Turkey launches Syria offensive against Kurdish faction

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(The war criminal Erdogan continues his murder campaign against Kurdish people, U.S. does nothing to stop him from murdering the only people in the region who helped the U.S. eliminate ISIS.) (Commentary by (trs))  

Turkey launches Syria offensive against Kurdish faction

Ankara wants to remove threat from YPG group, which enjoys close ties to US, and thwart establishment of a Kurdish corridor along its border

This photo released by the press office of the Kurdish militia, People's Protection Units or YPG, shows protesters waving giant flags of the YPG and other parties and militias, during a demonstration against Turkish threats, in Afrin, Aleppo province, north Syria on Thursday, Jan 18, 2018. (YPG Press Office via AP)

This photo released by the press office of the Kurdish militia, People’s Protection Units or YPG, shows protesters waving giant flags of the YPG and other parties and militias, during a demonstration against Turkish threats, in Afrin, Aleppo province, north Syria on Thursday, Jan 18, 2018. (YPG Press Office via AP)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s defense minister said Friday there is no turning back from his country’s decision to launch a ground assault on a Syrian Kurdish-controlled enclave in northwest Syria, saying the offensive had “de facto” started with the sporadic Turkish military shelling of the area.

Nurettin Canikli told Turkey’s A Haber television in an interview that the Syrian Kurdish fighters in the enclave of Afrin and other Kurdish-controlled territories pose a “real” and ever increasing threat to Turkey.

“This operation will take place; the terror organization will be cleansed,” Canikli said in reference to the Syrian Kurdish group, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey says is an extension of an outlawed Kurdish rebel group that is fighting inside Turkey.

Turkey wants to remove the threat from YPG group and thwart the establishment of a Kurdish corridor along its border. It has been massive troops and tanks along the border in past weeks.

The US however has developed close ties with the YPG over the shared fight against the Islamic State group.

Canikli said Turkey was determined to carry out an offensive in Afrin, and would not be turn back from its decision. He said the operation had “de facto” begun, in reference to Turkish artillery attacks that have been taking place against suspected YPG targets.

He would not say when the operation would take place saying authorities were working out the best timing for the assault. They were also working to minimize possible losses for Turkish troops, he said, without providing details. Canikli said the operation would be conducted by Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters with Turkish troop support.

Canikli also said Turkey had detailed information about the YPG’s military capabilities, adding that Turkey had developed sophisticated weapons since its last incursion into Syria in 2016 that were able to counter them.

In a stark warning to Turkey, Syria said on Thursday said its air defense would shoot down any Turkish jets that carry out attacks within Syria. Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad said a military incursion into Afrin would be “no picnic” for Turkey and would be considered an “aggressive act.”

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Senior Hamas Leader Accidentally Shoots Himself In The Head

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Senior Hamas official suffers gunshot wound, is in critical condition

Imad al-Alami, who is a key link between Gaza and Iran, reportedly shoots himself in the head while inspecting his gun

Senior Hamas leader Imad al-Alami. (Youtube)

Senior Hamas leader Imad al-Alami. (Youtube)

Senior Hamas official Imad al-Alami, who is a key link between Gaza and Tehran, was shot in the head Tuesday morning, with the terror group’s spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum saying he accidentally discharged his own weapon while inspecting it.

Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Dr. Ashraf al-Qidre said al-Alami is being treated at the intensive care unit in Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital and that his condition is critical.

Al-Alami, also known as Abu Hamam, was born in Gaza in 1956. He was one of the founders of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and served as the terror group’s main representative in Tehran for many years before moving to Damascus in 2008.

At the start of the Syrian civil war in 2012, he was the last Hamas leader to leave Damascus and return to Gaza, where he was quickly elected as deputy Hamas leader, a capacity in which he served until last year’s elections.

Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, take part in a rally in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 5, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Al-Alami is unique among senior Hamas leaders for staying out of the press. He does not take part in press conferences nor is he active on any social media platform.

Al-Alami, who is a mechanical engineer by training, suffered serious leg injuries during the Israel-Gaza war in the summer of 2014, in circumstances that are not totally clear.

According to one claim, he was hurt when an elevator collapsed inside a tunnel in which senior Hamas members were hiding. Another rumor said he was injured by gunfire during a battle between Hamas activists. He was treated in Turkey.

Al-Alami was first deported from Gaza in 1991, after being arrested by Israeli security forces for carrying out terror activities for Hamas.

Hamas has said Iran is currently its leading military backer.

Avi Issachoroff contributed to this report.

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Assad Must Go, Says Turkey’s Leader Erdogan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

Syrian soldiers parade past a banner depicting President Bashar al-Assad during a government celebration in December 2017. CreditGeorge Ourfalian/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Turkey’s leader denounced President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Wednesday as a terrorist mass murderer with no place in that country’s postwar future, scrapping a softened approach that Turkish officials had taken toward Mr. Assad in recent years.

The statement by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey came as Mr. Assad seemed more confident than ever that he has won the war and will remain Syria’s leader for the foreseeable future. It also came against the backdrop of maneuvering by many powers — most notably Russia and Iran, Mr. Assad’s most important allies — to influence the outcome of a devastating conflict that has reshaped Middle East politics.

One of the first leaders in the region to condemn Mr. Assad when the conflict began in 2011, Mr. Erdogan had in recent months signaled a willingness to accept Mr. Assad’s political longevity.

The Turkish leader’s shift on Wednesday was a reminder of their hostility, coming as Mr. Assad has demonstrated greater swagger over his grip from military gains over the past year, largely with Russia’s help.

In a new sign of his confidence, Mr. Assad even allowed a modest medical evacuation of civilians on Wednesday from one of the last rebel enclaves in the country, near Damascus.

Continue reading the main story

Mr. Erdogan appeared to be reminding Russia that it cannot dictate Syria’s future alone, especially on issues sensitive to Turkey, most notably those involving Syria’s Kurdish groups, which Turkey sees as enemies.

Russia on Tuesday said that representatives of a semiautonomous Kurdish area in northeastern Syria would be allowed to take part in talks that Russia is hosting next month — an inclusion opposed by Turkey.

“Assad, I am saying this loud and clear, is a terrorist who spreads state terrorism,” Mr. Erdogan said at a joint news conference with the Tunisian president, Beji Caid Essebsi, in Tunis. “Would the Syrian people like to see someone like this stay in charge?”

In remarks quoted by Turkish news agencies, Mr. Erdogan also said: “It is absolutely impossible to move ahead with Assad in Syria. For what? How could we embrace the future with the president of a Syria who killed close to one million of its citizens?”

Furious over the insult, Syria’s Foreign Ministry called Mr. Erdogan a terrorist supporter who bore “prime responsibility for the bloodshed in Syria.”

The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands — there are no reliable figures — along with upending roughly half of Syria’s prewar population and contributing to a migration crisis that has reverberated around the world. At least 5.4 million Syrians are refugees and more than six million are internally displaced, the United Nations says.

Russia and Iran have always backed Mr. Assad, while Turkey supports some Syrian rebel groups. Despite their differences, the three nations have been collaborating on diplomacy aimed at ending the war.

All three also have been jockeying for position in the country’s post-conflict future, even as their efforts to end the fighting have proved only partly successful.

Mr. Erdogan’s statement appeared to signal more of a tough negotiating stance than a rupture with Russia, which has been enjoying an improved relationship with Turkey, a NATO member. Even as Mr. Erdogan spoke, his government in Ankara was finalizing a $2.5 billion deal to purchase Russian S-400 missile systems.

It is possible the Russians welcomed Mr. Erdogan’s tough line toward Mr. Assad, because they want to play a leading role in any peace deal. That means delivering an often recalcitrant Mr. Assad to negotiations.

Photo

Patients being taken to hospitals in Damascus as part of a medical evacuation of Eastern Ghouta.CreditAbdulmonam Eassa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A main issue between Russia and Turkey has involved Syria’s Kurds. Mr. Erdogan has made clear lately that preventing them from maintaining a semiautonomous area bordering Turkey has become a higher priority than toppling Mr. Assad.

But Moscow has been eager to include Kurdish groups in peace talks. It has won greater inclusion for them in the United Nations-backed talks in Geneva — though not through the separate Kurdish delegation that the Kurds wanted — and now has invited numerous Kurdish representatives to Sochi, the southern Russia resort town where talks that Moscow calls a Syrian “national dialogue” will supposedly be held in late January.

Turkey, by contrast, had hoped that Russia and Iran would use their leverage to ostracize the Kurds and exclude them from those talks.

“It hasn’t worked well,” Andrew J. Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said of Turkey’s effort on the Kurds. Insistence on blunting Kurdish power in Syria, he said, “takes the limelight in Turkey.”

A previous attempt to convene talks in Sochi, in November, failed when Turkey withdrew over objections to Kurdish participation.

The planned January meeting has also been widely snubbed by Mr. Assad’s Syrian opponents. Forty rebel groups declared Tuesday that they would not take part.

Before the Arab revolts of 2011, relations between Syria and Turkey were neighborly, along a border that stretches more than 500 miles. But six months into the Syrian uprising — which began with political protests met with a harsh security crackdown — Mr. Erdogan broke with Mr. Assad, saying he must step down.

Mr. Erdogan then went on to finance Syrian rebel groups and later allowed foreign recruits to the Islamic State and other jihadist militant groups to stream through Turkey into Syria.

But the Syrian war has taken a toll on Turkey, which is housing more than three million refugees and has suffered deadly attacks by the Islamic State and Kurdish groups.

Soon after Russia began its air campaign on behalf of Mr. Assad’s government in 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane. Russia retaliated with sanctions that were devastating for Turkish trade and tourism.

Turkey’s antipathy toward the Kurds, oddly, is partly responsible for the reconciliation in Turkish-Russian relations and a Turkish shift away from insistence that Mr. Assad must go.

As Russian air power severely weakened Syria’s rebel forces, Turkey was willing to temper its support for them in exchange for Russia’s assent to a Turkish sphere of influence in northern Syria, where Turkey could block Kurdish expansion.

Mr. Erdogan’s condemnation of Mr. Assad on Wednesday came as the Syrian leader appeared to allow a humanitarian breakthrough, albeit a small one, in the besieged Syrian rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, home to about 400,000 people and the only major rebel stronghold near Damascus.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria said on Wednesday that after protracted negotiations, it had been able to start medical evacuations from Eastern Ghouta.

The enclave has been targeted by Mr. Assad’s forces, and the United Nations has pleaded for his government to allow for the evacuation of around 500 patients, including children with cancer.

The Syrian American Medical Society said four patients had been taken to hospitals in Damascus, the first of 29 critical cases approved for medical evacuation, with the remainder to be evacuated over the coming days.

U.N. General Assembly Votes Against Trump-Israel On Jerusalem Issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY)

 

The United Nations General Assembly moved Thursday to repudiate President Trump’s controversial declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump threatened to withhold aid to countries that vote for the resolution.

The measure, drafted by U.S. ally Egypt, urges nations to support U.N. resolutions dating to 1967 when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan, that call for Jerusalem’s status to be decided through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel says a united Jerusalem will remain its capital, while Palestinians want it to cede East Jerusalem as the capital of a future, independent Palestinian state. Only a handful of countries recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, while most others maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

The resolution says “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

Trump warned Wednesday that the vote could impact “billions of dollars” in U.S. aid.

“Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot,” Trump said. “We don’t care. This isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing.”

Americans are “tired of being taken advantage of” at the U.N. “and we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer,” Trump said.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Trump for threatening to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision. “Mr Trump, you cannot buy Turkey’s democratic will with your dollars. Our decision is clear,” Erdogan said at a cultural awards ceremony in Ankara on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley threatened the 193 U.N. member states and the United Nations with funding cuts if the assembly approves the draft resolution rejecting the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She said Wednesday that “no vote in the United Nations will make any difference” on the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which will go ahead because “it is the right thing to do.”

“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” Haley said. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Haley also threatened Tuesday to “take names” of countries that vote in favor of the measure.

At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.

Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement also said the State Department had been ordered to begin the years-long process of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Trump said the decision, following a law passed by Congress in 1998, does not impact the borders of Jerusalem, but reflected the reality that Israel considers the city its capital.

His announcement was widely condemned in capitals around the world, and provoked deadly protests in the Middle East.

More: U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution on Jerusalem

More: Jerusalem Palestinians still seek Israeli citizenship despite Trump declaration

More: Trump’s Jerusalem plan signals to Palestinians — the less you give up, the more you lose

Thursday’s vote at an emergency meeting of the General Assembly comes after the U.S. vetoed the same measure in the Security Council on Monday.

The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, including key U.S. allies such as Italy, Japan, Britain, France and Ukraine.

While the five permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — had veto power in the first vote, there are no vetoes at the General Assembly.

The General Assembly vote expresses widespread disapproval, however, it has little or not practical impact.

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OIC Summit Stresses Rejection of US Decision on Jerusalem

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

 

OIC Summit Stresses Rejection of US Decision on Jerusalem

Wednesday, 13 December, 2017 – 10:45
Asharq Al Awsat

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed Muslim leaders on Wednesday stressing that a US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a crime which showed that Washington can no longer be an honest broker in Middle East peace talks.

During an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Turkey, Abbas said President Donald Trump was giving Jerusalem away as if it were an American city.

“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding Trump’s decision was “the greatest crime” and a flagrant violation of international law.

Wednesday’s summit was hosted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who has piercingly slammed the United States for its stance on Jerusalem.

“I invite all countries supporting international law to recognize Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine. We cannot be late any more,” Erdogan told leaders and ministers from more than 50 Muslim countries.

He described Trump’s decision last week as a reward for Israeli actions including occupation, settlement construction, land seizure and “disproportionate violence and murder”.

“Israel is an occupying state (and) Israel is a terror state,” he said.

Jerusalem, cherished by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike, is home to Islam’s third holiest site and has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in an action not recognized internationally.

Ahead of the meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Muslim nations should urge the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state within its pre-1967 borders.

He said this week Turkey was not seeking sanctions in response to the US move, but wanted the summit to issue a strong rejection of the US decision.

Trump’s announcement last week prompted an outpouring of anger in the Muslim and Arab world, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce the Jewish state and show solidarity with the Palestinians.

The decision sparked protests in Palestinian territories, with four Palestinians killed so far in clashes or Israeli air strikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza and hundreds wounded.
US ‘BIAS’

The Trump administration says it remains committed to reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its decision does not affect Jerusalem’s future borders or status.

It says any credible future peace deal will place the Israeli capital in Jerusalem, and ditching old policies is needed to revive a peace process frozen since 2014.

Abbas told the leaders in Istanbul that Washington should no longer play a role in the peace talks.

“It will be unacceptable for it (the United States) to have a role in the political process any longer since it is biased in favor of Israel,” he said. “This is our position and we hope you support us in this.”

King Abdullah of Jordan told the Istanbul summit that he rejected any attempt to change the status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The summit was also attended by leaders including Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir. Rouhani tweeted that Trump’s decision showed the United States had no respect for Palestinian rights and could never be an honest mediator.

AHEAD OF TRUMP ANNOUNCEMENT, MUSLIM LEADERS WARN OF BACKLASH

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JERUSALEM POST)

 

AHEAD OF TRUMP ANNOUNCEMENT, MUSLIM LEADERS WARN OF BACKLASH

BY SETH J. FRANTZMAN
 DECEMBER 6, 2017 17:48

 

All have warned against moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

4 minute read.

 

erdogan abbas

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) address the media at the Presidential Palace in Ankara January 12, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Ayman Safadi, the foreign minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, has been actively campaigning on Twitter against US President Donald Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His is one of many voices throughout the region, among countries the Jewish state has relations with and those it doesn’t, among its enemies and luke-warm friends, warning of the consequences of such a move.

On December 3, Safadi tweeted that he had spoken with his counterpart in the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “on dangerous consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Such a decision would trigger anger across Arab, Muslim worlds, fuel tension and jeopardize peace efforts.”

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Safadi had reached out to the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents 57 Muslim countries, for support against the US move, he said. He went further on December 4, tweeting that he had spoken with foreign ministers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Iraq, Oman and Tunisia.

Jordan appears to see the recognition as a serious crisis. This is compounded by Israel’s lack of an ambassador in Jordan since July, after an Israeli security guard shot two Jordanians.

Egypt, the other Arab country in the region at peace with Israel, has also opposed Trump’s declaration. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on December 5 about the potential embassy move.

“The two expressed their hope that the US administration reconsiders its plan before making a final decision, due to its potentially dangerous impact on the region and the peace negotiations,” Egypt Today reported. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also spoke with Trump and said the decision would “complicate” issues in the Middle East. The relatively ambiguous statement from Cairo notes that Sisi “affirmed the Egyptian position on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a vociferous critic of Trump’s recognition. On December 5, Hurriyet reported that he said “this could go as far as cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel. You cannot take such a step.” He added that this is a “red line” for Muslims.

King Abdullah of Jordan traveled to Ankara on Wednesday, December 6 at the height of the Jerusalem crisis with intentions of discussing Jerusalem and de-escalation zones in southern Syria.

“I would like to call out to the entire world from here and say Jerusalem is protected by UN resolutions and is a legal status and any steps that would challenge this status should be shied away from, no one has the right to play with the destinies of billions of people for personal gain, because such a move would only serve the purposes of terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said in comments on December 6 with King Abdullah.

In Lebanon, The Daily Star’s front page ran a photo of the Dome of the Rock across the entire page claiming “no offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.” Walid Joumblatt, the Druze leader of the Progressive Socialist Party in Lebanon tweeted a petition on December 5 calling on world leaders to remember that “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.” He also tweeted a lyrical discussion about how moving the embassy to Jerusalem was an “abhorrence” that involved moving stones while forgetting the humans.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told Trump on December 5 that moving the embassy would be a dangerous step that would provoke Muslims in the region. It would have “gravely negative consequences,” the Kingdom said.  But Saudi Arabia has also been accused by commentators in the region of giving Trump a “wink and a nod,” on the Jerusalem issue. The Kingdom is trying to lead a peace push with the Palestinians at the same time.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, chairman of the Quds Committee in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, warned the US that the OIC “expresses its deep concern and strong condemnation of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transfer its embassy.” The UAE’s foreign ministry also warned of “grave consequences of US recognition.” Qatar also “rejected any measure,” that would lead to recognition its foreign ministry said on December 4.

Iraq, which is recovering from years of war on Islamic State, has also expressed concern about Jerusalem. The cabinet said in a statement that it saw the decision with “utmost worry and warns of this decision’s ramifications on the stability of the region and the world.”

“Today the enemies and others have lined up against the Islamic Ummah and the Prophet of Islamc’s path [are]: US, global arrogance, [and the] Zionist regime,” tweeted Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He went on to claim that the US and “Zionists” represent a new “Pharoah,” a religious reference. “It is out of despair and debility that they want to declare Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as capital of the Zionist regime.” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani also joined the condemnations. “We call on Muslim peoples to enter into a big uprising against the plot of transferring the US Embassy to Jerusalem.” Iranian allies among the Houthis in Yemen have also held a rally against the Jerusalem move.

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Jerusalem, Israel, And The Palestinian People

Jerusalem, Israel, And The Palestinian People

 

So, tomorrow December the 6th President Trump is supposed to say whether or not he is going to officially recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and if the U.S. is going to move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, this article this evening is simply my thoughts on this issue, I am not consulting other writers nor any pre-written documents. I am only going by articles that I have already read during my lifetime, up to this point in time. I know that no matter what I say, I am going to get a lot of people angry simply because I don’t agree with them.

Today the President of Turkey, Mr. Erdogan threatened to cut relations with Israel if Mr. Trump goes ahead with the Jerusalem Capital issue. To me, this is a fraudulent concept, if Mr. Erdogan wants to cut relations with any country it should be the U.S. not Israel. Israel cannot control what comes out of the mouth of Donald Trump, no one can. It is said that the whole of the ‘Arab League’ will cause many deaths if Mr. Trump goes through with this announcement. These type of threats help show the ‘low road’ of the Islamic leaders, not their intelligence. It is also because of threats like this that would cause a narcissists like Trump to not bow down to such a threat because it would/will make him look weak and in this case, that is actually true.

Now, for my personal thoughts on how to make the Jerusalem Capital issue work for all sides, yet at the same time not make any side totally happy. Isn’t that pretty much what the definition of what a compromise is? My idea is for Jerusalem to be declared the Capital of Palestine, all of Palestine. This would encompass all of Palestine and all the people of Palestine, Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, the people of Gaza and of the West Bank. This way it is everyone’s Capital. All people of this region, no matter if they are Israeli Jews or residents of the ‘so called’ Palestinians of the West Bank can prove that they are capable of recognizing each others right to exist, in peace with each other.

Because of the current security issues raised by terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and the PLO plus the fact that Jerusalem was the Capital of Israel at least 1,600 years before Mohammad was even born, Israel would have to have control of the security issues within all of the city. Maybe in time these folks who are hell-bent on violence will mature into civilized human beings and the ‘walls’ of security can be let down. Israel on their side would need to allow the Palestinian people to have such things as their Embassy in Eastern Jerusalem once there is a two State agreement in place. All sides of this issue should be allowed to call Jerusalem their Capital. Jerusalem is the ‘City of God’ and it should be able to be an ‘International’ City. Yet the only way for this to come about is if groups like Hamas who refuse the existence of the State of Israel to lay down all of their weapons. Israel can not allow its citizens to continue to be fodder to murderers, so until all Islamic groups in the Palestine region agree to commit no violence, there can not be a safe and secure two State compromise.

Another reality is that even though Mr. Trump seems to think that he decides if Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel, he actually has no say so in the matter. Jerusalem is and has been the Capital of the people of Israel for more than 2,600 years. It is God who decided that Jerusalem is His City. The world can call Tel Aviv Israels Capital, but it has never been Israels Capital, Jerusalem is. But there is no reason that all of the people of Palestine can not call Jerusalem their Capital as it is the Capital of all of Palestine.

 

 

Israel Hits Back At Turkish Leader Over Threat To Sever Ties

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel hits back at Turkish leader over threat to sever ties

Officials dismiss statement by Erdogan saying American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a ‘red line’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he speaks during the Justice and Development (AK) Party's provincial heads meeting in Ankara, November 17, 2017. (AFP/Adem Altan)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he speaks during the Justice and Development (AK) Party’s provincial heads meeting in Ankara, November 17, 2017. (AFP/Adem Altan)

Israeli officials blasted Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Tuesday for his threat to sever diplomatic ties should US President Donald Trump recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Diplomatic officials said in a statement that Jerusalem has been the “capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and Israel’s capital for 70 years, regardless of whether Erdogan recognizes this or not.”

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the government has not yet commented formally.

Earlier, the Turkish president had said that his country, which currently holds the chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, would immediately call a summit meeting of the pan-Islamic group if Trump went ahead with the move on Wednesday, and would “set the entire Islamic world in motion.”

“Mr. Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims,” he said in a raucous televised speech to his ruling party that was greeted with chants and applause.

Turkey, Erdogan said, would “follow this struggle to the very last moment with determination and we could even go right up to cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel.”

Education Minister and head of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett leads a faction meeting at the Knesset on November 27, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, blasted Erdogan for his comments.

“Unfortunately, Erdogan does not miss an opportunity to attack Israel,” he said in a statement. “Israel must advance its goals, including the recognition of United Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel. There will always be those who criticize, but at the end of the day it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdogan’s sympathy.”

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said that Israel did not take orders from Turkey.

“Israel is a sovereign state and Jerusalem is its capital,” Katz tweeted. “There is no more historically justified and correct step now than recognizing Jerusalem, which has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years, as the capital of Israel. The days of the sultan and the Ottoman Empire have passed.”

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz attends a press conference at the Transportation Ministry in Jerusalem on March 14, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) added his voice, saying that Turkey had enough of its own problems to worry about.

“Turkish rule in Israel ended 100 years ago,” he tweeted. “Erdogan, you have enough troubles in Turkey — worry about your own issues and don’t threaten us.”

MK Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, also said Israel must not cave to Turkey’s threats.

“Turkey’s president, the man who calls our soldiers by disgusting names, threatens once again to cut off relations with us,” Lapid tweeted. “The Israeli government must send a clear message to Erdogan — you do not threaten us. Jerusalem is our capital, and it is time for the world to recognize that fact. The US embassy and also the embassies of the rest of the countries of the world must be in Jerusalem.”

Last year, Turkey and Israel ostensibly ended a longstanding rift greatly exacerbated by Israel’s storming of a Gaza-bound ship attempting to beat the blockade of the coastal strip in 2010. That incident left dead 10 Turkish activists who had attacked Israeli soldiers and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.

The two sides have since stepped up cooperation, in particular in energy, but Erdogan, who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause, is still often bitterly critical of Israeli policy.

Donald Trump placing a note in the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel gained control of East Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967 and extended its sovereignty there in 1980, an effective annexation that remains unrecognized by the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

All foreign embassies in Israel are located in Tel Aviv, with consular representation in Jerusalem.

Trump is expected to make an announcement on Jerusalem in a major policy speech Wednesday.

He was supposed to decide Monday whether to sign a legal waiver delaying by six months plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, but missed the deadline.

The mercurial president has yet to make his final decision, officials said, but is expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem outright, a central campaign pledge that has been postponed once already by the new administration.

Illustrative image of US President Donald Trump signing the Education Federalism Executive Order during a federalism event with governors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, April 26, 2017. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

In 1995, the US Congress passed the so-called Jerusalem Embassy Act recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and stating that the US embassy should be moved there.

But an inbuilt waiver, which allows the president to temporarily postpone the move on grounds of “national security,” has been repeatedly invoked by successive US presidents, from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush and Barack Obama — meaning the law has never taken effect.

Several peace plans have unraveled over disagreement on whether, and how, to divide sovereignty or oversee sites in the city that are holy for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

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Turkey Could Sever Ties With Israel If Trump Recognizes Capital

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Erdogan says Turkey could sever ties with Israel if Trump recognizes capital

Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Arab League and European Union warn changing Jerusalem’s status could scuttle peace efforts

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he gives a speech at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, on December 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he gives a speech at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, on December 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

The status of Jerusalem is a “red line” for Muslims and changing it could prompt Turkey to cut its ties with Israel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Tuesday, as US President Donald Trump reportedly geared up to recognize the city as the Jewish state’s capital.

Erdogan said Turkey, which currently holds the chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, would immediately call a summit meeting of the pan-Islamic group if Trump went ahead with the move on Wednesday, and “set the entire Islamic world in motion.”

“Mr. Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims,” he said in a raucous televised speech to his ruling party that was greeted with chants and applause.

Turkey, Erdogan said, would “follow this struggle to the very last moment with determination and we could even go right up to cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel.”

Officials in Jerusalem rejected Erdogan’s threat.

Nabil Shaath, the Commissioner for External Relations of the Fatah movement, seen in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 18, 2012 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Nabil Shaath, the commissioner for external relations of the Fatah movement, seen in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 18, 2012 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official warned that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would spell the end of Trump’s nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace push.

“That totally destroys any chance that he will play a role as an honest broker,” Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told journalists on Tuesday.

“That takes away… the deal of the century,” he added, referring to Trump’s pledge to clinch the long-elusive peace deal.

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit also warned of the “danger” of the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or relocating its embassy there, calling on Washington to reconsider.

Abul Gheit told Arab government delegates that they had decided to meet in Cairo “given the danger of this matter, if it were to happen, and the possible negative consequences not only for the situation in Palestine but also for the Arab and Islamic region.”

US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, May 22, 2017, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Saudi Arabia, a major partner to the American efforts to revive the peace process, added its voice, expressing “grave and deep concern” over the possible US plans.

If Trump decides to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital it would reverse years of US policy, even if he did not move the US embassy.

“Saudi Arabia (expresses) grave and deep concern over reports that the US administration intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a foreign ministry source.

“This step will have serious implications and will further complicate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It will also obstruct the ongoing efforts to revive the peace process.”

The European Union also noted possible “serious repercussions” of the move.

Above: EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini

The EU, which supports a two-state solution to the conflict, warned against doing anything that would jeopardize the peace process.

“Since early this year, the European Union was clear in its expectation that there can be reflection on the consequences that any decision or unilateral action affecting Jerusalem’s status could have,” EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini’s office said in a statement.

“It might have serious repercussions on public opinion in large parts of the world,” it added. “The focus should therefore remain on the efforts to restart the peace process and avoiding any action that would undermine such efforts.”

Trump is expected to make an announcement on Jerusalem in a major policy speech Wednesday.

The mercurial president has yet to make his final decision, officials said, but is expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem outright, a central campaign pledge that has been postponed once already by the new administration.

Facing dark warnings of a historic misstep and widespread unrest, Trump on Monday delayed a decision on whether to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The White House said the president would miss a deadline on the decision, after a frantic 48 hours of public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel gained control of East Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967 and extended its sovereignty there in 1980, an effective annexation that remains unrecognized by the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

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7.2 magnitude earthquake jolts Iran-Iraq border area

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY ‘DAWN’)

 

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook Iraq on Sunday, authorities said, without causing any casualties or major damage in the country or in neighboring Iran and Turkey where it was also felt.

The temblor was centred 32 kilometres southwest of Halabja, near the northeastern border with Iran, the US Geological Survey said.

It struck the mountainous area of Sulaimaniyah province at 9:18 pm (local time) at a depth of 33.9 kilometres (21 miles), the monitor said.

It was felt for about 20 seconds in Baghdad, and sometimes for longer in other provinces of Iraq, AFP journalists said.

In the province of Sulaimaniyah, located in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, residents ran out onto the streets at the time of the quake and some minor property damage was recorded, an AFP reporter said.

In Iran, the ISNA news agency said that the earthquake was felt in several cities in the west of the country including Tabriz.

In southeastern Turkey, the earthquake was felt “from Malatya to Van”, an AFP correspondent said. In the town of Diyarbakir, residents also left their homes before returning.