October 2010 English Newsletter

Dear Friends,

These past few months have been filled with activities, some of which saw great achievements. I won’t go too much into detail about Netanyahu’s maneuvers with the settlements, and the wave of racist legislation that threatens us in the upcoming session of the Knesset. The state of Israel is quickly sliding down a slippery slope. Two years ago, the idea of a population transfer was a slogan from the extreme right-wing. A month ago, it was the subject of an official speech by the foreign minister in the United Nations, and today it is being seen in practice drills for the security forces. These actions reveal the true face of the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak government. Last week I took part, together with hundreds of Jews and Arabs, in a day of shared activity that ended with a rally in Nazareth, to mark a decade since the October 2000 events. Through joint political activity of Jews and Arabs, we will struggle together to make this next decade different and better. In the last year I have been extremely busy struggling to increase the state’s royalties from the gas facilities on Israel’s coasts. In the past few months a wide public struggle regarding this issue has begun to form. This past week, the economic committee opened up discussions on this subject, which were characterized by nationalist sentiments and attempts to delegitimize voices for change for the sake of the wealthy. We continue to demand a significant increase in royalties, as is customary in the rest of the world. We also demand that this increase be carried out in a way that will ensure that the public (who the natural resources belong to) will benefit from the enormous income that is expected to be generated from the gas. To achieve this goal, we are working with the Civil Action Forum to establish a large parliamentary lobby and to initiate a conference on the subject in the Knesset.

After two years, a struggle finally comes to an end with the government’s decision not to establish a new coal-fired power plant in Ashkelon. As you know, we managed to postpone the establishment of the power plant last year due to the Copenhagen Conference. Thanks to this delay, the decision came after the discovery of new gas resources, causing the government to abandon its plans to establish the power plant altogether.

In another long battle – this one against wireless access facilities, we won a partial achievement with the Supreme Court’s decision to issue an interim order prohibiting their installation until the legislative process on the subject is completed. Wireless access facilities were a way for the cellular companies to use antennas that emit harmful radiation, while bypassing the need to obtain permits from the Ministry of Environment and the local authorities, while also preventing any opportunity for public objection.

In the area of public transportation, the greatest move to nationalize infrastructure in the history of Israel is moving forward. Progress was made last year with the decision to expel the Gush Dan city train/subway’s contractor and to use the company’s forfeiture to make it into a national project. Nationalization of the project is the first glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, but it is still very distant and we cannot wait idly for it. Therefore we are increasing our efforts to promote a new network of fast buses with exclusive bus routes – Plan Mahir Be-Ir of the City for All of Us.

Also the struggle for the Alexander River recently saw success when the National Infrastructure committee chose the more environmental option to expand the coastal highway rather than build a new highway at the expense of green spaces. Also, Road 551 will be diverted away from the Poleg River, thanks to a joint struggle of the local residents and environmental organizations.

Earlier this month, I received the 2010 Knight of Quality Government Award in the Caesarea amphitheater. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my partners who this award also belongs to, the social and environmental organizations, the activists, and all those who haven’t given up on the dream and continue forward in the struggles for democracy, transparency, environmental justice, equality, and peace. Finally, I would like to invite you to join my new facebook page, through which you will find relevant information and regular updates.

Best regards,

Dov Khenin

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