U.N. Reiterates Support for Two-State Solution

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Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of the State of Palestine brief the press in Ramallah, August 29, 2017. (photo: Katrin Hett / U.N.)

In Palestine, the U.N. Secretary-General says a two-state solution “only way to guarantee peace.”

By U.N. News Centre
August 29, 2017


“I have a dream, a dream to see in the Holy Land two states: A Palestinian state and an Israeli state, living together in peace and security, in mutual recognition and allowing for this kind of suffering not to be possible anymore.”
— U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres


United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today reiterated his call for a political solution to the Middle East conflict that would end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and would create an independent Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

“It is my deep belief that it is essential to restart a serious and credible political process of negotiation aiming at that objective — the two-state solution — as it is also important to create conditions on the ground to improve the situation of Palestinian populations,” Mr. Guterres said at a press conference in Ramallah after meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

“A two-state solution that will end the occupation and, with the creation of conditions, also the suffering even to the Palestinian people, is in my opinion the only way to guarantee that peace is established and, at the same time, that two states can live together in security and in mutual recognition,” Mr. Guterres said.

He said that Israel’s settlement activity represented a major obstacle to the implementation of the two-state solution although there are other obstacles.

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Dangerous Escalation in Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Palestine

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By Amnesty International
August 23, 2017


“By rounding up journalists and shutting down opposition websites the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip appear to be using police state tactics to silence critical media and arbitrarily block people’s access to information.”


The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and their rivals, the de-facto Hamas administration in Gaza, have both tightened the noose on freedom of expression in recent months, launching a repressive clampdown on dissent that has seen journalists from opposition media outlets interrogated and detained in a bid to exert pressure on their political opponents, said Amnesty International.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian authorities have arrested six journalists in August so far, shut down 29 websites and introduced a controversial Electronic Crimes Law imposing tight controls on media freedom and banning online expression and dissent. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas security forces have arrested at least two journalists since June and hampered others from freely carrying out their work. At least 12 Palestinians, including activists, were also detained by Hamas for critical comments posted on Facebook.

“The last few months have seen a sharp escalation in attacks by the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, on journalists and the media in a bid to silence dissent. This is a chilling setback for freedom of expression in Palestine,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

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Frankfurt Bans BDS

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(photo: AFP)

Frankfurt becomes the first German city to ban BDS movement.

By Ma’an News Agency
August 25, 2017


“[The BDS movement] strongly attacks the fundamental basis of the legitimation of the Jewish State [and used anti-zionism as a detour] to spread anti semitism. That’s why we decided to ban any municipal funding or the renting of rooms for any activities of groups or individuals, who support the anti-semitic BDS movement. We also instructed our city-owned companies and called upon private landlords to act in the same way.”
— Uwe Becker, deputy mayor and city treasurer of Frankfurt


The city of Frankfurt, Germany, passed a bill on Friday outlawing municipal funding for and the use of public spaces for activities that aim to boycott Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement bill was initiated and pushed by Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor and city treasurer of Frankfurt, who has argued that the BDS movement is anti-semitic and “strongly resembles the ‘Don’t buy from Jews’ argumentation of former times of the National Socialists.”

The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

The movement falls within the traditions of the nonviolent boycott movement against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

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Jared Kushner’s Mission Impossible

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Jared Kushner and Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo: ABC News)

Jared Kushner’s quest for peace looks increasingly doomed.

By Adam Taylor / The Washington Post
August 25, 2017


Kushner’s trip has only highlighted the sizable obstacles he faces. Here are five of the biggest:

  1. The Israelis
  2. The Palestinians
  3. The rest of the Middle East
  4. President Trump
  5. Kushner himself

White House adviser Jared Kushner headed back to Israel and the West Bank this week in a renewed push to broker Middle East peace, just one of several responsibilities the administration has handed to President Trump’s 36-year-old son-in-law.

Despite Kushner’s unusually varied workload — he’s also tasked with reforming veterans’ care, solving the opioid crisis, something to do with “American innovation,” and more — this is his second trip to the region in the space of just three months. That may be a sign of how keenly the new administration is chasing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which Trump has described as the “ultimate deal.”

A few months ago, there was actually some cautious optimism among Middle East watchers that Trump might be able to make some progress. Sure, he and Kushner don’t have any diplomatic or political experience, but so what? Trump was a self-described dealmaker who didn’t have much of the political baggage of his predecessors. The experts hadn’t done so well finding a solution, so why not give them a try?

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Former Israeli Officials: Anti-BDS Bill Hurts Israel

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Israeli settlement in the West Bank. (photo: iStock)

Former Israeli officials argue that the Anti-Israel Boycott bill hurts Israel by legitimizing illegal settlements and expanding the definition of Israeli territory.

By Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher and Orni Petruschka / Forward
August 10, 2017

[Ami Ayalon is a former director Shin Bet, Gilead Sher is the former Chief of Staff for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Orni Petruschka is a high-tech entrepreneur in Israel.]

As Israelis committed to the future of our country as the secure, democratic home of the Jewish people, we wish to underscore, expand and add perspective to a critical point J.J. Goldberg makes in his August 4th column about the anti-BDS bill now before the U.S. Congress.

The bill proposes to criminalize explicit boycotts of Israel. But Goldberg points out that while the debate about the bill has focused on whether or not the bill violates freedom of speech, a much more controversial issue embedded in it is its tacit recognition of settlements, contravening official US policy. And settlements have posed one of the most serious obstacles to efforts by successive U.S. administrations to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

As Goldberg notes, “The bill commits the United States for the first time to extending protection, including legal protection, to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.” The bill does that, Goldberg explains, by blurring the distinction between Israel and “territories under its control,” i.e. the occupied territories.


The significance of eroding this distinction cannot be overstated. It endangers the future of Israel as a Jewish-democratic state. It delegitimizes the entire Zionist enterprise. And it actually plays into the hands of BDS advocates.

Here’s how: If Israel includes the territories, it cannot be a democracy, because the approximate 2.5 million Palestinians residing in the West Bank have no civic rights, unlike their settler neighbors, who are Israeli citizens.

This concept cannot be stated enough times. No country that does not mandate full civic equality to millions of people can legitimately claim to be a democracy and have that claim accepted by the world’s democratic states.


That is exactly what BDS advocates point to when they assert that Israel is an apartheid state. And if Israel is defined as including the territories, as it is in this bill, they are correct.

Thus, the legitimacy of Israel hinges on the distinction between Israel proper, where Jews have a right for self-determination, and the territories, in which a Palestinian state should be established in order to fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinian people for freedom and dignity.

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Interfaith Leaders Denied Entry into Israel for Supporting BDS

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Five leaders on an interfaith delegation to Israel/Palestine were refused permission to board their plane in the United States, in what appears to be an implementation of Israel’s travel ban on supporters of Palestinian rights and Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS).

By Naomi Dann / Jewish Voice for Peace
July 24, 2017

Five members of an interfaith delegation were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians. The group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders were apparently singled out for their public support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the state of Israel. Upon arrival at the Lufthansa check-in counter at Dulles International Airport, an airline employee informed the group that the Israeli government had told the airline not to let them board.

The five people prohibited from flying are Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) deputy director, Philadelphia, PA; Alana Krivo-Kaufman, Brooklyn, NY and Noah Habeeb, Virginia, both also of JVP; Rick Ufford Chase, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rockland County, NY; and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine, Los Angeles, CA.


“Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise. “I’m heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.”


The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a bill in March banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. Israel’s BDS ban includes those who have endorsed boycotts of products from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy. It is believed that this is the first time that the policy has been enforced before people even board their flight. It is also the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their political positions. This new political litmus test for entry into the country is an extension of the longstanding practices of racial, religious and ethnic profiling of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visitors to Israel.

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A New Boycott Battle: The Anti-BDS Bill

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Civil rights groups argue the “anti-Israel boycott” bill would violate First Amendment rights, while supporters say the bill is narrowly tailored and represents a minor amendment to current law.

By Elizabeth Redden / Inside Higher Ed
August 11, 2017


“[The bill’s authors] effectively use the U.S. government to silence its citizens and others for refusing to do business with Israel. Importantly, this legislation would dole out punishment for refusing to do business with companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories — companies that are thereby acting illegally under international law. Astonishingly, an individual or business could be convicted for obeying international human rights rulings.”
— David Palumbo-Liu, the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor of comparative literature at Stanford University


A bill in Congress that would prohibit U.S. persons or companies from participating in or supporting boycotts of Israel organized by international governmental organizations like the United Nations or the European Union has been roundly criticized by civil liberties groups as an infringement on First Amendment rights to free expression.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which enjoys wide bipartisan support and has 48 cosponsors in the Senate, isn’t directly focused on higher education, but opponents of the bill say it would have implications for scholars and academic organizations to the extent they’re involved in boycott-related activism — as many individual academics and some academic groups are. Although the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against the country of Israel, supported by many academics and others, is organized by nongovernmental organizations and seemingly would not fall under the purview of the bill, opponents of the legislation say BDS supporters could be ensnared by it if they, as part of their activism, participated in or otherwise supported a boycott organized by an international governmental body like the United Nations.

“This bill would impose civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs about Israel and its policies,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a July 17 letter opposing the bill. Those penalties, the ACLU wrote, could include civil fines of up to $250,000 or criminal penalties of up to $1 million and a 20-year prison sentence.

“There are millions of businesses and individuals who do no business with Israel, or with companies doing business there, for a number of reasons,” the ACLU wrote. “Some, like those who would face serious financial penalties and jail time under the bill, actively avoid purchasing goods or services from companies that do business in Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories because of a political viewpoint opposed to Israeli policy. Others may refrain from Israeli-related business based on political beliefs, but choose not to publicly announce their reasoning. Still others do no business with companies in Israel for purely pragmatic reasons. Under the bill, however, only a person whose lack of business ties to Israel is politically motivated would be subject to fines and imprisonment — even though there are many others who engage in the very same behavior. In short, the bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

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