26 October: one more settlement freeze?


The Headlines: Freeze the Settlements, or Freeze the Peace Process?

> According to reports, Netanyahu is planning [Heb] a comprehensive settlement freeze for three months, to be followed by nine months of restrained construction. This will take place while negotiations with the Palestinians move forward, and might require adding opposition party Kadima to the current coalition. Senior government ministers will discuss tomorrow the outlook for the Obama administration’s policy after the mid-term elections next week. Foreign Minister Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) is already preparing for the day negotiations fail, and the Palestinians will make a unilateral declaration of independence. He is also (unrelatedly?) planning for the day Iran acquires a nuclear bomb.

> The Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, uncovers IDF documents showing that the siege of Gaza was designed to ensure the barest minimum of living standards for the strip’s million and half inhabitants. The result: Gaza’s economy was completely devastated.

> A former General testified in favor of a light sentence to IDF soldiers who used a Palestinian child as a human shield during the Gaza war. Many senior officers, in active service and in the chain of command above the convicted soldiers, came to court to support them.

> Israel’s three main TV channels are not interested in broadcasting the event commemorating 15 years for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Labor), over his support for the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians. The event will be broadcast by the science channel.

> The Finance Ministry has already allocated funds for the continuation of benefits for Yeshiva students – an issue which is supposedly to be decided by a special committee.

> An ultra-orthodox town wants to become a city, raising concerns about the environmental impact and about the effect on transportation options for the area’s Arab residents: the main artery will run through the planned city, and traffic on it may be barred on the Sabbath.

> Israel’s Central Bank has increased mortgage interest rates in an attempt to prick the housing bubble.

> Israel’s water shortage is growing more severe (Yedioth).

The Sidelines: Palestinian Detainees’ Rights

> With rumors of advances in negotiations with Hamas about the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Netanyahu has asked [Heb] to freeze discussion of a bill that would deny basic rights to Palestinian security detainees. The purpose of the bill was to put pressure on Hamas to release Shalit.

> MKs debated a bill that would circumvent a Supreme Court order which banned arrest hearing without the detainee’s presence.

> An MK, who is the former head of Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service), cancelled a visit to Spain, after the Spanish government refused to grant him immunity from possible arrest on war crimes charges.

> The disabled have ended [Heb] their protest after receiving a promise from Netanyahu to review their grievances, including the fact that benefits have dwindled to 60% of the minimum wage (Ma’ariv).

> The Knesset voted [Heb] to move ahead with a bill that would restore a welfare-to-work program, notorious for mistreating job seekers.

The Bottom Lines: Segregation between Arabs and Jews

> A deputy mayor comes out [Heb] in support of segregation between Palestinian and Jews.