Israel to send call-up papers to Christian Arabs: army radio

JERUSALEM: Israel is to start sending call-up papers to all Christian Arabs of military service age, army radio reported Tuesday, angering Arab lawmakers who accused the government of seeking to divide Christians from Muslims.

Military service will remain voluntary for Israel’s 130,000 Christian Arabs as it is for its more than 1.3 million Muslim Arabs.

But commanders hope that the routine sending out of call-up papers will help boost the numbers volunteering from around 100 a year at present to 1,000, the radio reported.

“Under these new arrangements, they will no longer have to submit their own enlistment request and expose themselves to potential pressure from their Christian coreligionists or from Muslims, who are overwhelmingly hostile to conscription,” the radio said.

An army spokesman had no immediate comment when contacted by AFP.

The reported move came just two months after parliament approved a law giving Muslim and Christian Arabs separate representation on a national employment commission and drew fire from Arab lawmakers.

“The measure was to be expected following the campaign by the Israel right to divide Christians from their own people by encouraging them to think that they are not Arabs,” said Bassel Ghattas, a member of parliament for the communist Hadash party.

He urged Christians who received call-up papers to “send them back or publicly burn them, because the next step could be compulsory military or community service.”

Not all Christian Arabs are opposed to serving in the Israeli army.

Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from the northern city of Nazareth, welcomed the move by the military.

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Israel to send call-up papers to Christian Arabs: army radio

Israel detains Israeli Arab journalist for attending newspaper conference in Lebanon

JERUSALEM Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service says it has detained a young Israeli Arab journalist for traveling to Lebanon, which Israel considers an enemy country.

Majd Kayyal, a 23-year-old journalist for the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, traveled to Beirut last month for a conference.

Although Lebanon bars Israeli citizens from entering, the Shin Bet says Palestinian officials in the West Bank gave Kayyal Palestinian travel documents.

Kayyal was arrested last Saturday at the Israeli border on suspicion of being recruited by a militant organization. The Shin Bet says it dropped that suspicion, and is considering indicting him for traveling to Lebanon.

Kayyal has been held since his arrest without access to a lawyer. The Shin Bet says this is permitted in security cases.

Israel lifted a gag order on the arrest Thursday.

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Israel detains Israeli Arab journalist for attending newspaper conference in Lebanon

Israel, Palestine hold peace talks

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have met US envoy Martin Indyk to try to find a way to extend faltering peace talks, with one Palestinian source calling the discussion ‘difficult’.

The meeting, which had been put off by a day, began in the late afternoon in a Jerusalem hotel, Palestinian sources said on Thursday.

The discussions are ‘very difficult’, one source said.

Israel implied that the delay had been caused by the killing of an Israeli police officer in the West Bank this week, but the Palestinians said the meeting was pushed from Wednesday to Thursday to enable Indyk to take part.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met on their own on Sunday and held a three-way meeting with Indyk a week ago in last-ditch efforts to save the stagnant peace process launched by US Secretary of State John Kerry in July for a period of nine months.

State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said this week that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are striving to reach an agreement to extend the talks beyond their April 29 deadline.

Washington is pushing for an extension but the negotiations hit an impasse two weeks ago when Israel refused to release a group of Palestinian prisoners as agreed at last year’s launch of the talks.

Under the agreement, Israel had committed to free 104 prisoners held since before the 1993 Oslo autonomy accords in four batches, but it cancelled the release of the last group of 26.

Among them are 14 Arab Israelis who the Jewish state is refusing to set free.

The Palestinians retaliated by seeking accession to several international treaties.

Israel, Palestine hold peace talks

Pro-Russian official denies involvement in notice telling Jews to register, aide says

A spokesman for a pro-Russian official whose name was on flyers telling Jews in one restive Ukrainian city to register denied that their organization had any role in the leaflets — and accused pro-Ukrainian groups of orchestrating the controversy.

The leaflets were first reported in Israel’s Ynet News. The news site said the notices were circulating in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, demanding that Jews register — as well as provide a list of property they own — or else face deportation and revocation of citizenship. Pro-Russian activists have asserted partial control over some government buildings in that city.

Ynet reported that the notices, sent as the Passover holiday began, were signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of Donetsk’s temporary government.

But a spokesman for Pushilin told Fox News their organization denies being behind the flyers or distributing them. The spokesman accused pro-Ukrainian groups of circulating them as a false flag operation to cause an international incident.

The reports have caught the attention of U.S. diplomats. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday called the notices “grotesque.”

An Israeli official also told Fox News that the issue was brought to the attention of the Israeli embassy and foreign ministry, though they also presume the leaflets were handed out by local militia members as a kind of provocation. The official said the notices were distributed by masked men.

The notices reportedly were sent to areas where pro-Russian activists have declared the region as a “people’s republic” in defiance of the central Ukrainian government.

While questions circulated about the origin of the flyers, Ynet reported the flyers said that because Jewish community leaders supported a Ukrainian nationalist movement and “oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk,” the interim government has decided: “that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic’s territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register.”

The notices reportedly demand Jews pay a $50 registration fee.

Kerry earlier addressed the flyer reports during a press conference in Geneva, where he and other diplomats are meeting on the crisis in Ukraine.

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Pro-Russian official denies involvement in notice telling Jews to register, aide says

Palestine- Peace negotiators to meet today

(MENAFN – The Peninsula) A meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators scheduled yesterday has been postponed after the killing of an Israeli in a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the session had been rescheduled today at the request of the United States. Washington is struggling to extend the talks, on the verge of collapse, beyond an April 29 deadline for a peace deal.

An Israeli official confirmed the meeting had been delayed but declined to say who asked for the postponement or when teams would reconvene to try to breathe new life into the US-driven peace process.

The killing on Monday of an off-duty police officer and the wounding of his wife in a shooting attack on their car in the West Bank as they drove to a Passover holiday dinner struck an emotional chord in Israel.

It drew calls from members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet to postpone the peace talks, at least until after 47-year-old Baruch Mizrahi’s funeral yesterday.

There was no claim of responsibility for the shooting. But in a statement on Tuesday, Netanyahu said the Palestinian Authority was to blame for anti-Israeli incitement that he alleged led to the attack, and he complained that Abbas had not issued a condemnation.

At a meeting in his West Bank office with a group of Israeli lawmakers yesterday, Abbas “condemned violence and the killing of Palestinians and Israelis”, said Mohammed Al Madani, a member of the Central Committee of Abbas’s Fatah party.

The event was scheduled before Monday’s attack. Abbas has held several meetings in the past with Israeli legislators, mainly members of the opposition in parliament. Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Abbas, told a news conference with the head of the Israeli delegation: “We are against violence and against a return to violence.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry revived the peace talks in July after a nearly three-year hiatus with the aim of ending a decades-old conflict and establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The negotiations plunged into deep crisis this month when Israel refused to carry out the last of four waves of prisoner releases unless it received assurances the Palestinian leadership would continue the talks beyond the April deadline.

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Palestine- Peace negotiators to meet today

Jews pray in Jerusalem after Old City clashes

Thousands of Jews prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday, after a series of clashes at the adjacent flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Ahead of the ceremony, Israeli police blocked access for non-Muslims to the highly sensitive holy site, which is directly above the Western Wall plaza, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. Rosenfeld said the move was to prevent …

Jews pray in Jerusalem after Old City clashes

Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli police at al-Aqsa mosque

Dozens injured by rubber bullets after Jewish visitors allowed into Jerusalem site, revered in Judaism as Temple Mount Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli police that erupted when the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem was opened to Jewish visitors. A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, told AFP that Palestinians threw stones and firecrackers at police when they opened …

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Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli police at al-Aqsa mosque

Israel 'Holding Secret Talks with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait' Says Lieberman

Israel is seeking to establish a diplomatic channel with some Sunni Arab states in the Gulf through secret talks, based on their common hostility towards Iran. That is according to Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who made the hawkish remarks in an interview with newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. If confirmed, this would represent the first diplomatic contact between Israel and countries …

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Israel 'Holding Secret Talks with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait' Says Lieberman

Israel imposes economic sanctions against Palestinians

By Crispian Balmer JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel imposed economic sanctions against the Palestinians on Thursday in retaliation for their leadership signing international conventions, moves that further complicate U.S. efforts to keep peace talks from collapsing before an April 29 deadline. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Jewish state would deduct debt payments …

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Israel imposes economic sanctions against Palestinians

Gaza athlete still running despite West Bank marathon ban

(Repeats fixing typo in headline, no change to text) * Palestine Marathon in its second year * Olympic runner Masri barred for second time * Israel says the run "tainted" and anti-Israel By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA, April 10 (Reuters) – Kicking up dust on the back roads of northern Gaza within sight of the Israeli fence that seals off the enclave, Olympic athlete Nader Al-Masri is still training …

Gaza athlete still running despite West Bank marathon ban

Israel rejects Gazan's plea to run in W. Bank marathon

Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel’s Supreme Court has refused to allow a Palestinian Olympian from the Gaza Strip to take part in a marathon in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli NGO said Tuesday.

Court documents made available by Gisha, an Israeli watchdog that works to facilitate Palestinian freedom of movement, said that Nader al-Masri’s request for permission to transit the Jewish state to join the April 11 Bethlehem marathon did not constitute “a humanitarian case…concerning urgent medical treatment.”

“The petition is denied,” the transcript of Monday’s judgement concluded.

Gisha filed suit in the Supreme Court last week after Masri, who was prevented from participating in the first Bethlehem marathon in 2013, was again refused a crossing permit by the Israeli defence ministry unit responsible for coordinating civilian affairs with the Palestinians.

“At the present time, in view of the current diplomatic-security situation, the entry of residents of the Gaza Strip to Israel is not allowed except in exceptional humanitarian cases, with emphasis on urgent medical cases,” the unit said in a written notification of its refusal.

Gisha says Israeli rules do allow Gazans to attend West Bank “special events sponsored by the (Western-backed) Palestinian Authority.”

In this case, it said, “the Olympic Committee of the Palestinian Authority invited Masri to take part.”

Israel tightened restrictions on Palestinians travelling in and out of Gaza after the Islamist Hamas movement — which is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state — seized power in the coastal strip in 2007.

“Nader Al-Masri is another victim of the ‘separation policy’, the over-reaching, arbitrary and vague decision that, every day, inflicts harm on tens of thousands of Palestinians seeking only to live a full and normal life,” Gisha said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Israel rejects Gazan's plea to run in W. Bank marathon