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>Israel News Faxx
>JN Feb. 2, 2017, Vol. 25, No 24

Amona Is Being Evacuated; More than 20 Arrests

By DEBKAfile, VOA News &

More than 3,000 police officers and soldiers were clearing the buildings of the Amona outpost against passive resistance Wednesday, after spending four hours trying to persuade the residents still holding out there to leave their homes voluntarily.

Confrontations took place, although both sides employed as little force as possible. At least 20 young protesters were arrested when they refused to yield ground. The security officers have been directed to complete the evacuation by day's end.

On Thursday, Israeli police bulldozers plan to start knocking down dozens of homes after evicting about 50 Jewish families from the illegal settlement in the West Bank. Several hundred protesters set up barricades and threw stones at police who came to carry out the court-ordered evacuation of Amona, a Jewish settlement northeast of Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority.

Angry protesters and settlers yelled at the police that "Jews don't expel Jews." About 20 officers were hurt, including some who said the protesters threw a liquid that made their eyes burn. Most of the settlers left quietly, carrying their belongings, holding children by the hand. Some vowed to return.

One day earlier, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu approved 3,000 new homes for the evacuated settlers and others elsewhere in the West Bank. As Amona's uprooted residents and their supporters bemoaned their fate, Arabs in a neighboring Palestinian village clapped and shook hands. Ibrahim Yakoob, 56, a Palestinian farmer who is part owner of the land that Amona occupied, told reporters: "It feels great to see settlers being taken off my land and their caravans removed. The court has done a good thing, although it has taken a long time."

Israel's Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that the Amona settlement had been built on private Palestinian land and would have to be demolished, over the objections of ultraconservative Israeli officials who fought to reverse the ruling.

Amona is the largest of about 100 unauthorized outposts erected in the West Bank without permission but — until now — generally tolerated by the Israeli government. Built in the 1990s, Amona stretches out over a rugged, grassy hilltop and looks out across a valley onto Palestinian villages. Palestinians say Jewish settlements on land they want as part of a future state are a major impediment to peace. Israel says the Palestinians' refusal to recognize the Jewish state is blocking Mideast peace.

Israel was furious when the United States, under former President Barack Obama, abstained instead of vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution in December calling the settlements illegal and demanding that Israel stop building them.

The new Trump White House has so far been silent on Israeli settlement construction, but Jewish settlers told reporters Wednesday that they expected the new U.S. administration would not stand in the way of a new wave of settlements in the West Bank. "After eight years of Obama, who didn't let us build, now we'll say, 'We will build and build,' " said Shilo Adler, who heads the Yesha Council, which represents Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

"Now is history-making time," Adler told a reporter for The Washington Post. He said the settlers were seeking 100,000 new homes — which would at least double the Jewish population in the West Bank — on land the Palestinians seek for a future nation.

Wednesday evening, Netanyahu established a committee to promote the establishment of a new town for the residents of Amona as the government promised a month and a half ago. The committee will include representatives of the residents, the Defense Minister's assistant for settlement affairs, and the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff. The committee will begin work immediately to find the appropriate location for the resettlement of the population of Amona.

The government and the residents of Amona signed an agreement last December under which the government would construct alternative housing for the residents on the same hill as the existing settlement. However, no construction has taken place, and the Supreme Court tore up the agreement today when it ruled that the plots of land on which the government had planned to construct the new housing were private Arab land. It is believed that the new town will be located nearby in the Binyamin region. It would be the first new town established under the auspices of the State in Judea and Samaria in many years.

Bad Decisions Produced Amona Shambles

By DEBKAfile (Analysis)

The live television coverage worldwide of 3,000 Israeli cops and soldiers Wednesday as they dragged people out of 42 family homes in Amona, a tiny Jewish farming outpost on a hilltop northeast of Ramallah, was an agonizing sight for every Israeli – whatever his or her political stripe. They differed only in assigning blame, but almost all awarded the country's ruling institutions a failed grade for allowing the Amona affair to reach its tragic moment, although it contributes nothing toward solving the dispute with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the two Jewish Home ministers Naftali Bennett, Education, and Ayelet Shaked, Justice stand accused of learning nothing from the traumas of the forcible evacuation of 8,500 Jewish families from Gush Katif, as part of Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip; and the brutal mounted police charge ordered by Ehud Olmert in 2006 to remove Jewish families from Amona in its previous incarnation. Neither action brought Israeli an inch closer to peace with the Palestinians.

In that respect, Netanyahu has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, Sharon and Olmert, both of whom are denigrated by a great many Israelis to this day, for bowing to the political correct ideologies which brand Jewish habitation in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria "Israeli occupation."

Netanyahu has won high kudos for his breakthrough to understandings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and his covert contacts with Saudi King Salman. In that department, he has demonstrated leadership; not so in controversial matters at home, where he hesitates to grasp thorny problems, take a clear stand and cut through to decisions.

Bennett was booed by the faithful of his party when he tried to argue that the battle for Amona may have been lost, but the war for Judea and Samira has been won. Time will tell whether this claim holds up, even during the Trump administration, with which he claims covert contacts.

Then, too, the shilly-shallying of the forces of law and order under police chief Ronny Alsheikh over how to handle the influx of hundreds of deeply committed pro-settlement youths and the holdouts among the residents who were determined to stay put in Amona buildings come what may.

Two columns of police marched into the village, attired in baseball caps and track suits with instructions to achieve a peaceful evacuation by hugs rather than blows. They carried no arms or even crowd control measures when they were confronted with young truants from schools and yeshivas come for the fight.

It is hard to understand how eight IDF battalions failed to block the roads leading to Amona and declare the village a sterile zone. This would have prevented religious and political agitators, sensation-seekers, and flocks of reporters from mixing in and getting in the way of the fairly simple operation to take over a small number of mostly deserted buildings.

But as the day wore on, the shambles increased and by day's end, police chiefs admitted they had failed to finish the job in one day as planned. After announcing they would be back at first light Thursday, they changed course and declared they would carry on through the night. The evacuees marked a psychological victory in round one.

When Towering Rivals Rabin and Nasser Met for Lunch

By Reuters

In the midst of a furious Middle East war nearly 70 years ago, a group of Israeli and Egyptian officers put down their guns, ate lunch together and discussed the prospects for peace in the region, according to a documentary film that has premiered in New York.

The group included two men who would become leaders of their respective countries and fierce rivals - Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. But on that day, the young officers interacted warmly and forged at least a modicum of trust.

The details emerge in a 1994 interview with Rabin, then prime minister, that is the centerpiece of "Shalom Rabin," director Amos Gitai's new film about Rabin's bid for peace with the Palestinians. In the film, Rabin says that based on the chance encounter with Nasser months after Israel's founding in 1948, he had high hopes Nasser's overthrow of Egypt's monarchy in 1952 would lead to Arab-Israeli peace.

Rabin says Israeli officers invited their Egyptian counterparts after surrounding their brigade at the Faluja enclave. Rabin was a leader of the elite Palmach fighting force. `"He (Nasser) was a major. I was a lieutenant-colonel," Rabin says. "We offered them to come and have lunch at (Israel's) Kibbutz Gat and they came."

Ivanka's Sending Her Daughter to a DC Jewish Day School & Some Parents Are Nervous


Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's daughter and oldest child, Arabella, reportedly began school at the Jewish Primary Day School in Washington, D.C. this week. Not surprisingly, because of all of the controversy surrounding her father's presidency, the reaction among the other parents was highly charged.

According to Town & Country, the running joke at the school is that "parents are saying Kaddish for the election." One parent said, "The other night, I heard a parent who was very upset saying, `I can't believe they're invading my personal space! They're against everything I stand for!'"

Awkward? Are we really all that surprised though? Having such a famous child at the school does pose a lot of questions and safety concerns for the other parents, not just the political turmoil that some may feel. Richard Mintz, the school's spokesperson, stated that JPDS would not confirm the attendance of any student at the school–which makes sense since that information is usually confidential:

"Without referring to any specific family or child," he said, "the school is a community day school. It welcomes everyone; there are lots of different people, and lots of different opinions, and everybody gets along."

However, Head of School, Naomi Reem, sent a letter to the parent body addressing their fears about Trump's victory when he was elected. She opened the letter by discussing her own childhood memories of a military coup in Argentina:

"Forty years ago, in my first week of high school, a military coup put an end to the democratically elected government in Argentina, where I was born and raised. Sixteen years later, I arrived in the US, on Election Day 1992, and listened to Bill Clinton's victory speech in my hotel room, understanding only every other word. Little did I know that several presidents later I would be writing a letter to families in Washington DC about yet another Election Day."

Since the school itself is progressive, it also doesn't come as a surprise that many parents aren't thrilled about Arabella's attendance. One parent said: "I'm amused, because if [the Trump-Kushners] had done their research they would know it's like going to a hippie colony. It would be like Donald Trump going to Woodstock!"

In addition, Tablet called JPDS "the place to be for the kids of Washington's politically connected Jews" and "an informal epicenter of Jewish life in Obama's Washington" in 2013, as Town & Country pointed out.

This does make you wonder what Jared and Ivanka's intentions were with sending their 5-year-old to a very liberal school–when Ivanka's father stands for anything but liberalism. Of course, perhaps the family felt they had no other option for various reasons–they just may have really liked the school, and at the end of the day, Arabella is a child. While it's understandable that many families at the school do feel uncomfortable, Arabella is not Donald Trump. She's not Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump either. She's a child who will grow up to be an adult with her own opinions.

That being said, the parents who were interviewed did suggest that Arabella will be welcomed just like any other child–which is the appropriate thing to do–since a child is not a reflection of their parents. I know that only too well, considering my own parents are Trump supporters–and I am not. However, that doesn't mean the parents feel as welcoming to Arabella's parents. One parent explained just how upset they are:

"Kushner not only defended him and ran the campaign, but after the `grab 'em by the pussy' tape—a phrase you would never hear from one of the parents at that school—it was reported that Kushner took time off on the Sabbath to help Trump deal with that. The idea that someone would make such a song and dance about being an observant Jew and support a racist like Donald Trump cuts to the core."

Another parent cited Judaism as a reason why they can't support Trump–and why Kushner and Ivanka are still complicit: "We teach our children from a very young age that we were strangers in Egypt and have an obligation to help a stranger wherever they are. The rhetoric on immigrants and refugees is gravely concerning from a Jewish perspective, and not just refugees and immigrants, but also the rhetoric on the LGBTQ community, minorities, and persecuted and vulnerable communities, period."

It seems like Parents' Night is going to be an awkward one this year, but Mintz also confirms that it's JPDS' mission to make sure everyone gets along, even with some "respectful disagreement."

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