Ad watchdog rules against Israel Golan Heights map

The ASA ordered the cancellation of IGTO’s promotion of a new book on northern Israel, saying the advert, first published in British newspapers in November 2011, did not properly demarcate the 1967 borders on the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

The ASA received more than 350 complaints against the advertisement from pro-Palestinian organisations such as Friends of Al-Aqsa and Jews for Justice in Palestine.

ASA said the advertisement “must not appear again in its current form”, adding that it had informed the Israeli Tourism Minister that the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights were not part of the State of Israel “as it is recognised by the international community”.

The ASA also determined that the internationally-recognised term “West Bank” was replaced on the map by the name “Judea and Samaria”.

This, said the ASA, showed that the advertisement was misleading.

Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian campaigners have been staging an advertising war.

In April 2010, the ASA cancelled an advertisement by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism after it included a photo of the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem. According to a report in the Guardian, the ad was cancelled as it was misleading and did not make clear that the areas in the photo were in dispute.
In December 2011, the Palestinian representation in London took down an advertisement published on its website in order to attract tourism to the Palestinian Authority.

The ad included a map of the entirety of Israeli territory in the colours of the Palestinian flag.

A spokesman for the Israeli Tourism Ministry told the Jewish News: “We will be changing the colours in future campaigns to show the difference between Israel and the occupied territories, including the West Bank and Golan Heights.

“We are also minded to have campaigns without maps because of the sensitivities involved.”

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Don’t be surprised if PA vote is abandoned

Those in favour of an early recognition of statehood have a reasonable argument. While there are many refugees around the world, and national minorities who are citizens of countries they would wish to sever from, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are the only places whose permanent residents remain stateless. They are not yet Palestinian nationals and they cannot be considered Israeli citizens.

Some alteration of the status quo must happen at some time. Most observers recognise that the creation of a Palestinian state is an essential component of any lasting peace agreement. Anxiety, however, has been expressed about the nature of the process being employed.

Some fear allowing developments of such prominence to occur outside of a formal dialogue will encourage other unilateral efforts. Others fear passage of the resolution will raise expectations beyond what is feasible, agitating public opinion in the territories.

These are reasonable fears. Yet these concerns should not be exaggerated. For one thing, this cannot be said to be a unilateral declaration of independence, for Yasser Arafat already adopted such a move in 1988 which had little effect. Moreover, only recognition of statehood is being contemplated. The granting of full UN membership would require a Security Council motion for which sufficient support does not exist. Lastly, a UN resolution will do little to change the facts on the ground. A de facto Palestinian state will only emerge when recognised as part of a peace deal by the parties themselves.

While the wording of the motion has yet to be finalised, it is likely that any recognition will be based on the 1967 borders. Adoption of the motion would therefore give UN endorsement to a two-state solution as the only viable solution to the conflict. Holders of uncompromising and maximalist positions would be undermined, especially Hamas, which detests the prospect of a permanent state of Israel.

It might also be the case that recognition of statehood at the UN would strengthen the Palestinian Authority, as opposed to Hamas, in its efforts to become a counterpoint to the Israeli Government.

Israeli policymakers have long sought to generate both symbolic and tangible improvements in the status of the Palestinian Authority as the chances of a negotiated agreement depend on a counterpart capable of acting on behalf of the Palestinians as a whole. Passage of the motion could strengthen its legitimacy in the eyes of Gaza and West Bank residents, allowing it to demonstrate real progress.

Voting on motions of this kind always place countries in a difficult position. It is especially so on this occasion. Britain will be acutely aware of its allies’ key concerns. France and Germany are keen to maintain a “united front”, while the United States will want as many countries to join it in opposition as possible. In addition, the Foreign Office will be torn between its long standing support for Israel and its desire to see the creation of a Palestinian state.

However, it is worth noting that the final choice is rarely so stark at the United Nations. A myriad of options exist to amend, defer and reconsider such motions.

We could well see a situation in which some reference is made to Palestinian statehood, followed by a longer period of consideration. Indeed, do not be surprised if the much heralded vote does not take place next week.

I am not enthusiastic about this Palestinian initiative and would be pleased if it were withdrawn. However, the success of a UN Resolution on statehood will neither do as much good as some want nor as much harm as others fear.

Ultimately, peace between Israelis and Palestinians will depend on negotiations between them. Nothing will change that reality.

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New Flotilla Will Sail, When it Can Cause ‘Most Grief’

The ‘Fredom Flotilla 2′ had been due to sail for Gaza in July, but a combination of the Greek government’s refusal to allow the vessels to leave its ports and technical problems appeared to have scuppered plans.

However, Free Gaza co-founder Greta Berlin, one of the organisers of the 2010 and 2011 flotillas, this week said everything is now ready for another assault on the blockade.

“A new ship called the Noor is ready to go, as are the nine boats that did not travel,” Berlin told the Jewish News. “We are just waiting for the time to give Israel the most grief.”

Flotilla activists have previously insisted that the main aim of the campaign is to deliver much-needed aid to the people of Gaza. But Berlin has admitted the intention is also to provoke a reaction from Israel and attract media coverage. Last year’s flotilla ended in bloodshed and diplomatic dispute after Israeli naval commandos were attacked by Turkish activists when they boarded the Mavi Marmara ship.

Israeli soldiers killed nine people but Israel has consistently refused to apologise, saying the soldiers acted in self-defence.

A United Nations report on the incident was due to be released this week, but its publication was postponed to give Israel and Turkey more time to come to an agreement. According to reports neither Israel or Turkey wanted the report released as it recognises Israel’s right to act against such security threats but also criticises Israel for a heavy-handed approach.

Although the negotiations between Israel and Turkey have continued behind the scenes, Turkish leaders are still demanding an Israeli apology.
On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said: “As long as Israel does not apologise, does not pay compensation and does not lift the embargo on Palestine, it is not possible for Turkey-Israeli ties to improve.”

A report in Turkish newspaper Hürriyet said the country is now considering downgrading diplomatic relations with Israel if it does not receive an apology and Erdogan may also visit the Gaza Strip. But despite the diplomatic spat, economic relations between the two countries remain positive and is unlikely to change.

Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, associate professor of international relations at Ankara’s Gazi University, said: “We have seen a decrease in tourism, but the red lines have not been crossed and the US will not let two of its most important allies in the Middle East cross those lines.”

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Dispute over PM keeps Hamas and Fatah apart

However, officials from Hamas and Fatah confirmed the meeting would not take place.
A spokesman for Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that he was unable to take part in the meeting due to other commitments.

But Hamas leaders said the cancellation had come about due to an inability to reach an agreement over the future role of current Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad.

While Fatah would like to see Fayyad reappointed as prime minister, Hamas is firmly opposed to such a move.
A Hamas official said: “The real reason for the delay in the forming and convening of the government is disagreement over Fayyad. President Abbas insists on nominating Fayyad, whose appointment Hamas categorically rejects.
“That has led the two sides to postpone the meeting rather than announce the collapse of the reconciliation.”
Fatah spokesman Azzam al-Ahmed told the media that the meeting had been postponed “in order to assure the best atmosphere for the successful implementation of the reconciliation agreement”.

Ahmed claimed Fatah had asked for a delay “to create the right atmosphere”.
Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads for more than four years, since Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in a violent coup.

Both sides have been pushing for a new agreement to present a unified Palestinian front to the United Nations in September, where Abbas is hoping to get backing for the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
The situation became more complicated on Tuesday after Abbas gave an interview to Lebanese television, where he claimed he had the right to form a new government of his own choosing.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described Abbas’s comments as an “unnecessary media escalation”, but the results of a local survey revealed that a majority of Palestinians support Fayyad as their prime minister.
Some 45 percent of respondents in the poll carried out by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research said they think they would benefit from increased international support if Fayyad was to continue in his role.
According to the survey, only 22 percent of Palestinians back the expected Hamas candidate, Jamal Khoudari.

Meanwhile, a Fatah delegation visited Armenia on Sunday to try and strengthen support for the recognition a Palestinian state.
Nabil Shaath, Fatah’s coordinator for international relations, met with a number of Armenian officials and leaders of political parties.

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Protesters planning fresh asault on Israel’s borders

Organisers of the demonstrations in May on the borders with Lebanon, Syria and Gaza have threatened a repeat of their protests as Palestinians mark the Arab defeats in the 1967 Six Day War this weekend.

The planned “actions” are expected to take place on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday in order to provide “a setback to the occupying entity”.
Last month saw thousands of people march on the borders on what Palestinians call Nakba Day, the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.

One person was killed as the IDF fired on dozens who broke through the fences separating Israel with the Golan Heights. And at least 10 more were killed during protests on the Lebanon border, although Israel has held the Lebanese army responsible for shooting at its own people as demonstrators were dispersed.

Once again, the social networking website Facebook is being used to drum-up support for the demonstrations.
Although a Facebook page entitled “Third Palestinian Intifada” was closed down in March following concerns voiced by Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, a new version soon sprung up encouraging anti-Israel protests.

It is supported by a website with the same name. On both sites pro-Palestinian supporters are asked to mark the “Naksa” (“setback”) days, where Israel defeated the Arab armies 24 years ago, with unarmed rallies.
Fatah commander in Lebanon Munir Maqdah told AFP that the group headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas supports the moves.

“We, who hope to return to our lands in Palestine, are planning a peaceful rally this Sunday at the Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian borders with Israel as well as the Gaza Strip,” he was quoted as saying.

Maqdah said protesters are considering setting up tents at the borders. Anti-Israel rallies are also expected to be held in the West Bank.
In recent weeks the Israeli military has been preparing for possible escalations on the borders, and an increased army presence will be seen in these areas over the weekend and next week.

A defence official told The Jerusalem Post: “The goal is twofold. To prevent infiltrations, and at the same time, to try to ensure there are no casualties on either side.”

According to Ofir Gendelman, the Prime Minister‘s Office spokesman for Arabic media, Israel is ready to use any means necessary” to protect its borders.
“Activity on Facebook calling for people to march on the borders has grown in recent weeks, and there are pages telling people exactly where to go,” he said
“We’re prepared for any eventuality, whether by use of the police, army, or security forces.”

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Iron Domb Halts Rockets From Gaza

While Palestinian terrorists fired some 120 rockets last Friday and Saturday, only nine were in danger of hitting Israel‘s southern communities. Of these nine, eight were blasted out of the sky by the IDF’s Iron Dome, positioned in the cities of Ashkelon and Beersheva.

Army officers warned the system was only on “operational trial” in March. But it proved to be so successful that the government is reported to have ordered four more batteries.

On Sunday, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the system represents “an important achievement”. He added: “It is an achievement for research and development, industry and the air force. The system prevents harm, widens freedom for political action and enables the making of correct decisions.”

The launching of rockets into Israel escalated after an exchange of fire with the IDF which began when a Palestinian rocket hit an Israeli schoolbus last Thursday, injuring the driver but leaving the children unharmed.

Israel responded with waves of bombardment in the Gaza Strip, killing an estimated 19 Palestinians. These included Hamas operative Tayser Abu Snima, who the army said had been involved in “many terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers, including the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and the firing of rockets from Sinai at the city of Eilat”.

But by Monday calm appeared to have been restored in the south of Israel as Palestinian groups said they had agreed to a ceasefire amid fears Israeli army chiefs were considering a ground invasion of Gaza. Israeli army Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz stressed that Israel was willing to hold off on more air attacks if Palestinian rocket fire stopped. “The south is quieter now but we will continue to act accordingly, determinately, with great consideration and using appropriate measures of attack,” he warned.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was quick to blame Israel for the escalation. He said: “The Palestinian factions are defending themselves in the face of Israeli escalation.”

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UN Protest over rocket fire

In response to the Grad rocket fire Israel‘s Air Force bombed targets in Gaza last weekend, followed hours later by a kassam rocket strike on a hydrotherapy centre in Sderot.

On Monday morning five rockets were launched from Egypt‘s Sinai desert, targeting the popular holiday resort of Eilat. There were no casualities in Eilat, but one man was killed and three others injured when one of the devices landed in the nearby Jordanian port of Aqaba.

Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Israel‘s UN envoy in Geneva, said: “The rockets were launched indiscriminately towards Israeli civilians and civilian targets, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity.”

In a complaint to the United Nations Security Council, Israel‘s UN ambassador in New York, Gabriela Shalev, said the Ashkelon attack “seriously violates international law and undermines the peace process”.
Ashkelon, a city with a population of 125,000 residents, is about seven miles from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is naturally opposed to any resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The renewed attacks have been seen as an attempt to scupper attempts to revive the peace process.

Last week Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil warned PA President Mahmoud Abbas against returning to negotiations, saying it would “deepen the divide and put our cause on the brink of collapse”.

The killing of Hamas commander Issa Batran in Friday’s IAF attacks further angered the organisation’s leaders. It was the first such strike on Gaza since the end of the conflict there in January 2009.

The United Nations strongly condemned the Ashkelon attack, with Robert Serry, a spokesman for UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, calling it “terrorism”. He said: “Indiscriminate rocket fire against civilians is completely unacceptable and constitutes a terrorist attack”.

“Violent actions must not be allowed to undermine progress in the ongoing talks between Israel and the Palestinians. We urge all parties to exercise restraint and abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law.”
In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry underlined its right to protect its own citizens. The attack on Ashkelon, it said, had “the clear goal of murdering men, women and children as they prepared for Shabbat”.

The statement continued: “This constitutes a blatant and provocative violation of international law as well as demonstrating the murderous nature of the perpetrators of the attack. Israel will respond to the renewed aggression in a manner and time that it believes appropriat”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I view Hamas as directly responsible for any attack on Israel that originates in the Gaza Strip, and this is how the international community must see things.”

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Flotilla: ‘bullets justified’

Ten members of Israel‘s Shayetet 13 naval unit were also wounded in clashes which broke out after they rappelled on to the ship in order to prevent its attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The incident on 31 May drew widespread international criticism, but while the IDF investigation found there had been operational and intelligence “mistakes”, it praised the soldiers involved for their “bravery and resourcefulness.”

The report was released just days before a Libyan aid ship headed for Gaza was due to arrive in the region.

Although some of those involved in sending the Amalthea to Gaza said the vessel would not be deterred from reaching its destination, others admitted that they would be willing to dock in Ashdod and transfer the aid by land.

“If Israel does not allow the ship into Gaza the group will seek any other appropriate destination to deliver the goods to the people in need,” said Youssef Sawani, executive director of Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which organised the operation.

The Amalthea was believed to be carrying some 2,000 tons of rice, sugar and corn oil along with 15 volunteers, from Libya, Nigeria and Morocco.
Both Israel and the activists have been keen to avoid a repeat of the Marmara incident, which led to so much bloodshed.

Addressing reporters on Monday, former Major General Giora Eiland, who headed the military inquiry, stressed that the commandos “only used force when they were under immediate danger to their lives”, in contradiction to accounts from the activists on board who claimed that they were attacked first.

However, Eiland’s report was critical of the way the army planned the Marmara raid, saying the IDF should have had a “plan B” to put into action once they saw the activists on the ship were arming themselves.

“There were mistakes, also on the high military levels, but they were not the result of negligence,” Eiland said.

The inquiry critcised military intelligence for underestimating the dangers posed by the Turkish Islamic group IHH, which orchestrated events on the Mavi Marmara.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said he was satisfied with the results of the inquiry.

“This type of specialist investigation is part of the foundations of the organisational structure of the IDF as a controlled, transparent body that is able to learn lessons. The aim is to always improve in order to cope with all the challenges we face,” he said.

“We continue to send our soldiers every day into the air, land and the sea to conduct operations that pose a greater risk than that of the raid in question.”

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UK Welcomes Israel’s Flotilla Raid Inquiry

Nine Turkish activists died after Israeli commandos intercepted six vessels attempting to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.

After two weeks of talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that a commission, headed by retired Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel would look into the legality of the blockade of Gaza and of the navy’s actions.

The three-man committee will be joined by two international observers, Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble and Ken Watkin, a former military judge advocate general from Canada.

Although there had been numerous calls for an independent international probe into the flotilla interception, Foreign Minister William Hague was positive about the Israeli decision.

“The announcement by the Government of Israel of an independent public commission into the Gaza Flotilla incident and the appointment of Lord Trimble as an international observer should be welcomed. This is an important step forward,” Hague said.

“Clearly, the commission must provide a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation that the international community can respect.”

The committee was due to meet for the first time yesterday for initial discussions.

Reacting to news of the inquiry, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt told the Jewish News: “The announcement from the Israeli Government is welcome, and we will judge the inquiry on its conduct.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, however, is still believed to be holding out for an international inquiry to be launched on top of the Israeli probe.

Burt stressed that Israeli-British relations had not been damaged by the flotilla incident.

“Our friendship remains strong, and it must be a candid one,” he said. “This tragic event underlines, we believe, that the current Israeli restrictions are counterproductive for Israel‘s long term security.”

And after three years it appeared yesterday that the blockade on Gaza is to be softened somewhat after discussions between Netanyahu and former British prime minister Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy for the quartet of peace negotiators.

On Wednesday, the Israeli security cabinet met to discuss various measures proposed by Blair’s team which will allow certain previously banned goods to be allowed into the Gaza Strip. Blair said he and Netanyahu had agreed in principle to a “significant change” in the way the blockade was implemented, describing the potential easing as “a very important step.”

Meanwhile, the humanitarian aid supplies intended for Gaza which were brought on the flotilla were finally due to be delivered to Gaza this week after they were handed over to the UN.

Hamas had refused to allow the supplies in after they had been seized by Israel.

Even though Israel has warned that it is prepared to continue to intercept any ships attempting to break the blockade by sea, this week Iran was reported to be launching its own flotilla.

However, if the ships are sent to Gaza from Iran, they are expected to be stopped and searched at the Suez Canal and may never reach the Strip at all.

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Day Of Solidarity For Captive Gilad

Shalit was captured in June 2006 during a cross-border raid and has been used as a bargaining chip by Hamas in prisoner exchange talks.
In a display of national solidarity Israelis up and down the country wore white on Tuesday, calling for his release.

Talking about the “Day in White”, which came about after an online Facebook group was launched by a citizen from Be’er Sheva called Ilan Spector.
Noam said: This shows how the solidarity that began with one man’s keyboard has swept the nation.

“I am sure Gilad would be grateful to see this large crowd which has gathered here in Rishon LeZion today, and in many other places throughout the country.
“He would be humbled to see this concrete support and solidarity.”

Noam also labelled the three-minute animated film which first aired on the website of Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigade, as “psychological warfare”.
He said: “Hamas should concentrate on easing the suffering of its own people in the Gaza Strip.”

The film shows a caricature of Noam wandering through deserted Israeli streets beneath billboards of successive Israeli leaders promising to free the soldier. Gilad is eventually returned in a flag-draped coffin just before Noam awakes from the dream and realises he still has time to save his son.

Hamas senior leader Mahmud al-Zahar said the video, “does not express the official position of the Hamas movement.” He added: “We have not and will not kill captive Israeli soldiers.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded the film and its internet release “despicable”.
He added: “It is a reflection of the true character of Hamas. It is yet another despicable action aimed to help the Hamas leadership avoid making a decision regarding our offer for a prisoner swap deal, which it still has not responded to.”

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