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TEL AVIV NOTES: "The 'Trust and Reform' Party: New Arab Politics in Israel?" - June 16, 2016

Arik Rudnitzky, the Project Manager for Tel Aviv University's Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation, explains the background of the founders of a new political party in Israel and what the party means for Arab politics in Israel.

On April 11, 2016, an important event took place in the sphere of Arab politics in Israel. A new political party, “Trust and Reform” (al-wafaaʾ wal-islah) was established, led by Shaykh Hussam Abu Leil, an Imam from the community of Ayn Mahel, adjacent to Nazareth. The announcement aroused great public and media interest in the Arab sector, despite taking place between election cycles. Neither general elections for the Knesset nor elections for local councils are on the horizon. What drew attention to the announcement was the identity of the new party’s founders.

The five members of the party’s founding committee are identified with the northern faction of the Islamic Movement (IM) in Israel, which espouses dogmatic ideas about the Israeli establishment and Israeli society and consistently refrained from taking part in Israeli politics. Abu Leil is a senior figure in the IM, and is considered “number three” among its top leadership, after Shaykh Raed Salah and Shaykh Kamal Khatib. Professor Ibrahim Abu Jaber and Dr. Hasan Sunʿallah, are senior researchers at the Center for Contemporary Studies (markaz al-dirasat al-muʿaasirah – an institute established in 1988, and based in Umm al-Fahm, that is identified with the northern faction of the IM. Mohammed Subhi Jabareen, who will be deputy head of the party, is a lawyer and was a member of the Umm al-Fahm city council from 2004 to 2014; Hiba ʿAwawdy, from Kufr Kana, has a Master’s degree in pedagogy from Hebrew University and is the wife of Dr. Yusuf ʿAwawdy, the head of foreign relations for the northern faction of the IM. The identities of the party’s founders, and the fact that the party was established less than six months after the Israeli government outlawed the northern faction of the IM, have led the media and analysts to raise the question of whether “Trust and Reform” is a new Islamist political party.

The party’s founders emphasized that the party is completely independent, not linked to the northern faction of the IM and not intended to replace it. A detailed policy agenda has not been officially published, but Jabareen outlined the party’s principles and goals on the day the party’s establishment was announced. He clarified that the Palestinians in the “interior” [referring to Israel’s Arab citizens] are an inseparable part of the Palestinian people (al-shaʾb al-filastini) and the Arab and Islamic umma(nation - al-umma al-ʿarabiyah wal-islamiyah). He added that the party advocates the principles of liberty, justice, and respect for political and religious pluralism in Arab society, and views the al-Aqsa Mosque compound as belonging exclusively to Muslims. The party’s goal is to strengthen the identity and national attributes of the Arab public, to emphasize the standing of the Arab language as a fundamental principle of identity, and to strengthen the standing of women in Arab society. Jabareen pointed out that one of the party’s founders was a woman and that she was a source of pride for the party.[1]

The party’s founders stress that the principal reason for its establishment was the feeling that the existing political parties do not provide an appropriate response to the real problems facing the Arab public: “Arab society suffers from many afflictions,” explained Abu Leil, adding that “until now, everyone talks about the disease but no one talks about the cure or the solution. First and foremost, negative trends like violence, weapons, and drugs should be uprooted.” The party’s name suggests the rationale for its establishment. The expression al-wafaaʾ means loyalty to a promise and the obligation to fulfill it. The promise of the party is to work honestly to bring about social change and to reform the Arab public in Israel. The party defines itself as “non-parliamentarian,” and therefore at this stage does not intend to participate in elections to Knesset or to the local councils, but rather to focus its activities on Arab youth.

Despite declarations that there is no connection to the IM, one can hardly ignore the connection between the party’s founders and their ties to the IM. The party’s “bottom-up” strategy, focusing on fundamental social problems and non-participation in electoral politics, are the hallmarks of the northern branch of the IM.

Since its establishment, the party has issued three public declarations, all of which were published on the internet site identified with the Islamic Movement, www.pls48.net. The first declaration (April 19) condemned the decision of the court to sentence Shaykh Raed Salah to nine months in prison.[2] The second (April 21) included the declaration that the al-Aqsa Mosque is a purely Islamic heritage site;[3] it was only in the party’s third communique (April 23) that it outlined its guiding principles, including a condemnation of the wave of violence spreading in Arab society, in light of the murder of two citizens of Umm al-Fahm, who had been engaged in a personal feud.[4]

In October 2015, www.pls48.net published detailed position papers on behalf of Shaykh Salah on four key issues: 1) Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque; 2) education, values, and morals; 3) the political path of the IM; and 4) religion and fatwas.[5] Salah retained the IM’s view that there will be a future Islamic Caliphate in the region, and outlined the three basic principles that guide the Islamic Movement: empowering the Arab public as a whole; broad societal cooperation in fashioning policy, including an openness to criticism; and adopting wasatiyya (“the middle path”) with respect to religious law.[6] Salah clarified that the northern faction of the IM is not glued to a dogmatic approach, but attentive to the mainstream Arab public in all of its diversity.

These developments strengthened the assumption that the “Trust and Reform” party was rooted in Salah’s thinking. Indeed, some in the Arab public identify the new party as “the Islamic Movement in a civil framework,” a “new version of the Islamic Movement that was outlawed.”[7] However, the internal discussion in the northern faction about establishing a political party had in fact began a year earlier, and there was no connection between the establishment of the new party and the IM’s ban. Ibrahim Khatib, a former researcher at the Center for Contemporary Studies, explained that the new party “heralds a change in political operations, and especially those based on the Islamic dimension.” One of the challenges facing the party will be “to instill the wasatiyya in the Islamic discourse as a way to deal with the political differences that exist in our society.”[8] These comments are consistent with Salah’s statements in mid-November 2015, just a few days before the northern faction of the IM was outlawed. He admitted that the question of establishing a political party on behalf of the IM was under internal discussion and not yet decided. The establishment of such a party, he stressed, was likely to come at the expense of taking part in elections to the Knesset, which Salah views as totally unacceptable, from both the Islamist and Palestinian-national points of view.[9] Salah’s position is similar to that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan, and to the Islamic movements in Turkey, Morocco, and Tunisia. In these states, the Islamic movements established political parties with a milder discourse than the dogmatic discourse of the movement. However, intellectuals close to the northern faction reject these comparisons, and claim that the new party is not an alternative to the IM, does not operate on its behalf, and is not presenting a challenge to the leadership of Raed Salah. Furthermore, the new party entirely rejects the government’s decision to ban the IM.

What is it then, if the new party is not an “Islamic party” and not even a new “Islamic movement”? Asʿad Ghanem and Mohanad Mustafa’s definition of “Islamic activism” may provide an answer.[10] They argue that “Islamic activism” tries to find a balance between traditional society subjected to the destabilizing influence of modernization on the one hand, and the failure of national movements on the other. Islamic activists want to establish a movement for effective Islamic change in the present while relying on Islamic values of the past. This approach combines dogmatism and flexibility, and adapts itself to the challenges of the external environment at both the local and regional levels.

The Islamic current in Israel is influenced not only by the Palestinian national movement – which has been in a crisis for more than decade – but to a great extent influenced even more by other forces in Arab society, like the "Arab Spring" and its aftermath, which introduced new Islamist movements in Syria and Iraq, such as the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusrah. It is too early to conclusively define the “Trust and Reform” party, which is still in the process of establishing itself. Nevertheless, it can said that the establishment of this new party expresses the intentions of the IM to reassess its path, particularly in the social and political fields.

Arik Rudnitzky is the Project Manager of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperationand a Junior Researcher at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies (MDC)Tel Aviv University.

[1] Taha Aghbariya, “Advocate Muhammed Subhi Jabareen, Deputy Head of the ‘Trust and Reform’ Party”: The doors of the party are open to every group and sector of our people,” www.pls48.net[Arabic], April 12, 2016.

[6] This doctrine, which was designed in the 1990s and is associated with Egyptian Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, combines adherence to the principles of Islamic religious law with flexibility, according to changing societal conditions.

[7] Wadiʾ ʿAwawdy, “An Islamic Movement – in a civil framework?,” www.arab48.com [Arabic], April 11, 2016.

[8] Ibrahim Khatib, “‘Trust and Reform’: Path of suffering and hope,” www.pls48.net [Arabic], April 13, 2016.

[10] As'ad Ghanem and Mohanad Mustafa, “Explaining Political Islam: The Transformation of Palestinian Islamic Movements,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 41:4 (2014), pp. 335-354.

Photo  Shaykh Hussam Abu Leil/Source: www.pls48.net



U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken & Former U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger to Participate in 2016 Herzliya Conference


Majority of Israeli Ministers and Opposition Leaders to address the Conference which takes place June 14th-16th

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken has confirmed he will address the 16th annual Herzliya Conference. The event will be held June 14th-16th.   

This year, the first day of the Conference, June 14th, will be held at the residence of the President of Israel where President Reuven Rivlin will discuss the continuation of the Tikva (Hope) project, a joint venture with the Institute for Policy & Strategy, which was announced at last year’s Conference.

The Conference will continue on June 15th & 16th on IDC Herzliya campus.


On the evening of June 15th, Former U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, will address the Conference and be awarded an Honorary Fellowship from IDC Herzliya.


Among the international speakers scheduled to address the conference: Amb. Edward Djerejain - Former US Amb. to Syria & Israel, Jay Footlik – Former Special Assistant to U.S. President Bill Clinton, Jane Harman – U.S. Democratic party leader, Bernard Henri Levy – French author and intellectual, Mike Huckabee – Republican party leader & former Arkansas Governor, Jan Jambon – Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Interior Affairs of Belgium, Amb. Daniel Kurtzer – Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel, Amb. Ronald Lauder – President of the World Jewish Congress, Amb. Dan Shapiro – U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Witold Waszczykowski – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland.


The majority of ministers from the Israeli Government, key members of the opposition as well as other leading figures are scheduled to address the conference including:  Ehud Barak - Former Israeli Prime Minister, MKNaftali Bennett – Minister of Education, H.E. Danny Danon – Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, MK Aryeh Deri – Minister of the Interior, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel – Israeli Air Force Commander, MKGilad Erdan – Minister of Public Security & Strategic Affairs, MKYoav Galant – Construction & Housing Minister, MKZehava Gal-On – Chairman of the “Meretz” party, Amb. Dan Gillerman - Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Amb. Dore Gold – Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maj. Gen (Res.) Amos Gilad – Director of Policy & Political-Military Affairs of the Ministry of Defense, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi – Chief of Military Intelligence of the IDF, MK Isaac Herzog – Head of the Zionist Union & leader of the opposition, MKYisrael Katz – Minister of Transportation, MKYair Lapid – Chairman & Founder of the “Yesh Atid” party, MK Avigdor Lieberman – Minister of Defense, MKYaakov Litzman – Minister of Health, MKTzipi Livni – Zionist Union party & former Foreign Minister,  Judge Miriam Naor - President of the Supreme Court of Israel, MKAyman Odeh – Chairman of the “Joint List” party, Shimon Peres – Former Israeli President,  Amb. Ron Prosor – Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Shabtai Shavit – Former Head of the Mossad, Amb. Gabriella Shalev - Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations,MKYuval Steinitz – Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy & Water Resources, Moshe Ya’alon – former Minister of Defense.


Figures from the Arab world are also expected to participate.

From the financial world, both Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Chairperson of the Bank of Israel Karnit Flug will be speaking at the Conference along with top executives from AXA France, Bank Hapoalim, Bombardier, General Motors, JVP Cyber Labs, LionTree LLC, Medasense Biometrics, Moovit, Phillips Israel, Rothschild Group, SkyTran – Nasa Space Act, Teva & UBER.

The Conference will conclude with the “Herzliya Address” which has traditionally been reserved for remarks by the Israeli Prime Minister.



For a complete schedule and further updates log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

Schedule is subject to change.



Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference


The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.   









"Israel's Youngest Diplomats Address the Syrian Conflict"


 The youngest diplomats in Israeli history participated in a unique conference in Petah Tikva on Sunday, April 10th. The Young Ambassadors School in Petah Tikva, which is used to training young leaders and marking historic occasions, welcomed its youngest students in the Model United Nations (MUN) program. Approximately thirty 5th and 6th grade students represented countries ranging from Australia to the United Arab Emirates, and spent 2.5 hours addressing the conflict in Syria.

As the youngest MUN students in Israeli history, the students spent weeks preparing for the conference by studying rules for how to interact in a diplomatic conference, and the complexities of the Syrian conflict, from the issue of Kurdish sovereignty to the threat of Jabhat al-Nusra to replace the presence of Islamic State.

The conference, the third one this year organized by the Young Ambassadors School in partnership with the Interfaith Encounters Association, also included three committees for older students—one dealing with Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, one addressing the threat of Islamic State (Daesh), and a crisis committee simulating an Israeli airstrike on Iran. Participants included 7th-12th grade students from the Young Ambassadors School, as well as the Yachad Modiin team, and individual students from other cities. Students from Khadeja Junior High School in Umm al-Fahem and AlJadedah High School in Kfar Kasem also attended as observers in hopes of establishing their own MUN programs in the future.

Following the debates and negotiations, each committee voted on and passed a separate resolution. For the Syrian Conflict committee that meant deciding to partition Syria into distinct, autonomous areas, with one overarching central government to unite the different areas.

At the end of the evening, those who represented their countries the best were called up to the podium to receive awards. These included Eden Peri (Iran), Uri Haimovitch (China), Itay Ozer (Saudi Arabia) and Mika Galperin (USA) in the Syrian Conflict committee; Almog Vilder (Lebanon), Sarah Frydman (Syria) and Niv Geva (Iraq) in the ISIS committee; Arielle Lieberman (USA), Tamar Shahar (Canada) and Oz Alfy (Italy) in the Human Rights Council, and Austen Hamilton (Israel) and Omri Weinstock (Iran) in the Crisis Committee.

Or Shipperman from Elimelekh Kaner Elementary School, who represented Russia in the 5th-6th grade group, said that she enjoyed herself immensely, and that it had been an incredible experience. "I learned about how the conflict looks from a different perspective, and of course how to represent a different view than my personal one" she said. Ori Vikel, from Neve Oz Elementary School, added that in her view, the experience of learning to make speeches and represent countries was preparation for the job of representing Israel for which the Young Ambassadors program prepares students. Judging by the conference, Israel's diplomatic future, rests in some capable young hands.


For more information and to attend future conferences, please contact Steven Aiello, Director of the Model UN program at the Young Ambassadors School


Steven Aiello
Contributing Analyst -- Wikistrat.com
Model UN and Debate Instructor -- School for Young Ambassadors 
Mail  :  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel :  052-8194878



Israel to open an office at NATO HQ in Brussels


Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the NATO announcement and called it an important step in enhancing Israel’s security.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced that Israel will be able to open an office at NATO headquarters in Brussels and to complete the process of accrediting its delegates. The announcement comes after diplomatic efforts by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and the National Security Council. Israel wishes to thank its friends among NATO member states for their support and efforts in this matter.


Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the NATO announcement and called it an important step in enhancing Israel’s security. He stated that the move demonstrates the desire to cooperate with Israel in the field of security.







One of the most important climate conferences ever is taking place in Paris in December 2015. The 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP 21, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is being held from November 30-December 11, 2015. ​The Paris Climate Conference is considered so significant because a new, binding agreement on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which will be applicable to all countries, is expected to be adopted there.
Israel's has committed to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions to 7.7 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) by 2030. This constitutes a reduction of 26% below the 2005 GHG emissions level.


Israel's GHG Emissions Reduction Target


​While Israel has been a Party to the UNFCCC since 1996 and to the Kyoto Protocol since 2004, it was defined by Kyoto to be a developing, or non-Annex 1 country. Thus, it was not legally obligated to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
At the UNFCCC in Copenhagen in 2009, Israeli President Shimon Peres announced Israel's intention to reduce GHG emissions 20% by 2020, compared to a business-as-usual scenario. The government formulated a national GHG reduction program in 2010. But the Finance Ministry froze the program in 2013, making it unlikely the country will reach its 20% reduction target.
Under a new agreement expected to be adopted at the 2015 Paris conference, all countries, including Israel, will be obligated to reduce GHG emissions.


2015: A New Target
In Sept. 2015, an inter-ministerial committee submitted a recommendation to the Israeli government that it approve a program to reduce GHG emissions 25% by 2030.
In October 2015, the Israeli government submitted its official GHG reduction target to the UNFCCC.


The mitigation target is a per capita emissions reduction of 7.7 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) by 2030. This constitutes a reduction of 26% below the level in 2005 of 10.4 tCO2e per capita. An interim target of 8.8 tCO2e is expected by 2025.


There are also sector-specific targets for 2030:

17% reduction in electricity consumption relative to BAU (business as usual) scenario
17% of the electricity consumed will be from renewable sources (Currently 2% of Israel's electricity is generated by renewables.)
20% shift from private to public transportation relative to BAU scenario, transition from diesel to compressed natural gas for heavy vehicles
The emissions target is part of Israel's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), all the climate actions Israel intends to take under the new agreement.
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Preparations in Israel for the Paris Climate Conference

Conference on Sustainable Innovation: Towards the UN Convention on Climate Change, July 14, 2015
Hosts: Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP), Israel Ministry of Economy, German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.
English presentations:
New Climate Economy: An Action Agenda for Sustainable Economic Growth
​A Universal Climate Agreement: Convergence of Moral and Economic Imperatives
​Energy Efficiency on (and Beyond) the Road to Paris 2015
Comparative Findings on Climate Policy Among OECD Members


In addition, head of the MoEP's Climate Change Division presented conclusions of the inter-ministerial committee that was analyzing Israel's potential for reducing energy consumption and GHGs.
In accordance with the committee's findings, the MoEP recommended a reduction target of 30% of greenhouse gases by 2030, compared to a business as usual scenario. These reductions would come from sectors such as: electricity, industry, transportation, residential and commercial buildings, waste, and agriculture. (Ultimately, a slightly lower target was submitted. See GHG Emissions Reduction Target above.)
Article on conference, German Environment Ministry Website: "Climate action is a driver of innovation," July 14, 2015
More about the Sustainable Innovation Conference.

Climate Change Adaptation Conference, Sept. 7, 2015

Hosts: MoEP and other government ministries and agencies dealing with climate change adaptation
Topics included:
Creating a strategy and action plan to prepare Israel for climate change
The climate treaty expected to be adopted at the Paris Climate Conference
Climate trends and forecasts
The expected impact of climate change and adaptation efforts being made in Israel. Areas expected to be affected include: agriculture, biodiversity, rivers and streams, forestation, health, education, security, energy, planning and building, water, technologies, and more.

Israeli Delegation at COP 21
The delegation includes:
Nearly 70 people altogether; 12 from the MoEP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, Director General Yisrael Dancziger
Knesset (Parliament) members, Officials from other ministries and agencies
Representatives from environmental NGOs, academia, business executives


Side events:
Three side events are being organized by members of the Israeli delegation. Topics of the side events are:
Alternative refrigerants. (The use of alternative refrigerants, instead of GHG-producing HFCs, to replace HCFCs that are being phased out as a result of the Montreal Protocol.) More about the HCFC phase-out and alternative refrigerants.

Organizers: MoEP and its counterpart in Bavaria, Germany, which is partnering with Israel on a project to promote alternative refrigerants in Israel.
Deforestation. Organizers: Jewish National Fund, Montenegro organization
Renewable Energies. Organizers: Israel Foreign Ministry


Israeli Speakers:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the conference on Day One, Nov. 30th.


Photo  :Israeli and German Environment Ministers Avi Gabbay and Dr. Barbara Hendricks at the Sustainable Innovation Conference

Photo by Aviad Weitzman