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December 30, 2009

A7News: High Court Opens up Major Artery 443 to PA Arabs

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Wednesday, Dec 30 ’09, Tevet 13, 5770
Court: Let Arabs Use Major Road The High Court ruled Tuesday that PA Arabs must be allowed to use Highway 443, which connects Jerusalem with Modi’in and the airport.mini_2.jpg Today`s Email Stories:
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1. High Court Opens up Major Artery 443 to PA Arabs
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Court: Let Arabs Use Major Road

A three-judge High Court panel ruled Tuesday afternoon that Highway 443, a major artery connecting northern Jerusalem with the city of Modi’in and Ben Gurion airport, must be open to Arabs from the Palestinian Authority. It has been closed to the PA since 2002 because of dozens of terrorist attacks on the thoroughfare.

The court panel accepted a petition against the closure from Arabs living in villages near the highway. The judges said although the military can limit traffic for security reasons, it cannot issue a blanket order that affects the Arab population in Judea and Samaria.

20091229042251.jpgThe judges’ opinion was written by Justice Uzi Fogelman, who reasoned that the road is supposed to serve the entire population and that closing it contravenes international law.

They emphasized that although security measures do not require that Arabs be prohibited from the highway, the ruling does not dictate future decisions by the military to limit travel because of security threats.

The ruling will take effect in five months in order to allow the IDF to establish new security measures.

Justice Edmund Levy dissented in part, arguing that the “military officers acted within their authority to decide to close the road to PA Arabs following serious terrorist attacks, which included the murder of Israelis on the highway and in the vicinity.”

He also noted that the IDF said it would be preferable not to ban all Arabs from the road and that it was looking for alternative measures.

MK Yaakov Katz, head of the National Union Party, responded to the ruling, "Highway 443 was closed to Arabs after much Jewish blood was spilled on it. How can Justices [Dori Beinisch and Fogelman adopt an anti-Jewish stance that goes against IDF recommendations and endangers Israeli citizens? This ruling expresses the stance of the Meretz party that has only three MK’s in the Knesset, but of a majority on the Supreme Court who agree with it." He called for citizens affected by the ruling to initiate civil suits against the decision.
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2. Israeli Bank, Owned by Europeans, Cuts Off Yesha
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Bank Cuts Off Judea and Samaria

The parent bank of Dexia Bank, owned by French and Belgian interests, has notified regional councils in Judea and Samaria it is cutting off their line of credit. The Dexia Bank in Israel denies accusations that the decision was based on poliitcal considerations.

The Israeli bank, which is the official supplier of credit to the regional councils, asked them to close their accounts. The parent bank’s French officials ordered the move, which has left leaders in Judea and Samaria in shock.

The Dexia Group in 2001 bought the Israeli Municipality Treasure Bank and established Dexia Israel.

Local officials of the bank denied charges that pro-Arab groups, who have escalated a campaign to boycott products of Judea and Samaria, pressured the financial institution. Dexia signed an agreement with the Finance Ministry this past summer to set up a $70 million line of credit (NIS 274 million) for improving the financial structure of the councils.

Earlier this year, Dexia announced it will not finance communities in Judea and Samaria following a campaign against it that “Israel colonizes, Dexia finances.” Its shareholders raised the issue of Judea and Samaria at the company annual meeting in Brussels last March.

The bank’s chairman responded that it stopped financing the Jewish communities a year ago, and one regional council chairman in Judea confirmed to Israel National News that it has not received credit for several months.

Dexia has rejected anti-Israel groups’ demands to stop lending money to Jerusalem, which has sovereignty over parts of the capital that the Palestinian Authority demands as part of the future state it wants to establish.

Shmuel Rifman, chairman of the Ramat HaNegev council, which is not in Judea or Samaria, and head of the board of local councils in Israel, urged Wednesday that all regional councils in the country boycott Dexia in retaliation.

“The government sold its part of the bank to foreigners…who are afraid of the Arab world,” he stated. “I suggest a boycott against the bank because there are enough [othe banks in Israel where we can put our money.”

Israel National News apologies for a previous and erroneous reference to Bank Discount, which has no relation to Dexia Bank.
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3. Netanyahu Leaves Egypt, Hears Criticism on Building for Jews
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Netanyahu Returns from Egypt

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned from Egypt Tuesday evening after day-long talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his foreign minister, who strongly criticized their visitor for continuing construction for Jews in some Jerusalem neighborhoods.

The new building tenders in the predominantly Jewish areas of Har Homa, in southern Jerusalem, and Neveh Yaakov and Pisgat Ze’ev to the north, are located in parts of the capital that the Palestinian Authority claims should be under its sovereignty.

"Such behavior raises questions about the serious willingness of Israel to reach a definitive agreement and leads one to believe that Israel is trying to welch on its obligations for a just and lasting peace," Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit stated to the official MENA news agency.

Obama applying pressure

The meeting between the two leaders was an indication that the United States is exercising heavy pressure on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas “to accept whatever conditions the Americans may be putting forth,” Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute of Palestinian Studies, told Al Jazeera.

The Obama administration reportedly is drafting letters for both Israel and the PA with unknown guarantees for the resumption of negotiations over the PA’s stated desire to become an independent country.

Former Meretz Knesset Member Yossi Beilin has claimed that the Prime Minister has agreed to negotiate the borders of Jerusalem, which Netanyahu has said is the undivided capital of Israel. Government spokesman Mark Regev replied that "Mr. Beilin only speaks for Mr. Beilin."

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is scheduled to arrive in the region next week with what has been touted as a new diplomatic initiative.

The PA, backed by the Arab world, has in effect rejected negotiations until now, by demanding that talks resume only after Israel agrees to accept the borders that existed before the Six-Day War in 1967. The American Roadmap calls for direct negotiations between Israel and the PA concerning the formation of a new Arab state.
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4. Joyous Arrival for 210 New Immigrants
by Hillel Fendel Joyous Arrival for 210 New Olim

Yet another chapter in the historic return of the Jewish People to its homeland was written Wednesday morning, when the final Nefesh B’Nefesh flight of the year 2009 landed in Ben Gurion International Airport. The 210 new Israelis aboard the flight were greeted by hundreds of relatives, friends and other well-wishers.

The 210 capped off the approximately 3,800 new immigrants who arrived in Israel from North America in 2009 – an increase of approximately 17 percent over the previous year.20091230124441.jpg

Among those who came to see the new immigrants land for the first time in their new home was historian and lawyer Rabbi Berel Wein. Asked what he was doing there, he said, “It’s very important to realize the ongoing miracle of the Jewish people’s return to their homeland – and our generation is privileged to witness it… and it’s worthy of people coming to see it.”

In response to a question by Israel National Radio’s Yishai Fleisher regarding those who attempt to downplay the ongoing miracle of the renewed Jewish State, Rabbi Wein said, “In every generation, there are those who get it and those who don’t get it…. When Joshua led the Jewish People into the Land of Israel and met the angel, he asked him only one question: ‘Are you with us, or against us?’ This is the question, the dividing line, the litmus paper test of Jewish life today. The people who came today and who are here are [among those who a with us.” 20091230124411.jpg

The new immigrants range in age from two months to 86 years, include 40 children in 41 families, 81 singles, and 13 IDF Soldiers. Their professions range from accountant to theater director, including also at least one fundraiser, librarian, lawyer, chemist, speech therapist, massage therapist, mathematician, and many more. Hailing from 25 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, they are headed for 21 towns and cities throughout Israel, including Afula, Carmiel, Eilat, Raanana, Modiin, Beit Shemesh, Netanya, Ramat Gan, Rehovot, Yad Binyamin, and Zikhron Yaakov.

Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom was also on hand, and in his address to his new fellow citizens and those who came to welcome them, he said, “The people of Iran and Hamas and Hizbullah will see that the People of Israel have come back after 2,000 years – and not for a short time, but to settle here forever! You are those who will implement the Biblical promise, given by G-d, that we will stay here forever… I would truly like to thank you… You were not forced, but rather came here by choice; you left your homes, jobs, friends, communities – and you did it not only for yourselves, but also for your children, grandchildren, and generations to come, to help them to become real Jews here in the State of Israel!”

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Minister Shalom took the opportunity to call on the world to stop Iran: “It doesn’t matter what Ahmedinajad’s plans are, we will do everything we can to stop him. This is the time to call on Obama and Europe to stop wasting time trying to talk with Iran; Iran will never abandon its dream to attain nuclear power, and so the time has come to impose real sanctions upon Iran and all those who are trying to undermine Israel’s existence.”

Nefesh B’Nefesh will provide video highlights of the new Olim’s arrival in Israel by Thursday morning; they will be viewable here. 20091230124529.jpg

Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh works with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel for the goal of revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the United Kingdom. NBN helps remove or minimize the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah, and provides comprehensive social services to its 23,000 newcomers. Some 98% of its new immigrants have remained in Israel.

Just this week, new Jewish immigrants from South Africa, the United Kingdom, and France were welcomed in Jerusalem’s Ramada Renaissance Hotel by the Jewish Agency. Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was on hand to congratulate the immigrants, personally handing some of them their new Israel ID cards.

Photos by Yishai Fleisher

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5. PA Trusts US to Force Israel to Let It Build Airport
by Dalit Halevy and Gil Ronen PA Decides to Build Airport

The Palestinian Authority (PA) government this week approved the construction of an international airport in the area of Al Bukieh, between Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. The decision is part of the implementation of a PA plan to create the institutions of an independent state which they intend to declare in two years’ time.

Ghasan El-Khatib, Head of the Press Bureau in the PA, told Al Hayyat newspaper that an official committee prepared a detailed report on a planned airport with four runways for the PA.

He said that the PA government decided to appoint three committees, from three relevant ministries, to advance the project and to propose operational recommendations for beginning work on the ground.

The territory intended for the establishment of the airport is in Area C, which is under Israeli security and civilian control. PA sources told Al Hayyat that the PA trusts that the United States will intervene and force Israel to agree to the construction of the airport.

At the same time, the PA is examining the possibility of renovating the Atarot airport north of Jerusalem and the Gaza airport which Israel destroyed when the terror war of 2000 began.

The Atarot airport began as a British airstrip in the 1920s, and was used by the Jordanians until its liberation by Israel in 1967. Israel invested large amounts of money in it in the hope of turning it into an international airport but this idea never materialized because of international concern that use of the airport would be tantamount to recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The airport was used instead for internal Israeli flights.

In the year 2000 the airport came under fire from surrounding Arab neighborhoods and it was closed down and transferred to the IDF’s hands.
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6. Zionist Women’s Group Against Arab Women in Land Council
by Gil Ronen Zionist Women Online Petition

The Zionist Women’s Forum has come out against a demand by leftist women’s groups to place Arab women in the Israel Lands Council. A coalition of 16 feminist groups accused the Lands Council of being made up solely of Ashkenazi (European Jewish) men in a press statement Monday, and demanded that Arab and Sephardic women be included in it also.

The ZWF, which says it offers a nationalist alternative to the leftist-dominated feminist women’s groups, called upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “not to be influenced and misled by organizations that advance their political agenda under a cover of concern for the status of women.” It has begun circulating an online women’s petition with the hope of counteracting the leftist groups’ initiative.

Attorney Tamar Har-Paz of the ZWF told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew news magazine that the Left’s feminist groups “use the status of women as a means of advancing their political views but in reality, their goal is that the State of Israel’s lands will be transferred on an ethnic bases. Their aim is to help non-Zionist ethnic elements to take over the lands of the State of Israel.”

"What worries them is not the status of Arab women,” Har-Paz explained, “because most of these groups do not have Arab women in them anyway. If they really cared so much about the representation of Arab women, why don’t they fight the Supreme Court, where there is very little representation of Arab women? The reason is clear,” she explained. “The Supreme Court behaves in a way they approve of today and so they have no need of fighting it.”

The ZWF’s petition, in the Hebrew language, can be viewed and signed here.
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7. Western Wall Shofar Blower Sues Police
by Hillel Fendel Western Wall Shofar Blower Sues

A three-year-old case of a policeman who attacked a young man blowing the Shofar in the middle of Rosh HaShanah services at the Small Wall – an extension of the Western Wall in the Old City – finally reached court Wednesday.

The man, Eliyahu K., together with other members of his prayer group, are suing the police for 10,000 shekels ($2,600) in damages. A person close to the case said that their attempts to reach a compromise with the police via the Department for Complaints Against Policemen were unsuccessful, and the trial has now begun in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court.

The incident, as first reported by Arutz-7, occurred on Rosh HaShanah of 5767 (September 2006), when police violently hauled Eliyahu off to the Old City police station in the middle of his prayers for sounding the Shofar (ritual ram’s horn). A group of some 10 men and two women were gathered at the site for traditional early morning Rosh HaShanah prayers – which feature the blowing of the Shofar at several different times.

Police Try to Drag Away Prayer Leader

At one point in the service, Eliyahu, the 20-year-old prayer leader, blew the Shofar in the midst of his silent prayer (in accordance with Sephardic custom). Policemen entered, for the second time that morning, and tried to pull him away. However, Eliyahu was in the midst of reciting the Amidah – a long passage during which one must stand in one place without moving – and he therefore did not move.

The policemen informed their supervisors by radio that he was praying and refused to move, and reinforcements were soon sent – no fewer than 20 policemen, according to several witnesses. Twice they attempted to drag him out, and twice he got up and resumed his prayers, after which the policemen allowed him to complete his prayers before taking him out.

In the meanwhile, the other worshipers tried to prevent the policemen from taking Eliyahu away. In response, the policemen started swinging their clubs violently, witnesses said; no one was hospitalized, but "it was a big brawl," with many people being dragged around and beaten while wearing their prayer-shawls and Sabbath suits.

Eliyahu, accompanied by his fiancée, was taken by foot all the way around the Old City, past Mt. Zion and through Jaffa Gate, to the Kishle police station inside Jaffa Gate. He was finally released around shortly before noon, after being charged with attacking a policeman and disturbing the public order.

Witness: Police Beat Us

One witness related at the time, "It’s not only that the police stopped him from blowing the shofar, but that they also beat us up very harshly. I was on my way to the Wall for prayers when I saw five to seven policemen going with Eliyahu and protecting him very closely. I walked after them, and then a few of his friends came, and then the violence started. We asked the policemen to return the Shofar, and instead, they started kicking us and punching us."

The worshipers said the police had apparently been called by an Arab woman who said the sound of the ram’s horn disturbed her children.

A Jewish resident of the Old City told Arutz-7, "How ironic. The loud Arab weddings and nightly prayers by the muezzin [over a powerful loudspeake at 4:30 a.m. disturb our sleep every night." Similar complaints are heard from Jews living near Arab villages in Judea and Samaria.

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, said at the time, "This is a very grave incident – both the police violence and the prevention of the Shofar blowing. It reminds us of the days of the British Mandate when Jews [had to ma super-human efforts to blow the shofar at the Western Wall.”

Small Wall’s Sanctity

Rabbi Rabinovitch testified at the court session about the sanctity of the Small Wall, the northern-most section of the Temple Mount’s Western Wall. It is considered to have extra sanctity, as it stands opposite the presumed spot of the Holy of Holies of the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple). The rabbi said that though the Western Wall plaza area is more active and central, the Small Wall is at least as holy. He noted that the police have not cooperated with his request to have it deemed an official holy site.

The Kotleinu (Our Wall) organization has been active to have the area officially recognized as a holy site. A Kotleinu call for the public to show up for the court hearing stated, “Not only is the welfare of those who pray at the Kotel Hakatan at stake here, but also the fate of those places held to be holy and designated for prayer and honor by the Jewish People. Your interest in this case can make a difference.”

Other witnesses at today’s court hearing included some of the boys who participated in the prayer service and witnessed the police violence. The main witness, Eliyahu, was unavailable, as he is accompanying his wife in labor in a nearby hospital for the birth of their second child. At least one more court session will be scheduled to hear his testimony and that of the police.
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