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Amona Windfall, Russian Ambassador Killed, Israelis Help Syrians


Israel Reaches Agreement to Relocate Amona Settlers

Isabel Kershner, New York Times, December 19th 2016

Recap:

Amona residents agreed to relocate their homes to an adjacent plot of land in exchange for $35 million from the Israeli government [1]. The deal narrowly averted a forced evacuation that many feared would turn violent.

The Context:

  • Israel captured the West Bank in 1967 following a decisive victory in a defensive war. Roughly 430,000 settlers now live in the territory [2].

  • Amona, established in 1995 and consisting of 42 Orthodox Jewish families, is considered illegal by the Israeli government since it is built on private Palestinian land however, since its inception, Amona has received material support from Israel in the form of water, electricity & roads [3].

  • Last month, the Israeli High Court upheld a decision that Amona be destroyed on December 25th [4]. Amona residents ultimately opted to “suspend the struggle" and accept the $35 million offer to resettle [5].

  • Peace Now, the Israeli human rights group that petitioned for Amona’s demolition, slammed the government for succumbing to “crime and threats [6].”

  • Last week, President Elect Donald Trump nominated David Friedman, an ardent supporter of Israel and benefactor of settlements in the West Bank, as US ambassador to Israel. The move bolstered Israel’s conservative lawmakers into increased settlement and annexation rhetoric [7].

Conversation Points:

  • Does the Amona deal reward lawlessness and set an expensive precedent for future evacuations?

  • Did state support for Amona send resident’s mixed signals about the legality of their town?

  • Would Israel offer similar deals to Israeli Arabs or Druze illegally inhabiting private land?

Russian ambassador assassinated by Turkish off-duty officer in Ankara

Jerusalem Post, December 19th 2016

Recap:

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was killed by an off duty Turkish officer who shouted "God is great & do not forget Aleppo!" The assassination comes at a time of tense Turkish-Russian relations.

The Context:

  • Andrey Karlov started his career as a diplomat in 1976 and served as Russia’s ambassador to Pyongyang from 2001 to 2006 [8]. He was assigned Ambassador to Turkey in 2013 [9].

  • Russia and Turkey are at opposite spectrums in the Syrian civil war. Turkey is a staunch opponent of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the inheritor of nearly 2 million Syrian refugees. Russia militarily supports the Assad government and is widely credited for tilting the war back in Assad’s favor. Russian-Turkish relations reached a low point in 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian military jet.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to jointly investigate the killing [10]. The assassination comes days after mass Turkish protests criticizing Russia’s support for the Syrian regime [11].

  • Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey returned to Ankara this month after years of estrangement following an IDF and Turkish militant altercation. Israeli-Russian economic and military ties are also on the upswing.

Conversation Points:

  • What long term implications might the assassination present to the Russian-Turkish relationship?

  • Can the assassination actually bring Russia and Turkey closer together in a shared fight against terrorism?

  • What consequences might a soured Russian-Turkish relationship have for Israel?

Israelis raise $100k in two days to aid Syrian kids

Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, December 18th 2016

Recap:

An Israeli campaign to bring emergency supplies to Syrians raised $100,000 in two days. The aid is geared toward helping Syrian children.

The Context:

  • The “Just Beyond the Border” initiative has seen thousands of Israelis purchase goods such as blankets, jackets, medicine and food that will be delivered directly to Syrians.

  • The campaign comes in response to the brutal battle for Aleppo, which has been decimated by heavy shelling. The war has killed upwards of 300,000 people.

  • This week, IDF Doctors penned a letter to IDF Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eisenkot imploring Israel to no longer remain passive to the "indiscriminate slaughter" taking place in Syria [12]. While Israel has provided humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians and rebels alike, it has stopped short of military intervention and opening its borders to Syrian refugees.

  • This weekend, hundreds of Israelis are expected to form a human chain between the Russian and US embassies to protest the civilian massacres in Syria [13].

Conversation Points:

  • Is worldwide apathy to the Syrian civil war similar to worldwide apathy during the Holocaust?

  • Should Israel engage more actively in the Syrian civil war?

  • What is our responsibility to help the Syrian people?

Notes:

  1. Amona Settlers Who Flouted Law Get $35M Windfall From Israel, Naomi Zeveloff, Forward, December 19th 2016

  2. Jewish Settlers Agree to Leave Amona Outpost in West Bank, Rory Jones, Wall Street Journal, December 18th 2016

  3. Amona’s precedent, Jerusalem Post, December 19th 2016

  4. Amona Settlers Who Flouted Law Get $35M Windfall From Israel, Naomi Zeveloff, Forward, December 19th 2016

  5. Israeli settlers agree to leave illegal Amona outpost, Al Jazeera, December 18th 2016

  6. Amona Settlers Who Flouted Law Get $35M Windfall From Israel, Naomi Zeveloff, Forward, December 19th 2016

  7. Jewish Settlers Agree to Leave Amona Outpost in West Bank, Rory Jones, Wall Street Journal, December 18th 2016

  8. Russian ambassador to Turkey assassinated by policeman, Times of Israel, December 19th 2016

  9. Russian Ambassador to Turkey Is Assassinated in Ankara, Tim Arango and Rick Gladstone, New York Times, December 19th 2016

  10. Ibid.

  11. Ibid.

  12. Israeli army reserve doctors demand to be sent to treat wounded Syrians, Emily Gatt, i24 News, December 19th 2016

  13. Ibid.


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