Netanyahus shamelessness is corrupting Israel | Peter Beaumont

Like Trump and Berlusconi, the Israeli leader knows our imperfect democracy is no match for his brazen and disingenuous politics, writes the Guardian correspondent Peter Beaumont

Benjamin Netanyahu: Israeli police recommend indicting prime minister

Attorney general will examine proof and decide whether to indict after police investigation of the cabinet of ministers in two cases

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi’s trial begins behind closed doors

Judge outlaws media from Israeli military court as trial of teen filmed slapping and kicking soldiers starts

Israel launches ‘large-scale’ attack in Syria after fighter jet crashes

Military spokesman says four Iranian targets near Damascus were destroyed in retaliation

Security forces pursue Palestinian after bus stop stabbing of Israeli

Father of four killed near West Bank settlement of Ariel by assailant which continued to on the loose

Israel using tourism to legitimise settlements, says EU report

Exclusive: European Union Heads of Mission warn touristic settlements are being used as a political tool

Netanyahu asks if African infiltrators can be forcibly removed from Israel

PM reportedly orders analyse of new proposal as cabinet meet to approve plan to tell migrants to leave or face indefinite jail

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has reportedly asked officials to examine the feasibility of forcibly deporting thousands of African migrants, in the latest escalation of an anti-migrant campaign.

According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Netanyahu instructed “the member states national” security consultant, Meir Ben Shabbat, to look into forced expulsion as his cabinet satisfied to approve a plan to offer 40,000 people the choice of being deported with a cash pay or being incarcerated indefinitely.

Despite controversy around the existing plan, Netanyahu, following concerns over cost and prison space, asked officials to go a step further and ask if the migrants could be expelled by force- a proposal that would almost certainly be challenged in the courts.

On Tuesday, details were disclosed of a much-criticised scheme starting in April to persuade people to leave through a combination of the threat of prison and the incentive of a cash pay of $3,500.

Most of the migrants in question- largely Sudanese and Eritrean people- arrived in Israel in the second half of the past decades, crossing from Egypt before new security on the border sealed the route.

Many people settled in poor neighbourhoods of south Tel Aviv, inspiring a campaign against them by local Israeli residents, which attracted the purposes of Netanyahu despite at times being heavily coloured by racism.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting that approved the strategy, Netanyahu said the “mission” was ” to deport the illegal infiltrators who entered Israel prior to the construction of the new hurdle with Egypt “.

He said:” Today the cabinet will approve the plan for deporting the infiltrators from Israel. We will step up enforcement and we will apportion budgets and personnel to implement the scheme. I think that it is important that people understand that we are doing something here that is completely legal and altogether essential.

” The infiltrators have a clear selection- cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, respectably, humanely and legally, or we will have to use other tools at our disposal, which are also according to law .”

The plan has been opposed by human rights groups including the Centre for Refugees and Migrants, Amnesty International Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, who recently signed a letter demanding the deportations be halted.” Anyone who has a heart must resist the expulsion of the refugees ,” the letter says.

Referring to a widely reported deal to pay Rwanda $ 5,000 per person to accept the migrants, the groups added:” Rwanda is not a safe place. All the evidence indicates that anyone expelled from Israel to Rwanda determines himself there without status and without rights, exposed to threats, abducts, torture and trafficking .”

The latest move comes amid a rash of right populist moves by Netanyahu’s coalition, which some have suggested is being pursued ahead of expected police recommendations against the Israeli “ministers ” in two corruption cases.

Earlier this week Israel’s Knesset voted to avoid Jerusalem being divided, despite similar legislation already being on the statute books.

Then, in the consequences of the the cabinet session that discussed the fate of the African migrants, Israel’s parliament gave preliminary approval to a bill attaining it easier for “terrorists” to be sentenced to death after Netanyahu said it was necessary in extreme cases.

That proposed legislation involves three more votes in parliament to become law and is being pursued despite the fact the death penalty- although never applied in Israel since the hanging of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann- is also on the statute book.

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Israel to tell African migrants: leave or face indefinite imprisonment

Rights groups condemn plan to return the individuals who entered Israel illegally and who do not have a refugee application pending

Israel is set to inform thousands of Africans who entered the country illegally that they have three months to leave or face indefinite imprisonment.

The decision, opposed by rights groups, follows months of speculation over the future of both the migrants and the Holot detention facility in the Negev desert, which the government says it intends to close.

There has been often heated debate about the presence of around 40,000 African migrants in Israel, many from Eritrea and Sudan.

It is proposed that migrants who do not have a refugee application pending will receive a notice the next time they are obliged to appear at an interior ministry office to renewed their residency permits, telling them to leave Israel or face indefinite imprisonment.

Details of the scheme were disclosed the coming week in a statement by Israel’s interior minister, Arye Deri, and the public security minister, Gilad Erdan. They said the migrants would have” two options merely: voluntary deportation or sitting in prison .”

Critics have pointed out that the option to leave is far from voluntary if the alternative is prison.

It is not clear whether Israel’s supreme court, which has intervened in the migrant issue before, will do so again.

Most of the migrants arrived in Israel in the second half of the past decades, traversing from Egypt before new security on the border sealed the route.

Groups including the Centre for Refugees and Migrants, Amnesty International Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel have signed a letter demanding the expulsions be stopped.” Anyone who has a heart must resist the expulsion of the refugees ,” the letter says.

Referring to a widely reported deal to pay Rwanda $ 5,000 per person to accept migrants, it adds:” Rwanda is not a safe place. All the evidence indicates that anyone expelled from Israel to Rwanda observes himself there without status and without rights, exposed to threats, kidnaps, torture and trafficking .”

Rwanda has said it could take as many as 10,000 people. An investigation by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an NGO, determined people who had already agreed to leave for Rwanda were vulnerable to a number of threats including imprisonment, violence and extortion.

Recently the UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, criticised the emerging plan.” The Israeli government’s decision to expelled 40,000 African asylum seekers is of great concern ,” he said.” Israel has a painful history for migrants and exile. New generations must not forget that refugees do not flee out of choice but because they don’t have any other choice .”

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Death toll rises to 12 in violence after Trump’s Jerusalem recognition

Palestinian health ministry in Gaza reports two demises over the weekend from meanders sustained in clashes with Israeli troops

The Palestinian health ministry in the Gaza Strip has said two men have died from meanders sustained in earlier conflicts with Israeli troops along the border with Israel.

It identified them as Mohammed Dahdouh, 20, who died on Sunday, and Sharif Shalash, 28, who died on Saturday.

Their demises create to 12 the number of Palestinians killed in violence in Gaza and the West Bank since Donald Trump announced the unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on 6 December.

Most of the deaths have occurred in Gaza, where protesters have been clashing with Israeli forces-out along the border fencing. Forces have use teargas and live flame to scatter the crowds.

Among the dead were two Hamas militants killed in an Israeli airstrike that was carried out in response to rocket fire from Gaza.

Q& A

Why is recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital so contentious?

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Of all the issues at the heart of the enduring conflict between Israel and the Palestinians , none is as sensitive as the status of Jerusalem. The holy city has been at the centre of peace-making efforts for decades.

Seventy years ago, when the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was defined as a separate entity under international supervising. In the war of 1948 it was divided, like Berlin in the cold war, into western and eastern sectors under Israeli and Jordanian control respectively. Nineteen years later, in June 1967, Israel captured the eastern side, expanded the city’s bounds and annexed it- an act that was never recognised internationally.

Israel routinely describes the city, with its Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy place, as its” united and eternal” capital. For their part, the Palestinians say East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future independent Palestinian country. The unequivocal international position, accepted by all previous US administrations, is that the city’s status must be addressed in peace negotiations.

Recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sets the US out of step with the rest of the world, and legitimises Israeli settlement-building in the east- considered illegal under international law.

Photograph: Thomas Coex/ AFP

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Donald Trump threatens to cut aid to countries over UN Jerusalem vote

General assembly to vote on rejecting US recognition of city as Israeli capital with Trump warning: Were not going to be taken advantage of any longer

Donald Trump has threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars of US aid from countries which vote in favour of a United Nations resolving rejecting the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

His comments came after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, wrote to about 180 of 193 member states warns that she will be ” taking names” of countries that vote for a general assembly resolution on Thursday critical of the announcement which overturned decades of US foreign policy.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump amplified Haley’s threat.

” Let them vote against us ,” he said.

” We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars ,” he said.” We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer .”

The warning appeared aimed largely at UN members in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are regarded as more vulnerable to US pressure.

Egypt, which drafted Monday’s UN security council resolution which the US vetoed, is particularly vulnerable, receiving $1.2 bn in US aid last year.

But Trump’s comments may also resonate elsewhere- including in the UK, which is hoping to negotiate a quick post-Brexit trade deal with Washington.

The emergency UN general assembly session was called for Thursday to protest against the US veto at Monday’s security council meeting on a resolution the Jerusalem issue- which was supported by all other 14 members.

The security council resolution demanded that all countries comply with pre-existing UN security council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status be decided in direct the talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Key US allies Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Ukraine were among the 14 countries in the 15 -member council that voted in favour on Monday, and were expected to do the same at the general assembly on Thursday.

Diplomats expect strong support for the resolution, which is non-binding, despite the US pressure to either abstain or vote against it. However, a council envoy said Canada, Hungary and the Czech Republic might bow to US pressure and not support the draft resolution.

Critics point out the the Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem- as well as the US veto- are both in opposition to numerous security council resolutions.

Trump’s extraordinary intervention marked the most recent escalation of diplomatic tensions over a decision that has watched the US widely criticised and isolated. It came after a day of high drama.

In a letter to UN ambassadors, Haley told countries- including European delegations- that she will report back to the US president with their lists of those who support a draft resolution rejecting the US move at the UN general assembly on Thursday, adding that Trump took the questions personally.

The new draft resolution for Thursday’s general assembly is very similar to Monday’s defeated security council resolution. Unlike the security council, however, where permanent members can wield the right of veto, there are no veto rights in the general assembly.

The resolution reaffirms 10 resolutions of the security council on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

It” asserts that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be repealed “.

The draft resolution” demands that all states comply with Security Council resolvings regarding the holy city of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions “.

Referring to Haley’s letter, which was disclosed by the Guardian and other media organisations on Wednesday morning, Trump said:” I like the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations.

” Our great citizens who love this country are tired of this country being taken advantage of- we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer .”

In her letter, Haley wrote:” As you hold your referendum, I promote you to know the president and the US take this referendum personally.

” The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on the individuals who voted against us ,” she continued.

Haley followed the letter by tweeting:” At the UN we’re always is necessary to do more& dedicate more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our selection. The US will be taking names .”

Q& A

Who is on the United Nation security council?

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The council is composed of 15 members. There are five permanent members 😛 TAGEND

* China
* France
* Russia
* United Kingdom
* United States

There are also 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year words by the UN general assembly. The current non-permanent members are listed below( aim of word date in brackets ):

* Bolivia( 2018)
* Egypt( 2017)
* Ethiopia( 2018)
* Italy( 2017)
* Japan( 2017)
* Kazakhstan( 2018)
* Senegal( 2017)
* Sweden( 2018)
* Ukraine( 2017)
* Uruguay( 2017)

Photograph: Xinhua/ Barcroft Images/ Barcroft Media

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Responding to the US threats, the Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, and the foreign minister of Turkey- a co-sponsor of the UN vote- Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport that they believed UN member countries will ignore “pressure” from Haley.

” No honest nation would bow to such pressure ,” Cavusoglu said.

” The world has changed. The belief that’ I am strong therefore I am right’ has changed. The world today is revolting against injustices .”

A senior diplomat from a Muslim country said of Haley’s letter:” Countries resort to such blatant bully only when they know they do not have a moral or legal debate to persuade others .”

A senior western diplomat, described it as” poor tactics” at the United Nation” but pretty good for Haley 2020 or Haley 2024″, referring to speculation that Haley might run for higher office.

” She’s not going to win any elections in the general assembly or the security council, but she is going to win some elections in the US population ,” the western diplomat said.

A senior European envoy agreed Haley was unlikely to sway many UN states.

” We are missing some leadership here from the US and this type of letter is definitely not helping to establish US leadership in the Middle East peace process ,” the diplomat said.

The tabling of the resolution followed a weekend of negotiations aimed at securing the widest consensus possible on the issue. The vote has underlined is again the widespread international opposition to the US move, even among some of its closest allies.

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