. On Friday, Jordan gave Israel the results of its investigation into the shooting, and called for the guard to be prosecuted under international law. Later on Friday, Israel announced it was opening a probe into the incident.

While Trump sent one of his top envoys, Jason Greenblatt, to the region earlier this week to try to reduce tensions, he himself has not yet spoken to either Netanyahu or Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Greenblatt, for his part, met with Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in Jerusalem on Monday before heading to Amman for more meetings on Tuesday.

A senior administration official told The Times of Israel that "President Trump and his administration are closely following unfolding events in the region," and praised Netanyahu for his handling of the situation and said the White House team had been working with him. "In our continuous contacts with him throughout the crisis, Prime Minister Netanyahu acted with a clear sense of responsibility not just for Israel's security, but also for regional stability," the official said.

In another statement Thursday, Greenblatt said the US welcomed the efforts to restore calm, saying he hoped it would help renew an opening for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks — which Trump has made a major priority as president, saying he intends to achieve the "ultimate deal." "The United States welcomes the efforts undertaken to de-escalate tensions in Jerusalem today," he said. "We believe that calm and security will create the best opportunity to return to dialogue and the pursuit of peace."

The fate of the Temple Mount is an emotional issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements pertaining to the site sparks tensions. Jews revere the hilltop compound as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical temples. It is the holiest site in Judaism, and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray. But the walled compound is also home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which is Islam's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Muslims believe the site marks the spot where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

 
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York as the head of a nonmember observer state.
PHOTO: EDUARDO MUNOZ/REUTERS
Palestinian Leader Welcomes Deal to Have Hamas Cede Control of Gaza Strip
The Wall Street Journal
Paul Sonne at the United Nations
and Rory Jones in Tel Aviv
Thursday, Sep 21, 2017 8:33am AEST
Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017 6:33pm ET

New York: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday heralded an agreement brokered by Egypt that will see militant group Hamas cede control of the Gaza Strip to his government, a significant development for the Palestinian national movement but one that faces obstacles to implementation.

Hamas took control of the impoverished Gaza Strip after parliamentary elections in 2006 and an armed conflict in 2007, leading to a stalemate within the Palestinian movement. There have been no presidential or parliamentary elections since then, with the militant group presiding over Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, led by Mr Abbas's Fatah party, ruling in the West Bank. The two sides in recent days announced an agreement aimed at reconciliation, the culmination of efforts by Mr Abbas to pressure Hamas into ceding control of the territory, in part by curtailing budgetary funds. The two sides in recent weeks held negotiations in Cairo on the terms of a deal.

Mr Abbas, addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York as the head of a nonmember observer state, said the Hamas-controlled government in the Gaza Strip had been "canceled" and described the idea of a state there as a "false dream." He cheered the commitment to national Palestinian unity. "This agreement has been reached, and we are satisfied with this agreement," Mr Abbas said. "Next week our government is going to the Gaza Strip to assume its responsibilities. We wish the government all success." Mr Abbas said the agreement would enable the Palestinian Authority to exercise its control in the Gaza Strip and allow for general elections to be held.

A major obstacle to reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority will be whether the militant group allows Mr Abbas's police into Gaza to manage security.

Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump's special representative for international negotiations, praised the transfer of authority in the Gaza Strip in a speech earlier in the week in New York. He said Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by both the US and Israel, had exploited the people of Gaza as hostages and shields for too long. "It's time for the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza — and for the international community to take steps to help this happen," Mr Greenblatt said earlier this week. "Relief from the suffering in Gaza can only be found when all interested parties gather together to help the Palestinian people and isolate Hamas."

Mr Abbas spent the bulk of his address at the United Nations on Wednesday assailing Israel, in contrast to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who devoted very little of his speech the previous day to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and instead focused on threats from by Iran. In his address, Mr Abbas asked the nations gathered to uphold a vision for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he said was under threat.

Mr Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is leading an effort aimed at reviving peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians alongside Mr Greenblatt. Mr Trump met with Mr Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this week and said there was a "good chance" of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. "While a great deal more work remains to be done, discussions remain serious and constructive," Mr Greenblatt said of the effort during his speech.

Still, the White House hasn't committed publicly to the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying such a move would bias negotiations — a position that has frustrated Palestinian officials, as it reverses a decades long US policy. Mr Trump declined to endorse a two-state solution during a press conference with Mr Netanyahu in February, saying he was happy to agree to whatever solution both sides endorsed.

Mr Netanyahu previously expressed support for a two-state solution but has since backed away from that position.

During his UN address, the leader of the Palestinian Authority called on those gathered to uphold the international community's commitment to the two-state solution. "We have heard that they are seeking a historical deal. We would like to thank them. We hope that this will take place," Mr Abbas said. "So we stress the two state solution, enabling the state of Palestine to live side by side with the state of Israel in security and peace."

He also indirectly criticized US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who in an interview published earlier this month in the Jerusalem Post newspaper referred to Israel's "alleged occupation" of the Palestinian territories. It is "very strange to hear some of those who hold the responsibility to end this occupation referring to it as an 'alleged occupation'," Mr Abbas said at the UN. "Such perceptions are totally disconnected from reality." The US administration hasn't described Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza as an occupation and hasn't labeled settlements illegal, though it has described them as an impediment to peace.

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