Netherlands recognizes Gaza, West Bank as official Palestinian birthplaces

This undated photo shows Palestinian protesters demonstrating in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

This undated photo shows Palestinian protesters demonstrating in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

Authorities in the Netherlands have allowed Palestinians living in the country to register the besieged Gaza Strip and the West Bank as their official places of birth, instead of registering under such designations as ‘the Israeli-occupied territories’ or ‘unknown’.

Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops, in a letter addressed to the House of Representatives in The Hague on Sunday, stated that he intends to add Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, to a list of official states used by the Dutch civil registry.

Knops added that the new category is in accordance with “the Dutch viewpoint that Israel has no sovereignty over these areas.”

The Dutch minister further highlighted that the new category was named based on the Oslo Accords and the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Dutch news outlets reported that the new category will be available to Palestinians born after May 15, 1948, when Israeli forces displaced some 700,000 Palestinians, forcing them to flee to different neighboring countries. Israeli soldiers also wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map, leaving an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants dreaming of an eventual return to their ancestral homeland more than six decades later.

The Israeli-occupied land was the only birthplace available to Palestinians registering in the Netherlands up until 2014. The category “unknown,” also known as code “0000,” was made available to Palestinians living in the country after opposition to listing Israel as their birthplace.

While the UN General Assembly and at least 136 countries have recognized Palestine as a sovereign state, the Netherlands has refused to do so.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.

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Netanyahu Rival Speaks of Possible West Bank Withdrawal

Benny Gantz

 February 6, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main rival in an April election has raised the possibility of pulling back from the occupied West Bank, in remarks published Wednesday that drew right-wing criticism.

Benny Gantz, the former armed forces chief of staff, spoke positively of IsraelI pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005, in his first interview since launching his election campaign last week.

The Gaza withdrawal had been “approved by the Israeli government and implemented by the army and settlers in a painful but good way”, he told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

“(One should) learn from it and apply it to other places,” he said.

Gantz did not explicitly mention the West Bank in his remarks and refrained from outlining the conditions for any pullback from the Palestinian territory.

The 59-year-old launched his campaign on January 29 in a speech promising to keep the strategic Jordan Valley area of the occupied West Bank under Israeli rule, along with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and east Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Although he did not say so in the interview, Gantz could support a withdrawal from wildcat outposts that are not approved by the Israeli occupation authorities.

Gantz’s comments drew criticism from right-wing parties.

“We told you Benny Gantz would form a leftist government with the help of” MPs of the Arab-led Joint List who hold 13 seats in parliament, said a spokesman for Likud.

His remarks were also attacked by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads a newly founded ultra-nationalist formation that favors the partial annexation of the West Bank.

“Gantz has thrown off the mask and overtaken Avi Gabbay (of the centre-left Labour party)… and wants to expel Jews from their homes through a unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank),” Bennett said.

Since founding his party, Gantz has emerged as the most serious challenger to Netanyahu, who has been prime minister since 2009 as well as between 1996-1999.

Source: AFP

New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the israeli (apartheid state) occupation

New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the Israeli occupation

Logo from the new Amnesty International campaign to get TripAdvisor to stop listing in Israeli settlements. (Image: Amnesty International)

Logo from the new Amnesty International campaign to get TripAdvisor to stop listing in Israeli settlements. (Image: Amnesty International)

Yet, shortly after its announcement Airbnb met with Israeli government officials and announced that it would not be implementing the policy after all. It then issued a maddening set of contradictory statements, which amounted to it wanting to both have its settlement-cake and eat it too. As of this week, Airbnb has yet to implement its new ban policy, as Judy Maltz noted yesterday in Haaretz. In other words, Airbnb is profiting from war crimes, and hoping that it will be forgotten, while it obfuscates its criminality with contradictory statements.

 

Cover of the new Amnesty International report “Destination: Occupation”

The story continues. Yesterday, Amnesty International released a report titled “Destination: Occupation”. In addition to Airbnb and Booking.com, Amnesty also targets Expedia and TripAdvisor:

Digital companies are revolutionizing how the world does tourism. Corporations like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor, which dominate the multi-billion-dollar global online tourism industry, have become hugely successful. These companies all also list numerous hotels, B&Bs, attractions or tours in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). They are doing so despite knowing that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law, and a war crime.

Amnesty notes the hypocrisy of these companies when it comes to “ethical values” in no uncertain terms:

All four companies claim to operate under high ethical values and respect for the rule of law. However, none of these standards appears to influence the companies’ decisions in relation to settlement listings. In doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law. Their promotion of Israeli settlements in the OPT as a tourist destination also has the effect of “normalizing”, and legitimizing to the public what is recognized under international law as an illegal situation.

The report also goes further than the Human Rights Watch report, in that it notes how, even if Airbnb would finally apply its policy and pull out of West Bank Israeli settlements, it would still be a violator in East Jerusalem:

Finally, since the company [Airbnb] did not extend its delisting commitment to settlements in East Jerusalem, the company is and will continue to be involved in human rights violations associated with these settlements for as long as it continues to do business with them. (p. 79)

Judy Maltz notes that “the online property rental company has not explained why it made this exception” – but the explanation is simple – Human Rights Watch did not include East Jerusalem in their focus, so why would Airbnb even bother? Likewise, Amnesty included East Jerusalem, but not the occupied Syrian Jolan (Golan Heights). That too is occupied territory. So, there are layers of criminality here, and we are only scraping the icing of the cake.

Nonetheless, Amnesty is clear in relation to these companies and Occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem):

‘To comply with their responsibilities to uphold international humanitarian law and respect human rights, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor must therefore stop listing tourist accommodation, activities and attractions in settlements or run by settlers in the OPT, including East Jerusalem.’ (p. 85)

Expedia and Booking.com respond

Amnesty managed to get two responses – from Expedia and Booking.com, which it published in an annex to the report (p. 92-93).

Expedia’s response first feigns innocence:

Expedia Group does not operate hotels, vacation rentals or travel products itself.  We allow any accommodation provider to sign up to our platform in accordance with laws applicable to Expedia Group.

It then thanks Amnesty in what appears to be boilerplate customer-service:

Expedia Group is committed to providing transparency to our customers when travelling to disputed territories globally and we appreciate Amnesty International bringing its concerns on this complex issue to our attention.  In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we identify these accommodations as “Israeli Settlement” located in Palestinian Territory… The issues raised in your letter are an important input as we continue to assess the type of information we provide to our travelers.

Let’s not beat around the bush. This is not just about ‘information’ – it’s about withdrawing your listings. In any case, the claim that identifying a location as an “Israeli settlement” is exonerating, is confronted by Amnesty in the report section titled “Misleading advertising” (p. 77):

Allowing some properties and attractions to be listed as being in “Israel”, as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor do, not only deceives users, but also helps conceal information that can help reveal the illegal nature of the settlements. This can lead to customers inadvertently supporting illegal Israeli settlements. Describing them as located in an “Israeli settlement” or in “Palestinian Territories” is still only a partial truth. Users are still deprived of information revealing the critical fact that these properties have been built illegally on occupied Palestinian land. The failure to provide such important information is tantamount to misleading advertising, which is typically sanctioned under consumer protection laws.

Booking.com finally spoke, and like Expedia, started by claiming it is not involved in direct booking:

Booking. com does not buy or (re)sell any rooms nor does it operate as a travel or tourist agency.

Displaying shockingly bad taste, Booking.com continues on by promoting itself:

Our mission at Booking.com is to empower people to experience the world. The Booking.com website and mobile apps are available in over 40 languages, offer more than 28 million total reported listings, and cover more than 130,000 destinations in 228 countries and territories worldwide.

One would think that Booking.com copy pasted this from one of their advertisements. But this is serious – it’s an 96-page Amnesty International report with nearly 500 references, concerning violations of international law. This is no place to be bragging.

Like Expedia, Booking.com ends up claiming innocence because it writes “Israeli settlements”:

By marking properties concerned as being in ‘Israeli settlements’ we provide transparency to anybody looking (or not looking) for accommodations in these territories.

Right now, it is Airbnb which is taking the turn to keep silent, whereas TripAdvisor, with its wise-owl logo, is just playing the ostrich.

Israeli response

As we may have expected, Israel is ferocious. Maltz reports:

Minister Gilad Erdan said he had instructed the Strategic Affairs Ministry to examine the possibility of banning Amnesty personnel from entering and staying in Israel, saying the organization was promoting an anti-Semitic campaign. Erdan further said that he had approached the finance minister weeks ago with a request to end the organization’s tax benefits.

None of this is surprising. Although the Amnesty report is impressive, it is only a beginning. First we get the usual responses of trying-to-get-away-with-it from some companies, and silence from others; we get the usual hysteria from the Israeli government calling it anti-Semitic. But this is a process. It needs to result in action, which the companies will be unwilling to follow through with, since their complicity in crime is still assessed to give them profit.

Amnesty has made recommendations to the companies, as well as various involved governments (including Israel) and UN. Yet it has not made recommendations to consumers, as this is apparently not the mandate of Amnesty. But this is very much something that consumers all over the world need to be aware of. Since these companies are built on popular consumer participation, they can also be influenced by a consumer boycott. And that’s where you and me come into the picture.

 

Extremist Rabbis’ Hatred Advisory Opinions Promote Settlements, Encourage Terrorism to Abuse Palestinians

Israeli settlements in West Bank

January 30, 2019

By: Madeeha Araj,

The National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements said in his weekly report that the investigations into the killing of Palestinian woman Aisha Moh’d Rabi from Bedia village, who died after throwing stones at her husband’s car in Oct. 018 showed that the terrorist attacks were carried out by a new Jewish terrorist organization against the Palestinians’ property and mosques. The Israeli Prosecution presented diluted indictment against the settler murderer of Aisha, saying it was “unintentional killing”. According to the indictment filed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Central Court in Lod, the accused threw a stone weighing around 2 kilos at the Rabi vehicle and killed her near the Za’tara checkpoint south of Nablus.

According to Hebrew sources, the prosecution didn’t intend to file an indictment against other suspected, who were arrested on their involvement in her killing. According to the indictment, the accused and a number of his fellow are members of the Jewish religious institute “Berri Hae’ts” in the settlement of Rahalim, they were at the institute the day she was killed, as they stumbled on a nearby hill overlooking St. 60, and attacked her. Israeli intelligence arrested 5 minors from a settlement near the Za’tara checkpoint on suspicion of “Jewish terrorism” and later found that they are suspected of involvement in the killing of Aisha, but later on 4 of them were released.

Within this context, the ultra-Orthodox rabbi of Safed, a member of Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Council, Shmuel Eliahu known for issuing provocative opinions against Arabs, revealed a meeting with a number of extremist settlers accused of the killing after they were released from prison. In a sermon posted on YouTube, he said, you are the ones who are paving the way for the religious movement to reach power. He called on the settlers not to fear the prison, which he said was “graduates the kings” and leading them to the leadership of the State, saying that we must make the change. Two years ago, he also issued several opinions urging to harm the Palestinians and their property, allowing Jews to steal Arab property for allegedly being “thieves.” The rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Dov Levyorfakal, said that whoever killed Arabs was a friend. Israeli PM Netanyahu described him as an Israeli leader. For his part, the Israeli Rabbi, Rosen has said that the Lord commanded Joshua ben Nun to kill the giant men, women, children, babies, and even the beasts, adding the Palestinians are the giants of this era, and therefore should be treated as the ancient giants.

In another context, the Israeli occupation authorities plan to evacuate the students of the Khalil Sakakini and Al-Quds Preparatory Schools in the Old City of Jerusalem by providing students with incentives and facilities for transferring them to other schools that follow the municipality of the occupation outside the walls of the Old City. The school principal was informed that it will be closed in 1.9.2019. The students will be transferred to other schools without any explanation for this serious decision. The schools include 385 Palestinian girls, stretches over 200 square meters. It is a-120-year-old building.  They were used as hospital and then as a headquarter for the Ottoman Caliphate. In 1917, the British Mandate turned it into a “police station”.

On the other hand, in Jerusalem, the Central District Court issued a temporary order for the confiscation of a 2.7 dunums in the Mount of Olives area, where the late, Yasser Arafat owned 135 m. of them. Moreover, more than 800 Palestinian families are threatened by forced eviction in their homes in favor for Jewish settlement groups. Israeli courts have filed sues against hundreds of Palestinian families demanding the eviction of their homes. The danger of forced eviction threatens dozens of Palestinian families after an Israeli court ruled in favor of a settlement organization to evict the home of a Palestinian family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, claiming it is owned by settlers.

For his part, Nikolai Miladinov, the UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, attacked Israel’s policies and activities, especially military operations in the Palestinian territories. In a briefing to the Security Council on the Palestinian situation, Miladinov expressed his concern over the increase Israeli military operations in areas A and B in the West Bank. He noted that during the past period, Israel has allowed the construction of 3,100 settlement units in settlements in Area C and prepares plans for the construction of 2,500 additional settlement units and tenders for another 650 units in various settlements, most of which will be built in areas of the West Bank. Nablus and Hebron, besides legitimizing more than one settlement in Hebron. He noted that there are efforts to implement the law of confiscating Palestinian lands and whitening the settlements, which raises fears of annexation in the future. Pointing out that the law will apply to 66 outposts. He stressed the position of the United Nations and the international community that settlements were illegal and represented an obstacle before peace.

For its part, the Israeli Civil Administration confiscated and uprooted about 60 olive trees from the Palestinian lands and demolished retaining walls surrounding agricultural land near the Jab’a military checkpoint. In a development that draws attention that accompanies the campaign for the early elections of the Knesset, the “Nahla” Settlement Movement organized a demonstration outside the headquarter of the right-wing Israeli Prime Minister in West Jerusalem demanding the settlement of more than 2 million Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, demanding the settlement right to strengthen settlement in the Palestinian territories. Nahla also calls for the adoption of a clear settlement agenda and lift the “settlement freeze laws” on the settlements, claiming that “the Arabs are building continuously and sustainably.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Ireland passes BDS bill banning israel (apartheid state) settlement goods

Ireland passes BDS bill banning Israel settlement goods

Israel summons Irish Ambassador over the BDS bill

Ireland has advanced a bill which will prevent the sale of goods from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The lower house of the Irish parliament – the Dail – yesterday voted in favour of a bill which will ban the purchase of all goods and services from Israel’s West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. The bill was previously passed through the parliament’s upper house – the Seanad – before proceeding to the lower house and receiving a 78-45 majority in favour, Al Jazeera explained.

The bill – officially known as the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill – still needs to pass several more stages before being signed into Irish law, but it is expected to progress given its broad base of support from Irish opposition parties.

Once approved, the law would see fines of up to €250,000 ($284,000) or five years in jail be handed down for those found guilty of importing or selling any goods or services originating in the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem or West Bank settlements, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Though estimates put the value of settlement-made exports to Ireland at between only $580,000 and $1.1 million annually, the symbolic value of the bill and its potential to influence other European countries to follow suit has been hailed as a victory by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative party, said the bill is a “great victory for the BDS movement” and vowed that “we will seek to pass similar laws in a number of European countries in the near future”.

READ: Israel accuses EU of funding NGOs that support BDS

Irish politicians also welcomed the move, with Irish Senator Frances Black tweeting: “Ireland will always stand for international law + human rights, & we’re one step closer to making history. Onwards!” She added: “We have now united every opposition party behind this bill, because it is *not* a radical ask: we want to give effect to basic provisions of int [international] law & human rights.”

However Israel has reacted with anger at the bill, summoning the Irish Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, to be reprimanded.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s office said that “Israel is outraged over the legislation against it in the Dail which is indicative of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism”. It added: “Instead of Ireland condemning Syria for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians, Turkey for the occupation of northern Cyprus and the terrorist organizations for murdering thousands of Israelis, it attacks Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. What a disgrace.”

Meanwhile Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the vote “an expression of pure hostility on the part of its initiators,” adding: “This is a clear expression of obsessive discrimination that should be rejected with disgust.”

Ireland has been a long-time supporter of the BDS movement. In October, Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ announced that it will not sanction any staff members who refuse to travel to Israel for the Eurovision Song Contest, due to be held in Tel Aviv in May. RTÉ’s decision came after the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) called for a boycott of the competition “due to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people”.

Other Irish organisations have also expressed support for BDS, with the Dublin City Council voting in April to back the movement. In March, students at one of the country’s most prestigious universities – Trinity College Dublin – voted to support BDS, meaning the Students Union will support the movement and “comply with the principles of BDS in all union shops, trade, business and other union operations”.

READ: UK band boycotts Eurovision to be held in Israel

“Israeli” Authorities Submit to Palestinian Prisoners’ Demands to Cancel New Sanctions

Local Editor

Palestinian Prisoners’ leadership announced that “understandings were reached with the ‘Israeli’ prison administration, ending the tension in all prisons.”

The leadership said “the understandings include preserving the dignity, rights and benefits of the prisoners in Ofer Military Prison.”

Ofer, which includes 1,200 prisoners, including about 100 children, has been subjected to a series of incursions since January 20 by four “Israeli” repression units.

As a result of these attacks, some 100 prisoners were injured, most of whom suffered fractures and wounds due to severe beatings.

Source: U-News, Edited by website team

1,200 Palestinian Detainees Start Hunger Strike in “Israeli” Ofer Prison

Local Editor

More than 1,200 Palestinian detainees in Zionist Ofer Prison yesterday launched an open-ended hunger strike, in protest against the occupation’s continuous violations against them.

In further details, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club [PPC] said that about 150 Palestinian prisoners were wounded when the “Israeli” Special Military Police stormed Ofer on Monday morning.

According to the PPC, six prisoners suffered from fractures, 40 were wounded in their heads and had stitches and the others suffered injuries as a result of the use of rubber bullets and tear gas.

In response to the violent Zionist crackdown, prisoners refused to eat and rejected offers by the prison administration to meet with detainee representatives unless all factions were represented in the meeting.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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Israeli Enemy Goes Ahead with Arrest Campaign in Occupied West Bank

IOF

January 21, 2019

Israeli occupation forces went ahead on Monday with arrest campaign against Palestinians in various regions across the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian sources said the number of Palestinians arrested by IOF at dawn on Monday reached 21.

In Nablus, IOF confiscated the vehicle of the prisoner Ameer Eshteya after arresting his wife, the sources said.

Elsewhere in eastern Nablus confrontations erupted after hundreds of Israeli settlers raided Joseph’s Tomb, the sources said, adding that several injuries occurred during the clashes and that journalists were also detained, according to the sources.

The sources added that IOF stormed Jayyous village in eastern Qalqilya, and distributed warning leaflets to frighten peaceful civilians.

Citing the local sources, Maan news agency mentioned the arrested Palestinians: Lawyer Aman Mansour and wife of Ameer Eshteya from Nablus; Former prisoner Shaher Issa Takateka, Ahmad Khaled Takateka, Eyad and Ahmad Takateka in Beit Fajjar in Bethlehem; Mohammad Audi from Abu Shukheidim in Northern Ramallah; Ibrahim Ayoub Maarouf from Deir Abu Mash’al in Eastern Ramallah; Mo’tasem Omar Abou Alya, Assem Ahmad Abou Alya, Mahmoud Abdallah El-hajj Mohammad, and Ahmad Abdullah Abou Alya in Al-Mughayyir in Western Ramallah.

SourceAgencies

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