Briefs: The fence is the line, gas cuts for Gaza

Ramon: West Bank Barrier to Be Border

Haim Ramon indicated that Israel’s West Bank security barrier will be the future Israel-Palestine border. Israel’s deputy prime minister, speaking Monday night at the Israel Policy Forum’s annual gala in New York, said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are in dispute over just 5.5 percent of the West Bank.

“It’s clear that Israel will annex the blocs of settlement, and it’s clear that Israel only wants the blocs of settlement,” Ramon said, referring to the major Israeli settlement blocs on Israel’s side of the West Bank fence, which he said constitute some 8 percent of the West Bank.

Palestinian negotiators have indicated they are willing to forego claims on 2.5 percent of the West Bank, according to Ramon, leaving the 5.5 percent in dispute.

Speaking to Israel Policy Forum supporters seated at tables festooned with the Israeli, Palestinian and American flags, Ramon said Israel immediately should initiate a campaign to encourage Jewish settlers who live on the Palestinian side of the West Bank security barrier to move to the other side of the boundary that eventually will become the international border.

“It’s clear to both sides what will be the endgame,” Ramon said.

During the time of the barrier’s construction, Israeli officials denied arguments by Palestinians and others that the fence was an attempt to predetermine the future border.

High Court Backs Gaza Fuel Cuts

Israel’s High Court of Justice upheld the government’s reduction in fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip.

The High Court on Friday rejected petitions by human-rights groups which had argued that the Israeli Defense Ministry’s decision last month to reduce fuel supplies to Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket fire constituted illegal “collective punishment”.

In its ruling, the three-justice panel said it had been persuaded that Israel has not deprived Hamas-ruled Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians of fuel required for “humanitarian” activities like running the territory’s power plant. But the High Court postponed a Defense Ministry plan to begin cutting back Israeli-supplied electricity to Gaza on Sunday, saying it wanted more details on how that measure would affect the Palestinian populace.

The government was given 12 days to respond, after which the petitioners will have a week for rebuttals.

Bush Promotes Investment in Palestinian Areas

U.S. President George W. Bush met with a consortium promoting investment in the Palestinians.

Bush met Monday at the White House with Tahani Abu Daqqa, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of youth, as well as members of the U.S.-Palestinian Public-Private Partnership. Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, established the partnership earlier this year to promote investment in Palestinian areas spurred by U.S. funds through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. Walter Isaacson, chairman of the Aspen Institute, a think tank with ties to leaders in both major U.S. political parties as well as to major funders, heads the partnership.

“One of the things that interests me a lot is the fact that we are going to help the Palestinians develop youth centers, places where young Palestinians can come and learn new technical skills, or language skills, or have mentoring programs — all aimed at saying there is a hopeful future, a future where you don’t have to adhere to violence,” Bush said in the public part of the meeting. “A future where radicalism is not in your sights; a future where peace is possible.”

Britain’s Muslims End Holocaust Day Boycott

The Muslim Council of Britain ended its six-year boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

The group, representing more than 500 organizations, said after a vote last weekend that it would attend events held each January in Liverpool for “the sake of the common good.”

The boycott stemmed from an objection that the Jan. 27 events commemorated only Jewish victims of the Holocaust and not victims of other genocides such as the Bosnian war. Chris Shaw, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, has said the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations were intended to be for non-Jewish victims, too.

Inayat Bunglawala, assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, told the BBC that council members decided the boycott “was causing hurt to some in the Jewish community and there was a growing realization the decision was doing more harm than good.”

Attacks Against Jews Hit High in Australia

Attacks against Australian Jews have reached a record high in 2007.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual report on anti-Semitism published this week logged 638 anti-Semitic incidents this year, including assault, intimidation, vandalism and harassment. The previous record — more than 550 anti-Semitic incidents — was in 2002, when the second intifada was at its height.

Jeremy Jones, who has been logging anti-Semitic incidents in Australia since 1989, said new media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook were becoming popular domains for anti-Semites. But he said the wider Australian community was not inherently negative to Jews.

The most reported instance of anti-Semitism in Australia in the past year was the assault in Melbourne on Menachem Vorchheimer, an Orthodox Jew, by an Australian Rules player. Vorchheimer took three of the perpetrators to court; they were fined and one also received a conviction. A fourth man, who punched Vorchheimer, has not been apprehended.

Hebrew Is Sign of Times in Buenos Aires

Hebrew adorns a new police station sign in a Jewish neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The sign identifying Station 37 in the Villa Crespo neighborhood also features Spanish and English. It reads “Policia — Mishtara — Police.”

The three-language street sign is uncommon on police stations. When a second language is required, English typically is the alternative.

“We are in a highly Jewish-populated neighborhood, and we are close to commercial streets where tourists come by to buy leather clothing,” said Roberto Perez, who commands Police Station 37. “We want all the Argentine community to feel closer to police.”

Perez said his superiors and the station’s neighbors welcomed the initiative.

Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.