News Digest — 7/9/21

Supreme Court Upholds Law Recognizing Israel As Nation-State Of Jewish People

Israel’s Supreme Court rejected 15 petitions aimed at repealing the nation-state law on Thursday afternoon (8th), effectively upholding it.

The petitions were aimed at preventing the law, which officially declares Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, from being incorporated into the future official Constitution of Israel, should such a document be created.

The court ruled 9-1 that it did not have the authority to intervene or comment on the content of the law because it was passed by the Knesset as a quasi-constitutional Basic Law.

“The… law… [may be] a chapter in our emerging Constitution, which is intended to anchor the elements of the state’s identity as a Jewish state, without detracting from the elements of the state’s democratic identity enshrined in other basic laws and constitutional principles,” the justices noted.

The sole dissenter, Justice George Karra, argued that the nation-state law could weaken Israel’s status as a democratic state, which would give the Court the authority to rule on it.

Judge Minister and longtime Judicial reform advocate Gideon Sa’ar welcomed the decision, writing on Twitter that “the Court did well in deciding to dismiss the petitions, as there was no ground for intervening in the legislation.”

“The law also does not hurt the individual rights of any Israeli citizen,” he added.

In a statement, Israeli-Arab advocacy group Adalah equated the law enshrining Israel as the home of the Jewish people with policies in Nazi Germany and apartheid-era South Africa.

“It has now been conclusively proven that the High Court does not protect Palestinians from laws that are among the most racist in the world since World War II and the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa,” the group said.

According to NGO Monitor, Adalah’s director-general previously said during an Arabic-language interview that “the law clearly shows how the Israeli regime is a colonial system of apartheid, in violation of the Apartheid Convention, which considers apartheid a crime against humanity.”



Bennett Secretly Meets With Jordanian Monarch

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was welcomed at the royal palace in Amman last week, where he met with King Abdullah II, Walla News reported.  It was the first meeting between the King of Jordan and the Prime Minister of Israel in more than five years.

According to a former Israeli official, the report said the secret meeting, conducted after years of tension between Israel and Jordan, was very positive, and the two leaders agreed to open a new page in relations between their countries. 

Bennett informed the king of his willingness to approve the sale of another water supply from Israel, Walla reported.

The Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the King of Jordan refused to comment on the matter.

However, early Thursday morning (8th), Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with his Jordanian counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safdi, on the Jordanian side of the Allenby Bridge, where they agreed that Israel would sell Jordan an additional 50 million cubic meters of water during 2021, Walla reported.



Israeli NGO Urges UNICEF To Probe Hamas, PIJ For Using Child Soldiers

The Israel-based NGO International Legal Forum (ILF) has called on UNICEF to investigate allegations of Palestinian children being trained as child soldiers in Gaza, following a report by The Jerusalem Post.

The NGO, which is a network of over 3,000 lawyers and activists in over 40 nations worldwide, stated they have “grave concern” following reports that the Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) were training and recruiting children.

Arsen Ostrovsky, director of ILF, told The Post that UNICEF’s ongoing failure to act on this issue is an “unconscionable dereliction of duty in its central mission to protect and defend children’s rights.”

As reported by the Post, Hamas announced in June its annual summer camp, where it trains children to take up arms.

According to Post analyst Seth J. Frantzman, the terrorist group said the youth need to be ready to make “sacrifices,” which appears to be the language used to describe recruiting them to be killed.  The speech by Hamas members said the camps include religious indoctrination and “security” training.

As reported by Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, around 50,000 children had registered at the camp.

UNICEF, the UN agency responsible for humanitarian and developmental aid for children, has stated that recruiting child soldiers violates international humanitarian laws.

“Thousands of children are recruited and used in armed conflicts across the world.  Often referred to as ‘child soldiers,’ these boys and girls suffer extensive forms of exploitation and abuse that are not fully captured by that term,” UNICEF’s website states.

The ILF released a statement including a selection of pictures from the training camp showing children receiving “military terror training” by PIJ and Hamas.

“Hamas and PIJ are committing a war crime under customary and treaty international law as appears in the Rome Statute (Article (b)(xxvi) and Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding the involvement of children in armed conflict, inter alia,” the statement read.

According to International Legal Forum advocate Russell Shalev, “As an organization committed to protecting and defending child rights, it is incumbent upon UNICEF to act immediately and without reservation to prevent the continuation of such atrocities and abuse of children in Gaza, as well as to hold Palestinian terror groups Hamas and PIJ accountable for these heinous crimes.”



PA Orders Palestinian Businesses To Remove Hebrew Signs

Abdullah Kmeil, the Palestinian Authority Governor of the Salfit district in the central West Bank, on Thursday (8th) issued a “strict decision” obligating all commercial installations and shops in the area to remove signs and billboards written in Hebrew.

Kmeil, who is also a senior official with the ruling Fatah faction headed by PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas, ordered the businesses to replace the signs and billboards with ones written in Arabic.

The decision came after many Palestinian businesses in the West Bank, especially those close to the settlements, started hanging signs in Hebrew to attract Jewish clients.

Kmeil gave the businesses one week to comply with the decision, according to the Salfit Governorate Public Relations and Media Department.

Kmeil said that the measure “comes in light of a decision that was taken previously confirming that the occupation is exploiting the signs in Hebrew for purposes that serve its racist and fascist policy.”

He stressed the need for everyone to abide by the decision “as a response to the Israeli policy and the arrogance of the occupation aimed at stealing our lands and obliterating the features of the Palestinian identity in the Salfit Governorate, where settlements are expanding.”

The PA governor warned that anyone who violates his decision will be subjected to strict legal action.

Kneil called on the local authorities and the PA security forces to take immediate action to implement the decision by communicating with the shopkeepers and businessmen, informing them that they need to immediately replace the signs.



Spectacular Second Temple Era Building Unveiled In Jerusalem

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) lifted the curtain on a stunning section of the most impressive Second Temple era building found in Jerusalem.

“This is without doubt one of the most magnificent public buildings from the Second Temple Period that has ever been uncovered outside the Temple Mount walls in Jerusalem,” Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolach, the IAA’s excavation director, stated in a press release on Thursday (8th).

“It was built around 20-30 CE.  The building which apparently stood along a street leading up to the Temple Mount, was used for public functions – it may have even been the city council building where important dignitaries were received before entering the Temple compound and the Temple Mount,” she said.

The walls and fountain were decorated with a sculpted cornice bearing pilasters (flat supporting pillars) topped with Corinthian capitals.  The decorative style of the building is typical of opulent Second Temple Period architecture, the IAA said.  The largest room also featured an ornate water fountain.

The structure will soon be opened to the public as part of a revamped Western Wall Tunnels tour that will include new paths not yet experienced by the public.

According to Mordechai Sol Eliav, chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the new section of the Tunnels Tour will hopefully be open in time for the Hebrew month of Elul, which this year begins in early August.  Elul, the month leading up to the High Holidays, attracts a surge of worshipers to the Western Wall saying penitential prayers known as selichot.