ARABIC’S FUTURE AS AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IN ISRAEL AT RISK, LEGISLATORS WARN

BY BEN LYNFIELD

JULY 12, 2017 01:54

Arab Mks say that should a bill proposing to eliminate Arabic’s official status in the country pass, it will be a “nakba of our language.”

A road sign in English, Hebrew, and Arabic points to the Israeli settlement of Susiya

 A road sign in English, Hebrew, and Arabic points to the Israeli settlement of Susiya. (photo credit:AFP PHOTO)
Elimination of Arabic’s status as an official language as is being proposed in a draft of a bill recently approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation would constitute “another nakba [catastrophe]” for Arabs, MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) said on Tuesday.
“It will be another nakba, the nakba of our language,” he said, using the Arabic term that refers to the mass displacement of Palestinians during the War of Independence.

“It would allow more degradation of Arabic in the public sphere and its disappearance from the public sphere, affecting our identity and status,” Jabareen added.

He made the remarks during Arabic Language Day in the Knesset, which he organized in order to combat the bill and strengthen Arabic’s status together with NGOs seeking to advance equality, including Sikkuy, the Abraham Fund and Mosawa.

In mixed hometown of slain Druse officer, stun grenades thrown at mosques

As part of the day’s events, the Knesset education committee discussed how Arabic is taught in Jewish schools and the economics committee’s subcommittee on public transportation addressed issues related to posting signs in Arabic. The main event was a roundtable discussion of MKs and NGO representatives on “language, identity, and equality.” Only a few Jewish MKs attended the discussion, including Anat Berko (Likud), who came late, made brief remarks on the importance of Arabic study and then left.

Since the state’s inception Arabic has held official language status although in practice it is not treated equally to Hebrew or even English, which is not an official language, said Yonatan Mendel, director of the Center for Jewish-Arab relations at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. Arabic “is treated as inferior,” he said.

Mendel added: “English is a mandatory subject for school matriculation, while Arabic is not mandatory. Many official services are not in Arabic as well as many websites. It’s official on paper only. Israel understands its being official in a narrow way. Its status is fragile and weak.”

Canceling Arabic’s official status might accentuate the problem of government offices not using the language or having it on their websites, Mendel said. “But its worst implications are political and moral. For Arabs the erasure of Arabic will be parallel to erasure of their status as equal citizens. They might understand it as a step toward taking away their citizenship rights. It will not contribute to relations between Jews and Arabs.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud), who supports ending Arabic’s official status, told The Jerusalem Post there is room for only one official language – Hebrew.

“We need a framework that will safeguard Jewish identity and the [Hebrew] language. The State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people and Hebrew has to be safeguarded as the only official language.” He said he supports Arabic having a “special status” without being official and is promoting legislation that would require the teaching of spoken Arabic in Jewish schools from first grade.

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation in May approved a new version of the “nation-state bill” that states “the national language is Hebrew” and demotes Arabic from being official to having a “special status.”

The bill says Arabic speakers have the right to linguistically accessible state services.

Education Committee chairman Ya’acov Margi (Shas) declined to say whether he would support the change of status. “When I get the bill I will formulate my stance,” he said.

MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) said a committee had been formed chaired by MK Amir Ohana (Likud) to advance the bill in coordination with coalition partners.

“We are concerned the final version will harm the status of Arabic and that this will be a humiliation for Arab citizens,” she said.

Svetlova addressed the roundtable discussion in fluent Modern Standard Arabic, which she learned 20 years ago as a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

She recalled being asked by a university staffer at the time why she did not study a European language instead.

“We are in the Middle East, all the neighbors speak Arabic, not Italian. The goal is that each child speak the two languages. This will advance peace,” she said.

Referring to Arabic literary luminaries, Svetlova added: “It is not the language of terrorism; it is the language of love and culture; the language of Yusuf Idris, Najib Mahfouz, Emile Habiby and Mahmoud Darwish.”

jpost.com

Middle East. Personally. Yours.

05/24/2017 01:55 am ET | Updated 26 minutes ago

GETTY IMAGES
Trump in Saudi Arabia with king Salman

The United States President, Donald Trump, was all smiles as he strode down the red carpet in Al-Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. He clearly enjoyed the royal welcome, the gold, the glitter, the huge weapon deal and the generous donation made to Ivanka Trump’s new fund for women entrepreneurs. And so, the idea promoted years ago by former U.S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, of creating an alliance between Arab states, Israel and the United States against Iran, was brought back to the table. Saudi Arabia assumed a leading role in the alliance, namely, to combat Islamist terrorism worldwide. It is no secret that to this very day Saudi Arabia invests vast sums of money in spreading Wahhabism – the most puritan and radical of all Islamic Sunni streams – in many countries in African and Southeast Asia, thereby nurturing future generations of jihadist terrorists. One may also recall that shortly before President Trump’s visit to Al-Riyadh, the Saudis effectively blocked a proposal made by the Trump administration to impose sanctions on a Saudi branch of ISIS. The motion to add the Islamic State’s Saudi affiliate to a list of terrorist groups in the UN Security Council was sabotaged by Trump’s newly acquired best friends. It seems the Saudis did not wish to acknowledge the existence of an ISIS branch in their Kingdom, despite evidence to show otherwise. This was quite a peculiar move for a country that intends on playing a vital role in a newly formed anti-terror alliance. However, this doesn’t seem to bother Donald Trump.

Furthermore, the new American agenda for the Middle East, as presented by President Trump, will greatly impact the region’s ability to attain stability, or otherwise collapse. To date, the region’s prospects are not promising. The conditions that led to the rise of the Arab Spring have remained as they were, including unemployment, frustration, despair, and sparse opportunities for the younger generation, which make up a majority of the population. Top that off with corruption, a failing economy, and incompetent ailing Arab monarchs, presidents and prime ministers, who were forever supported by the United States, and occasionally Europe, and you have an estimate as to how well prepared the region is to face the challenges of the 21st century.

Nearly one hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire was nicknamed “The Sick Man of Europe”. Today, most countries in the Middle East, excluding Israel and perhaps Tunisia, fall under a similar category. The wave of revolutions in 2011 was sparked from what were possibly the most personal stories in the history of humankind, with figures such as the Egyptian blogger Khaled Saeed, and the Tunisian vegetable seller, Mohamed Bouazizi. People easily identified with their personal suffering and took to the streets in mass protests. However, it appears the leaders of the Arab states, followed by their Western friends, continue to turn a blind eye to the individual needs of their people. They have yet to take a close and careful look at the region and shape their policy vis-à-vis the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Middle East isn’t only suffering from bloodshed. It is also suffering from insufficient medical care, meagre wages, unemployment, power outages, rising costs of basic staples, rampant corruption, and a constant threat to people’s personal safety. If no one addresses these issues, or takes notice of the next Mohamed Bouazizi or Khaled Saeed, we will find ourselves back at square one. We will witness the chaos that serves the precise dark powers of extremism, which Donald Trump has promised to fight.

Is the Middle East capable of evading such a gruesome fate? The answer can’t be summed up with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but rather a ‘perhaps’. Perhaps with sufficient combined efforts, cooperation and critical thinking that address the region’s problems, a suitable Marshall Plan can be devised for the Middle East. Perhaps if the American President refrains from sweeping the human and individual rights of the region under the rug and takes a closer look at what’s really going on, the situation will improve. The young people of the Middle East deserve his time, efforts and close attention, so that he truly sees them. A good deal in the Middle East must benefit actual people, real women and men. It must include and apply to individuals. In the words of the Godfather: “It’s all personal, every bit of the business”.

MKs call for government recognition of independent conversions

A charged committee meeting discusses ‘ticking bomb’ of 350,000 FSU immigrants who can’t convert to Judaism through state religious authority

March 9, 2016, 11:14 am
FSU immigrant David (in blue sweatshirt) gives testimony at the Knesset's Aliya Committee on March 8, 2016. Also pictured, from left: Giyur KaHalacha's Rabbi Seth Farber, Eli Cohen, director, and lawyer Elad Caplan. (Michael Shapochnic, Giyur KaHalacha)

Born in Moldova, David immigrated to Israel with his family as a child in 1997, where they qualified for citizenship under the Law of Return. But not as Jews.

“There, we were Jews,” David said Tuesday at the Knesset, referring to the country of his birth. In many ways, his family spans Eastern European Jewish geography: He was born in Moldova, his parents in Romania, and his grandparents, two of whom were Jewish, in Russia.

The Law of Return offers Israeli citizenship to people with at least one Jewish grandparent. But Jewish law has a different criterion for who is a Jew: a Jewish mother or a recognized conversion.

At the Aliya, Absorption and Diaspora Committee meeting, David related that only as a teen did he begin to question his identity vis a vis Judaism and the Jewish state.

“I began to slowly understand I’m not Jewish, slowly ask why did we come here, to Israel? Are we Jews? Why don’t we have holidays at home? Not everyone asks these questions — and parents don’t always have the answers,” said David.

‘My mother doesn’t light Shabbat candles, but my daughter will. I didn’t have a bar mitzva, but my son will’

David spent a year at Yemin Orde, a pre-military youth village which helps immigrant youth streamline into Israeli society, where he learned to put his halachic status into a Jewish historical perspective. When he joined the IDF the following year in the elite Duvdevan unit, he also entered Nativ, its conversion program, with the mindset that, “My mother doesn’t light Shabbat candles, but my daughter will. I didn’t have a bar mitzva, but my son will.”

David said the Nativ program was very inclusive, and that the message he was given was: “You are Jews, but must correct something. We’re all in the same boat.”

After four years of study, during which he told his mother he could no longer eat from her kitchen, studied, and performed a required post-army stint at a yeshiva, he was rejected at what was meant to be his final appearance in front of the rabbinical court. From the stress of the occasion, David says he mis-answered a few questions about halacha, or Jewish religious law.

“They looked at me like I was the last person alive who should be a Jew,” David said. He was told that he “definitely” would pass the next time. David said that the majority of his Nativ class didn’t pass, even after three or four appearances.

Currently, only 30 to 40 percent of those who begin the state conversion authority’s program stay with it until conversion. Only 50% make it past the first interview with the rabbinical court, “and it is because of the rabbinical courts’ approach,” said Prof. Binyamin Ish Shalom, a longtime conversion activist.

Two potential IDF converts to Judaism at an Orthodox kindergarten (Gershon Elinson)

Two potential IDF converts to Judaism at an Orthodox kindergarten (Gershon Elinson)

With 350,000 non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel and an additional 100,000 second-generation non-Jewish children, the Knesset committee meeting on Tuesday discussed this “ticking bomb” — the systemic inability of the established religious authority to bring its cohorts through conversion, and the resultant disenfranchisement of thousands of Israeli citizens.

With widespread acrimonious finger pointing, Tuesday’s charged Knesset meeting was attended by politicians pushing for a solution for Israeli citizens of Jewish background, and rabbis who said the current conversion authority was the best solution — or the biggest obstacle.

‘I know people who left the country after their failure at the rabbinic court’

After the rabbinical court’s rejection, David said, he felt “distanced” from Judaism, emotionally and spiritually. “I know people who left the country after their failure at the rabbinic court,” he said.

David, however, did end up undergoing a halachic conversion to Judaism — although he is still not considered a Jew by the civil State of Israel nor by its religious authority.

With increasingly inflexible requirements from the state authorities, the past few years has seen the advent of unrecognized independent but halachic conversion courts, such as the controversial ultra-Orthodox court in Bnei Brak under Rabbi Nissim Kurelitz, and the Modern Orthodox new kid on the block, the network of Giyur Kahalacha courts.

Established six months ago by luminaries of Israel’s National Zionist religious world, Giyur Kahalacha sees itself as a halachic answer to immigrants — especially those with Jewish ancestry — who are not able to complete the state’s stringent conversion programs.

Convert 'Katya' and her daughter sit before the independent Giyur Ka'halacha conversion court, led by Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch (center) on Monday, August 10, 2015. (courtesy)

Convert ‘Katya’ and her daughter sit before the independent Giyur Ka’halacha conversion court, led by Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch (center) on Monday, August 10, 2015. (courtesy)

Although their converts must acknowledge that the program is currently not recognized by the State of Israel for Jewish status purposes, nor by the chief rabbinate for lifecycle events, Giyur Kahalacha has already converted 150 out of 600 people who have approached the organization so far.

At the Knesset meeting, Giyur Kahalacha representatives projected that it would soon be the largest converting court in the world. (The state religious authority annually converts some 3,600.)

The number of those reaching out to Giyur Kahalacha shows the frustration of potential converts with the religious authorities, said Eli Cohen, a former IAF pilot and high-tech businessman who now works with the movement.

Giyur KaHalacha's Rabbi Seth Farber (left), Eli Cohen, director, and convert David at the Knesset's Aliya Committee meeting on March 8, 2016. (Michael Shapochnic, Giyur KaHalacha)

Giyur KaHalacha’s Rabbi Seth Farber (left), Eli Cohen, director, and convert David at the Knesset’s Aliya Committee meeting on March 8, 2016. (Michael Shapochnic, Giyur KaHalacha)

Why this matter is pressing for discussion at the Knesset, Cohen said, is that for FSU immigrants with Jewish heritage, beyond the religious authority, it is the state recognition of their Jewishness that is of utmost importance to their identities as Israeli citizens.

It is clear, however, that there is already concern among Knesset members and rabbis that these new converts present facts on the ground that will soon cause a cataclysm.

Isaac Herzog addresses the Knesset on February 10, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Isaac Herzog addresses the Knesset on February 10, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said, “We are coming to the point at which we say in this situation, there should be a parallel conversion system because the current system doesn’t answer the need.”

But the head of the conversion authority, Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, said Tuesday that his institution does not recognize the Giyur Kahalacha converts and, with some 2,000 FSU converts a year, he does not foresee a need.

“If someone has a problem with the Knesset, should he make a new Knesset? Soon there will be a state in which everyone will make their own synagogue; everyone will do their own kashrut,” said Peretz.

There are currently some 15 independent conversion courts across the country, said Peretz. If they were all to be recognized, “then there won’t be one people, there will be 100 peoples… There will be chaos,” said Peretz.

MK Moti Yogev of the Jewish Home party echoed Peretz’s concerns, but said that while the chief rabbinate should be the sole religious authority, especially in cases of conversion and divorce, “there must be an effort for leniency, with faith and responsibility, to keep the Jewish people together.”

‘There won’t be one people, there will be 100 peoples… There will be chaos’

With a rich family history and constituency of voters with similar backgrounds to support her, Zionist Camp MK Ksenia Svetlova dismissed the notion that the state conversion authority is a force for cohesion within the Jewish people.

“The rabbinate has turned into the lords of the people, not its servants,” said Svetlova. She said that many immigrants from the former Soviet Union had lived their entire lives believing they were Jews.

“They suffered anti-Semitism as Jews,” she said, and suffered in many other ways as Jews, “and here — oops! [They are asked by officials,] ‘Who are you, goyim?’ We must stop the torture,” she said.

Svetlova said the situation is so ludicrous that even the Biblical prototype of Jewish conversion would not have taken place in today’s strict rabbinical courts.

“Ruth the Moabite would not have been converted today. She wouldn’t have been accepted into the Jewish people,” said Svetlova. “People want to be Jews — so let them!”

Former Shas MK Haim Amsalem, now running at the head of his own party, Am Shalem, in the Knesset in 2010. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Haim Amsalem in the Knesset in 2010. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

After trying to reform the system from within both the rabbinic authority and the Knesset, former Shas MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem said that he doesn’t see any hope of meeting the need presented by the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens with Jewish heritage. Furthermore, he said, by disenfranchising potential converts from Judaism through its refusal to recognize these independent conversion courts, the state establishment is “supporting assimilation.”

“Who are those who knock on our doors? Ninety-seven percent are those with Jewish roots, who have bound their fates with the Jewish people. We are rejecting them,” he said. Quoting other rabbinic sources, Amsalem said it is worse to reject one who wants to become a Jew than to “mistakenly” convert someone.

“We must give government recognition to the independent courts and the converts,” said Amsalem.

Likud MK Avraham Neguise, chairman of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs. (Government Press Office)

Likud MK Avraham Neguise, chairman of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs. (Government Press Office)

The head of the committee, Likud MK Avraham Neguise, an Ethiopian immigrant, is also no stranger to the political and emotional struggle involved in conversion. In concluding the discussion, Neguise called for the conversion authority to begin talks with Giyur Kahalacha. More importantly, he called on the Interior Ministry to recognize these halachic converts as Jews.

Until then, David, like the other Giyur Kahalacha converts, understands that their Jewish identities only go so far.

“I am not registered as a Jew anywhere in Israel, even though I went through a halachic conversion,” he said.

And so, ahead of his upcoming marriage, David also knows that the only ways for him to have a halachic marriage is to leave the Jewish state — or be wed illegally by a Giyur Kahalacha rabbi.

Netanyahu and Edelstein file complaint against Arab MKs

israelnationalnews.com

In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister and Knesset Speaker file complaint against Arab MKs who met with family members of terrorists.

By Ido Ben Porat

First Publish: 2/5/2016

 

Edelstein and Netanyahu

Edelstein and Netanyahu
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Thursday evening announced they would file a personal complaint with the Knesset Ethics Committee against the Arab MKs who met with family members of terrorists who murdered Israelis.

The three MKs in question are Jamal Zahalka, Hanin Zoabi and Basel Ghattas – the three representatives of the Balad party in the Joint List.

Edelstein said that the MKs’ actions constitute incitement and encouragement to murder.

“It is inconceivable that while innocent civilians are being slaughtered in the streets of Israel, Knesset members pay condolence visits and, in their audaciousness, even dare to bring to the Israeli government requests by the murderers’ families,” he said.

“I consider it serious harm to the Israeli Knesset and the State of Israel and hope that these things will permeate into the hearts and the wisdom of the High Court judges the next time they discuss petitions against the disqualification of candidates who do not deserve to be in the Knesset,” added Edelstein.

Netanyahu said that Knesset members who go to console families of terrorists who murdered Israelis are unfit to serve in the Israeli Knesset.

Edelstein and Netanyahu’s complaint to the Ethics Committee follows one filed earlier on Thursday by MKs Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) and Amir Ohana (Likud).

The complaint states that “the issue is not a matter of left or right, but rather a matter of terrible acts that harm the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.”

“I am not content with condemning the visit to families of the terrorists. Sympathetic coverage in Arabic media shows an increase in activities that harm Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. And so I filed a complaint to members of the Ethics Committee against the Balad faction of the Joint List,” said Svetlova.

Ohana accused MKs Zahalka, Zoabi and Ghattas of being open supporters of terrorism in the Israeli Knesset.

“There is no more question about which side they chose. …The only benefit of their being in the Knesset is that the people of Israel better understand the views of the people who elected them to the Knesset – because they were not elected by Norwegians.”

Ohana continued, “The problem is not the law – which unequivocally determines that (a supporter of terror is one who) explicitly or implicitly supports an armed struggle against Israel. The problem is in the interpretation of the Supreme Court, which until now repeatedly overturns decisions of the Election Committee and allows them to join the Knesset.”

MKs, IDF accuse media of fomenting conflict in West Bank; journalists’ groups say security forces are increasingly violent towards reporters.

“With all the importance of the press in a democratic country,” MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) began, “we cannot get confused and must always give priority to the IDF’s operational freedom of action, because they are acting to save lives.”Yogev accused the press of behaving like an “imbalanced theater.”

MK Yisrael Eichler (UTJ) compared the press to a car, saying that in some cases it is helpful and brings progress, and in other cases it can be destructive.

According to Eichler, a former journalist, objective reporters should be given freedom of action, but reporters who “take a side in the conflict” should be given less access.

MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) said there is no justification for violence against journalists, but added: “We cannot ignore the fact that the press takes an active, one-sided and tendentious stance in covering the conflict, and therefore, it is part of the game.

“We know with certainty about many cases that were staged and orchestrated, so the media needs to ask itself if it is truly balanced,” Oren stated.

IDF Spokesperson’s Unit representative Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner said forces in the field sometimes have to deal with “media traps” or events that would not have happened if the press was not present.

Lerner explained that the IDF works to allow the press to act freely, while considering operational limitations, and that aim is backed by military orders and regulations.

“We make sure to be in the field to help the press and when necessary, we act to prevent violent incidents,” Lerner stated. “The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit gives instructions and simulations at all levels in the field, under the assumption that [operations] will be covered [by the press] and documented.”

Lerner admitted that there was an increase of violent incidents in recent months, but said they are exceptions that do not reflect the general situation.

He also pointed out that an officer who was violent toward the press was fired.

Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova, a former Arab affairs reporter for Russian-language media who has written for The Jerusalem Post, initiated the discussion and said, “Freedom of action for the media is a central component in a democratic state. Unfortunately, recently, it seems that some reporters are seen as the enemy or as a foreign agent acting against the State of Israel.”

She added, “Violence against the press hurts Israel’s good name in the world.”

Foreign Press Association secretary Gila Sugarman said that in the past two years there has been an increase in physical violence against journalists and their equipment.

Union of Journalists in Israel chairman Yair Tarchitsky called the phenomenon fairly common and said the violence generally comes from low-level soldiers or police officers who are not aware of the way they should treat the press.

“The general feeling is that they see journalists as an annoyance,” he said. “Security forces have to understand the job of the press in a democratic country, even if the truth is uncomfortable for the country.

Our job is to reflect reality as it is to the broader public.”

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) closed the meeting by calling the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit to review the complaints from press representatives and make sure that they are present in sensitive situations to hold a dialogue with reporters.

“IDF commanders are not trained or authorized to deal with the press; it’s not their responsibility,” Hanegbi said.

“They are focused on security and executing their operational orders. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit must send people to events with the potential for conflict, in order to avoid obstacles to reaching operation goals, on the one hand, and harm to journalists’ work, on the other.”

Hanegbi also said he will discuss the issue with Interior Committee chairman David Amsalem (Likud), whose panel is responsible for overseeing police and border police actions, to hold a similar discussion about complaints of police treatment of the press.

According to Bayit Yehudi MK, the lack of policy in Judea and Samaria has allowed for a situation of lawlessness

The IDF has failed to tackle the issue of illegal Palestinian building, particularly those projects funded by the European Union, charged MK Moti Yogev during a stormy meeting Wednesday of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee subgroup on Judea and Samaria.

“Officers in uniform are not doing their job, and we will insist on a commission of inquiry to deal with it,” Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) angrily stated.

The lack of policy has simply allowed for a situation of lawlessness, added Yogev, who chairs the committee subgroup.

Hundreds if not thousands of illegal Palestinian homes were built on state land in Area C of the West Bank, he said.

The Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria “has abandoned that territory,” Yogev said.

“This is simply construction terrorism directed by the Palestinian Authority with funding from the European Union that amounts to “110 million euros annually,” Yogev said.

The EU has also supporting the illegal construction of Palestinian infrastructure, such as roads, in Area C, Yogev charged.

Representatives of the civil administration, the Foreign Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office for Judea and Samaria took issue with Yogev’s words.

Civil administration deputy head Uri Mendes said that his office is cracking down on illegal Palestinian building. It is destroying all such structures, save for those that are the subject of legal cases or are protected by a court injunction.




Civil Administration deputy head, Col. Uri Mendes, Brig. Gen. (ret) Dov Sedaka and MK Motti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi)

He explained that there is a fair amount of illegal building on the part of both Israelis and Palestinians in Area C. In 2014, 904 illegal structures were built, of which 408 were destroyed, Mendes said.

But Merav Ettinger, the legal adviser for the Judea and Samaria police, took issue with his words.

“Enforcement [of building laws] is a top priority for us. We are disappointed that the civil administration has not asked for more help from us on this matter,” she said.

Foreign Ministry Department for European Organizations director Avivit Bar-Ilan said that her office has persistently brought up the matter with the Europeans, who have characterized their activities as humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) seemed surprised by her words.

“Why are we letting EU equipment into Area C?” she asked. “Why aren’t we confiscating it?” She added, “You are talking and talking. I have never heard so many words that amount to nothing. Such behavior is intolerable. If you can’t do your work, you should return your keys.” At some points the debate turned into a screaming match, with Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) and Nurit Koren (Likud) yelling at each other in rapid-fire fashion.

Koren took issue with the Svetlova’s use of the words “occupied territory.” “We’re the sovereign power there,” Koren said.


Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) and Nurit Koren (Likud) at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee sub-group on Judea and Samaria.

“What are you talking about?” yelled Svetlova. “We aren’t ruling over a population there. Are you saying that everyone is Israeli there?” MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) attempted to clarify that Israel has authority over the area but is not the sovereign power there.

“We rule there according to international agreements. We have the responsibility and the authority to prevent illegal Palestinian building there, including from the EU,” he said.

He charged that the EU was “blatantly creating facts on the ground” with the aim of helping the Palestinians create a state without negotiations.

The matter needs to be dealt with at the policy level and the responsibility for it rests with the government, Oren said.

“Where all the money will come from?”

June 29, 2015

During the campaign, everybody was constantly asking me:
The money will come from the depths of the sea, hundreds of billions are there, they belong to all Israelis, but a handful of tycoons shameless try to stuff their pockets as much as they can.
Today, in the Knesset, of course, I will protest. The price of gas has to be fair to them, but, more importantly, to us, the common people. Today, at the Knesset, I will repeat for the umpteenth time that we, the deputies, must be lobbyists of the public. Every day, every hour, all year around, and even when it gets uncomfortable and even when we are under pressure. I hope we will succeed.