person:chaim levinson

  • Israeli cyber firm negotiated advanced attack capabilities sale with Saudis, Haaretz reveals

    Just months before crown prince launched a purge against his opponents, NSO offered Saudi intelligence officials a system to hack into cellular phones ■ NSO: We abide the law, our products are used to combat crime and terrorism

    Amos Harel, Chaim Levinson and Yaniv Kubovich Nov 25, 2018

    The Israeli company NSO Group Technologies offered Saudi Arabia a system that hacks cellphones, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his purge of regime opponents, according to a complaint to the Israel Police now under investigation.
    But NSO, whose development headquarters is in Herzliya, says that it has acted according to the law and its products are used in the fight against crime and terror.
    Either way, a Haaretz investigation based on testimony and photos, as well as travel and legal documents, reveals the Saudis’ behind-the-scenes attempts to buy Israeli technology.
    In June 2017, a diverse group gathered in a hotel room in Vienna, a city between East and West that for decades has been a center for espionage, defense-procurement contacts and unofficial diplomatic meetings.
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    Arriving at the hotel were Abdullah al-Malihi, a close associate of Prince Turki al-Faisal – a former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services – and another senior Saudi official, Nasser al-Qahtani, who presented himself as the deputy of the current intelligence chief. Their interlocutors were two Israeli businessmen, representatives of NSO, who presented to the Saudis highly advanced technology.

    >> Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays | Revealed
    In 2017, NSO was avidly promoting its new technology, its Pegasus 3 software, an espionage tool so sophisticated that it does not depend on the victim clicking on a link before the phone is breached.
    During the June 2017 meeting, NSO officials showed a PowerPoint presentation of the system’s capabilities. To demonstrate it, they asked Qahtani to go to a nearby mall, buy an iPhone and give them its number. During that meeting they showed how this was enough to hack into the new phone and record and photograph the participants in the meeting.
    The meeting in Vienna wasn’t the first one between the two sides. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently expressed pride in the tightening ties with Gulf states, with Israel’s strength its technology. The message is clear: Israel is willing to sell these countries security-related technologies, and they forge closer ties with Israel in the strategic battle against Iran.

  • Israel’s defense chief resigns, slams Netanyahu for ’surrendering to Hamas terror’ - Chaim Levinson Nov 14, 2018 12:47 PM

    Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation on Wednesday and called for elections to be held as soon as possible, saying he hopes a date will be set by Sunday. Lieberman said of all the members of his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, will quit the coalition.

    However, a senior source in Likud, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, said that elections are not neccessarily the next step and added that Netanyahu will initially take on Lieberman’s portfolio. Lieberman, who heads Yisrael Beiteinu, will retake his Knesset seat following his resignation, as provided for by law.

    “I didn’t look for reasons to quit,” Lieberman said. “I tried to remain a loyal government member, in the cabinet, keep differences internal even at an electoral cost.” The two turning points, he said, were the millions of dollars in cash delivered from Qatar to Gaza, and the cease-fire Israel reached with Hamas on Tuesday.

    “There is no other definition, no other significance, but a capitulation to terror,” he said, adding: “What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security.”

    “It is no secret there were differences between the prime minister and I,” he said. “I did not agree to allow entry of Qatari money [into Gaza], and I had to allow it only after the prime minister announced it.” Lieberman said similar differences revolved around the evacuation of the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.

    Yisrael Beiteinu’s departure means Netanyahu still holds a Knesset majority of 61 seats to maintain the coalition. Another key coalition partner in Netanyahu’s government, Habayit Hayehudi (headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett) said that unless the defense portfolio goes to Bennett, the party will also quit the coalition.

    Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said Lieberman’s resignation is a recognition of Israel’s defeat in this week’s military confrontation with the Islamic group.

    Following the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Lieberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett published statements against the truce reached with Hamas. Sources said that as soon as the latest round of fighting erupted, Lieberman demanded a “harsh, decisive” move against Hamas. Sources near Bennett say that his opposition to the cease-fire was clear as could be.

    Other sources, however, say that ultimately, the ministers unanimously supported the defense establishment’s position that action should be taken to restore the calm.

    According to associates of Lieberman, the Prime Minister’s Office’s claim on Tuesday that he had supported the cease-fire agreement that was reached to end hostilities in Gaza infuriated him.

    Senior Hamas official Husan Badran said Tuesday, the third day of hostilities, that “if Netanyahu is interested in ending this round, he must fire [Defense Minister] Lieberman, who in his foolish conduct caused the escalation.”

    In recent weeks, Lieberman and Bennett have publicly argued between them about Gaza and Israel’s actions there. Last month, Bennett charged Lieberman of a weak, left-wing defense policy, while Lieberman retorted that in cabinet meetings, Bennett says the opposite of what he says in public.

    Lieberman and the cabinet were divided about the sale of gasoline and natural gas to Gaza, and in defense forums, it was decided that the defense minister may not make decisions on the subject without the cabinet’s agreement. The ministers were surprised last month by Lieberman’s decision to cut off the fuel supply to Gaza, a decision he made on his own, in contradiction to the position of the defense establishment. Netanyahu and the cabinet members heard of the decision for the first time through the media.

  • What happened when a Jewish settler slapped an Israeli soldier - Opinion - Israel News |

    This slap didn’t lead the nightly news. This slap, which landed on the cheek of a Nahal soldier in Hebron, did not lead to an indictment. The assailant, who slapped a soldier who was trying to stop her from throwing stones, was taken in for questioning but released on bail the same day and allowed to return home.

    Prior to this incident, she had been convicted five times — for throwing rocks, for assaulting a police officer and for disorderly conduct, but was not jailed even once.

    In one instance, she was sentenced to probation, and in the rest to a month of community service and practically a token fine, as compensation to the injured parties. The accused systematically failed to heed summonses for questioning or for legal proceedings, but soldiers did not come to drag her out of bed in the middle of the night, nor were any of her relatives arrested. Aside from a brief report by Chaim Levinson about the incident, on July 2, 2010, there were hardly any repercussions to the slap and scratches inflicted by Yifat Alkobi on the face of a soldier who caught her hurling rocks a Palestinians.

    #israël #palestine #occupation #colonisation

    • The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit said at the time that the army “takes a grave view of any incidence of violence toward security forces,” and yet the assailant goes on living peacefully at home. The education minister didn’t demand that she sit in prison, social media have not exploded with calls for her to be raped or murdered, and columnist Ben Caspit didn’t recommend that she punished to the full extent of the law “in a dark place, without cameras.”

      Like Ahed Tamimi, Alkobi has been known for years to the military and police forces that surround her place of residence, and both are considered a nuisance and even a danger. The main difference between them is that Tamimi assaulted a soldier who was sent by a hostile government that does not recognize her existence, steals her land and kills and wounds her relatives, while Alkobi, a serial criminal, assaulted a soldier from her own people and her religion, who was sent by her nation to protect her, a nation in which she is a citizen with special privileges.

      Jewish violence against soldiers in the territories has been a matter of routine for years. But even when it seems like there’s no point asking that soldiers in the territories protect Palestinians from physical harassment and vandalism of their property by settlers, it’s hard to understand why the authorities continue to turn a blind eye, to cover up and close cases or not even open them, when the violators are Jews. There is plenty of evidence, some of it recorded on camera. And yet the offenders still sleep at home in their beds, emboldened by divine command and amply funded by organizations that receive state support.

      In the winter it’s nice to get warm and cozy under these double standards, but there’s one question that every Israeli should be asking himself: Tamimi and Alkobi committed the same offense. The punishment (or lack thereof) should be the same. If the choice is between freeing Tamimi or jailing Alkobi, which would you choose? Tamimi is to remain in custody for the duration of the proceedings — trial in a hostile military court — and is expected to receive a prison sentence. Alkobi, who was not prosecuted for this offense, and was tried in a civilian court for much more serious offenses, lived at home for the duration of the proceedings. She was represented by a lawyer who did not have to wait at a checkpoint in order to serve his client and her only punishment was community service.

      The Likud and Habayit Hayehudi cabinet ministers have no reason to rush to pass a law that would apply Israeli law in the territories. Even without it, the only thing that matters is if you were born Jewish. Everything else is irrelevant.

  • Israel secretly using U.S. law firm to fight BDS activists in Europe, North America -

    Israeli government hired lawyers to counter BDS; nature of work is kept a secret, and defined as ’extremely sensitive’

    Chaim Levinson and Barak Ravid Oct 25, 2017
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    The government has been secretly using a U.S. law firm to help it fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Europe, North America and elsewhere, according to documents obtained by Haaretz.
    The government has hired the Chicago-based firm Sidley Austin to prepare legal opinions and handle court proceedings. The Justice Ministry and the Strategic Affairs Ministry have declined to reveal the nature of these activities, for which the state has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years. The ministries call the activities “diplomatically extremely sensitive.”
    About two years ago, the security cabinet made the Strategic Affairs Ministry responsible for coordinating the fight against “delegitimization” and earmarked major resources for these efforts. The Strategic Affairs Ministry transfers some of the money to the Foreign Ministry in various places worldwide and some money has been given to Jewish organizations overseas for public relations work on campuses and elsewhere.
    But the Strategic Affairs Ministry is also operating on these matters in ways that have not been made public. In the past, the ministry’s director general, Sima Vaknin, told the Knesset that it is involved in “gathering intelligence and attacking.”
    Over the past year, attorney Eitay Mack has asked government ministries in the name of human rights activists to receive information on all the contracts signed with bodies overseas involving anti-BDS activities. The Foreign Ministry said it had no such contractual obligations, but the Justice Ministry provided censored documents.
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    The documents show that the special-tasks department in the State Prosecutor’s Office, which is responsible for dealing with matters of national security – in cooperation with the Strategic Affairs Ministry – called for bids in early 2016 from international law firms.
    This was for “preparing documents and legal opinions, handling legal proceedings (suits or representation) to the extent needed battling the BDS phenomenon in particular concerning calls and initiatives to impose boycotts and sanctions against Israeli companies and businesses, as well as against foreign companies that have business operations in Israel.”
    The detailed description of the services was censored from the document. The Justice Ministry said the details were redacted because their publication could lead to “damage to the country’s foreign relations and damage to the ability of these bodies to provide the requested service.”
    In February 2016, the Justice Ministry contracted with a law firm, but in May the ministry asked to switch firms after the original outfit was found to have a possible conflict of interest.
    A contract with a different law firm for 290,000 euros was then approved, with the option of increasing the amount by another 200,000 euros for additional work. Another expansion of the original contract was later approved, this time for another 437,000 euros, making a total contract value of 925,000 euros, or 4 million shekels ($1.1 million).
    The tenders committee decided not to publicize the contracts in the government’s Manof information system because of the sensitivity of the matter to Israel’s foreign relations.
    The secrecy surrounding the contracts raises the suspicion that the work involves not only writing legal opinions but also preparing lawsuits against BDS supporters, as Israel does not want to be revealed as supporting such actions, to avoid the perception that it is interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
    The money is disbursed as budgetary allocations for international contracts. The Justice Ministry’s report on such contracts shows that the government contracted with Sidley Austin in March 2016 for consulting services, without issuing a tender for competitive bidding. In the first half of 2017, the firm received $219,000 in payments. No other law firms were paid under the same budgetary section.
    Sidley Austin did not reply to questions on whether it was working for the Israeli government.
    Sidley Austin is one of the largest American law firms and employs 1,900 lawyers. It is the firm where a young lawyer, Michelle Robinson, met a summer intern named Barack Obama. The firm has four offices in Europe: in Brussels, London, Munich and Geneva.

    Chaim Levinson
    Haaretz Correspondent

  • Israeli judge: Some Palestinian minors see jail sentence as way of escaping home
    Un argument que l’on n’avait pas encore entendu, les jeunes Palestiniens veulent aller en prison !

    Jurist and attorneys call for more sympathetic handling of cases in which youngsters deliberately seek arrest to flee domestic unhappiness.
    By Chaim Levinson | Feb. 15, 2015 | Haaretz

    Military courts in the West Bank see several cases a year of Palestinian minors who clash with the army in order to be arrested and escape conditions at home, according to an Israeli judge.

    Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court Judge Amir Dahan, a former Israel Defense Forces military court judge who frequently cites this information in lectures, told students recently of the case of a Hebron girl who suffered beatings at home. She was apprehended with a knife at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in that city.

    “I decided to release her, because jail is not a solution,” related Dahan during the lecture. “She needed help. A few days later, she took a knife and again went to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. I was in a real dilemma. If I let her go again and again, she could end up trying to stab a soldier. Military courts do not have rehabilitation means,” he added.

    Attorney Nery Ramati, of the Gabi Lasky law firm, has represented many Palestinian minors. He is leading efforts to find alternatives to detention for Palestinian minors.

    “I once represented a girl who lived at home and her parents were angry because her matriculation scores were not good. There was great pressure at home about it and they may have beaten her a little, so she decided to go to a checkpoint with fire crackers in her bag,” Ramati told Haaretz.

    When she set one of the firecrackers off at the fence, IDF soldiers arrested her, Ramati said, adding that the girl then told the soldiers, “I came for you to arrest me.”

    Ramati said the prosecution “went crazy over the idea that she could be released. From their point of view, she has to sit in jail because she’s dangerous,” he said.

    The military court at the IDF’s Ofer base in the northern West Bank is currently hearing the case of a 16-year-old girl from Qalandiyah, who was in conflict with her parents because of her low grades at school. She came to the Qalandiyah checkpoint and called the military police over to her, at which point she was placed under arrest.

    Her attorney, Tareq Barghout, asked the military court to send the teenager to a rehabilitation home for girls, in Beit Jala. The prosecution opposed the move and the IDF’s chief military prosecutor in the West Bank, Lt. Col. Morris Hirsch, even appeared in court himself to persuade the judges not to send the girl to a rehabilitation center but instead to jail, Barghout told Haaretz.

    “They are still stuck in the primitive thinking of deterring minors,” Barghout said. “They don’t take into account at all the key consideration of rehabilitation. They don’t care whether this girl is rehabilitated, as long as she belongs to the Palestinian population.”

  • Welcome aboard Israel’s apartheid bus
    Defense Minister Ya’alon is kowtowing to the settlers at the expense of the image of the State of Israel internationally and its remaining shreds of morality.
    Haaretz Editorial | Oct. 27, 2014 Haaretz

    Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has instructed that Palestinian laborers be prohibited from using Israeli public transportation to travel between their homes in the West Bank and work in Israel. According to the report by Chaim Levinson in Haaretz on Sunday, Palestinian laborers will not be allowed to board buses traveling directly between central Israel and the West Bank at the end of their work day.

    The minister’s decision comes despite the fact that the Israel Defense Forces see no security risk in Palestinians traveling on Israeli buses, because the only ones to do so are those with entry and work permits who undergo careful security checks when they enter Israel. Thus, Ya’alon’s decision is purely a result of his having given in to the longtime pressure exerted on him by settlers demanding that Palestinians not be allowed to board “their” buses.

    The minister’s decision reeks of apartheid, typical of the Israeli occupation regime in the territories. One of the most blatant symbols of the regime of racial separation in South Africa was the separate bus lines for whites and blacks. Now, Ya’alon has implemented the same policy in the occupied territories. In so doing, he justifies the claims of those who brand Israel internationally as an apartheid state.

    Ya’alon’s decision also means a heavier burden on the Palestinians in the West Bank. Few among them are allowed to work in Israel, and those who are allowed to work in Israel face an exhausting, humiliating and painful experience on their way to and from work. Now, Ya’alon is making it even harder on them.

    The defense minister made it his goal a long time ago to satisfy the settlers; to dance to their tune and make almost all their wishes and demands come true. He does this out of cynical personal and political considerations - to reinforce his status as a leader of the extreme right. The saga of his murky relations with the American administration following his disparaging remarks about Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials shows how much Ya’alon longs for the settlers’ embrace.

    This time, Ya’alon is kowtowing to the settlers at the expense of the image of the State of Israel internationally and its remaining shreds of morality. And all by abusing a few tens of thousands of Palestinians permitted to make a paltry living in Israel.

    Ya’alon’s has instructed the Civil Administration to prepare for the implementation of his decision until it can be done in practice. It would be better for him to annul it immediately and remove this shame from Israel.

  • Palestinian girls detained for picking settlers’ cherries -
    Police said they were required to question the four girls, aged 11-15, because they had received a complaint about theft.

    By Chaim Levinson | 22:02 27.05.14

    The Israel Defense Forces and the police detained four Palestinian girls for questioning on Tuesday on suspicion of having eaten cherries off a tree in a settlement.


  • Israel authorizes record amount of West Bank land for settlement construction
    By Chaim Levinson | Apr. 29, 2014

    A record amount of land – slightly more than half of it outside the West Bank separation barrier – was confirmed as state land last year, a critical step toward handing over the land to settlements so that more homes can be built on it.

    The 28,000 dunams (6,919 acres) were approved by the Civil Administration’s task force for demarcating state land, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the government coordinator in the territories, told a Knesset subcommittee this week. The so-called Blue Line task force, established by the Civil Administration in 1999, is reexamining land designated imprecisely during the 1980s as belonging to the state.

    Most of the newly confirmed state land is in areas of strategic importance for settlers, including outposts that could join up with nearby settlements and areas close to the Green Line that could potentially link up with towns in Israel. The largest plot of land is 3,476 dunams near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, while 2,302 dunams were claimed by the state in the southern Hebron Hills.

    The land reclamation indicates that Israel is not interested in negotiations, said Dror Etkes, who works with Rabbis for Human Rights to track Israeli settlement policy.

    “Anyone examining the places where territory was added to the land under settlement jurisdiction, and [examining] the work of the Blue Line team from early 2013 until today, is forced to conclude that from the perspective of the Israeli government, there is no Oslo, no fence, no negotiations,” said Etkes, referring to the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

  • Israel’s West Bank policy: In thrall to settlers - not justice -

    Haaretz By Chaim Levinson | Feb. 10, 2014 |

    In November 2008, the then head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai (now the coordinator of government activities in the territories), presented an affidavit on the priorities for demolishing illegal construction in the West Bank.

    The goal was to head off a High Court of Justice petition concerning construction in the illegal outposts of Kiryat Hayovel and Haresha. To do so, a plan had to be presented that would make it look as if there was logic behind the chaos. The first step was to implement court orders, and the second was tackling new construction. Third came construction on private property.

    It should be clear that nothing in the affidavit was actually implemented.

    In 2011, in response to a different High Court petition, a new policy was formulated. Whatever illegal construction was on private property would be demolished, and whatever was on other land would be legalized.

    The state later came up with a new policy in response to further High Court petitions: Whatever was on private property and someone had filed a lawsuit against would be demolished, and everything else would remain. In other words, for the state to do a favor and demolish a house without a permit, there needed to be a Palestinian property owner who would petition the High Court – and only then would the state be ready to move.

    Now the state has a new policy, its fourth. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is proud of a letter he forced out of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, in which he states that all new construction will be demolished before it is occupied.

    It is clear that nothing of this sort will happen. The only question is whether Ya’alon and Weinstein are fooling themselves, or us.

  • Document confirms World Zionist Organization allocates land to settlers in Jordan valley -
    By Chaim Levinson
    Haaretz, Sep. 9, 2013

    An internal Civil Administration document confirms a Haaretz report that the World Zionist Organization has allocated to settlers in the Jordan Valley more than 5,000 dunams (1,235 acres) of private Palestinian land located east of the border fence, namely, between that fence and the actual border with the Kingdom of Jordan.

    This area between the border fence and the actual border — the Jordan River — is a closed military zone that in some places is two kilometers wide. A military order prevents the Palestinian owners from accessing their lands in this area. On the other hand, Jewish settlers are allowed to farm the lands.

    In January, Haaretz reported that under the aegis of this order, the WZO had allocated to settlers in the Jordan Valley over 5,000 dunams of private Palestinian lands. Following this report, the Civil Administration began to investigate how this situation had come about and how much land had been allocated in this manner.

    The documents that have come into the possession of Haaretz indicate that following the June 1967 Six-Day War and after the border fence was completed, Palestinians continued to farm their lands located close to the border. But following a number of incidents in which Palestinian farmers in this area helped infiltrators to cross the border into Israeli-controlled territory, the entire area was declared a military zone. Several Palestinians who owned plots in the area submitted applications requesting permission to farm their lands; however, their requests were denied.

    In 1979, the WZO’s Settlement Division submitted a request for the cultivation of these lands “in light of the shortage of farmland in the Jordan Valley, a shortage that is preventing the expansion of existing communities and the establishment of new ones.” During the first government headed by Menachem Begin, the Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs authorized the cultivation of state lands or lands belonging to absentee owners.

    In the wake of the committee’s decision, the Israel Defense Forces cleared the mines in this area. Plia Albeck, who directed the Civil Department of the State Prosecutor’s Office for 24 years and maintained close ties with rightist circles, issued a number of statements of professional opinion. In light of the statements she issued, the WZO was authorized to allocate some 75,000 dunams (18,750 acres) of land for farming purposes. Senior military officials, including then-GOC Central Command, Major General Amram Mitzna, approved the allocation of land for cultivation on condition that the farmers had served in the army and were permitted to bear firearms, and on condition that Palestinians would not farm the lands in their stead. It should be pointed out here that, despite the peace settlement Israel signed with Jordan in 1994, these guidelines were not reviewed and remain in effect to this day.

    The Civil Administration subsequently signed three agreements with the WZO, allocating to the latter organization some 29,000 dunams (7,250 acres) for farming purposes. An examination conducted by the Civil Administration shows that a total of 8,565 dunams (2,116 acres) are cultivated beyond the border fence; of these, 4,765 dunams (1,177 acres) are Palestinian lands, 578 dunams (143 acres) are privately owned and another 3,222 dunams (796 acres) are state lands.

    Discussions have recently been held in the Civil Administration and in the office of the coordinator of government activities in the territories on this matter. It is a complex legal issue, because the settlers farming these lands are not trespassers but are persons who were legally allocated the lands by the WZO. On the other hand, the lands also legally belong to their Palestinian owners. The coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, has instructed that all Palestinians who request compensation for the lands they cannot farm should be compensated by the Civil Administration.

    A Civil Administration official has told Haaretz that the Civil Administration has no intention of initiating any action with regard to this matter. “If someone submits a petition to the Supreme Court in its capacity as the High Court of Justice, requesting that his lands be returned to him, we will have to decide what to do,” the official said.

  • Israel pushing ahead with grandiose West Bank railway plan, ignoring political borders
    By Chaim Levinson
    Haaretz 25th of July 2013

    The Civil Administration decided Wednesday to go ahead with its grandiose railway plan for the West Bank and open it up for public objections, after the Palestinian Authority refused Israel’s request to participate in the planning.

    The program is being aggressively promoted by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud). Some NIS 1 million has already been invested in the planning process. The plan, first made revealed by Haaretz, included 473 kilometers of rail with 30 stations on 11 lines, meant to connect all cities and regions within the West Bank and the West Bank with Jordan and Syria. Due of the West Bank’s hilly terrain, the plans include dozens of bridges and tunnels.

    The railway plan, which is supposed to accommodate all populations living in the West Bank, completely ignores all current political borders. Initial discussions were held about 18 months ago. Even if the hundreds of billions of shekels needed to realize the plan are never found, the mere existence of the plan means that any construction program from now on will have to take the theoretical railway lines into account.

    Today the Civil Administration discussed the details of the plan, presented by Alex Schmidt , who was hired by Israel Railways to planning the lines. “There are 11 tracks. The central line runs parallel to the route connecting Jenin, Nablus, Jerusalem’s outskirts, Hebron and Be’er Sheva. Another line runs along the Jordan Valley and connects to Jordan and Syria. There will also be latitudinal lines connecting the two main lines: a line between Nablus and the Adam Bridge, Tul Karm and Nablus, and Nablus and Rosh Ha’ayin; a line connecting the Allenby Bridge to Jerusalem and Ramallah; a line from Ramallah to Lod and Tel Aviv; a line connecting Kiryat Gat to Hebron; and another line in Gaza that will make it possible to connect Ramallah with the Gaza Strip using Israeli trains.”

    In terms of the demand for railway services, Schmidt said: “We used the data provided by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics. We got the number of residents who work in the industrial areas. We checked how many people use private vehicles compared to how many use public transportation. We also calculated population growth. We expect 12,000 people to use the mountain ridge line between Jerusalem and Ramallah during the morning rush hour, and 3,000 between Hebron and Beer Sheva at the same time. We estimate that 2035 will see 30 million train rides.”

    During the discussion, it was revealed that the Civil Administration forwarded the plans to ask the Palestinian Authority asking for its input but that PA personnel refused the request. The issue was also raised at a meeting between the Civil Administration head and the director general of the PA’s Interior and Civil Affairs Ministry but to no avail. It was therefore decided to proceed without Palestinian input. Survey Staff Officer Eli Livni, who is also a member of the Supreme Planning Council in Judea and Samaria (and brother of Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni), asked if such a small area really required so many lines. Schmidt responded, saying “This is what reality on the ground requires considering the cities that have to be connected.” Committee member Benny Weil added “OK, let’s say you’re right about the mountain ridge. But the Jordan Valley?! There are hardly any buses traveling there today. Is there really a demand for trains?” Schmidt responded that “The mountain ridge line is for local passengers and commuters, whereas the valley line would serve tourists traveling to the Dead Sea, Eilat and the Sea of Galilee. In any case, it’s the last of our priorities.”

    At the end of the discussion it was decided to publish the plan for submission in another 30 days, which means that the documents will now be made public so that reservations and comments may be submitted. Once these objections are discussed, the plan will be published for final validation, whereupon concrete discussions of each and every railway line will begin. Committee chairman Daniel Halimi said that he hopes that the Palestinians will cooperate this time. “From our perspective, publishing the plan for comment submission is an important step for including the public in the planning process.”

  • U.K. to probe JNF’s anti-discrimination law compliance after complaints by BDS activists
    By Chaim Levinson
    Haaretz Daily Newspaper

    British authorities have announced that they intend to investigate whether Jewish National Fund activities infringe upon the principle of equality following Palestinian complaints regarding the organization’s activities.

    The JNF in general and JNF U.K. in particular have found themselves at the center of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. One of the campaign’s goals is to remove British authorities’ recognition of JNF U.K.’s status as a charity organization. In the past year, 88 British members of Parliament, out of a total of 650, signed a letter calling for the revocation of the organization’s charity status. According to the campaign’s organizers, the JNF is a racist organization that took Arab land and took part in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.


  • Israel’s West Bank settlements grew by twice the size of New York’s Central Park in 2012
    By Chaim Levinson

    Le grignotage inexorable de la terre palestinienne

    Israeli settlements in the West Bank legally expanded by nearly 8,000 dunams (1977 acres) in 2012 - land equaling the entire city of Bat Yam and twice as big as Manhattan’s Central Park.

    The adjustments were approved by military order, with the Israel Defense Forces’ GOC Central Command granting settlement municipalities jurisdiction over the new territories.

    Although in recent years the practice of giving large swathes of land to settlements has been abandoned, creeping annexations are still under way. In 2012, settlement-controlled land grew from 530,931 to 538,303 dunams, a total increase of 7,372 dunams, according to a comparison of maps from 2011 and 2012 at the Civil Administration offices.

  • IDF Rabbinate shows non-Jews the door in mezuzah book ruling
    Les non juifs n’ont pas les mêmes droits que les juifs en Israël

    By Chaim Levinson

    One ruling on Jewish law in the book, “Laws of the Mezuzah,” states: “The idea that views non-Jews as having equal rights in the state goes against the opinion of the Torah, and no representative of the state is authorized to act against the will of the Torah.”

    The book deals with questions about mezuzahs, which are fixed to doorposts by Jews as a sign of faith, on army bases, and was endorsed by the IDF’s chief rabbi, Brig. Gen. Rabbi Rafi Peretz.

  • Un berger palestinien (80 ans) de Cisjordanie battu par deux jeunes colons.
    Palestinian shepherd, 80, beaten unconscious near settlement - Diplomacy & Defense - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper

    Police has gathered evidence in effort to reveal who was responsible for attack.
    By Chaim Levinson
    According to the son, since the elder Barhoush retired from his job as a construction worker in Israel, he has tended to the family’s flock of 20 sheep and regularly hikes through the nearby fields with them. Last Friday, the sheep returned to the village without Barhoush. Concerned family members went looking for him in the fields and found him unconscious about 500 meters from the perimeter fence of Avnei Hafetz.

    After regaining consciousness, he recounted that he had been tending the sheep when he was approached by two young people coming from the direction of the settlement, and that they then began beating him with sticks. He said he remembered little of the incident.

    Palestinian police alerted Israeli police on learning of the assault. Barhoush’s family has also filed a complaint with the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din. Policemen have surveyed the area of the attack and collected evidence in an effort to determine who committed the assault.

  • A blatantly illegal mission for the army
    Protéger les colonies illégales, une mission illégale


    Sometimes it seems there’s no limit to the corruption tainting the Israel Defense Forces’ operations in the settlements.

    Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson reported on Tuesday that during Passover a group of reservists was assigned to guard homes at an illegal outpost known as “Booster,” adjacent to the settlement of Negohot. Not only has a demolition order been issued against all the temporary structures at the site, but during Passover the homes were empty anyway because their occupants had gone to their parents’ for the holiday. Thus the soldiers found themselves guarding illegal property instead of celebrating the holiday at home.