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Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories

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“Big Brother” bumbles into West Bank


bb2_3112_live_boker5It’s a reality television show whose contestants are isolated from the outside world, but “Big Brother” in Israel has managed to set off yet another controversy over Palestine policies.

Cameras at the studio-cum-commune outside Jerusalem caught Edna Canetti, a 54-year-old liberal activist, telling fellow residents over the weekend she wanted to see a peaceful popular campaign against Israel’s West Bank occupation.

“It bothers me that you’re silent. What’s needed is a revolt,” she declared after refusing to play along with a challenge in which contestants were divided into two groups — “rich” versus “poor” — with a plexiglass barrier between them.

Shifting to Middle East politics, Canetti said Palestinians should similarly tell Israel: “Shove your laws … We’re not going through that checkpoint and we’re not showing you IDs … This is our land.”

A Muddy Journey: Sewage Tunnel becomes transit point to Jerusalem


Ordinary women and men, wearing plastic bags on their feet, pulling pants up to knee level, clutch their children to their chests and roam along a 110-metre dark tunnel of sewage to cross from the Israeli-occupied West Bank to East Jerusalem.

Erected under a barrier that Israel is building in the West Bank in defiance of a World Court ruling,  the tunnel serves as a gateway connecting Palestinians from the West Bank to East Jerusalem, a centre for medical, social, religious and other services for the Palestinians.

The Mysterious Mr. Mitchell’s MacGuffin




It’s a bit like a Hitchock thriller. Nobody knows where he is — not even the U.S. State Department — and nobody knows when he will show up in Israel. All we know is, suspense is building and it’s time to watch out for surprises.

President Barack Obama’s Middle East peace envoy Senator George Mitchell is somewhere in transit — probably – and expected in Israel and the Palestinian Territories next week –  sometime.

Insulting the intelligence




Good morning, children.

Today we are going to learn about two common rhetorical tricks that help greatly with the cynical manipulation of arguments.

First, disingenuousness. The Oxford Shorter English Dictionary defines disingenuous as “lacking in frankness, insincere, morally fraudulent”, in the sense of pretending not to know what you in fact know very well.

Settlements, statehood and speechifying


Benjamin Netanyahu’s much-anticipated policy speech on Sunday was lavishly covered by the Israeli press, though pundits sounded reservations about the significance of the prime minister’s chief concession to the Palestinians.

“We would agree to a demilitarised Palestinian state,” the choicest quote from Netanyahu’s half-hour address, served as the banner headline for Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Its rival daily Maariv was more coy: “A Palestinians state – BUT”.

More about money



In the latest story in our investigative series on fiscal governance and transparency in the Palestinian Authority, we highlight the debate over the workings of the Palestine Investment Fund – which in 2002 consolidated the various and secretive holdings of former President Yasser Arafat into a fund which was initially managed by PA government ministers.

In 2006, to keep the fund out of the hands of the Islamist Hamas movement which won Palestinian legislative elections that year, President Mahmoud Abbas severed government control of the Fund and his chief economic adviser took over running the fund along with a board comprised of private businessmen.

Pushing back cricket’s boundary for Israel’s bedouin



For decades, the small number of cricket followers in Israel has been trying to clear up what is so far an unsolved mystery: Why the sport never took off in the country after the British lowered the Union Jack on pre-state Israel in 1948. 

Cricket, along with golf, is probably the most enduring bequest of the British Empire to its former colonies, but definitely not in the Jewish state.

Power Play




If you were an investor in the power plant above and you saw a picture of it engulfed in flames after being bombarded from the air by a fighter jet you might worry about your future ROI, right?

Well – as we explain here in our latest story on fiscal transparency and governance in the Palestinian Territories - it’s not always that simple.