UN approves blacklist of companies profiting from settlements
32 nations vote in favor; 15 abstain; none oppose
The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday voted in favor of creating a “blacklist” of companies operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a motion that passed with no countries voting against.
The resolution required UN human rights officials to produce a database of “all business enterprises” that have enabled or profited from the growth of Israeli settlements, Haaretz reported.
The proposal, put forward by the Palestinian Authority and Arab states, included a condemnation of settlements and called on companies not to do business with Israeli settlements.
Its most contested clause was that calling for the formation of the database. While European Union nations opposed the creation of the list, they did not vote against the resolution, electing merely to abstain. It passed with 32 nations voting in favor and 15 abstentions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the outcome of the vote Thursday evening, saying the international body “has turned into an anti-Israel circus, which attacks the only democracy in the Middle East and ignores the blatant violations of Iran, Syria and North Korea.”
The prime minister accused the council of ignoring more urgent issues such as terrorism in order to rebuke the Jewish state.
Amnesty International launched a campaign Wednesday to press the international community to boycott goods produced in Israeli West Bank settlements.
Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Israel’s capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six Day War, the campaign also calls on states to stop their companies from operating in settlements.
“For decades, the world has stood by as Israel has destroyed Palestinians’ homes and plundered their land and natural resources for profit. While the Palestinian economy has been stunted by 50 years of abusive policies, a thriving multi-million dollar settlement enterprise has been built out of the systematic oppression of the Palestinian population,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general.
Jewish settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines are viewed by most international leaders as illegal. Israel disputes this, as there was no legal sovereign there prior to its taking control, and claims a historical tie to the biblical Judea and Samaria.
“Fifty years on, merely condemning Israel’s settlement expansion is not enough. It’s time for states to take concrete international action to stop the financing of settlements which themselves flagrantly violate international law and constitute war crimes,” Shetty said.
Several people have been killed in a terrorist attack in Iran today, with Isis claiming responsibility. This has potentially huge consequences for the wider Shia-Sunni conflict. In 2014, Douglas Murray wrote for the Spectator on Islam’s 30-year war. His piece seems particularly prescient in light of today’s events:
Syria has fallen apart. Major cities in Iraq have fallen to al-Qa’eda. Egypt may have stabilised slightly after a counter-coup. But Lebanon is starting once again to fragment. Beneath all these facts — beneath all the explosions, exhortations and blood — certain themes are emerging.
Some years ago, before the Arab ‘Spring’ ever sprung, I remember asking one top security official about the region. What, I wondered, was their single biggest fear? The answer was striking and precise: ‘That the region will clarify.’ That is a fear which now appears to be coming true.
The Middle East is not simply falling apart. It is taking a different shape, along very clear lines — far older ones than those the western powers rudely imposed on the region nearly a century ago. Across the whole continent those borders are in the process of cracking and breaking. But while that happens the region’s two most ambitious centres of power — the house of Saud and the Ayatollahs in Iran — find themselves fighting each other not just for influence but even, perhaps, for survival.
In his June 6, 2017 column in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, Musaid Al-Asimi called for no longer viewing Israel as a hostile country and instead for focusing on the real enemy – Iran. He writes that while there’s no need for demonstrations of friendship toward Israel – a country that occupies Arab land, at the same time there’s no need for unjustified demonization of Israel, especially at a time when the Palestinians themselves and Arab countries have already signed peace treaties with Israel. A careful examination of the question of “Who is the enemy?” will, he says, lead to the clear conclusion that it is Iran, and not Israel, that poses a threat and endangers Saudi Arabia, and that everything possible must be done to defeat it. In an apparent reference to Qatar but without explicitly naming it, he also calls for action against Arab Gulf elements that are often duplicitous and support Iran.
The following are excerpts from his column:
“I have written on more than one occasion about the essence of the enemy of whom we must beware, and I have written about the confusion that several of the Arabs would have us believe in and would have us keep at the forefront of our minds, and about the methods of intimidation that result from this confusion. There are those who use these methods to involve you in their problems, with the aim of having you provide them with ongoing material and political support.
“With respect to the Israeli hostility, no reasonable person has any doubt that Israel is a gang that steals Arab land, and that it has done so with international support, beginning with the Balfour Declaration and continuing with the U.S. support provided to it to this day. However, the description of this hostility is exaggerated, to the extent that there are those who claimed that the aspirations of the Jews extend to the south of the Arabian Peninsula. At the time, this triggered great hysteria, to the point where donations to Palestine exceeded the budgets of some large countries.
Evelyn Gordon: Israel’s Diplomacy Gets Serious and Gets Results
Several factors contributed to these victories. One is the way Israeli NGOs are serving as force multipliers for Israeli diplomacy. The Norwegian and Danish funding decisions, for instance, would be inconceivable had two stellar organizations, Palestinian Media Watch and NGO Monitor, not been patiently been making the case for such moves in European capitals for years. Yet this also wouldn’t have happened had official Israel not begun pushing the issue in talks with European governments, thereby depriving them of a perfect excuse for inaction. Europe will never be more pro-Israel than Israel’s own government.
Second, Israel has finally developed the confidence to play hardball, as it did by downgrading ties with New Zealand and Senegal, another co-sponsor of Resolution 2334, last December. Ties with Senegal were restored this week after the Muslim-majority country promised to support Israel’s bid for observer status at the African Union, which it had previously opposed. The New Zealand rupture is expected to end soon.
This confidence undoubtedly stems in part from Israel’s growing diplomatic strength outside the West, as highlighted most recently by Netanyahu’s address on Sunday to the summit of the Economic Community of Western African States. He was the first Israeli leader to address ECOWAS, which even moved the summit from Saturday to Sunday to accommodate him. The group invited him even though two of its 15 members have no diplomatic relations with Israel, and it pointedly preferred him to another nonmember guest: Morocco’s king. The West African monarch announced he would skip the summit rather than attend alongside Netanyahu, but that gambit signally failed to result, as it once would have, in Israel being disinvited.
Above all, however, these successes stem from focusing consistently on simple, clear, easily digestible messages: Jews’ longstanding ties to Jerusalem, the anti-Semitic nature of BDS, Palestinian incitement, and the way Europe enables it. For too long, Israeli diplomacy has tried to convey complex, nuanced messages while the Palestinians endlessly repeated simple sound bites (“end the occupation”). But when shades of gray compete against black and white in the arena of public opinion, the latter usually wins.
Israel’s recent victories came from hammering home black-and-white messages of its own. And if it continues to do so, it can make further diplomatic gains, even in hostile Europe.
Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, would do well to answer the call by deciding immediately to bomb the Syrian crematoria which were revealed by the US State Department with satellite imagery of bodies being burned at Bashar Assad’s Sednaya Prison, where tens of thousands are said to have been murdered.
Functioning crematoria, just 140 miles from the Jewish state, seventy years after the Holocaust, is an abomination.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated Adolf Hitler. Yet Roosevelt’s moral legacy is severely tarnished today for his refusal to bomb the crematoria at Auschwitz. History will judge all of us who turn a blind eye to functioning crematoria after six million Jews were incinerated.
Current US President Donald Trump has already showed his commitment to protecting Arab and Muslim lives when he retaliated against Assad in April for the Syrian dictator’s use of poison gas against innocent men, women, and especially children. Israel should follow suit by bombing the crematoria and demonstrate that moral nations will never again turn a blind eye to poison gas and crematoria — words which should make every Jew and every person of conscience shudder with horror.
Israel is spearheading a move that could see multiple members exit the United Nations Human Rights Council unless it relinquishes its anti-Israel bias.
Israel is a fixed item on the agenda of the 47-member body, set up in 2006, and it has passed over 70 resolutions against the Jewish state.
Israel is demanding that the UNHRC cancel its annual session that focuses solely on alleged human rights violations committed by Israel against the Palestinians. Another demand is that the council cancel the committee tasked with maintaining a database of companies doing business beyond the Green Line.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that “the time is right for a major change in the U.N., mainly over the new administration in the U.S.”
He also credited U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley for “working tirelessly” to change the “aggressive and unjustified anti-Israel bias in the U.N.”
Over the years, royalty, heads of state and government, high-ranking ministers and diplomats from many countries have visited the President’s residence, but seldom has the visit of any dignitary generated as much excitement as that of United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
Until hours prior to Haley’s arrival, members of the president’s staff were moving flags and chairs- a centimeter in one direction then another, then back again, as if it was going to make much difference.
Press photographers and television crews were no less pedantic about what to them was obviously an historic opportunity. They kept testing microphones over and over, moving chairs and flags ever so slightly in one direction or another to get the best angles for capturing a meeting to be preserved for prosperity.
They didn’t go in for nearly as much fine detail last month for the visit of US President Donald Trump.
Israel is interested in working together with the US to bring an end to UN resolution 2334 against Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, Channel 2 reported this afternoon.
According to the report, at the meeting held today between Prime Minister Netanyahu and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, the two set a goal of cancelling the anti-Israel UN resolution, which passed shortly before former US President Obama left office.
The resolution, passed by the UN security council last December, condemns Israel and calls for a building freeze in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. 14 countries in the council, a definitive majority, voted in favor, and the resolution passed because the US withheld its veto power.
The resolution states that the construction of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has rebuked United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for what the Jewish civil rights organization described as an “incomplete and misleading” statement marking the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the 1967 Six-Day War.
In the statement, Guterres asserted that “[e]nding the occupation that began in 1967 and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty. It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”
Guterres also described the aftermath of the war in purely negative terms, saying that it “resulted in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians,” without acknowledging the threat of destruction Israel faced on eve of the conflict.
“We are troubled by the secretary-general’s incomplete statement on the anniversary of the Six-Day War and urge him to clarify his remarks,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “While we share his desire for a return to negotiations to achieve a two-state solution, this anniversary cannot be viewed in a vacuum. It is grossly misleading to examine only the enduring effects of the war while ignoring the context in which the war took place — the belligerence of the Arab states in the spring of 1967, and the silence of the international community in the face of these threats and its failure to ensure the rights to free passage of international waterways.”
Gil Troy: Ambassador Haley, the modern Moynihan
Although Moynihan fought honorably and effectively, his passionate defense of democracy so upset his American bosses he only served eight months.
As he predicted, words like “racism” and “self-determination” have been drained of their meaning, often distorted beyond recognition. Furthermore, as he warned, “Whether Israel was responsible, Israel surely would be blamed: openly by some, privately by most.
Israel would be regretted.”
After his UN stint, Moynihan represented New York in the Senate for four terms. Some of his successors at the UN followed his lead, especially the Republican John Bolton and the Democrat Jeane Kirkpatrick, who in the 1980s bashed the “Blame America First crowd” (inspiring my attacks on Blame Israel Firsters). Clearly, cultivating national pride is a bipartisan enterprise.
America is lucky to have a modern Moynihan in Nikki Haley, who is fearless, eloquent, incorruptible and honorable.
“Did I make a crisis out of this obscene resolution?” Moynihan would bellow when accused of having picked a fight. “Damn right I did!” Noting that his boss, Henry Kissinger, America’s first Jewish secretary of state, frequently undermined his efforts, Moynihan quipped: “An Issue of Honor, of Morality, was put before us, and not all of us ran.”
Ambassador Haley has shown that she too stands for honor, morality and principle, and will not run. Let’s hope she doesn’t have to stand alone, lasts longer than eight months, but runs – for higher office!
President Donald Trump’s support for Israel has been bringing the winds of positive change into the corridors of the United Nations, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told Breitbart News in an interview.
“We see the winds coming from Washington to New York and we feel it in the corridors of the United Nations,” Danon said. “And we are very optimistic to continue to make changes in the United Nations.”
He continued: “We are very happy to hear Ambassador Nikki Haley taking a stand with American values. With the real values supporting Israel. We saw it in the Security Council, when she told my colleagues, the ambassadors, to focus on the real threats in the Middle East. Focus on a run. Hezbollah. Hamas. Not Israel. And also with her approach, which gives courage for the continued support of Israel in the United Nations.”
On Tuesday, Haley, who is due in Israel for a visit this week, warned at the opening session of the UN in New York that the U.S could pull out of the United Nations Human Rights Council due to the body’s notorious anti-Israel bias.
International human rights lawyer Anne Bayefsky reported on UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s latest statement about the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday’s Breitbart News Daily. Bayefsky expressed disappointment with the mild character of Haley’s brief remarks, compared to the boldness of her earlier criticism of the Council.
“I’m afraid that she didn’t say very much. She was very hopeful. Her attitude was one of hope that the Human Rights Council would do a better job going forward,” Bayefsky said of Haley’s remarks.
“It was a very short speech. You get very little time at the Human Rights Council to speak, so she couldn’t say very much of anything,” she noted.
“She might have said that unless the Council does A, B, C, the United States will remove itself, but she didn’t say that. She said that Venezuela should voluntarily step down, which of course is completely and utterly unrealistic. She said no human rights violator should be on the Council, should be allowed to take a seat. That isn’t going to happen because the General Assembly and the Council itself determines who are its members, and they have no intention of changing their procedures,” Bayefsky noted.
“And she said it’s essential that the Council address its anti-Israel bias, but again, U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations have said that for the last three decades, to no avail. There was no ‘or else,’” she said.
Nikki Haley conditions US membership in UNHRC on end to anti-Israel bias, removal of Agenda Item 7
The winds at the United Nations are changing to Israel’s benefit, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Wednesday in Jerusalem, during her first-ever visit to Israel, calling the international body a “bully.”
“We’re starting to see a turn in New York. I think they know they can’t keep responding in the way they’ve been responding,” she said at a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referring to countries that routinely bash the Jewish state at the UN’s various agencies.
“They sense that the tone has changed. We were talking with some ambassadors in Geneva that are all on the Human Rights Council, and we talked to them about Agenda Item 7,” Haley said. “Some of them were embarrassed by it. They acknowledge the fact that it just makes no sense.”
Haley was referring to the fact that since 2007, Israel has been the only country whose alleged human rights abuses are regularly discussed in the framework of a single permanent item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda.
Six questions that should be asked of UNRWA, starting with a long overdue audit of funds.
Six questions that could reflect a new US Policy towards UNRWA (the links provide more information and sources of that information):
1. Will you ask for an audit of funds that flow to UNRWA? This would address widespread reports of wasted resources, duplication of services and the undesired flow of cash to terror groups which gained control over UNRWA operations in Gaza over the past 18 years.
2. Will you ask that UNHCR standards be applied to UNRWA, in order to resettle the Arab refugees of 1948, after 69 years? While the UNGA will not allow UNHCR to replace UNRWA, there is nothing stopping the application of UNHCR humanitarian standards.
3. Will you ask for a cancellation of the new UNRWA war curriculum in UN schools which are supposed to promote the UNRWA slogan of “Peace Starts Here”?
4. Will you ask for a cessation of the paramilitary training of UNRWA students, in coordination with Hamas? Should UNRWA, as a UN agency, not demonstrate renewed commitment to the UN principle of “peace education?”
5. Will you insist that UNRWA dismiss employees affiliated with Hamas, in accordance with laws on the books in western nations, and even in the UN, which forbid aid to an agency that employs members of a terrorist organization?
6. Will you demand that UNRWA fire “youth ambassador” Mohammad Assaf, who travels the world and encourages insurrection and violence? Would this not be the appropriate time for the US to ask that UNRWA cancel a contract with a harbinger of war? Are the lyrics of the UNRWA youth Ambassador not lethal?
A State Department official said Tuesday that Israelis and Palestinians will “be forced to compromise” in order to achieve US President Donald Trump’s goal of brokering peace between the two sides.
In her first press briefing as the department’s spokesperson, Heather Nauert wouldn’t address a question about UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s statement lamenting 50 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but pivoted to say that both Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were committed to forging an agreement despite the inevitable challenges that will arise.
“Middle East peace is something that’s very important to this administration,” Nauert told reporters. “The president and the secretary have both said they recognize that it will not be easy, that both sides will be forced to compromise.”
Tillerson, for his part, recently told reporters that Trump was “very forceful” with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his trip to the region last month, in which he sought to jumpstart negotiations.
“He put a lot of pressure on them that it’s time to get to the table,” Tillerson said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling on young people from across the country to move to the Golan Heights.
“Come to the Golan. This is your home, and it will always be our home,” Netanyahu said at a conference hosted by the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry in the Golan Heights on Tuesday.
“If we weren’t here, radical Islam would be here,” he said.
“And we all understand the implications [of that]. The Golan Heights will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty. We will never leave the Golan Heights. Our future is here and you are here. Our growth is beginning to yield results, and the governments I lead are making great efforts so that young people will say they are doing well in Israel.”
Also Tuesday, Netanyahu addressed the Knesset at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War and the resumption of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan River Valley.
Planning is in full swing ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel next month, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Tuesday.
When Modi lands at Ben-Gurion International Airport on July 5, he will become the first sitting Indian prime minister to set foot in Israel.
During his two-day stay, Walla reported, the 66-year-old Modi — who took office in 2014 — will not travel to Ramallah or any other part of the Palestinian Authority, unlike most foreign leaders who visit Israel.
However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did fly to New Delhi last month and met with Modi. At that meeting, Modi reiterated India’s commitment to the establishment of a “sovereign, independent, united and viable” Palestinians state “coexisting peacefully with Israel.”
Modi’s trip comes as Israel and India mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. As of late, the relationship between the two countries has flourished, particularly in the defense field.
This February, for example, it was reported that Modi had approved a $2.5 billion deal to acquire an Israeli aerial defense system for the Indian military.
Virginia Imam Shaker Elsayed against Peace Process with the Jews!
“It’s in Their Genes and Blood”
In the course of a sermon in Fairfax Country, Virginia, Imam Shaker Elsayed warned the Palestinians that no agreement could be reached with the Jews, because they “will not deal with you fairly and squarely.”
History proves that “it is in the genes, it is in the blood,” he said, and added that “they have killed three prophets before, and they sent the fourth to the Romans to kill him or crucify him.”
The Egyptian-born Shaker Elsayed has been the resident imam at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center since June 2005 and served as Secretary-General of the Muslim American Society in 2000-2005.
His sermon was posted on Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center’s YouTube channel on June 2. In a recent lecture at the mosque, Imam Elsayed endorsed FGM.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on the Attorney-General’s Office on Wednesday to open an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Breaking the Silence spokesman Dean Issacharoff. Her request followed the surfacing of a video in which Issacharoff claims to have beaten a Palestinian youth while he was an IDF officer years ago.
Speaking on Army Radio on Wednesday morning, Shaked said that “if it really happened he must be questioned and punished. If it didn’t happen the state needs to say so clearly.”
If that happens, the representative of a human rights group that has consistently spoken out against alleged Israeli abuse of Palestinians in the West Bank would be prosecuted by the very institutions that his group rails against.
Issacharoff was recorded recounting the incident a few months ago. Breaking the Silence often cites examples of alleged past misconduct by soldiers to try to prove its argument that the military must take a tougher stand on war crimes violations against Palestinians.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to demand the release of Israeli citizen Avera Mengistu from Hamas captivity after his detention exceeded 1,000 days.
The protesters said the Israeli government should be making a greater effort to secure Mengistu’s release from Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Palestinian terror group is believed to have held Mengistu, who is of Jewish-Ethiopian origin, ever since he voluntarily crossed into the coastal territory in September 2014. Hamas has not officially confirmed his detention, but has published content on social media using Mengistu’s image several times.
Mengistu’s relatives, who were in attendance at the Tel Aviv demonstration, have said he suffers from mental health issues.
“I’m broken from the thought that after so many days I don’t know if my son has seen a doctor, received medical treatment or even what his medical condition is,” said Mengistu’s mother, Agranesh. She added, “I’m full of hope that people will see that my son is sick and what happened to me can happen to everyone.”
Rajoub in Hebrew to Israelis:
Rajoub: “When [US President Trump] came, he went to the Western Wall, and we understand that it is a holy site for the Jews, and in the end it has to be under Jewish sovereignty. We have no argument with that.”
Israeli TV interviewer Rina Matsliah: “That the Western Wall will remain under Jewish sovereignty?”
Rajoub: “Yes, of course. It is a holy site for the Jews.” [Israeli TV Channel 2, June 3, 2017]
Rajoub in Arabic to Palestinians:
“Several hostile news websites and writers for hire have reported that I renounced the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., Western Wall) or Jerusalem in a TV interview in Hebrew. What I said was that when [US President Donald] Trump visited the Al-Buraq Wall, which is holy to the Jews, he did not agree that any Israeli would accompany him, and that this constitutes a message that he does not recognize the legitimacy of your [Israel’s] sovereignty over the site. That is all that I said on [Israeli TV] Channel 2, and I did not mention the word sovereignty or Israel at all. Those were my words, as I said them. Ignore the dogs, because despite the barking, the convoy will definitely pass.”
[Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub, June 4, 2017]
Rajoub: “… It was a long interview [on Israeli TV], 36 minutes of which they released 12 minutes, and it is clear that several of the central points [were cut] in editing… [I said on Israeli TV]: ‘When he [Trump] went to the Wailing Wall, he went alone, and did not agree that any one of you [Israelis] would come. That’s also a message to you, even though it’s holy to you.’ [Israeli interviewer Rina Matsliah] asked: ‘Will you agree to Israeli sovereignty [there]?’ I told her: ‘No way. If Trump doesn’t recognize your sovereignty there, I’m supposed to agree?’ Of course this part – “
PA TV host: “Was left out…”
Rajoub: “What I said is: ‘Jewish religious supervision.’ I am issuing a challenge, even in the transcript, is it written that I said ‘Israeli sovereignty.'” [Official PA TV, June 5, 2017]
The contradiction between the compromising statements by Rajoub in Hebrew to Israelis and his uncompromising statements in Arabic to Palestinians is yet another example of the duplicity of the Palestinian leadership. Rajoub’s statement to Israelis was reported widely in the Israeli press as well as the international press. Palestinian Media Watch has urged the Israeli and international press to always verify anything told to them by Palestinian Authority leaders with what PMW has reported to be their authentic opinions expressed in Arabic to their own people. See PMW’s book Deception for extensive documentation of the Palestinian Authority’s policy of deception.
Rajoub misleads Palestinians about his statement to Israeli TV about the Western Wall
Following similar efforts by US lawmakers, Israeli ministers will vote on a proposal to deduct the amount of money provided by the Palestinian Authority to convicted terrorists and their families from funds that Israel regularly transfers to the PA.
The bill, which is on the agenda for Sunday’s meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, would see Israel cut around NIS 1 billion ($285 million) from the tax revenues it collects for the Palestinians and hands over to them — equivalent to the amount that Ramallah pays to terrorists and their families.
Authored by Yesh Atid’s MK Elazar Stern, the bill has been co-signed by Knesset members from both the coalition and opposition, including coalition chair David Bitan and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chair Avi Dichter, both of Likud.
The proposed legislation says that in 2016, the Palestinian Authority paid out some NIS 1.1 billion ($303 million) in stipends and other benefits to the families of so-called “martyrs” who lost their lives during attacks against Israelis, and Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israeli jails for security offenses.
Stern called the stipends “an incentive to murder Jews” and said Israel must put an end to the PA policy.
Abbas himself appointed murderer as member of Fatah’s Central Committee
Official PA TV newsreader: “President Mahmoud Abbas appointed prisoner in the occupation’s prison Karim Younes (i.e., terrorist, murdered 1) as a member of the Fatah Movement Central Committee, with the approval of the Fatah Revolutionary Council.”
[Official PA TV News, May 28, 2017]
Karim Younes – an Israeli Arab serving a 40-year sentence for kidnapping and murdering Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1980 together with his cousin Maher Younes. Younes was originally sentenced to life in prison, but Israeli President Shimon Peres reduced his sentence in 2012.
H.R. McMaster, the US National Security Adviser, called the converging interests of Israel and other Middle Eastern countries an “opportunity,” during an address to the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum in Washington.
In a speech Sunday night, McMaster noted a “reassessment of regional relationships, most notably between Israel and a number of our Arab partners — all friends of America, but too often adversaries of each other. Today their interests are converging. This is an opportunity.”
Citing the 1967 Six Day War as an example, McMaster said that what can appear to be an unprecedented challenge can present opportunities. Today, in the face of threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic State and Iran, Israel “has adapted and performed amazingly well” because it “consistently recognized and acted on opportunities when others may have seen only difficulties,” he said.
McMaster praised Trump’s recent visit to the Middle East, noting that aimed to reaffirm American leadership in the world, build relationships with regional leaders and “promote a message of unity among the followers of three of the world’s great faiths.”
That’s not to deny that Qatar’s critics, from Riyadh to the White House, have a point. Qatar has been a highly problematic ally—just like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and other nondemocratic states that Trump has praised in hyperbolic terms in recent months.
Qatar has chosen to play both sides of the street to assure its survival. This is hardly a unique strategy: Pakistan receives U.S. aid while sponsoring the Taliban insurgency, which has killed many American soldiers. Saudi Arabia, for its part, is a valuable American partner in the war on terror–but also a tireless proselytizer for the Wahhabi strain of Islam which has produced countless terrorists.
In Qatar’s case, it provides Islamist extremists a wide audience on its state-sponsored TV channel, Al Jazeera, and it directly supports repugnant groups such as Hamas. At the same time, Qatar hosts a major U.S. air base and 10,000 U.S. military personnel and provides a forum where U.S. officials can engage in quiet talks with groups such as the Taliban.
Qatar’s double game has long angered its Gulf neighbors. Apparently, they went ballistic after reports that Qatar had paid a billion-dollar ransom to Iran and to an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria in order to win the release of Qatari royals taken hostage in Iraq and of militiamen captured in Syria.
It makes sense for the U.S. and its other allies in the region to pressure Qatar to stop playing footsy with Islamist extremists and with Iran. But there is little sign in this week’s events that Trump is pursuing a carefully considered strategy that utilizes a whole-of-government approach. The president should have been pressing Qatar to mend its ways behind-the-scenes, rather than professing eternal friendship in a meeting with Qatar’s emir and then blowing up on Twitter. Given the high stakes involved, this is a time for carefully calibrated diplomacy, not social-media grandstanding.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Tuesday that Qatar must take several steps if it wants to restore ties with other Arab states, including ending its support for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government severed diplomatic ties with the Persian Gulf principality on Monday, citing its support for terrorism.
And Jordan announced Tuesday it was downgrading its diplomatic relations with Qatar, after examining the “cause of the crisis” between it and several other Arab states. Jordan also revoked the local operating license given to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network, a government spokesman said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Tuesday that Qatar “knows exactly what to do” to restore relations with Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies.
Qatar has asked Hamas to stop any actions that make the Gulf state look like a nation that provides a safe haven for the group’s terrorist activities, a senior official in Hamas told Breitbart Jerusalem.
According to the official, Qatar’s request included a demand to cease all activity in the country that is meant to harm Israel’s security. The request was detailed, said the source, and added that Hamas must desist from initiating any activity that will produce attacks.
The Qatari request joins a similar one from Turkey that was made several months ago as part of that country’s rapprochement deal with Israel. As a result, a Hamas official and member of the organization’s politburo, Salah Alarouri, who Israel has accused of funding and directing attacks against Israeli targets, left Turkey.
Hamas released an official statement denying that Qatar gave the organization a list of officials and other Hamas members who should be expelled from the country.
The source in Hamas confirmed the denial and said that the request was reduced only to stopping actions that would lead to attacks against Israel. “We understand the Qatari request,” said the source.
The rupture in relations between Qatar and a number of its Arab neighbors could hurt Hamas, a Palestinian expert said Tuesday.
“Assuming that the Arab states continue to pressure Qatar, Hamas could lose the different forms of political, financial and logistical support it receives from Qatar,” said Ghassan Khatib, a vice president of Bir Zeit University. “That would be really bad news for Hamas.”
The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain officially cut ties with Qatar on Sunday, announcing a series of measures against Doha. Some of the measures include expelling Qatari diplomats and citizens and closing airspace to Qatar Airways.
The four Arab states say Qatar is responsible for funding extremist groups, including Islamic State and al-Qaida. Qatar denies any backing to the groups. The four Arab states also contend that Qatar is close to their greatest adversary, Iran.
Qatari nationals will not be allowed to board Qantas flights to Dubai because the United Arab Emirates has banned them from passing through its airports after Arab powers cut ties with Qatar, an executive at the Australian airline has said.
Several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, cut ties with the tiny Gulf state on Monday over what they say is Qatar’s support for terrorism, a claim Qatar vehemently denies.
The United Arab Emirates had already said Qatari nationals would not be allowed to enter the country or cross its points of entry, although the practical effects on airline passengers had been unclear until now.
Qatari nationals will now not be allowed to pass through airports in the UAE even to change planes.
The battle for hegemony in the Middle East took a significant turn for the better when five Arab countries on Monday decided to cut all ties with Qatar.
That, at least, is how Eran Lerman reads it.
Lerman, an academic who served as deputy head at the National Security Council from 2009 to 2015, has developed a model – call it the four camps model – that puts various seemingly isolated incidents in the Middle East into a broader context.
“You have to look at the entire region to understand the place of the Qatari incident in the larger picture,” he said in an interview. And the larger picture is that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen just delivered a stinging blow to the Muslim Brotherhood.
As Israel marks the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, during which it fought Jordan as well as other Arab states, it shows how much has changed in the two countries relationship. Since 1994, the two countries have had an official peace treaty and over the years security cooperation has deepened.
The ties between the Israeli and Jordanian armies are close, and they share an interest in preventing unrest in the West Bank, which Israel has controlled since 1967. Jordan is also the custodian of the holy places in Jerusalem, meaning Jordan is responsible for the Waqf, the Muslim holy trust that administers the Al-Aqsa mosque, and which has often been a flashpoint for tensions between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians.
Israeli intelligence officials say that the security cooperation and intelligence sharing between Jordan and Israel is stronger than ever. They count this cooperation as one of the strongest weapons in Israel’s arsenal and say it is crucial for both countries stability.
At the same time, popular sentiment against cooperation with Israel is rising. Last month, a delegation of sheikhs from various tribes in Jordan visited Israel, where they met with President Reuven Rivlin, whose father was one of the first to translate the Muslim holy book the Qur’an from Arabic into Hebrew, and was an Islamic scholar.
A number of popular restaurants in the Jordanian city of Aqaba have reportedly begun denying service to vacationing Israelis due to their country of origin, according to Channel 2 on Wednesday.
Israel and Jordan have enjoyed strong diplomatic ties since signing a peace treaty in 1994. As a result, Israeli tourists have taken advantage of affordable sightseeing destinations in Jordan, especially Aqaba which straddles Israel’s southern border on the Red Sea.
But according to Channel 2, Jordanian locals are none too happy about their visiting Israeli guests, and restaurant owners have taken the extra step of refusing service to their Jewish neighbors.
In one recent post to Facebook, a traveler recounts how she and a friend were forced to leave an unnamed Aqaba restaurant, being told by the owner that he “was not ready to serve Israelis” and telling them to “get out.”
Jordan has banned a screening of the newly released “Wonder Woman” superhero film over Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s leading role and has warned domestic theaters not to show the film until an official government decision has been made.
“Wonder Woman” was already banned in Lebanon last week over Gadot’s role. Mohammad Quteishat, director of Jordan’s Media Commission, said the commission was reviewing the film to see if it complied with the Arab country’s standards and legislation, the Jordanian Petra News Agency reported.
“Cinemas that screen the film before the commission approves it will be closed, as this would be considered a violation of the law,” Quteishat said.
The move by Jordan — one of two Arab neighbors with whom Israel has diplomatic relations, along with Egypt — comes as several campaigns have been launched within the country calling for a boycott of the film due to Gadot’s role. Gadot served in the IDF and has been outspoken in her support for Israel.
“If we watch the movie, this means we will support this Israeli actor…I am against this movie and I call for banning it in Jordan as well as in the rest of the Arab world,” Mohammad Ali, who is part of an online campaign in Jordan to boycott the movie, told China’s Xinhua news service.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for attacks on Iran’s parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine on Wednesday, the group’s state news agency AMAQ said.
“Fighters from Islamic state attacked Khomeini’s shrine and the Iranian parliament in Tehran,” the news agency said.
Meanwhile, state TV reported that Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said the attacks were carried out by terrorist groups.
“This morning two terrorist groups attacked the parliament and Imam Khomeini’s shrine … Members of a third group were arrested before being able to carry out any attack,” the station quoted the ministry as saying.
The claims have not been independently verified.
In another statement the news agency said the attacks on Khomeini’s shrine were carried out by two suicide bombers.
The two attacks happened almost simultaneously and killed up to seven people.
State Department officials determined that Iran hacked their emails and social media accounts during a particularly sensitive week for the nuclear deal in the fall of 2015, according to multiple sources familiar with the details of the cyber attack.
The attack took place within days of the deal overcoming opposition in Congress in late September that year. That same week, Iranian officials and negotiators for the United States and other world powers were beginning the process of hashing out a series of agreements allowing Tehran to meet previously determined implementation deadlines.
Critics regard these agreements as “secret side deals” and “loopholes” initially disclosed only to Congress.
Sources familiar with the details of the attack said it sent shockwaves through the State Department and the private-contractor community working on Iran-related issues.
It is unclear whether top officials at the State Department negotiating the Iran deal knew about the hack or if their personal or professional email accounts were compromised. Sources familiar with the attack believed top officials at State were deeply concerned about the hack and that those senior leaders did not have any of their email or social media accounts compromised in this particular incident.
Iran is believed to be secretly building advanced centrifuges that would greatly shorten its breakout time to a nuclear weapon, Adam Kredo reported Monday for the Washington Free Beacon.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, indicated in early April that Iran could mass-produce advanced centrifuges and would do so if the U.S. violates the 2015 nuclear deal.
David Albright, a former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, and Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), argued in a recent paper that Salehi’s remarks require “careful scrutiny.” If true, the IAEA needs to know how many advanced centrifuges Iran has or, alternatively, the full inventory of parts it has for advanced centrifuges.
The nuclear deal limits Iran to possessing tens of advanced centrifuges, meaning that mass-production of the devices would violate the accord.
“Iran could have already stockpiled many advanced centrifuge components, associated raw materials, and the equipment necessary to operate a large number of advanced centrifuges,” Albright and Heinonen wrote. “The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) need to determine the status of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities, including the number of key centrifuge parts Iran has made and the amount of centrifuge equipment it has procured.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: Kerry: If Iran Already Had Nuke, Could Have Ended Tehran Hostage Crisis Sooner (satire)
Former Secretary of State John Kerry lamented this morning that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not yet possess atomic weapons, as the deployment of such devices against the Islamist hostage-takers in that country’s parliament today would have ended the standoff quickly.
Kerry, whose tenure under President Barack Obama was dominated by the administration’s agenda of clearing Iran’s path toward a nuclear weapon, observed that if not for opponents of the previous president’s Iran policy, the Ayatollahs could be that much closer to breakout, the point beyond which the production of atomic weapons is all but assured, and that he would have preferred to see a nuclear-armed Iran confronting the terrorists in Tehran today.
“The suicide bombing at the tomb of Imam Khomeini may not have been preventable even with nuclear weapons,” acknowledged the former secretary. “But certainly the judicious use of one or two atomic bombs on the parliament would have guaranteed no more hostage situation. Instead, twelve people are dead, many more injured, and we can only wonder how those numbers would be different had the authorities in Tehran been able to strike with nuclear technology.”
Kerry’s remarks were initially misunderstood by reporters, who had assumed the Tehran hostage crisis to which he referred occurred in 1979, concurrent with the Islamic Revolution that brought Khomeini to power, and when his followers captured the personnel of the US Embassy in the Iranian capital and held them hostage. While the former secretary acknowledged he did not have that incident in mind, he agreed that the situation would have been more to his liking if the Iran of 1979 already possessed nuclear weapons.
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