Tuesday, 26. March 2019

Syrian-Druze residents of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights took to the streets on Saturday, March 23, to protest US President Donald Trump’s pledge to recognize Israel’s sovereignty there.

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy, and longstanding international consensus, when he posted a Tweet on Thursday, March 21, in which he wrote that it was time to accept Israel’s widely contested claim of sovereignty over the strategic plateau.

Israeli authorities announced, on Tuesday, March 19, that a security closure will be imposed on the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip for a period of four days bracketing the Jewish festival of Purim (Thursday and Friday of this week). The four-day closure, to be imposed only on Palestinians from the territories, but not on Israelis traveling to an from these areas, started at midnight local time between Tuesday and Wednesday and will end at midnight between Saturday and Sunday).

Communist candidate Dr. Ofer Cassif, today said he believes the decision to ban him from participating in the upcoming general election is fueled by the right-wing’s desire to eliminate Jewish-Arab cooperation.

Speaking to Middle East Monitor, Cassif said the Central Elections Committee deliberately targeted him in its decision to ban him from contesting the upcoming election on April 9 because of the potential for Jewish-Arab cooperation that his candidacy represents. “Of course the main victims of the right-wing’s policy are the Palestinian citizens of Israel,” he explains, “but civil society, the media, the courts and academia are also coming under attack by the fanatic right-wing.”

“Israel’s Central Elections Committee is a political body that operates in overt contradiction of the law and court rulings in order to humiliate Arab candidates,” said Atty. Hassan Jabareen, general director of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Jabareen was responding to the committee’s disqualification last Wednesday, March 6, of leading Communist activist, Dr. Ofer Cassif, from the Hadash-Ta’al list, as wells as its barring the entire National Democratic Assembly (Balad) – United Arab List (Ra’am) from running in the April 9 parliamentary elections in Israel.

A week after the Attorney General’s decision to indict far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, several surveys conducted by the Israeli media indicate a reversal in the neck and neck race between the blocs, with 61 seats now predicted for the center and left, as opposed to 59 for the right.

The Knesset’s Central Election Committee voted on Wednesday, March 6, to disqualify from participating in the upcoming April 9 general elections the combined Arab slate of Balad-United Arab List. While the committee approved the participation of the Hadash-Ta’al ticket in the elections, it did however decide to bar one candidate from this alliance from running, leading Communist activist Dr. Ofer Cassif who was positioned in the fifth place for this list. In doing so the committee rejected the opinion of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit who opposed disqualifying any of the lists or candidates submitted by the various political parties last month.

On Friday, March 8, a march will be held in Haifa to commemorate and express solidarity with International Women’s Day. The march and rally afterwards are being sponsored by The Democratic Women’s Movement of Israel (Tandi) and Hadash – The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality. In the invitation to the public issued by the sponsors, they write that the event will be “spearheaded by the brave women who dare to stand up to injustice and against discrimination and who demand respect, recognition and equality for women.” Participating in the rally will be Lamis Faraj (Tandi), MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash), the head for the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, feminist activist Dror Sadot, Adel Amer, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Israel (CPI); author Lilach Weber, and others.

Israel’s attorney general rejected on Tuesday, March 5, three petitions aimed at disqualifying political parties from running in the April elections. Two petitions had been submitted to bar Hadash and Arab parties from contending in the race and one sought to bar far-right racists from joining a right wing merger.

An Israeli military court sentenced 19-year-old soldier Roman Levin to 30 days in prison last Tuesday, February 26, for refusing to continue to serve in the army because of his opposition to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. At the conclusion of his hearing, Levin was taken to Military Prison 6 near Atlit where he is currently incarcerated.

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