THE HANDSTAND

SEPTEMBER 2007



sleight of hand in israel as usual
Israel proposes W. Bank-Gaza route in land swap
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel has proposed that safe passage for the Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip be included in an exchange of territory with the Palestinians in the framework of the agreement of principles now being formulated ahead of the upcoming regional summit.

The Palestinians will receive control of the route, but Israel will maintain sovereignty and it will only begin to operate after the Palestinian Authority, under its present leadership, reasserts control over the Gaza Strip.


ILA Leasing Arab-Owned Land in Jerusalem to Ateret Cohanim
August 21st 2007
The Israel Lands Administration (ILA) is working together with the Ateret Cohanim association to wrest from Palestinian landowners control of 30 dunams (7.5 acres) of land in East Jerusalem and to transfer it to the association without a tender. Such is the claim outlined in a petition submitted two weeks ago to the High Court of Justice, and appearing in documents which Haaretz has received. Ateret Cohanim promotes settlement of Jews in and around the Old City, and at times takes over Palestinian assets in East Jerusalem so as to "Judaize" that area.

The land in question, an olive grove called Kerem Hamufti, is in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. From the documents received, it emerges that the ILA has signed a contract with Ateret Cohanim for "the agricultural cultivation" of the land, even though the association has no experience in such work.

The documents indicate that the contract was signed even though the land that the ILA leased apparently does not belong to it and the Interior Ministry recognizes that the Palestinian landowners "have an interest" in it. A senior source at the ILA has said the contract was signed in order "to keep the territory in Jewish hands." In the petition it is claimed that an authorized official at the ILA
"acted to advance the interests of Ateret Cohanim," to prevent the Palestinians who claim ownership of the land from developing it. The petitioners define the ILA action as "corrupt" and are asking the attorney general to investigate "the involvement of Ateret Cohanim in governmental decision-making."

In March, 40 years after declaring its intentions to do so, the state formally expropriated the land, at the request of the ILA. Former finance minister Abraham Hirchson signed on the plan to expropriate the property under the rubric of "acquisition for public needs." In its petition to the High Court, the Palestinian landowners, the Arab Hotels Company, asks for the expropriation to be prohibited because it was done "for an extraneous, illegitimate, racist and discriminatory purpose ... An illegitimate and corrupt hand has worked hand in glove with the authorities or other elements to harm the petitioner's rights, and to disinherit the petitioner for purposes of leasing the land to Ateret Cohanim."

Kerem Hamufti is named for its former owner, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem. According to Israeli and Jordanian documents, in the 1960s it was purchased by the Arab Hotels Company of East Jerusalem. After the area was annexed to Israel after the Six-Day War, the
Finance Ministry stated its intention to expropriate the land "for public purposes," but this was never carried out and the Palestinian owners continued to cultivate it. Several times over the years an Israeli court confirmed that the company is indeed owner of the property.

About seven years ago the Palestinian owners submitted to the planning authorities a request to build a hotel, a conference center and a cultural center on the land. Architect Moshe Margalit, who drew up the plan, relates that at the time the District Planning Commission confirmed that the East Jerusalem company has ownership rights to the land. The Interior Ministry confirmed to Haaretz that the company has been allowed to continue the planning as it has been proved that it "has an interest in the land."

Municipal blessing

From the summaries of meetings concerning the property at the Interior Ministry, it emerges that representatives of the ILA were present, but did not mention they had leased the land to Ateret Cohanim or that it belongs to the ILA.

Margalit relates that the Palestinian landowners' plan was presented "to the most senior people at the Jerusalem Municipality" and received their blessing. The petition also states that the mayor of Jerusalem at the time, Ehud Olmert, and his deputy, Yehuda Pollack, the chairman of the Local Planning and Building Committee, supported it. However, at a certain stage, relates Margalit, it seemed that Ateret Cohanim also submitted a plan for this parcel of land: Two years beforehand, the ILA had granted permission to Irving Moskowitz, the American Jewish millionaire who supports Ateret Cohanim, to plan a neighborhood on Kerem Hamufti. A person close to the association aims to build 250 housing units there, and pressured ministers in former prime minister Ariel Sharon's first government to approve it. In June, 2000, immediately after the plan by Moskowitz and Ateret Cohanim was revealed, the landowners' attorneys applied to Jerusalem's
Local Planning and Building Committee with a request to dismiss the scheme because "those who submitted it are not the owners of the land."

The committee told the attorneys that the plan had been "shelved." A few months ago the Arab Hotels Company received notice from the Magistrates Court, allowing it to evict a Palestinian who was squatting on the land. However, on the day of the eviction, the Amidar company, on behalf of the ILA, filed a demand to stop it. While the ILA and Amidar acknowledge this was indeed a matter of a squatter, a senior source at the ILA has told Haaretz that the Palestinian "was working with Ateret Cohanim." The source explains his presence was necessary "to prevent theft of land by Palestinians." The current petition says the state owns about 20 percent of Kerem Hamufti under the Absentee Property Law, as it belonged to Al- Husseini, who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. However, the Palestinian landowners' lawyers insist that the law does not apply to the property because it was purchased from the Al- Husseini family before Israeli rule began in East Jerusalem in 1967. Attorney Danny Kramer, the representative of the official guardian of
absentee property, is also a signatory to the petition, which states that the guardian has no connection to the land, and also that the ILA has been leasing it to Ateret Cohanim "for some years now." In its petition, the Arab Hotels Company argues that the low lease being paid by Ateret Cohanim is proof that this is an "artificial contract." The association is paying NIS 42.5 per dunam (which comes to NIS 1,278 for the entire parcel of land), although it is in a prestigious location.

The ILA's official response to Haaretz states that the contract with the Jewish association was signed "more than five years ago"; a senior ILA source says the contract was signed "at the beginning of the 1990s."

At the ILA they were not able to explain how the entire plot of land was leased to Ateret Cohanim, despite the fact that even the ILA itself says the state owns only 20 percent of it. The ILA explains the fact that they dealt with the association without a tender by saying "it was the only applicant." Concerning Ateret Cohanim's lack of experience in agriculture, the ILA says: "It is not stipulated
anywhere that the minimal condition for submitting an application for cultivation is prior experience."

Based on past High Court of Justice rulings saying that if the state does not implement an expropriation order for many years, it's possible to annul it, the Palestinian landowners are asking the court to issue a show cause order, requiring the state to explain why it should not prohibit the expropriation in this case.




LITTLE TONY ON GETTING OLDER
(or Tony Blair's first lesson in Peace Process)


Little TONY was sitting on a park bench munching on one candy bar after another.
After the 6th one a man on the bench across from him said, "Son, you know eating all that candy isn't good for you. It will give you acne, rot your teeth, and make you fat."
Little TONY replied, "My grandfather lived to be 107 years old."
The man asked, "Did your grandfather eat 6 candy bars at a time?"
Little TONY answered, "No, he minded his own f....... business.

EHUD BARAK OBEYS HIM

In an army action
This week,
Two boys,
Aged 9 and 11,
Were shot dead.

The Minister of Defense,
Ehud Barak,
Leader of the Labor Party,
Did not even apologize
Or express regret.

Silence is admission:
This is now the policy.

www.gush-shalom.org  published by Gush Shalom in Haaretz, August 24, 2007


Women`s Organization for Political Prisoners Newsletter July 2007
http://www.wofpp.org/english/july7.html
(Also in Hebrew, Arabic and French)

There are, at present, about 115 women political prisoners in the Israeli jails. In Hasharon Prison (Tel Mond) about 105, the rest in Neve Tirza Prison (Ramle) and in several detention centers.

Hasharon Prison (Tel Mond)

The windows in the cells still cannot be opened because they remain covered with metal sheets. The heat and the lack of air in the cells are unbearable. The prison authorities do not supply any fans or ventilators. The prisoners buy fans in the canteen, but many fans are out of order after a short period. As a result, there are cells without any fans at all. WOFPP applied to ACRI (Association for Citizens` Rights in Israel) to submit an appeal against the prison authorities, demanding to remove the permanent window coverings.

The dental clinic is very dirty, and the dental health care is still totally insufficient. The treatment given in most cases consists of extracting teeth, and sometimes even this treatment is done incorrectly, and prisoners suffer from complications after the extraction.

There are women who continuously suffer from fungus and have done so for a long time. The prisoners demanded that a dermatologist woman doctor examine them. The prison authorities invited a male dermatologist, but the prisoners refused to be examined by him.

According to the procedure, mothers whose babies stay with them in prison are allowed to go out to the prison yard for longer periods then the limited hours of the recreation time (the duration of recreation time is 1-3 hours). Recently, Samar Sbih with her son Baraa and Khaula Zitawi with her daughter Ghada were not allowed to go out to the yard, except during the recreation time.

Ahlam elTamimi, Taghreed elSa`adi and Sanaa Shhade were transferred back from Kishon Detention Center (Jalame) to Hasharon Prison on 19 June.

Ahlam elTamimi, 24 years old, from Ramallah. The hearing of her appeal to the court, asking to be permitted to meet her imprisoned husband, will take place in the beginning of September 2007.

Samar Sbih, 22 years old, from Gaza, (at the time of arrest she lived in Tulkarm), mother of baby Baraa who stays with her in prison: Her appeal to the court for an early release was rejected on 17 June in the district court in Tel Aviv.

New prisoners

Fatmah elZuk, from Gaza, pregnant, mother of 8 children, was arrested, together with her niece, in May 2007, when they were waiting at Erez barrier. During 18 days she endured harsh interrogations in Ashqelon Detention Center. After she was transferred to Hasharon Prison, she was brought to hospital to be examined. For this purpose the prison authorities shackled her hands and legs, her hands remaining shackled even during the examinations by the physician.
Rawda Habib, from Gaza, Fathmah`s niece, mother of 4 children. She also underwent harsh interrogations during 18 days in Ashqelon Detention Center.
Maha el`Aaradeh, from `Arabeh in Jenin district, mother of two children, 4 and 5 years old. The first 12 days after her arrest she was held in Neve Tirza Prison (Ramle), and every day the authorities brought her to Salem Interrogation Center for interrogations. After the interrogations she was transferred to Hasharon Prison (Tel Mond). On 5 June 2007, when she was at a hearing in court, the warden forbade her to speak with her son. After the hearing she was held alone in a closed room for hours. On the way back, the warden fastened the shackles so tightly that her legs began to bleed.

Sentences

Shirin Swidan, from Qalqilya, mother of two children, was arrested on 7 September 2006 and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Shirin Haj Hasin, from Qalqilya, was arrested on 19 September 2006 and sentenced to 22 months.
Nidaa elRamahi, from Nablus, was arrested on 21 September 2006 and sentenced to 18 months.
Duaa Haj Hasin, from Nablus, was arrested on 27 September 2006 and sentenced to 20 months.
Hkatam Yasin, from `Asira elQabaliya, was arrested on 19 March and sentenced to 5 months.
Ahlam Qamiz, was sentenced to 15 months and a fine of 2000 NIS.

Neve Tirza Prison (Ramle)

Amneh Muna, 29 years old, from Jerusalem, has been held in separation already for more than ten months. She is kept 23 hours a day in a very small cell infested with large numbers of cockroaches and insects. She is forbidden to meet any other prisoner. The authorities gave her back her books and notebooks.

Kishon Detention Center (Jalame)

Banan Abu elHija, from Jenin, 21 years old, a student of law at the American University in Jenin, was arrested on 28 May 2007 and released on 19 June 2007.
She was held in an underground cell without windows, and all the walls inside were black. During 24 hours a day there was a red light in the cell. The food, though eatable, was insufficient. She underwent harsh interrogations during long hours, day and night, especially when she was tired. During the interrogations her hands and legs were tied to the chair. All Banan`s family members, except her little brother and sister, were in prison. Her mother, Asmaa Abu elHija was an administrative prisoner in Neve Tirza Prison (Ramle) for about nine months. Her father, Jamal Abu elHija, and three brothers are still in prison.

bz

Israel wages war on army of refuseniks

Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2007 16:12:54 +0100 From: Rowan Berkeley <rowan.berkeley@googlemail.com>


Annette Young, The Scotsman,  26 Aug 2007
http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1356412007

When Arik Diamant's mother discovered her son was to refuse to do reserve duty for the Israeli army she pleaded with him to reconsider his decision, even offering to resign her job and work in a charity of his choice. But the former paratrooper and now software engineer was determined. "My parents were terrified that the ramifications of such a decision would destroy my life and endanger my career opportunities," said the 34-year-old co-founder of the Courage to Refuse movement. While Diamant and 600 fellow reservist refuseniks are making headlines over their choice, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is becoming increasingly worried that the numbers of Jewish men evading army service is on the rise. The trend is particularly noticeable among those aged 18 to 21, who under Israeli law must serve three years in the military. New figures reveal that 27% of potential male draftees do not now serve in the IDF, with this year's draft being the smallest in recent times.

Nothing has enraged army chiefs more, however, than potential recruits dodging front-line service while parading their talents on TV. Matters came to a head recently when the line-up for the Israeli version of the hit show Pop Idol contained several contestants who were at the age at which they should have been doing their military service. The Prime Minister's Office is now planning a blacklist of entertainers so that councils know who should not be hired for civic celebrations. Councils are also being urged not to employ conscripts or reservists - Israeli men are expected to commit to up to one month a year on reserve duty that ends when they reach their mid-40s - who refuse to fight unless they have been legally exempted. Last week, a petition was also being circulated by high-level Israeli businesspeople calling for the business community to discriminate against draft dodgers seeking employment.

Evidence of a new get-tough policy emerged earlier this month when an appearance at a 'Friends of the IDF' concert by pop singer Ivri Lider was abruptly cancelled. His agent, Roni Arditi, said the singer, who did not serve in the IDF, was asked to put his name to a letter declaring he "likes the IDF and respects its values". When he reportedly refused to do so, his appearance was cancelled. The reasons for the lack of commitment are clear. The recent Intifada and last year's bloody war against Hamas in Lebanon, are fuelling the reluctance to sign up. IDF officials also insist the yuppification of Israel is a contributing factor, with the MTV and internet generation much more interested in making money than serving at an army checkpoint on the West Bank. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are excused from military service on religious grounds. But leaving aside those who live outside Israel or have criminal records, 7% are being excused because of either medical conditions or "psychological incompatibility".

According to the IDF, however, the number of those claiming "psychological incompatibility" has increased markedly. One IDF official said: "While there are those who cannot serve for legitimate psychological problems, there's a need to target people who turn up at recruitment centres with a letter from their psychiatrist saying they're mentally unfit, and the next minute they're running a hi-tech company. These are people who have decided to not take part in what we view as an integral part of an Israeli's social responsibility. It's as if they've sent a letter to the tax office to say: 'Sorry, I don't feel like paying taxes this year.'"

from Rowan Berkeley