Jerusalem, Nov. 2 - Despite the Palestinian push for unilateral recognition at the United Nations, Israel took steps that could lead to peace by reining in fringe settler activities and strengthening civil rights. The Palestinians were recently granted full-member status to the United Nations research and education entity, UNESCO. The move was called “counterproductive” to peace by the United States while other Western countries deemed it divisive.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to implement a government commitment to remove illegal Jewish outposts constructed without building permits in the West Bank. The decision includes the total demolition of two Jewish outposts in the West Bank, including Amona and Givat Assaf, and the partial demolition of five other outposts there, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
“The decision to demolish Amona by the end of next year was made after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein limited the scope of a committee established by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that was meant to find ways to legalize unauthorized West Bank outposts,” Haaretzstated.
Also this week, Israel’s Ministry of Education ordered funding cuts to a yeshiva (a Jewish religious seminary) in the West Bank town of Yitzhar, located near Nablus, whose students are suspected of being incited to commit attacks and vandalism against Palestinians and the Israeli military.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decisively condemned such attacks by saying: “We are not prepared to tolerate any vandalism, especially that directed against religious sensitivities.” Defense Minister Barak similarly called such attacks “criminal.”
Despite objections from the yeshiva’s rabbis that the evidence against them was being kept secret, the decision to shut down the high school affiliated with the yeshiva was made with the approval of Israel’s Attorney General. An Israeli Ministry of Justice spokesperson called the move another step in the battle against such attacks, using tools from the field of administrative law, not just criminal law, Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported.
At the same time, the issue of the illegal outposts managed to unite the Israeli political spectrum when a law that prevents police officers from removing their ID tags passed first reading in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The bill was praised by both left and right wing leaders, who told Israel Army Radio the new law would improve civil rights by forcing police officers to use non-aggressive tactics to break up demonstrations.