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29 Dec

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Facing unprecedented confusion, Netanyahu’s government opens hand for settlement

By: Madeeha Araj/ National Bureau for the Defending of Land and Resisting Settlement/

Hours before the UN Security Council voting on the draft resolution that calls on Israel to immediately halt all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the so-called “Local Committee for Planning and Building” in Jerusalem encouraged by Netanyahu government to speed up construction of 300 housing units, of which 192 at Ramat Shlomo settlement, 8 at Beit Hanina and 136 at Romoot settlement in East Jerusalem.

Following the UN resolution 2334, which condemns Israeli settlement and calls to halt all kind of settlement activities, Netanyahu has taken mad reactions as he Instructed Israel’s ambassadors in New Zealand and Senegal to immediately return to Israel for consultations, and ordered the cancellation of the planned visit to Israel of the Senegalese foreign minister in three weeks. Moreover, he constructed the Israeli Foreign Ministry to cancel all aid programs to Senegal, and to cancel visits in Israel of the non-resident ambassadors of Senegal and New Zealand.

The National Bureau welcomed UN Security Council adoption of the resolution that condemning the settlements and halting building in the Palestinian Territory, where 14 countries voted in favor, with the US abstained. The Bureau demanded the UN Security Council to take actions on the ground action that would force Israel to stop settlement activity, to abide by the International Law and to hold Israel responsibility over the crimes it committed.

At the same time, the Bureau condemned the settlers and Netanyahu’s racist calls against the Palestinians, in which he said, my government is committed to settlement in the “Judea and Samaria” more than any government in the history of the State and that he and his cabinet exerted much efforts to keep the settlers in the West Bank, he also calls for accelerating the demolition of Arab homes in all Arab towns and villages, including East Jerusalem, furthermore, he instructed the Israeli occupation authorities to demolish 42-Palestinian houses in Jerusalem and some other areas. In response to the evacuation of the Amona outpost, the Legal adviser of the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem has submitted last October an application to the Israeli Court in order to allow carrying out the demolition orders of 14 Palestinian buildings inhabited by 40 Palestinians north the occupied Jerusalem. During a meeting with leaders of Amona outpost, the Israeli PM Netanyahu and Education Minister, leader of the Jewish Home Party, Naphtali proposed a deal to double the number of caravans to 24 instead of 12 and to increase the number of settlers as a consolation prize should the settlers agree to evacuate the outpost consensually and without violence to a land close to the place of the current outpost built on a land belonging to Palestinian citizens to the east of the occupied Ramallah.

Within the context, the Israeli general budget approved by the Israeli Knesset last week for the upcoming 2 years is NIS 906.8 billion, of which NIS 446.8 billion for 2017, and NIS 460 billion for 2018. Worthless mentioning that the Israeli government intends to approximately give 37% of the budget for the occupation, settlement and security. Moreover, the government will spend about NIS 150 million to 20 families living on a land belonging Palestinians. Furthermore, the Israeli PM, Netanyahu has proposed to minimize the budgets of some ministries by 1.25% of the overall State Budget in order to finance the evacuation and re-building of the Amona settlement.

According to a search data conducted by “Macro Center for Economic Polic”, showed that settlers in the occupied West Bank will be getting the highest financial privileges and exemption of taxes rather than the best fixed allocation of the budget at all ministries in the upcoming 2 years. Estimations show that each settler will receive a tax exemption up to 510 dollars, which means each family will get about US $ 3,000 annual tax privileges, excluding the financial privileges, particularly in the education sector, and the many facilities that lead to a reduction in prices of houses, and in municipal taxes and other aspects. Moreover, despite the settlers’ high standard of living in the West, they receive government support by 25% more than areas facing poverty.

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US politics >>

Sanders supporters ready to take on Trump as progressives’ voices grow louder after the election: ‘We have to do what the Tea Party did’

Bernie Sanders speaks in New York: ‘He’s like the Energizer bunny,’ says a supporter.

Bernie Sanders speaks in New York: ‘He’s like the Energizer bunny,’ says a supporter. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It wasn’t meant to be like this.

Hillary Clinton was supposed to be president. The Democrats were supposed to be competitive in the Senate and the House.

In that scenario, Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, might have been in effect sidelined as Democrats hunkered down for four years of a steady, if unspectacular, continuation of Barack Obama’s centrist agenda.

But instead, Donald Trump won the election – with an anti-establishment message that bore some similarities to Sanders’ own government-outsider election bid – and Sanders has found himself promoted from anti-establishment outsider to the Democrats’ leadership bench.

Indeed, some Sanders progressives now see Trump’s victory as a validation of the populist agenda Sanders championed during his campaign.

“Progressives are used to punching up, but here we find ourselves in a real position of credibility and power,” said Raul Grijalva of Arizona, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive caucus.

As the party seeks to rebuild in 2017, caucus members believe the election of the DNC chair is an early test of whether Democrats will embrace economic populism.

Sanders’ first priority is to elect Keith Ellison, the progressive congressman from Minnesota, as DNC chair. Ellison, who is seen as the frontrunner, is being challenged by the labor secretary, Tom Perez, who enters with support from allies of Clinton and the Obama administration.

“Right now we are fighting for the chair of the DNC and it is truly emblematic of the division within the Democrats,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the National Nurses United, which endorsed Sanders during the primary. “If the Democratic party rejects the Sanders base, it will be at their extreme peril.”

On a tactical level, all eyes are on 2018 and how to elect progressives to seats at the local, state and national level.

“We have to do in 2018 what the Tea Party did in 2010,” said Dan Cantor, the founder and executive director of the Working Families party.

Though Sanders has become synonymous with the progressive movement, activists say 2017 won’t hinge on voters feeling the Bern. It will be about empowering the next generation of progressive leaders.

“We need younger voters to get engaged and to lead, and not just in political office. We need young shop stewards and young activists, too,” said Larry Cohen, the former president of the Communications Workers of America and the head of Our Revolution. “We older people need to move over and encourage these young people to rise up. That’s where the energy is. That’s where our future is.”

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US secretary of state pushes two-state solution and criticises Netanyahu in toughest remarks on Israel by a US official in years

in Washington and

The US secretary of state delivered a farewell speech to outline his proposals for a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, in which he said a two-state solution was the only way to achieve lasting peace. Kerry’s speech on Wednesday comes days after the US refused to veto a United Nations security council resolution that called Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem a violation of international law

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has offered a blistering defence of the US decision to allow a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements, saying if Washington had vetoed it, Israel would have been given a licence for “unfettered settlement construction” and the end of the peace process.

Framing a two-state solution as “the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians”, Kerry took aim at the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for building a coalition that was “the most rightwing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements”.

Kerry’s speech was the latest chapter in a high-octane diplomatic drama marked by a war of words between the Obama administration and Israel, since the vote on Friday that called Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem a “flagrant violation” of international law.

The speech was immediately condemned by Netanyahu, who described it as “skewed” and “obsessively” focused on the settlement issue.

The exchange between Kerry and Netanyahu marked a new low in the relationship between Israel’s government and the Obama administration.

The US abstention in Friday’s security council resolution drew unprecedented Israeli fury directed at its closest ally – and other friendly countries that voted for the resolution – and accusations of betrayal and underhand dealings.

However, describing the decision, Kerry said: “If we had vetoed this resolution … the United States would have been giving license to further, unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose.

“It is not this resolution that is isolating Israel. It is the permanent policy of [Israeli] settlement construction that risks making peace impossible.”

The US secretary of state’s speech came as Donald Trump vowed once again to reverse US policy, which he has described as hostile to Israel, as soon as he takes office on 20 January.

The US president-elect issued a pre-emptive rebuttal to Kerry’s speech earlier on Wednesday.

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