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July 9, 2014 - No. 66

Widespread Resistance Demands a Free Palestine

End Israeli Occupation and Aggression!

Join in Actions to Defend Gaza and Demand an
Immediate End to the Occupation!

Widespread Resistance Demands a Free Palestine
End Israeli Occupation and Aggression!
Disinformation Used to Launch State Terror
Beating of U.S. Teen Underscores Zionists' Crimes Against the Youth
Hold Occupying Power to Account
Case of Missing Youth Used to Undermine Palestinian Unity Government

Widespread Resistance Demands a Free Palestine

End Israeli Occupation and Aggression!

Palestinian youth fight back against heavily armed Israeli Defense Forces in the
Shufat neighbourhood of Jerusalem, July 3, 2014.

Widespread resistance is unfolding in Palestine in response to the U.S.-backed mass arrests, indefinite detention and bombing raids by Zionist Israel. Using the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers on June 12 as justification to unleash retribution against the Hamas government of Gaza, who they call a terrorist organization, the Zionists have once again unleashed a murderous assault mainly against Gaza but also the West Bank. The Israeli government claims Hamas is responsible for the kidnappings, killings and rocket attacks despite presenting no evidence to make its case, let alone observing due process. Instead, it has used the situation as a pretext to unleash a new wave of state terrorism and mass collective punishment. Collective punishment is a heinous crime, associated with the likes of the Nazis, the fascists and Japanese militarists during World War II and since then with the U.S. imperialists in countries such as Korea and Viet Nam.

Since June 13, the Zionists have carried a massive campaign of house raids and arrests, and in recent days have launched a campaign of air strikes on Gaza. There are indications the attack was planned in advance, timed to occur before upcoming Palestinian elections. The aim is to  block the development of the recently announced unity government which ends the breach between Gaza and the West Bank and cover up the fact that the zionists have no intention of sorting anything out as concerns ending their occupation of Palestine.

Thousands of Palestinians are participating in mass protests across historic Palestine, denouncing the intensified Zionist aggression. On July 5 actions were held across the U.S. and Europe to express support for the Palestinian people's right to resist, their just demands and to denounce Israeli war crimes. More actions have been called, including in Canada.

Actions in Chicago (top) and Cleveland in support of Palestine, July 5, 2014

The mass repression and state terror campaign by Israel has not cowed the heroic Palestinian people into giving up their right of resistance to the brutal Zionist occupation. Palestinian youth in particular have been confronting the heavily armed Israeli Occupation Forces all over historic Palestine. Thousands have demonstrated and clashed with Israeli police, especially after the brutal killing of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped, tortured and burned to death by Israeli extremists in Jerusalem on July 2. These Zionist gangs are reminiscent of U.S. government-backed KKK lynch gangs, as they roam in groups in search of Palestinian youth to kidnap and kill. Numerous reports of attempted kidnappings have been made, but most have been blocked by mass actions by the Palestinians.

Meanwhile the foreign powers which support Israel and permit the slaughter of the Palestinians to continue engage in the most duplicitous activity possible. Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird blame Hamas, and encourage Israel to resist "Palestinian terror," while the Palestinians are called on to not resist the Israeli occupation and crimes committed against them. While both countries condemned the killing of the Israeli youth, neither the U.S. or Canada have condemned the bombing raids on civilians and mass arrests and home demolitions. As if the crimes committed and the suffering in the region have a nationality, Obama called the killing of the three Israeli youth a tragedy for the Israelis only, ever fomenting strife between the peoples of the region, while Canada was quick to stand with "all Israelis" but merely "express shock" at the revenge killing of the Palestinian youth. Note that in the case of the Israeli youth Baird named each one and the Canadian embassy in Israel sat shiva, the period of mourning in the Jewish faith. As for 16-year-old Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khdeir, Baird did not consider it necessary to even mention his name.

What should one make of this glaring double standard? One act is called terrorism to be met with the reprisal of collective punishment against the Palestinian resistance. In the case of the   killing of the Palestinian youth, it is considered an unfortunate incident and the Palestinians are called on not to take revenge or act like vigilantes. The context of Israel's illegal occupation and settlements and its brutality against Gaza are swept under the rug in either case.

TML Daily calls on all Canadians to join the heroic Palestinian people in their death-defying fight against occupation, aggression and heinous crimes. The people of Israel and the people of occupied Palestine have a common interest to support the Palestinian resistance and together demand an end to the Zionist crimes. These crimes are committed and supported by those such as the U.S. and Canada who do not want to end the occupation of Palestine and see justice done in the region. It is not more complicated than that.

Funeral for Palestinian youth Abu Khdeir, East Jerusalem, July 4, 2014, who was killed as a reprisal for the deaths of three Israeli youth. Some 8,000 people attended his funeral to denounce the killing and the Israeli occupation.

(Photos: Xinhua, Activestills, S. Ji Fotographia, ANSWER, A. Hamideh)

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Disinformation Used to Launch State Terror

Ruins of a building struck by Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, July 8, 2014.

Since June 13, the Zionist government in Israel has been spreading disinformation about the case of three Israeli youth, 16-year-olds Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrac, who the government initially reported as being kidnapped by forces linked to the Hamas government of Gaza. On this basis, the Zionists launched "Operation Brother's Keeper," on June 13 allegedly to recover the youth. This massive campaign of state terror has seen more than 2,200 house raids and more than 700 arrests, including many youth. According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, as of July 4, 475 Palestinians are still detained while 170 have been placed under administrative detention.

This repression has been met with staunch defiance and resistance that is now being used to justify an aerial bombardment campaign that was officially launched on July 7 as "Operation Protective Edge." At 1:00 am local time, Israeli forces launched 65 air strikes and three naval shellings against 50 targets in the Gaza Strip, destroying five civilian homes and injuring 16 Palestinians, including seven children. As of Wednesday, July 9, the three-day death toll from this operation has reached 38, with more than 300 injured, the majority of whom are civilians.

What is the truth about the disappearance and killing of the three Israeli youth? It has now come to light that the Israeli government knew all along that the youth had been killed shortly after being abducted, and cynically used the pretence of searching for these youth as cover to conduct mass repression of Palestinian people. The government deliberately spread disinformation about the condition and whereabouts of the youth, including to the parents of those killed whose suffering it cynically prolonged, to whip up public sentiment and international support for state terrorism and collective punishment against the Palestinians.

This campaign of disinformation set the stage for the revenge killing of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Notably, the families of the three Israeli teenagers killed issued a statement condemning the incident. "If the Arab youth was murdered because of nationalistic motives then this is a horrible and horrendous act," it said. "There is no difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood. Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness or justification for any murder."

Ansam Abu Khdeir, one of Mohammed Abu Khdeir's cousins, said witnesses had written down the car's license plate and that police were examining CCTV footage. "We knew about Mohammed's kidnapping by three Israelis just before the dawn prayers. A witness saw them and took down the license plate," he told AFP.

The family denied allegations that the boy could have been killed in a family dispute, citing eyewitnesses as saying they tried to stop the kidnapping but the suspects took Abu Khdeir and fled the scene. Israeli police circulated the disinformation that Abu Khdeir was killed by family because he was gay, all in an effort to divide resistance and divert from the role of the Israeli state in the arrests, indefinite detention, killings and unleashing and protecting of terror squads of settlers, reminiscent of KKK-style lynchers. As of July 8, six suspects have been arrested in the case and three have confessed to the killing.

Creating Moral Equivalence for Occupation War Crimes
and Palestinians' Right to Resist

U.S. commentator Justin Schwegel points out how the case of the supposedly missing Israeli youth "had to be milked for weeks to buy time for the Israeli operation in the West Bank and to maximize the public opinion impact of the story." Schwegel points out:

"First, Israel's pubic image has been suffering incredibly in the past several months. Palestine has been beating Israel savagely in both public opinion and political maneuvering. The push from universities, religious groups and NGOs across the globe to divest from companies that profit from the continued illegal occupation of Palestine has reached unprecedented levels.

"The Gates Foundation and the Methodist Church recently divested from G4S, a British corporation which in the face of mounting pressure, has vowed to end its security operations in Israeli prisons. The [U.S.] Presbyterian Church also divested from its corporations that profit from occupation, namely Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and Caterpillar, which is infamous for making the weaponized bulldozers that the Israeli Military uses to bulldoze Palestinian homes and olive groves, and which killed American peace activist Rachel Corrie.

"However, there is a far greater threat facing the Israeli settlement enterprise. Because fundamental norms of international law have been internalized in the domestic legislation of many countries, the proper implementation of domestic legal regimes requires the differentiation between Israel proper and its illegally occupied settlements. The illegal Israeli settlements are not recognized as part of Israel under international law and a differential legal treatment ineluctably flows from this different status.

"One example is the EU's inability to make scientific funding available to Israeli universities operating in the occupied West Bank, or to allow settlement-produced goods to receive preferential treatment under the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The EU also cannot recognize Israeli certification procedures for settlement produce (e.g. poultry veterinary certification and organic food certification) because the Israeli government simply does not have the authority to grant such certification to settlement produce. This dispassionate legal evolution is motivated by the necessity for consistency within an EU legal regime that has internalized the fundamental norms of an international legal system.

"This cold rationality is completely unrelated to the passionate moral idealism that motivates the BDS [Boycotts-Divestment-Sanctions] movement and it is far more troubling for Israeli policymakers, which is why they often try to conflate the two concepts. Additionally, many governments have recognized that aside from these known legal problems, there are likely other legal issues as yet unknown that could detrimentally harm business operations after an initial investment is made. As a result many states have warned companies against conducting operations in the illegal West Bank settlements.

"This same stance is reflected in the EU's refusal to make scientific funding available to Israeli universities operating in the occupied West Bank, refusing to allow settlement-produced goods to receive preferential treatment under the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and refusing to recognize Israeli certification procedures for settlement produce (eg poultry veterinary certification and organic food certification). These measures are motivated by the necessity for consistency within the EU legal regime and respect for the norms of an international legal system, a motivation completely unrelated to the moral idealism that motivates the BDS movement.

"When the peace talks between Palestine and the Israelis collapsed, international observers, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, unanimously placed the blame squarely on Israel for missing prisoner release deadlines and announcing the construction of new settlements in Palestine. Weeks later, when Abu Mazen announced a Fatah-Hamas Unity Government, Netanyahu claimed that was the reason for the collapse of the peace talks. Netanyahu saw the murder as an opportunity to vilify Hamas (which has denied any involvement) and consequently, the new Unity Government as well as a chance to recover some of the international good will it has lost.

"Second, the timeline for which the farcical kidnapping storyline was allowed to continue was just sufficient to give the Israeli Occupation Forces a pretext for conducting the mass arrest of hundreds of political dissidents and the collective punishment of an entire race. While ostensibly the West Bank operation was to recover kidnapped Israelis, given the evidence available to policymakers at the time of its execution and the breadth of the arrests, this is simply not believable. At its root, the massive West Bank operation (Operation Brother's Keeper) had the goal of breaking the Palestinian Unity Government.

"Only a handful of [those] arrested were even questioned about the murder. For the past several years, the Likud government has bemoaned the fact that the PLO was not a true partner for peace because they could not speak with a unified voice for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. During the past few weeks, Netanyahu had repeatedly expressed his opposition to the Fatah-Hamas unity government and had been searching diligently for a way to undermine it. This was the opportunity he was waiting for.

"Finally, without maximizing the perception of Israeli suffering, it would be impossible for Israel, in the face of overwhelming international condemnation, to continue its systematic oppression of Palestinians and the confiscation of Palestinian land and resources. The common media rendering of the Israeli occupation is the story of a complicated bilateral conflict that fails to capture the reality of the unilateral domination of one people by another. According to the Ramallah Bureau of Statistics, since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000 to April 2013, Israel has killed 1,518 children, the equivalent of one Palestinian child every three days for 13 years.

"During the first year of the Second Intifada, the New York Times featured stories that covered 125% of the deaths of Israeli children in either the headline or the first paragraph, meaning they covered some of the same deaths more than once. In the same time period, only 18% of the deaths of Palestinian children were covered in the headline or first paragraph. The result of such reporting is the illusion of symmetry of suffering in an asymmetric conflict." [...]

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Beating of U.S. Teen Underscores Zionists'
Crimes Against the Youth

Fifteen-year-old U.S.-born Palestinian-American Tariq Abu Khdeir was brutally beaten by masked Israeli police on the evening of July 3 in the Shuafat neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem. His 16-year-old cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir was lynched by Zionist extremists the day before in that area. Israeli authorities claim Tariq was arrested for participating in a demonstration against the killing of Mohammed. Video of the attack shows Tariq being brutally beaten into unconsciousness.

On July 6, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki reported that on July 5, two days after the brutal attack, a consular officer visited Tariq. She stated that "the State Department is profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force. [TML emphasis]. We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force."The video and photos of Tariq after the beating make clear there is no doubt that he was beaten by Israeli police. Furthermore, nothing was said about the fact that he remained in custody (now house arrest) nor that he has at no point been charged with any crime. It is only a matter of the use of "excessive force," while the fact that he is in detention at all is not questioned. The family has requested that the youth be returned to the U.S. to receive medical treatment for his injuries. The State Department's response underscores the U.S. government's support for Zionist crimes, as surely had this been any other government in the region as well as an American of some nationality other than Palestinian, a massive hue and cry would have been raised by the U.S.

The killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the brutal beating of Tariq Abu Khdeir underscores the Zionists' crimes against Palestinian youth in particular. Prisoner rights organization Addameer reports that Tariq is one of eleven Palestinians who were beaten and arrested in Shuafat on July 3, many of whom were minors. "The continued state-sanctioned violence against children is unlawful and unacceptable," Addameer stated in an appeal for protests against Tariq's treatment.

"Addameer urges immediate action and calls on the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United States consulate and all regional embassies and consulates, human rights organizations and journalists to attend Tariq Abu Khdeir's hearing on Sunday 6 July to investigate the intensified aggression against Palestinian children," the group added.

Furthermore, a report issued June 30 by the NGO Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, documents that Palestinian children are at much greater, ongoing risk from Israeli forces. According to the report, Israel seized an estimated 2,500 Palestinian children and youth between January 2010 and June 2014. Of these approximately 400 were just 12-15 years old.

"The Israeli police or military typically break into homes in the middle of the night or take youth right off the streets without telling them what they are charged with or informing their parents, as required by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," says Ihsan Adel, a legal officer at Euro-Mid. "How is that different from the reported kidnapping of the Israeli students? And yet it is occurring every day, every year. Where is the international outrage?"

The report documents continuing abductions of Palestinian youth and children, as well as numerous human rights violations such as torture and coerced confessions during detention, in violation of international laws. The Euro-Mid findings echo earlier conclusions by other international bodies. In a February 2013 report, UNICEF concluded that "ill-treatment of children who come into contact with the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process."

Euro-Mid is calling for equal coverage of the plight of Palestinian children by the international media, and for the signatory states of the Geneva Conventions and other international stakeholders to bring all pressure at their disposal (including denial of financial pacts and assistance) on Israel to immediately halt violations of their human rights.

"The disappearance or ill treatment of any child is tragic and should outrage all humans with consciences," says Sandra Owen, a policy officer at the Euro-Mid. "Are not the lives and liberties of Palestinian children worth as much?"

(News Agencies, Euro-Mid)

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Hold Occupying Power to Account

Palestinians living in Israel shout slogans at solidarity protest with administrative detainees and other Palestinian prisoners, Umm al-Faham, June 27, 2014. The action also denounced Israel's military operation in the West Bank the week before. Police used harsh violence to suppress the demonstration, also preventing proper evacuation of injured protesters. (Activestills)

On June 21, amidst Israel's "Operation Brother's Keeper" allegedly searching for three missing Israeli settler youth, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council published an open letter to the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Council called for action against Israel's crime of collective punishment and other human rights violations, in particular pertaining to its position as the occupying power in Palestine. TML is posting below excerpts from that letter.



As the Occupying Power, Israel is obligated to carry out its search for the missing settlers in line with its obligations under international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL). IHRL obligates Israel to respect the right to life of Palestinians by ensuring that the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is carried out in a manner that minimizes damage and injury and respects and preserves human life. IHRL further prohibits arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence and affords all persons the right to liberty and security of person. As such, Israel may not arrest and detain Palestinians in a sweeping fashion; there must be a legal basis for each and every individual arrest. Furthermore, all persons that are arrested must be treated with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity. Israel is absolutely prohibited from resorting to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Unlike the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court, Israel is not allowed to inflict so called 'moderate physical pressure' against Palestinians, regardless of the situation. Under IHRL, Israel is also prohibited from restricting the freedom of movement of the thousands of Palestinian civilians as a form of collective punishment. The grave infringement currently imposed on Palestinians in the OPT, in particular residents of Hebron, is not proportionate nor necessary to protect Israeli national security and is highly intrusive.

Israel is also bound by IHL in the OPT. Particularly, Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines the unequivocal duties of the Occupying Power, including the obligation to respect persons, their honor, freedom from physical or moral coercion and freedom from collective punishment. This entails a duty on Israeli occupying forces to protect civilians from all acts of violence or threats thereof, against humiliating punishment, and to ensure that homes do not become the object of arbitrary interference. While Article 27(4) of the Fourth Geneva Convention authorizes the Occupying Power to take stringent measures of "control and security," such as imposing restrictions on movement or depriving individuals of their liberty, these can be adopted only on necessary security grounds, and in a manner that is not discriminatory.

Significantly, the collective punishment of the civilian population is absolutely prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the Occupying Power to use "[c]ollective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation [...]." Article 75(2)(d) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, reflective of customary law, confirms that collective punishments are prohibited at any time. The Israeli army has previously claimed to use closures as preventative and deterrent measures, despite international law recognizing their effect as being punitive and collective, in particular due to their indiscriminate nature.

The methods employed in Israel's investigation into the disappearance of the settlers are indiscriminate in their nature and are undermining the fundamental rights of the Palestinian population.

Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that all persons are entitled to equal protection before the law without discrimination. Furthermore, the violations that are being carried out are based on mere speculation regarding the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the settlers, the possible identity of those responsible and their location.

As such, these measures indicate Israel's intention to impose punitive measures against large portions of the Palestinian population in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting reprisals against protected persons and their property, as well as collective punishment.

Furthermore, threats by the Israeli Government to expel Hamas officials from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip on the basis of allegations that the organization is responsible for the settlers' disappearances not only amounts to indiscriminate collective punishment but also violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons in occupied territory. The violation of this provision amounts to a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and as such may constitute a war crime under Article 8(2)(a)(vii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The manner in which Israel is carrying out so called Operation Brothers' Keeper, including threats issued regarding Hamas officials, the re-arrest of Palestinian prisoners that were released under the Shalit prisoner exchange deal, the increasing number of administrative detainees despite an ongoing hunger strike in protest of Israel's illegitimate use of administrative detention, and the large scale closures and raids, raises grave concern regarding the actual purpose of Israel's actions in the OPT -- one that is not consistent with the alleged purpose of the investigation into the disappearance of the settlers.

The EU's response to Israeli measures undertaken in the context of the disappearing settlers has dangerously ignored Israeli violations and failed to distinguish between lawful measures employed by Israel to locate the settlers and measures that infringe on the rights of Palestinians. The search for the settlers may not be used as a pretext to kill, arrest, torture, and infringe on the privacy of Palestinians. The EU statement of 17 June 2014, and subsequent statement under Item 4 during the 26th session of the Human Rights Council illustrate an utter and worrying disregard for Israel's unlawful acts following the disappearance of the three settlers. An accurate analysis of Israel's response demands that the EU, including in international fora such as Item 7 of the 26th Human Rights Council session:

- strongly condemn Israeli actions amounting to IHL and IHRL violations undertaken during so-called Operation Brother's Keeper;

- demand that Israel strictly adhere to its responsibilities as an Occupying Power and discontinue the investigation in its current form;

- demand that Israel releases Palestinians arbitrarily detained, including administrative detainees;

- demand that Israel promptly investigate, in accordance with international law standards, and hold to account the perpetrators involved in the killing of Palestinians, including Ahmad Sama'da and Mahmoud Jihad Muhammad Dudeen;

- demand that Israel calls on the Attorney General to clearly articulate to all security officials that torture is absolutely prohibited and to hold to account any Israeli official who resorts to it;

One must consider that Israel is obligated to protect the occupied Palestinian people - including during investigations surrounding Israelis. The EU must not give Israel a carte blanche for undertaking any measure -- regardless of its implications on the Palestinians -- they deem fit in their blindsided search for the three settlers. We recall that in 2011, Israel also engaged in collective punishment when carrying out a large-scale investigation in the village of 'Awarta (Nablus governorate) and that the failure of the EU to properly address Israel's so called investigation can only be seen as encouraging Israeli violations of Palestinians' rights. To that end, we ask that the EU take strong action to ensure Israel's violations of international law during this investigation is not encouraged but rather restrained. Finally, it must be recalled that each individual EU member state, as High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention are under an obligation to ensure respect for its provisions.


Adameer Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association, Aldameer Association for Human Rights, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Defense for Children International - Palestine Section, Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, Hurryyat Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights, Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies, Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling

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Case of Missing Youth Used to Undermine
Palestinian Unity Government

TML is posting below excerpts from a June 16 item by Ramzy Baround, published in the Palestine Chronicle. Although published before the Zionists' disinformation about the three missing Israeli youth came to light, the item outlines the Netanyahu government's attempt to manipulate the situation for self-serving reasons to undermine the unity of the Palestinian people, specifically the newly formed unity government between Hamas and Fatah.



Israeli officials were quick to link the disappearance of the settlers -- the 16-year-olds Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar and the 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach -- to the newly-formed unity government.

A day after the three went missing, US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Netanyahu to express his government's concern. According to the daily Jerusalem Post, he also contacted PA President Mahmoud Abbas with the same message.

The PA is reportedly cooperating. "The Israelis and the Palestinian Authority are working closely together on efforts to find the three teenagers and to hopefully bring a quick resolution to the matter," a Washington official told the Post.

Left to right: Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frankel.

No concerns were offered the regarding hundreds of Palestinian children and teenagers in Israeli jails. For some reason, both issues are treated as entirely different subjects.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is capitalizing on the story in every way he can. In his call with Kerry, he claimed that the alleged kidnappings were "the destructive result" of the newly formed PA unity government.

Since PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced a transitional government as a first step towards reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, Netanyahu along with other Israeli officials have been working hard to thwart its mission.

Netanyahu is insisting that the unity government must be dissolved and the unity pact with Hamas dismissed if he is ever to return to the negotiations table. But what talks is he referring to?

U.S.-backed peace talks failed this year to take a step forward because Netanyahu carried on seizing Palestinian land and expanding settlements. He did not even fulfill the largely symbolic promise of releasing a few Palestinian political prisoners - something that would have allowed Abbas to save face and carry on with the talks.

Abbas on 12 June dropped the condition of an Israeli settlement freeze, and was ready to settle with the release of some long-serving prisoners, yet Netanyahu still found this unacceptable.

In a statement two days later to Israel Radio, Netanyahu described the gesture as "meaningless."

Abbas' moves reflect how difficult his position remains since his Fatah party and Hamas reached an agreement in the Shati' refugee camp in April, which led to the formation of a transitional government in June.

The agreement left many points of contention to be discussed and settled by various sub-committees with uncertain chances of success. Since then, disagreements have flared over crackdowns on Hamas supporters in the West Bank, unpaid salaries and other matters.

But this is only part of Abbas' dilemma. His security forces are allowed to currently operate in the West Bank -- but only under the watchful eye of the Israeli army.

In return for allowing the PA a space for its operation, PA forces need to be involved in "security coordination" aimed at securing illegal Jewish settlements, reining in Palestinian groups and offering a line of defense for the Israeli army, which in reality is the one and only ruler of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Unity or no unity, Netanyahu's expectations are unchanged: "I expect you to help in the return of the kidnapped youths and the capture of the kidnappers," Netanyahu told Abbas in a telephone interview on June 16.

If these are indeed kidnappings, they could have been carried out other by groups. But Israel's targeting of Hamas can only be politically motivated.

Netanyahu certainly benefits from tension between the Hamas and Fatah movements, and anything that threatens a collapse of the unity government. Hamas had already criticized Abbas for cooperating with Israel.


Netanyahu is even mulling over the deportation of Hamas members outside the West Bank, a dangerous option that could complicate relations between Palestinian factions and drive many Hamas members underground.

For Israel, all of this is creating the necessary distraction needed to ensure the downfall of the unity government, and the postponement of any discussion pertaining to the return to peace talks. For Netanyahu, it is a win-win situation.

Abbas however is bound by his "commitment" to Israel's security, a condition through which he continues to receive support from the U.S. government. Recently, he even went as far as describing collaboration with the Israeli army as sacred.

Even chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, himself discredited by many Palestinians because of his central role in the Palestine Papers scandal, is attacking Abbas for his failure to take any action at all. In a leaked recording, he refers to Abbas as "discredited" and "useless." [...]

Under these difficult circumstances, it is not easy to imagine the attainment of real unity. Meanwhile, Netanyahu will continue to push with all of his might to guarantee Palestinian failure.

The fact that Netanyahu would go as far as blaming a government of Palestinian technocrats operating under Israeli military occupation for failing to protect illegal Jewish settlers is a testament to the conceit of the Israeli government.


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