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June 22, 2010

Israel/Gaza: Easing Blockade of Imports a First Step

New Policy No Improvement on Exports, Freedom of Movement

(Jerusalem) – The Israeli Cabinet decision to ease the blockade of Gaza is a step toward ending a policy that amounts to unlawful collective punishment of Gaza’s civilians, but fails to address severe Israeli restrictions on exports and freedom of movement, Human Rights Watch said today.

Israel announced on June 20, 2010, that instead of permitting only a small number of items to enter Gaza, it would permit imports of all civilian items except “weapons and war materiel, including problematic dual-use” items, a move that could significantly increase the variety and quantity of civilian goods entering Gaza, Human Rights Watch said. While the announced policy change marks a step in the right direction, it would leave in place Israel’s near-total limitations on exports and on Gazans’ freedom of movement, Human Rights Watch said.

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision would allow the “expansion of economic activity,” the Cabinet decision did not address Israel’s policy of restricting exports from Gaza, which has crippled Gaza’s economy and led to high rates of unemployment, poverty, and food insecurity. During the past three years, Israel has permitted the export of only a few truckloads of strawberries and cut flowers.

Under international humanitarian law governing military occupation, Israel has an obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of Gaza’s civilian population.

While the Cabinet decision promised to “streamline the policy” allowing residents to leave Gaza for “humanitarian and medical reasons,” it did not alter Israel’s other restrictions on their freedom of movement, which have prevented Gaza residents from studying and working abroad and have separated families. International human rights law permits restrictions on freedom of movement for security reasons, but the restrictions must have a clear legal basis, be limited to what is necessary, and be proportionate to the threat.

Human Rights Watch called on the international community to press Israel to meet its international obligations to remove unlawful restrictions on the flow of goods into Gaza, and to lift unnecessary restrictions on exports and the free movement of people.

Human Rights Watch said that Egypt’s formal relaxation of its closure of Gaza’s southern border crossing at Rafah to Gaza residents was also a step forward. But Egypt should ensure that its border officials do not arbitrarily delay or deny Gazans’ exit or entry, and open the border to the import and export of goods, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for Hamas to allow the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to communicate with his family and to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to him, and to maintain the de facto moratorium on indiscriminate rocket attacks into Israel it has imposed on its armed wing and other major political factions in Gaza.

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Invitation to olive picking [Palestine, October, 2010]

AuthorGilad Atzmon

(Starting Saturday 16th October 2010 for 9 nights)

http://visitpalestine.webs.com/oliveharvestoct2010.htm

2010 will be the 7th year the annual Olive Picking Program in Palestine from October 16th to 25th 2010. This event is of special significance to the Palestinian economy when all energies and efforts are mobilized.

Since the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000, the olive harvest has been overshadowed by the Israeli policies of repression, closure, blockage of streets, confiscation of agricultural lands, as well as repeated attacks against Palestinian farmers by Israeli settlers*. Now with the construction the Apartheid Wall and the continuous expansion of Israeli settlements at the expense of agricultural land in the occupied Palestine , many farmers are separated from their trees, and help is most needed.

The objective of this program is to mobilize as many people as possible for olive picking, especially in areas that are situated in proximity to Israeli settlements and bypass roads, in order to help Palestinian farmers harvest their olive trees which they might be unable to do without international support. Also, the event has brought up awareness to hundreds of people from many countries around the world about real life under the Israeli Military Occupation, and the experience itself was referred to by several participants as a life changing one. You too are invited to join us for this event.

Besides picking olives, the program will feature introductory presentations about the organizing institutions, the current situation in Palestine and the effect of the Apartheid Wall, tours in the old city of Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem , a tour of Hebron , cultural evenings and social gatherings.

Olive Picking 2010 – Proposed schedule

Day One – Saturday 16/10/2010: Arrival. Meeting representatives from the organizing institutions for an overview and discu ssi on of the program.

Dinner and overnight in Beit Sahour (near Bethlehem )

Day Two – Sunday 17/10/2010: Half day picking olives at a selected field.

After lunch, political tour and sightseeing in Bethlehem , including the visit of a refugee camp. Dinner, followed by screening of a documentary at Jadal / Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Dinner and overnight in Beit Sahour

Day Three – Monday 18/10/2010: Half day picking olives at a selected field, followed by lunch.

Meeting at The Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) for a presentation on the Apartheid Wall and land confiscation. Visiting an olive press

Dinner and overnight in Beit Sahour

Day Four – Tuesday 19/10/2010: Tour in the Old City of Jerusalem .

Lunch, followed by a settlement tour around Jerusalem with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Dinner and overnight in Beit Sahour

Day Five – Wednesday 20/10/2010: free day

Day Six – Thursday: 21/10/2010: A tour in the old city of Hebron . Visiting the Ibrahimi Mosque. Meeting with the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) for a presentation about the situation in Hebron .

Lunch. Visiting a glass factory. Free time

Dinner and overnight in Beit Sahour

Day Seven Friday 22/10/2010: a full day of picking olives at a selected field, lunch included.

Dinner and overnight in Beit Sahour

Day Eight – Saturday 23/10/2010: Half day picking olives at a selected field.

Dinner followed by a presentation on the refugee questions with BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugees’ Rights

Overnight in Beit Sahour

– Day Nine – Sunday 24/10/2010: Half day picking olives at a field. Lunch

Evaluation meeting with institutions’ representatives, followed by a musical evening.

Overnight in Beit Sahour

– Day Ten – Monday 25/10/2010: departure.

To learn more about previous seasons please go to the video and watch a 10 minutes film about the event here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UYxAIxY2xA

More Information:

• The cost of the program including accommodation in a double room, meals, guides, local transportation and other relevant expenses is $620.

• Accommodation can be arranged at a hotel or with a local family.

• A tour guide will be present with the group at all times for facilitation purposes.

• Travel from and to the airport is not included in the cost but can be arranged for groups.

For any other information, questions, concerns, or to request a registration form, please contact:

visitpalestine@yahoo.co.uk

New bill seeks to outlaw boycott – both of settlements and of Israel

Shamir hummus - reportedly a settlement product

If passed, the bill will lead to heavy sanctions on Palestinian authorities and individuals, as well as Israeli and foreign activists
By JNews

Monday, 21 June, 2010 – 22:26

A new bill (full translation below), the third in a series of proposed laws seeking to restrict the activities of peace activists and human rights organizations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), has been proposed by a group of Members of Knesset.

The first bill, tabled in February and known as the “NGO Funding Bill”, seeks to limit foreign governmental funding of activist groups in Israel, by defining their activities as political and denying them charitable status.

The second bill, tabled in April, will close down and forbid registration of charities involved in or providing information for overseas law suits against Israeli officials suspected of war crimes. This bill is known as the “Universal Jurisdiction Bill.”

The third bill, submitted to the Knesset Law Committee for approval on 15 June by 24 Members of Knesset from both the coalition and the opposition, is more comprehensive, and seeks to outlaw any activities promoting any kind of boycott against Israeli organisations, individuals or products, whether in illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) or in Israel proper.

The bill targets Israelis, the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians and foreign governments and individuals, and, if passed into law, will impose fines, economic sanctions and entry bans against initiators or supporters of boycott activities.

This bill was proposed after a decision was taken by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to cut all business ties with the illegal Israeli settlements and to boycott their produce.

If it becomes law, the bill will lead to the imposition of heavy financial and property-related sanctions on the Palestinian Authority (defined by Israel as “a foreign political entity”) and on individual Palestinians, and could reverse existing contracts and agreements with Israel.

All three proposals were tabled in the wake of incitement campaigns by right wing groups and agitators against Israeli human rights groups, peace activists, critical academics and liberal grant-givers (such as the New Israel Fund).

If passed, the laws will seriously damage the financial viability of NGOs and their ability to function legally in Israel and the OPT. They will criminalize some NGOs’ activities as well as those of volunteer peace activists and intellectuals who work together with groups overseas for human rights and social justice.

All the bills await further votes in the Knesset before they can pass into law.

Translation of the proposed bill, “Prohibition on imposing a boycott – 2010” (unofficial)

Eighteenth Knesset

Law proposal by MKs Zeev Elkin, Dalia Itzik, Arieh Eldad, Ophir Akonis, Tzahi Hanegbi, Moshe Gafni, David Rotem, David Azulai, Zevulun Orlev, Yariv Levin, Hayim Katz, Yoel Hasson, Tzipi Hotovely, Lia Shemtov, Robert Iltuv, Abraham Michaeli, Menachem Eliezer Mozes, Yaakov Katz, Ruchama Avraham-Balila, Magali Wahba, Karmel Shama, Danny Danon, Itzhak Vaknin, Uri Maklev

Proposed bill – Prohibition on imposing a boycott – 2010

Definitions:

1. “Person” – as defined in the Law of Interpretation 1981;

“Area under the control of the state of Israel” – including the areas of Judea and Samaria;

“Boycott” – demanding that others not maintain relations with a person;

“Boycott against the state of Israel” – boycott imposed on a person because of his relations with the state of Israel or with areas under the control of the state of Israel;

“Foreign political entity” – as defined in article 36a(a) of the Law of Associations 1980

Prohibition on boycott against the state of Israel:

2. It is prohibited to initiate a boycott against the state of Israel, to encourage participation in a boycott, or to provide assistance or information with the intention of promoting a boycott.

Boycott – a civil wrong:

3. An act of a citizen or resident of Israel in violation of Article 2 constitutes a civil wrong and the orders of tort law [new version] shall apply to it.

Damages:

4. The court shall order damages for a civil injustice done as defined in this law in the following manner:

a) punitive damages of up to 30,000 NIS to the injured party, subject to evidence of injury done;

b) Additional damages in accordance with the scale of injury and subject to evidence of injury.

Fines

5. In addition to the provisions of Article 4, a resident or citizen of Israel who acts in violation of Article 2 shall pay a fine as defined in Article 61(a)(3) of the Penal Law 1977.

Those who are not residents or citizens of Israel:

6. A person who is not a resident or citizen of Israel and a Magistrates’ Court has defined at the request of the Minister of Interior that he has acted in violation of Article 2:

a) His right to enter Israel shall be revoked for ten years at least;

b) Until the end of the revocation of his right to enter Israel, he and his representatives shall be forbidden to carry out any action in Israeli bank accounts, in shares traded in Israel, in lands or in any other property demanding registration of transfer.

A boycott imposed by a foreign political entity:

7. If a foreign political entity passed a law imposing boycott on the state of Israel, and so long as it has not canceled this law; or if the [Israeli] government has determined by a majority that a foreign political entity has violated Article 2, and so long as the government has reached no other decision:

a) The foreign political entity and its representatives shall be prohibited from carrying out any action in Israeli bank accounts, in shares traded in Israel, in land or in any other property requiring registration of transfer;

b) No sum of money or property shall be transferred by any organ of the state of Israel to the foreign political entity or its representatives, under laws, agreements or governmental decisions that were adopted prior to the definition according to Article 7 or to enactment of the law;

c) Israeli citizens or the state treasury, who are damaged by a boycott imposed by a foreign political entity, may sue for damages from the sum accumulated according to paragraph (a) under the provisions of Article 4 above and subject to necessary changes.

Regulations:

8. The Minister of Justice is appointed to set regulations for the implementation of this law, and he shall consult the Minister of Interior with regard to implementing the provisions of Article 6(a).

Applicability:

9. a) The law shall apply from the day of its publication;

b) Despite paragraph (a) above, anyone who has initiated a boycott or encouraged participation in boycott according to Article 2 in the year prior to the publication of the law, it shall be assumed that he is still initiating a boycott or calling for a boycott even after the publication of the law.

Explanation:

This law aims to protect the state of Israel in general and its citizens in particular from academic, economic and other boycotts, which are imposed as a result of any ties to the state of Israel.
In the USA there is a similar law that protects its friends from boycott by a third party, and the assumption is that a citizen or resident of the state shall not call for the imposition of a boycott on his own country or of its allies. This assumption has proved untrue with regard to the citizens and residents of Israel.

If the USA protects its friends through law, it should be self-evident that Israel has the duty and the right to protect itself and its citizens through law. The proposed bill distinguishes between three different types of boycott: a boycott imposed by a resident or citizen of Israel; a boycott imposed by a foreign citizen or resident; and a boycott imposed by a foreign political entity, according to the definition of the Israeli government or according to a law enacted by the foreign political entity.

The balance between public and state interests and individual liberties is expressed through the limitation of the law’s applicability to the initiation or promotion of a boycott, while abstaining from involvement in the personal decisions of individuals choosing a product or a service.

TRANSLATION ENDS

This article may be reproduced on condition that JNews is cited as its source

Silencing Gaza flotilla activists in the United States

Posted on June 10 2010 by Cecilie Surasky under Gaza , IDF.

The Israeli government, with the aid of its many proxies- especially in the Jewish institutional world, is working overtime after the Mavi Mavera massacre to paint the Gaza flotilla participants as terrorists.

Apparently–jamming satellite communications, absconding with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment, confiscating every photo and video they could find, and releasing pathetically doctored “evidence” (thank you Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal and others) is not enough. Now groups are working to keep flotilla human rights activists out of the country.

Here’s the stunning petition the NY Jewish Community Relations Council has put together to keep activists out. Mondoweiss has audio of retired US Colonel Ann Wright, who was just in NYC, speaking about what happened. She must be the person they’re trying to keep out of the country. Good luck with that. So much for America-first.

source

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