Ashkenazi meets EU counterparts in Germany on first diplomatic trip overseas

The foreign minister pressed Germany to prevent Iranian arms embargo from running down in October

Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi flew to Berlin Wednesday on his first official visit overseas where he is set to meet with his EU counterparts.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas invited Ashkenazi to Thursday’s conference of EU foreign ministers.

Shortly after his arrival, Ashkenazi met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, thanking him for his country’s stance in designating the entirety of Hezbollah – both the political and military wing – as a terrorist organization.

In addition to updating the president on the recent deal to normalize ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Ashkenazi also implored Germany’s head of state to prevent the United Nations’ arms embargo against Iran from running down in October.

Ashkenazi spoke at a ceremony at “Platform 17 in Berlin’s Grunewald Station, where there is a memorial marking Nazi Germany’s deportation of more than 55,000 Jews. He was joined by Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff, Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and representatives of the German Jewish community,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

“I stand here as the foreign minister of the government of Israel and the former IDF chief of staff,” Ashkenazi said. “Jews will never again be sent to their death because they are Jewish. Never again.”

The foreign minister will visit Wannsee, the villa in a Berlin suburb where the architects of the Nazi “Final solution” met – under the direction of Reinhardt Heydrich – to iron out details for the attempted slaughter of Europe’s 11 million Jews.

The article was published on the i24


‘We Share Your Pain’: Israel Offers Aid to Lebanon After Beirut Port Blast

President Rivlin tweets in Arabic: ‘We sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time’

Israel has offered humanitarian assistance to Lebanon after a massive explosion rocked its capital Beirut on Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.

“Israel has approached Lebanon through international security and diplomatic channels and has offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian assistance,” a written statement from Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.

The international mediators Israel employed were the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, and France.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister asked National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to reach out to the UN envoy to the region, Nickolay Mladenov, on this matter.

President Reuven Rivlin also offered his assistance, tweeting: “We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time.”

A damaged vehicle is seen at the site of an explosion in Beirut, August 4, 2020.
A damaged vehicle is seen at the site of an explosion in Beirut, August 4, 2020. Credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR/Reuters

The Israeli army’s spokesman in Arabic, Avichay Adraee, tweeted in Arabic about the Israeli offer, adding: “This is the time to transcend conflict.”

Several Israeli lawmakers also posted messages of support on social media after Lebanese authorities reported thousands of casulaties in the blast.

Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center, near Israel’s border with Lebanon, said in a Facebook message in Arabic: “We are ready to provide medical assistance as we did before with the people of south [Lebanon] and the people of Syria.”

An Israeli political source denied that the country had any connection to the incident, which came amid tensions with Hezbollah. Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said they had used international mediators UNIFIL and France to offer humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon.

The blast flattened much of the city’s port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Hours later, ambulances were still carrying away the wounded and officials said Beirut’s hospitals were full. Army helicopters helped battle fires raging at the port.

Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, said the blast might have been caused by highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port. Local television channel LBC said the material was sodium nitrate.

Beirut governor Marwan Abboud said the city was a “disaster area” and the scale of the damage was “enormous.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday would be a national day of mourning for the victims, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Other countries, including the U.S., U.K., Turkey, Jordan and Iran have all also offered their assistance to Lebanon in the aftermath of the blast.

The article was published on Haaretz


Pnina Tamano-Shata to become first Ethiopian-born minister

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz made history on Thursday, when he told MK Pnina Tamano-Shata that she will become the first Ethiopian-born minister in Israel’s history.

Tamano-Shata, who will be minister of immigrant absorption, came to Israel in Operation Moses when she was three years old. Gantz was one of the commanders of the operation.

The highest-ranking woman in Blue and White, MK Miki Haimovich, will not be a minister at the start of the government being formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Thursday night.

Gantz met with Haimovich on Thursday morning and offered her ministerial posts, but she told him she preferred to head the Knesset’s Interior and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Haimovich, a former news anchor, has focused on environmental issues, but the Likud insisted on keeping the Environmental Protection portfolio because of the Likud’s opposition to Haimovich’s views.

Gantz appointed MK Alon Schuster as Agriculture Minister on Thursday morning. Schuster is a farmer from Kibbutz Mefalsim and former mayor of the Shaar Hanegev regional council.

MK Chili Tropper was appointed by Gantz as the minister of culture and sports in the upcoming government.

As expected, when Gantz met with MK Gabi Ashkenazi, he officially gave him the Foreign Affairs portfolio, and when meeting MK Avi Nisenkorn, he gave him the Justice Ministry.

Gantz gave the Science and Technology portfolio to MK Izhar Shai, a former hi-tech executive.

Gantz appointed MK Meirav Cohen as social equality minister. As part of her duties she will be in charge of protecting the rights of Holocaust survivors.
Cohen will replace the current minister in that office, Gila Gamliel.
The article was published in the JPost