Friday, January 20, 2017

From Ian:

Stephen Pollard: Unravelling the real story behind UN vote
Usually, an Israeli Ambassador would make clear any reservations and the Conservative Friends of Israel would weigh in with its own view. But almost the entire Westminster village had disappeared for Christmas. Lord Polak, CFI honorary president, was in Florida and Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador, was out of the country on holiday. A series of juniors were in charge. None appeared to grasp the storm about to break.
When the resolution passed and the Jewish community realised what the government had done, however, there was apoplexy in Downing Street. A source told me: “Number 10 took its eye off the ball. They screwed up badly.”
My Whitehall contacts were adamant at the time that this was a change of policy and that Number 10 had been kept fully in the loop. That week, the JC’s front page story emphasised Number 10’s role. This only added to the anger with FCO officials.
The damage of 2334 was already done. But there was a determination — not least from Nick Timothy, Mrs May’s joint chief of staff — to show this was not indicative of a new policy. Number 10 decided it would take the first opportunity to unravel the UN mess.
The opportunity presented itself almost immediately. Five days after the UN vote, John Kerry launched a withering attack on the Israeli government in a speech at the State Department. But if that was unprecedented, so was the response from Number 10 — a direct and unambiguous dismissal of Mr Kerry’s speech.
In Final Press Conference, Obama Slaps Israel. As Always.
Syria is on fire. South Sudan is unraveling. Russia is invading Eastern European states. But guess what President Obama decided to focus on in his last press conference as leader of the free world? Yup, Israel, the one and only Jewish State in the world. And by now we know that whenever Obama talks Israel it’s never a good thing.
In a parting shot to Israel on Wednesday, Obama questioned went so far as to question the viability of the Zionist project itself.
"I don't see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy if there are not two states," he croaked.
Obama’s comments come just a few weeks after he directed UN Ambassador Samantha Power to abstain from an egregiously anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution which labeled the Old City in Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and the Jewish Quarter illegally-occupied territory.
Not only did Obama refuse to concede any territory to his critics, but he ardently defended his administration’s decision to stab Israel in the waning days of his presidency.
"The goal of the UN resolution was to say the growth of the settlements will increasingly make a two-state solution impossible," he argued at the White House press conference. "It was important for us to send a signal, a wakeup call that this moment may be passing."
Obama knows full well, however, that the anti-Israel venom circulating across the Oval Office will soon be replaced by something else. On Friday, President-elect Donald Trump will take the oath of office and take hold of the levers of power. He has already signaled a staunchly pro-Israel stance, appointing an advocate as ambassador to Israel who believes that the US embassy in Tel Aviv should be moved to Jerusalem.
Enterprising Builder Thrilled About US Embassy Move to Jerusalem
The Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1995, states that Jerusalem should remain a united city, that it should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and that the U.S. Embassy should be moved there from Tel Aviv.
Every U.S. President has signed the waiver contained in the law which extends by an additional six months the time by which the embassy must be moved.
President Trump and several insiders close to him, including David M. Friedman, the man nominated to become the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel, has stated that under this president the embassy will be moved to Jerusalem.
It is unclear where, exactly, the Obama administration considered Israel’s capital to be – there were no public declarations that Tel Aviv was considered Israel’s capital. And, of course, President Obama and his State Department made it clear in the recent past that not only did they not consider Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, they did not even consider Jerusalem to be part of Israel.
An enterprising Jerusalem builder has made his glee public about the stated policy of the incoming U.S. administration.

JCPA: The Trump Administration: A Turning Point in Middle East Policy?
The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States is likely to lead to a major transformation of U.S. Middle East policy. Many of the assumptions that accompanied the years of President Barack Obama will no longer be held by American policymakers.
But equally important, many elements that had in the past been fundamentals of U.S. policy and had been forgotten, and had not been part of the repertoire of the White House in the last eight years, could be reintroduced.
The first element involves Israel’s future border. Ever since 1967 when Israel captured the West Bank in the Six-Day War, the question of Israel’s future borders was governed by UN Security Council Resolution 242, which talks about an Israeli withdrawal from territories – not all the territories – to secure and recognized boundaries.
Now some people think that’s being very picayune with the language. But in fact the decision on the language of 242 was decided at the highest levels of the U.S. government, by President Lyndon Baines Johnson himself. And that language was preserved by successive U.S. presidents and secretaries of state.
For example, the Reagan administration in 1988, through its Secretary of State George Shultz, talked about the fact that Israel would never negotiate from or return to the 1967 borders. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in a letter to Israel in 1997, spoke about Israel getting “defensible borders,” and that idea was enshrined in 2004 by President George W. Bush in a letter to Ariel Sharon that was approved by both houses of Congress.
Unfortunately, over the last eight years, Israel’s recognized rights have been eroded, culminating in the most recent UN resolution on December 23, 2016, on which the U.S. abstained, which made constant reference to the 1967 lines as its primary point of reference.

New York Times Fabricates Palestinian Support for ‘Two States for Two Peoples’
Much of the international community supports the idea of solving the Israeli-Arab conflict with "two states for two peoples," a commonly used phrase that refers to a state for the Palestinians alongside a state for the Jews. As President Barack Obama put it in 2011, "The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people."
According to a recent New York Times article, entitled "The Two-State Solution: What It Is and Why It Hasn't Happened," the Palestinian Authority government is among those parties that officially support the idea.
What do Palestinian leaders actually say? "Never." Even the less extreme portion of the divided Palestinian leadership, the West Bank-based government that has accepted the broader idea of a "two-state solution," hasn't been shy in rejecting the more specific principle of two states for two peoples. Sure, they consent to two states. But while they insist one of those states must be an Arab and Islamic state of Palestine, they refuse to accept that the other one is a Jewish state.
Melanie Phillips: The Brexit/Trump effect
In Britain, Mrs. May’s tough-minded approach to Brexit closely followed her startling reversal of decades of British foreign policy by suddenly defending Israel against its enemies. Not only did she refuse to sign the statement issued by last weekend’s anti-Israel Paris conference, but she vetoed its attempted endorsement by the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
Yet only a few weeks previously, her government had played a key role in pushing through the UN Security Council’s Israel-bashing Resolution 2334. So what changed? Britain is hoping to pull off an all-important trade deal with the US. This would hugely strengthen its hand in its negotiations with the EU over Brexit. So a cynic would conclude that Britain is merely dancing to the tune of a new, very pro-Israel president.
There may be more to it than that. There are reports that Mrs. May was blindsided by her own Foreign Office over Resolution 2334. She is known to have genuinely warm feelings toward Israel and the Jewish people.
She may, though, also be largely ignorant of Middle East history and Britain’s shameful record within it. So it’s possible that she was indeed shocked by Resolution 2334 and is determined to promote a pro-Israel policy because she believes in it.
If so, this is all of great significance. For if a country gets Israel right, the chances are it will get other big things right too. The essence of the Israel-Arab impasse is the struggle between good and bad, victim and oppressor, truth and lies. Like the Obama administration, Britain has for decades been on the wrong side of that critical divide. Now Mr. Trump and Mrs. May might change that.
The reason is the forces that have propelled both of them to power. Through Brexit and Donald Trump’s election, both the British and American publics expressed a strong desire to reassert their national identity, defend their nation against its enemies and uphold reality-checks, accountability and common sense against the ideologues whose onslaught against truth and Western values has never been stopped until now.
In other words, far from the imminent demise of civilization we may be looking at its salvation.
On the other hand it may all have gone pear-shaped by Monday. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Brave new Anglosphere: Israel revels in fresh support from US-UK-Australia triumvirate
It’s springtime for Israel’s relations with the Anglosphere. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loves to talk about burgeoning ties with the Arab world, but in the months and years ahead, a newly formed pro-Israel triumvirate of English-speaking countries looks set to form the backbone of international support for the Jewish state.
The first and most important indication of this trend is, of course, the change in the White House. Arriving on Friday, the Donald Trump administration has made plain its intention to shut out the public daylight that Barack Obama introduced between Washington and Jerusalem, vowing all but total support for Netanyahu’s policies.
In addition, the United Kingdom has in recent weeks surprisingly and dramatically aligned itself with Jerusalem, defying European and even global consensus.
Completing the pro-Israel trio is Australia, which has long been exceptionally friendly toward Israel but recently reached new heights in opposing anti-Israel measures embraced by the rest of the world.
Canada is a fourth English-speaking country that is staunchly pro-Israel, but as opposed to the US, the UK and Australia, it has remained silent on the dramatic diplomatic developments of recent weeks. The two odd countries out are Ireland and New Zealand, whose relations with Jerusalem remain tense.
Obama, Trump and the dangers of a ‘Jewish’ president
For many Jews, the primary threat comes from the far left, which seeks to isolate and demonize Israel. For other Jews, though, the threat comes from the far right, revitalized and legitimized by Trump’s rise. There is ample hypocrisy on both left and right. Who could have imagined that left-wing Jews, who ridiculed Prime Minister Netanyahu for comparing the threat of a nuclear Iran to the 1930s, would invoke the ’30s in response to an American election, however traumatic? And who could have imagined that right-wing Jews, who constantly warn their fellow Jews against passivity in the face of threat, would dismiss the seriousness of anti-Semitic expressions only because those emerge from their political camp?
American Jews need to resist the temptation of totally identifying their preferred president with Jewish interests and values. Revering any American president as an honorary member of the tribe risks debasing Jewish identity and communal discourse. Like Obama, Trump will pursue his own agenda – sometimes overlapping with a Jewish agenda, and sometimes fatefully clashing.
Obama’s legacy is a decimated Middle East, along with the unleashing of an imperial Iran that remains on the nuclear threshold. As for Trump, he has already created a legacy – a vulgarized politics, a society poisoned against itself. Candidate Trump declared war against precisely those pluralistic values that have allowed American Jewry to become the most successful Diaspora in Jewish history.
Neither man is worthy of Jewish adulation. In the era of “Jewish” presidents, American Jews need to avoid the dangers of a treacherous philo-Semitism and maintain the integrity of their communal discourse.
Video: Obama Explains Why He Sold Out Israel; It’s Worse Than We Thought
Thank God he won’t be president again.
Obama’s fixation on the settlements makes it clear that Israel is the source of the problems with the Arabs living in it’s midst.
In his mindset, it is not Arab terrorism – it is Jewish intransigence.
Good riddance of the worst foreign policy president in recent memory.
David Singer: UN Security Council Members Trash Quartet Roadmap and Two-State Solution
The United Kingdom refused to endorse the Joint Declaration.
It is incredible that the other twelve Security Council member States present – especially the five permanent members – could approve the terms of the Joint Declaration that so materially changes what they voted for or abstained on just three weeks earlier.
They obviously engaged in cherry picking bits and pieces of Resolution 2334 that they had rushed through with unseemly haste and now have second thoughts on.
A new agreed negotiating framework for any two-State solution now needs to be constructed to replace the trashed Quartet Roadmap.
The Security Council looks decidedly stupid and increasingly irrelevant.
Donald Trump Tells Son-In-Law: ‘If You Can’t Bring Mideast Peace, No One Can’
One day prior to his inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump made an appearance at a candlelight dinner for donors in Union Station on Thursday, promising "four incredible years" and celebrating his surprise November victory.
"So I just want to thank everybody. We're going to have four incredible years. It's going to be something special," Trump said to supporters in attendance.
In his speech Trump warmly turned to his daughter Ivanka who was listening in the audience and thanked her for her support throughout his race for presidency: "In the audience we have a very special person who worked very hard, who married very well- my daughter Ivanka."
The President-elect went on to talk about his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is slated to become a senior White House advisor working on trade and the Middle East in a rare case of a close presidential family member taking a major job. "I sort of stole her husband," Trump joked.
Time to reset Israel-US ties
No one should have any illusions; the Trump administration is not going to give Israel a blank check on the settlements.
But it is unlikely to view them – and Jewish construction in Jerusalem – with the same animosity as did Obama, Kerry and many world leaders. And this, as well as seeing Iran through a similar prism, will remove constant points of friction.
Though Trump is difficult to predict, and the positions of some of his key national security team on Israel are enigmatic – for instance, the positions of Rex Tillerson at the State Department and James Mattis in the Pentagon – he has also surrounded himself with people who are strongly supportive of the current Israeli government, starting with vice president Mike Pence, and including Kushner; Nikki Haley, his nominee as envoy to the UN; Jason Greenblatt, his designated pick as special representative for international negotiations; and David Friedman, his appointee as ambassador to Israel.
In Trump’s inner circle, therefore, there will be people who will advocate for the policies championed by the current government of Israel to a degree that was sorely lacking in the Obama administration, at least since Dennis Ross left the White House as a key Middle East adviser in 2011.
“I can’t wait to start working with Israel,” Trump told Israel Hayom this week. “This weekend, relations between us officially begin.”
In other words, a new day. The expectation and hope in Jerusalem is that when it comes to Israel and the Middle East, this new day will also be a better one.
WATCH: Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat - Obama Surrendered to Radical Islam, Abandoned Israel
The Jerusalem Post reports: In a full throttled attack against US President Barack Obama, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Thursday released a video statement accusing the outgoing president of “surrendering to the Iranian’s and radical Islam,” as well as “abandoning Israel.”
While Barkat has made no secret of his opposition to the Obama Administration’s policies toward Israel, in the brief video he uses perhaps his strongest language to date to condemn the American president, and beseech all Israeli’s to support President-elect Donald Trump.
The video, emailed to Israelis with an accompanying letter of support for Trump, comes one day before the president-elect’s inauguration, as he doubles-down on his promise to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in multiple interviews with Israeli news publications.
Ben Rhodes Attends Signing of 'Counterterrorism' Memo with Hezbollah-Tied Cuba
The Obama administration has linked U.S. law enforcement with their Cuban counterparts in a partnership “on counternarcotics, counterterrorism, legal cooperation, and money laundering,” according to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Havana.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes — chief proponent of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), or the Iran nuclear deal — attended the signing of the “U.S.-Cuba Law Enforcement Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)” in Havana. Rhodes has previously told reporters he and the administration are looking to bind the administration of incoming President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a hardline anti-communist platform, into as many agreements with Cuba as possible.
“I think what we were trying to do is to create as much momentum for the policy so as to make it irreversible, to enlist as many stakeholders as we could in the policy so as to make it irreversible,” USA Today quotes Rhodes as saying.
Why Both Supporters and Critics of Obama on Israel Will Miss His Ambassador, Dan Shapiro
Yesterday, Ambassador Daniel Shapiro held his final official meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It marked the close of a farewell tour for Obama’s handpicked envoy to the Jewish state, and the conclusion of a five-year ambassadorial term that saw tremendous tension in the U.S.-Israel relationship. But you’d never have known of that tumult from the cordial nature of Shapiro’s last rendezvous with Netanyahu, or from the warm send-off he has received in Israel even from many on the Israeli right who have strongly opposed the Obama administration’s policy in the region.
How did Shapiro manage this remarkable feat of diplomacy in a country as fractious and contentious as Israel? It wasn’t by deviating from his boss’s positions. There was never any daylight between Shapiro’s pronouncements and Obama’s, no matter how unpopular the stance. As ambassador, Shapiro forcefully defended the Iran deal and criticized settlement expansion. Indeed, he was instrumental in formulating some of those administration positions as an adviser to Obama on Middle East matters since 2007. But he nonetheless won over Israelis across the political spectrum through determined outreach and his demonstrable concern and care for the Jewish state.
A fluent Hebrew speaker, Shapiro didn’t restrict himself to traditional diplomatic channels. He quickly made himself a fixture in Israeli media, speaking to Israelis in their own language and in their own homes, from mainstream radio outlets to niche ultra-Orthodox Jewish networks. He posted regularly on Twitter and Facebook in Hebrew, interacting with everyday citizens online. He recorded Hebrew holiday greetings for YouTube. He even went on Matzav ha-Uma (“State of the Union”), one of Israel’s premier late night comedy shows, where he was interrogated by the hosts in rapid-fire Hebrew. Humor is perhaps the hardest thing for foreign language speakers to pick up, given the differences in cultural frames of reference and the difficulty of catching quips like double entendres, but Shapiro acquitted himself with aplomb.
To Trump’s Delight, Israel To Replace the U.S. In NATO (satire)
Sources have confirmed that Israel will apply for NATO membership later this week, “just to see the look on people’s faces.”
We caught up with the playful Zionist troublemaker, as it was preparing the documentation and sipping cocktails at its seaside retreat outside of Tel Aviv. Israel commented, “I’ve got to be honest, with this ceasefire holding with the Palestinians, I’m just looking for other outlets for my kooky sense of humor. And also, I really need to keep those guys and gals of the IDF fully occupied; the last thing I need is them getting all ‘Coup d’état’ on me.”
“I reckon if we can get all the signatures and bureaucracy hammered out this week, the 36th Armored Division can be in Germany by the summer holidays. From there it’s really just a quick road-march through Poland, and given the order, we can be in Moscow before the snow starts. Trust me we’ll be bringing extra warm socks; we’ve learnt from the man with the silly mustache”
Note to Abbas: Wake up, China is reshaping the Middle East
The president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was in Rome in the week-end to try to get the Pope, almost the ultimate super soft power, to support his cause. This diplomatic effort came after a new terrorist attack in Israel, when a truck rammed innocent bystanders, followed by a rally in Gaza to support it. These are all signs of the extreme weakness of some Palestinians and of madness in applauding terrorism.
There is madness in a very technical sense, as in losing touch with reality, because the whole regional situation has shifted, and not only because of the war in Syria or Iraq.
The Chinese plan for a new Silk Road in fact is creating completely new dynamics in the Middle East that are already changing the balance of power in the region.
The present balance of power is the historical legacy of the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and the fall of the Roman Empire in the east.
The Turks then posed for the first time since the height of the Roman Empire’s power a monopoly on the lucrative trade with the Indies and the Far East. The ambition was so real that the sultan took on the title of Roman emperor and proceeded to move west by pushing for a conquest of the Mediterranean. The effort effectively ended only in 1683, when Turkish forces were defeated around Vienna. But in the 230 years between the conquests of Constantinople and Vienna the whole world changed, unbeknownst to the Mediterranean players.
PMW: PA threat: Trump will blow up the peace process
The Palestinian Authority continues to threaten violence as part of its intensive campaign to prevent US President-elect Donald Trump from moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. The official PA daily printed the above cartoon, entitled "Transferring the embassy," which shows Trump using a golf club to putt a lit bomb into a hole as if it were a golf ball. A dove symbolizing peace is looking out of the hole, next to which stands a flag with "Jerusalem" written on it in Arabic and English. [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 18, 2017]
PA Chairman Abbas stated explicitly that if Trump moves the embassy, it will "destroy the peace process":
"We want to hear what he says when he enters the White House - but if this step is taken, it will destroy the peace process."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 19, 2017]
"Transferring the embassy will be not just provocative but beyond provocative, and will harm the entire peace process.'"
[WAFA, official PA news agency, Jan. 17, 2017]

Palestinian Media Watch has reported at length on the threats and warnings of PA and Fatah leaders that religious war will break out, should Trump follow through on his promise.
The Inside Story of How John Kerry Secretly Lobbied to Get CAIR Removed From UAE's Terrorist Organization List
On Nov. 16, 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took the unusual step of designating the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Muslim American Society (MAS) – as terrorist organizations.
They were among 83 groups named for their connections to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
This outraged CAIR officials, who immediately began efforts to get their organization removed from the list. They found a powerful ally in Secretary of State John Kerry, who authorized State Department officials to meet regularly with UAE officials to lobby on behalf of CAIR and MAS.
CAIR already had a sympathetic ear in the Obama administration, including the State Department, that had openly embraced and legitimized the entire spectrum of radical Islamist groups falsely posing as religious or civil rights groups, which both CAIR and MAS had done.
Israel condemns planned Belgian interrogation of ex-FM Livni
Israel denounced Friday the “cynical exploitation” of Belgium’s judicial system, after Belgian prosecutors confirmed they wanted to question a former Israeli minister over war crimes allegations.
Tzipi Livni, currently a Knesset member with the center-left Zionist Union opposition party, was expected to visit Brussels next week to meet Jewish leaders in the city but “cancelled three or four days before,” a spokesman for the event said.
He said the cancellation was for “personal reasons.”
Local newspaper Le Soir said prosecutors had been hoping to question Livni over allegations of war crimes in the 2008-9 Israeli war in Gaza, when she was foreign minister.
“We wanted to take advantage of her visit to try to advance the investigation,” a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecutor Thierry Werts said.
Livni’s spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment from AFP, but the Foreign Ministry reacted strongly.
Ben-Dror Yemini: When brainwashing wins
Op-ed: The words ‘racism’ and discrimination’ are the only thing radical leftist speakers can say about the Umm al-Hiran evacuation. Ignoring the facts, they are turning their battle against Israel into a battle against Israel’s ‘racism.’
The left-wing bodies operated a worldwide anti-Israel propaganda machine. Haaretz published countless articles against the state. When it was presented with an article refuting the claims, it refused to publish it. Freedom of speech is reserved for one opinion only. The Rabbis for Human Rights organization outdid itself by releasing an incitement film titled “Fiddler with no Roof.” It works. Even the European Parliament adopted an anti-Israel resolution in regards to the Bedouin. Army Radio broadcaster Khen Elmaleh wrote on Facebook on Wednesday, “I would have run over a policeman too had I been forcibly evacuated from my home.”
Terror receives justifications. A significant number of the people interviewed about the issue on the public media Wednesday revealed complete ignorance of the facts. Brainwashing wins. It leads to violence and to bloodshed. On Wednesday, we received further sad proof of that.
And one more thing. In my conversations with the locals, I got the impression that they were ready for an arrangement which would allow the Yatir residents to stay where they are while evacuating the few homes in Umm al-Hiran. The situation on the ground may justify such an arrangement, despite the court rulings. But their willingness likely comes up against the inciters from Balad, the Islamic Movement and radical bodies. They don’t want an arrangement. They are not in favor of the Bedouins. They are against Israel.
Israeli security forces predict uptick in tensions as Trump inauguration looms near - Arab-Israeli Conflict
As President-elect Donald Trump is expected to officially be sworn into office later on Friday, the Israeli security establishment is preparing for possible altercations and clashes with Palestinian demonstrators.
The incoming American president has already declared in recent months his intention to follow through on several moves that are distinctly opposed to the Palestinian agenda in the region, with Palestinian political ranks vehemently protesting one specific move: his decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump's inauguration ceremony, which is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. (EST) with some 900,000 participants in attendance, has already caused a rising in tensions in the West Bank and is expected to stir further unrest. Sources from the security establishment were quoted as saying on Friday that "we are preparing for an escalation in light of the elected president's speech. We understand that his statements can exacerbate the situation in the field."
The same sources also pointed an accusatory finger in the directions of Israeli as well as Palestinian politicians and leaders, adding that "politicians' public statements could also potentially further fan the flames."
Palestinians rescue Israeli man, 3 soldiers from West Bank town
A group of Israeli settlers, including three off-duty soldiers, were rescued by the mayor of a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank on Friday after they entered the area for as-yet-unknown reasons and were quickly set upon by local residents, the army said.
The four Israelis entered the village of Qusra, east of Ariel, on Friday morning. Once inside the village, residents of the hamlet surrounded the group and began throwing rocks at them, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
In response, the armed Israelis fired shots into the air.
The mayor of the village, Abdul Azeem al-Wadi, along with an activist from the Rabbis for Human Rights organization stepped in to rescue and detain the four settlers — who apparently came from the nearby Esh Kodesh outpost — for their own safety, according to Rabbis for Human Rights.
The group was then handed over to Israeli security forces, the army said.
Group protests after Hamas crimps movement for businesspeople
A major Palestinian rights organization expressed concern Thursday after the Hamas-led authorities in Gaza imposed new restrictions on travel for businessmen.
A new circular will restrict businesspeople from leaving Gaza through the Erez crossing into Israel unless they have paid all their water, electricity and other bills, the interior ministry recently announced.
The Independent Commission for Human Rights, a Palestinian NGO, said the move was a threat to Gazans’ freedom of movement, calling it “contrary to law.”
“It is a serious encroachment on the right of movement and travel,” a statement said.
Iyad al-Bozum, a spokesman for the Hamas-run interior ministry, argued the restrictions were necessary at a time when Gaza was suffering from huge shortages.
“It is not reasonable that businessmen and traders are well off but don’t pay their bills,” he told AFP.

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