European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 17/01/2017
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 17/01/2017

Major Headlines
  • Israel gives Palestinian Authority water autonomy in West Bank

The Palestinian Authority now has autonomy over water projects in Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank, a Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post.

Dib Abdel Ghafour, a top official at the PA Water Authority, announced the change on Monday, just one day after Israelis and Palestinian signed an agreement to re-convene the Joint Water Committee for the West Bank, which last met in 2010.

The document was signed by the Coordinator for Government Affairs in the Territories Major-General Yoav Mordechai and Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh.

“I believe this is a step in the direction of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Israeli government and a real and serious peace that gives Palestinians and Israelis a real chance...I know there is a huge crisis of trust between the two sides, but what strengthens trust [between us] is what it is agreed upon between us,” Sheikh said after signing the agreement.

The re-establishment of the committee will allow for the advancement of 97 Palestinian water and sewerage projects that have been suspended for more than six years.

The newly signed agreement is also the latest in a series of steps the IDF has taken to give the Palestinians increased autonomy over their own affairs, particularly in the areas of electricity, telecommunications and postal services.

The UN on Monday lauded the reestablishment of the Joint Water Committee.

“I welcome the signature of an agreement to renew the activity of the Israeli – Palestinian Joint Water Committee to improve the water infrastructure and supply in the occupied West Bank and Gaza,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov said.

“This, along with previous joint agreements on electricity, water, mail and 3G cellular coverage, is in line with the Middle East Quartet’s recommendations,” Mladenov said.

“If fully implemented, this agreement would be an important step toward preserving the two-state solution. I encourage further cooperation between the two sides which is critical to the viability of a future Palestinian state,” Mladenov said.

Click here to read the full article in Jerusalem Post

  • West Bank military court verdicts now admissible in Israel

The Knesset passed a law on Monday that recognises verdicts by military courts in the West Bank as admissible evidence in legal procedures in Israeli civilian courts. The plenum voted in favour of the bill in its second and third readings, Ha’aretz reports.

To date, verdicts by military courts have not been recognised in Israel and Israeli law does not extend to the territories. Sovereignty in the area belongs to the head of the Israel Defence Forces Central Command, which issues laws using military rules.

During the debate on the bill, a confrontation developed in the plenum, as opposition lawmakers called the new law the first step in an attempt to apply Israeli legislation in the territories.

MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) said it was "de-facto annexation of military court verdicts to civilian courts. It is applying Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, which is occupied territory."

Bahloul attacked the law's initiator, MK Anat Berko (Likud), when he said she "worked hard in order to bring this law only in order to perpetuate the occupation." He turned to Berko and said: "You are in fact denying the international dynamic that obligates the State of Israel. Is it her desire to perpetuate the occupation on two million people?"

Berko replied to Bahloul saying that "the law will make it easier for victims of terror to demand compensation from convicted terrorists in civilian courts since they will not have to begin the legal process from zero, rather can base on evidence already produced in military courts."

She said this would save them time, expenses and resources.

"The interest in making it easier for them is a supreme interest," she explained. "As opposed to the claims of some opposition members according to which it is part of a 'creeping annexation,' legal sources who accompanied the law's advancement emphasised time and again that this law has nothing to do with annexation. On the contrary, the law comes to fix discrimination in favour of the Palestinians, because while Palestinians can sue Israelis for civilian compensation based on a criminal conviction, Israelis cannot do the same to Palestinians. That was true until now and now the legal

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has criticised the notion of recognising military-court rulings in Israeli courts, and the Knesset has been warned of possible repercussions abroad if the bill passes.

“A ruling by a court that is not authorised to rule in Israel, including the rulings of a military court, cannot be used as evidence in a civil procedure in Israel,” Mendelblit once wrote in a document submitted to the High Court of Justice. “This position emerges from the wording of the [relevant] clause, its purpose, the principles of our methodology and the rules of international law.”

Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz

  • Attorney General calls for enforcement of anti-polygamy laws

The attorney general has called on Israel’s authorities to increase enforcement of the laws concerning polygamy. Although the practice is officially a criminal offence in Israel with a five-year prison sentence, indictments are rarely served in practice, Ha’aretz reports.

Polygamy is most prevalent among Israel’s Bedouin community, with some 36 per cent of the community in polygamous relationships, according to police data. A recent report on Channel 10 claimed that a number of Israeli rabbis affiliated with the Chief Rabbinate allowed some Orthodox Jewish men to take a second wife.

“Despite the existence of the crime of polygamy and rulings on the issue, there has been little enforcement on the criminal level for this offence,” Avichai Mendelblit wrote in his new directive. “Given the persistence of the phenomenon, and its severity, enforcement of the law against polygamy must be stepped up,” he added.

Israeli Arab feminist groups and lawmakers responded to the report, saying that though they rejected polygamy, they did not think criminal legislation was the best route for dealing with it.

“The polygamous lifestyle has a negative influence on family life, including in financial terms, and serves as a platform for further violations,” Mendelblit wrote. “For example, the phenomenon of domestic violence is more common among polygamous families. Also, neglect of children and harming them is more prevalent among polygamous families.”

The attorney general also wrote that another problematic aspect of the phenomenon is the “second or more marriage to Palestinian women who have no legal standing in Israel, or other women devoid of legal status. These women are in Israel without any family support and as a result, lack basic defence and are therefore significantly more exposed to such phenomena – including the fear of violence.”

Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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