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Bulgaria Closes Workers Camp in Israel over Poor Conditions

Bulgarian Workers Camp in Israel to Close over Poor Conditions: Bulgaria Closes Workers Camp in Israel over Poor Conditions
The CEO of the Bulgarian Employment Agency, Kameliya Lozanova.

Bulgarian construction workers will be no longer accommodated in temporarycamps in Israel and in poor living conditions.

The statement was made Saturday by the CEO of the Bulgarian Employment AgencyKameliya Lozanova, addressing reports that Bulgarian workers, sent toIsrael under and inter-government agreement, live in deplorable conditions.

A quota of 3 500 workers was negotiated at the beginning of 2012 over the massconstruction of residential buildings in Israel and the reputed skills of Bulgarians. Under the agreement, the latter have the right to stay in Israel for no longer than one year and must be paid at least USD 1 500 a month.

It emerged at the end of December 2012, that about 50 of these workers have been accommodated in a temporary camp and the conditions were unbearable. Some of them even complained that there were discrepancies between the promised type of work and the one provided in reality.

Lozanova says the workers would be moved by January 18, and the camp closed. She noted accommodations in temporary camps are admissible under the agreement, but only in extreme situations such as military attacks.

The Employment Agency CEO stated the authorities in Israel were investigating the employers who have hired the Bulgarian workers on suspicions of violating labor legislation and the inter-government agreement.

750 Bulgarian workers are already in Israel under the agreement and another 50 are departing on January 14.

Lozanova noted that some of them did not have the qualifications to beconstruction workers and were sent as general help, adding the complaint, most likely, came from them. She was firm no one has left without a signed labor contract.

Employers from Israel are quoted saying a few of the Bulgarians were left without work temporarily, but this would not reflect on their pay.

According to Lozanova, all Bulgarians would receive full salaries for the time spent inIsrael regardless of having or not having work to do.

Representatives of the governments of the two countries will meet on February 5 to approve additional guarantees for Bulgarian workers in Israel.

(www.novinite.com / 12.01.2013)

Israeli forces shoot, kill worker south of Hebron

An Israeli security officer fires a tear gas canister during clashes with stone-throwers in Hebron December 6, 2012.

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian worker on Saturday who was attempting to cross into Israel, Israeli medical sources said.

Uday Kamil Muhammad Darwish, 21, was attempting to cross the border in an area south of Hebron when he spotted an Israeli military patrol and began to run away.

Darwish, from Dura, worked in Israel but did not have a permit.

He was shot in the back by Israeli soldiers and evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, Israeli medical sources said.

Initial reports said that Darwish was injured after falling over while trying to escape.

Israeli sources said that the army has opened an investigation into the incident.

(www.maannews.net / 12.01.2013)

Israel PM Blocks Roads to Palestinian Tent Site

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has closed roads leading to a West Bank site in preparation to evacuate Palestinians who pitched tents there to protest plans to build a Jewish settlement.

Netanyahu’s office said Saturday the state is petitioning the Supreme Court to rescind an earlier injunction blocking the evacuation.

In the meantime, he ordered the area declared a closed military zone and shut off access.

Palestinian activists erected tents in the area known as E-1 on Friday saying they wanted to “establish facts on the ground” to stop settlement building.

Critics say E-1 would be a major blow to Palestinian statehood hopes as it blocks east Jerusalem from its West Bank hinterland. Palestinian want these areas, along with Gaza, for the future state.

(abcnews.go.com / 12.01.2013)

Israel moves to shut down E1 protest, activists vow to remain

A flag hangs on a newly-erected tent as a Palestinian activist secures a rope, in an area known as E1, near Jerusalem January 11, 2013.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces moved to shut down protest tents in the E1 area of East Jerusalem on Saturday as Palestinian activists vowed to remain on the land.

Israel’s military handed evacuation orders to activists in the Bab al-Shams, or ‘Gate of the Sun’, protest village on Saturday, stating that the military intends to move protestors by force, local activist Abdullah Abu Rahma said.

Israel’s military has also prevented activists from neighboring areas access to the protest village since Friday.

“We only have our determination, and it will not be easy to expel us from our homes. We will use our experience and skills to remain on the land,” Abu Rahma said.

Palestinian activists erected over 25 tents and a medical center in the E1 area of East Jerusalem on Friday to protest Israeli settlement plans and protect Palestinian land from annexation.

Senior Fatah official Saeb Erekat said during a meeting Saturday that the Bab al-Shams protest movement is attempting to save the two-state solution at a time when Israel is determined to build settlements and undermine the very principles of two states.

PLO leader Hanan Ashrawi also praised the activists for their “highly creative and legitimate non-violent tool” to protect Palestinian land, saying she fully supported and encouraged non-violent popular resistance against Israeli occupation.

“What is happening at Bab al-Shams is a reminder of the apartheid regime that Israel has imposed for the exclusive use of land for Jewish Israeli settlers all over Palestine,” Ashrawi added.

Abu Rahma told Ma’an on Saturday that it would take at least 800 Israeli soldiers to remove the 200 or so activists from the site, adding that activists would try to remain steadfast.

Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud al-Aloul told Ma’an that the Bab al-Shams protest village was a “bold move” by activists, adding that the popular resistance seeks to install a permanent village on the land, which is part of the Palestinian state.

Leading activist Salah al-Khawaja said that the group is determined to stay on the land. “This is Palestinian land, it is our right to build our villages on our land whenever we like. We will not accept displacement and we will stay,” he said.

In December, Israel announced plans to build some 3,000 settler homes in the E1 corridor near Jerusalem, drawing widespread international condemnation.

Britain, France and several other European countries summoned Israeli envoys to protest the plan, while President Mahmoud Abbas called the E1 area “a red line that cannot be crossed.”

Construction in E1 would divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state – as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – almost impossible.

(www.maannews.net / 12.01.2013)

Shia-Sunni conflicts plotted by Islam enemies: Iran FM

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (R) and the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb meet in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on January 10, 2013.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (R) and the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb meet in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on January 10, 2013.
“Enemies have made great efforts during recent years to cause a rift among Muslims and also to intensify it.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi” 

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says the so-called issue of divide between Shia and Sunni Muslims is a plot hatched by the enemies of Islam.

In a meeting with the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb in Cairo on Thursday, Salehi also called on Muslims to avoid conflicts and rely on commonalties instead.

“Enemies have made great efforts during recent years to cause a rift among Muslims and also to intensify it,” he added.

Salehi invited the Sheikh of Al-Azhar to visit Iran to hold talks with Iranian clerics and observe the peaceful coexistence of Shia and Sunni Muslims in the Islamic Republic.

Al-Tayeb, for his part, urged Muslims to foster unity and said enemies should not be allowed to achieve their objectives to create conflicts in the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with Patriarch of Egypt’s Coptic Christians Pope Tawadros II, the Iranian minister highlighted the significance of peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians.

Pope Tawadros, for his part, said Iran has a historical civilization and followers of different religions, including Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and Muslims, have had a brotherly coexistence in the country.

Salehi wrapped up his day-long visit to Egypt and arrived in Tehran early on Friday.

During his Cairo trip, the Iranian minister held talks with senior Egyptian officials, including President Mohamed Morsi and Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr on Thursday.

Salehi also exchanged views with UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi on the latest developments in the region and the Syrian unrest in particular.

The Iranian minister began his tour of African countries on Saturday and visited Benin, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

(www.presstv.ir / 12.01.2013)

Maryland state officials to speak at conference featuring anti-Muslim blogger Pam Geller

Geller at 9/11 Conference

Pamela Geller speaks at a September 11, 2012 conference

Four Maryland state officials are coming under fire from a Muslim civil rights group for agreeing to speak at a conservative conference this weekend alongside leading anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller. The event, titled the “Maryland Conservative Action Network Conference,” will feature Geller speaking on “free speech” on Saturday.

Geller, an ardent right-wing Zionist, is the nation’s leading anti-Muslim activist and blogger. She is behind the new set of Islamophobic advertisements that recently went up in the New York City subway system.

The conference is being organized by the Maryland Conservative Action Network, which “was created to bring together conservative activists from around Maryland into a unified force to effect real change to one-party rule in the State of Maryland,” as their website puts it.

The Republican officials appearing at the conference alongside Geller are: Nic Kipke, a Maryland delegate; Neil Parrott, another Maryland state delegate; Richard Rothschild, the Carroll County Commissioner; and Blaine Young, Frederick County Commissioner. They are each giving talks on varied topics, like the “war on the suburbs” and the “war on jobs.”

But when the Maryland branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) caught wind that Maryland state officials would be appearing alongside Geller, they sprung into action. CAIR-MD is calling on the state officials to withdraw from the conference.

“Take action now by urging Maryland State Delegates Nic Kipke and Neil Parrott and County Commissioners Richard Rothschild and Blaine Young to withdraw from this conference,” a CAIR action alert reads. “Tell them that their appearance with a anti-Muslim hate group leader would be a disservice to their constituents and bring disrepute to their offices.” Listed in the action alert is some of Geller’s more distasteful actions, like her bragging online that she has used the Quran as a doorstep and drawings posted on her blog that depict the Prophet Muhammad with a pig on his head.

CAIR is organizing a protest outside the event on Saturday. But so far, it appears that the Maryland state officials targeted by the Muslim civil rights group are holding steady, and will attend the conference alongside Geller. I put in phone calls to all four of their offices and left messages with their staffers, but nobody called back for comment.

Kipke, a Republican delegate, told the Maryland Capital Gazette that he would not boycott the conference. “I don’t know Ms. Geller personally,” he told the publication. “What I do know about her is that she has pointed out gross atrocities that occur in some Muslim countries against women.” Kipke added: “I’m sure these folks have a beef with her because she doesn’t speak in politically correct terms. But when it comes to an issue as important as human rights you need someone who bangs the drum.”

A CAIR-MD representative quoted in the story, Former Montgomery County Del. Saqib Ali, fired back at his former colleague’s defense of Geller, calling it “despicable.”

“Everybody knows who Pam Geller is,” said Ali. “Kipke knows this, because I sent him an email. To pretend that this is some respected human rights advocate is beyond the pale.”

Geller celebrated the fact that Kipke rejected CAIR’s call with a blog post on her website. “You wouldn’t think you’d have to applaud an elected official for standing in defense of freedom but in the low state of the world it is a rare man who does. Del. Nicholaus Kipke is such a man,” she wrote.

The fact that Geller is being welcomed by elected officials raises questions about her ability to court Republican politicians. Despite the fact that the organization Geller leads was labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, she continues to have ties to the Republican Party. Geller was close to Adam Hasner, a Florida Republican who recently lost an election for a House seat. Her name also popped up in the course of an ethics investigation of an Alaska Republican aide who allowed a Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) activist to use state resources. SIOA is headed up by Geller. The aide, Karen Sawyer, allowed anti-Muslim activist David Heckert to use her personal laptop and and Internet card, and the aide herself used state equipment to plan events for SIOA, according to Alaska’s House Subcommittee Of The Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.

The aide’s boss, Alaskan state Rep. Carl Gatto, pushed an anti-sharia bill in Alaska.

(mondoweiss.net / 11.01.2013)

Settlement expansion in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone

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Aerial view of Mishor Adumim

During the last four years Corporate Watch have made numerous visits to thesettlement industrial zone of Mishor Adumim with the aim of documenting the companies working there.  We have also been highlighting the impact the expansion of the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim is having on the Palestinian communities living in the area and tried to contextualise the information to inform international BDS action. One of the biggest companies trading from Mishor Adumim is the Israeli carbonated drinks manufacturersSodaStream. The company has met with pressure from the international BDS movement for a number of years as a result of their occupation profiteering.

On January 12th 2013 we went back to see if there have been any new developments in the zone and this is what we found.

Despite the fact that more and more businesses are moving out of the settlement industrial zones there were signs of three areas of expansion around the Mishor Adumim industrial zone. This kind of expansion is common in the industrial zones even when it is not profitable, as it is an effective way of controlling land. Ma’ale Adumim is one of the most quickly expanding settlements in the West Bank  and integral for Israel’s plans to create a greater Jerusalem area, separating the West Bank from East Jersualem.

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Land being cleared to the South-West of Mishor Adumim

A large area in the south west part of the industrial zone is in the process of having land cleared and flattened, creating a new space for possible new factories to be built. The construction machinery being used to carry out this work that we noticed was made by Caterpillar and Liebherr.

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Caterpillar working in Mishor Adumim

Liebherr machinery in Mishor Adumim

Liebherr machinery in Mishor Adumim

On the southern side of the industrial zone are several buildings which have not been noted on our previous visits and which seemed new. They looked like they were still empty and had a sign in Hebrew which appeared to be inviting enquiries. There was a JCB digger working near this land.

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Empty buildings in Mishor Adumim

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JCB working in Mishor Adumim settlement industrial zone.

On the eastern side of the entrance there was a large new building which was currently under construction. There was no sign of any company name on any of the buildings yet, but the size suggests that this one might be one to watch.Manitou machinery was seen working on the new structure.

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Big new factory under construction in Mishor Adumim settlement industrial zone.

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The inside of the new building in Mishor Adumim.

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Manitou machinery working on a new settlement building in Mishor Adumim

Examples of previous Corporate Watch articles on the issue of Mishor Adumim and SodaStream can be found here:

Occupation Industries: The Israeli Industrial Zones

Dear Corporation -A Response to SodaStream

There is also a comprehensive section on the Mishor Adumim industrial zone in our book Targeting Israeli Apartheid: A Boycott Divestment and Sanctions handbook

(corporateoccupation.org / 11.01.2013)

Official: Settlers destroy over 200 olive trees in Nablus

A woman inspects olive trees damaged by settlers near Nablus.

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Settlers destroyed over 200 olive trees in a Nablus village on Friday, an official said.

Dozens of settlers from the illegal outpost of Esh Kodesh raided the village of Qusra early Friday and uprooted at least 210 olive trees, settlement monitoring official Ghassan Daghlas told Ma’an.

The trees were owned by Gamal Abdel-Aziz, Abdul Hassan, Abdul Ahmed and Noman Abu.

The village of Qusra has been subject to several violent attacks in recent weeks by settlers from nearby outposts.

On Thursday, settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost fired on Palestinians in the village, shooting Samer Masameer, 26, in the leg.

Last Saturday, settlers raided the village, firing live ammo into the air, and some days earlier had uprooted more than 190 olive trees. Several residents of the village were assaulted, and homes and a tractor were also damaged in the raid.

The Nablus region of the West Bank experiences a particularly high rate of settler attacks, with settlements and Palestinian villages in close proximity to one another.

Settler attacks on Palestinian communities and their property are systematic and rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

All Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law.

(www.maannews.net / 11.01.2013)

Settlers attack Urif and Qusra with guns, knives and stones

As the villages around Nablus woke up to the rare scene of a snow-covered landscape, Israeli settlers violently attacked groups of youngsters playing with snow in the villages of Urif and Qusra. Two people were both hit in the leg by live bullets fired from settlers’ guns and six people were hospitalized because of rubber-coated steel bullets shot by the Israeli army.

In Urif, a group of thirty-five settlers came down the hills from the nearby Yizhar illegal settlement and attacked youth engaged in a snow-battle. One settler, who was carrying a sword, went to slash one of them but was stopped in time by the villagers. Other settlers started shooting live bullets and attacked two houses, smashing their windows. Shortly after the attack started the Israeli army also came down the hills, openly protecting the settlers from people that were gathering to defend their village. International human-rights activists that arrived in Urif saw settlers throwing stones and filmed them uprooting olive trees while the Israeli army shot tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, preventing the activists and villagers from approaching the settlers. As the attack went on, settlers again opened fire on people from Urif and hit one young person in the leg. Five other persons were taken to hospital because of injuries sustained from rubber-coated steel bullets shot by the Israeli military.

A similar scenario occurred in the village of Qusra, with settlers from the Esh Kodesh and Qida illegal settlements attacking at the same time the attack in Urif was underway, thus raising the possibility that these were coordinated attacks. Fifteen settlers gathered on the hill overlooking Qusra and five of them, three of whom were armed with guns, went down to the village. The five settlers first headed to one of the homes on the edge of the village, previously targeted in a number of other assaults. As youth who were playing with snow went running to defend the home, settlers started shooting at them with their M-16 guns. 21-year-old Ammar was hit in the leg after the bullet passed through the mobile phone in his pocket. Settlers continued shooting at friends of Ammar who were trying to carry him away from the scene. He is currently in hospital and will have to undergo surgery because of the wound caused by the bullet.

In the meantime, dozens of Israeli soldiers started gathering on the hills, while settlers went around fields breaking olive trees. Only this morning a total of 188 olive trees were destroyed, with some of the trees having up to 20 years-worth of toil invested in them. When villagers from Qusra went to confront the settlers in the act they were met by tear-gas and rubber-coated steel bullets fired by the Israeli army positioned on top of the hills; resulting in one person being hospitalized, after a hit by a rubber-coated steel bullet in the leg.

Settlers and soldiers’ attacks are nothing new for both Urif and Qusra. Urif has been struck almost daily in the past month and a half, as settlers attacked the school and homes at the outer part of the village. This is often followed by soldiers’ incursions into the village, routinely shooting huge amounts of tear-gas in the streets and houses of Urif. Twenty women suffered miscarriages because of tear-gas inhalation in the last six weeks. Furthermore, soldiers frequently arrive at night, shouting through megaphones, throwing stun grenades and turning on their sirens, simply to deprive people of their sleep. Qusra has also been attacked four times in the past few weeks, when settlers uprooted thousands of olive trees, attacked a Red Crescent ambulance and beat up villagers. Recent offensive graffiti in Hebrew was still to be seen on the walls of the mosque there today, a year and a half after being subjected to arson.

 

Shimon Peres: Israel’s government does not want to make peace with Muslim world

Shimon Peres, the Israeli president and Nobel laureate, has attacked the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming it is unwilling to make peace with the Muslim world and instead risks the outbreak of a new Palestinian uprising.

Israel’s elder statesman warned of the perils of his country isolating itself from America.

Israel’s elder statesman warned of the perils of his country isolating itself from America.

Intervening in the country’s general election campaign, Israel’s elder statesman warned of the perils of his country isolating itself from America.

President Barack Obama was “not convinced” that Israel’s current leaders truly wanted peace, he said.

“If there is no diplomatic decision, the Palestinians will go back to terror. Knives, mines, suicide attacks,” Mr Peres said in an extensive interview with the New York Times Magazine .

“The silence that Israel has been enjoying over the last few years will not continue, because even if the local inhabitants do not want to resume the violence, they will be under the pressure of the Arab world. Money will be transferred to them, and weapons will be smuggled to them, and there will be no one who will stop this flow.”

Most of the world would then blame Israel for the violence and brand it a “racist state”, warned Mr Peres.

Israel’s current government has offered peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, but has also expanded Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Indeed in recent weeks Mr Netanyahu has angered the US by announcing plans for more than 6,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr Peres said this policy risked losing US support by undermining Washington’s belief in Israel’s desire for peace.

Asked if Mr Obama believed that Israel shared his ambitions for peace in the Middle East, Mr Peres replied: “Of course he’s not convinced. He demanded an end to settlements and got a negative response, and they [members of Mr Netanyahu’s government] are to blame for the ongoing activity in the settlements. President Obama thinks that peace should be made with the Muslim world. We, the State of Israel, do not appear to be thinking along those lines.

“We must not lose the support of the United States. What gives Israel bargaining power in the international arena is the support of the United States.”

He added that standing alone from the US, Israel would be “like a lone tree in the desert”.

Mr Peres, 89, became president in 2007 after a 50-year career in the centre-left of Israeli politics during which he served as prime minister three times. His comments will draw accusations from Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud-Beiteinu bloc that Mr Peres is breaking the convention that the ceremonial president should remain above party politics. Israel will hold an election on Jan 22 and the polls suggest both that Mr Netanyahu will be re-elected – and most voters are pessimistic or apathetic about the prospects of peace.

Mr Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with the then prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, for jointly forging the ill-fated Oslo agreement.

In his series of interviews with the New York Times Mr Peres told the Israeli journalist, Ronen Bergman, that Mr Netanyahu was not providing positive leadership.

“I think that if the people of Israel heard from the leadership that there is a chance for peace, they would take up the gauntlet and believe it,” he said. “There are two things that cannot be made without closing your eyes – love and peace.”

Although Mr Netanyahu publicly committed himself in 2009 to the principle of Palestinian statehood, he has been dismissive of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and the leader of the moderate Fatah faction. The two men have not met for more than two years. Mr Peres, by contrast, said he had met Mr Abbas several times with Mr Netanyahu’s knowledge and described the Palestinian as an “excellent” negotiating partner.

Mr Peres alluded to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons by claiming credit for creating the country’s nuclear programme. “I do not think there are many people in the world who can say they managed to create a nuclear option in a small country,” he said, while reciting the achievements of his long career. Israeli leaders have always held to a policy of “strategic ambiguity”, neither confirming nor denying the possession of an atom bomb.

Mr Netanyahu renewed his attack on Mr Abbas on Thursday by criticising him for meeting Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, in Cairo this week.

“Abu Mazen [Mr Abbas] embraces the head of a terrorist organisation that declared only last month that Israel must be wiped off the map,” said the prime minister. “This is not how someone who wants peace behaves.”

 (www.telegraph.co.uk / 10.01.2013)