illustration - Amos Biderman - January 11 2011
Illustration. Photo by Amos Biderman
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Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni of Kadima recently repulsed another attempt by President Shimon Peres to persuade her to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

Livni says Kadima's diplomatic platform does not jibe with Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman being in the Foreign Ministry.

The Knesset record, however, indicates Kadima and Lieberman may not be so far apart. Last week Kadima MKs voted in favor of two resolutions benefiting the Yesha settlers council. Some are guilty by commission and some by omission

The first resolution, the graver and more practical of the two, did not win the attention it deserves. The Knesset approved, in its preliminary reading, a proposal to subsidize mortgages in national priority zones. Under the proposal, initiated by Shas MKs, the state will grant monthly subsidies of up to NIS 800 for a mortgage to anyone eligible for housing aid who purchases an apartment in an area zoned Development A. An eligible purchaser of an apartment in a Development B zone will receive NIS 475 monthly. The proposal for the legislation was signed by 29 MKs from rightist parties, plus Shas and the Likud, as well as one from Labor and one from Meretz. Kadima contributed nine signatories - nearly a third of its faction.

Ostensibly, we have before us a worthy, consensual "social" initiative, the aim of which is to encourage living in outlying areas and to help distressed locales. Not exactly.

Under a decision by the Netanyahu government at the end of 2009, Development Area A covers most of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank (90 out of 120 ). In it are Ariel, Hebron, Yitzhar, Tekoa, the Jordan Valley settlements and dozens of other settlements located outside what are known as "the settlement blocs" (as well as Nokdim, Lieberman's home settlement ).

In the best case, the MKs from Kadima (Ruhama Avraham Balila, Shlomo Molla, Eli Aflalo, Otniel Schneller, Yoel Hasson, Arie Bibi and Yulia Shamalov Berkovich ) did not bother to check the map of national priority areas. In the worst case, Kadima is a right-wing party that has mistakenly placed itself in the opposition.

The second possibility is reinforced by the party's behavior in the vote on Yisrael Beiteinu's proposal to establish a parliamentary investigative committee to examine the activity of organizations identified with the left. Three MKs (Schneller, Shamalov Berkovich and Robert Tibayev ) voted in favor of the proposal (which passed 41 to 17 ), five voted against it (Molla, Meir Sheetrit, Ze'ev Boim, Gideon Ezra and Nachman Shai ). All the rest, including top people like Livni, Shaul Mofaz, Avi Dichter, Dalia Itzik and Roni Bar-On, were busy with matters more important than stopping one of the most lunatic initiatives the Knesset has ever known.

Livni was slow on the uptake. Yesterday she declared in the Knesset that even though she thinks the organizations' activities are outrageous and she will act against foreign involvement - she will oppose advancing the proposal she called "an ill wind."

In defense of Kadima, the Labor Party faction didn't do a sterling job either; only three members (Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon and Raleb Majadele ) bothered to be present in the plenum hall. Talab al Sana and Ibrahim Sarsur (United Arab List-Ta'al ), Muhammed Barakeh and Afu Aghbaria (Hadash ) and Jamal Zahalka and Said Naffaa (Balad ) were also absent from the vote.

Daniel Ben Simon of Labor and Ilan Ghilon of Meretz said they had not been aware that the Mortgage Subsidy law also applies to settlements outside the Green Line and announced they were withdrawing their votes. Kadima MKs who mistakenly found themselves in a law encouraging settlements are hereby invited to report on amending their error.

A guide for the perturbed

One of the organizations expected to receive a summons to the McCarthyist committee is checkpoint auditor Machsom Watch, which is trying to make the lives of the Palestinian residents of the territory a bit more bearable.

It is not at all clear that the women who volunteer there will abandon their watches at the roadblocks in order to tell the Knesset members how they use donation money. As a service to the Knesset, herewith is a summary of the latest product made undoubtedly with "European money," heaven help us: "A Guide to the Perplexed Regarding the Behavior of the Israel Police in the Occupied Territories."

The document was written on the basis of observations on the roads of the West Bank and at the roadblocks by women who volunteer in Machsom Watch, over the course of seven years. It describes discriminatory behavior toward the Palestinian population, a system of punishment of illegal sojourners whose only desire is to bring home bread and harassment of Palestinian drivers including sweeping confiscation of documents, forcing them to sneak into Jerusalem to work to get them back.

The report describes the obstacle course confronting Palestinians at the Traffic Court trials at Mahane Ofer. The Machsom Watch volunteers report on the tendency of traffic police to check the safety of vehicles with Palestinian license plates. They are so very concerned for the neighbors that Palestinian passengers have been ticketed for not wearing a seat belt while sitting in a car waiting at a roadblock with the motor turned off.

The report tells of Palestinians who get tickets for not crossing the street at a marked crossing, even where there is no marked crossing anywhere in the vicinity. Taxi drivers who pick up and drop off farmers by the side of the road, since settlers use the only turn-off bay, also receive heavy fines.

The authors of the report note their complaints have over the years been brought to the attention of all levels in the police and the Civil Administration, up to and including the police commissioner and the head of the Civil Administration. The replies from these bodies waxed eloquent about "the dedicated work of the police" and claimed the Palestinians lie and exploit the volunteers' naivete.

The Samaria and Judea Police District responded that the findings have no basis in reality. "Nevertheless the report has been passed along to be read by the relevant parties and after it is examined it will be possible to respond in a detailed way," a spokesperson said.