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Bus Companies Accused of Denying Rights


Israel's Equal Rights Commission for the Disabled has filed a criminal indictment against the Egged and Kavim bus companies. The companies are accused of denying individuals with limited vision of their rights, by failing to announce the names of the stops when each bus arrives a station.

According to the law, announcements must be made on the bus and at the stop itself, where the driver must also announce the number or route of the bus. The bus companies had no comment Sunday morning on the indictment.

Israel Seeks to Tighten Grip on Jerusalem

By VOA News

With the Middle East peace process faltering, Israel is seeking to tighten its grip on Jerusalem. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened his Cabinet Sunday in Jerusalem's disputed Old City, instead of the usual meeting place in West Jerusalem. The message was clear: Jerusalem will not be divided with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu said the world should know that the people of Israel are faithful to Jerusalem and their heritage. He said Israel's position on a united Jerusalem is firm, and its hand is stretched out in peace to its Arab neighbors.

But the Arabs say there cannot be peace unless Israel relinquishes East Jerusalem, including the Old City, which were recaptured from Jordan during the Six Day War in 1967. Israel has refused so on Saturday the Arab League decided to seek United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state in September.

Both Israel and the United States oppose the move, saying peace can only be achieved through negotiations and not through unilateral steps. But the Palestinians say resuming peace talks is useless because of Israel's refusal to stop settlement expansion and accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called for the United Nations "to respond to such Israeli unilateralism by declaring their recognition of the State of Palestine on the '67 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital."

At the Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said Jerusalem has flourished during the 44 years of Israeli rule. He said the government is allocating $115 million to promote economic development and tourism in the city. On Wednesday, Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day, marking the reunification of the city during the 1967 war.

IDF Purchasing Non-Lethal Weapons for Possible September Riots


The IDF is purchasing non-lethal riot control gear to deal with large-scale Palestinian Authority violence expected in September, when PA Arabs are expected to attempt various violent provocations.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz toured Israel's biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria Sunday and visited the Judea and Samaria Brigade, as part of the IDF's preparation for the events predicted to begin three months from now. The PA has threatened to unilaterally declare a state, and there are various anti-Israel initiatives under way. Israel's enemies are planning flotillas to Gaza and mass marches.

Gantz instructed local commanders to maintain a high level of alert, and expect a rise in the rate of terror acts against both military and civilian targets.

According to the IDF website, the IDF is studying the recent Nakba Day events in preparation for September. Gantz stressed that while the preparation for those events needs to be reexamined, decisions made by commanders on the ground were correct.

Report: Israeli Shipping Firm Docked Oil Tankers in Iran


A shipping firm linked to Israeli billionaire Sammy Ofer allegedly docked seven oil tankers at an Iranian island port despite U.S. sanctions, according to an investigation by the Israeli business website Calcalist.

The ships reportedly docked between 2004 and 2010. Last week, the U.S. State Department announced it had imposed sanctions on the Ofer Brothers Group for allegedly selling Iran an oil tanker. Iran and Ofer Brothers have vehemently denied the report. The latest allegation states that oil tankers docked at Hark, about 25 kilometers off the coast of Iran.

Concerning the alleged sale of a tanker, Chairman of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines Mohammad Nahavandian told Iran's government-controlled Fars News Agency, "News about activities of Zionist (Israeli) firms in Iran is a new game started in reaction to the willingness of certain countries to establish economic ties with Iran. In addition to an illegal ban, Iran regards Zionist firms and their policy makers as the main factors behind economic sanctions and refrains from making any deal with them."

The sanctions by the United States were announced by the State Department last week, which stated, "We believe that Tanker Pacific and Ofer Brothers Group failed to exercise due diligence and did not heed publicly available and easily obtainable information that would have indicated that they were dealing with IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines)."

Oil Tanker Pacific responded that none of its shipping activity in Iran violated international laws.

ABC News reported that Tanker Pacific visited Iran eight times at the same time Israel was pressuring the United States to impose sanctions on Iran, including prohibitions against oil industry-related trade with the Islamic Republic.

Ofer Brothers officials last week said that it had sold an oil tanker to Dubai, and that the ship may have been sold to Iran by Dubai interests.

Tanker Pacific CEO Alastair McGregor issued a statement Sunday saying, "Tanker Pacific Management...considers the announcement by the U.S. State Department…relating to our involvement in the sale of 'my Raffles Park' to be a harsh assessment of our due diligence process.

"However, in light of this announcement, we have carried out a full investigation of the internal procedures that existed at the time of the sale. It is our intention to use every possible means to ensure such an event will not be repeated. Accordingly, with immediate effect, Tanker Pacific Management (Singapore) Pte Ltd is implementing enhanced compliance procedures, and employing additional resources, to ensure that the company operates a `best practice' due diligence process.

"With regards to the sale of Raffles Park, Tanker Pacific…believes that the searches and enquiries it made at the time of the transaction were appropriate; and gave no indication that the vessel would ultimately fall into Iranian hands."

Regarding the docking of tankers at Iran, McGregor said, "Over the years, and as a small part of our business, ships operated by Tanker Pacific…have transported oil and petroleum product cargoes from and to various ports in Iran for our customers who are international oil companies, commodity traders and end users. All such activities were fully permitted under international rules and regulations including those emanating from the United States, European Union and the United Nations.

"However, Tanker Pacific Management (Singapore) Pte Ltd decided to cease transporting refined petroleum products into Iran with effect from April 2010, several months before the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act 2010 prohibited these activities with effect from 1 July 2010.

"Furthermore, Tanker Pacific Management (Singapore) Pte Ltd decided in November 2010 to cease loading crude oil at Iranian ports altogether, even though this continues to be a legitimate trade under international rules and regulations and is customarily carried out by international shipping companies for major oil companies."

Iran in Uproar over 'Israeli Fruit'


Have Israeli fruits found their way to Iran? Deputy Iranian Trade Minister Hamid Safdel denied Sunday reports that the Islamic Republic has been importing fruit – mainly apple and oranges – from Israel. The allegations were made by a senior Iranian exporter, who said the Israeli produce was finding its way to Tehran's markets via a third party.

Safdel stressed that "any kind of trade with the Zionists is forbidden… Since the inception of the Islamic Republic in 1979 no Zionist goods have been granted an import permit, even if they arrive through a third party."

He further dismissed the reports as "unrealistic," adding that "whoever made these allegations is basing them on external import data. There is no reasonable proof of this, so the statement cannot be believed."

Iran's media reported over the weekend that a senior exporter based in Tehran criticized the government's lack of support of Iranian farmers, saying "Why are we importing apples from Israel? There is no need."

The exporter was further quoted as saying that some of the fruit imported was dangerous: "The majority of imported fruits are laced with materials meant to keep them fresh. These materials are carcinogens."

Last week, Mustafa Zulqadar, a member of the Iranian Parliamentary Economics Committee, blamed Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia of exporting Israeli oranges to Iran under a different name, alleging that "these countries do not grow enough oranges to sustain such exports to Iran. "The Zionist regime is one of the biggest orange exporters in the world," he added.

Saudi Men Plan to Beat Female Drivers


Activist Manal Alsharif recently jump-started a campaign to allow Saudi women to drive when she filmed herself behind the wheel. Now Saudi men are planning to put a stop to the fight for women's rights by beating female drivers until they give up.

A Saudi group has launched what it is calling "The Iqal Campaign," a reference to the rope (iqal) used to hold men's headdresses in place. The group suggests that men use the ropes to hit female drivers.

Women are planning to take to the streets on June 17 to protest the driving ban. According to Algerian news reports, Saudi men have been purchasing extra rope in recent weeks in response. Thousands have joined a Facebook group supporting the "Iqal Campaign."

At the same time, Saudi youths have started a Facebook group petitioning for women's right to drive. "We feel that women in the Kingdom should have the right to drive, just like every other woman on the planet," founder Hilal Al-Harithy told the Saudi Gazette. The group currently has approximately 1,700 members, and hopes to gather at least 15,000 signatures on a petition to be sent to King Abdullah.

The fight for women's rights is taking place as protest movements sweep the Arab world. Saudi Arabia has also faced pressure from its Shiite Muslim minority.

Meanwhile, Alsharif remains under arrest. A court refused to release her on bail despite the fact that her five-year-old son is currently hospitalized with a severe infection. Instead, Alsharif will remain in prison for at least 10 more days.

Friends told Arab News that Alsharif, who is divorced, is concerned that courts may transfer custody of her young son to his father. According to her lawyer, she has withdrawn from the June 17 campaign.

The Saudi Religious Police's notoriously bad treatment of women created a second international spectacle this week, when a German tour operator pulled out of a fair in protest of the ill-treatment of a female representative.

The representative, who is Muslim, was wearing the long black cloak (abaya) which women in Saudi Arabia must wear outside their homes. However, her cloak was decorated with red embroidery, which the religious police decided was immodest. She was ordered to change her clothes, and was allegedly warned not to disclose the incident.

Woman Beat for Penis Joke


Size does matter? A Kfar Saba woman was badly beaten by her 23-year-old boyfriend after ridiculing his penis size in front of his friends. The suspect has been detained but denies the charges against him.

The young woman arrived at Kfar Saba's Meir Hospital last week bruised and in pain. She was also having trouble walking and standing up. Based on the bruises on her body, doctors at the medical facility concluded that the woman was assaulted and reported the case to police.

After being questioned by police officers, the woman told them she met her boyfriend several weeks ago. She said that he was infuriated after she made fun of his penis size, arrived at her home and assaulted her.

According to the woman's account, the man punched her, pulled her hair, brought her down to the ground and kicked her. As result, she suffered serious bruises and eventually headed to hospital after the pain became unbearable.

Following the woman's complaint, police launched an investigation and arrested the suspect on Sunday. The man denied the charges against him and was expected to face a court hearing soon.

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