Monday, 6 October 2014

Prominent Israeli settler rabbi calls for "cleansing" of Palestinians

A well-known Israeli settler rabbi recently called for Israel to “cleanse” the territories it occupies of all Palestinians, according to the news website The Times of Israel.

During a visit to Israeli settlers on 30 September in the occupied West Bank, Rabbi Dov Lior said that Israel “must strive to cleanse the entire country” of Palestinians, ostensibly referring to present-day Israel, the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

Lior, who is the chief rabbi for Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron and in the Kiryat Arba settlement, was speaking at an event at Givat Oz Vgaon, an “outpost” colony recently established in the Etzion bloc of settlements in the central West Bank.

From the time it occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) in 1967, Israel has recognized 125 Jewish-only settlements that today harbor a population of an estimated 550,000 Israeli Jews, according to the human rights group B’Tselem.

Givat Oz Vgaon is one of more than one hundred smaller colonies known as “outposts” that also dot the map of the territory. Though outposts are considered illegal even under Israeli law, they are often provided with state resources, including funding, and are protected by the Israeli military.

“There was no peace and there will never be peace, not because we do not want [peace], but because there is no one to make peace with,” Lior said, as reported by The Times of Israel.

Using even more racist and orientalist language, he added: “This is their character, they are for war, and the traits of a nation do not change.”

He also said the Israeli government ought to force Palestinians to “return” to Saudi Arabia, employing old Israeli tropes that claim Palestinians are not indigenous to historic Palestine. more

More than 500 anthropologists back academic boycott of Israel

More than 500 anthropologists from around the world have signed a new call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

According to a statement issued on 1 October, the scholars call upon Israel to:

End its siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and dismantle the settlements and the walls;

Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality; and

Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The initial list of signatories featured more than 250 names, including academics from Australia, Canada, China, Holland, India, Lebanon, Palestine, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the United States. Colleagues from Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Chile, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Kuwait, Portugal, Qatar, Mexico, the Philippines and South Africa, among others, have added their support.

“The recent military assault on the Gaza Strip by Israel is only the latest reminder that the world’s governments and mainstream media do not hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law,” the statement notes, offering a rationale for civil society action.

Amongst the signatories are major names in the anthropology field, including Professors Jean and John Comaroff of Harvard University, Professors Lila Abu-Lughod and Michael Taussig of Columbia University, Talal Asad of CUNY and Sherry Ortner and Susan Slymovics of UCLA. more

West Bank unity government ministers to visit Gaza Thursday

Palestinian Labor Minister of the National Unity Government Ma’moun Abu Shahla stated, on Sunday night, that Israel decided to allow West Bank Ministers, including Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, to visit Gaza this coming Thursday.

Abu Shahla said that Israel “promised” to grant the ministers all needed permits to enter Gaza, via the Erez Terminal, on Wednesday, before they head to Gaza Thursday

He added that Hamdallah and other government minister from the West Bank, have not been allowed into the coastal region since the unity government was formed several months ago.

The Palestinian official said the Israeli decision came following pressures practiced on Tel Aviv during the latest UN Security Council meeting in New York, as it previously refused to allow the travel of government officials between Gaza and the West Bank.

The ministers will be holding the first ministerial cabinet meeting in Gaza, and would discuss various issues, including the efforts to rebuild Gaza. more

Gazans make rare Eid visit to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Hundreds of elderly Gazans paid a rare visit to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday after Israel eased tight restrictions on movement over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

It was the first time since 2007 Palestinian worshipers from Gaza were granted permission to travel to the ancient shrine in Jerusalem's Old City, an Israeli rights group said.

The move to ease access over the Muslim feast of sacrifice was announced by Israel just over a month after a ceasefire ended a 50-day war in Gaza which killed almost 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side, mainly soldiers.

Under the terms of the deal, Israel agreed to ease restrictions limiting Palestinians' freedom of movement.

The Israeli army said in a statement it had given permits to a total of 500 Gaza residents over the age of 60 to visit the plaza over the course of three days until the feast ends on Tuesday.

The first group arrived at the Al-Aqsa mosque plaza during the morning and were allowed to stay there until 3 p.m., after which they were taken back to the Gaza border, an AFP correspondent said.

Many hadn't visited the shrine -- the third holiest site in Islam -- in decades, kissing the ground as they entered.

"I haven't been here for 35 years. Everything has changed," smiled Umm Dallaleh Fayyad, a woman in a black abaya and a vibrant blue headscarf.

"It's like being in paradise."

The move was hailed by Gisha, an Israeli NGO which calls for freedom of access and movement for Palestinians, which had repeatedly petitioned the courts over the matter, without success. more