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Today’s Top Stories
1. Palestinians employed at SodaStream’s West Bank factory told the Daily Telegraph, Josh Mitnick, and the Christian Science Monitor they back Scarlett Johansson. The Monitor’s Christa Case Bryant writes:
Speaking anonymously on a largely deserted street, with no Israeli SodaStream employees present, all but one of those interviewed said they opposed the boycott, given the lack of alternative job opportunities in the West Bank. That underscores Israeli claims that a boycott would be counterproductive, undermining the cooperation and prosperity that could boost peace prospects in the region.
HonestReporting’s Alex Margolin expanded on the issue in a Times of Israel post: SodaStream Shows That BDS is the Real Obstacle to Peace. See below for a variety of other Boycott Divestment Sanctions issues that arose over the weekend. For more, see today’s edition of Fighting BDS: SodaStream Workers Speak Out.
2. Norway‘s Finance Ministry dropped two Israeli firms (Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus) from its government pension fund “due to contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem.” Denmark‘s largest bank is boycotting Bank HaPoalim,while another Scandinavian bank has asked for “clarifications” of Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank and Bank Leumi‘s activities in the West Bank.
3. Haaretz: The PA is considering hiring Israeli PR firms to market Ramallah night life to Israeli youth. But even with cold beer and hot music, Israeli party animals won’t bite without the PA first launching a PR blitz selling tolerance and co-existence to Palestinians. Don’t hold your breath. Normalization’s dirty word in Ramallah.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Martin Indyk shed more light on the framework agreement Kerry will present. According to YNet:
- A solid majority of settlers will remain under Israeli sovereignty.
- Compensation will receive compensation.
- There will be a reference to the rights of Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries.
- The issue of settlers remaining under Palestinian sovereignty will be addressed in final status talks.
- Recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
• John Kerry’s mulling a “state of the union” type speech in Israel to garner public support for concessions. The Jerusalem Post reports:
. . . the Americans have made it clear that they have no intention of “going over the head” of the government in Jerusalem. Instead, the goal of the speech would be to help Netanyahu gain more support from the Israeli public as the secretary puts the finishing touches on the framework agreement that is due to serve as the basis for further negotiations between Israel and the PA.
• Sanity prevailed in France: a court stripped Lebanese terrorist Georges Abdallah of honorary residency in the Paris suburb of Bagnolet. Abdallah is currently serving a life sentence for his involvement in the assassinations of an Israeli diplomat (Yacov Bar-Simantov) and US military attache (Charles Ray), and a failed attempt on the life of Robert Homme, US consul to France. All the incidents were in the 80’s. The Times of Israel explains:
Bagnolet’s city council, where the Communist party has a majority, declared him an honorary citizen on Dec. 11, and called him a political prisoner who should be released.
- Israeli businesses take a BDS hit in Norway and Sweden.
- Why are Palestinians boycotting Arab businesses in the West Bank?
- Bashar Assad drags feet on dismantling chemical weapons.