Newsletter : 15fx0611.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
State Dept. Dances Around EU 'Settlement' Labeling
By IsraelNationalNews.com and YnetNews.com
Israel would be required to label products that are made in West Bank settlements and
exported to Europe, according to guidelines being prepared by the European Union. The move
is the latest sign of international discontent with Israeli construction of settlements on
occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians, as well as frustration over the bleak state of
Mideast peace efforts. It also comes as a grassroots movement promoting boycotts,
divestment and sanctions against Israel appears to be gaining steam.
Israeli officials reject the European labeling plan, saying it would amount to a type
of boycott and help discourage Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from returning to
negotiations. "Why should he talk? He can get by without talking. He can get by with an
international community that blames Israel for not having talks," Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu told the Herzliya Conference, an annual gathering of the country's political and
An EU official said Tuesday the 28-nation bloc's foreign policy chief, Federica
Mogherini, told European foreign ministers May 18 that work is underway and that a set of
guidelines will be "finalized in the near future."
The Palestinians claim the West Bank and east Jerusalem - territories captured by
Israel in the 1967 Mideast war - as parts of a future independent state. The international
community opposes Israeli settlements in the two areas, saying they undermine the goal of
dividing the land between two countries. More than 550,000 Jewish settlers live in the
EU opposition to the settlements is not new. A free trade agreement with Israel already
excludes settlement goods, even if they say they were made in Israel. Likewise, Israel is
barred from spending money it receives under a landmark technology-sharing pact in the
West Bank or east Jerusalem. Several European countries have approved voluntary labeling
guidelines for settlement products.
The new guidelines would take things further by requiring Israeli exporters to
explicitly label products as being made in the settlements - a potential stigma that could
deter consumers from buying them. The EU began work on labeling guidelines in 2012, but
appears to have decided to revive that effort following the formation of Israel's new
The EU official said it would likely be months before the guidelines are complete. A
second official said much would depend on the policies of the new government. If peace
talks with the Palestinians are restarted, the effort could once again be shelved. But if
talks remain frozen and Israel steps up settlement construction, the EU will move forward,
he said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized
to discuss internal EU deliberations with the media.
For now, the odds of Israel and the Palestinians re-launching peace talks appear
Netanyahu's new government is dominated by pro-settlement hard-liners who oppose the
creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu himself spoke out against Palestinian
independence in the recent election campaign. Although he has backpedaled and called for a
resumption of peace talks, the Palestinians and Israel's Western allies are skeptical in
the absence of a firm proposal from him.
Instead, the Palestinians have been moving forward with a campaign against Israel in
international organizations like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.
Two weeks ago, Israel fended off a Palestinian attempt to expel Israel from FIFA, the
global soccer federation.
At the same time, the grassroots pro-Palestinian boycott movement, known by its
initials BDS, appears to be gaining strength. Last week, Britain's national student union
endorsed the BDS movement, while the chief executive of French telecom giant Orange said
he wanted to cut business ties with Israel to help gain favor with the Arab world.
Orange CEO Stephane Richard subsequently backtracked, telling France's BFM television
station Monday that his decision was only a business move and he is "radically opposed to
all forms of discrimination." The station said Richard planned to go to Israel soon to
speak to the nation's leaders. But the uproar in Israel has not subsided.
Politicians across Israel's political spectrum have blasted the BDS movement, and
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Thursday she had ordered experts to plan legal steps
against it. "In this arena, we will move from the defense to the offense," she said.
In his speech Tuesday, Netanyahu said the global pressure on Israel was undermining
hopes of resuming talks. "The Palestinians have a nifty trick up their sleeve, they refuse
to negotiate and then get international pressure, sanctions, and boycotts on Israel for
there not being negotiations," he said. "It's the perfect Catch-22."
An EU labeling effort would deliver an especially tough diplomatic blow. In contrast to
the BDS movement, whose leaders often voice hatred of Israel, Western European countries
are among Israel's closest allies.
Europe also is Israel's largest trade market, importing about $14.7 billion in goods
last year, according to EU figures. Products from the settlements, including wines, honey,
cosmetics and agricultural produce, make up just 1.5 percent of that total, according to
Israel's Finance Ministry.
But while the economic impact of a labeling campaign might be minimal, it would be a
symbolic setback to Israel. "If Europe begins labeling settlement products, then this will
mean that they have put their political position into effect in the sense that there will
be a real and true boycott of settlement goods," said Mohammed Shtayyeh, the Palestinian
Cabinet minister in charge of economic development.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Israel fears that consumers will not
differentiate between settlement products and Israeli products. "It will be a de facto
boycott against Israel," he said. Nahshon said Israel is in "close contact and dialogue"
with the EU on the matter. "We have been conveying our positions, and we hope they will be
accepted by the EU."
US State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke did his best to avoid directly answering a
question about the European Union's revived plan Associated Press reporter Matt Lee
repeatedly tried to get Rathke to comment on the renewed EU labeling effort, which was
revealed on Tuesday, but Rathke stated that the US refuses to take a position on the
Responding to Lee's questions, Rathke said, "it's my understanding this is something
that is still under discussion, so I would refer you to the EU and the European Commission
for any details. Since it remains an internal matter for the European Union, I'm not going
to speculate about that while it remains under discussion internally."
Lee didn't let the matter go so easily, responding, "I'm not quite sure I understand
that. So you don't have any position on whether goods and products made/produced in
settlements in the West Bank should labeled or should not be labeled as coming from
Rathke continued to refuse to take a position, at which Lee said, "the administration's
view is that it won't take a position on this until after it's too late. I mean, isn't it
precisely during the time that something is under consideration that you would want to
weigh in to have your voice heard if you have a position?"
But Rathke would not be drawn into giving an answer. Lee then asked if the labeling is
viewed by the US as a similar move to boycotts against Israel, which the administration
has in the post vocally opposed. Rathke reiterated that the US opposes boycotts targeting
the Jewish state, but again avidly refused to make a statement on the labeling issue.
Aside from threatening to label goods from Judea and Samaria, the EU also has a list of
sanctions prepared to be launched in a diplomatic offensive against Israel as soon as the
Iran nuclear deal is off the docket, according to senior US officials.
The sanctions are meant to force Israel into peace process concessions, and sources
revealed that US President Barack Obama's threat made in an Israeli interview this month,
according to which he may cut US support for Israel at the UN, specifically was referring
to the EU sanctions list.
Netanyahu: Palestinian State Must be Demilitarized, Recognize Israel
By Israel Hayom
In an address at the prestigious annual Herzliya Conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated his support for a two-state solution to the conflict with
the Palestinians, but noted that a Palestinian state must be demilitarized and recognize
Israel as a Jewish state.
Netanyahu's vision of a peace agreement with the Palestinians includes continued
Israeli security control in Judea and Samaria. "These are not whims, these are not
pretexts, excuses, arguments," Netanyahu said. "This is real. How do you prevent tunnels
from being dug from Qalqilya to Kfar Saba? ... Who will go into Qalqilya and stop it? Who
will prevent the smuggling of weapons?"
Netanyahu noted that no one has provided him with an answer as to how to guarantee that
territory ceded to the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria would not end up being seized by
Hamas or the Islamic State group. "Today, the problem in Gaza is not the smuggling of
weapons. There isn't much of that. The problem is self-production [of weapons] in Gaza.
... This doesn't happen in Ramallah, because, ultimately, Israeli security forces are the
main avenue of defense. The ... demilitarization of Judea and Samaria does not go without
saying. We must ensure there is a lasting security regime that provides answers to these
problems, based on the premise that the region remains stable."
Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to
negotiations without preconditions. "I tried for six and a half years to talk with Mahmoud
Abbas," Netanyahu said. "For the sake of this effort, I did things that were very
difficult for me, but I did them."
But, Netanyahu pointed out, Abbas "has very little reason to talk. Why should he talk?
He can get by without talking. He can get by with an international community that blames
Israel for not having talks.
"In other words, the Palestinians run from the table. They ran away from Prime Minister
[Ehud] Barak. They ran away from Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert. They ran away from ...
Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon. And they ran away from me. When John Kerry proposed a
framework ... they ran away from that too.
"But the Palestinians have a nifty trick up their sleeve -- they refuse to negotiate
and then get international pressure, sanctions, boycotts on Israel for there not being
negotiations. It's a perfect Catch-22. And there are those who attempt to impose terms on
Israel [at the U.N.] Security Council because there are no talks, and some of them pretend
that the dangers we face are not real dangers at all."
On the emerging nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, Netanyahu expressed concern
that, even if Iran abides by the terms of the deal, it would still be able to easily build
a nuclear weapon within a decade. The prime minister said Arab leaders agree with him that
an emerging nuclear deal will not stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu said he is not the only voice in the Middle East against the deal. "I am
often portrayed as the nuclear party pooper. But I speak with quite a few of our
neighbors, more than you think, and I want to tell you that nobody in this region believes
this deal will block Iran's path to the bomb."
Netanyahu warned the deal would spark a nuclear arms race that would see the Middle
East "crisscrossed with nuclear trip wires as other states nuclearize" in fear of Iran. He
said lifting the sanctions rewards Iran with "prosperity at home" while allowing it to
continue "aggression abroad."
Leftist J-Street Poll: American Jews More Likely to Support Iran Deal
American Jews are more likely to support a nuclear deal with Iran than the general
American population, according to a poll published Wednesday by leftist organization
J-Street. 59% of Jewish respondents support a deal with the Islamic Republic, vs. just
53% of the general population, it said, citing a similar poll in April. 78% of Jews would
allegedly support a deal involving intensive inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities and
capping uranium enrichment to far below the level necessary for a nuclear weapon, it
added. Overall, 66% of American Jews are following the Iran deal progress, but only 6%
rank it as an important issue.
Meanwhile, J-Street also found that American Jews approve of President Barack Obama's
presidency more than the general population, with 56% approving vs. just 45% of the
general population. The findings corroborate a Gallup poll published in April also noting
Jewish support for Obama is higher.
The leftist org also insists that many Jews (57%) believe Obama's disagreements with
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu include "appropriate" criticism, with just 43%
stating Obama has "gone too far." 72% support a two-state solution to resolve tensions
between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs and 84% believe the US should play an active role
in resolving the conflict.
1,000 American Jews were polled by the GBA Center for the findings. J-Street's poll
results contradict a multitude of polls published over the past six months illustrating,
among other points, that US-Israel relations have become a deeply partisan issue; that US
support for the two-state solution is the lowest in 20 years; and that, while American
Jews are more supportive of Obama than the population at large, American Jewish support
for Obama is falling overall.
The leftist Jewish organization has also demanded that Israel negotiate with Hamas, the
terrorist organization that calls for the genocide of Jews in its charter, and backed the
Palestinian Authority's (PA) refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Reports have
also revealed how activists of the group wore T-shirts glorifying a Palestinian Arab
'Housing Czar' Kahlon Gets Ready to Take On Home Prices
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) unveiled the first segment of his plan to lower
housing costs in Israel. Among the steps he plans to take: Increasing the number of
apartments for sale, building apartments specifically for rent, increasing the amount of
land available to developers at discount prices in return for building housing for the
middle class, and increasing taxes on real estate purchased for investment.
The ideas Kahlon presented are a compendium of those that have been presented, and even
attempted, in Israel over the past several years with little effect on prices. But
this time it's different, say supporters of Kahlon; besides Finance Minister, Kahlon is
Israel's first-ever "housing czar," having demanded and being given wide authority over
housing, from community planning to sales of state land to providing benefits for builders
Many of the changes are technical in nature, such as cutting the amount of time a
homeowner selling their home in order to buy a new one to declare capital gains on the
sale. The current 24 month period will be cut to 12 months, in order to encourage sellers
to make the transactions faster, thus freeing up supplies of presumably cheaper homes more
quickly. Other reforms promise to be more wide-ranging, such as one which will change the
zoning on significant amounts of agricultural land, freeing those parcels up for home
Speaking at a press conference where he introduced his reforms Wednesday, Kahlon said
that the government was "finally taking responsibility and presenting unprecedented
reforms, in a balanced manner that will increase the supply of available homes."
Commenting on the reforms, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he and Kahlon
"are committed to doing everything possible to lower the cost of housing for Israelis. We
plan on tackling the three main issues involved land, workers, and money in
order to accomplish this. We are definitely on a new and daring path that I believe will
Refuses 'Get' 14 Years - Gets Money, Zero Jail Time
A resident of Haifa who refused to divorce her husband for 14 years will do no jail
time and receive 100,000 shekels from her husband in return for granting the divorce, a
rabbinical court has ruled.
According to Ynet, the couple parted in 1993 and the husband filed for divorce, while
the wife filed for alimony and child support. They moved back together afterward, though,
and signed an agreement according to which the husband would cancel the divorce
proceedings and would pay the wife alimony and child support despite their living in the
same home, for an unlimited period of time.
The couple split up again in 2000, however, and the husband moved out of the apartment.
In 2011, he filed for divorce and said that the wife is making him miserable, keeping his
children away from him and refusing to divorce him for fear of losing the sum of 3,500
shekels he is paying her every month.
The wife refused to divorce, however, and demanded a process of reconciliation (shlom
bayit) between her and her husband. The husband offered her 80,000 shekels in return for
agreeing to divorce, but she rejected this, noting that the sum was only equivalent to
what she would receive from him in the course of two years, under their current
The Rabbinical Court recently decided to end the affair this year and ruled that there
is no justification for a process of shlom bayit after so many years of separation.
Rabbinical Judges Daniel Adri and Eyal Yoef accepted the husband's claim that the wife is
not interested in him, but in his money, and that she is only dragging him out for the
purpose of getting more cash from him.
In describing the wife's actions, the court used the verb "le'agen" from the
same root as "aguna," the term used for women whose husbands refuse to give them divorce
decrees. However, unlike the cases involving "recalcitrant husbands," who are routinely
severely punished, this recalcitrant wife was not jailed for a single day, and was awarded
100,000 shekels in compensation from her husband.
Super Power Poker Stakes: Live from Iran
Israel Faxx News Services
The stakes are the highest they've ever been. Nuclear Iran. The US, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel play for the security of the world. This is the ultimate hold'em game. Who holds the aces, who will go all in, who is bluffing and who has a tell that will leave them with nothing but a mushroom cloud. No nukes for Iran See https://youtu.be/IVpIQ4EjOpc
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)