June 7, 2023

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09/21 Links Pt1: The irreligious West doesn’t grasp the significance of the Israel peace deal; Israel to UN: Choose between supporting Iran and terror or Israel and peace


From Ian:

Ed Husain: The irreligious West doesn’t grasp the significance of the Israel peace deal
When signing the Abraham Accord, the Emirati Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, said “with the grace of God, sir” to President Trump. Then, speaking in Arabic, he addressed the Middle East from the White House in which he proclaimed the God of Abraham for love, compassion, hope and prosperity. The prophet Mohamed, a descendant of Abraham, honoured Jews and Christians as believers in the one God of Abraham. This common heritage moves the rug from under the feet of the extremists and the Iranian government. The Jews and Christians are peoples of the Middle East for they are the inheritors of Abraham, too.

The Quran confirms the Jews’ claim to Jerusalem, recognising Joseph, son of Isaac, and the twelve tribes of Israel, while claiming Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, as the ancient father of the Arabs. This deeper history and theology will be key to making the Jewish state acceptable to the world’s 1.8 billions Muslims. And when the radical Muslim mind can accept Jews and Israel, it can stop hating the West and modernity. Israel is therefore our first line of defence. Already, the absence of riots and mass protests in Jakarta, Karachi or Cairo suggests this Abrahamic narrative cannot be easily refuted.

Rather than chase Christians away, the UAE is constructing the Abrahamic Family House, a vast compound housing a church, synagogue and mosque. A new Jewish community is thriving in Abu Dhabi and Dubai with kosher restaurants and food on planes to make Jews feel at home again in the Arabian Gulf. Jordan and Egypt, who also have peace treaties with Israel, are now considering this new model of reclaiming God and Abraham.

For too long, Palestinians and many other Muslims have been fed the falsehood that Jews are outsiders and occupiers. British diplomats and politicians are yet to understand this new zeitgeist, or encourage other Muslim nations to sign up the Abraham Accord. Will they now change course?

Khaled Abu Toameh: Arabs: “Palestinians Repeat the Same Mistakes”

At this pace, Palestinians might wake up one morning to discover that they no longer have any friends in the Arab countries at all.

“The Palestinians failed to establish their state. They failed because they did not want to establish a state. Here I mean the political leaders, some of whom still insist on repeating revolutionary phrases. The establishment of a Palestinian state will be a burden on the Palestinian leaders and will prevent them from practicing corruption…. The Palestinian Authority is no longer suitable to represent the Palestinian people.” — Iraqi writer Farouk Youssef, Al-Arabiya, September 19, 2020.

“Israel did not destroy Syria; Israel did not burn Libya; Israel did not displace the people of Egypt; Israel did not destroy Libya, and Israel did not tear up Lebanon. Before you Arabs blame Israel, take a look at yourselves in the mirror. The problem is in you.” — UAE Islamic cleric Wassem Yousef, Twitter, September 16, 2020.

“Palestinian leaders failed to invest in opportunities. They failed to take strategic decisions and chose [instead] to forge an alliance with Iran.” — Saudi writer Yusef al-Qabalan, Al-Riyadh, September 18, 2020.

The biggest losers, of course, are again the Palestinians — who are quickly losing the sympathy of a growing number of Arabs.

The Second Intifada: A defining event that reshaped the nation

And the main lesson for Israelis from the Second Intifada, he said, “is that if you do not control the territory, you can’t fight terrorism.” The intensity and lethal nature of the Second Intifada could only happen, he argued, “because we did not control the territory.” Another key lesson the public took away from the rampaging violence, said Amidror, today a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, is that it “is impossible to trust the Palestinians.” Amidror noted that the intifada broke out “after we had an agreement with Arafat. This wasn’t the First Intifada, where there was nothing between us and the Palestinians beforehand. We were after the Oslo Accords when we let them back into the territory. This led to a dramatic loss of confidence in them.” Amidror said that a key operational lesson learned from the violence is that force is not the only way to deal with local uprisings, and that force – the “stick” – must be combined with “carrots” in the form of economic benefits and enhanced personal security. Amidror, who stressed that he is not a psychologist, said that what remains in the minds of Israelis two decades after the eruption of the Second Intifada is “the sense that in the final analysis our security has to be in our own hands,” and that this “cannot be compromised in any way.” Asked if this was not something obvious to most Israelis even beforehand, he replied: “We had illusions. Oslo was built on the premise that we could work with the Palestinians.” Amidror argued that this premise was embraced by the politicians who negotiated the Oslo Accords, but was never accepted by the security establishment or “professional echelon,” of which he was a part at the time in his role as head of Military Intelligence’s research division. “We said this won’t work, and the reality turned out to be even more difficult than we imagined.” As to the intifada’s long-term impact on the Palestinians, Amidror said they realize now that if they initiate violence against civilians, they will “pay a much heavier price than we will.” “I think they now understand that if they use violence we will respond in a much stronger way because our capabilities are so much greater, and that if they pass a certain line we will respond with great strength, so they need to keep things below that line,” he said. Amidror said the Palestinian Authority now also understands that the only guarantor keeping Hamas from taking over all the territories is Israel.

Bahrain, UAE, Saudi, Sudan, Algeria media folk join Israelis in historic webinar

More than a dozen senior communication professionals, journalists and academics from the Arab world, including countries with no formal ties to Israel, on Monday took part in an unprecedented online forum to discuss with Israeli journalists and several senior government officials the role of the media in forging peace in the Middle East.

Participants hailed not only from Israel’s new peace partners — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — but also from Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Algeria, where any action seen as “normalizing” ties with the Jewish state is still considered a crime.

“This is a historic conversation,” Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis said early in the webinar. “Just like last week’s signing of the peace agreement with the UAE and Bahrain was historic, this meeting is historic. It’s joyous, momentous occasion.”

Akunis urged the organizers of the webinar, a group called Arab Council for Regional Integration, to organize a delegation of media professionals from across the region to Israel. “There is no way around it, this is the best way to cover the State of Israel from up close — its beauty, its hospitality, and of course all the opportunities for bilateral cooperation that exist.”

The Arab Council for Regional Integration is a pan-Arab initiative dedicated to fighting the taboo against interactions with Israel that exists across the region. Its general coordinator is author and activist Joseph Braude, who moderated the event.

President Reuven Rivlin did not directly participate in the event, but Ofir Gendelman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson to the Arabic media, read out a statement from Rivlin on his behalf, in Hebrew and Arabic.

Palestinians Can’t Stand In the Way of Israel’s Regional Integration

There is sympathy for ordinary Palestinians, to be sure, but Arab state officials have (yet again) lost patience with Palestinian politicians whose corruption is surpassed only by their ineptitude. The Palestinian economy is poor and growing worse. Endemic corruption discourages investment and initiative, and there is much wasteful spending that includes paying huge sums to the families of those whom Israel convicted and imprisoned as terrorists or killed in action.

More and more Gulf Arab state officials recognize that the Palestinian people, the Arab states, and the United States (not to mention Israel) would all be better off if new, more constructive Palestinian leaders came to power. At the same time, there is less and less adherence to the conventional view that Israel must make peace with the Palestinians before it can make peace with the Arab states.

By noting that greater strategic cooperation between Israel and the Arab states against Iran would “set the stage for diplomatic breakthroughs,” the Trump peace plan anticipated the UAE-Israel and Bahrain-Israel accords. It implied that such deals could usefully increase pressure on the Palestinians to reform their politics, which is the key to a breakthrough on the issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The message to the Palestinians from yesterday’s White House signing ceremony is that they need a political upheaval—new leaders, new institutions, new ideas—or they are going to become utterly irrelevant in the eyes of the world, including the broader Arab world. As they lose attention, they will lose diplomatic support and economic aid. If they cannot make war and they will not make peace, their hopes to shape their own future will diminish to nothing.

A venerable strategic maxim says that if a problem is too hard, expand it. Trying to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict by focusing only on the Palestinians and the tiny slice of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is a mission impossible, but the two new peace deals point the way to a wider and wiser approach: encourage greater cooperation between Israel and the Arab states and enlist those states in pressing the Palestinians to empower new and better leaders.

That is the most reasonable means to advance U.S. interests and to make Palestinian-Israeli peace possible. The UAE and Bahrain deals with Israel are so full of promise that the U.S. policy that helped bring it about should be continued no matter who wins the presidential election in November.

If Peace with the UAE & Bahrain Is Good, Where Are the Trumpet Sounds?

Less than a month after the normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain has also joined the peace train. I am all for it; peace and normalization are always better than war and animosity. To be honest, I don’t see that the rest of the world is so excited about it, and I think this shows how isolated we are in the world. Despite the fact that Israel has established connections with countries who were previously enemies, no one is cheering, no one is sounding the festive trumpets. For all our efforts to be accepted, Israel and Jews (though they may not recognize it), are excluded from the family of nations.

Wherever Israel appears, it is unlike any other country, and so it is with regard to Jewish presence anywhere. It is time we asked ourselves why this is so; it is time we understood that the way the world relates to us depends on us and not on them. The nations will welcome us when we bring to the world something that not we, but they consider worthwhile. Until then, whatever we offer them—advanced technology, developed agriculture, innovations in medicine, and brilliant novelists, actors, and filmmakers—the world will only hate us more. We will not receive an ounce of gratitude until we bring them what they really want from us. They do not express it, but we must figure it out and do it nonetheless.

But that something is plain to see: In a broken world, splintered by hatred, we—Jews and the State of Israel—have to bring correction to the world, Tikkun Olam, through unity. The world will accept nothing less from us.

We hate the idea, but we are not like everyone else. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who isn’t Jewish and they will tell you that they feel that there is something special about Jews. Some hate us, some like us, but most everyone senses that we are different, and they’re right. No other country or person has to justify their existence, but we Jews do, as a nation, as a country, and as individuals. We should recognize it, since otherwise the nations will tell us this the way the Nazis told this to us eighty years ago.

No nation attracts more attention than the Jews, since no other nation is expected to set an example to the whole world. We are judged by a different standard because we are expected to be more virtuous than everyone else, more loving, caring for each other, and with more mutual responsibility toward each other than all other nations.

Armani Hotel Dubai to Host First Kosher Restaurant in UAE

On the heels of the Abraham Accords signed in Washington between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates comes Armani/Kaf, the first kosher-certified dining destination in the UAE, which officially opened its doors on Sept. 17.

The 40-seat pop-up dinner venue on the ground floor of the award-winning Burj Khalifa and Armani Hotel Dubai will specialize in kosher cuisine that complies with kashrut, Jewish dietary laws.

It will be operated under the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Levi Y. Duchman, rabbi of the UAE, who has certified the venue with glatt kosher and pas Yisroel certifications from Emirates Kosher Supervising Agency, the only UAE-based kosher certifier.

At the culinary helm is Armani Hotel Dubai executive chef Fabien Fayolle. His seasonally changing menu offers a global gourmet take on kosher cuisine designed to reflect Dubai’s multicultural demographic. The menu honors signature Armani dishes with flavors and preparations from Asia and Europe to the Middle East.

The opening menu includes dishes like spaghetti bolognese with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes, pan-fried sea bass with parsnip purée and beef bourguignon with root vegetables. For those seeking traditional Middle Eastern fare, the menu features hummus with tahini, babaganoush, fattoush salad with sumac seasoning and creamy lentil soup.

Honduras to relocate embassy to Jerusalem by year’s end

Israel and Honduras will open embassies in each other’s capital cities before the end of this year, according to a statement released on Sunday by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

The joint announcement came following a conversation earlier in the day between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, said the statement. During their talk, the two leaders reaffirmed the close ties between Jerusalem and Tegucigalpa, and Hernández also congratulated Netanyahu on the historic agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords.

The Honduran leader also extended his best wishes for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

“Today, with their flags flying over each other’s capital cities, Israel and Honduras wish to announce the intention to complete the plan of action, before the end of this year, with the reciprocal opening and inauguration of their embassies in the national capitals, Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem,” said the statement.

Following a trilateral meeting in Brazil in 2019 between Netanyahu, Hernández and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the three countries agreed to strengthen their political ties and to coordinate cooperation on development in Honduras, and also to “pursue a plan of action, which includes meetings in their three respective capitals, to advance the process of the decision to open embassies in both Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem.”

Historic film collaboration announced between Israel and UAE

The Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC), the Israel Film Fund (IFF) and the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film & Television School (JSFS) have reached a comprehensive agreement centered around goodwill collaboration and bilateral cooperation in the fields of film and television.

Under the new agreement, the film commissions will collaborate with the goal of promoting tolerance, education and developing a deeper cultural understanding between the Emirati and Israeli people.

The agreement follows the official signing ceremony at the White House for the agreement brokered by the US, in which Israel established formal ties with two Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The partners have agreed on an agenda consisting of four key initiatives, centered on bilateral workshops, training, education, an International Film Lab and a regional film festival. There are international film festivals in Israel and at one time there was an international festival in Dubai, but until now there have not been regional film festivals.

The proposed regional film festival will rotate annually between Abu Dhabi and Israel and will showcase Emirati and Israeli productions and co-productions.

Bahrain said to foil Iran-backed terror attacks on diplomats and foreigners

Bahrain broke up a plot by militants backed by Iran to launch attacks on diplomats and foreigners in the island nation home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, just days after normalizing relations with Israel, Saudi state television and local media on the island reported Sunday.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry and its state media did not immediately acknowledge the arrests. Bahraini government officials, who routinely claim breaking up plots by militants backed by Iran, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Saudi state TV report aired footage of what appeared to be police raiding a home with a hidden passage. The footage showed assault rifles and explosives, apparently seized in the raid. A Saudi state TV reporter said those planning the attacks wanted to carry them out in revenge for the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani this January in a drone strike in Baghdad.

Nine militants have been arrested, while another nine are believed to be in Iran, the Saudi state TV report said.

Iranian state media acknowledged the reports of the Bahraini arrests, but no official commented on them.

Authorities uncovered the plot after finding an explosive on the street, the pro-government Bahraini newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej reported, citing the Interior Ministry. The ministry accused Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard of supporting the militants, who also had surveilled oil sites and military bases, the newspaper said. The militants also planned on assassinating bodyguards of Bahraini officials, the newspaper said.

JCPA: Iran: Normalization with Israel Accelerates the End of the Bahrain Regime

Normalization of relations between Israel and Bahrain is another significant and painful blow to Iran’s soft belly. However, unlike in the case of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain is of particular historical, religious, and political importance to Iran.

Bahrain, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, is located right in the middle of the Iranian “lion’s jaws.” It hosts the U.S. Navy’s main naval base of the Fifth Fleet in the Gulf region and representatives of the Royal British Navy.

Since the outbreak of the Arab Spring Iran has acted with perseverance, principally via the Revolutionary Guards, to destabilize the Bahraini Kingdom and bring down the minority Sunni rule over the Shiite majority. The decision by Bahrain, with the backing of Saudi Arabia, to normalize relations is expected to lead to an increase in Iranian subversion efforts in the kingdom.

Saying the U.S.-Gulf objective is to make the Palestinian territories safe for Israel, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard declared this project will never be fulfilled, and, on the contrary, it will give Muslim nations a stronger determination to “eliminate the cancerous tumor, Israel.”

In the dramatic course of normalizing relations with Israel, it appears that Bahrain openly chose the American shield against Iran’s looming shadow, showing the disconnect between normalization with Israel and solving the Palestinian problem.

Will Iran, showing a genuine fear of the “Zionist presence” in the Persian Gulf region, attempt to carry out a Crimean-style invasion of Bahrain to restore what it believes to belong to Iran, endangering a direct confrontation with the United States? It is likely that Iran has discussed such a scenario and has contingency plans to implement it.

Erdan to UN: Choose between supporting Iran and terror or Israel and peace

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, called out the United Nations for supporting Iran and its support of terrorism, and the lack of support for Israel at the 75th UN General Assembly this week.

“This year we got a seat in the front row of the assembly, but it doesn’t say anything about the continued bias against Israel,” he began.

“I think of this hall that has seen many Jewish events, from the vote on the establishment of the Jewish state, to the deterioration of accusing Zionism of being racist, and the inability to act against Iran and terrorist organizations,” Erdan said.

“Last week I attended the signing ceremony of the peace agreements in Washington and today I am at the opening assembly in New York, and the gap cries out,” he lamented. “The UN, which easily condemns Israel on almost every issue, hardly addresses the huge event that occurred on peace between Israel and two Arab states.”

Erdan called on the key countries of the UN to decide if “they want the UN to be a body that promotes peace and security in the world, or be a body that is swayed by countries that violate human rights and support terrorism?”

EU-Israel Association Council back on agenda after annexation scrapped

The EU and Israel are in talks to reinstate the body strengthening their bilateral ties, after the government suspended plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The readout from Brussels on a pre-Rosh Hashanah call between EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Friday states simply that “both agreed on a shared, mutual interest in intensifying bilateral cooperation,” but a Foreign Ministry source confirmed that they discussed the reestablishment of the EU-Israel Association Council.

EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi tweeted about “the need to seize this positive momentum for EU-Israel bilateral relations, including organizing Association Council soon,” after the call.

The matter was also a topic of discussion during Ashkenazi’s visit to Berlin last month, where he attended a meeting of his counterparts in the EU.

The Association Agreement signed between Israel and the EU in 1995 is the legal basis defining relations between the sides. It establishes an Association Council, which is meant to ensure a dialogue and improve relations between the parties.

Bulgarian court jails duo for life in absentia over 2012 Burgas bus bombing

A Bulgarian court on Monday sentenced two men to life in prison over a deadly 2012 bus bomb attack on Israeli tourists at the country’s Burgas airport.

The attack in July 2012 killed five Israelis, including a pregnant woman, and their Bulgarian bus driver, and left over 35 people injured.

A Franco-Lebanese man who carried the explosive was also killed.

It was the deadliest attack against Israelis abroad since 2004.

Bulgarian and Israeli authorities blamed the bombing on the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah, playing a part in a subsequent European Union decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization. Judge Adelina Ivanova sentenced the two men — who fled Bulgaria and were tried in absentia — to “life in jail without parole,” finding them guilty of terrorism and manslaughter.

The two were identified as Lebanese-Australian Meliad Farah, 31 at the time of the attack, and Lebanese-Canadian Hassan El Hajj Hassan, 24, and were charged in mid-2016 as the bomber’s accomplices.

Kosher supermarket cashier to testify on the ‘most horrible 4 hours’ of her life

It was a Friday afternoon, and Zarie Sibony was at her checkout counter at the Hyper Cacher supermarket on the eastern edge of Paris when a man wielding two Kalashnikov rifles burst through the doors.

“I heard a shot on my right, and that was when the terrorist killed Mr. Braham, who was waiting in my line,” Sibony said, recalling the debut of “the most horrible four hours of my life.”

Five years after the attacks against the Jewish supermarket and the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, Sibony will testify Tuesday in the trial of 14 people suspected of helping the three gunmen.

“I remember thinking that I had only one goal: to survive, to get out of there alive. I was going to do whatever it took,” she said.

Amedy Coulibaly had already killed a police agent the day before he stormed the supermarket on January 9, where he took hostages after shooting dead three people — Francois-Michel Saada, Yoav Hattab and Philippe Braham.

Paris worker recounts wrestling gunman targeting Jewish school in 2015 attack

A Paris municipal worker recounted Friday how he had wrestled with gunman Amedy Coulibaly, possibly sparing a nearby Jewish school from attack, the day after the 2015 massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

The worker, identified only as Laurent, told a Paris court he had arrived at a traffic incident in Montrouge, outside Paris, when he noticed a man — who it later turned out was Coulibaly — armed and dressed in a jacket identical to his own.

“He took out his weapon and fired immediately,” Laurent testified at the trial of 14 people accused of having helped the perpetrators of terror attacks over three terrifying days in Paris in January 2015.

Laurent, an employee of the municipal cleaning service, thought at first it was a toy gun, but then noticed that a policewoman had been shot through the throat and a colleague of his badly injured with a bullet to the face.

Laurent said he “became crazy” after seeing the injuries and instinctively grabbed the barrel of Coulibaly’s assault rifle.

He realized he had no choice but to tackle Coulibaly if he wanted to survive, he testified.

“My last thought was, ‘If I turn my back on him and leave, there will be sufficient distance between us for him to kill me.’ So my only hope was to tackle him.”

Gantz orders IDF to build field hospital for virus cases as hospitals fill up

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday ordered the military to prepare to establish a field hospital for coronavirus cases as hospitals overflow across the country.

“Gantz has ordered staff to begin preparations to build an army field hospital that would contain about 200 beds,” a statement from the Defense Ministry said.

Israel hit a record high on Monday, registering 51,503 active infections. While a three-week nationwide lockdown was instituted on Friday to contain the outbreak, numerous violations were reported across the country. Many health experts have said that they do not expect that the lockdown will effectively flatten the curve of the virus.

At least two major hospitals in Israel — Assuta in Ashdod and Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek — announced that they will no longer accept coronavirus cases due to overload.

Other coronavirus wards at a number of major hospitals around the country have topped 100 percent capacity — Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem (129%) and Hadassah Mount Scopus (100%), Netanya’s Laniado hospital (120%), and Ramat Gan’s Sheba Medical Center (109%).

Both Hadassah and Sheba announced that they were continuing to accept coronavirus cases as usual on Monday.

Court rules accused sex abuser Leifer to be extradited to Australia

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday ruled in favor of extraditing Malka Leifer to Australia, where the former ultra-Orthodox girls’ high school principal faces 74 charges of child sex abuse.

The decision brings nearer to an end Leifer’s 12-year attempt to evade justice, which began when she fled to Israel in 2008 as accusations against her were coming to light, but can still be held up by an appeal.

Australia has been seeking the extradition of Leifer since 2014, on accusations that she sexually assaulted students under her care at a Jewish school in Melbourne.

The case had been delayed repeatedly by claims that Leifer was too sick to attend the hearings, and later by accusations of foot-dragging by Israeli officials seeking to protect Leifer, straining Israel’s relations with both Australia’s government and the Jewish community there.

“A victory for justice!! A victory for all survivors!!” accuser Dassi Erlich tweeted moments after the ruling.

Judge Miriam Lomp’s decision was largely expected by the prosecution along with victims’ rights groups following the case, since the judge herself determined in May that Leifer was mentally fit to face justice.

Adelson completes purchase of US Ambassador’s Herzliya home

In the most expensive ever residential real estate deal in Israel, Sheldon Adelson will pay over NIS 250 million as well as NIS 20 million purchase tax.

US billionaire Sheldon Adelson completed the purchase of the US Ambassador’s residence in Herzliya Pituah last week, sources inform “Globes.” Adelson is paying over NIS 250 million for the property, making it the most expensive ever home bought in Israel, and he will pay NIS 20 million in purchase tax on the deal. A spokesperson for Sheldon Adelson declined to comment on the report.

After “Globes” revealed in August that Adelson was about to buy the house, the US Embassy in Israel spokesperson said earlier this month, “Following the announcement of the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the Department undertook a review of both existing and available diplomatic property in Israel to determine the best alignment to support the US Mission.”

The spokesperson added, “In response to that review, planning for the sale of the former US Ambassador’s residence in Tel Aviv began in 2019 with marketing of the property beginning in January of 2020. The Department of State has recently selected the buyer for the sale of the former Chief of Mission Residence in Herzliya Israel. The buyer was selected solely on the basis of having submitted the highest and best offer. The selected buyer and the unsuccessful bidders have been notified. The Embassy will vacate the Chief of Mission Residence in spring of 2021.”

The US Ambassador’s residence is at 40 Galei Tachelet St., which contains the country’s most expensive homes. The 1,000 square meters house, which was built in the 1960s, is on a 5,000 square meters lot, with large gardens above cliffs overlooking the sea.

Seth Frantzman: Rape, ethnic cleansing and looting: UN reveals Turkey’s crimes in Syria

Turkish-backed extremists have committed a litany of abuses in northern Syria after Ankara illegally occupied Afrin, Jarabulus, Idlib and Tel Abyad over the last three years. The allegations have gained exposure in recent years and are now part of a UN Human Rights Council biannual report. This is the year with the clearest and most comprehensive evidence of the massive abuses that run contrary to international humanitarian law, reports indicate.

The abuses have been directed against women and children, and primarily target minorities such as Yazidis, Kurds and Christians, many of whom have been ethnically-cleansed from the Turkish occupied areas of Syria. A report at Al-Monitor by Amberin Zaman tells of a boy who was kidnapped by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army in 2019. “While detained, both Syrian National Army members and Turkish-speaking officials dressed in military fatigues were present.”

The report also details how the Turkish-backed Syrian extremists “forced male detainees to witness the rape of a minor.” This took place in Afrin, an area Turkey invaded in 2018. More than 150,000 Kurds were forced to flee the invasion and Ankara has engaged in demographic change similar to the process of ethnic cleansing that took place in the Balkans in the 1990s. Ankara has brought in settlers from other parts of Syria and replaced indigenous Kurds with groups it considers loyal. These groups have illegally stolen olives from the locals, taken over their homes, attacked religious sites of minorities and kidnapped women and kept them at secret “black site” prisons.

Turkey invaded Afrin in 2018 claiming to be fighting “terrorism” but there was no evidence of any terrorism there or directed at Turkey from there. Ankara has used its offensives in Syria, and now in Libya, to recruit Syrian refugee to fight its wars abroad. A US report last month accused Turkey of transporting thousands of Syrians to fight in Libya. It sought to hijack the Syrian rebellion and turn it against Kurdish fighters in Syria. Ankara accuses these Kurdish fighters of being members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). In 2015, a Turkey-PKK ceasefire broke down and Ankara has used its war with the PKK as an excuse to invade its neighbors.

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