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Today’s Top Stories
1. Hamas forbids Palestinian journalists to work with Israeli reporters. AP explains what this means — at the bottom of a dispatch about Jerusalem housing. So much for the importance of press freedom:
Also Tuesday, the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas announced that Palestinian journalists there have been banned from working for Israeli media outlets.
The official statement from the Hamas Cabinet called Israeli outlets “hostile entity media institutions.”
Israeli media have no permanent correspondents in the Gaza Strip, but Israeli TV channels and newspapers often employ local Palestinian journalists as stringers. The Gaza journalists do not generally identify themselves to others as working for Israeli outlets because of a taboo against cooperating with Israel.
At least AFP had the decency to give this development its own article.
2. With their UN upgrade (including this little formality), the Palestinians are now actively trying to join several other international organizations. Israel’s trying to block the moves, reports the Times of Israel:
The list of organizations the Palestinians have applied to join include: the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) . . .
The main challenge facing the Palestinians is overcoming the US’s influence on the organizations. Current US law prohibits contributions to any UN body granting membership to the PLO or any other “organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood. About 22% of the four organizations’ annual budges are paid for by the US.
3. The sturm und drang surrounding Senator Chuck Hagel’s possible nomination as Secretary of Defense continues. It’s a domestic US affair, but take note of why NY Times columnist Tom Friedman supports Hagel:
But, at the same time, this Israeli government is so spoiled and has shifted so far to the right that it makes no effort to take U.S. interests into account by slowing its self-isolating settlement adventure. And it’s going to get worse. Israel’s friends need to understand that the center-left in Israel is dying. The Israeli election in January will bring to power Israeli rightists who never spoke at your local Israel Bonds dinner. These are people who want to annex the West Bank. Bibi Netanyahu is a dove in this crowd. The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth. But most U.S. senators, policy makers and Jews prefer to stick their heads in the sand, because confronting Israel is so unpleasant and politically dangerous. Hagel at least cares enough about Israel to be an exception. . .
So, yes, Hagel is out of the mainstream. That is exactly why his voice would be valuable right now.
Meanwhile, one SecDef alternative to Hagel bandied about is Michele Flournoy. She rose to the Pentagon’s third-highest civilian position before leaving to focus on raising her children.
4. Don’t miss Editor’s Picks: The 10 Best Blog Posts of 2012. A mix of my most evocative, witty and quirky blogging.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Jerusalem municipality committee approves 1,200 new housing units for Gilo.
• The Ariel University Center was upgraded from “college” to “university” status, making it Israel’s first official university in the West Bank. YNet coverage.
• Senior Hamas leader calls for 3rd intifada along with suicide attacks. Jerusalem Post coverage.
• The European Court of Justice threw out NGO-Monitor’s lawsuit against the EU. NGO-Monitor was pressing the EU to release details of its funding for non-governmental organizations working in Israel. From the Jerusalem Post:
“For over a decade, the EU has acted with impunity in funding political advocacy NGOs with near total secrecy,” said Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “Throughout, EU officials have attempted to justify the intense secrecy by using exaggerated claims of ‘public security’ and ‘commercial interest.’ The only reasonable conclusion is that the EU has something to hide.”
NGO Monitor said in a statement that EU funding, amounting to millions of dollars annually, has gone to what it calls a small fringe of highly politicized groups.
On a related note, Ariella Kimmel explains at the Times of Israel How Anti-Israel NGOs are Abusing Christmas.
Funding from European governments, both directly and through outsourcing designated for international aid, which is provided to these groups and their theologically-charged messages, exacerbates the impact and damage.