Why the United States Is Saying Goodbye To UNESCO

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

Why the United States Is Saying Goodbye to UNESCO

12:07 PM ET

The Trump Administration says the U.S. is withdrawing from the United Nations’ cultural body UNESCO, citing “anti-Israel bias” as one of its reasons.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, said in a statement on Thursday. “[it] reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.” The withdrawal will take place on Dec. 31, 2018. The State Department said on Thursday that the U.S. will instead establish an observer mission at UNESCO, which is known for designating world heritage sites.

Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova expressed her “profound regret” with the decision. “This is a loss to UNESCO. This is a loss to the United Nations family. This is a loss for multilateralism,” she said in a statement.

The news comes as the body picks its new director-general, with former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay and Qatari diplomat Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari as the main frontrunners. Here’s what to know:

What is UNESCO?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was created in 1945 with a mission to celebrate cultural diversity and foster intellectual cooperation and the free flow of ideas among the world’s nations. Among its first projects was to rebuild libraries, schools and museums destroyed during World War Two.

The agency is best known for its World Heritage program, which protects traditions and cultural sites across the globe, including India’s Taj Mahal and the United States’ Yellowstone National Park. It also works to improve education in poor countries, defend media freedom and promote scientific advances.

Why has Trump pulled out now?

The biggest strain is the body’s approach to Israel. This year, UNESCO declared Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian world heritage site — a move Israel says negates Judaism’s links to the town.

Israel had earlier recalled its ambassador to UNESCO in 2016, in response to the agency accepting resolutions that condemned Israel’s policies in religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and cited the Temple Mount as only a “Muslim holy site of worship,” Reuters reports.

Trump’s administration has been preparing to leave the body for months, Foreign Policy reports, and it might have been motivated by budget cuts. The President has repeatedly criticized what he considers to be the disproportionate contributions to international bodies like the U.N.

Has the U.S. done this before?

Yes. The organization ran afoul of the administration of Ronald Reagan, which withdrew the U.S. from the body in 1984 citing corruption and a pro-Soviet union, anti-U.S. bias. The administration also viewed UNESCO as a platform for Third World criticism of Israel and the U.S, the New York Times reports.

Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. rejoined the agency in 2003, citing its reformed bureaucracy, finances and efforts to expunge the worst of its biases.

That changed again in 2011 after UNESCO granted full membership to Palestine. This reinforced the notion of UNESCO’s long-running anti-Israel bias and under former U.S. President Barack Obama, UNESCO lost a chunk of American funding. But the State Department continued to maintain an office at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters so as to weigh in on policy.

Palestinian Security Forces And IDF Work Together To Stop Bomb Attack Near Hebron

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ISRAEL HAYOM’)

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IDF, Palestinian security forces foil terrorist attack near Hebron

Palestinian security forces reportedly provide IDF with intelligence on a large roadside bomb meant to target Israeli patrols in the area • Palestinians arrest Qalqilya resident, say he is affiliated with an international terrorist cell.

Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Palestinian police patrol the West Bank town of al-Eizariya
Photo credit: AP

The Hypocrisy Of The PA And Many Of The Palestinian Officials Is Humerus/Sickening

(This article is courtesy of the Times Of Israel)

On day of violence, Abbas aide says IDF killing of attackers is ‘execution’

Amid spate of four attacks by Palestinians, Nabil Abu Rudeineh urges world to defend Palestinian people from Israeli ‘crimes’

September 16, 2016, 8:26 pm 15

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Jews from Arab countries in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on March 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Jews from Arab countries in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on March 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called the killing by Israeli security forces of two attackers in separate incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba earlier in the day “a crime and an execution.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh called on the international community to defend the Palestinian people.

Israel has previously come under criticism for the way in which it responds to attacks on its civilians and soldiers. In March, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat submitted a request to the United Nations asking it to formally investigate what he called Israeli extrajudicial “executions” of Palestinian attackers. The request came days after an IDF soldier was filmed shooting and killing a wounded assailant in Hebron.

Israel has in turn repeatedly accused Abbas of failing to condemn the wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces that erupted late last year, and says his PA hierarchy presides over incitement to terror and violence against Israel.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh (L), spokesman of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, welcomes Israeli opposition head Isaac Herzog (C) at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2015. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh (L), spokesman of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomes Israeli opposition head Isaac Herzog (C) at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in July that a condemnation of terror attacks by Abbas would help to reduce incitement and therefore the level of violence against Israelis.

In the first of four attacks Friday, a Jordanian man was shot and killed by Border Police officers when he tried to carry out a stabbing attack near the Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The man, Fadi Aljaba, arrived at the Damascus Gate from inside the Old City and approached a group of officers with a knife drawn. The 28-year-old assailant was carrying a Jordanian passport, but police were still investigating if he also held a Palestinian ID card.

Less than an hour later, one Palestinian was killed and another was seriously wounded when they rammed their car into a bus stop outside the Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank, the army said.

Soldiers at the scene where a soldier was stabbed in Hebron on September 16, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

Soldiers at the scene where a soldier was stabbed in Hebron on September 16, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

The driver and passenger were shot as they plowed their vehicle into the bus stop at the Elias Junction near the settlement, the IDF said.

In one of the other two attacks Friday, an IDF soldier sustained light wounds when he was stabbed in the face in an attack at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday. The assailant was shot and killed by forces at the Gilbert checkpoint near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of the city, the army said.

Also Friday afternoon, a bus driver was lightly wounded when unidentified perpetrators threw rocks and glass bottles full of paint at his vehicle on the highway between Jerusalem and the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

— Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

FROM THE WEB
FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

Hamas, Fatah: The Palestinian People Are Facing Another Civil War With Hamas

 

In Hebron, Fatah faces a civil war at the polls

While Hamas has a low profile, and just as low stakes, in upcoming local elections, its Palestinian rival is trying to keep other moderates from splitting the secular vote, and preparing for the worst if it doesn‘t succeed

August 28, 2016

Flags of Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian movements atop the West Bank security barrier during a protest in November 2015. (illustrative photo: Muammar Awad/FLASH90)

Flags of Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian movements atop the West Bank security barrier during a protest in November 2015. (illustrative photo: Muammar Awad/FLASH90)

Wednesday noon, downtown Hebron. Registration for the various slates for the local elections will be closing in roughly 36 hours, and it is hard to sense anything special in the air. Those who see themselves as candidates are meeting with their advisers and their friends in anticipation of the official announcement of their candidacy, but no election posters have yet gone up in the West Bank city.

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The well-known restaurants here — Al-Khalil, Abu Mazen, the Pasha’s Palace — are full of customers, and one would be hard-pressed to say that the residents are all that excited about the municipal elections planned for October 8.

The talk of the day, of all things, is an incident that took place here just about two weeks ago, when an argument between two kids devolved into a deadly armed battle between two clans in the city.

Yet although the public in Hebron seems somewhat indifferent to the elections, for the Fatah party, tensions are as high as the stakes.

These are the first elections in more than a decade in which voting is taking place at the same time in both Gaza and the West Bank, and Hamas and Fatah are going head-to-head against one another.

Whatever the result may be, it will affect not only the status of these organizations but also of their leaders, and could even seep into the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel.

While these elections are local, and won’t directly change anything politically or security-related between Israel and the Palestinian, a sweeping win by the hardline Islamist movement Hamas is still liable to ramp up the amount of suspicion and lack of trust between the two peoples.

As in the other cities in the West Bank, the trouble in Hebron is that because there are so many secular slates of candidates, there is a reasonable chance that the more moderate camp of Fatah and groups of their ilk will split the secular vote, paving the way for victory by Hamas candidates.

For Hamas’s leaders in Gaza and abroad, the vote marks an extraordinary opportunity to take stock of where public opinion stands.

But fear of arrests by Israel or the Palestinian Authority have kept Hamas from openly running their members for office in the municipalities, forcing the movement to content itself with semi-independent figures who are known as Hamas supporters.

The flip side is that should Hamas lose at the polls, the movement will be able to claim that the lists it ran were not really part of the group, exposing it to less potential damage in the vote than Fatah.

Like the parliamentary elections of 2006, these elections are more liable to show the degree of weakness of Fatah and the secular camp than the strength of Hamas.

Where enemies become friends, and friends enemies

One need only travel to nearby Yatta to see what the risks of Fatah and the other moderates tearing themselves to bits looks like in action.

A 20-minute drive from Hebron, Yatta is a town that has metastasized into something resembling a city of 120,000 people.

Although the elections are a month and a half away, the fighting has already begun. Attacks, violence, threats and the like have been reported, mainly between groups considered to be associated or affiliated with Fatah.

Hamas has refrained from running a list under its own name in Yatta. As in other locales, its leaders are in no hurry to present their candidates for fear of Israeli or Palestinian security. But they are promoting figures who are identified with them on independent or semi-independent lists.

One of those candidate slates is the Joint List, headed by outgoing mayor Musa al-Muhamra, who resigned from his position just last week to run in the election.

If his last name is familiar to readers, its because the two terrorists who opened fire inside a restaurant at the Sarona entertainment center in Tel Aviv are from the same clan, and the ruins of their demolished home can be seen fairly close to his own.

Palestinians check the damage in the house of Mohammad Mahamra after it was demolished by the army in Yatta, south of Hebron, August 4, 2016. Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinians check the damage in the house of Mohammad Muhamra after it was demolished by the army in Yatta, south of Hebron, August 4, 2016. Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

“My list contains representatives from the Arab Liberation Front, the Popular Front,” Muhamra says. “Several political movements are represented there. My list contains [representatives from] Hamas as independent representatives.”

In the past, Muhamra was a member of the People’s Party movement, which is considered left-wing, but quit over its support of the Oslo Accords in 1993. His lefty past makes him an odd bedfellow for Hamas, and shows the length to which the movement is willing to go in order to see its candidates defeat Fatah.

The threat to Fatah is real enough that COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who heads the Israeli Defense Ministry body which administers the West Bank, and top Shin Bet officials even warned high-ranking PA officials that holding the elections could be a dangerous gamble.

But PA President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted on holding the elections on schedule in order to demonstrate the existence of even a shred of democracy in the territories.

When I asked Muhamra about Israel’s connection with the local elections, he could hardly stem the flow of words.

“Unfortunately, there is more than one sign that [Israel] is interfering with the Palestinian elections, using people who are connected with the Israeli Civil Administration and also through direct interference by the State of Israel and its mechanisms to influence the elections.”

When asked if that means people are being “pushed” as candidates by Israel, he says “exactly.”

File: COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, left, at the Bitunya Crossing near Ramallah. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

File: COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, left, at the Bitunya Crossing near Ramallah. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

“It is pushing people, and it is playing a role in heating up the security situation and in the change that took place in the security situation on the Palestinian street as a result of this unfair and wrong interference,” he says.

Asked to explain how they are interfering, though, he answers in generalities, accusing Israel of using Palestinians who used liaise with the Civil Administration as agents to do its bidding.

“It interferes in everything that happens on the Palestinian street that has to do with elections and acts to keep Palestinian citizens from voting freely in the local elections,” he says. “Everybody knows that. It’s known on the street and in the Palestinian Authority that Israel is interfering directly in the elections. It has a certain specific attitude toward the various candidates.”

While Muhamra uses the term “Mordechai’s friends” again and again to refer to the colleagues of the COGAT commander , he never mentions the name of Ismail Abu Hamid, the other candidate, who is at the center of a political furor in Yatta.

Abu Hamid was mayor of Yatta until 1995. When the Palestinian Authority came into being, he left his position but is now considering running for mayor again.

Abu Hamid, who has Israeli citizenship, is the owner of a large fuel station at the entrance to the town. “I have a home in Beit Safafa,” he says, referring to a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, as well as businesses in the territories and in Israel.

A Hamas member he is not and posters denouncing him as a collaborator with Israel were put up all over town.

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Amjad Hatem Al-Jundi during his funeral on October 10, 2015 in the village of Yatta, south the West Bank town of Hebron. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Amjad Hatem Al-Jundi during his funeral on October 10, 2015 in the village of Yatta, south the West Bank town of Hebron. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

When we meet him, he is surrounded by people, and says his decision will come in the next few hours. (Indeed, the next day he filed as a candidate). Some are trying to help him decide, while others appear to be guarding him for fear that someone might try to harm him.

Abu Hamid says that his people had found the ones who were putting up the posters. “They fired a shot at me, but my cousins managed to get the gun away from them and hand it over to the Preventive Security Service,” he says.

What he leaves out is the fact that the people putting up the posters were member of Fatah who did not want to see Abu Hamid run in the elections and split the moderate vote.

“They put up posters against me saying that I was an agent, a member of Hamas, a member of the Civil Administration, that Israel had sent me. It is known who is responsible for these posters, but the PA is not taking any action. It’s not doing a thing. I demand that the PA act on the issue and prosecute all those responsible,” he says.

He says time and again that no Israeli ever spoke to him about the topic, and attacks everyone who criticized him for his connection with Israel.

“There is security coordination, after all,” he says, referring to cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on security matters in the West Bank. “There is coordination with the PA. So they’re attacking me for my own connection with Israel?”

Threat level: Moderate

It’s not only in Yatta that Fatah faces a threat from a candidate likely to nab votes from its clutches.

One of the most popular radio stations in Hebron is al-Huriya (Liberty), headed by journalist Ayman al-Qawasmeh. Just 43 years old, Qawasmeh is considered a key figure in the city and the district. One can see photographs of Yasser Arafat in his office, as well as the Palestine soccer cup that the Al-Ahli soccer club from Hebron won only several weeks ago in a game against the team from Khan Yunis.

Qawasmeh, who reopened the station in April after IDF troops shuttered it for for incitement to violence in November, has put his name up for mayor, leading a list of candidates entitled The Martyr Fahd al-Qawasmeh, named for the mayor of Hebron in the 1970s who was assassinated in Amman in 1984.

Qawasmeh says the decision to run was not made by him.

This image posted by Palestinian social media users overnight Saturday purports to show IDF soldiers outside the offices of a Hebron radio station in November, 2015. (screen capture: Facebook)

This image posted by Palestinian social media users overnight Saturday purports to show IDF soldiers outside the offices of a Hebron radio station in November, 2015. (screen capture: Facebook)

“The heads of 19 of the city’s families met in the Harat a-Sheikh [a neighborhood] and chose me,” he tells me.

When I ask him whether the list will represent only his clan, he assures me that it contains representatives of many other families.

“We took into account the city’s geographical division into many neighborhoods and the division into clans, and we chose people of extraordinary quality,” says Qawasmeh,.

Known in the past as being closer to Fatah, Qawasmeh now says he is trying to distance himself from the movement, and demurs when asked even if he defines himself as Hamas or Fatah.

“We define our movement as representing the people on the street, who actually represent the majority. Forty percent of the people belong to the movements, while 60% have no connection with, and are not members of, any group. Those people are our constituency,” he says.

Our representatives are members of the new generation, he adds. We have brought in new faces. Our list contains more than one woman, he says proudly.

He admits that he was pressured not to run, but repeats “The decision to run for mayor was made for me.”

As we speak, it is still not clear who from Hamas or Fatah will run against him come October. But from a look at the candidates on his list, which includes friends gathered in his office, it’s clear, as in the case of Abu Hamid, he’ll steal more votes from Fatah.

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