Dear Friends,


The 4 items below begin with one fresh off the press: Israel will build another 625 housing units in East Jerusalem.  Bravo Israel!  Keep up the good work of expanding.  That won’t bring security or peace to Israelis (not to mention Palestinians), but it sure will make Israel bigger.  The only problem is, what is the use of expansion when there is neither security nor peace?


Item 2 informs us that Israel sees a global market for its arms.  Would it not be wonderful if Israel saw a global market for things that were beneficial to human kind rather than for items to kill more efficiently with?  Of course, when it comes to making money, who cares about what is beneficial to human kind?


Item 3 reminds us that Gazans continue to suffer due the blockade.  21 Human Rights organizations say that conditions in Gaza have not improved much the past 6 months.  This, of course, is contested by COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories).  But who would you believe?  COGAT or human rights organizations?


Lastly, we learn that Hamas “would accept the outcome of a Palestinian referendum on a future peace treaty with the Jewish state.”  Don’t expect this to change anything.  Israel’s leaders will pooh pooh Hamas, will say everything possible to avoid having to deal with this.  But would it not be wonderful if instead they took Hamas at its word and ran ahead to make peace?


All the best,



1. Haaretz,

December 1, 2010


Israel approves plan for 625 new housing units in East Jerusalem

Move comes despite wide international opposition to Israeli construction beyond the Green Line.


By Nir Hasson


The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee announced Wednesday its plan to build 625 new housing units in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of East Jerusalem.


The move comes despite wide international opposition to Israel’s construction in East Jerusalem, with U.S. President Barack Obama calling it ‘unhelpful’ to peace efforts.


The plan was approved by the committee over two years ago but was put on hold due to several faults in the plan. Once the specific problems were corrected the plan was brought before the public and approved.


Israel’s last announcement of its plan to construct 1,300 new housing units in East Jerusalem drew harsh criticism from the United States, European Union, and the United Nations.


“This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations,” said Obama, adding that he was concerned Israel and Palestinian were not making enough of an effort to advance peace negotiations.



2.  LA Times

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Israeli firms see a global market for their anti-terrorism know-how

The nation is moving aggressively to turn domestic security technology into one of its biggest exports.,0,3300966.story



By Edmund Sanders and Batsheva Sobelman, Los Angeles Times


9:05 PM PST, November 27, 2010


Reporting from Tel Aviv



As he inspected the Taj Mahal hotel after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, and listened to a hotel manager bemoan the lack of adequate security preparations, Israeli export official Avi Hefetz saw a growth market in the making.


“I thought to myself, if we have the state-of-the-art technology, the defense know-how and our considerable experience gained throughout the intifadas, why not organize a platform for displaying our technologies in this field?” he said.


“We might be a small country, but we’re not small in this business,” said Hefetz, director of the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute, a quasi-government business promotion group that this month organized the Homeland Security Conference, Israel’s first expo for domestic security providers.


As the threat of terrorism spreads, Israel has moved aggressively to turn domestic security technology into one of its biggest exports.


More than 400 Israeli companies export about $1.5 billion annually in domestic security goods and technology, including biometric devices, tear gas canisters, anti-intrusion systems, airport screening machines, explosives detectors and remote-controlled vehicles.


Israel’s share of the $175-billion global domestic security market is less than 1%, but government and industry officials think they can increase that tenfold by ramping up marketing and promotion. This year Israel sent a record nine trade delegations to India. When the president of Brazil’s Olympic Committee visited Israel this month, he was received by President Shimon Peres, who touted his nation’s security firms.


“Unfortunately, we have a name in this area all around the world because we are living these issues day in and day out,” said Dani Werber, international marketing manager for IDO Security Inc., which makes MagShoe, a machine used in airports in Europe and Australia to detect weapons hidden in shoes without passengers having to remove their footwear.


“But it’s not just a name, it’s also the proven technology,” Werber said. “Most of what Israeli companies sell is, again unfortunately, field-proven. Whether it’s dealing with a suicide bomb or metal detection, things work.”


Israel is focusing its efforts on Brazil, which could spend as much as $3 billion on security for the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Summer Olympics, and on India, whose annual internal security budget in the government and corporate arenas now tops $1 billion, experts estimate.


Israeli-made 360-degree cameras have been installed on Indian oil rigs, and Mumbai government officials sent police officers to Israel for training after the 2008 terrorist attacks, Hefetz said.


The Israeli firm Magal Security Systems Ltd., which made its name with perimeter-intrusion systems along Israel’s tense borders with Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, is installing its wares at 11 airports in China.


Nice Systems, an Israeli company that sells data-analysis and surveillance systems, counts among its customers the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Bank of America and the New York City Police Department.


“Israel’s domestic market is tiny,” said Alon Slonim, vice president for international marketing at Ispra, which manufactures tear gas and other riot gear. “The only way to grow is to export.”


Competing with mass-producing firms in nations such as the United States and China is challenging, Slonim said, so Israeli companies need to be creative to stand out.


For example, based on Israel’s experience in dealing with Palestinian protests and uprisings against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Ispra designed tear gas canisters made of softer plastic to reduce the risk of injury if the projectiles hit demonstrators. The canisters are also designed to blow up shortly after they disperse their gas, to discourage protesters from picking them up and tossing them back at police.


Ispra was among dozens of Israeli firms presenting their products at the security expo in Tel Aviv, which drew mayors, police chiefs and security officials from around the world.


Among the offerings was document-scanning software from IntuView that not only translates Arabic text but also searches for key words and phrases, including names, dates and Koranic verses commonly cited by extremists, software engineer Amit Seker said. The U.S. Army has bought the software, he said.


WeCU Technologies Ltd., another Israeli start-up, presented its camera-monitored airport kiosks, designed to detect “malicious intent” of users by tracking facial expressions, stress levels, breath and heart rate and sweating in response to questions or images displayed on the screen.


Israel’s experience in combating Palestinian extremists has made Israeli companies somewhat expert in guerrilla tactics, rocket attacks and suicide bombers, said Doron Havazelet, director of the new Homeland Security Institute at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.


“The proximity of Israeli culture to Islamic culture produces a better understanding of the issues,” he said. “Israel is a country that stood at this front line earlier than most others.”


[email protected]


Sobelman is a news assistant in The Times’ Jerusalem Bureau.


3,  The Guardian

30 November 2010


Israel accused over ‘cruel’ Gaza blockade

Report calls for end to embargo, saying easing agreed by Israel six months ago has done little to improve plight of Gaza civilians


Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem


Gaza’s 1.5 million people are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials, a ban on exports and severe restrictions on movement six months after Israel agreed to ease its blockade on the territory, according to a report from 21 international organisations.


The loosening of the embargo has done little to improve the plight of Gaza’s civilians, according to the coalition, which includes Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians. It calls for fresh international action to persuade Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade.


Israel agreed to ease its restrictions on goods and materials allowed into Gaza following its attack on a flotilla of aid boats in May, in which nine Turkish activists were killed. Since then the import of food and many other consumer items has resumed, although there is still a ban on exports and severe restrictions on construction materials. Israel argues that the latter could be used by militants for military purposes.


Tony Blair, the representative of the Middle East Quartet of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia, echoed the call for Israel to accelerate its easing of its blockade in an interview at the weekend. “There has been significant change in Gaza, but not nearly as much as we need,” he told the Associated Press.


According to today’s report, Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade, imports of construction materials are 11% of the 2007 pre-blockade levels. Despite having agreed to allow in materials for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to rebuild its schools and clinics damaged or destroyed in the three-week war in 2008-09, Israel has permitted only 7% of the necessary amount.


Many of the thousands of homes and businesses hit during the war are still unrepaired almost two years later because of the shortage of building materials.


Exports remain banned with the exception of strawberries and carnations for European markets. Israel now allows clothing factories to import fabric, but blocks the export of finished items.


But some businesses are still unable to import raw materials they need. According to the report, two-thirds of Gaza’s businesses have closed since the blockade was tightened in June 2007, and the rest are operating at restricted capacity.


Israel is maintaining an overall ban on the movement of people, with the number of permits granted to people to leave Gaza less than 1% of the number 10 years ago, the report says. There has been a rise in the number of businesspeople allowed to travel, “but ordinary Gaza residents are still denied access to their friends and family, and to educational opportunities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and abroad”.


There has been no change on the “buffer zone” around Gaza’s perimeters, which swallows 35% of Gaza’s arable land and 85% of maritime fishing waters “with devastating impact on the economy and people’s rights and livelihoods … Boundaries of the restricted areas are highly arbitrary and enforced by live fire,” says the report. Since the blockade was eased six months ago, six civilians have been killed and 50 injured by Israeli fire in the buffer zone.


“The so-called ‘easing’ of the Gaza blockade does not change the fact that there’s still a cruel and illegal blockade collectively punishing the entire civilian population,” said Amnesty director Kate Allen. “The only real easing has been the easing of pressure on the Israeli authorities to end this cruel and illegal practice.” Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam, said: “Israel’s failure to live up to its commitments and the lack of international action to lift the blockade are depriving Palestinians in Gaza of access to clean water, electricity, jobs and a peaceful future.”


The coalition calls for renewed international pressure on Israel over Gaza. “There cannot be a just and durable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without an end to the isolation and punishment of people in Gaza,” the report says. “The government of Israel and parts of the international community remain reluctant to fully lift the blockade as long as Hamas holds power in Gaza. Yet upholding the rights and needs of civilians in Gaza must not be conditional on other political objectives.”


In a statement, COGAT, the Israeli military body responsible for Gaza, said the report’s claims were “biased and distorted and therefore mislead the public”. It said the number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip every day had increased by 92% since last June. There were security and logistical issues regarding exports of goods and and the import of construction materials, it added.


“Israel will not allow any hidden agenda party to disrupt the process to which both the government of Israel and the international community are fully committed”.


4.  Reuters


Wed Dec 1, 2010


GAZA (Reuters) – The Islamist Hamas movement, whose charter advocates the elimination of Israel, would accept the outcome of a Palestinian referendum on a future peace treaty with the Jewish state, its Gaza leader said on Wednesday.


Ismail Haniyeh, addressing a rare news conference in the Israeli-blockaded enclave, signaled a softening of Hamas’s long-standing position prohibiting the ceding of any part of the land of what was British-mandated Palestine until 1948.


“We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees,” Haniyeh said, referring to the year of Middle East war in which Israel captured East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.


“Hamas will respect the results (of a referendum) regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles,” he said, provided it included all Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora.


The Hamas charter, drafted in 1988, regards all of the land of Palestine, including what is now Israel, as the heritage of Muslims. The idea of a referendum on a future peace accord with Israel was rejected by some Hamas leaders when it was proposed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas several months ago.


Negotiations between Abbas and Israel have since faltered over Israel’s refusal to halt settlement building in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.




Haniyeh said Israel was not willing to give the Palestinians a fully sovereign state and he therefore had no hope the fragile U.S.- brokered attempts to revive peacemaking would succeed.


He said his movement was willing to cooperate with Western and European countries “who want to help the Palestinian people regain their rights.” The United States and European Union shun Hamas as a terrorist organization and do not recognize its Gaza authority.


“We urge European foreign ministers to revise their position regarding meetings with the elected government,” Haniyeh said, adding that contacts were being made with United Nations officials in the Gaza Strip in this regard.


Haniyeh denied Israel’s claim to have killed three members of the al Qaeda organization in Gaza in the past month.


Israel said two of three militants it killed in November were planning attacks against Israeli and western tourists in the Egyptian territory of Sinai.


He said a priority of his government was to avoid a military escalation with Israel by persuading other militant factions to preserve a de facto ceasefire.


Hamas had repeatedly distanced itself from al Qaeda and had not hesitated to condemn al Qaeda-claimed attacks in some Arab and western capitals, he noted.


(Editing by Douglas Hamilton and Samia Nakhoul)



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