WASHINGTON (JTA) — A law passed by Israel’s government yesterday has sparked a strong rebuke from the Biden administration, words of caution from some of Israel’s strongest supporters in the Senate — and damage control from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The new law repeals a portion of Israel’s 2005 disengagement, in which it withdrew settlers and troops from the entirety of the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the northern West Bank. While much of Israel and the world focused on the evacuation from Gaza, opponents of the decision have committed themselves primarily to securing a return to the West Bank settlements. The vote on Tuesday allowed settlers to do just that — making it once again legal for Israelis to enter the sites where the West Bank settlements once stood.
That led to one of the Biden administration’s most lacerating criticisms of Israel’s new right-wing government. On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said the law was “particularly provocative and counterproductive” and would not be “consistent” with Israel’s commitment to the United States.
“The U.S. strongly urges Israel to refrain from allowing the return of settlers to the area covered by the legislation, consistent with both former Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon and the current Israeli government’s commitment to the United States,” Patel said.
In another sign of the Biden administration’s attitude toward the law, Israeli ambassador Michael Herzog was summoned to discuss it with the deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman — a rare move that indicates displeasure.
Netanyahu responded to that condemnation on Wednesday by asserting that the law was purely symbolic. The vote “brings to an end discriminatory and humiliating legislation that prevented Jews from living in areas of the northern West Bank,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said, according to the Times of Israel. “However, the government has no intention of building new communities in these areas.”
The United States warning Israel that it is running the risk of its “commitment” to its closest ally is unusually strong language, and suggests that the Biden administration would see the rebuilding of the settlements as a major rift.
The drama follows a recent commitment by Israel to hold off on settlement expansion. Earlier this week, Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to cooperate on stemming a recent escalation of violence in the West Bank. As part of that agreement, Israel pledged to suspend settlement planning for six months. The summit where the agreement was reached was also attended by U.S., Jordanian and Egyptian officials.
The law allowing settlers to return to the area in the northern West Bank is one of a battery of far-reaching changes Netanyahu’s new government is hoping to push through. Most prominent among those plans is legislation to sap the courts of their independence, which has sparked massive, frequent protests in Israel’s streets and criticism from President Joe Biden and a range of other public figures.
Netanyahu is leading a coalition with far-right partners in senior roles, and his largest coalition partner, the Religious Zionist Party, strongly supports massive settlement expansion. On Tuesday, Orit Strock, a member of the party who serves as a minister in Netanyahu’s government, said she believes Israelis will one day resettle Gaza as well.
“How many years it will take, I don’t know,” she said in a television interview. “Very unfortunately, the return to the Gaza Strip will also involve many victims, just as leaving the Gaza Strip involved many victims. But there’s no doubt that at the end of the day, the Gaza Strip is part of the Land of Israel, and the day will come when we will return to it.”
Israeli-Palestinian relations — already tense since a sequence of Palestinian terrorist attacks over the past year and Israeli army raids on Palestinian population centers — have intensified since Netanyahu’s government was sworn in in December. This week’s summit was a bid to stem the violence ahead of a holiday season that includes the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian holiday of Easter, when tensions in Israel and the West Bank have led to violence in previous years.
On Tuesday, some of Israel’s best friends among Democrats in Congress sent the Netanyahu government a message, urging it to abide by this week’s agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
“As we enter the holy month of Ramadan and prepare to celebrate both Passover and Easter, such de-escalation is crucial,” said the statement signed by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, among them Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland, two of Israel’s fiercest Democratic defenders. “Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live with security and in safety, enjoying equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and dignity. We remain committed to supporting a negotiated two-state solution.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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