Congress largely silent as close ally shoots 750 protesters, kills 17 to stifle demonstration.

Tens of thousands of Gazans walked toward the border facing a heavily armed Israeli line. They walked toward rifles and drones. Israel had announced its deployment of a hundred snipers authorized to use live ammunition. And fire they did; the United Nations reports 15 dead and 1,416 wounded, including 750 hit by live ammunition, of whom 20 are in critical condition. […]

The Israeli army additionally militarizes a belt of Gaza’s agricultural land, intruding a further 300 to 500 meters into Gaza. That is the zone in which live fire is being used. Gazans are walking and being killed, on their own land. Walking in protest is not a capital crime in other places, and human rights group B’Tselem calls Israel’s attempt to control the Gaza protest with live fire “absurd.” — www.haaretz.com/…

As if penning almost 2 million people within 140 sq miles for decades wasn’t enough, Israeli authorities have carved a half kilometer strip inside Gaza as a free-fire zone for snipers and drones.

Shai Eluk served as a medic among IDF snipers six years ago. Writing in +972mag, he talks about what he felt when his friends were ordered to fire at protesters in 2012:

This order, which never explained exactly how a soldier is meant to identify, isolate, and shoot a “main inciter” out of tens of thousands of demonstrators disturbed me then. It continued to disturb me this past weekend, after IDF snipers opened fire on Palestinian marchers at the Gaza border. “How can opening fire at a crowd of people be a legal order?” I asked my deputy company commander six years ago. I have yet to receive an answer.

One of my friends killed a demonstrator on the border with Gaza. I am part of a group that carries this death on its shoulders. The only difference between myself and my friend is chance. Had I been sent to the sniper course rather than the medics course, I would have been that shooter. — mag.com/…

Where indeed, are all those voices who advocate military interventions? Why are they silent when Bahrain or Saudi Arabia suppress demonstrations? Why are they silent when Israeli soldiers fire on Palestinian demonstrators? Why aren’t they advocating sanctions under the Leahy amendments directed at Israeli army units that willfully violate Palestinian’s human rights?

Hasan ended up writing an article exploring the thought behind his tweet and Amira Haas has an article in Haaretz discussing the long history of the IDF’s killing of Gazan civilians.

As a close ally that receives billions in military support each year violently suppressed a protest, most American politicians remained silent. With a few exceptions:

Human Rights Watch issued a report on the violent suppression of the protest:

Senior Israeli officials who unlawfully called for use of live ammunition against Palestinian demonstrations who posed no imminent threat to life bear responsibility for the killings of 14 demonstrators in Gaza and the injuring of hundreds on March 30, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. […] The high number of deaths and injuries was the foreseeable consequence of granting soldiers leeway to use lethal force outside of life-threatening situations in violation of international norms, coupled with the longstanding culture of impunity within the Israeli army for serious abuses. — www.hrw.org/…

The Israeli Defense ministry said there would be no investigation of the firing on demonstrators, and that Israel would not co-operate with any international investigation. Israeli forces have a history of using force against Palestinian protesters who pose no threat. In December, an Israeli soldier shot Abu Thuraya in the head at a protest in Gaza, killing him. Thuraya lost both his legs in an Israeli missile strike and was in his wheelchair.

Khadrah Zaqout, 76, was busy baking a fresh, homemade loaf of bread in a mud oven that provides for her family of nine. She said she intends to remain all day in the tent to demand her right to return to her home city, which was abandoned in 1948 when the state of Israel was established.

“I am from the city of Majdal [Ashkelon], where I was born and lived the most beautiful days of my life,” she said. “I still remember our beautiful house, the olive tree and the chicken coop.”

“I brought my grandsons with me to the protest to show them the way to their historical homeland, the land of Palestine,” she said. — www.latimes.com/…

DSA votes for BDS. NYT’s Jerusalem bureau chief says they self-censor and Israel practices apartheid.

90% of the delegates to the Democratic Socialists of America 2017 convention voted to adopt Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The text of the resolution read:

1. Democratic Socialists of America declares itself in solidarity with Palestinian civil society’s nonviolent struggle against apartheid, colonialism, military occupation and for equality, human rights, and self-determination.

2. Democratic Socialists of America responds to Palestinian Civil Society’s call by fully supporting BDS.

3. Democratic Socialists of America affirms that any political solution to the ongoing crisis must be premised on the realization of basic human rights, including all rights outlined in the BDS call.

4. Democratic Socialists of America condemns all efforts to deny the right of Palestinian in the United States and their allies to free speech, assembly and academic freedom.

— Twitter

Following the vote, DSA has come in for criticism from various angles. The Jerusalem Post criticized DSA for holding the vote on Saturday. The pro-Likud ‘zine Tablet said the DSA was a “disgrace” that had “descended into anti-Zionism”. The JTA suggested the DSA were allied with the Palestinian-American activist (and co-organizer of the Women’s March) Linda Sarsour and this was a bad thing.

Yet, as this thread expertly demonstrates, much of the criticism of BDS is exactly what was leveled against proponents of boycotting South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Meanwhile, Jodi Rudoren, formerly the New York Time’s editor in Jerusalem admits they censor opinions and reporting due to attacks and pressure from pro-Israel organizations.

The former New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem Jodi ­Rudoren has admitted to “defensive writing” after several “Twitter campaigns” against her. Rudoren says this was “to protect ­myself and keep me focused on the essence of what I’m trying to do instead of these distractions but you could totally get out of hand with this”. She says there is not a healthy debate in the US about Israel because of the power of pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC.

The interviews are contained in Balcony Over Jerusalem, in which journalists tell how they come under attack from pro-Israel groups if they ­report what they see in Israel and the West Bank.

The New York Times’ Rudoren says that because the occupation of the Palestinians has gone on for so long — 50 years — it has started to look “a lot like apartheid”. While Rudoren was talking about the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank, she also addressed the plight of Palestinians in Israel — the so-called Arab Israelis. She says: “I actually think the issue of apartheid is more relevant to how Arab Israelis are treated within the framework of the country (Israel).” — www.theaustralian.com.au/…

Jonathan Cook writing in Alternet covers the relentless campaign to influence coverage of Israel by pressuring journalists, editors and publishers. His analysis is very thorough, discussing the ways in which individual journalists end up self-censoring, and how editors cave in by developing “guidelines” .  He also examines more subtle influences, for example the NYT’s tacit policy to only appoint Jewish reporters as heads of the Jerusalem division. Rudoren’s predecessor actually had children serving in the IDF. One of the most powerful testimonials is from Clyde Haberman, whose byline should be familiar to all:

Here is another veteran NYT correspondent, Clyde Haberman, telling Lyons that the lobby’s “non-stop assault” on the paper’s Jerusalem correspondents has made the posting a poisoned chalice. Few want it, says Haberman.

We’ve had decades of correspondents that, no matter how talented they are or how many Pulitzer Prizes they have to their name, always end up being accused of being either anti-Semites or self-hating Jews; at some point, this seeps into the DNA of the newspaper. This is what you can expect if you go there—to have your integrity hurled back in your face every single day,” he says.

Pause for a second. Unless I have wildly misunderstood the implication of “seeping into the newspaper’s DNA”, a leading journalist at the U.S. paper of record has just suggested that for decades its reporters and editors have toned down their coverage to avoid run-ins with the Israel lobby. As near as he dare, Haberman has conceded that you won’t learn the full truth about Israel and Palestine from the NYT. 

— www.alternet.org/…

Our bombs blew off this baby’s fingers. She is now learning to use the few she has left.

One year old Zuhoor, whose fingers were amputated after an airstrike in Yemen.

Our government sold the airplanes that dropped these bombs.

Our government refuels the planes on their sorties.

Our government makes and sells the bombs, including cluster bombs.

We share responsibility for these atrocities.

And please don’t believe any of the bullshit peddled to us about how our bombs bring “freedom” and “democracy”. The hands on the triggers are Saudi and we provide the political cover for the Saudis as they do this. The Saudi government is a brutal monarchy. They are about to behead 14 men for taking part in a pro-democracy rally. One of the men was under 18 and arrested on his way to attend college in Michigan. Another is a 23 year old man who is blind and deaf. They were tortured to obtain confessions, most have since recanted.

Meanwhile, in his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Trump did find the time to participate in an elaborate sword dance, but never brought up human rights violations.

US President Donald Trump joins dancers with swords at a welcome ceremony ahead of a banquet at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The president who spends hours watching TV and tweeting can’t seem to comment on the fact that our close ally is planning to behead men and boys for the crime of attending a rally.

Mr Trump has not yet commented on the case of Mr al-Sweikat. In his speech to the Saudis in May, he said: “America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens.

“We are not here to lecture, we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.

“Instead, we are here to offer partnership, based on shared interests and values—to pursue a better future for us all.” — www.independent.co.uk/…

Perhaps torture and a penchant for bombing other countries the “values” we share with brutal monarchies?

— @subirgrewal

ISIS has captured Tora-Bora as Trump ignores US commanders in Iraq/Afghanistan.

 

The beautiful and austere Safed Koh mountain range, which houses the mountain fortress called Tora Bora.

We have been at war in Afghanistan for almost 16 years now, and for much of that time, it’s been two steps forward and three steps back.

This week, we went three steps back as ISIS captured the mountain fortress of Tora Bora. The ISIS forces in Afghanistan include the remnants of Al-Qaeda. Tora Bora is where Bin-Laden went immediately after 9/11. It’s a large complex with miles of tunnels, roads and caves dug into granite mountains.

If you think this is only two steps back, recall that Tora Bora was originally built with funding from the CIA. The CIA helped build this fortress for the Mujahideen to support their war against the Soviets.

Important events are occurring on the battlefield, you would think our president, as commander in chief would want to be briefed closely on them.

In nearly five months in office, President Trump has yet to meet or speak with either his Iraq or Afghanistan commander, even as his administration weighs deeper and longer-term involvement in both conflicts and asks Congress for a vast increase in defense spending. — LA Times

This is in stark contrast to George W. Bush, who took his responsibility as commander in chief seriously and spoke weekly with his commanders in the region. Obama was also diligent about fulfilling his duties to the troops by maintaining close contact with his commanding generals.

So there is now, no ongoing, direct oversight of the US military operation in Afghanistan from the White House. At least not from the President. While the White House is talking about escalating the conflicts. Trump, who has been a bullshit artist all his life, is bullshitting his way through our biggest military engagement since Vietnam. Think I’m exaggerating?

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said this yesterday:

Yesterday afternoon, the President directed the Department of Defense to set troop levels in Afghanistan. This will enable our military to have greater agility to conduct operations, recognizing our military posture there is part of a broader regional context. — DoD statement

The President has passed the buck and handed to the War Department, the authority to send additional Americans into battle. Maybe if we brought back the draft, people would sit up and take notice. Or then again, maybe not, Trump and his chicken hawk friends will find a way to have their children diagnosed with bone spurs.

Perhaps we should be thankful Trump isn’t interested in Afghanistan or Iraq. In Syria, which Trump has talked about, coalition airstrikes have caused hundreds of civilian deaths in the past couple of months (ditto in Iraq). That includes 200 people sheltering in a school in Raqqa. The UN calls the loss of civilian life “staggering”. The administration’s response has been to increase secrecy, Trump’s administration is now refusing to confirm whether or not US forces were involved in airstrikes that killed civilians.

Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and think about what we’re doing here.

By most counts, we will spend Six Trillion Dollars on the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan when all is said and done. It’s difficult to understand a figure as large as $6,000,000,000,000. So I think of what else we could have done with that money.

6 Trillion would buy us one of these four nice things:

  1. 50 years of tuition-free public college plus 50 years of free universal pre-K.
  2. 7 years of free health-care for 100 million Americans.
  3. $20,000 as a gift to every man, woman and child in America.
  4. At a cost of $1 Trillion each, all this:
    1. Photovoltaic solar power plants to fuel 300 million homes
    2. Bullet trains connecting every major city
    3. 10 million homes for the homeless
    4. Long-term habitats in low-earth orbit, aka 10 Space Stations
    5. A real shot at colonizing another planet by sending 10 manned missions to Mars
    6. The Starship Enterprise

Instead, we are blowing up villages with fellow humans in them. We have very little to show for all the millions of tons of explosives we’ve dropped, and the rivers of blood we’ve spilled. Spreading death and destruction across much of the Middle-East such that the monetary cost of the wars pales in comparison.

Was Nero toying with his clubs while Rome burned?

We’ve demonstrated to the world that our president is diligent about getting in a round of golf every week. But he can’t be bothered to speak with the generals in charge of his campaigns, while we have tens of thousands of troops deployed on the front under his command.

What is the purpose of these wars?

Why do we think “regime change” led by us is the best alternative?

Why are we setting hundreds of billions of dollars on fire every year?

Why are we blowing up brown people in several countries?

What the fuck is the point?

— Cross-posted to NotMeUs.org  and TheProgressiveWing.com| @subirgrewal

UK Conservatives have lost 16 points edge vs Labour. Corbyn connects wars to terrorism.

On April 18, Theresa May called a general election in the UK, dissolving parliament three years before its term ended. Elections are scheduled for June 8. Back in April, Conservatives led Labour by 21% in opinion polls and looked headed for a landslide win. Since then:

Opinion_polling_UK_2020_election_short_axis.png

That red line is Labour, which has been gaining momentum as the Conservatives (Blue)and Scottish National Party (Orange) have trended down. Support for the far-right UK Independence Party (Purple), has collapsed. Corbyn has been needling May for her refusal to debate him:

The election was called by May to solidify her party’s hold on Parliament ahead of what are going to be tense negotiations over Brexit. But other issues have begun to come to the fore, including welfare policies, housing and now terrorism. Today, Corbyn gave a remarkable speech on terrorism, resuming the political campaign after a three day suspension following the Manchester bombing:

The Labour leader said there must be more money for law enforcement, as he suggested Britain’s intervention in wars abroad had fuelled the risk of terrorism at home.

“Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home,” he said.

However, Corbyn pitched his intervention carefully, saying he was clear that terrorists were entirely to blame for their own actions but that governments must also examine the effectiveness of their policy decisions.

“No rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre,” he said, speaking in Westminster.

“But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.” — Guardian

This week, the US confirmed that an airstrike in March had killed over 100 civilians, today reports suggest 33 children were killed in another coalition airstrike.

Corbyn’s is not a new position, in 2003 he warned about joining the Iraq war:

Since the Manchester terror attack, there’s been an ongoing debate about whether UK police and intelligence agencies did enough to investigate the bomber. Community members reported the bomber to authorities multiple times. He was also banned from a mosque for his pro-ISIS views.

— @subirgrewal

50 Years of Occupation: A disaster foretold

This year will mark 50 years since the Six-day war, which began with an Israeli surprise attack on Egyptian and Jordanian forces. When it ended on June 11, 1967, Israeli military forces had occupied the entire West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. Israel still controls the lives of millions of Palestinians living in these areas under its military occupation. Two generations have been born and come of age without a voice in the state that controls their movements and surveils their every activity.

The Washington Post is doing a three part series that looks at the daily lives of Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation. The first installment looks at the life of a Palestinian construction worker, who endures a 3-4 hour commute each day, complete with daily humiliation at an Israeli checkpoint. Taweel is 30 years old and has lived his entire life under occupation:

Like Taweel, four of every five Palestinians have never known anything but the occupation — an evolving system by which the Israeli military and intelligence services exert control over 2.6 million Arabs in the West Bank, with one system for Palestinians, another for Israelis. […]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refers to it, when he speaks of it at all, as “the so-called occupation.” Some of his fellow citizens say there is really no occupation, because all the Land of Israel was awarded to the Jews by God. Other Israelis argue that Gaza is no longer occupied, because Israel unilaterally withdrew from the coastal strip a decade ago.

Whatever it is called, it appears to be never-ending.  — WaPo

Meanwhile despite the “non occupation” of Gaza, Israel controls it’s electricity (as it does everything else gong in or out of Gaza. Gazans receive about four hours of electricity each day, but even that is being cut by Israeli authorities. The enforced impoverishment of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, has forced many Palestinians who can, to leave. Those who stay must contend with the daily indignities of a military occupation that has run for half a century.

As Trump toured Israel, hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners marked the 6th week of their hunger strike:

Trump arrives on the 36th day of the mass hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners. The prisoners’ physical condition is starting to deteriorate, and the Israel Prison Service is reportedly starting to transfer dozens of prisoners to hospitals around the country.

At this stage, according to the Israel Medical Association, the hunger strikers are beginning to suffer from dizziness, weakness, tremors, unsteadiness on their feet, difficulty standing, arrhythmias, chills and more. As from the fifth week of a hunger strike, an individual is likely to show signs of vertigo, uncontrolled vomiting, and difficulty moving their eyes, which may also twitch.

The Palestinian hunger strikers are suffering through these symptoms in order to try and improve basic conditions in prison, including access to public telephones (which all other prisoners have), family visits, adequate and humane health services, improvement in conditions of transport between prisons, air conditioning, an end to administrative detention, and more. — +972mag

In Jerusalem, right-wing Israelis paraded through the streets in their “March of Flags”, an annual celebration of the conquest and occupation of East Jerusalem. This year, as in prior years, there were counter-protests by left-leaning activists which were violently suppressed by Israeli police who arrested journalists as well.

Peaceful, non-violent protests against the occupation happen every day in Israel and Palestine. There is rarely any reporting on it. For example, 300 Palestinians, Israelis and diaspora Jewish activists opposed to the occupation built a protest camp in the former village of Surara. Palestinians living there were expelled in the 1990s.

The event was organized by a coalition of groups, including the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, local Palestinian committees, Youth Against Settlements, the All That’s Left Collective, the Holy Land Trust and Combatants for Peace. Members of IfNotNow also participated in the action. Activists arrived in the morning and continued working through to the afternoon, when several people — including Youth Against Settlements’ Issa Amro — spoke about the purpose and impact of the event.

In a press release, the organizers said that the “Sumud Freedom Camp” would remain in place for a week, during which workshops on nonviolent resistance will be held. The organizers also called on activists “around the world to hold meetings, demonstrations, solidarity actions, discussion groups and prayer groups aimed at ending Israel’s military occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.” — +972mag

As a coda, Noam Sheizaf writing in Haaretz highlights a paid ad published on September 22, 1967 in right-leaning Israeli newspapers shortly after the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza were first occupied. It was signed by dozens of Israeli public intellectuals and expressed a triumphant view that has driven Israeli policies since:

The Land of Israel is now in the hands of the Jewish people, and just as we are not permitted to forgo the State of Israel, so too we are enjoined to sustain what we have received from it: the Land of Israel. We are hereby committed faithfully to the wholeness of our land, in regard to the Jewish people’s past and to its future alike, and no government in Israel shall ever forgo this wholeness.

Noam points out that the authors of this letter went on to enjoy great success in renown. Coincidentally, a different paid ad ran in Haaretz the very same day. In 52 words it neatly foretold the current situation. It was written by two members of the far-left Matzpen organization, Haim Hanegbi and Shimon Tzabar:

“Our right to defend ourselves against annihilation does not grant us the right to oppress others,” the ad stated. “Conquest brings in its wake foreign rule. Foreign rule brings in its wake resistance. Resistance brings in its wake oppression. Oppression brings in its wake terrorism and counterterrorism. The victims of terrorism are usually innocent people. Holding onto the territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims.” And in large font at the end: “Let us leave the occupied territories now.”

The names of the 12 signatories of the ad meant absolutely nothing to the Israeli public. Historian Nitza Erel, who discusses the two ads in her 2010 book “Matzpen: Conscience and Fantasy” (Hebrew), notes that even the famed public intellectual Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who was to become known for his anti-occupation stance, declined to sign the petition.
Haaretz

Israel “suspends” segregation on buses after global uproar calling it apartheid

Earlier today, the Israeli press reported that Palestinian and Israeli passengers on buses to the West Bank would be segregated as part of a “three month trial” starting today. The proposal had been in the works for a while, Israel’s Attorney General (Yehuda Weinstein) questioned Defense Minister Ya’alon about it when it was first revealed back in October.

From Haaretz: Israel begins separating Palestinians, Israelis on West Bank buses

Israel on Tuesday launched a pilot program under directive from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to separate Israeli and Palestinian bus travel in the West Bank.Palestinian workers will now have to return from Israel to the West Bank via the same checkpoint they left and will not be allowed to ride Israeli bus lines.

The new regulations, implemented by the Civil Administration, could lengthen some workers’ commutes by as much as two hours, according to the human rights organizations that plan to appeal against the new rules to the High Court of Justice.

If you’re wondering why some Israelis believe segregation is necessary, here are some answers:

Haaretz also revealed the minutes of a subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in which Karnei Shomron council head Yigal Lahav said: “Arab travel on buses is a victory over the Jewish occupier” and that it gave them “the experience of traveling with Jewish women.”[…]

The Defense Ministry was concerned that the state would have difficulty convincing judges that the separation was based on security and not ethnic grounds, due to the army’s stance that there is no security risk on the buses in Samaria and in light of the racist remarks that accompanied the idea of separate buses.

Though the plan to segregate buses was discussed and revealed back in October, implementation was shelved till after the election which returned Likud to power. Within hours of the implementation, the government was forced to reverse course and cancel the pilot in response to a global uproar.There are some suggestions that Netanyahu did not know the plan was to go into effect today. It seems the implementation and then subsequent suspension came as a surprise to a number of people.  As Haaretz reports: Israel suspends plan to segregate Israelis, Palestinians on West Bank buses following criticism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon decided Wednesday to suspend a program to separate Israeli and Palestinian bus travel in the West Bank.[…]

Earlier on Wednesday, Zionist Union leader and opposition head Isaac Herzog said “separating Palestinians and Jews on public buses is a warrantless humiliation and a stain on… the country and its citizens.” In a Facebook post, Herzog added that the move will fan the flames “of hatred toward Israel around the world.”

Meretz leader Zehava Galon said that Ya’alon “gave in to pressure exerted by Jewish settlers, who complained over the large number of Palestinians on the buses.” Ethnic separation on buses, she said, is “unacceptable in a democratic country.”“This is what apartheid looks like,” said Galon. “Separate bus lines for Palestinians and Jews prove that democracy and occupation cannot coexist.”

The NY Times also covered the events: Israel Cancels Project Barring Palestinians From Some Buses

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader in the West Bank, said that the plan for segregated buses was particularly “blunt,” but that other forms of segregation were still in place, pointing to the existence of roads in the West Bank that are exclusively for use by Israelis. “This revealed the fact that Israel unfortunately has transformed the situation into a system of apartheid,” he said.

Mordhay Yogev, a legislator from the Jewish Home party, was quoted in Haaretz at the time saying that the situation was “unreasonable” and that “the buses are filled with Arabs.”“I wouldn’t want my daughter to ride them,” he said, adding that girls and women had complained of being sexually harassed by male Arab passengers.

The tussle is not over yet, as Haaretz reports, the defense minister is sticking to his guns: Ya’alon vows to revive plan to segregate Israelis, Palestinians on West Bank buses. The Guardian notes that this is the shape of things to come given the ruling coalition’s razor thin one-seat margin in the Knesset and the demands of the parties aligned with the settler movement: Israel’s bus segregation row shows high wire act facing NetanyahuMore links below the fold:

Jerusalem Post: Netanyahu shelves Ya’alon’s travel ban for Palestinians after Left screams apartheid

Times of Israel: Ya’alon defends West Bank bus plan, says there’s no segregation

Yedioth Ahronoth: Netanyahu suspends ban on Palestinians using Israeli buses in West Bank

Yesh Din welcomed the decision to suspend the move, but said that “the fact a host of political leaders, high-ranking juridsts and senior army officers imagined the despicable practice of ethnic segregation on public transportation is a cause worth promoting is disturbing and should make every Israeli ashamed.”The NGO vowed to “continue being vigilant and not let go of the matter until it is completely off the table.”

Peace Now also welcomed the decision to suspend the move, but demanded to cancel the scheme altogether.

“The defense minister must announce the cancellation of the bus segregation plan rather than settle for a suspension. Even without the bus segregation, the occupation continues in the territories and discrimination between settlers and Palestinians is a daily reality,” Peace Now said.

The settler leaders have a different view:

Head of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, deplored the “unbearable easiness with which vital security decisions are cancelled, over a few media headlines.”

Washington Post: Israel announces — then scraps — plan for separate Palestinian busesBBC News: Israeli government suspends Palestinian bus ‘segregation’ trial

NBC News: Israel Scraps Controversial Palestinian Bus Segregation Within Hours

The Guardian: Israel scraps scheme to ban Palestinians from buses

Al-Jazeera: Netanyahu cancels West Bank Palestinian bus segregation

CNN: Israel PM suspends trial Palestinian bus segregation program

ABC News: Israeli Prime Minister Overrules Defense Minister, Cancels Proposed West Bank Bus Segregation

The Guardian: Israel’s bus segregation row shows high wire act facing Netanyahu

The NY Times had an interesting quote from Rueven Rivlin, the Israeli president:

There was also criticism from some more conservative quarters, including Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who welcomed the decision to halt a process that he said “could have led to an unthinkable separation between bus lines for Jews and Arabs.”Such ideas “have no place being heard or said,” Mr. Rivlin said in a statement.

They “go against the very foundations of the state of Israel, and impact upon our very ability to establish here a Jewish and democratic state,” said Mr. Rivlin, whose voice carries significant moral weight even though his position is largely ceremonial. “Such statements cause great damage to the state of Israel, and to the settlement movement.”

Mr. Rivlin has long opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state in territories that Israel conquered in the 1967 war and has supported building and maintaining settlements, which most of the world considers to be a violation of international law, while advocating equal rights for all.

It’s interesting because Rivlin is at pains to clarify that the segregation idea is wrongheaded because it puts the settlement project at risk. That in a nutshell, is an admission of how the settlements effectively control Israeli policy.Netanyahu’s current government has managed to alienate some senior Likud figures. From Haaretz: Ex-senior Likud official warns Israel, world on a collision course

Dan Meridor, who held senior portfolios in previous Likud-led governments, including justice and finance, also expressed deep concern that Israel’s ruling party seems to be abandoning its longstanding commitment to human rights and democracy.“In the past, the Likud had always tried to strike a balance between nationalism and the pursuit of the Zionist dream, on the one hand, and liberalism, respect for democracy and the individual, on the other,” said Meridor in an interview with Haaretz.

“This balance, unfortunately, has been disturbed, and I see the Likud becoming much more nationalistic and less attentive to its liberal side. Today, in the party, when you use words like democracy, human rights and rule of law, they immediately depict you as a leftist.”

He cited the controversial “nation-state” bill, which gives the country’s Jewish character priority over its democratic nature, as an example of this trend, along with recent proposals designed to weaken the Supreme Court. “There is a danger here,” stated Meridor.