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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Israeli negotiators in Cairo talks told to insist on nation’s security needs

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel’s delegation to the Cairo cease-fire talks has “clear instructions” to “insist on the security needs of the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting.

“If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that continued sporadic firing will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken,” Netanyahu said as Israeli negotiators returned to Cairo for indirect negotiators through Egyptian mediators on Sunday.

“As long as quiet is not restored, Hamas will continue to take very harsh blows. If Hamas thinks that we cannot stand up to it over time, it is mistaken.”

A five-day cease-fire ends at midnight Tuesday.

The talks on Sunday reportedly will be centered around an Egyptian proposal calling for an indefinite cease-fire, with talks on Palestinian demands, including a Gaza seaport and airport, to begin in a month. Under the proposal, negotiations for the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners would be postponed.

On Saturday, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal said his group would not back down from any of its demands, which include opening all border crossings with Gaza; building a seaport and an airport; and an end to Israeli settlement building.

Hamas’ foreign affairs spokesman, Osama Hamdan, said Saturday that Israel could accept the group’s terms or prepare for a prolonged war of attrition. He also said that Hamas tunnels will continue to be a “strategic threat” to Israel and its rockets will be more precise “next time.”

Thousands of pro-peace demonstrators gather in Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv to call for peace with the Palestinians.

Signs at Saturday night’s rally in Rabin Square read “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” “When there is no peace war comes,” and “Yes to a diplomatic solution.”

Israeli media reported the number of demonstrators ranged from 2,000 to the 10,000 estimated by rally organizers.

The demonstration, which was organized by Peace Now and the Meretz and Hadash parties, was postponed from last week, when Israel’s Home Front Command refused to give organizers a permit due to safety concerns as rockets fired from Gaza continued to fall on the area.

Zahava Gal-On, leader of the left-wing Meretz, called for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he failed to bring quiet to Israel’s southern communities. She said Netanyahu must return to peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

“You could have achieved the framework you are willing to accept now without paying the price of 64 dead soldiers and the deaths of civilians,” Gal-On said.

Author David Grossman said many Israelis still want peace.

“There is no military solution for the conflict between Israel and Hamas. There is no military solution that will end the suffering of Israelis in the south and the inhumane suffering of people in Gaza,” he said. “People in Israel won’t be able to breathe freely either until the stranglehold on Gaza is lifted.”

There was no significant counter-demonstration, according to reports.

Arab man, formerly Jewish bride hold wedding reception despite protests

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Arab man and his Jewish-born bride held their wedding reception despite hundreds of protesters outside the banquet hall.

Hours before the wedding on Sunday evening, the Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court ruled that the Organization for Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land, or Lehava, could hold a protest no closer than 200 meters—slightly more than the size of two football fields combined—to the venue.  Hundreds of police secured the wedding as security guards checked the invitations of the some 600 guests.

Four people were arrested outside the wedding for violating the restraining order.

Meanwhile, counterdemonstrators brought balloons and flowers to celebrate the union.

Mahmoud Mansour, who is Muslim, and Morel Malka, who was born Jewish but recently converted to Islam, were required to hire 14 security guards for their wedding reception after Lehava posted photographs of their invitation on social media and urged protesters to rally against the union outside the hall.

The groom’s parents and bride’s mother reportedly support the union. The bride’s father told Israeli media he would boycott the celebration.

In a Facebook post, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin offered the couple traditional wedding blessings of health and happiness.

He wrote: “There is a red line between freedom of speech and protest on the one hand and incitement on the other. Mahmoud and Morel from Jaffa have decided to marry and to exercise their freedom in a democratic country. The manifestations of incitement against them are infuriating and distressing, whatever my opinion or anyone else’s might be regarding the issue itself.

“Not everyone has to share in the happiness of Mahmoud and Morel—but everyone has to respect them. Among us and within our midst there are harsh and sharp disagreements, but incitement, violence and racism have no place in Israeli society. ”

al-Qaida threat: U.S. must act or Warren Weinstein will die

(JTA)—Al-Qaida called on the family of captive U.S. government contractor Warren Weinstein to pressure the U.S. government to negotiate his release or risk his “dying a lonely death.”

“If you want Warren Weinstein to be released, do whatever you can to pressurize your government,” the terror group said in a statement posted on Islamist websites, the French news agency AFP reported.

“Your continued silence on the inaction of your government will only lead to your prisoner dying a lonely death in prison after this deliberate and prolonged neglect on the part of your government.”

Weinstein, 73, of Rockville, Md., was kidnapped in August 2011 outside Pakistan while he was working for J.E. Austin Associates, a private company that advises Pakistani businesses. The United States has said it will not negotiate with al-Qaida, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

Al-Qaida is demanding the release of several Islamists held in jail in the U.S., including Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik who is serving a life sentence for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In January, a video message featuring Weinstein, a former Peace Corps and USAID official, was sent to journalists and news services in Pakistan along with a link to a photo of a handwritten note.

Hundreds protest jailing of yeshiva student for evading draft

JERUSALEM (JTA)—At least six protesters were arrested and a police officer was wounded in demonstrations protesting the arrest of a yeshiva student for ignoring a draft notice.

The demonstrations took place Sunday in Jerusalem and other cities with large haredi Orthodox populations, including Bnei Brak, Modiin Illit and Beit Shemesh. The hundreds of protesters blocked busy intersections during the demonstrations.

The yeshiva student has been arrested several times, the first time in March, for ignoring his call-up notice. He is being held in a military prison and reportedly has begun a hunger strike, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The student reportedly is affiliated with the Jerusalem Faction, a non-Hasidic haredi faction led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, who has ordered his students to ignore draft notices.

Under a law passed in March, haredi men will be criminally charged for evading the draft, but the penalties will not go into effect until 2017.

The Tal Law, which allowed haredi men to defer army service indefinitely, was invalidated by the Supreme Court in February 2012 and expired in August that year.

Violence strikes Jewish and Arab drivers

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A Jewish man driving in the West Bank was injured when rocks and a firebomb struck his car.

The attack occurred on Saturday night  near the Beitar Illit settlement, south of Jerusalem.

The driver was wounded in the head by a rock and suffered from burn wounds; he was treated at Hadassah Hospital, Ynet reported. His car ignited during the attack.

Also on Saturday night, three Jewish youths were arrested near Zion Square in Jerusalem in connection with an attack on an Arab cab driver there. The youths cursed at the cab driver and sprayed him with tear gas, according to reports.

In a second incident in Zion Square, dozens of Jewish youths gathered at the site and chanted “death to Arabs.” One person was arrested for attacking and injuring a police volunteer, according to reports.

Yahoo buys small Israeli start-up company

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Yahoo purchased a small Israeli start-up company, ClarityRay, for an estimated $15 million to $25 million.

The Tel Aviv-based Clarity Ray, founded in 2012, creates software to enable content publishers to dodge ad-blocking programs, and also focuses on ad security and fraud detection.

“This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity enables the mass scaling of our technology, impact and ideas to the absolute forefront of our field, while working with an amazing team who shares our passion. We’re proud to call Yahoo ‘home,’ “ the company said in a statement on its website.

ClarityRay was founded by CEO Ido Yablonka, Vadim Zak and Guy Pitelko, who all served in the Israeli military’s Intelligence Corps, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.

“We’ve been working on building up security capabilities and making Yahoo! a safer place for users and partners,” Yahoo said in a statement. “Advertising is an essential part of our business here at Yahoo, and we’re committed to getting it right. ClarityRay is a company with deep expertise in ad-malware detection and prevention.”

The company is expected to remain in Israel.

Last month, Yahoo acquired an Israeli company, the video-streaming start-up RayV, for an undisclosed sum, according to Globes.

Islamic Jihad: Cease-fire agreement on Gaza expected

(JTA)—A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad in Gaza said last Friday that a cease-fire agreement will be signed with Israel next week.

Yousef al-Hasayneh told the Palestinian Maan news agency that his group “expects a complete truce agreement to be signed right as the five-day cease-fire ends.” Israeli officials have not confirmed any agreement.

Islamic Jihad fought alongside Hamas against Israel in hostilities that erupted on July 8 following an escalation in the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. On Wednesday night, Israel and Hamas agreed on a five-day cease-fire while the parties were discussing a permanent cease-fire at Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo.

The Palestinian delegation to Cairo “has made much progress in ending the siege and the offensive on Palestinians,” Hasayneh said, adding that the “final truce” would ease Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, expand the fishing zone and increase imports into Gaza, especially of construction materials.

But Israeli defense officials told Army Radio last Friday that there were “areas of disagreement” and that it was too early to know whether an agreement could be reached. A meeting of the Israeli Cabinet that day ended without any dramatic decisions, Haaretz reported.

In his statement, Hasayneh said that construction of an airport and seaport in Gaza will be discussed a month after signing the agreement.

More than 1,700 Palestinians have been killed in the war. Sixty-five Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

Israel has demanded the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, while Hamas has demanded the construction of a seaport and airport, as well as the lifting of the blockade.


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