Tens of Thousands turn out for "Two States - One Hope" Rally in Tel Aviv

 

The gathering of tens of thousands of Israelis at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square last night for a Peace Now rally marking 50 years of Israel’s ruling over another people was a show of force for Israel’s peace camp. It showed that there is a loyal and vociferous constituency for peace, which is willing to fight for what Israelis and Palestinians deserve: Two states, living side by side in peace and security.

The organization was impeccable – the result of months of preparation and many hours of work by Peace Now staff and volunteers. The turnout was large – much more than the organizers had expected. The speeches were inspiring and the crowd’s behavior dignified, even when controversial Likud MK Oren Hazan showed up for a provocation.

Strolling among the crowd, I saw the beautiful, peace-loving, patriotic Israelis of yore, those who flooded the Square in the 1980s and 1990s, but even more so, I saw their children and grandchildren. Teens with picket signs and children with hand-painted peace signs. It was more than heartwarming. It was hope-inspiring. It was uplifting. It was extremely moving. It was a spectacular success.

Here are several photos that I have taken at the rally.

Was Trump's Middle East Visit a Win? Analysis by APN Policy Consultant Gail Pressberg

At first glance it looks like there are a lot of winners from President Trump's Middle East trip including:

- The Saudis, who got what they wanted.  They heard Trump confirm that the US would be close to the Gulf Arab states and veer away from Iran.  They also sealed an arms deal with the US for $110 billion.  And they never heard the words human rights from Trump's lips!

- Trump, who got what he wanted from the Saudis. President Trump was able to get an arms deal that he declared was great for the US economy.  The Saudis publicly aligned with Trump's rhetoric against terrorism - thus allowing the President to find "moderate" US allies in the region.  And Ivanka Trump got a $100 billion pledge from the Saudis for her women's empowerment program at the World Bank.

- Benjamin Netanyahu, who breathed a sigh of relief as Trump departed Israel for the Vatican. There was no pressure on settlements or significant concessions to the Palestinians. He heard lots of pleasantries from Trump about the strength of the US-Israel relationship. And there was the prospect of a potentially new dynamic for Middle East peace: The Saudis stating publicly their willingness to be partners for peace.

- Palestinian President Abbas, who was able to tell his people that the Palestinian cause is still on the negotiating table if and when negotiations take place.

Looks like a win-win situation, right? Well, not so fast.

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A campaign to support; A video to watch

Two States One Hope

Marking 50 years since Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel’s Peace Now movement is organizing a mass demonstration this Saturday, May 27th, to protest against the occupation and in support of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

I am flying to Israel Friday, and will be at Tel Aviv’s Rabin square the next day, together with tens of thousands of Israeli peace activists, to help show Israelis, Palestinians and the world that there is a robust Israeli constituency for peace.

I will be there to bring you the sights and sounds of the Israeli peace camp’s show of force, and to convey your support.

Your support helps Peace Now cover the cost of this production – ranging from printing thousands of picket signs to renting expensive sound-amplifying equipment.

Donate now to help restore hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Thank you for your support,

Ori Nir
Americans for Peace Now



Donald Trump just ended a 28-hour visit to Israel and the West Bank that was rich with color, atmospherics, symbolism and lofty talk about prospects for peace and commitment to peace, but appallingly short on content. During his Middle East tour, President Trump did not refer even once to the two-state solution, and said almost nothing about what Israelis and Palestinians must do in the short run to prepare the ground for future peace. 

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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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