May 23, 2017 - The Trump Middle East visit

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses which leg of Trump’s Middle East tour was strategically more significant, Riyadh or Jerusalem/Bethlehem; how Trump can square his presumed achievements in Riyadh with his sweeping campaign declarations against Muslims; whether it is really such a success story; Trump's trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem; particularly comic and sensational moments; the presentation of Trump's strategy for making peace between Israelis and Palestinians; whether any of these strategies really offer the kind of hope for the future that Netanyahu mentioned so optimistically; and the significance of Trump's closing speech at the Israel Museum where he vowed to fight Iran and terrorism, protect Israel, and pursue peace.

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: In Contrast to The Declared Policy – Another Outpost Legalization

In Contrast to The Declared Settlement Policy – Israel Retroactively Legalizes Another Illegal Outpost, Thus Establishing another New Settlement

On 7 May 2017, the objections subcommittee of the Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee decided to reject objections to the plan to retroactively legalize the illegal outpost of Kerem Reim (Also known as Nahlei Tal, located West of Ramallah). The objections were discussed almost three years ago, in August 2014, but a decision has only been made this week. The fact that it took the subcommittee three years to make this decision illustrates the involvement of political echelons both in the stopping of the plan in the past and in its current promotion.

Another Proof of No Restraint and No New Settlement Policy
 
On 30 March 2017, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a new settlement policy in a cabinet meeting. PM Netanyahu proclaimed that as a part of this policy no new illegal outposts will be established, and no retroactive legalizations of illegal outposts will take place. The decision to promote the plan for the illegal outpost of Kerem Reim stands in direct contradiction to the new declared policy. The promotion of the plan is a part of a process of establishing a new settlement in the West Bank by retroactively legalizing the illegal outpost, which was established in 2012.

The Illegal Outpost of Kerem Reim and The Plan for Its Retroactive Legalization
 
In 2012, a new illegal outpost named Nahlei Tal (later changed to Kerem Reim) was established West of Ramallah. Several mobile homes were put in place, roads were established illegally, several families moved in and connected to infrastructure – of course – illegally. The mobile homes were placed on “state lands,” while some of the roads and infrastructure were on private lands. Nahlei Tal or Kerem Reim was the first outpost established since 2005, after the Sharon government committed not to build any new illegal outposts, and during the period of the Sasson Report and Peace Now’s petitions to evacuate illegal outposts.

Shortly after the establishment of the illegal outpost, on 9 May 2013, the Defense Minister approved the promotion of a plan for 255 housing units in order to retroactively legalize the illegal outpost as a neighborhood of the Talmon settlement. The plan was approved for depositing and published for objections, and in August 2014 a hearing took place, during which residents of Al-Mazra'a al-Qibliya – the village which lands were taken by the outpost – voiced their objections together with Bimkom. Since then the plan had been frozen until this week.

During 2016, massive foundations work began to take place at the illegal outpost for the purpose of constructing permanent homes. All of this was done illegally, without the plan being approved and without the government approving the establishment of a new settlement.
 
A Peace Now study found that among those involved in the establishment of the illegal outpost, beyond the small group of settlers that established it, are the Benjamin Regional Council as well as the Amana organization. After exposing the illegal construction work Peace Now demanded form the Attorney General the opening of an investigation against those responsible for the illegal construction. After months without a reply, Peace Now submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice, demanding an investigation on the matter and asking to stop the illegal construction. On 9 April 2017, the High Court issued a temporary stop work injunction, prohibiting any construction work in the outpost as long as the petition is ongoing.

Apparently, due to the petition, the government decided to promote the plan in order to argue at the High Court that there is no need to enforce the law on the illegal construction, as it will soon be approved. An official response by the state to the High Court should be submitted by May 30 2017.
 
It is important to note that even if the plan will be approved, the illegal activity conducted up until this point cannot be ignored, and this is what Peace Now seeks to achieve in its petition. It is through this type of illegal activity – that proceeds in the settlement enterprise without any law enforcement – that a small group of settlers determines Israel’s settlement policy and influences the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.

WATCH: Peace Now’s Anat Ben Nun: Support Peace Now's Demonstration on May 27th

On Saturday, May 27th, the Israeli public will speak out against occupation and for a two-state solution. Peace Now will gather Israelis from around the country for "Two States – One Hope," a demonstration against 50 years of occupation and conflict.

Click here to support "Two States – One Hope" and help restore hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The government may hope to silence those who oppose its policies, but Peace Now and the Israeli people will not be silenced.

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We're hitting the streets

Two States One Hope

On Saturday, May 27th, Peace Now will bring thousands of Israelis - as well as prominent public figures, artists, and musicians - to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv with one simple message:

Enough of 50 years of occupation!

Before we take to the streets to celebrate "Two States – One Hope," I urge you to watch a brief video featuring Peace Now's Anat Ben Nun. It demonstrates the difficult, on-the-ground work that Peace Now does every day, as well as the passion and commitment that will be on display next Saturday.

WATCH: Peace Now's Anat Ben Nun: Help support "Two States – One Hope"

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Action Alert: Tell Trump: Get Serious about Israeli-Palestinian Peace

President TrumpDonald Trump is preparing for his visit to Israel on May 22nd, his first trip overseas as president.

On several occasions, President Trump has announced his commitment to brokering a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, the “ultimate deal,” as he called it.

We take the president at his words. And as we stated in a recent press release, if Trump takes serious action to pursue a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, APN will leverage its influence and experience to support him.

In order to be an effective, credible broker, President Trump will have to push both sides – Israelis and Palestinians – to take actions that build trust and that don’t slam the door on a future peace deal.

Send a letter to President Trump urging him to take Israeli-Palestinian deal-making seriously.

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May 15, 2017 - Israel’s prospective nation-state law

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses the prospective "nation-state law" that the Israeli Cabinet’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation submitted to the Knesset last week; why the law is surfacing again now; the law's proposed components; differences in the alternative versions that have been proposed; and whether Israel really needs this law.

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Furniture and Olive Trees

This Sunday – the 33 days between Passover and Shavuot -- is a Jewish holiday marking the cessation of a divinely-sent plague which killed thousands of people. According to one explanation, the plague was sent because people treated one another disrespectfully. This day is celebrated with bonfires and great joy. In Israel on Lag BaOmer a pall of smoke hovers over Jerusalem from all the bonfires throughout the city.

In past years, it has become a tradition among settlers in Hebron to break into the homes of Palestinians and steal property to use as fodder for bonfires. We hope that such abominations are not repeated this year. Destroying and vandalizing Palestinian property is unfortunately a matter of routine in the West Bank. A UN report notes that in 2016, settlers destroyed more than 1300 Palestinian-owned olive trees. This year, in April alone, over 200 trees were destroyed by settlers. This doesn’t include attacks on Palestinians who were working in their orchards, cultivating land, herding flocks, or even in their own homes. There is an average of two attacks per week against Palestinians.

Yes, a pall hangs over Jerusalem. But we have the power to help end this plague. This year, let Lag BaOmer stand for the end of the plague of violence against each other. Let this year see the cessation of the plague of destruction and xenophobia. Support Americans for Peace Now and our colleagues in Israel's Peace Now movement as we speak out against this shameful behavior.

DonateStand with us today.

Stand with us to send a clear message that settler malfeasance -- whether it is ransacking Palestinian shops for bonfires, attacking Palestinians, or cutting down olive trees -- is not acceptable. Stand with us and our commitment to you that we will continue to work for peace and a two-state solution, regardless of attempts to silence us, regardless of attempts to keep us out of the country, regardless of price-tagging and death threats to our tireless colleagues in Israel's Peace Now movement. Stand with us as we take a firm stance against violence, whether Israeli against Palestinian, or Palestinian against Israeli. Violence by either side is intolerable, and must end.

Americans for Peace Now will always tell you the truth, and we will stand with you until there is peace. Support us today with a tax-deductible donation.

B'vircat shalom - with a blessing of peace,

Rabbi Alana Suskin

PS. Recently we were forced to cancel our June Study Tour to Israel due to the "Entry Law" passed by the Knesset. This anti-democratic law prohibits entry into Israel by non-citizens who support boycotting the settlements and/or settlement products. While rejecting BDS, APN proudly supports boycotting the settlements -but not Israel- as a measure toward ending the settlement project. After announcing the cancellation we were subjected to hate-filled e-mails calling us all kinds of disgusting names. But we are undeterred: We are the true pro-peace, pro-Israel supporters that Israel desperately needs at the moment. On this Lag BaOmer let us remember the price of dehumanizing others.


On May 27th, we will bring back hope

Two States One Hope

After fifty years of occupation, Israel has reached a critical point in time. It is more important than ever to ensure that the two-state solution remains possible both on the ground and in public opinion. While a majority of Israelis support a two-state solution, they do not believe it is possible right now. To bring about a fundamental change, we need to restore hope.

On May 27th, Peace Now will bring back hope.

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses the significance of Abbas's meeting with Trump, the election of Hamas's new leader, and Hamas's new "Document of General Principles and Policies"; the importance of these developments from Israel's standpoint; and the connection between the new document and the election of Ismail Haniyeh.

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: Possible Critical Developments in East Jerusalem

News from Peace Now:

Last week, several press reports have suggested that the government is preparing to advance 15,000 new housing units in three Israeli neighbourhood-settlements at East Jerusalem. According to the publications, the plans are for the establishment of a new neighbourhood at Atarot (10,000 housing units), expanding Ramat Shlomo (3,000 housing units) and establishing Givat Hamatos (2,000).

Peace Now is deeply concerned regarding the possible development in Givat Hamatos in particular, which is the most immediate, and will pose a serious threat for a compromise in Jerusalem based on the Clinton Parameters, and thus for the possibility of a two state solution.  

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