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A ground campaign is the only way to win Gaza war, Netanyahu says

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A ground campaign is the only way to win Gaza war, Netanyahu says



A ground campaign is the only way to win the Gaza War, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he pledged destroy Hamas just after Qatari mediated talks for an additional truce and further hostage releases collapsed in Doha late Saturday afternoon.

“We will continue the war until we achieve all its goals,” Netanyahu told reporters in late night press briefing.

He turned to the international community, stating, “you are partners in our goal of eliminating Hamas and freeing the rest of our hostages.

“Therefore I emphasize to you as well: there is no other way to achieve these goals – but to win, and there is no way to win except by continuing the ground campaign,” he stated.

Netanyahu underscored that this would be done while “observing international law.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks, 2 December, 2023. (credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO)

The IDF, he stressed, is acting to protect Israeli citizens both against Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north. 

“We are continuing the policy we established: a strong deterrence in the north, clear decisive [victory] in the south.”

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He issued a warning to Hezbollah not open a second front on the north. “If Hezbollah makes a mistake and enters into a large-scale war” that it will be responsible for Lebanon’s destruction.

Netanyahu spoke one day after the Gaza war resumed following a seven day lull from November 24 to December 1. 

During that time 110 captives were freed, Netanyahu said, including 86 Israelis and 24 foreigners.

Israel had hoped that the deal which focused on freeing women and children would have extended into Sunday.

The women and children held by Hamas

During a separate press conference earlier in the night, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that there were still 15 women and two children hostage in Gaza.

This included Shiri Bibas, 32 and her two children, Ariel, 4, and Kfir, aged 10 months.

The Bibas children are the only two remaining in Gaza, all the remainder of the children were released last week.

The two men held separate press conferences. Netanyahu told reporters he had invited Gallant to hold a joint one with him, but that the Defense had preferred to speak to the press on his own.

Talks in Doha to put the Gaza war back on hold that would have allowed for the 15 women and two children to be released continued even after the fighting resumed on Friday morning.

But they broke down completely on Saturday night as Israel ordered Mossad negotiators to return home.

“Director of the Mossad David Barnea has instructed his team in Doha to return to Israel,” Netanyahu’s Office said, explaining that this followed “an impasse in the negotiations.”

“The terrorist organization Hamas did not uphold its part of the agreement, which included the release of all of the children and women according to a list that was given to Hamas and approved by it,” the PMO said.

It issued its statement after an emotional week in which for seven days, ending on Thursday night, Israel has welcomed home the 110 hostages in seven stages. 

They were among the 240 hostages its seized during its October 7 infiltration of southern Israel in which the terror group also killed over 1,200 people.

Qatar which together with Egypt, had mediated the deal, had also engaged in talks about the release of the more than 110 male hostages, including soldiers, as well as five female soldiers. Those talks also came to a halt.

Macron’s visit to Qatar

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday day he planned to travel to Qatar to see if he couldn’t help put the process back on track.

At the press conference in Jerusalem on Saturday night, Netanyahu ducked a question by a reporter about whether or not Israel had rejected alternative suggestions by Hamas, that would have allowed for elderly men to be part of the deal rather than the women.

Deputy Hamas chief Saleh Al-Arouri told the pan-Arab Al Jazeera TV on Saturday that no more prisoners would be exchanged with Israel until there was a permanent ceasefire in Gaza all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were also released. Those prisoners are held on terror charges, including killing Israelis on on more minor security related offenses.

Arouri said, ”Let the war take its course. This decision is final. We will not compromise on it,” Arouri said.

Netanyahu said that “Hamas violated the deal” and he had always said that if they did this, “the war would resume.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had come to the region at the end of last week, partially in hopes of helping to see the hostage deal extended, told reporters in the United Arab Emirates on Friday that Hamas had violated the deal.

He had flown there after visiting Israel, to participate in the United Nations COP28 Climate Conference.

The temporary truce in Gaza, he said, “came to an end because of Hamas.  Hamas reneged on commitments it made.”  

“In fact, even before the pause came to an end, it committed an atrocious terrorist attack in Jerusalem [on Thursday], killing three people, wounding others, including Americans.  

“It began firing rockets before the pause had ended.  And as I said, it reneged on commitments it made in terms of releasing certain hostages.”

The Biden administration, he said, is committed to ensuring that all the hostages are returned.

“We’re also very much focused, as we’ve been all along, on trying to make sure that this conflict doesn’t spread, that it doesn’t escalate in other places.  

“But we’re also using our diplomacy to look at not only what’s happening today and how we’re handling that, but also what happens the day after in Gaza and how we can get on the path to a just, lasting, and secure peace for Israelis, for Palestinians – in fact, for everyone in the region.  And that’s also a big focus of our diplomacy.”

While at COP28, he said, he had spoken with his contemporaries from other countries on all these topics.

He clarified that the United States supports Israel’s right to defend itself through a military campaign in Gaza, but underscored that the IDF must do its utmost to minimize Palestinian civilian loses  and to ensure the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

“We’ve also been very clear that we support Israel and its efforts to make sure that October 7th never happens again.  We’ve also been very clear about the imperative of doing that in a way that puts a premium on protecting civilians and making sure that humanitarian assistance gets to those who need it,” Blinken stated.

The US is “going to be looking very closely” to make sure that Israel does everything possible to protect Palestinian civilians during its military campaign, Blinken said.

Prior to leaving Israel, Blinken had said, that the US had wanted to see plans to ensure Palestinian civilian safety before the IDF embarked on a military campaign in southern Gaza.

Netanyahu told reporters on Saturday night that the US and Israel were more aligned than divided on the issue of the Gaza war, but that the end, “this is our war and we have to make the decisions.”

In the UAE on Friday Israel’s President Isaac Herzog held a series of meetings on the sidelines of the United Nations COP28 Climate Conference as part of his effort to help secure the return of some remaining 137 hostages held by Hamas.

He met with the Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and circulated a photograph of the two of them shaking hands. It is the first such public high-level meeting between an Israeli and a Qatari official, given that Israel and Qatar do not have formal diplomatic relations.

Herzog also met President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and His Royal Highness King Charles III. In his meetings, Herzog emphasized the humanitarian duty of releasing the hostages and appealed to world leaders to join this effort. He also said it is Israel’s “right and duty” to defend itself against the security threat posed by Hamas to bring safety back to Israel. 

Silva told Herzog that he had spoken with the leaders of South American nations and called on them to support the return of the hostages. All of the leaders condemned the act of terror committed by Hamas against the Israeli people.

Reuters and Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.





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Israel’s High Court rejects petition of east Jerusalem family facing eviction

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Israel’s High Court rejects petition of east Jerusalem family facing eviction



Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected on Sunday a petition by an east Jerusalem family seeking to challenge a previous court decision – which ruled that the family must vacate their home in Silwan in favor of Jewish residents,  the Israeli NGO Peace Now reported. 

The Shhadeh family, from Batan al-Hawa in Silwan, challenged Judge Noam Solberg’s ruling, which rejected their appeal request. However, the Shhadeh family claimed that the court did not seek their response to the Jewish buyers’ applications in the case, leading to a flaw in the court’s decision-making process. Their voices were not heard before the decision – contrary to procedural rules. 

However, on Sunday, the High Court rejected the petition. 

Peace Now, an Israeli NGO working to promote a two-state solution, made a statement on the ruling, saying, “This is a political move, under the guise of legal proceedings, for the forcible displacement of a Palestinian community and its replacement by settlers in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem.” 

Palestinian children stand outside an apartment in the Silwan district of East Jerusalem in Jerusalem, May 15, 2024. (credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

“The responsibility to prevent the injustice lies with the government,” Peace Now added. “It must determine that if settlers have rights to properties from before 1948, they should be compensated for them, not to have the right to evict families who lawfully purchased the property and lived there for decades.”

Currently, all legal paths have reportedly been exhausted, and the family will need to evict its four-floor home by June 1. If they do not leave willingly, the Jewish buyers can file a procedure that would see police forcefully evict residents. 

Background on the case

In November 2022, the District Court rejected the Shhadeh family’s appeal and ruled that they must vacate their home. The family then filed a request to appeal to Israel’s High Court. Solberg, the judge who received the case, decided in 2023 to wait for the position of the Attorney General in a similar eviction case.

In the months that passed, while waiting for the Attorney General’s decision, the Jewish buyers’ lawyer submitted six requests to the court to expedite the decision and rule on the case. 

Following their sixth request in April 2024, Judge Solberg decided not to wait for the Attorney General’s decision and determined that the family must vacate their home. The family submitted a motion for reconsideration, which was also rejected by the judge. Last week, the family filed a petition to the High Court against the decision, which was rejected on Sunday. 

Ateret Cohanim, a right-wing group, was involved in the case and has filed numerous eviction lawsuits against some 84 Palestinian families in Silwan, Peace Now stated. Since 2015, 14 families have been evicted from Batan al-Hawa. 





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FM Katz severs connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and Palestinians

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FM Katz severs connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and Palestinians



Israel will bar the Spanish Consulate in Jerusalem from servicing West Bank Palestinians to protest Madrid’s decision this week to unilaterally recognize Palestinian statehood.

“I have decided to sever the connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and the Palestinians,” FM Israel Katz wrote in a post on X on Friday.

Spain has an embassy in Tel Aviv that services Israelis and a consulate located in east Jerusalem that acts as a de facto embassy to the Palestinian Authority.

Most countries similarly split their missions, with an embassy in the Tel Aviv area that services sovereign Israel and a second mission located either in east Jerusalem or Ramallah for West Bank Palestinians.

Flags of Spain, Norway and Ireland seen as Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations (illustrative) (credit: REUTERS, WIKIPEDIA COMMONS)

Decision came after recognition of Palestinian statehood

Katz wrote Friday that he would “prohibit the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem from providing services to Palestinians from the West Bank.”

He ordered the measure two days after Spain, Ireland and Norway announced they would unilaterally recognize Palestine as a state, a measure that officially goes into effect on May 28.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry immediately recalled its envoys from those three countries and severely reprimanded the ambassadors of those three countries at a meeting in Jerusalem.

Israel also plans to take additional measures against those three countries. Katz focused in particular on Spain because the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz used the phrase “from the River to the Sea Palestine will be free” in a video message this week.

The slogan which calls for the borders of a Palestinian state to stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, is seen as a call for the elimination of the state of Israel, which is located din that territory.

Katz wrote, “If this ignorant, hate-filled individual wants to understand what radical Islam truly seeks, she should study the 700 years of Islamic rule in Al-Andalus—today’s Spain.”





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Ireland & Palestine – A brief history

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Ireland & Palestine – A brief history



Ireland is set to announce the recognition of a Palestinian state on Wednesday, following a similar move made hours earlier by Norway. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also plans to announce Spain’s recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the same day.

“Today, Ireland, Norway, and Spain are announcing that we recognize the state of Palestine,” said Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris at a press conference. “Each of us will now undertake the necessary national steps to give effect to that decision. I’m confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks.”

Ireland and Palestine have maintained official relations since 2000, with Ireland establishing a representative office in Ramallah and Palestine maintaining one in Dublin. Both nations are members of the Union for the Mediterranean.

However, the relationship between Ireland and Palestine dates back much further. The Irish nationalist movement has long viewed the Palestinian cause through a similar lens of seeking to overthrow what they see as oppressive colonizers and achieve independent statehood, particularly aligning the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO.)

By the late 1960s, Ireland grew increasingly concerned about Palestinians displaced by the Six-Day War. In 1969, Irish Foreign Minister Frank Aiken highlighted this issue as a top priority in Ireland’s Middle East policy. Since then, Ireland has supported UN resolutions calling for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the territories captured during the war.

Flags of Palestine and Ireland flutter next to each other over the International Wall in support of Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, March 29, 2024 (credit: Clodagh Kilcoyn/Reuters)

‘IRA-PLO one struggle’

The connection between the Northern Ireland-based IRA and the PLO was most evident in the 1970s and early 1980s, often depicted in murals in nationalist areas. A notable example in Belfast showed armed IRA and PLO members with the slogan “IRA-PLO one struggle.” Sinn Féin linked its political strategy with movements like the ANC and PLO to provide a broader political context for its efforts. This alignment was regularly featured in the Sinn Féin newspaper An Phoblacht and grew stronger under Adams’ leadership in the 1980s.

In 1980, Ireland became the first EU member state to support the establishment of a Palestinian state. In 1999, then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern visited Gaza, meeting PLO chief Yasser Arafat and touring the Jabaliya refugee camp, becoming the first national leader to fly directly from Palestine to their home country. In 2001, Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen also visited Gaza to meet Arafat.

Despite significant support for Palestine within Ireland, the government has yet to implement the 2014 decision to formalize diplomatic relations, preferring a coordinated EU approach. However, in April 2024, Foreign Minister Micheál Martin announced plans to recognize a Palestinian state within weeks.

Former Irish PM Leo Varadkar acknowledged differing views between the US and Ireland regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, particularly concerning Israeli actions in Gaza.

In 2009, Northern Ireland’s Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’ meeting with Hamas highlighted the longstanding ties between Irish Republicanism and Middle Eastern groups. This relationship began in the early 1970s with Libya’s support for the IRA. The IRA’s connections extended to Hezbollah, influencing tactics used in both Lebanon and Northern Ireland. The most enduring relationship was with the PLO, which trained IRA operatives.

Since the official end of the IRA’s armed campaign in 2005, mainstream Republican support for Palestine has been political. While Sinn Féin remains critical of Israel, accusing it of human rights violations, leaders like Gerry Adams publicly adopt a more moderate tone. Sinn Féin calls for EU sanctions against Israel and supports the Palestinian cause through various platforms.

Irish Republicanism’s anti-Israel stance has sometimes been accused of antisemitism. Historically, figures like Arthur Griffith and elements within the IRA expressed antisemitic views. Although overt antisemitism has decreased since the late 1960s, anti-Israel rhetoric sometimes crosses the line, reflecting an underlying historical bias.

Graffiti and murals in Republican areas during the second intifada often glorified Palestinian terrorism, and some Republicans suggested arming Palestinians with decommissioned IRA weapons. While modern Irish Republicanism may not be inherently antisemitic, its century-old undercurrent persists, influencing its stance on Israel and the Jewish people.

In January 2011, Ireland granted diplomatic status to the Palestinian delegation in Dublin. Later that year, Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister indicated that the country might lead efforts to recognize Palestinian statehood, contingent on the Palestinian Authority gaining full control over its territories. In 2014, both houses of the Irish Parliament passed motions urging the Government to recognize the State of Palestine.

Today, this has finally come to fruition. 





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