Israel: In surprise change, 13 countries vote against pro-Palestine UN resolution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In surprise change, 13 countries vote against pro-Palestine UN resolution

States led by Germany change their voting pattern in favor of Israel, opposing Division of Palestinian Rights, although motion still passes by wide margin

View of the United Nations General Assembly during a vote the US-imposed embargo on Cuba on November 7, 2019. (Evan Schneider/ UN)

View of the United Nations General Assembly during a vote the US-imposed embargo on Cuba on November 7, 2019. (Evan Schneider/ UN)

Over a dozen countries on Tuesday abruptly changed their voting pattern at the United Nations in Israel’s favor, opposing an annual resolution expressing support for a pro-Palestinian UN agency traditionally critical of the Jewish state.

Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Brazil and Colombia for the first time voted against the resolution regarding the Division of Palestinian Rights at the UN Secretariat.

In past years, these countries had abstained on the resolution.

“I am pleased that this significant group of countries has decided today to voice a clear moral stance against discrimination toward Israel at the UN,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement. “This represents an important step in the long struggle against the prejudiced bias toward Israel at the United Nations. Particularly noticeable is the shift in the stance of several member states of the European Union and I trust that the remaining EU members will adopt this position soon.”

The UK, France and Spain abstained, as they do every year.

The resolution — co-sponsored by Comoros, Cuba, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, United Arab Emirates and Yemen — still passed with a comfortable majority, with 87 “yes” votes, 54 “no” votes and 23 abstentions.

UN Watch

@UNWatch

The resolution titled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” was adopted by a vote of 147 – 7 – 13.

The U.S., Canada, and Australia voted No.

See text here: https://undocs.org/en/A/74/L.15 

View image on Twitter

UN Watch

@UNWatch

The resolution titled “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” was adopted by a vote of 87–23–54.

A group of EU states who last year abstained switched their votes to No, including:

🇩🇪 Germany
🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇩🇰 Denmark
& more

See text here: https://undocs.org/en/A/74/L.16 

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Katz also thanked the United States, Canada, Australia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati who again voted against the resolution.

The New York-based Division for Palestinian Rights is notorious among Israeli officials and pro-Israel advocates for its harsh criticism of Israeli policies. It serves as the Secretariat of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and organizes international conferences that usually focus on bashing Israel. It is also responsible for the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 27.

The resolution passed Tuesday states that the Division for Palestinian Rights “continues to make a constructive and positive contribution to raising international awareness of the question of Palestine and of the urgency of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine in all its aspects.”

“This body represents the structural discrimination against Israel in the UN arena and uses UN manpower and budgetary resources to promote a Palestinian narrative while simultaneously encouraging a distinctly anti-Israel agenda,” Katz said.

According to Hillel Neuer, the executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch, the surprising change in the voting pattern of 11 EU states has to do with “an unprecedented focus” on Germany, whose Foreign Minister Heiko Mass earlier this year pledged to oppose the unfair treatment of Israel at the UN.

“I think Germany felt the need to modify some of its anti-Israel votes, and that this rare EU split at the GA allowed Netherlands, Austria and others to follow,” Neuer told The Times of Israel. “We were disappointed that countries like the UK, France and Spain did not join this principled opposition.”

“With it’s ‘no’ this year, Germany expresses its criticism on the disproportionally high number of resolutions that are critical of Israel,” Germany’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The ministry further said that there was no reason for the special status enjoyed by the Division for Palestinian Rights.

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UK Labour Party omits Jews from campaign video promoting minority rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UK Labour Party omits Jews from campaign video promoting minority rights

Amid anti-Semitism scandal, clip posted by Corbyn mentions over 20 marginalized groups and says party ‘will value you,’ but neglects Jews

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures during a general election campaign visit at Whitby Leisure Centre in Whitby, northern England, on December 1, 2019. (Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures during a general election campaign visit at Whitby Leisure Centre in Whitby, northern England, on December 1, 2019. (Paul ELLIS / AFP)

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn failed to mention Jews in an election campaign video that champions diversity and the rights of over 20 groups.

The 68-second video released Saturday features images of British people, towns and cities, along with a September speech by Dawn Butler, who holds the party’s Women and Equalities portfolio.

Butler lists various population groups, including people who are LGBT+, straight, Roma, black, white, Asian, disabled, “struggling to pay rent” or “wear a hijab, turban, a cross.” She assures that “a Labour government will value you, just be your true authentic self.”

While Jews make up 0.37 percent of the United Kingdom’s population, leaders of major Jewish groups suggested the omission was not connected to the minority’s limited electoral strength.

Jeremy Corbyn

@jeremycorbyn

This is our strength.

Embedded video

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Rather, they say, it is linked to the anti-Semitism problem in Labour’s ranks following the 2015 election of Corbyn as its leader. Corbyn, a far-left politician, has supported boycotting Israel and called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends, and he has been widely and repeatedly accused of failing to adequately tackle rampant anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks.

Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, addresses the crowd in Parliament Square at the #EnoughIsEnough demonstration organized by UK Jewish leaders to protest anti-Semitism in the Labour party, March 2018. (Marc Morris/Jewish News)

Jewish Leadership Council Chairman Jonathan Goldstein told the Jewish Chronicle that the omission of Jews from the video was “extraordinary and chilling” and “shows they don’t regard the Jewish community or anti-Semitism as equal to other communities or racism of other types.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that in the video, “The Jewish community is ‘erased’ as a minority group worthy of their support.”

Deborah E. Lipstadt@deborahlipstadt

Labour’s campaign video: Mention of every possible religious, ethnic, gendered, sexual orientation etc. minority. Except one. Jews. Sure it was just an oversight https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn/status/1200675327636385792 

Jeremy Corbyn

@jeremycorbyn

This is our strength.

Embedded video

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A Labour Party spokesperson told UK media: “This video launched our Race and Faith Manifesto, which includes policies to guarantee the security and well-being of the Jewish community, defend and celebrate Jewish way of life, and combat anti-Semitism in Britain and across Europe. A Labour government will maintain real-terms funding for the Community Security Trust, make attacks on places of worship an aggravated offense, and force the tech giants to tackle anti-Semitism on social media.

“We will also protect the religious rights and freedoms of Jewish people and ensure public services meet the needs of Jewish people, from coroner services conducting quick burials to proper provision of religious and culturally sensitive social care and youth services. We will also ensure wider teaching about anti-Semitism in schools so that the next generation are better equipped to recognize and challenge these prejudices.”

Corbyn last week sparked outrage by repeatedly declining to apologize for his handling of anti-Semitism in the party in an interview with the BBC.

The BBC’s Andrew Neil pressed Corbyn six times to apologize to the Jewish community, in the wake of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s unprecedented statement that Britain’s Jews were “gripped by anxiety” over the future of the community in the country, amid the prospect of a Labour win in the December 12 election.

After being slammed for the interview, on Wednesday Corbyn tried to tamp down the flames by saying that the party had already apologized for anti-Semitism in its ranks.

Polls suggest that just six percent of UK Jews plan to vote Labour. Nearly half say they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Corbyn — a man 87% of those polled believe is an anti-Semite — gets to Downing Street.

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.

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Israel: The Nazi Secret Lurking Inside Tel Aviv

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

The Nazi secret lurking inside some of Tel Aviv’s most beautiful buildings

Discoveries made in Leibling House, a recently renovated cultural center, reveal the German foundations of much of Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus-inflected 1930s construction

  • German-made Villeroy & Boch tiles uncovered at Beit Leibling, part of the transfer agreement payments made before World War II (Courtesy Yael Schmidt)
    German-made Villeroy & Boch tiles uncovered at Beit Leibling, part of the transfer agreement payments made before World War II (Courtesy Yael Schmidt)
  • From washers to door handles, German-made construction materials were imported to pre-state Palestine as part of transfer agreement payments (Courtesy Yael Schmidt)
    From washers to door handles, German-made construction materials were imported to pre-state Palestine as part of transfer agreement payments (Courtesy Yael Schmidt)
  • German door handles imported to pre-state Palestine as part of transfer agreement payments (Courtesy Liebling Haus/Yael Schmidt)
    German door handles imported to pre-state Palestine as part of transfer agreement payments (Courtesy Liebling Haus/Yael Schmidt)
  • German bathroom fittings imported to pre-state Palestine (Courtesy Liebling Haus/Yael Schmidt)
    German bathroom fittings imported to pre-state Palestine (Courtesy Liebling Haus/Yael Schmidt)

A single sand-colored tile almost fell on Sharon Golan-Yaron in the lobby of 29 Idelson Street a few years ago, while she and a team were busy converting the modernist Tel Aviv apartment building into a cultural center.

“It landed in the palm of my hand,” Golan-Yaron recalls in the book accompanying “Transferumbau: Liebling,” an inaugural exhibition celebrating the Bauhaus building’s recent reopening as the Liebling Haus. “I felt as though it was communicating with me, whispering ‘take me,’ to finally reveal an old, dark secret locked between tile, wall, and builder.”

The terrazzo tile, made in Germany by renowned ceramic manufacturer Villeroy & Boch, had a story to tell and sparked a project uncovering the history of its building and others like it that cropped up in Tel Aviv during the 1930s. What the team of artists who collaborated on Transferumbau ultimately unearthed was an uncomfortable record: during one of its formative decades, Tel Aviv was built upon some considerable Nazi foundations.

The Nazis first began shaping Tel Aviv’s built environment in 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler started his role as chancellor. At the time, they cordoned off the Bauhaus art school in Berlin and gave its administration an ultimatum: it could either change its avant-garde approach, or close. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, then acting as Bauhaus director, chose the latter. His decision launched the school’s community into a worldwide diaspora, where they spread their alma mater’s love of streamlined minimalism.

Unloading a container at Tel Aviv Port in 1939 (Rudi Weissenstein, https://www.thephotohouse.co.il/)

Over 20 Bauhaus students emigrated from Germany to British Mandatory Palestine, including four architects: Arieh Sharon, Munio Gitai-Weinraub, Shlomo Bernstein and Shmuel Mestiechkin. These Bauhaus alumni planned only a small number of Tel Aviv buildings, but helped mold the design language of the city, which was then experiencing a population and construction boom.

“Modernist architecture became emblematic of a new modern Jewish society, which, uniquely adopted the Bauhaus concept,” notes Claudia Perren, director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, in the Transferumbau book.

Of the roughly 4,000 buildings that have earned Tel Aviv its UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site status for an extraordinarily high concentration of modernist architecture, around a quarter were constructed in the 1930s. Compounding Hitler’s influence on this developing Hebrew city was the fact that – as shown at the Liebling Haus – many of these landmark Bauhaus-inspired buildings were built with supplies manufactured in Nazi Germany.

The tale of how German materials like tiles, door handles, window hinges, metal beams, glass panes, drainage pipes, faucets, building blocks, lamps, sockets, and heating systems ended up in Jewish-owned buildings in Palestine is another Tel Aviv chapter that began in 1933, the same year as the Bauhaus’s forced closure.

At the time, German Jews wanted to leave the country but could not liquidate their assets due to foreign currency regulations. The Nazi party, which was eager to both expel Jews and strengthen the German economy, signed a transfer agreement with Zionist organizations to facilitate the departure of Jews from Germany, cash (sort of) in hand.

German bathroom fittings imported to pre-state Palestine (Courtesy Liebling Haus/Yael Schmidt)

The agreement lasted six years and helped German Jews extract a certain amount of their wealth. They could sell their property and deposit funds into specially designated bank accounts, which entitled them to receive British-issued visas to Palestine (that deviated from the normal British quota for Jewish immigrants). Meanwhile, the deposited funds were used to buy German-made construction materials imported to and sold in Palestine. Proceeds from the sale of these goods (minus certain fees and commissions) were then returned to the original Jewish depositors.

“People are shocked about this agreement,” explains Micha Gross, co-founder of Bauhaus Center Tel Aviv, who singles out German materials brought over via the transfer agreement on his center’s walking tours. “I think most of the people today are in favor of it. During the 1930s, the situation was different.”

German door handles imported to pre-state Palestine as part of transfer agreement payments (Courtesy Liebling Haus/Yael Schmidt)

The agreement was controversial for many reasons, one of which was the fact that American Jews were simultaneously promoting a German boycott. While Jews in the United States refused to buy anything from Nazi Germany, the Jewish Agency signed off on purchasing German goods in bulk in an effort to save Jewish lives.

Over 50,000 German Jews came to Palestine through the agreement, boosting the population of the burgeoning Jewish community in Palestine and importing around 150 million Reichsmark.

An interior of Beit Leibling in Tel Aviv (Courtesy Yael Schmidt)

“It’s a complicated story, and that’s why it’s not often told. This is the historical story, these are the archival materials,” says Hila Cohen-Schneiderman, curator of Transferumbau, who has spent three years studying the transfer agreement alongside the artists in the exhibition – Ilit Azoulay, Nir Shauloff, Jonathan Touitou and Lou Moria.

“The goal of the project wasn’t to shake a finger and say, how could you sign an agreement with the Nazis?” Cohen-Schneiderman adds. “The goal was to say, look, this is what happened here, this is how it worked, this was the web of interests that needed to be addressed, and let’s talk about it.”

As the years progressed, the agreement became more elaborate and the rights of German Jewish expatriates deteriorated. Dr. Eitan Burstein, historian emeritus of Bank Leumi (formerly the Anglo-Palestine Bank, which handled the transfer of funds), said that immigrants sometimes received only around 25 percent of the original sum they deposited in Germany.

By 1935, even the Jewish Agency was questioning whether the agreement was beneficial. Eliezer Kaplan, then Jewish Agency treasurer, said, “We must ask ourselves again whether and to what extent we would like to go in this direction.”

The agreement was in effect until the outbreak of World War II in September 1939. Regardless of the Nazis’ intentions for the Jews of Europe, they had already inadvertently helped construct a Jewish metropolis in Tel Aviv.

“I don’t think the Nazis bothered to ask themselves if they were building a future country or not,” says Cohen-Schneiderman. “But it’s very ironic and a twist of fate that ideologies that the Nazis tried to extinguish in Germany found a very powerful and interesting manifestation here, to the point of turning Tel Aviv into a World Heritage site for its International Style architecture.”

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Israel: Defense minister green-lights new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Defense minister green-lights new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron

Naftali Bennett praised by right, slammed by left over move to double number of Jews living in flash point West Bank city

People walk near houses belong to Jewish settlers in the West bank city Hebron on November 12, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

People walk near houses belong to Jewish settlers in the West bank city Hebron on November 12, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Newly installed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday announced his approval for planning of a new Jewish neighborhood in the flash point West Bank city of Hebron, in a decision that was quickly praised by the right and bashed by the left.

The Jewish community in Hebron is made up of several enclaves located deep in the heart of the largest Palestinian city. The roughly 1,000 Jewish settlers there live under heavy military guard amid some 215,000 Palestinians. It has been the scene of numerous stabbings and other violent incidents between Palestinians and Israelis in recent years.

Hebron differs from other Arab West Bank cities in that it is home to a Jewish community that, per the 1997 Hebron Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, lives in an area under Israeli control — about 20 percent of the city, known as H2. This community has existed for hundreds of years, though with several gaps during the 20th century.

On Sunday, the defense minister’s office said in a statement that Bennett, who serves in a transitional government, had ordered the relevant offices within the Israel Defense Forces to inform the Hebron municipality that planning was starting for the new neighborhood near the city’s old market.

The land of that market has been under Jewish ownership since the early 19th century. Local Jews fled following the 1929 massacre in which some 65 Jews were murdered by Arab mobs. After Israel gained control of the city in 1967, it approved the construction of a Palestinian market that was active until the 1990s.

In this Monday, June 5, 2017 photo, the Mayor of Hebron Tayseer Abu Sneineh greets a shopkeeper at a market in the West Bank city of Hebron. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

The statement said the neighborhood would double the number of Jewish settlers in the city, and create Jewish “territorial continuity” between the existing Avraham Avinu neighborhood and the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site.

“The market’s buildings will be demolished and new stores will be built instead,” the statement said. “The rights of Palestinians on the ground floor will be preserved as they are today.”

New Right party leader Naftali Bennett speaks during a press conference at the Expo Tel Aviv on September 5, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Bennett made the decision following a series of discussions with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the Civil Administration — which serves as the military liaison to Palestinians — as well as the Shin Bet and other security officials, the statement added.

The Committee of the Jewish Community of Hebron hailed the announcement, saying in a statement that it “thanks Defense Minister Naftali Bennett from the bottom of the heart for the decision to return Jewish life to the Jewish property in Hebron. Taking the lands of the murdered out of the hands of the murderer, the Hebron mayor, is an act of historic justice for which the Israeli nation has been waiting for 90 years.”

The statement was apparently referring to the then-mayor of Hebron who allegedly ordered the 1929 massacre.

New Right MK Ayelet Shaked, the former justice minister, also commended the decision by Bennett, her party leader, calling it “a historic and important decision.”

“As justice minister I worked for two years to free the land from a legal entanglement in which it was for many years, and the neighborhood had waited about a year for the defense minister’s approval. Bennett’s courageous decision will boost the Jewish community and develop the city.”

However, the decision was slammed by left-wing and Arab lawmakers.

Joint List party leader Ayman Odeh participates along with residents of the northern Arab Israeli town of Akbara in a demonstration against a hate crime carried out in their village the previous day,. November 1, 2019. (David Cohen/FLASH90)

The leading Arab lawmaker in Israel called the decision a “dangerous step that deepens the occupation regime over millions of Palestinians.”

“The war against peace continues,” Joint List leader Ayman Odeh added in his statement, condemning the “dangerous and messianic vision of the right.”

MK Ofer Cassif, the only Jewish member of the Joint List, made a reference to Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish terrorist who murdered 29 Palestinians at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994 and was subsequently shot and killed.

“Baruch Goldstein is looking from hell at Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and swelling with pride,” he said, warning that the move would escalate violence. “Apparently more people being killed is a price Bennett is happy to pay as election bribery to the Kahanists” — followers of the late rabbi Meir Kahane.

MK Tamar Zandberg of the Democratic Camp called the move a “win” for the ideology of the racist far-right former lawmaker Kahane.

“Someone who establishes Jewish neighborhoods in the heart of the capital of Israel’s apartheid, instead of dismantling them, is a messianist who intentionally harms the State of Israel,” she said.

Palestinian Authority senior negotiator Saeb Erekat blamed the move on the recent US announcement that it no longer views settlements as “inconsistent with international law.”

Dr. Saeb Erakat الدكتور صائب عريقات@ErakatSaeb

Israel’s decision to build a new illegal settlement in occupied Hebron is the first tangible result of the US decision to legitimize colonization;this cannot be taken out of the context annexation: Concrete measures,including sanctions against settlements are an Int.responsibility

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Israel: In possible climate breakthrough, Israel scientists engineer bacteria to eat CO₂

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In possible climate breakthrough, Israel scientists engineer bacteria to eat CO₂

Decade-long research at Weizmann Institute could pave way for low-emissions production of carbon for use in biofuels, food, and help remove excess global warming CO₂ from air

E. coli bacteria. (NIAID/Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY 2.0)

E. coli bacteria. (NIAID/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

In a remarkable breakthrough that could pave the way toward carbon-neutral fuels, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have produced a genetically engineered bacteria that can live on carbon dioxide rather than sugar.

The extraordinary leap — reported Wednesday in Cell, and quickly picked up by prestigious publications such as Nature — could lead to the low-emissions production of carbon for use in biofuels or food that would also help to remove excess CO₂ from the atmosphere, where it is helping to drive global warming.

Plants and ocean-living cyanobacteria perform photosynthesis, taking the energy from light to transform CO₂ into a form of organic carbon that can be used to build DNA, proteins and fats.

As these photosynthesizers can be difficult to moderate genetically, the Weizmann team, under Prof. Ron Milo, took E. coli bacteria — more commonly associated with food poisoning — and spent ten years weaning them off sugar and training them to “eat” carbon dioxide instead.

Through genetic engineering, they enabled the bacteria to convert CO₂ into organic carbon, substituting the energy of the sun — a vital ingredient in the photosynthesis process — with a substance called formate, which is also attracting attention as a potential generator of clean electricity.

Prof Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Sciences. (Screenshot)

To get the bacteria to move from a sugar to a carbon dioxide diet, the team, which also included Roee Ben-Nissan, Yinon Bar-On and others in the institute’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department, then almost starved the bacteria of sugar (glucose), while giving them plenty of carbon dioxide and formate, and bred several generations to test whether evolution would allow some of the bacteria to mutate and be able to survive solely on CO₂.

After a year, some of the bacteria descendants made the complete switch to CO₂, following evolutionary changes in just 11 genes.

The lab bacteria that moved over to a CO₂ diet were fed very high amounts of the gas. However, under regular atmospheric conditions, they would still need sugar, as well, to live.

“Our lab was the first to pursue the idea of changing the diet of a normal heterotroph [one that eats organic substances] to convert it to autotrophism [‘living on air’],” said Milo. “It sounded impossible at first, but it has taught us numerous lessons along the way, and in the end we showed it indeed can be done. Our findings are a significant milestone toward our goal of efficient, green scientific applications.”

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Bolivia Renews Diplomatic Ties with Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Bolivia Renews Diplomatic Ties with Israel

Saturday, 30 November, 2019 – 10:45
Bolivia’s Foreign Minister Karen Longaric speaks during a conference with the international press in La Paz, November 28, 2019. AFP
Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has welcomed Bolivia’s decision to restore relations with Israel.

Ties were severed on Jan. 14, 2009 following Israel’s Operation Cast Lead on the Gaza Strip.

Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric made the announcement in a meeting with foreign reporters, without giving a date for the reestablishment of ties.

However, Katz said that the “Foreign Ministry has been working for a long time directly as well as through mediation of the Brazilian president to promote the renewal of relations.

“The resignation of President (Evo) Morales, who was hostile to Israel, and his replacement with a friendly administration, has enabled the process to come to fruition.”

Bolivia designated Israel a ‘terrorist’ state in objection to the war on Gaza in July 2009. Back then, Morales said Israel’s operation was evidence on its disrespect for life and basic rights.

Israel: Attorney general blasts ‘threats, lies, slander’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Attorney general blasts ‘threats, lies, slander’ against judiciary over PM cases

As Likud supporters gather at Tel Aviv rally, Avichai Mandelblit issues rebuke of Netanyahu, who has accused law enforcement of staging an ‘attempted coup’

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit holds a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem, announcing his decision that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different corruption cases, dubbed by police Case 1000,  Case 2000 and Case 4000. November 21, 2019. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit holds a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem, announcing his decision that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different corruption cases, dubbed by police Case 1000, Case 2000 and Case 4000. November 21, 2019. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday condemned “threats,” “lies” and “baseless slander” directed against law enforcement, in a thinly veiled rebuke of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters’ efforts to discredit the justice system after criminal charges against the premier were announced last week.

“The dignified approach we take is not always embraced by others,” Mandelblit said, hours before a Likud rally was to be held in Tel Aviv under the banner “Stopping the coup.”

“I am hearing expressions that don’t have a place in public discourse that are directed at the law enforcement system, and certain senior officials inside it. I am hearing threats. I am hearing lies. I am hearing baseless slander. That is simply shocking,” the attorney general said at a conference of state attorneys in Eilat.

After Mandelblit announced indictments against Netanyahu in three corruption cases last Thursday, the prime minister held a press conference in which he accused prosecutors of seeking to oust him from power with false charges in an “attempted coup.”

Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrate outside his residence following the announcement by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that he will charge the premier in three graft cases, November 21, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Netanyahu claimed the investigation had been tainted by various improprieties and accused law enforcement authorities of “selective enforcement” against him. He demanded to “investigate the investigators.”

“I deeply respect the justice system in Israel. But you have to be blind not to see that something bad is happening to police investigators and the prosecution. We’re seeing an attempted coup by the police with false accusations” against him, Netanyahu charged.

His political allies soon took up the refrain, with Communications Minister David Amsalem singling out State Attorney Shai Nitzan and Liat Ben-Ari, the lead prosecutor in the cases.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds to the decision to indict him in corruption cases, November 21, 2019 (Channel 11 Kan screenshot)

Nitzan, Ben-Ari and Mandelblit have all been receiving additional police protection over the past year due to threats from supporters of the prime minister.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Mandelblit said the tightened security arrangements for the prosecutors was “unacceptable.”

“Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of us all. He heads the government, which we serve. The state prosecution is not, God forbid, in a confrontation with the prime minister or any minister,” he said.

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan speaks at a Justice Ministry conference in Tel Aviv, on November 4, 2019. (Flash90)

Mandelblit announced on Monday that Netanyahu could continue to hold office as a caretaker prime minister despite criminal charges against him, but left open the question of whether he could legally be tasked with forming a new government in the future.

Netanyahu has vowed to stay in office while he fights the criminal charges, which include bribery, fraud and breach of trust in one case, and additional fraud and breach of trust charges in another two cases.

Mandelblit’s announcement Thursday did not include the official filing of an indictment, as the Knesset must first decide on whether to grant Netanyahu procedural immunity, a process that — due to the current political gridlock and the lack of a functioning government — could drag on for months.

The prime minister has called his devotees to his side at several recent Likud party rallies.

On Tuesday evening, a mass rally in the center of Tel Aviv by Netanyahu backers is expected to include fierce criticism of the justice system and calls to investigate the prime minister’s prosecutors.

“There are places where there is a military coup and the military removes elected officials, and there is also a legal coup that takes place above the table in front of our eyes,” Simcha Rothman, a leader of the Movement for Governance and Democracy, one of the groups sponsoring the event, told Channel 12.

Organizers say they are expecting at least 10,000 people to participate — most of whom are being bused to the nation’s liberal heartland from around the country.

The rally will begin at 8 p.m. outside the Tel Aviv Museum.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Netanyahu had not made clear whether he would address the rally. Channel 13 news said he had not yet decided.

Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, November 23, 2019. Sign bottom right, reads ‘Investigate the investigators.’ (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Some in Likud have also expressed misgivings about the rally, with at least two ministers from the party announcing Tuesday that they would not attend. Both Culture Minister Miri Regev and Science Minister Ofir Akunis said they had prior engagements.

A Likud source speaking on condition of anonymity told The Times of Israel that the party was considering asking lawmakers not to attend in order to avoid the possibility of too many no-shows after many expressed disquiet at attending a rally that claimed a “coup” was underway.

Netanyahu’s chief political rival, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, slammed Netanyahu for the rally.

“The right to protest and freedom of expression are the centerpiece of democracy. In a healthy democracy a person has the right to freely express their opinion,” Gantz tweeted on Tuesday, adding, “In a healthy democracy a prime minister doesn’t organize a protest against the law enforcement system that he oversees.”

Blue and White No 2. Yair Lapid issued a scathing statement accusing Netanyahu of fomenting civil war on Monday.

“Avichai Mandelblit was assigned personal security. The state prosecutor, Shai Nitzan, was assigned personal security. Taxation and economic crimes prosecutor Liat Ben Ari was assigned personal security. They are facing death threats,” he said in a statement. “There’s no question about the cause. It’s clear Netanyahu is inciting against them. They need security because otherwise his people will hurt them. That’s what we’ve come to. He’s called on his people to go out to the streets for a violent revolt against the country.”

Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz (R) and No. 2 Yair Lapid at a faction meeting in the Knesset on November 18, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Likud’s Justice Minister Amir Ohana has attacked the state prosecution, for which he is responsible, saying in recent days that it acts unprofessionally and without oversight. “There are prosecutors breaking the law and nobody checks them,” he said. “I call on the state comptroller to look into this and examine these accusations,” he said.

Most Likud leaders have remained conspicuously silent since the Thursday announcement of the indictments, neither backing Netanyahu nor criticizing him.

The only senior Likud figure who spoke out against Netanyahu’s attacks on the justice system was his rival Gideon Sa’ar, who has launched a leadership challenge against Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s rhetoric, he has said, “harms the Likud’s statesmanlike approach” and “aims not for reform but to destroy the institutions of law enforcement.”

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Ashrawi Accuses Israel of Expelling Witnesses to Its Oppressive Practices

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Ashrawi Accuses Israel of Expelling Witnesses to Its Oppressive Practices

Tuesday, 26 November, 2019 – 12:30
HRW’s Omar Shakir at Ben Gurion Airport after being expelled from Israel. (File photo: AFP)
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat
Israeli authorities expelled Monday Human Rights Watch (HRW) Israel and Palestine Director Omar Shakir after Israel’s Supreme Court had upheld the government’s deportation order on November 5 and gave him until November 25 to leave.

Israel argues that Shakir actively supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He denies that his HRW work and pro-Palestinian statements he made before being appointed to the HRW post in 2016 constitute active support for BDS.

Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), slammed the deportation as an Israeli desperate measure to conceal its war crimes and violations.

Ashrawi said that expelling Shakir is a desperate action consistent with the unlawful practices of the occupation regime. She described it as an alarming wake-up call to all those who seek peace and justice for both sides that Israel will resort to extreme measures to hide the truth.

“Israel is getting rid of local and international witness of its crimes,” she warned.

HRW held a press conference in Jerusalem hours before Shakir’s departure flight and indicated that Shakir would continue his role remotely from Amman, Jordan, relying on a network of researchers in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza to conduct fieldwork.

Shakir condemned the decision as an escalating assault on the human rights movement.

“If the Israelis can deport somebody documenting rights abuse without facing consequences, how can we ever stop rights abuse?” said Shakir.

Speaking at the conference, he said that Israel joins the likes of Venezuela and Iran in barring Human Rights Watch researchers, but it, too, will not succeed in hiding its human rights abuses.

“This decision shows why the international community must reboot its approach to Israel’s deteriorating human rights record. A government that expels a leading human rights investigator is not likely to stop its systematic oppression of Palestinians under occupation without much greater international pressure.”

UK chief rabbi: What will be the fate of Jews if Labour ‘poison’ comes to power?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UK chief rabbi: What will be the fate of Jews if Labour ‘poison’ comes to power?

Dismissing claim by Corbyn’s party to be working to root out anti-Semitism in its ranks as ‘mendacious fiction,’ Ephraim Mirvis asks: ‘What should we expect of them in government?’

Illustrative: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gives a speech as he attends a Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, January 27, 2015. (AP/Chris Jackson)

Illustrative: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gives a speech as he attends a Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, January 27, 2015. (AP/Chris Jackson)

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis took an unprecedented stand against the Labour party ahead of next month’s election, urging voters to see the “new poison” that has taken root in the party, and expressing fear for the fate of Jews in the country should Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister.

In a column published Monday on The Times website, Mirvis said he was compelled to intervene in politics because Britain’s Jews were “gripped by anxiety” over the future of the community and of Judaism in the country amid the prospect of a Labour win on December 12.

Without explicitly calling on people not to vote for Labour, or even mentioning Corbyn by name, Mirvis warned that “a new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party.”

“The question I am now most frequently asked is: What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?” he wrote.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, addresses party members during the Labour Party Conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton, England, September 24, 2019. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

“This anxiety is justified. Raising concerns about anti-Jewish racism in the context of a general election ranks among the most painful moments I have experienced since taking office,” the chief rabbi wrote, explaining his bombshell intervention by saying that “challenging racism is not a matter of politics, it goes well beyond that.”

Polls suggest that just six percent of UK Jews plan to vote Labour. Nearly half say they will “seriously consider” emigrating if Corbyn — a man 87% of those polled believe is an anti-Semite — gets to Downing Street.

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.

The Labour leadership has strenuously defended itself, with Corbyn himself arguing in recent weeks: “Antisemitism and racism is an evil within our society. I’ve done everything to confront it throughout my life, and will always do so.”

Much of the fear of Corbyn is spurred by revelations about his past record that have emerged since he became Labour leader. These include him describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”; defending an anti-Semitic mural in East London; and a seeming willingness to associate with alleged anti-Semites, terrorists and Holocaust-deniers.

Mirvis described the last four years of having Labour repeatedly minimize and deny the rampant anti-Semitism in the party and the attacks, and even death threats, Jewish party members faced for speaking out about it, with many hounded out of the party.

Illustrative: People hold up placards and Union flags as they gather for a demonstration organized by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism outside the head office of the British opposition Labour Party in central London on April 8, 2018. (AFP/Tolga Akmen)

He noted Labour’s “quibbling and prevarication” over whether to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance‘s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, finally only doing so after adding an amendment that emphasized the right to “free speech” on Israel.

And he highlighted the party being formally investigated by the UK’s anti-racism watchdog.

“And all of this while in opposition. What should we expect of them in government?” Mirvis asked. “Therefore, with the heaviest of hearts, I call upon the citizens of our great country to study what has been unfolding before our very eyes.”

Mirvis dismissed Labour’s claims that it was doing everything possible to root out anti-Semitism as a “mendacious fiction.”

“According to the Jewish Labour Movement, there are at least 130 outstanding cases before the party, some dating back years, and thousands more have been reported but remain unresolved.

“The party leadership have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes. It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party,” he wrote.

Mirvis said given Labour’s record, it “can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism.”

“How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office?” he asked.

“Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not,” he said. referring to Corbyn’s calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. Corbyn later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.

Jeremy Corbyn (second from left) holding a wreath during a visit to the Martyrs of Palestine, in Tunisia, in October 2014. (Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia)

“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote,” Mirvis said. “I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?”

Therefore, he added, “When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”

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COMMENTS

Israel strikes ‘dozens’ of targets in Syria over rockets fired by Iranian force

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel strikes ‘dozens’ of targets in Syria over rockets fired by Iranian force

Army says it attacked Iranian and regime sites in the country, blames Tehran’s Quds force for launches at Israel; footage shows nighttime blasts over Damascus

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a damaged building targeted by Israeli missile strikes is seen in Qudsaya suburb, western the capital Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.  (SANA via AP)

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a damaged building targeted by Israeli missile strikes is seen in Qudsaya suburb, western the capital Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (SANA via AP)

The Israeli military said it struck dozens of targets in Syria belonging to Iranian forces and the Syrian regime in the predawn hours of Wednesday morning, in response to four rockets that were fired at Israel the day before.

“The attack was carried out in response to the launching of the rockets by the Iranian Quds force from Syrian territory,” the army said in a statement. The rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Though Israel rarely takes direct responsibility for airstrikes in Syria, it always acknowledges conducting reprisal raids in response to attacks from the country.

The targets of Wednesday’s predawn strikes included missile launchers, weapons warehouses, command centers and bases, the army said.

A large explosion is seen over the Damascus skyline in footage purportedly taken on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, November 20, 2019 (video screenshot)

Syrian media reported that two people were killed and others were injured during the overnight strikes.

Video footage from Syria appeared to show a Syrian air defense missile crashing to the ground in a heavily populated area shortly after launching, which may account for at least some of the casualties.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the strike: “I have made clear that any who attack us — we will attack them. That is what we did tonight towards military targets of the Iranian Quds force and Syrian military targets.”

Footage circulated on social media showed nighttime explosions over the Damascus skyline.

The official Syrian news agency SANA quoted a military source as saying: “At 1:20 a.m. on Wednesday, Israeli warplanes… targeted the vicinity of the city of Damascus with a number of missiles. Our air defense confronted the heavy attack and intercepted the hostile missiles, and was able to destroy most of them before reaching their targets.”

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Syrian authorities regularly claims to destroy most missiles in such attacks, though the veracity of such assertions is questionable. The Israeli military acknowledged being targeted by Syrian air defenses during the assault and said it destroyed several anti-aircraft missile batteries in response.

The Israeli Air Force refrained from hitting Syria’s Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft batteries due to the presence of Russian troops in their vicinity. It was not clear whether S-300s had fired on the Israeli aircraft.

SANA added that the attack was carried out from “Lebanese and Palestinian territories.” Israel sometimes launches its strikes on Syria from planes flying over neighboring Lebanon.

The Quds force is a part of the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps responsible for extraterritorial operations, and is a key actor in Syria — both against rebels and in Tehran’s efforts to entrench itself along Israel’s border and threaten the Jewish state from there.

Early Tuesday morning Israel’s anti-missile defense system intercepted four rockets fired from Syria toward the Golan Heights. All four were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (YouTube screenshot)

Shortly afterwards blasts were heard near Damascus International Airport, the official SANA news agency reported. The agency gave no further details, but its statement came shortly after the Israeli army had announced that it had intercepted the rockets fired from Syria.

Some Syrian outlets speculated that the blasts were an Israeli airstrike, while others said it may have been the sound of the rockets being launched at Israel.

The rockets triggered sirens in the northern Golan Heights and Galilee region at 4:52 a.m., sending residents rushing to bomb shelters.

Last week Syrian state media reported that an Israeli strike hit the home of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist in Damascus, Akram al-Ajouri, killing his son and another person. Islamic Jihad accused Israel of being behind the strike in Damascus. The Israeli army refused to comment.

On the same day, an Israeli airstrike killed Islamic Jihad military commander Baha Abu Al-Ata, whom Israel blamed for recent rocket fire into its territory, in a strike on his home in Gaza City. Around 450 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the military operation against Abu Al-Ata, according to the Israeli army, as the military struck back at Islamic Jihad targets. A ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad was reached after 50 hours of clashes, but the deal remains precarious.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets over the last several years, but does not generally comment on specific attacks. Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbor, and supports Hezbollah and Gaza terrorists.

Screen capture from video showing the delivery of Russian S-300 air defense missiles to Syria. (YouTube)

In August, in a rare announcement, the IDF said it had targeted sites in the town of Aqrabah, southeast of Damascus, near the city’s airport to foil what it said was an imminent armed drone attack on Israel by Iran-backed fighters.

In January Israel was said to have conducted a daylight missile attack on Iranian targets at the airport. Iran responded by firing a surface-to-surface missile at the northern Golan Heights, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system over the Mount Hermon ski resort, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Earlier Tuesday Foreign Minister Israel Katz had accused Iran of being behind the morning’s rockets.

But he also said the threat posed by Iran in Israel’s north was “less than what it used to be,” crediting “US sanctions and the aggressive Israeli activity.”

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