NEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Promoting democracy in Israel; war on Hamas

Adalah center says it may seek supranational regime in ‘all historic Palestine’

The Arab minority rights center, Adalah, is considering a proposal calling for a “democratic constitution for a supranational regime in all of historic Palestine,” including the territory of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This constitutes a shift from the proposed Democratic Constitution that Adalah offered as a constitution for Israel.

While it is not clear when this change occurred, Adalah sources said Wednesday that the effort does not aim to do away with Israel or delegitimize its existence.

Adalah announced in its monthly newsletter Wednesday that it seeks to establish a group of international experts, including Palestinians and Israelis, to help “finalize the text of the Democratic Constitution.”

In its proposal for a constitution for all historic Palestine, Adalah points to the European Convention on Human Rights as a model. [complete article]

For Israel’s Arab citizens, isolation and exclusion

Fatina and Ahmad Zubeidat, young Arab citizens of Israel, met on the first day of class at the prestigious Bezalel arts and architecture academy in Jerusalem. Married last year, the couple rents an airy house here in the Galilee filled with stylish furniture and other modern grace notes.

But this is not where they wanted to live. They had hoped to be in Rakefet, a nearby town where 150 Jewish families live on state land close to the mall project Ahmad is building. After months of interviews and testing, the town’s admission committee rejected the Arab couple on the grounds of “social incompatibility.” [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — The difference between Israel and South Africa is that the South African whites took pride in their racism and thus gave it a name and a rationale. Most Israeli Jews on the other hand are too attached to their pluralistic Western image and thus an approach described as ensuring “social compatibility” refuses to accept its real name: apartheid.

Israelis cool to an offer from Hamas on a truce

Officials in the Israeli prime minister’s office reacted coolly on Wednesday to an indirect approach by the Hamas leader in Gaza offering talks on a truce.

The offer was relayed through an Israeli reporter, Sleman al-Shafhe, of Channel 2 television. On a news broadcast on Tuesday night, Mr. Shafhe said Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Hamas government in Gaza, had called him earlier in the day to convey a message to the Israelis.

According to Mr. Shafhe, Mr. Haniya said he had the ability to stop the rocket fire directed at Israel from Gaza, on condition that Israel stopped the killing of Palestinians there and lifted the blockade of Gaza.

Mr. Haniya’s call followed Israeli military strikes that killed at least 10 Palestinians in Gaza between Monday night and Tuesday morning, in a concerted effort to suppress the rocket fire. Eight of those killed were from Islamic Jihad, which has been responsible for most of the recent rocket fire, and included a top commander of the group’s military wing, Israeli officials said. [complete article]

Israeli operations in Gaza meet little resistance in Washington

As Israel stepped up air attacks on Gaza this week, the Bush administration refrained from blocking any measures or criticizing Israel’s activity.

The Israeli Air Force last week renewed the practice known as “targeted killing” against members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza. Israeli officials have said in recent weeks that if rocket fire against Israeli towns is not stopped, further escalation might be imminent, including a full-scale ground incursion into the Hamas-controlled strip.

Administration officials have directed all the blame for the deteriorating situation in Gaza onto Hamas, which seized control of the area in June. Israel, according to diplomatic sources in Washington, was not asked to scale down its actions or to refrain from a ground operation. “I haven’t heard of any red light,” an Israeli official said. The administration’s policy since the recent Annapolis, Md., peace summit entails a two-pronged approach toward the Palestinian Authority. On one hand, Washington will allow Israel to take tough measures against Hamas-ruled Gaza. On the other hand, assistance will be increased to the government of Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. At a December 17 donor conference in Paris, the administration pledged $550 million in aid to Abbas’s P.A., an amount that exceeds any previous American financial assistance to the Palestinians. [complete article]

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