Kerry: Two-state solution ‘only path to peace,’ but we won’t impose deal
US secretary of state John Kerry on Wednesday laid out his “comprehensive vision” for the future of Middle East peacemaking, saying that a two-state solution was the “only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state,” but promising that the US would not seek further UN action on the conflict, days after President Barack Obama infuriated Israel’s for the decision not to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement activity.
In a speech that lasted well over an hour, Kerry described settlements as an important obstacle to achieving an agreement between the sides and that Israeli actions in the West Bank were putting the two-state solution, which he said was the sole path to peace, “in serious jeopardy.”
Kerry argued that settlement construction in the West Bank was being “strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible” and said the “the status quo is leading toward one state, or perpetual occupation.”
With less than a month as secretary of state, Kerry sought to champion the two-state outcome he worked to achieve throughout the last four years, saying it was the only path forward. Yet his address comes in the backdrop of incoming president Donald Trump signaling he may not be committed to the two-state framework.
“The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Kerry said. “It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state living in peace and security with its neighbors.”
“It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people and it is an important way of advancing United States interests in the region,” he added of the two-solution, which he said was “now in serious jeopardy.”
Israel’s leadership was quick to deride US Secretary of State John Kerry’s vision for a solution to the Middle East conflict Wednesday, shortly after the American diplomat once again championed the two-state solution and staunchly defended the Obama administration’s decision to allow the UN Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal.
Responding to the speech, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement to the media that, “Like the Security Council resolution that Secretary Kerry advanced at the UN, his speech tonight was skewed against Israel.
“For over an hour, Kerry obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict — Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, said he had no intention of allowing Palestinians to set up a “terror state” alongside Israel.
“Kerry quoted me three times anonymously [in his speech] to show that we are opposed to a Palestinian state,” Bennett wrote in Hebrew on Twitter. “It’s true. If it’s up to me, we will not establish another terror state in the heart of the land [of Israel].”
“Palestinian Media Watch showed how the PA sought to deceive international donors…”
[MP Joan Ryan, Labour Party in UK Parliament, June 13, 2016]
“Anyone in this parliament who has been to the many sessions of Palestinian Media Watch that have taken place here over the last 15 years has seen some of the appalling material…”
[MP Michael Danby, Labour in Australian Parliament, Nov. 22, 2016]
“Antisemitic statements and incitement to violence by Palestinian leaders are documented by Palestinian Media Watch… Aid to Palestine should therefore be conditioned.”
[MP Mikael Oscarsson, in Swedish Parliament, Jan. 19, 2016]
“The Norwegian Foreign Ministry confirms Palestinian Media Watch’s claim.” [TV news report, NRK TV (Norway), April 24, 2016]
“Itamar Marcus [PMW director]… has documented the flow of money to the [terrorist] prisoners… ” German MP Volker Beck: “Supporting people who have committed terrorist acts against Israel or Israeli citizens cannot be funded under any circumstances by the PA, when Germany supports them financially.” [TV news report, Channel 1 (Germany), Aug. 25, 2016]
“The donor community is helping the PA basically pay people to slay other people and then a stipend is given…”
[Congressman Ed Royce referring to PMW report
in House Foreign Affairs Committee, April 13, 2016]
The anti-Israel United Nations Security Council resolution that was passed on Friday condemned “all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction.” That language was promptly violated by Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, when it published an image on its official Facebook page depicting a knife dripping with blood with captions thanking the countries that voted for the resolution—suggesting that it took the resolution’s success as a license to encourage terror attacks.
The Palestinian Authority has been obligated to fight both terrorism and violent incitement since it agreed to the Oslo Accords in 1993. But it has failed to seriously address either issue over the past 23 years, and instead has often engaged in or encouraged them. Shalem College Provost Dan Polisar observed last year in Mosaic Magazine that numerous public opinion surveys reveal the extent to which “Palestinian perpetrators of violence reflect and are acting on the basis of views widely held in their society.” An April poll found that 60 percent of Palestinians now approve of “armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel,” likely in no small part due to the rhetoric of Palestinian leaders.
2016 was no exception. Picking up where they left off last year, high-ranking Palestinian officials have engaged in outrageous instances of incitement.
The UN General Assembly approved the funding of $138,700 towards the creation of a database of companies which do business in Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalemthe same day that the Security Council approved a resolution condeming allJewish presence over the 1949 armistice lines, the Human Right Voices NGO reported.
The database would serve as a blacklist for BDS organizations seeking to foster boycotts of the State of Israel.
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) approved the creation of the database in March, but lacked the authority to fund the action. The General Assembly decision grants the project the necessary funding.
The US criticized the decision of the HRC in March. State Department spokesman John Kirby called the move “far outside” the authority of the HRC.
The funding for the database was part of the 2016-2017 General Assembly budget which was approved last Friday. Israel introduced an amendment to remove the clause funding the database from the budget, but the amendment was rejected by a vote of 151 countries against compared to only 6 in favor.
Andrew Pessin: “Liberal Zionism” in The New York Times
Though malicious and duplicitous smear campaigns against Israel can be found daily in every media domain, one expects better in the pages of The New York Times’ “The Stone,” populated as they mostly are by professional philosophers. But Omri Boehm’s recent essay, “Liberal Zionism in the Age of Trump,” barely camouflages in philosophical garb what are in fact dishonest smears, both of Zionism as racism and of American Israel supporters as racists, and as such is an embarrassment to that forum.
Zionism, Boehm tells us baldly, is “a political agenda rooted in the denial of liberal politics.” A quote from Hillary Clinton illustrates: “It is important for us as a policy not to say, as Donald has said, we’re going to ban people based on religion. How do you do that? We are a country founded on religious freedom and liberty.” This statement, says Boehm, “establishes a minimum standard of liberal decency”—and yet “liberal Zionists” don’t merely deny this minimal standard of decency when it comes to Israel, he says, but “avow this denial as core to their innermost convictions.” How so? Liberalism, he tells us, “depends on the idea that states must remain neutral on matters of religion and race, [while] Zionism consists in the idea that the State of Israel is not Israeli, but Jewish. As such, the country belongs first and foremost not to its citizens, but to the Jewish people—a group that’s defined by ethnic affiliation or religious conversion.”
The confusions and inconsistencies here are stunning, even apart from the unclarified notion of a state “belonging” to people. The “minimal standard of liberal decency” is first identified with “religious freedom,” suggesting that nations lacking religious freedom must be “liberally indecent” (whatever that means). But then the item being defined suddenly switches from liberal “decency” to “being liberal,” period, as the proffered definition itself switches from “religious freedom” to “state neutrality on matters of religion and race,” which is not at all the same thing as religious freedom.
Islamists in the United States increasingly rely on prominent non-Muslims to spread their message and impose their views.
In response, the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch presents A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Useful Infidels, a 20-page report available gratis online or as a PDF download. It identifies 15 prominent non-Muslims who facilitate or directly aid Islamists, thereby helping the media and public understand the tactics used to empower Islamists within American culture, and confronts them with their own words.
The enablers inhabit the fields of entertainment, journalism, government, and academia.
Actor Ben Affleck argues that criticizing Islamism is “gross” and “racist.”
Author Karen Armstrong thinks anti-Islamists are as bad as Nazis.
Obama’s CIA director John Brennan purged mention of Islamism from training manuals.
Diplomat Martin Indyk, now of the Brookings Institution, accepted a $14.8 million gift and many smaller sums from the government of Qatar.
Southern Poverty Law Center chief Morris Dees insults anti-Islamists through misleading reports.
If Friedman were interested in my advice, I would recommend he use the ambassador’s pulpit to clearly articulate why the new administration has chosen a different path forward, and explain that past presidents of both parties have failed because they have viewed the conflict as a dispute over borders, an argument about territory, which misses the point: Israel’s neighbors don’t care where Israel’s borders are. They want it not to exist at all.
Friedman needs to make clear that President Obama’s successor does not agree that Israeli settlements are illegal, and is against unilateral UN actions demanding that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem,” as stated in the one-sided UN resolution. This will only embolden those who want to destroy Israel.
Here are three important ideas Friedman should communicate to the international community in his first year in office: 1. Explain that US policy is committed to interpreting international law as it was written, not politically interpreted.
The US believes that Israeli building over the Green Line is not illegal, but is more accurately described as disputed territory. This does not mean territorial concessions are not part of a final resolution, but it does mean Israel has legitimate legal rights that must be weighed in the balance.
Supernal officials remained in a tizzy this morning, nearly five full days after US President Barack Obama engineered a UN Security Council resolution negating Jewish sovereignty in the nation’s homeland and heartland, amid revelations that the president had somehow uncovered the secret to undoing the divine promise of eternal Jewish belonging to the land by means of a UN declaration.
The Lord and Creator reacted with an immediate call for an investigative commission to determine how Obama managed to learn the secret proviso to the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants, whereby the eternal covenant regarding the Holy Land could be negated if certain international powers decided to do so. Initial evidence, say divine representatives, indicates no clear method by which the lame-duck president could have obtained that knowledge.
“We’re still scratching our heads at it,” admitted the Archangel Michael. “The special stipulation was meant to be an escape clause that God Himself could invoke if things weren’t working out, but the Master Plan has been coming along as intended for a couple of thousand years already, and this was, shall we say, an inopportune time to have it all unravel.”
Beyond figuring out how Obama found out how to cancel the covenant, the Heavenly Host must now also go about the lengthy process of reestablishing an Earthly system for bringing all of humanity to fulfillment and the realization of its essential role in the divine vision. “This is going to be a real pain in the neck,” complained Gabriel. “We don’t do time travel, but that would be the simplest way to remedy this fiasco. As it is we have enough pretenders – another round of replacement theology is not what Earth needs right now. Or ever.”
Jewish, Muslim and Christian representatives attended a traditional lighting ceremony for Hanukkah in Berlin on Tuesday night which this year was dedicated to the victims of last week’s truck attack which killed 12 people and injured 48 others.
Or Elyakim, son of Dalia Elyakim who was killed on December 19 when a truck deliberately ploughed through a Berlin Christmas market, lit the fourth candle on the 10-metre high menorah, Europe’s largest, the organizers said.
The Tunisian assailant, 24-year-old Anis Amri, was shot dead by Italian police in shootout last Friday after a European-wide manhunt.
In a video released after his death, he is seen pledging his allegiance to militant group Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee on Tuesday convened to discuss scholarships for students who volunteer with anti-Israel organizations. The meeting was called following a report by Israel Hayom describing these organizations’ tactics.
“The bereaved families feel as if their loved ones have been murdered for a second time. This is absurd,” bereaved mother Deborah Gonen, whose son Danny was murdered last year near the Samaria community of Dolev, told the committee.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem provides thousands of shekels in scholarship funds to law students who take part in a so-called “human rights fellowship,” in which they volunteer eight hours every week with a human rights organization. One of the organizations that has partnered with the fellowship program is the Center for the Defense of the Individual, which petitioned the state to prevent the demolition of terrorists’ homes.
However, institutes of higher education are not the only ones reaching out to these organizations. Some high schools have effectively ignored a directive from the Education Minister prohibiting them from inviting representatives of anti-IDF organizations to speak to classes. To combat the problem, Education Minister Naftali Bennett recently introduced legislation that would ban anti-IDF organizations from talking to Israeli high school students.
An East Jerusalem Palestinian college student convicted of aiding a Palestinian teenager who stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem last year was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court also ordered Abed al-Aziz Marei, 22, to pay the widows of victims Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Banita NIS 258,000 ($67,000) each in compensation for his role in the deadly terror attack.
According to the indictment, Marei purchased the knife used by Muhannad Halabi in his October 2015 stabbing spree.
The court earlier this year convicted Marei on two counts of accessory to murder, attempted murder, illegally entering Israel and possession of a knife.
Court documents said the sentencing was part of a plea agreement reached with state prosecutors.
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) cleared for publication Wednesday that Bilal Razania, brother of Mustafa Razania, head of the Hamas internal security apparatus, was arrested while crossing the border from Gaza into Israel on November 27, 2016.
Bilal is a member of the Hamas militant wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Razania was taken in for questioning where he gave details of his role within Hamas, the jobs of other Hamas members as well other wanted Hamas operatives who were active in Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Razania also revealed the terror organization’s activity in recent years, which included their focus on tunnels.
“[Razania] supplied a good deal of information on the location of tunnels and their routes in northern Gaza, as well as Hamas’ tunnel digging methods,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
During an additional interrogation, the operative divulged information about Gaza based terror organization, Islamic Jihad, as well as Hamas outpost positions and details on other members of Hamas.
The Shin Bet also learned from Razania Hamas’ use of civilian structures, including the use of hospitals during Operation Protective Edge.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal warned on Sunday that the Gaza-based terrorist group is continuing to build up its arsenal and develop its tunnel infrastructure in preparation for another war against Israel.
“The resistance in Gaza is smuggling weapons and digging tunnels in Gaza to prepare for a confrontation with the [Israel], which will taste its woes on the edge of the Gaza Strip,” Meshaal said at a press conference in Istanbul.
Meshaal also applauded the United Nations Security Council for passing a resolution on Friday calling Israel’s presence in territory beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including the Old City of Jerusalem, a “flagrant violation of international law.”
In his press conference, Meshaal thanked “everyone who condemned Israeli settlements,” but claimed that the Security Council resolution was “not enough.” He urged the Islamic world and the international community to stand with Hamas in its “righteous struggle” against Israel.
A spokesman for Hamas, which considers the entirety of Israel to be occupied Palestinian land, expressed the group’s appreciation to the Security Council shortly after the resolution’s passage.
‘Sword of Liberation’ Passed To Hamas MP Daughters
Hamas MP Khalil Al-Hayya Hands His Grandchildren Ahmed Yassin’s “Sword of Liberation” in Ceremony Marking Organization’s 29th Anniversary
In a ceremony marking the 29th anniversary of the establishment of Hamas, Khalil Al-Hayya, a Hamas MP and a member of the organization’s political bureau, called his grandchildren to the stage in order to hand over the sword of the Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, saying that it is “the sword of da’wa, of liberation, and of victory.”
The ceremony was broadcast by Al-Aqsa TV on December 15.
Al Jazeera TV Host Faisal Al Qassem: Incites Ethnic Cleansing of Shiites in Sunni Regions in Syria!
Al-Jazeera TV host Faisal Al-Qassem, interviewing the general coordinator of the Syrian opposition factions, Abd Al-Munim Zain Al-Din, asked him why they were not fighting in Shiite regions. “You want to liberate Syria? Go to the coast!…
Go to Damascus! Go to other regions that support Bashar Al-Assad! And may these regions be damned, as they say!”
Referring to Nubl and Al-Zahraa, two Shiite towns in the Aleppo governorate of Syria, he asked:
“Why don’t you drive them out, just like they did to you, may they be damned?” The program aired on September 13.
Last month, the chief of staff of the Iranian military publicly stated his government’s intention to set up naval bases abroad, possibly in Syria and Yemen. Although it is difficult to know the extent to which this statement is bluster, a reflection of an actual plan, or an indication of a project already underway, Ephraim Kam argues that it would behoove Israel and the U.S. to take it seriously:
The [chief of staff’s] remarks . . . derive primarily from Iran’s fundamental hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East and, in some respects, beyond. . . . Although the Iranian naval fleet still uses partially outdated equipment, it poses a significant threat to its rivals in the Gulf region, due to its rocket and mine-laying capabilities and due to Iran’s complete control over the entire length of the eastern shore of the Gulf. . . . The prevailing assessment is that the Iranian fleet is incapable of blocking navigation in the Gulf over an extended period, due to United States capabilities in breaking through any Iranian obstacle, but Iran is capable of disrupting marine traffic in the Gulf with rockets, mines, and shore-to-ship artillery fire. . . .
If . . . Iran succeeds in establishing naval bases on the shores of Syria and Yemen, this will have troubling implications, mainly for Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, as well as for Egypt and Turkey. It is unclear whether Iran is thinking in terms of establishing a permanent base—as per the chief of staff’s remarks—or whether at issue is a temporary and limited presence and the receipt of port services. The worst-case scenario is the construction of a permanent base in Syria, which connotes a permanent naval arm in the Mediterranean Sea and an Iranian military presence in proximity to Israel, while creating a threat to, and establishing deterrence against, Israel.
Iranian Scientist Unveils Water Fueled Car
Iranian scientist Alaeddin Qassemi has unveiled his new invention: a water-fueled car. According to a November 27 Press TV report, Qassemi’s car can travel 900 kilometers in 10 hours. In the report, Qassemi is seen drinking from a hose, before filling the tank of his Peugeot car.
The episode of the show Enquête Exclusive broadcast on M6 on December 18 about Jerusalem and presented by Bernard de la Villardiere is full of lies and inaccuracies (to see the documentary on the M6 site, click here).
A historical lie:
The narrator presents the creation of the State of Israel as follows:
In 1947, to calm the tensions, the United Nations separated the region into two and Israel was born. Jordan is ceding one part of its territory, the West Bank, which is supposed to become the future Palestinian state. But in 1967, Israel waged war against its neighbors and annexed the West Bank, it was the beginning of the occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Given the number of blatant lies it is hard to know where to start:
- The West Bank was part of the Mandate on Palestine entrusted to Great Britain by the League of Nations at the San Remo Conference in 1922, with the aim of helping the Jews to “reconstitute their national home in that country.” The West Bank was therefore not ceded by the Kingdom of Jordan to create a Palestinian state.
- Israel was not born in 1947, but on 14 May 1948, following the implementation of the Partition Plan of Palestine voted on 29 November 1947. Immediately after its creation, Israel was attacked by neighboring Arab countries, but won the War of Independence.
- At the end of the war, the West Bank, which was to become part of the future Arab State created by the Partition Plan of Palestine, was annexed by the Kingdom of Jordan, which did not create a Palestinian state.
In February of this year the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ presented listeners with a highly partial account of the temporary suspension of the anti-Zionist Balad party’s three MKs from Knesset activity after their participation in an event glorifying Palestinian terrorists.
A similarly whitewashed portrayal of that story appeared in a July 2016 report concerning what the BBC described as “controversial” legislation by the Israeli parliament allowing for the impeachment of MKs on the grounds of incitement to violence or racism or support for armed conflict against Israel. In that report BBC audiences were repeatedly told that Israeli democracy is being “undermined” by such legislation.
Given that ‘concern’ for Israeli democracy and keen interest in the workings of the Knesset, one might have thought that the recent story of the arrest of a member of Israel’s parliament would also have caught the BBC’s attention.
While the BBC was busy promoting Saeb Erekat’s English language messaging that the UNSC resolution marked “a day of peace” to audiences on multiple platforms, Erekat’s own party was once again promoting a decidedly different message to its supporters in Arabic, as PMW documented.
“Three days ago Fatah’s official Facebook page posted a drawing of its map of “Palestine,” which includes all of Israel and painted like the Palestinian flag, being used to stab the word “settlement.” The text above the image: “#Palestine will defeat the settlement ” (Above left)
Yesterday in response to the UN Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal, Fatah republished the identical image but added a pool of blood at the bottom, and the words “Thank You” above the image, and the names of the 14 countries that voted in favor of the UN resolution. (Above right)”
Were the BBC truly committed to fulfilling its public purpose of building “understanding of international issues”, its audiences would of course have been informed of such additional Palestinian reactions to the UNSC vote too.
A southern French town announced an investigation Monday after a sculpture of a black man that commemorates the abolition of slavery was desecrated with Nazi graffiti and white paint.
The damage to the bust which dates from the 19th century and is located in a park in Pau, near the Pyrenees and close to the Spanish border, was discovered during a police patrol.
The word “Nazi” had been scrawled on the statue. It was cleaned immediately and a probe opened.
France’s overseas territories minister Ericka Bareigts condemned the vandalism, writing on Twitter that the memory of slavery must be respected.
Montana’s top elected leaders of both parties issued a strong denunciation Tuesday over a plan by neo-Nazis to conduct an armed march harassing the state’s Jewish community.
“We condemn attacks on our religious freedom manifesting in a group of anti-Semites,” the officials said. “We say to those few who seek to publicize anti-Semitic views that they shall find no safe haven here.”
The statement — signed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), US Senators Steve Daines (R) and Jon Tester (D), Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) and Attorney General Tim Fox (R) — is a response to plans to hold the march next month in the town of Whitefish.
Whitefish is the hometown of the leader of the so-called alt-right movement, white nationalist Richard Spencer, who initiated widespread controversy last month when he exclaimed “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” at a Washington, DC conference to cheers from an electrified audience, some of whom responded with Nazi salutes.
A woman facing trial for alleged anti-Semitic activity online has had her bail conditions tightened by Westminster Magistrates.
Alison Chabloz, 52, a musician, is due in court in March 2017 to face a private prosecution brought by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and its chairman, Gideon Falter. At issue is a video she posted in June 2016 called “Survivors”, in which she appears to question the Holocaust, calls Auschwitz a theme park and describes the gas chambers as a hoax.
The CAA brought the prosecution after the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with charges.
Chabloz, who has had a high-profile presence on social media, was originally given unconditional bail after her first mid-December appearance before Westminster Magistrates.
But after new online material emerged, some of which allegedly related to Gideon Falter’s elderly parents and additionally to prosecuting barrister Jonathan Goldberg, QC, she was summoned back to court last Friday and new conditions imposed.
The year 2016 brought three major milestones for CartiHeal, the Israeli biomed company behind the cartilage and bone regeneration device Agili-C: a $15 million investment led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation; European Union CE approval of Agili-C for cartilage regeneration; and now an investigational device exemption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA approval clears the way for CartiHeal to begin a two-year pivotal study involving at least 250 patients, aimed to show Agili-C’s superiority over the current surgical standard of care in the treatment of cartilage defects in osteoarthritic knees and in knees without degenerative changes.
This multicenter, open-label, randomized, and controlled trial is the first approved study of such broad indications using a single implant.
If the study is successful, the product could be on the American market in a few years, estimates CartiHeal founder and CEO Nir Altschuler.
Israel should take pride in the fact that it guarantees full religious freedom for all its citizens, Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, said Tuesday at a meeting in Jerusalem between Israeli Christian leaders and President Reuven Rivlin.
“We take this opportunity of this holiday gatherings to express our gratitude for the firmness with which you defend the freedoms that lie at the heart of this democracy, especially the freedom of worship,” Thophilos said on behalf of the Christian leaders.
We are always encouraged by your commitment to the sacredness of life and your condemnation of all forms of terrorism. These fundamental commitments are the basis of any society that understands that we share a common human destiny. The State of Israel takes pride in the fact that this state was founded on democratic principles in the Middle East, and that it guarantees full freedom of worship. We are confident, Mr. President, that you will continue to resist any restrictions of religious practices.
Thophilos also expressed deep concern over “the unspeakable experiences” of those “who suffer in the countries around us … for the mere fact of their religious allegiance.”
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi on Wednesday condemned Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos for praising Israel’s freedom of worship, saying the cleric deliberately ignored “Israeli violations” on the issue.
“We are seriously concerned by the statement of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, who praised Israel for being a ‘democracy’ that ‘respects freedom of worship,’” Ashwari said in a statement sent to the media.
“Theophilos III is very well informed of the Israeli violations of the freedom to worship of his own community during Easter and is also aware of the occupation of the Saint John Convent nearby the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, today turned into another illegal Israeli settlement,” she said, a likely reference to a permit approved by the capital’s city hall for a single Jewish structure in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
Ashrawi accused the patriarch’s message on religious freedom of contradicting the facts on the ground for Palestinian Christians. She said that “thousands of Palestinian Christians cannot access their own Holy Sites in Occupied East Jerusalem due to Israel’s illegal annexation Wall and other movement restrictions.”
“Undoubtedly, Patriarch Theophilos knows very well the situation of thousands of Palestinian families including hundreds of Christian families that have been divided due to racist Israeli citizenship laws” Ashrawi said.
Political, religious and historic luminaries gathered underground at the City of David National Park’s archeological site on Tuesday to unveil a restored 2,000-year-old road leading to the Western Wall, and condemn last week’s UN resolution against settlement construction.
As rain and sleet poured down, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat stood together several meters under the Givati parking lot in Silwan to light a large silver hanukkia at the end of the ancient road.
Shortly after unveiling an official plaque celebrating the find, Regev took the UN Security Council member nations and US President Barack Obama to task for deeming Jewish construction beyond the 1949 Armistice Line a “flagrant violation” of international law.
“Mr. President Barack Obama, I am standing here, on Hanukka, on the same road on which my forefathers walked 2,000 years ago,” said Regev defiantly. “No resolution in any international forum is as strong as the steadfast stones on this street.”
Noting several of the 14 countries that participated in the resolution – including New Zealand, Ukraine, Senegal, and Malaysia – the minister added that “no other people in the world has such a connection and link to their land.”
Listening intently as they sat on makeshift wooden benches a few meters away with several MKs, were the three Israeli paratroopers immortalized in an iconic 1967 photograph after helping liberate the Old City and the Western Wall.
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