CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel’s first lunar lander on a mission that if successful will make the Jewish state only the fourth nation to achieve a controlled touchdown on the moon’s surface.
The unmanned robotic lander dubbed Beresheet – Hebrew for the biblical phrase “in the beginning” – soared into space from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT Friday) atop the 23-story-tall rocket.
Beresheet, about the size of a dish-washing machine, was one of three sets of cargo carried aloft by the Falcon 9, part of the private rocket fleet of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s California-based company SpaceX.
The rocket’s two other payloads were a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
Beresheet was jettisoned into Earth orbit about 34 minutes after launch, followed 15 minutes later by the release of the two satellites, according to a SpaceX webcast of the event.
In addition to a textbook launch and payload deployments, SpaceX scored yet another success in its pioneering technology for recycling its own rockets.
Just minutes after blastoff, the Falcon 9’s nine-engine suborbital main-stage booster separated from the upper stage, flew back to Earth and landed safely on a drone ship floating in the Atlantic Ocean more than 300 miles (483 km) off the Florida coast.
As seen from the launch site, the distant glow of the returning booster rocket was visible in the sky just as the moon appeared over the horizon. The spectacle drew cheers from mission control engineers.
The encouraging moment came on the eve of a key hurdle for SpaceX to clear in the company’s quest to help NASA revive its human spaceflight program.
On Friday, NASA is expected to decide whether to give its final go-ahead to SpaceX for a first, unmanned test flight on March 2 of a new capsule the company designed for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
FROM EARTH TO THE MOON
Beresheet is slated to reach its destination on the near-side of the moon in mid-April following a two-month journey through 4 million miles (6.5 million km) of space.
A flight path directly from Earth to the moon would cover roughly 240,000 miles (386,242 km), but Beresheet will follow a more circuitous route.
If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft’s gradually widening Earth orbit will eventually bring the probe within the moon’s gravitational pull, setting the stage for a series of additional maneuvers leading to an automated touchdown.
So far, only three other nations have carried out controlled “soft” landings on the moon – the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.
Spacecraft from several countries, including India’s Moon Impact Probe, Japan’s SELENE orbiter and a European Space Agency orbital probe called SMART 1, have intentionally crashed on the lunar surface.
The U.S. Apollo program tallied six manned missions to the moon – the only ones yet achieved – between 1969 and 1972, with about a dozen more robotic landings combined by the Americans and Soviets. China made history in January with its Chang’e 4, the first to touch down on the dark side of the moon.
Beresheet would mark the first non-government lunar landing. The 1,290-pound (585-kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished almost entirely by private donors.A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Israel’s first spacecraft designed to land on the moon lifts off on the first privately-funded lunar mission at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Beresheet is designed to spend just two to three days using on-board instruments to photograph its landing site and measure the moon’s magnetic field. Data will be relayed via the U.S. space agency NASA’s Deep Space Network to SpaceIL’s Israel-based ground station Yehud.
At the end of its brief mission, mission controllers plan to simply shut down the spacecraft, according to SpaceIL officials, leaving Beresheet as the latest piece of human hardware to litter the lunar landscape.
The article was published on Reuters
Leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland will meet in Jerusalem in February for the next Visegrad Group summit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to strengthen their alliance with Israel.
This will be the first time that a Visegrad Group summit is held outside of Europe.
The four leaders—Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, Slovakia’s Peter Pellegrini, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and the Czech Republic’s Andrej Babis—will meet on Feb. 18-19 in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu already attended the Visegrad Group summit in Budapest in 2017, during which he criticized the EU’s policy towards Israel.
The Israeli premier has been fostering closer ties with the Visegrad Group countries in order to advance pro-Israel issues at the EU level.
“The Visegrad Group is one of the sub-alliances that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is developing in the EU to neutralize what he views as an anti-Israel bias from Brussels,” wrote The Jerurusalem Post.
Both the Czech Republic and Hungary blocked any EU resolution to condemn the controversial move decided by US President Donald Trump.
The Visegrad Group (also known as the “Visegrad Four,” or simply “V4”) reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in a number of fields of common interest within the all-European integration.
Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have always been part of a single civilization sharing cultural and intellectual values and common roots in diverse religious traditions, which they wish to preserve and further strengthen.
The article was published by the Algemeiner
Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi becomes the Israel Defense Forces’ 22nd commander; ‘To defend our national home, we need a sobered outlook, a fit military force, the willingness to use that force, discretion and determination,’ says Kochavi.
Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi entered the office of the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff on Tuesday morning in the beginning of a new era.
The 22nd IDF chief started his day with a ceremony at the Kirya IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, where he received the rank of lieutenant general from Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“‘I swear.’ This is what I called out alongside my fellow soldiers in front of the Western Wall, which was for us a wall of support and protection. It has been 2,000 years, and this wall of protection has expanded and become the Israel Defense Force. I swore in front of generations of soldiers and became another link in the chain of generations that come each in turn to defend the state,” the new IDF chief Kochavi said.
“‘I swear,’ every soldier calls out, and packs into these two words the relinquishing of the private for the national. The national home is a wonderful creation like no other in the history of nations, but it is planted in a region that for religious and national reasons is trying to reject its natural roots. To defend our national home, we need a sobered outlook, a fit military force, the willingness to use that force, discretion and determination,” he said.
To his predecessor Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Kochavi said, “In this spirit, Gadi, the IDF acted under your leadership and has repeatedly proven its abilities as the defender of the borders and the interior, using its long arm to destroy any threats. During your tenure, the IDF bolstered its units and increased its preparedness. I stand at the head of the military and on behalf of all of its soldiers and commanders, I thank and salute you.”
Concluding his remarks, Kochavi went back to his sworn oath at the beginning of his service in the IDF. “Like every soldier in his swear-in ceremony, I vowed at the time to dedicate all of my efforts to defending the homeland. Now, as the head of the General Staff, while I have national security and the good of the state before me, I make a new vow. There is much work to be done, good luck to us all,” Kochavi said.
Eisenkot summed up his own service in his remarks. “At the end of 40 years of service and four years as the IDF chief, I conclude a path that became my life’s mission,” he said.
Describing his objectives as IDF chief, Eisenkot said he sought to leave behind “a fit, prepared and powerful military that bolstered its strength with wisdom and determination.”
To Kochavi, Eisenkot said, “Proudly I seek to pass on to you the command over the most precious asset of our nation—the Israel Defense Forces. The command over the military is passed on today to you, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, a commander worthy like no other to stand at the head of the Israel Defense Forces.”
“The military I give to you today is advanced and remains true to its roots and spirit. Over the many years in which we worked together in the field and in the General Staff, it has been my privilege to get to know you as a commander with immense fortitude and leadership and command abilities. Your determination and extensive experience will be dedicated in full to bolstering the IDF’s preparedness and strength, maintaining its character and values, and nurturing the pride in the heart of its soldiers.”
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Netanyahu began his remarks by thanking Eisenkot for his 40 years of service.
“Over the past four years, we have dealt with great challenges: the changing fronts in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and other places. But there has also been on main element facing us: Iran and its terror proxies. We acted responsibly and with discretion to stop those who seek to harm us from growing stronger,” Netanyahu said.
“All of the actions we’ve taken in recent years to build up the IDF’s power were meant to bolster the military’s readiness and achieve one goal: victory in war. And the stronger we are, the more we increase the chances of peace,” he said.
Netanyahu boasted about the warming ties with Muslim nations, saying that “Thanks to our intelligence, operational and technological capabilities, our ties with the Arab world are growing stronger than ever before. Leading Muslim nations are getting closer to us. They realize we’re not their enemy, but a vital ally to lean on. By growing our military, our economy and our diplomacy, we have turned Israel into a rising world power.”
Eisenkot, he said, was a part of it as he met with his counterparts from Arab nations.
“Lt. Gen. Kochavi, you have a red beret on your shoulder, which symbolizes the special spirit of the Paratroopers: the steadfastness, the order ‘after me,’ and constantly striving for excellence,” he said.
“As an experienced military leader, you will now carry the grave responsibility of ensuring that the IDF fulfills its missions,” Netanyahu said. “The objective is clear: To ensure our superiority over our enemies and to increase the qualitative edge we have over them. First, we’ll work to bolster our offensive capabilities even more. We will ensure we have a crushing fist to attack our enemies with, both close and far.”
Concluding his remarks, the prime minister said that “if we are prepared to defend our country with all of our might, we might not have to fight an all-out war. And if we do, the IDF will handle this challenge, as will the citizens of Israel who will be united, and together we will ensure Israel’s eternal existence.”
Kochavi and Eisenkot will later travel to Jerusalem to visit the National Hall of Remembrance on Mount Herzl and the Western Wall, and then have lunch at the President’s Residence. After that, Kochavi will join the IDF’s General Staff for a toast and a goodbye from Eisenkot at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv, including an honorary guard for the outgoing IDF chief.
Kochavi, who was born in 1964, grew up in Kiryat Bialik. He is the second of the three children of the late Riba, who was a physical education teacher, and Shaul, a shop owner.
He began his IDF service in the Paratroopers’ Brigade, excelled at infantry officers’ course and went on to serve as the commander of the 101st Battalion, the commander of the Paratroopers’ Brigade, the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate (MID), the GOC Northern Command, and the deputy IDF chief. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a master’s from Harvard University.
The article was published on Ynet
Lawmakers expected to pass law in all three readings on Wednesday, setting the stage for a three-month campaign leading up to the national poll
Three and a half years after its first sitting following the 2015 elections, the 20th Knesset is set to come to an end on Wednesday as lawmakers vote on a bill to dissolve parliament and set new elections for April 9.
A day after government ministers approved pushing ahead with the move, the Knesset will be host to a frantic series of committee debates and votes on the bill to dissolve parliament in an attempt to complete work on the move by the end of the day and officially start the election campaign for the 2019 election.
According to the decision of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, the bill — which is expected to pass by a large margin — will face all three plenary readings on Wednesday in an accelerated legislative move reserved for emergency measures.
The first business of the day therefore began at 9.30 when members of the Knesset House Committee gathered to pass a motion allowing the dissolution bill to be pushed through the Knesset in one day and not be subject to the six-week waiting period that regular legislation normally faces after being proposed
Following the unanimous vote in favor of the motion, the bill now faces a first plenary debate and vote currently scheduled for 11 a.m. If the vote passes, the bill will return to the House Committee for final deliberations before once again being sent back to the plenum.
In the plenary’s second session, the bill faces two separate votes: the first on each of the two clauses in the bill, and the second on the bill as a whole. If the final vote passes with even a simple majority of 1-0, the Knesset will automatically disperse.
The first clause of the no-frills bill states the 20th Knesset will “dissolve itself ahead of elections,” and the second sets the date, agreed upon by coalition and opposition parties, for April 9th.
While the bill is not expected to face opposition, it could be held up by the head of the Knesset House Committee, MK Miki Zohar, who on Tuesday called for delaying the dissolution of the Knesset, arguing that lawmakers need more time to pass essential legislation before the elections and suggesting that he will use his position to block the bill.
Zohar cited two laws he said needed to be passed before the Knesset dissolves — his own bill to limit access to pornography online and a proposal by Likud MK Amir Ohana to ease access to the Israeli bar exam.
While elections have traditionally been held at least 90 days after the dissolution of the Knesset, by law, there is no minimum waiting period. If the Knesset votes to dissolve Wednesday, it will leave 105 days until elections, while immediately freezing any bills working their way through the Knesset.
Given the 15-day cushion, Zohar said there was no need to rush the bill to dissolve parliament and prevent legislative work from continuing.
“The Knesset must serve the State of Israel and not the politicians,” he said, telling his colleagues to “open up your calendars and set the date accordingly.”
Zohar, an acolyte of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has proposed and overseen a number of controversial pieces of legislation. said that the parliament should remain in full swing until the last possible opportunity, which falls on January 9.
According to Knesset bylaws, as chairman of the committee which would oversee the preparation of the bill, Zohar could in theory hold up the proposal indefinitely with no obligation to hold a vote within any specified time frame.
Speaking at Wednesday morning’s committee meeting, Zohar said that he agrees with the date of the national poll, but thinks the Knesset should wait to officially call elections.
“The date has been agreed upon by all factions and I support it,” he said at the opening of the debate. “But there are tax laws that are very important to those who sent us here and we can finalize the legislation on a number key issues.”
Coalition chairman David Amsalem, however, said that the bill to dissolve parliament would be passed in all three readings Wednesday and other legislation would be passed during special recess sessions that can be called during the election campaign.
Netanyahu on Monday called the early elections for April, setting the stage for a campaign clouded by a series of corruption investigations against the long-serving Israeli leader.
With the Likud leader holding a commanding lead in the polls, all eyes are on Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and whether he will decide before the elections on whether to press charges against the longtime leader on a series of corruption allegations.
A first major round of polls on Tuesday found that Netanyahu is the strong favorite to win the upcoming race, though he is not hugely popular among voters.
The polls found that most Israelis do not think Netanyahu should be the next prime minister, though even fewer think any one of his rivals should be. In Israel’s multi-party system, however, even middling support is usually enough to win the premiership.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
Another drone sighting forced London’s Gatwick airport runway to close again on Friday, as the 3-day long saga continues.
Police were still unsuccessfully looking for perpetrators in a disturbance that grounded flights in the second-busiest airport in the United Kingdom on Wednesday and Thursday, although British media favored the option of a lone-wolf environmentalist attack.
The airport has been in an ongoing dispute with its neighbors and environmental groups about expansion.
Planes were suspended on Wednesday night after a member of staff spotted an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) above the runway.
More than 110,000 had been affected by the closure, in one of the busiest weeks of the year.
Gatwick was only able to re-open after military reinforcements were brought in on Thursday.
They came with technology that was used to defeat ISIS in Syria, which the Daily Mail identified as the Israeli-made Drone Dome.
It uses radar technology to spot a drone, and a frequency jammer in order to cut the vehicle from its pilot, and bring it down to the ground softly.
The UK purchased six of the system, unveiled in 2016, in August for Middle-East operations, at a cost of close to US$ 3.3 million each.
Drone Dome is manufactured by government-owned Rafael Systems, which has specialized in cutting-edge weapon interception systems.
– Potential catastrophe –
Aviation chiefs are going to be on a steep learning curve to counter the security threat posed by drones after the costly and humiliating shutdown of Gatwick.
The fear is that if a drone smashed into a passenger plane or was sucked up into one of its engines, its highly flammable lithium battery could cause a catastrophe.
In 2016, the European Aviation Safety Agency logged 1,400 drone incidents in Europe, up from 606 between 2011 and 2015.
Deputies in the European Parliament approved EU-wide regulations on the use of drones, but still need formal approval from European ministers before taking effect.
But finding high-tech solutions to the drone threat in airport presents particular challenges, says Lucas Le Bell, founder of the start-up Cerbair that specialises in tackling the drone problem.
The noise levels at airports, the security requirements and the saturated level of communications make the task much harder.
His team is working on isolating the frequencies used to control drones, so they can not only detect and locate the devices but take control of them.
Elsewhere in France meanwhile, Mont-de Marsan airbase in the southwest has been working on a more low-tech solution.
The airforce, inspired by a similar experiment in the Netherlands, has been training golden eagles to search and destroy the intruders.
But that system still needs work: earlier this year, one of the eagles attacked a girl after mistaking her vest for the enemy.
The article was published on I24 website
The recent discovery of Hezbollah’s invasion tunnels has removed a critical component of the organization’s — and Iran’s — plan for war against Israel. The discovery robbed them of the ability to surprise Israel through an offensive (under)ground assault into Israeli territory, which was to be a central element in creating a shock to the Israeli psyche and challenge to the country’s security. Israel’s aggressive measures are compelling Hezbollah and Iran to reassess their perception of the entire conflict.
In addition, the raids have again embarrassed Iran and its proxies because they exhibit Israel’s superior level of intelligence, following the exposure of Iran’s nuclear archive.
The question right now is to what extent Israel will succeed in leveraging this intelligence disclosure to turn the situation on the northern border to its advantage, with an emphasis on the following objectives:
1. Teaching Lebanon and the international arena that Hezbollah, as an Iranian proxy, is not the “shield of Lebanon,” but in reality a huge danger to that country. Hezbollah is developing strong offensive capabilities against Israel from within Lebanese civilian facilities, and is even working beyond the international border (inside Israeli territory) to serve Iranian interests only. Hezbollah acts in a manner that is a clear violation of Israeli sovereignty and justifies a sharp Israeli response that will cause harm to the country of Lebanon and its citizens. Israel’s recent activity should also be presented as an Israeli effort to prevent damage to Lebanon. The ones putting Lebanon in danger are Hezbollah and Iran, while the one who is looking after it is Israel.
3. Educating Europe that any attempt to differentiate between the military wing and the political wing of Hezbollah is ridiculous. Does anyone really believe that a handful of rebellious, diligent Hezbollah terrorists decided independently to dig a complex system of tunnels, which demanded so many resources and extended into Israeli territory? It is amazing to see how the Europeans have confirmed the existence of the tunnels and expressed their support for Israel’s right to destroy them, yet refuse to blame Hezbollah and acknowledge that there is no distinction between the military and political wings of the organization. A change in the European position would lead to a significant shift in Hezbollah’s ability to manipulate the Lebanese system, and would penalize it with the heavy and appropriate price they should pay for their violation of Israeli sovereignty.
4. Encouraging UNIFIL to finally implement UN Resolution 1701, asserting that only the Lebanese army is allowed to operate in southern Lebanon, and to make use of the extension of its mandate that it received in 2016. So far, UNIFIL has confirmed the existence of the tunnels, but it has refrained from asserting that Hezbollah has thereby significantly violated Israel’s sovereignty.
5. Intensifying focus on Iran’s role as the master dictating Hezbollah’s activities. It is clear that the buildup of Hezbollah’s forces, especially since the Second Lebanon War, including the invasion tunnels, is intended to serve Iranian purposes and enable Iran to strike at Israel.
The high media profile that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot have given to this operation is intended to influence international, Israeli, Arab, Lebanese, and Iranian opinion. However, it needs to be accompanied by diplomatic activity to achieve these objectives. The problem is that European cynicism is creating a significant obstacle to realizing these goals, and the tense relationship between the United States and Europe is eroding the power of American leverage in this regard.
The article was published on The Algemeiner
European Union condemns sentencing of six Gazans to death for “collaborating” with Israel.
The European Union (EU) on Tuesday condemned the sentencing of six Gazans to death for “collaborating” with Israel.
A military court in Hamas-run Gaza on Monday sentenced six people, including a woman, to death by hanging over the alleged spying for Israel. In total 14 people were sentenced for “collaborating with the occupation”.
The heads of EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah said in a statement quoted by the Xinhua news agency that they strongly reject the death penalty, no matter what the circumstances are.
“The abolition of the death penalty contributes to the protection of human dignity and to the progress and development of human rights,” said the statement, which denounced the death sentences as “cruel and inhumane.”
The EU statement added that “death penalty does not constitute a deterrent to criminal conduct and constitutes an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”
It called on Hamas rulers in Gaza “to refrain from executing any death sentence against the prisoners.”
Hamas regularly claims to have captured “Israeli spies”, and many times it tries them and sentences them to death.
In theory all execution orders in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) territories must be approved by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in Ramallah and who imposed a moratorium on executions several years ago.
Hamas no longer recognizes Abbas’ legitimacy, and has in the past emphatically declared that the death penalty in Gaza can be carried out without his consent.
In October, the group claimed to have exposed and arrested a Palestinian Arab who had worked as an intelligence agent for Israel for 15 years.
In March, the group claimed it had arrested a local man who had been working as a “spy” for Israel and who intended to convince Gazans not to take part in a violent protest march along the Gaza-Israel border.
Last April, the group hanged three men accused of collaborating with Israel in the killing of senior Hamas commander Mazen Faqha.
The article was published on Arutz 7
The European Union slammed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s reference to Israel as a “cancerous tumor,” calling the description “totally unacceptable,” The Times of Israel reported Monday.
“President Rouhani’s remarks bringing into question Israel’s legitimacy are totally unacceptable,” a spokesperson for the EU said in an official statement. “They are also incompatible with the need to address international disputes through dialogue and international law.”
The statement further said that the EU “reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, including with regard to current and emerging threats in the region.”
Similarly, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted, “I strongly condemn the recent unacceptable statements by President Rouhani relating to Israel. It is absolutely unacceptable when Israel’s right to exist is questioned or Israel’s destruction is being urged.”
“Because of our historical responsibility, the decisive combat against all forms of anti-Semitism and the support for Israel are especially important to us. For Austria, Israel’s security is non-negotiable,” Kurz added.
Rouhani had made the remarks in a speech Saturday addressing the 32nd annual International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran. Throughout the speech, the Iranian president inveighed against the United States and Israel, saying, “We will win against Zionism and the US if we become united.”
In an early section of the speech, Rouhani said, “One of the most important effects of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumour in the region.”
He then elaborated, “They deployed a power in the region that completely obeys the West in regional matters,” and added, “They formed the fake Israeli regime and killed and displaced the historical nation of Palestine.”
Germany’s Foreign Office also issued a statement rejecting Rouhani’s remarks and condemned them “in the strongest possible terms.” The statement further asserted that “Israel’s right to exist cannot be called into question and is non-negotiable.”
In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that Rouhani “has once again called for Israel’s destruction.” Referring to Rouhani’s references to Israel as a “cancerous tumor,” and a “fake regime,” Pompeo charged that “such statements inflame tensions in the region by seemingly calling for war.”
“At an international conference on Islamic unity, Rouhani also encouraged Muslims worldwide to unite against the United States,” Pompeo continued. “This is a dangerous and irresponsible step that will further deepen Iran’s isolation.”
The secretary also observed that the current Iranian regime “has badly represented” the people of Iran, and that “the people have suffered under this tyranny for far too long.”
The article was published in The Tower
In the middle of the last night of January 2018, Mossad agents broke into a secret vault on the outskirts of Tehran, while their commanders watched from afar. The agents encountered an unexpected problem, a “rich people problems,” according to a person familiar with the details of the operation.
The large room contained 32 huge Iranian-made safes, each 2.7 meters in height. The safes were loaded onto heavy container-like installations, on wheels that can carry massive weight.
The documents were secreted behind two different doors—a heavy iron door inside the facility and another iron door equipped with an alarm system and cameras at the facility’s exterior wall.
This is where the Iranian Ministry of Defense decided to keep one of the greatest secrets of the Islamic Republic. In fact, only a handful of people in Iran even knew that the Iranian nuclear archive was inside this warehouse, in the heart of a sleepy suburb in the capital.
But it did not remain a secret.
The agents knew how to disable the alarm system and break through the iron doors, but they also knew they did not have time to break into all the safes. They would have to make do with less than ten, and look for three types of folders: those containing Iran’s correspondence with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); those detailing the construction of nuclear sites and acquisition of nuclear equipment; and most importantly, those detailing the design and production of the nuclear warhead (which has never been completed).
But then, inside the safes’ room, agents found something else, besides folders: CDs, piles of them—a massive amount of DVDs and computer discs, most of them unmarked.
So what the hell were they going to do now? Should they ignore the potential secrets these CDs may hold? Or take a calculated risk with a new variable that might complicate the operation? The agents received an explicit order from the command room: take everything, including the CDs.
At one minute to five in the morning, the agents left the warehouse. When the break-in was discovered, about 12,000 Iranian security personnel went on the pursuit in an attempt to figure out who stole the nuclear archive from under their noses.
In the end, despite the unexpected piles of CDs, all of the material was extracted from Iran, and no one got caught. The Iranians could only guess who was behind the heist, but until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s famous press conference on April 30, they didn’t know for sure what really happened to “the filthy secrets of the Iranian regime,” as dubbed by Mossad director Yossi Cohen.
A few weeks later, when the material arrived in Israel, dozens of translators, experts and analysts—assisted by Persian speakers from Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate’s (MID) Unit 8200—started digging through the piles of material. It was then that it became clear how important was the decision to risk everything and take the CDs.
The written material comprises of 114 folders, containing more than 55,000 pages, of which 8,500 were handwritten documents, many of them authored by senior government officials, and some by nuclear personnel who died in operations attributed to the Mossad.
But the biggest surprise was the massive amount of information stored in the 182 disks. A Mossad case officer told me he would have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for one CD like this.
The Iranians documented everything: the equipment, the construction of secret plants and sites, the experiments, detailed presentations on the project’s progress, goals and stages, and even themselves, during nuclear experiments.
The bottom line is clear: it was a mega-scam, a state-level deception, in which senior Iranian officials and hundreds of others have taken part for years.
For two decades, Iran denied having a military nuclear program. But the contents of the safes tell a different story, a completely different and undeniable account: for years, Iran has been engaged in a covert nuclear project aimed at producing five nuclear bombs, with a yield of 10 kilotons each. And this was only stage one.
According to a Western intelligence source, “over the years, we have seen all sorts of programs, but we have not always understood their overall context. Until we saw these documents, we didn’t really understand how projects that were part of AMAD (the secret project’s code name—RB) were translated into secret projects under the Ministry of Defense, or open projects with a hidden agenda within SPAND (the later, public name, of the project—RB). The material Israel had obtained solved these mysteries.”
“The sweeping Iranian denial “is really comical at this point,” the source added.
The documents don’t just expose the Iranians’ deceit. It also demonstrates the weakness of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which Iran signed and the IAEA failed to enforce.
The archives show that under the UN agency’s nose—despite repeat warnings, the information obtained by the Mossad and other espionage agencies, and media exposés—Iran has succeeded in conducting a secret military nuclear program over a long period of time (and Israel claims Tehran continues to do so even today).
Iran continues to deny everything even now; claiming the entire story of the seized archive is fabricated and serves an Israeli-American agenda aimed at canceling the nuclear agreement. This response was to be expected. What might have been less predictable is the lukewarm international response to the material uncovered in the Israeli operation.
The reactions ranged from claims the material was “old news” to assertions it does not uncover any “smoking guns” to prove Iran is currently violating the nuclear agreement.
But if the Islamic Republic is not violating or planning to violate the agreement, why keep such a detailed archive allowing Iran to resume its nuclear effort from where it left off (assuming they actually stopped)?
For many years Israel, the United States, France, Britain and Germany have been collecting intelligence about the Iranian nuclear project. Some of this material has been handed to the IAEA over time in the hopes it would provoke an appropriate response. The intelligence gathered was classified by the IAEA into 12 different topics— referred to as “the PMD,” the acronym for “Possible Military Dimensions”— each depicting research, production or other experiments related to the bomb.
Over the years, Iran has vehemently denied dealing with any of these topics. The condition for signing the nuclear agreement was that Iran would make a full disclosure of its progress in each of the 12 PMD issues. Before signing the agreement, Yukiya Amano, the Japanese diplomat who heads the IAEA, promised senior Israeli officials, according to their testimony, that “he will never sign the deal” before receiving satisfactory answers on all 12 topics.
At the end of 2015, Amano published a report practically accepting the Iranian denial of ever having a military nuclear project. Now, in light of the material discovered by the Mossad, it appears his report was based on false information.
The intelligence uncovered in the operation was revealed to the Americans, the Chinese, the Russians, the French, the British, the Germans, and of course to IAEA officials.
With the exception of the US (and, of course, Israel), it seems the world wasn’t floored by the discoveries, and Amano himself has kept quiet.
This is despite the fact that the sensitive material includes documentation of advanced stages of practical field research, experiments and timetables for the production of an atomic bomb and its adaptation to the warhead of the long-range Shahab ballistic missile.
Holger Stark, the deputy editor of the German Die Zeit newspaper, contacted the IAEA in Vienna for a response. The agency refused to comment.
Quite a lot has been written about the Mossad operation. However, media reports in Israel and abroad dealt less with the archive itself, and more with the difficult questions it poses.
Here is a glimpse into the secret intelligence gathered from Iran’s safes room. These are the facts; the questions they raise are for the world to answer.
So what is this “Iranian nuclear archive” that Mossad agents managed to transport thousands of kilometers, all the way to Israel?
Iran’s secret military nuclear program began to take shape in 1992 or 1993, when the Iranians became interested in acquiring technologies for the production and operation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Tehran acquired much of its knowledge from Pakistan’s nuclear project director, Abdul Qadeer Khan, and later from other elements, some of them Chinese.
The first centrifuges were designed at a site called Damāwand. Israel warned the international community about the construction of the nuclear enrichment facility, so Iran decided to dismantle it and build another one in its stead.
This was the site that would later become well known, the Natanz nuclear facility. In internal Iranian documents, the site was called “Kashan,” and it houses an increasing number of centrifuges.
At first, Israel was alone in its intelligence campaign against Iran. The intelligence it brought to the attention of IAEA and Western countries was greeted with indifference. Even the United States failed to act at first, and didn’t recognize the authenticity or the importance of the material the Mossad collected on Iran. Only at a later stage, when intelligence ties with Israel strengthened and additional information about Kashan was brought to their attention did the Americans start to act.
Meanwhile, the Iranians secretly set up their military program to produce an atomic bomb, entitled “The AMAD Project.”
Who gave the orders? This is one question the archive answers unequivocally: the Iranian leadership. The material does not include direct instructions from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who, after strongly denying that Iran has a nuclear program, apparently made sure his name will not be tied to the project. Nevertheless, the archive contains, without doubt, documents signed by the defense minister at the time and current Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani.
And he’s not alone. “The plan was approved by the Cognitive Sciences and Technologies Council,” the header of one document states. This is a codename for the senior group of executives who manage Project AMAD, which included the president at the time, Mohammad Khatami; then-head of the Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rouhani (the current Iranian president); then-Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani; and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) at the time, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh.
So what is the purpose of the AMAD Project? The answer to this question too can be found in the archive. According to the material obtained in the Mossad operation, the Iranian plan is to produce five warheads with a yield of 10 kilotons each, and develop the ability to assemble these warheads on the Iranian-made Shahab 3 missile.
Incidentally, nuclear experts who examined the documents say that the Iranian leaders’ plan lays out far more extensive infrastructure than what is needed to produce “only” five bombs.
The making of a nuclear bomb and the ability to launch it is a very complex project that requires a state effort and coordination between all Iranian army and intelligence forces.
One particularly colorful presentation, which was discovered in one of the CDs, shows the complexity of the Iranian nuclear project. According to the presentation, the plan is based on a joint effort of various Iranian bodies: the Intelligence Ministry, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (including its Aerospace Force), and the Quds Force—the Guards’ secret unit, which is currently waging war with Israel at the Syrian border.
The documents mention time and again the person who is both the manager and the brains behind the nuclear program—Prof. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. The nuclear archive includes countless documents with Fakhrizadeh’s signature, including documents addressed to him, or approved by him.
For example, one letter addressed to Fakhrizadeh, dated January 19, 2001, and written by the director of the explosive mechanism developing team, delineates a long list of features needed to fit the mechanism to the rest of the nuclear bomb (which is comprised of numerous parts). Fakhrizadeh thanked the director at the bottom of his letter and gave him further instructions.
According to foreign media reports, Israel considered Fakhrizadeh as a preferred target for intelligence gathering, and even seriously considered harming him, especially during the tenure of former prime minister Ehud Olmert and the late Mossad director Meir Dagan. Since Fakhrizadeh is still alive, the assassination plan has yet to materialize. It appears Olmert decided to halt the operation, and so Fakhrizadeh’s life was spared. If the former prime minister is indeed behind such a decision, there are those who to this day believe it was a mistake.
However, someone—Iranian intelligence sure it was the Mossad—was able to reach various Iranian nuclear scientists whose names appear in the seized documents.
In his handwriting, Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, a senior nuclear program official, inscribes a long technical document to Fakhrizadeh, who replied at length.
Dr. Abbasi-Davani is the Chair of the physics department at Tehran’s Imam Hossein University and a key figure in Iran’s nuclear program. On November 29, 2010, his colleague Majid Shahriari was assassinated.
An assassin on a motorbike tried to kill Davani as well by attaching a bomb to his car window while he was driving, but Davani managed to escape at the last minute and survived. Iran’s president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appointed Davani as his deputy to show his appreciation for the doctor’s “contribution to the Islamic Republic and for his courage.”
One may feel some discomfort when diving into the piles of Iranian documents, since there’s something eerie about them. For example, the radical state’s dream of creating weapons of mass destruction becomes an orderly and meticulous timeline in Microsoft Project, including information on the program’s budgets, personnel, experiments, and more.
At times, the nuclear documents receive a more personal flair. For instance, in one of the archive’s CDs, agents found “selfie” photos of an Iranian nuclear expert, the heavyset Dr. Mahdi Tranchi, wearing protective goggles and posing for the camera at the “Taleqan 1” nuclear test site.
What happened to all this effort? All those people, information, and experience gathered? Did they all just disappear?
The nuclear sites
It was not only the people who worked on the Iranian nuclear project that the documents expose. They also expose the places and sites where the nuclear plot was devised, some of which were new discoveries for the Israeli intelligence community (“I wish I had this information in real time,” said a former Israeli intelligence chief when exposed to the material), including nuclear experiment sites, uranium mines located across the country, tunnels (dug to cover up their real purpose), and more.
According to the material, the Iranians were looking for an underground nuclear testing site. It goes without saying that to conduct such an experiment, they needed to first build a bomb, which the Iranians have not yet done.
Furthermore, a nuclear experiment does not depend solely on scientific ability, but mostly on the decision of the political leadership. An underground experiment would have certainly been detected by the West. Such a test would essentially constitute a declaration by Tehran that it had indeed developed a bomb.
In the meantime, until the Iranians develop a nuclear bomb, the Iranians are getting ready, and according to the documents they have already examined various possible sites and even attempted to detonate small explosives deep underground to test the ground, its durability and their own ability to record the measurements of the explosion at that location.
The Israeli intelligence community also discovered new information about some known nuclear sites. For example, the site in Fordow, near the city of Qom, is well hidden at the heart of the mountain, and is extremely resistant to bombs.
The Israeli, French, and American intelligence communities exposed it in 2010, but the archive’s documents established its importance as part of the Ghadir Project (another code name for the Iranian secret nuclear program).
Another example of the scale of the Iranian fraud can be found in the Taleqan testing facility, located in an area called Parchin. IAEA reports raised serious suspicions about the site, but Iran’s denials made it difficult to substantiate these suspicions.
The IAEA demanded that its inspectors be allowed to visit the site, but the agency’s requests have been repeatedly denied. When the IAEA threatened to accuse Iran of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its inspectors were allowed to enter Parchin months later, only to discover that the site had been cleared, and everything in it was carefully removed from the area.
What was there before? One of the crucial steps to building a nuclear bomb is the development of an explosion mechanism that will create critical mass. In the past, Western intelligence agencies circulated sketches of the experiment sites used to build the explosion mechanism. Photos of the site taken by the Iranian scientists look exactly like the sketches.
The Iranian nuclear archive proved how much these sketches were in line with reality: it was an accurate record of the sites, bunkers, test tanks, and equipment that Iran has denied, and still denies using in Parchin / Taleqan, or anywhere else in Iran for that matter.
The archive material contains many drawings, presentations, written documents, and photographs. Not just technical images, but also photographs of the nuclear scientists themselves. The scientists must have felt they were a part of Iranian history. Most probably none of them imagined that his pictures would ever find their way to Israel.
Many of these photographs record the nuclear experiments. Iran has denied for years that it is conducting experiments on all PMD topics. For instance, Iran has claimed it did not have any neutron detection equipment, but an archive presentation shows otherwise (with colorful text explaining its uses). Apparently the equipment is located next to the Parchin explosives test site.
In the next slide, dated February 2002, there is a description of the nuclear experiment with an exact record of the DU3, the scientific term for the neutrons’ source, whose collision with nuclear fuel atoms creates a chain reaction that ends with an atomic explosion.
The archive’s documents also reveal that at a nearby site, the Iranians built another tank for testing high explosives; this time with flash X-ray equipment surrounding it. This equipment made up of a sophisticated camera of sorts that can record, with a precision of nanoseconds, the moment of detonation to guarantee that all explosives go off at the same time. This is critical for making explosive lens: a simultaneous explosion of several charges around the fissile material—for example, enriched uranium at a level of 90%—will start a nuclear fission chain reaction.
A special contract signed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and Tehran’s Defense Ministry lays out the transfer of part of the enrichment project from the organization to the ministry, in order to produce highly-enriched uranium at a military level of 90%.
The cover-up: the Dark Side of SPND
In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, and Tehran feared they were next in line; at the same time, the “National Council of Resistance of Iran,” an Iranian opposition group, published material on the Natanz nuclear facility that led to harsh criticism and sanctions against Iran.
The Iranians were worried and so the Scientific Council decided to make some changes and close the AMAD Project, only to reopen it under a different name. This development was interpreted differently by Israel and the United States. The latter determined that closing the AMAD Project brought the nuclear program to a halt. Israel, on the other hand, claimed that it’s an Iranian scam, and that the two projects are one and the same.
The documents from the archive show that Israel was right. These documents record how the general decision to close one project and reopen another became a complex bureaucratic process in August and September 2003.
The purpose of all this was to deceive the world and develop a project that will continue where the AMAD Project left off. The new project was titled “the SPND Project,” and unlike its father, AMAD, which was entirely secret, SPND has two sides: the overt and public side, which allows the Iranians to claim the nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes (medicine, etc.), and the covert side, which allows Iran to continue developing nuclear weapons.
SPND, by the way, is still active today.
“Following new instruction by the honorable Minister of Defense (Ali Shamkhani—RB), intensive meetings of Project 110 technical committee (one of the main projects of AMAD—RB) were held in order to accommodate the activities to the instructions. In the new outline, the work would be divided in two: covert (secret structure and goals) and overt (regular structure),” reads one Iranian document.
What would the covert part include? For example, the documents show that the secret SPND project will include the nuclear testing facility Sareb-1, the warhead integration facility Sareb-2, and Sareb-3, the facility for the production of a nuclear warhead for Shahab 3 missiles.
According to the documents, all management personnel and 70% of the entire workforce are to transfer from “AMAD” to “SPND.” The scheme was meticulously planned: the documents include a letter written by Abbasi-Davani, to the project’s chief, Fakhrizadeh, on March 3, 2003: “We must make a distinction between overt and covert activities.”
One of their colleagues wrote on January 9, 2003: “Overt activities are those that can be explained as part of something else, and not as part of the project (to produce an atomic bomb) itself, so we have an excuse to do them.”
Dr. Masoud wrote in March 2003: “Neutron research cannot be considered ‘overt’ and must be covert. We have no way of rationalizing this activity (neutron research) as related to defensive measures. Neutron operations are very sensitive and we cannot explain them.”
Dr. Mahdi Tranchi, the ‘selfie’ enthusiast, wrote: “Let there be no mistake—the manpower of the overt and covert parts will not be reduced. The whole operation will not be reduced, and every sub-project will oversee both the overt and covert parts.”
And so the Iranian project continued from 2004, under SPND, until the signing of the nuclear agreement in the summer of 2015.
At some point, a senior American source told Yedioth Ahronoth, the countries negotiating the nuclear agreement with Tehran decided to “let the past go, even though everyone knew very well that the Iranians were lying, and focus on the future. It was clear to everyone that after the spiritual leader said there was no military project, he would never take it back and admit he lied. The risk was losing the entire deal because insisting on the 12 PMD topics would have led to the collapse of the negotiations.”
After the nuclear agreement was signed, two parallel axes were in play. In one, Iran submitted some material, which led to an IAEA report on the PMD in December 2015. This report, which in effect ignores the questions left open, enables implementation of the nuclear agreement.
In the other, Tehran began to do everything in its power to hide everything it had on its nuclear program. This was unlike other cases of complete nuclear disarmament. Both South Africa and Libya, for example, truly ended their nuclear programs: they either destroyed all the information, so there was nothing left of their archives, or deposited everything they had—their knowledge, documents, and experience, to IAEA inspectors.
The Iranians did the exact opposite: they collected information from countless sites, including private archives and all the material of the AMAD Project, and gathered it it in the Defense Ministry’s archive.
Since the agreement gives the IAEA the right to visit any suspicious site (Tehran currently denies that they have agreed to visits at military sites), the Iranians feared the Defense Ministry archive might also be a target for inspection. So in February 2016, the Iranians moved the archive to an obscure site in a remote suburb of Tehran. The facility is almost entirely unguarded, and therefore does not attract attention. Even the people guarding the facility don’t know what it is that they are protecting.
Israeli intelligence had been tracked the “AMAD archive” closely, and had been meticulously planning the operation since early 2017. One Mossad agent responsible for planning the operation said it was “Ocean’s Eleven Style.”
In most Mossad operations of this type, the agents usually infiltrate a building, photograph the material inside, and leave unnoticed. This time, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen decided the material must be physically seized. The reason is twofold: to limit the time agents had to spend inside the building, and to prevent Iran from spreading disinformation and claiming the documents are forged. In this manner, Israel could expose the documents to the scrutiny of the international community.
Over the course of two years, hundreds of people from all branches of the Mossad participated in the operation, and fewer than two dozen agents took part in the break-in itself.
The operation team in Israel did not sleep for several nights, during which the agents gathered inside Iran to prepare the equipment and scope out the area.
Then, on the evening of January 31, the agents entered the vault. When the operation ended and all agents were out of danger, Cohen called Netanyahu and informed him of the operation’s success.
And it was, indeed, a success: The agents retrieved about half a ton of intelligence material that is worth its weight in gold. There has been very few times in the history of intelligence services since World War II when one agency has been able to obtain so much of the enemy’s secret intelligence material at once.
“Israel didn’t sign the JCPOA. The Mossad didn’t sign the nuclear agreement,” Mossad Director Cohen said in a closed forum. “I have one agreement, with the people of Israel, in which I commit not to allow the Iranians to have a nuclear bomb. That’s it.”
But like everything else, politics got in the way here as well. Since the operation, various claims were made in Israel and abroad against the way the material was presented.
Some believe the documents from the archive justify Netanyahu’s claim that the nuclear agreement is a bad deal based on lies.
A Western intelligence source that was exposed to the material summed it up thus: “The nuclear archive is in fact an effort made by the Iranian Ministry of Defense to preserve the knowledge achieved in the ‘AMAD Project’ from 1998 to 2003, and to hide it from the international community, especially from the IAEA, for possible future use.”
Others, on the other hand, claim these documents prove how close Iran was to producing a nuclear bomb, and so the existence of an agreement that freezes the program and puts the SPND Project under close supervision is a good idea.
The article was published on Ynet
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to fly to Vienna later this month to meet with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, in what will be the first official visit to Austria by an Israeli premier in more than two decades.
“It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu for an official visit to Austria!,” Kurz tweeted Wednesday.
Netanyahu will hold a bilateral meeting with the Austrian leader and attend a “conference on the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism” hosted by Kurz on November 21-22.
Netanyahu’s forthcoming visit to Vienna will be the first trip to Austria by an Israeli prime minister since 1997, when Netanyahu visited the country during his first term.
Member of parliament Martin Engelberg, a member of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s center-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP), announced the Israeli premier’s planned visit earlier Wednesday during a pan-European conference on anti-Semitism in Brussels.
“[Netanyahu] is going to come to Vienna in two weeks, and there will be a summit, a quite high-ranking summit…on fighting anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, also including BDS [the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement] and protecting and securing Jewish life in Austria and in Europe,” Engelberg told i24NEWS.
Ties between Israel and Austria have strengthened over the past year, despite the inclusion in Kurz’s coalition government of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), which has a past stained by frequent anti-Semitic incidents and instances of Nazi propaganda.
Israel’s foreign ministry has maintained a “boycott” of the Freedom Party ministers, who preside over the foreign and defense ministries, since they joined Kurz’s government late last year government, instead conducting all governmental matters through lower-level civil servants.
But it appears the Israeli government is eager to maintain good relations with Austria, as the reaction paled in comparison with that in 2000, when the Freedom Party first joined a coalition government and Israeli authorities withdrew the Ambassador from Vienna.
The Austrian chancellor visited Israel in June and met with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.
“It’s a very clear sign of the close friendship not only between Israel and Austria, but also on a personal level between the Israeli prime minister and our Austrian chancellor,” Engelberg said of Netanyahu’s planned reciprocal visit.
Engelberg told i24NEWS that it was the “right” of the Jewish community to decide to boycott ministers of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), but noted that nonetheless, “the relationship between Austria and Israel has never been as close as it is now.”
He added that “nobody is pressing” Israel to change its policy regarding FPO ministers.
“Austria is a member of the European Union…and whether or not the Israeli government has contact with Austrian ministers of the Freedom Party does not really bother us,” he said.
“I’m more interested that the Freedom Party really takes the right steps and we will charge them by their deeds, as we say,” Engelberg said.
During his visit to Israel this summer, Kurz expressed remorse at the American Jewish Committee’s conference in Jerusalem for Austrian participation in Nazi crimes during the Holocaust.
Engelberg said that over the past 30 years there has been a “strong decline” in what he called “classical anti-Semitism” in Austria, meanwhile claiming that levels of anti-Semitism in the country’s Muslim population were much higher than in the general population.
“We are talking about, according to the polls, a level of anti-Semitism [within the Muslim population] of 40, 50, or 60 percent sometimes, whereas in the general population we tend to come down from 30 percent to 10 percent,” he said, without citing from which polls he had drawn the figures.
Founded in 1956, the FPOe emerged from the short-lived Federation of Independents, launched after World War II by former Nazis who had been stripped of their voting rights.
The party, whose first chief was an ex-officer from the Waffen SS, also drew pan-Germanists — believers in unifying with Germany like in the Third Reich — and liberals fed up with the ruling centrist establishment.
The party rose to prominence in the late 1980’s under Joerg Haider, the charismatic but controversial son of a former Nazi party official, positioning itself as a formidable populist force thriving on xenophobic and anti-EU slogans.
Today, the part is led by Heinz-Christian Strache, a former member of a radical student fraternity who has a past stained by frequent anti-Semitic incidents and instances of Nazi propaganda.
Strache has dismissed former associations with neo-Nazi groups as youthful dalliance and has attempted to position himself as a vocal advocate and friend of Israel.
Strache has traveled to Israel a number of times and developed ties with representatives of the Israeli right. In one of his last trips, however, late Israeli President Shimon Peres had refused to meet him.
i24NEWS correspondent Polina Garaev contributed to this report.
The article was published on I24
Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Many of us know this expression, but not its origin from 16th-century England, when part of the estate of Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Westminster was appropriated to pay for repairs to Saint Paul’s in London. That brief trivia titbit aside, the expression fits very well when it comes to EU funding of the Palestinians.
On Thursday afternoon, after much advocacy work from us at EIPA, and other groups such as the excellent Impact SE, the European Parliament budgets committee recommended a 15 Million Euro freeze in funding to the Palestinian Authority until it changes its school textbooks. Regular readers of mine will know that we at EIPA have done a lot of raising on this issue. It’s bad enough that many schools under Palestinian Authority control are named after terrorists who committed terrible atrocities, and that encourage pupils to emulate their life, but textbooks, funded in part by EU taxpayers, refer to Jews as liars, sinful, apes and pigs and utterly refuse to countenance the existence of the State of Israel. It doesn’t take much head scratching to figure out why the Palestinian population is completely unprepared for peace. How can they be when they teach their children, as part of the school curriculum to hate, and to believe in the falsehood that Israel is a fabrication, it doesn’t exist, and that martyrdom and resistance to the ‘occupation’ is the way forward?
So, when the news came out yesterday, our phones at EIPA HQ and whatsapp were running red. Is this true? Will the Commission accept the parliament’s recommendations? Finally, is the EU is starting to wake up?
Yes. Most likely (as under the co-decision procedure on budgets it can’t ignore parliament) And lastly, sadly no.
Sadly no? that’s a bit defeatist isn’t it? You and others actually got one of the EU institutions to put pressure on the PA and introduced conditionality on Aid, something that you have been banging on about for years now? Where’s the beef, Benjamin?
All fair questions dear reader. By the time you read this, it will be Strasbourg week (when the European Parliament decamps beside the Rhine to vote in plenary). On the agenda is UNWRA. As most of you know, the American administration cut its funding to the UN agency, which is unique as a refugee agency for exacerbating the very problem it is tasked to solve. Under its tenure UNWRA has seen refugee numbers rise from some half a million at its inception, to roughly 5 Million today. Think about it. That’s a bit like having a food aid programme that actually contributes to famine isn’t it?
Anyway, long story short, we knew what was coming. Late on Thursday, once the 15 Million had had its few hours in the news cycle, the office of Federica Mogherini announced that it was giving UNWRA 40 Million Euro to help bridge the gap in US funding to UNWRA.
Robbing Peter to Pay Paul. We might be stretching the analogy a bit here equating ourselves to the parishioners of St. Peters (and our Rabbis would probably have something to say about it too), but what sense does it make to cut PA funding in half on textbooks (good by the way, and long, long overdue), whilst simultaneously funding a UN body that keeps Palestinians trapped in a spiral of permanent refugee status, with little prospect of quality of life, under a terrorist dictatorship and which only underlines and compliments the very narratives that are expressed in the textbooks, and lead year after year to needless deaths, more hatred and more entrenchment?
Answers on a postcard please to EEAS HQ at Schuman Roundabout in Brussels if you figure that one out. Oh and post your answer in comments below please and spare my already raw scalp from further self-inflicted scratching abuse.
The Op-Ed was written by our director, Alex Benjamin and was also published in The Times of Israel
PM meets with his Egyptian counterpart al-Sisi on sidelines of UN General Assembly to discuss regional developments and the situation in Gaza; only an Egyptian flag was put in the room; Egyptian spokesman: ‘the two stressed the importance of renewing cease-fire talks with Hamas.’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The two leaders met amid continued efforts of Egyptian intelligence to mediate a possible long-term ceasefire arrangement between Israel and Hamas.
Netanyahu’s talks with Sisi late on Wednesday focused on “regional developments”, the Israeli Prime Minister wrote on Twitter without elaborating.
A spokesman for the Egyptian president issued a statement saying that the two leaders “discussed the peace process, and stressed the importance of renewing negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis in order to form a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian problem.”
He added that resolving the problem would create a new reality in the Middle East, one “in which all peoples enjoy stability.” According to the spokesman, Netanyahu thanked al-Sisi for his efforts in fighting terrorism.
Netanyahu and al-Sisi met publicly for the first time in September of last year, also in New York. Last month, Ynet learned that the prime minister held a secret meeting with al-Sisi.
The information came from a foreign diplomatic source, but the Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the matter.
According to Channel 10 News, the meeting took place on May 22 when Netanyahu flew with a small delegation of advisors and security guards. He stayed in Egypt for a few hours and participated in the breaking of the Ramadan fast before returning to Israel late at night.
Egypt plays an important role in a cease-fire talk between Israel and Hamas.
Last Saturday a delegation of senior Egyptian intelligence officials arrived in the Gaza Strip for a brief visit as part of Egypt’s effort to renew the internal reconciliation talks in Gaza as well as ceasefire negotiations with Israel.
The Egyptian intelligence officials who entered Gaza through the Erez Crossing met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh for a “significant and crucial” meeting, Palestinian sources said.
“Egypt’s main interest is to reach an intra-Palestinian reconciliation in accordance with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s demand that he is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians with whom any understandings can be reached.
“Hamas, however, is interested in promoting a ceasefire agreement with Israel before an intra-Palestinian reconciliation is achieved, in order to take credit for easing the Israeli blockade over Gaza,” the Palestinian sources elaborated.
“Egypt views the dead end (in ceasefire talks with Israel) as pushing Gaza towards a dangerous military escalation on the border fence. Nevertheless, Egypt is not willing to promote calm only to please Hamas since it has bigger international and intra-Arab interests. Egypt will need to decide how to overcome this obstacle” the sources explained.
According to The Associated Press, after the Egyptian delegation left Gaza, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said their indirect cease-fire talks with Israel have halted. Abu Zuhri added that his Islamic militant group is escalating its protests in new locations along Gaza’s border with Israel.
Egypt has been working to broker a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s dominant Hamas Islamist movement amid frequent violence along the Israel-Gaza border.
Since March, thousands swarmed the security fence as part of “The Great March of Return,” weekly protests.
Egypt and the United Nations have been working to mediate in order to avoid another large-scale round of violence.
Egypt was the first of a handful of Arab countries to recognize Israel under a 1979 peace treaty and the two countries maintain close co-ordination on security as well as energy ties.
On Thursday Israeli and Egyptian companies announced that they would buy into a pipeline that would enable a landmark $15 billion natural gas export deal to begin next year.
Netanyahu and Sisi convened for their previously announced talks several hours after US President Donald Trump said he wanted a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in what had appeared to be the clearest expression yet of his administration’s support for such an outcome.
But later on Wednesday Trump told a news conference that he would be open to a one-state solution if that was the preference of the parties themselves, a position he had previously stated.
The article was published on Ynet
European Commission Director General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Christian Danielsson, and the Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa at the European External Action Service, Fernando Gentilini, will hold consultations this week with the representatives of the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the on-going review of modalities of EU engagement on the ground in support of a two-state solution.
The objective of the review is to ensure that all the modalities of the European Union’s engagement are as efficient and as effective as possible to advance the goal of a two-state solution, including in Gaza which, together with the West Bank, is an integral part of a future Palestinian state.
The EU remains firmly committed to the two-state solution as the only realistic and viable way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The EU has a close partnership with Palestine as its largest and most reliable donor, and with Israel as its biggest trading partner. The EU wishes to hear the views and perspectives on the review from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, both of which benefit from the EU’s active engagement, and to raise and discuss with them any obstacles to peace and to the viability of the two-state solution.
Click here for the Press release
BREAKING NEWS SPECIAL – REPORT SHOWS HOW EU FUNDS ARE DIRECTLY SUPPORTING BOYCOTTS OF ISRAEL, AND WORSE…
The EU’s official position on Boycotting the State of Israel demonstrates in technicolour the murky side of consensus decision making. How do you reconcile the breadth of the political spectrum on this issue whilst keeping as many as possible in the tent? You concoct a phrase straight out of the newspeak playbook as a catch all. We paraphrase, but here is it:
“The EU is against all forms of boycott that seek to delegitimise, but BDS represents freedom of speech.”
Yes. It is an absolute crock of a sentence. With all the backbone of a jellyfish. But if you are going to construct such a crock, then it should at least be stuck to.
In breaking news this morning, solid and concrete data revealed for the first time in a detailed paper by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic affairs HERE:The Money Trail_English , shows that despite the catch-all lip service, the EU is directly and indirectly funding organizations – to the tune of over 5 million Euros, that promote, support and call for BDS activities. The paper list in detail where the millions were transferred to, directly from the European Union in 2016, to a number of organizations that promote delegitimization and boycotts against Israel. The information, sourced and freely available in publications and report on the websites of the EU and the recipient organizations themselves, also reveal that millions of Euros are coming to organizations through indirect financing through third parties.
According to the Ministry, “there is concern that European taxpayers’ money is finding its way also to those who maintain ties with terrorist organizations.”
As an example, one of the bodies that states that it enjoys direct EU funding is the Norwegian NPA (Norwegian People’s Aid). According to their own reports, in 2016 the organization received financial assistance from the EU amounting to 1.76 million euros. That same year, the organization published a report calling on financial institutions to withdraw their investments from companies operating in Israel.
The report also states that an American authorities investigation found that the NPA, which has also received American funding over the years, has links with terrorist elements. In 2012 and 2012, for example, the organization supported an empowerment project for Gaza youth, in which Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – which, ironically, were recognized as terrorist organizations by the EU itself – took part.
The study also shows that EU funds also come indirectly to PCHR (the Palestinian Center for Human Rights). Linked to the PLO, the organization calls on the international community to impose “sanctions on Israeli settlements,” to incriminate those with whom it maintains trade relations and to terminate the special wage agreements between the EU and Israel.
There isn’t space here to list all the organisations involved, suffice to say what we have listed is the tip of a particularly embarrassing iceberg for the ‘good’ ship EU.
“It is inconceivable that taxpayers’ money in Europe comes to organizations that promote boycotts against Israel, some of which are connected to terror organizations,” said Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan.
We at EIPA fully understand the Minister’s incredulity at the findings. However, as regular readers will know, the issue of conditionality has been a central theme of ours, and we long suspected that the opaque EU funding structures were open to misuse and were not being managed properly. Yes, that is quite an accusation to make. But this ground-breaking report allows us to repeat it with even more certainty. And the trouble with newspeak, is that it only works when everybody believes it….
On Tuesday Daniel Sugarman wrote an article on the clashes at the Gaza border. Today he acknowledges that he was wrong.
It’s never easy to say you’re sorry.
To admit you’re wrong. To announce publicly, “I made a mistake”.
But to apologise when that apology comes bound up with what is, perhaps, the most intractable conflict on earth, makes it a thousand times harder.
But that is what I am. Sorry.
A few days ago I wrote a column about the latest round of violence on the border with Gaza.
It was a cry from the heart. I love Israel. I have always loved it, and cannot envision a time when I will not love it.
But in my office, I sit near a television set. And on Monday, I saw the following, side by side.
On the left, in Jerusalem, I saw happy faces. Self-congratulatory faces. I saw the Prime Minister of Israel talking about how the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem was a big step towards peace.
And on the right, simultaneously, in Gaza, I saw tear gas, and smoke, and bullets.
And it was in this context that I wrote my piece, which was an extremely personal one. I wrote it in anguish. I wrote it making clear that I despised Hamas and all it stood for. But I also wrote the following:
“Every bullet Israel fires, every life Israel takes, makes this situation worse. There are ways to disperse crowds which do not include live fire. But the IDF has made an active choice to fire live rounds and kill scores of people. You cannot tell me that Israel, a land of technological miracles which have to be seen to be truly believed, is incapable of coming up with a way of incapacitating protestors that does not include gunning dozens of them down. But no. In front of the entire world, Israel keeps shooting, and protestors, including very young protestors, keep dying. You may tell me that Hamas wants these deaths, wants to create martyrs, wants to fill the hearts of the people of Gaza with rage against Israel because the alternative is for people to look at their lives in Gaza and rage against Hamas. But if you tell me that, why are you not asking yourselves why Israel is so willingly giving Hamas exactly what it wishes?”
I received a lot of praise for my piece, from people I admire greatly, as well as from a great many unexpected sources, including from within the Jewish community.
I also received a lot of criticism. I got called a traitor, and that most vile of all insults a Jew can bestow or receive, a “Kapo”.
People also wrote pieces in response. I was told that, as a Jew not currently living in Israel, my greatest worry was whether Starbucks would have almond-soya milk for my latte.
But the criticism I paid more attention to was from people who pointed out that it was absurd to deal in hypotheticals. I’d said that surely there must be a way the protestors could be stopped without shooting live ammunition at them – that Israel, with its incredible technological capabilities, must be capable of developing a way. That was a cry of anguish, but it was not an argument. If no such technology currently exists, then it was absurd of me to blame the IDF for not magically willing it into existence. The traditional crowd stopping technology would not have worked effectively. Rubber bullets are only short range. The same with water cannons. And with tens of thousands of people rushing the border, this would have been extremely unlikely to work effectively. The border would have been broken through. And then, without much of a doubt, a lot of people in Israel would have died. That was, after all, Hamas’s stated aim.
But what really affected me the most was yesterday, when a Hamas operative went on television and claimed that, of the 62 people killed in the last two days, fifty were Hamas operatives. Islamic Jihad claimed three more, meaning that over 80 percent of the people who were killed while trying to breach the border were members of terrorist organisations whose direct aim is to bring death and suffering into Israel.
And I opened my eyes and saw what I had done.
I had fallen into the trap I had always been convinced I would not fall into. I had condemned Israel for defending itself.
There are things one can write about how Israel could have acted differently in the run-up to these attempts to charge the border. But I did not write about those in my original piece. I wrote that, by killing the Palestinians running towards them, the IDF was giving Hamas exactly what it wished for – martyrs for the cause.
I failed to acknowledge that, either way, Israel would be giving Hamas what it wanted. Shoot at those charging at you and Hamas would have its martyrs. Fail to shoot and Hamas would break through the barrier and bring suffering and death – its stated aim – to Israelis living only a few hundred metres away from that barrier. The march may have originally been, as it was declared to be, about Palestinians returning to the homes they had to leave 70 years before. But Hamas’s aim was far more straightforward – “We will take down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies.”
I wrote in my previous article that Israel was a regional powerhouse, and that it was strong enough to take criticism from Jews in the Diaspora.
I still believe it is strong enough to do so. I just don’t believe that my criticism of it was valid. Given the circumstances, and the situation on the ground, I am at a loss in terms of coming up with a better solution. The choice was, quite literally, shoot at people running at you with the stated aim of killing you and your families, or fail to shoot and let them do it.
A few days ago I said I could not and would not defend Israel’s actions. Now, in the cold light of day, I could not and would not see how I would fail to defend them.
I said that Israel should be ashamed of its actions. But today I am the one ashamed.
The article was published in the Jewish Chronicle
Many questions remain about what led to the deaths of up to 58 Palestinians on Monday. One of the key issues surrounds how the protests are organized. Based on observation and discussions with sources close to the protests, the following presents a clearer picture of what has occurred over the last weeks, and attempts to paint a picture of how the May 14 protests unfolded.
Since the end of March, there have been mass protests along the Gaza border. These protests have been well organized and planned as part of an eight week “Great March of Return,” from the Palestinian Land Day on March 30, to the “Nakba Day” on May 15.
On May 14, the mass protests, which coincided with the US opening its embassy in Jerusalem and came a day before what was supposed to be the last day of the protests, resulted in 58 Palestinians killed and up to 2,700 wounded, according to Gaza-based Palestinian reports.
The protests have been organized around five locations next to Israel’s security fence. Over the eight weeks of demonstrations, protesters used a variety of different tactics and methods. For instance, protesters began lighting massive fires and burning tires during the second Friday, in early April. Then they began launching burning kites to ignite Israeli farmland. They also tore down a section of barbed wire of one of the fences between Israel and Gaza on April 27. It was during this protest that a reliable source provided some insight into the methods employed by Hamas and the protesters.
The protesters have gathered every Friday with tens of thousands participating. At the very back of the protest, hundreds of meters from the fence, are tents and field hospitals, prayer areas and families. This is where some of the Hamas officials will show up in the morning or early afternoon to rouse the people and encourage them in their protest. Speeches will be made and prayers offered. It is well organized. Buses bring people to the protests. There are people selling food. There is even a macabre element of this, with protesters saying they’ll have a meal before they become “shahid” or a martyr at the front.
The masses of protesters who approach the actual fence are generally made up of young men and teenagers, including youth and children. There are very few women in the area closest to the fence. The protesters know how the Israeli security forces have been operating; they expect to be shot or are cognizant that this is a distinct possibility. There are ambulance teams and medics, as well as numerous spontaneous volunteers, ready to take away the injured, many of them shot in the legs.
As the young men burn tires, and others prepare Molotov cocktails or slingshots, some prepare kites to fly. The goal of the protesters is to get to the fence and, with select groups of young men who have brought wire cutters, to cut through. Most of them don’t make it this far, but some of them do.
Gazans who attempt to reach the main security fence first have to deal with other obstacles. There is a barbed-wire fence in sections to deter protesters from reaching the main fence. Israel has continuously warned since March that anyone approaching this kind of buffer zone would be shot. A section of barbed wire fence was torn down and dragged away in late April. The Palestinians cheered as they brought it back to the protest camp. A sign of victory.
According to reports, it takes about thirty seconds running between the barbed-wire fence and the main security fence.
But what happened in late April was not just the spontaneous chaos of rioters at the fence. Some of those wounded and killed by live fire, as shown on videos, have not been directly threatening the fence, but there are others groups whose sole purpose is to penetrate the fence.
The actual attempt to get closest to the fence and break through it has involved planning and coordination on the Palestinian side. Hamas members, unarmed but clearly directing some of the young men, are in the crowd. They watch for an area of burning tires and people, where the protesters have managed to get close to the fence or breach the first line of barbed wire.
Some of these professional activists are on motorcycles and they may come and go or drive along the line of protests or observe them from a high point. When they sense that a breach can be made, they gather together groups of young men, men who have prepared beforehand for the assault.
Like some kind of First World War charge of death, the young men then rush as a group toward the fence.
During the April 27 events, up to 700 men were reported by IDF spokesman Col. Jonathan Conricus to have assaulted the fence “in a way that we have not seen them assault it before,” according to a New York Times report.
An earlier Times report titled “300 Meters in Gaza: Snipers, Burning Tires and a Contested Fence,” summarized well the planning and details of the protests and confirmed later accounts.
Planning began ahead of the May 14 protests. Joe Dyke, the AFP correspondent in Gaza, wrote on May 10 that, at a “briefing to foreign media, Gaza head of Hamas told journalists today he would support thousands of Palestinians breaking through the border fence next week.”
On Sunday the IDF dropped leaflets on Gaza warning protesters to stay away from the fence. On May 14 Dyke, in Gaza, tweeted: “literally as the US embassy inauguration is beginning, loud speakers east of Gaza City are calling on protesters to prepare to seek to breach the border fence.”
By the end of the day, 58 had been killed.
The article was published in The JPost
rime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a massive cache of secret documents, obtained in an exceptional Israeli intelligence operation this year, showing that Iran had developed a secret nuclear weapons program and that it lied when it claimed otherwise.
“Iran lied big time,” Netanyahu said at a dramatic press conference on Monday night in Tel Aviv that involved props and a slide show.
Netanyahu held a microphone and walked back and forth on the stage as if conducting a class.
To catch international attention, Netanyahu spoke in English as he described a massive Israeli intelligence coup by which some 100,000 documents – weighing around half a ton – were brought from Tehran to the Jewish state.
“In 2017, Iran moved its nuclear-weapons files to the Shorabad district in southern Tehran. Few Iranians knew where it was, very few, and also a few Israelis,” Netanyahu said. “From the outside the vault looked like a dilapidated warehouse. It contained Iran’s secret atomic archives locked in massive files.”
“A few weeks ago, in a great intelligence achievement, Israel obtained half a ton of the material inside these vaults,” Netanyahu said.
He explained that these included 55,000 pages of documents and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.
The documents focused on the secret Iranian nuclear program that was developed from 1999 to 2003 called Project Amad. When Iran entered the 2015 nuclear deal, it denied that such a program existed.
Netanyahu made the presentation as part of his continued campaign against the deal. He said the documents proved that the deal itself was based on falsehoods and that Iran continued with its nuclear program after the deal was signed.
He spoke less than two weeks before the May 12 deadline that US President Donald Trump had set to decide whether or not to scrap the deal, which the US signed along with five other world powers: Russia, Germany, China, the UK and France.
Meanwhile, the Knesset gave the power to declare war to the security cabinet, instead of the wider cabinet. Netanyahu and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have been pushing for the passage of the bill.
IN WASHINGTON, Trump lauded Netanyahu’s presentation.
“I don’t know if everybody has seen it, but I got to see a little bit of it, and that is just not an acceptable situation,” he said, referring to the nuclear deal.
“So we’ll see what happens, Trump said. “I’m not telling you what I’m doing. But a lot of people think they know, and on or before the 12th we’ll make a decision. That doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate a real agreement. It’s a horrible agreement for the US.”
Israel had known for years that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program from 1999 to 2003 called Project Amad, Netanyahu said.
“We can now prove that Project Amad was a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
“Iran is secretly storing Project Amad material to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons.”
The project’s mission statement was to “design, product and test five warheads, each with 10-kiloton TNT yield for integration on a missile. You do not have to read Farsi to see ‘10 kiloton’ here,” he said.
“That is like five Hiroshima bombs to be put on ballistic missiles,” Netanyahu said.
He showed a spread sheet that spoke of yellowcake production, centrifuge enrichment process, warhead project, simulation project and tests.
“Project Amad had the five key elements of a nuclear weapons program,” said Netanyahu.
This included designs for enriched uranium as well as the development of nuclear cores and photographs of a secret underground facility to produce these cores.
Israel found photographs of a system to build a nuclear implosion system and a map with five key testing sites in eastern Iran, Netanyahu said.
“We have many more such documents,” said Netanyahu.
There were also documents that showed how to integrate nuclear warheads on missiles, including for Shahab-3 missiles.
“Here is the warhead, here is the bomb,” said Netanyahu, pointing to different points on a diagram.
Iran is continually expanding the range of its nuclear-capable missiles and can reach Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Moscow.
“But they are working on far greater ranges,” he said.
“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.
In 2003, Iran was forced to shelve Project Amad, but not its nuclear ambitions. It split its program into an overt program and a covert one that continued the nuclear work under the title of scientific knowhow development, Netanyahu said.
It continued this work in a series of organizations and in 2018 it is carried out by SPND, an organization inside Iran’s Defense Ministry led by the same person who led Project Amad – Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Netanyahu said.
Many of SPND’s key personnel worked with Fakhrizadeh on Project Amad, Netanyahu said.
The files Israel uncovered also dealt with the Fordow uranium enrichment facility, which Netanyahu said was designed from the start to be part of Project Amad.
“You will not be surprised that Iran insisted on keeping Fordow and the nuclear deal enabled it to do it. But Iran was required by the International Atomic Energy Agency to come clean about its nuclear program.
“This was an explicit condition for implementing the nuclear deal. In December 2015 the IAEA published its final assessment of the military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. This was Iran’s chance to fully come clean to the IAEA. They could tell the truth,” Netanyahu said.
But instead, Iran denied the existence of a coordinated program and specifically denied the existence of the Amad plan, Netanyahu said.
He also showed photographic evidence that Iran conducted metallurgical work specifically designed for a nuclear device.
“This is just a fraction of the total material that we have,” Netanyahu said.
One has to ask, he said, “Why would a terrorist regime hide and meticulously catalogue its secret files if not to use it at a later date?”
“Iran lied about never having a nuclear weapons program, it continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowhow for future use,” Netanyahu said.
He played a tape of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad
Javad Zarif stating that Iran had never had a nuclear weapons program.
“Yes you did,” Netanyahu said. “And the atomic archive proves it.”
“In a few days’ time, Trump will make a decision of what to do with the nuclear deal. I am sure he will do the right thing for the US, for Israel and for the peace of the world,” he said.
FOR HIS PART, the US president acknowledged growing expectations that he will pull out of the accord by May 12. If the European powers fail to come up with “substantial” fixes to some of the agreement’s most controversial provisions, Trump says he will allow for nuclear sanctions to snap back into place, effectively withdrawing the US from the 2015 agreement by default.
Trump said scrapping the non-proliferation agreement would send “the right message” to North Korea in upcoming negotiations over its own nuclear work, given “new information” that had
come to light on Monday.
But if Trump is indeed preparing for a withdrawal next month, not all of his cabinet members are yet on board. Asked on Monday after Netanyahu’s speech whether he is satisfied the JCPOA can handle incidents of Iranian cheating, James Mattis, the US defense secretary, said “yes.”
Mattis met with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman, last week in Washington, primarily on Iran policy, the two departments said.
The president also claimed the current deal “frees” Iran to develop nuclear weapons in seven years. The letter of the agreement commits Iran never to construct nuclear weapons – a pledge it originally made in joining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in the 1970s. But Netanyahu’s point was that Iran’s commitments were based on lies, raising questions over whether their weapons program had ever ceased and over what sort of agreement with Iran would ever be considered of good faith.
The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehen
sive Plan of Action, put caps on Tehran’s enrichment of uranium that phase out between 10 and 15 years. As those “sunset clauses” are reached, Iran will be allowed to grow the size and efficiency of its program, installing advanced models of uranium-enriching centrifuges in place of decades-old technology, in greater numbers and at more facilities.
That will shrink the “breakout time” Iran would need to develop fissile material for nuclear bombs, should it make the political decision to proceed.
Trump wants a deal that will grant UN inspectors snap access to Iran’s military facilities, where much of their past nuclear weapons work took place; an end to their program
on ballistic missiles, designed to deliver nuclear warheads; a permanent extension of the “sunset clauses”; and commitments from world powers to thwart Iran’s military ambitions across the Middle East.
NETANYAHU RECEIVED praise from coalition and opposition politicians after his presentation of Iran’s nuclear violations.
Deputy Minister Michael Oren (Kulanu) said Netanyahu presented impressive intelligence accomplishments for Israel. He said the international community must demand unlimited oversight over Iran’s nuclear program, including in closed military sites and prevent the development of Iranian ballistic missiles.
Former defense minister Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) said the evidence Netanyahu presented proved that Iran is obsessively seeking nuclear weapons. He said Israel must demand more inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, the maintenance of Israel’s qualitative military edge, and immediately work to fix security flaws in the Israeli home front.
But Joint List MK Dov Henin called Netanyahu’s presentation an election speech.
“What were all of those empty binders, disks and English for?” Henin asked. “He merely warmed old noodles that were cooked years before the nuclear deal was signed.
A leader facing corruption charges was trying to persuade another leader facing corruption charges to inflame a conflagration whose price would be paid by the people who live here.”
Iran’s foreign minister said Israel’s accusations were “old allegations” that had been dealt with by the United Nations nuclear watchdog in the past.
“Pres. Trump is jumping on a rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the IAEA to “nix” the deal. How convenient. Coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations by the boy who cries wolf just days before May 12. But Trump’s impetuousness to celebrate blew the cover,” Zarif tweeted.
Iranian state TV said Netanyahu’s
accusations were propaganda.
“His remarks were not new… full of baseless accusations… and propaganda against Iran’s nuclear work,” state TV said.
Netanyahu spoke to Trump by telephone on Sunday and met in Tel Aviv with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Prior to the presentation, the security cabinet met.
On Monday, he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the cache of docume
nts and promised to send professional teams to their countries to explain the material. Netanyahu also held a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and he plans to update the British and Chinese leaders as soon as possible.
Over on Capitol Hill, response to the presentation was muted. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican from Tennessee who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who drafted the 2015 law that provides Congress with review powers over the nuclear deal, said Netanyahu revealed “nothing new” that was not known prior to the conclusion of the agreement.
The article was published on The JPost
Recunoaşterea Ierusalimului drept capitală a statului evreu ridică România din rândurile celei de 3-a Europa şi o plasează într-o sferă de influenţă şi de mediere atât între interesele americane şi Uniune, cât şi între Europa de Vest şi cea de Est.
România are şansa unică de a media cel mai spinos subiect de dialog, la ora actuală, dintre Uniunea Europeană si Statele Unite ale Americii printr-o înţelegere adecvată a provocărilor de securitate din Orientul Mijlociu, începând cu valul de proteste violente conduse de gruparea teroristă Hamas la graniţa cu Israel, şi dinamica generată de expansiunea agresivă a Rusiei în Siria, alianţa sa cu regimul de la Teheran, şi posibila retragere a trupelor americane din Siria.
Potrivit politicii externe a Uniunii, Ierusalimul, cel mai dificil subiect de negociat dintre cele 4, în urma unui acord final între cele două state, va deveni capitală atât a unui stat evreu, cât şi a unui stat palestinian.
Principiul de aur al procesului de pace de la Oslo, respectat şi mai târziu în celelalte runde de negocieri, „nimic nu este finalizat până când totul este finalizat“, respectiv cele 4 chestiuni (statutul Ierusalimului, graniţe – delimitarea unui teritoriu palestinian, refugiaţi şi securitatea statului Israel) au fost mereu luate la pachet. Această tehnică a fost utilizată cu precădere pentru a se încuraja negocierile directe, pentru a se evita unilateralismul şi internaţionalizarea conflictului prin acţiuni izolate ale celor două părţi beligerante.
Un sfert de secol mai târziu de la Oslo, cu precădere în ultimii ani, se manifestă una dintre consecinţele imediate ale eşecului comunităţii internaţionale de a facilita negocieri directe, unilateralismul palestinian, sub forma recunoaşterii statalităţii sale în forumurile internaţionale.
Recunoaşterea unui stat palestinian, potrivit cu rezoluţiile ONU 242 (1967), rezoluţia 338 (1973) si Acordurile de la Madrid şi Oslo, urma să fie rezultatul unor negocieri finale directe între cele două părţi. Cu toate acestea, în noiembrie 2012, Palestina obţine, în mod simbolic, recunoaştere prin acordarea statutului de stat observator non-membru al Naţiunilor Unite.
La rândul său, Parlamentul European în 2014 a votat o rezoluţie prin care recunoaşterea statului palestinian nu avea sa fie un rezultat al negocierilor directe cu Israel, ci în paralel cu acestea.
La fel de surprinzător, în anul 2016, iniţiativa Ministrului de Afaceri Externe francez, Laurent Fabius pentru procesul de pace include o clauză potrivit căreia, în urma celor trei ani de negocieri directe, comunitatea internaţională avea sa recunoască un stat palestinian independent de rezultatul negocierilor.
E important a se nota, prin adoptarea acestor poziţii cu privire la recunoaşterea statalităţii palestiniene în afara unui acord final cu statul evreu, parlamentele europene, şi state precum Suedia şi Slovenia în curând, sfidează în mod direct nu doar realitatea de facto dar şi politicile Înaltului Reprezentant Mogherini.
Deşi unii experţi au exprimat un grad ridicat de optimism potrivit căruia aceste „victorii“ ale Autorităţii Palestiniene pe plan intenţional vor conferi legitimitate domestică grupării din West Bank, aceasta continuă să eşueze în asumarea responsabilităţilor sale în Fâşia Gaza, unde Hamas a început vinerea aceasta a patra săptămână de atacuri şi infiltrări în Israel. Falimentul real al Autorităţii Palestiniene este cu precădere acela de a nu crea instituţii de stat care să sprijine şi educe o societate palestiniană pregătită pentru pace.
Urmărind să revigoreze procesul de pace israeliano-palestinian, Preşedintele Trump a optat pentru o strategie diferită de tradiţia negocierilor, şi anume pentru a oferi subiectului cel mai controversat, respectiv statutul Ierusalimului, o abordare treptată şi independentă de celelalte subiecte.
Urmărind modelul american, decizia de a muta ambasada romană la Ierusalim nu aduce nici un prejudiciu statului palestinian, nici o violare a principiului soluţiei celor două state, potrivit căreia Ierusalimul de Est poate fi în continuare, în urma unui acord final cu Israel, capitala unui stat palestinian. Aceasta este o recunoaştere a unei realităţi de facto, Ierusalimul a funcţionat drept capitală a statului evreu din anul 1949, centru al Knesset-ului, al Reşedinţei Prim Ministrului şi al tuturor ministerelor. Decizia nu aduce nici o modificare liniilor de armistiţiu de la 1967, deci nu stabileşte linii de demarcaţii între cele două parţi ale Ierusalimului.
În procesul de recunoaştere al Ierusalimului drept capitală a statului evreu, Preşedintele Klaus Iohannis trebuie sa coordoneze împreună cu liderul socialist Liviu Dragnea, şi diferiţi alţi decidenţi, într-o manieră care să nu aducă prejudiciu relaţiilor bilaterale cu Israel, dialogului transatlantic şi care să preconizeze un liderat eficient al Preşedinţiei Consiliului.
De altfel, „consensul european“ vine de multe ori pe coridoarele de la Justus Lipsius cu costuri mari pentru cea de-a treia Europa, în timp ce angrenajul decizional prezintă toate caracteristicile unui mamut greoi lipsit de agilitatea necesară în epoca revoluţilor digitale.
În urmă cu aproape jumătate de secol, România a luat decizia curajoasă de a sfida ordinele blocului soviet şi de a menţine relaţiile bilaterale cu statul evreu asaltat în acel moment de armatele a cinci state arabe vecine. Astăzi, României i s-a oferit încă odată oportunitatea de a lua o decizie care iese din tiparul prescripţiilor blocului comunitar şi de a-şi exprima suveranitatea prin mult aşteptata şi mult meritata recunoaştere a capitalei aliatului său Israel.
The article was published on Adevarul
Diplomatic pressure of the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs caused the EU Parliament to significantly alter the motion for resolution submitted against Israel; final resolution corresponds with Israel’s stance about Gaza and describes Hamas as a terror organization.
The European Parliament on Thursday, in an unprecedented move, condemned Hamas and called for the release of the Israeli citizens and for the retrieve of the Israeli soldiers’ bodies held by the organization.
The original motion for resolution included severe condemnation against Israel, as well as a request for investigation at the International Criminal Court of Justice in Hague, determination that the IDF didn’t use proportional force, a call to reexamine Israel’s ties in the EU and an immediate establishment of a EU investigation committee to review latest events in Gaza.
The resolution was completely altered and many provisions were added which unusually correspond with the Israeli stand regarding Gaza.
According to the resolution adopted today, Israel is still condemned for shooting Gaza’s citizens and is called to end the siege, however, the use of disproportional force was not determined. In the resolution, the European Parliament, housed in Strasbourg, France, called for an investigation, but added it will be executed by a special team assembled by its Chief of Staff.
The remaining provisions in the original notion for resolution were left out. However, the resolution calls for the immediate release of Avera Mangistu and Hisham al-Sayed and for the retrieve of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
The resolution also emphasizes that Hamas is a terror organization who transformed Gaza into an enclave focused on terror, withholds basic rights from its citizens, prevents the strip’s rehabilitation and continues to hinder the chance for reconciliation. It holds Hamas accountable for the assassination attempt of the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and condemns the organization for acts of terror, rocket fire, infiltration attempts into Israel, tunnel diggings and use of citizens as human shields.
Moreover, the resolution determines that despite the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protests, the Gaza’s leaders must avoid incitement and ensure demonstrations wouldn’t be used for spreading terror.
Israel’s ambassador to the EU and NATO Aaron Lashno-Ya’ar expressed his content regarding the resolution. “Not only have we managed to extract outrageous and anti-Israeli elements from the resolution, but Hamas is also being criticized. The most important element for us is the explicit call for an immediate release of the Israeli citizen and the soldier’s bodies from Gaza.”
“The latter is a matter we continually raise to discussion with European bodies. It’s important that finally, for the first time, the European Parliament released a clear and unequivocal resolution regarding this matter,” he added.
Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee of the European Parliament Andres Wistesen said in a message to the press that he welcomes the decision, reiterating the parliament’s stance that that “Hamas is a terror organization” and called for the release of the Israeli citizens and return of the bodies held by it.
“Despite the resolution is not without flaws and that leftists continue in their struggle to blur the reality in Gaza, I’m pleased that the parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists group tirelessly acts to make the voice of reason heard,” added Wistesen, taking the opportunity to congratulate Israel on its 70th Independence Day.
The article was published on Ynet
President Reuven Rivlin meets German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who says: Our countries have very special ties.
“We always appreciate and remember the deep commitment of the German government to Israel and the Jewish people,” Rivlin told his guest.
Maas thanked the President for the warm welcome and added, “Our countries have very special ties and I want to clarify this at the beginning of my term. As Minister of Justice, I visited Israel many times and shared joint initiatives with my colleague Ayelet Shaked.”
The Minister continued, “I was very pleased to accept our embassy’s invitation to take part in Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations. Germany has a genuine desire to take part in and assist in all the major issues that plague the world, and part of the reason for my visit is the desire to know what is bothering the citizens of Israel.”
The President and the Minister discussed at length the expansion of the Iranian threat in the region and the various possibilities available to the free world to respond to this threat. The President reiterated that the State of Israel would not accept a reality of an Iranian presence on its border and that the regional armament led by Iran places the entire region under real danger.
Maas made it clear that Germany would not accept Iran’s position calling for the destruction of the State of Israel and that Germany would not accept the existence of an Iranian nuclear program. The Minister stressed that the State of Israel’s concerns are taken seriously and responsibly in the face of the existing threats.
Germany has several times in the past taken a harsh stance regarding Iran’s treatment of Israel.
The previous German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said in 2016 that Iran could only have normal, friendly relations with Germany when it accepted the right of Israel to exist.
Following those remarks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani both cancelled meetings with Gabriel.
Gabriel made similar remarks during a previous visit to Iran, when he said that “questioning [Israel’s] right to existence is something that we Germans cannot accept.”
The article was published on Arutz 7
French driver and Palestinian guard employed by the consulate in east Jerusalem arrested on suspicion of using a vehicle with diplomatic plates to transfer weapons from Hamas in Gaza to the West Bank.
Two employees of the French Consulate in east Jerusalem—a driver and his security guard—were arrested by Israeli authorities last month on suspicion of using a vehicle with diplomatic plates to smuggle weapons from Hamas in Gaza to the West Bank, the Shin Bet said Monday.
The consulate’s driver, Romain Franck, a French national, is suspected of using his diplomatic vehicle to transport some 70 handguns and two assault rifles.
A Palestinian guard employed by French authorities, a resident of east Jerusalem, was also arrested in the case, as well as several Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were staying in the West Bank illegally.
Franck was part of a Palestinian network in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem that smuggled weapons from Gaza to the West Bank through the Erez border crossing.
The French driver smuggled arms on several occasions over the past few months, while taking advantage of his diplomatic vehicle, which was subject to less stringent security checks at the crossing.
Franck received the weapons from a Palestinian resident of Gaza who works for the “French culture center” in the strip. Franck then took the arms to a Palestinian man in the West Bank, who in turn sold them to arms dealers.
The investigation found that Franck had a financial motive and was acting of his own volition and unbeknown to his superiors. The investigation also found that several of the Palestinians arrested in the case were also involved in the smuggling of money from Gaza to the West Bank.
The investigation was carried out in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and while keeping French authorities constantly updated.
A total of nine suspects have been arrested in the case so far. Indictments will be filed against six of them on Monday.
The French embassy in Israel said on Monday it was cooperating with Israel in the investigation. “We take very seriously this case … and we work very closely with the Israeli authorities on this matter,” said an embassy spokesman, who declined to comment further on the allegations against the staffer, a French citizen.
According to his Facebook page, Franck, who is from Lambersart in the north of France, arrived in Jerusalem in January 2017. “It’s the big day, starting to a new adventure.. Thank you for everything that accompanied me and supported in this new experience that begins!” he wrote at the time.
Later he posted many photos from the region, including from Petra and Aqaba in Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the Jordan Valley.
An Israeli official called the incident “very grave,” but clarified it would not affect Israel’s ties with France. “We thank French authorities for the cooperation,” he said.
A senior Shin Bet official decried the “cynical exploitation of the immunity and privileges granted to foreign representatives in Israel to smuggle weapons… that could be used in terror attacks against Israeli citizens and security forces.”
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, also slammed the “cynical and never-ending exploitation of humanitarian aid and international aid by the terrorist infrastructure.”
“This event only clarifies the need for a strict policy on granting (entry) permits,” he continued. “International bodies are required to carry out internal inspections to ensure aid goes to the residents of Gaza and not to terror.”
French lawmaker Meyer Habib, who represents French nationals living in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, said, “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first problematic affair the French Consulate in Jerusalem has been involved in. And even if only junior staff were involved, there is a feeling, unfortunately, that the consulate has actually become the French Embassy to the Palestinian Authority.”
The article was published on Ynet
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, brandished a piece of the Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle that Israel downed a week ago after it entered Israel’s airspace and warned Iran “not to test Israel’s resolve.”
Israel, Netanyahu said at the conference that was attended by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, “will act not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”
Zarif, who addressed the conference later in the day, dismissed Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response.”
Netanyahu, who said Zarif “lies with eloquence,” warned the conference participants that Zarif will “brazenly deny Iran’s nefarious involvement in Syria.”
“Iran also denies that it committed an act of aggression against Israel last week, that it sent a drone into our airspace to threaten our people,” Netanyahu said, pulling out the Iranian prop from behind the podium and holding it high up with one hand.
“Well, here’s a piece of that Iranian drone, or what’s left of it after we shot it down. I brought it here so you can see for yourself. Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours.”
Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to have ever addressed this prestigious conference, and the overwhelming majority of his 15-minute speech and 15 minutes of Q and A, dealt with Iran.
With former US secretary of state John Kerry, one of the key architects of the Iranian nuclear deal, sitting in the front row, Netanyahu ripped into the accord as he has done many times in the past, saying that the inspection regimen is completely insufficient, and that when the sun sets on the agreement in some 10 years’ time, the Iranians will have an “open highway” to build not only one nuclear device, but an entire nuclear arsenal.
To have nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said, “you need a gun, bullets, and gunpowder.”
The gun is the ballistic missiles that the Iranians are developing, unchecked by the nuclear deal and undeterred by UN Security Council resolutions, he said.
“They should be stopped and slammed with the most crippling sanctions to prevent them from continuing the development of these [nuclear] delivery systems, these guns,” he said.
Furthermore, the Iranians are hiding the “casings for the bullets” in military sites, which the nuclear deal has placed out of bounds to inspectors, he said.
And the third element – the gunpowder – is the enriched uranium, “which is the toughest thing to make for a nuclear weapon, because it is the most difficult to manufacture, requires big plants and precision engineering.” When the sun sets on the agreement, he said, Iran will be given “free rein to enrich uranium without limitations.”
Lifting Iran’s limitations on uranium enrichment should not be linked to a calendar, Netanyahu said, but rather to Iran’s behavior, which as a result of the deal has gotten worse and more aggressive in the region, not better.
Netanyahu predicted that the Iranians would “do nothing” if the nuclear deal is not either “fixed or nixed.”
FURTHERMORE, he said, the countries of the world would have to decide whether they prefer dealing with the US or with Iran, which – despite the fact that it has some 80 million people as compared to Israel’s 8.5 million – has an economy about the size of Israel’s.
“I think the time to stop them is now,” he said.
Netanyahu said that Iran, through nefarious moves in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, is trying to change the status quo in the region.
If they do change the status quo, he said, the rule he will follow is one established by the early Zionists when dealing with problems: “They said nip things in the bud, stop them before they get big. That’s basically what our policy is.”
Netanyahu also conveyed a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad, stressing that Israel’s decision to stay out of the Syrian civil war for the last six years, except to grant humanitarian aid to thousands of Syrians in Israeli hospitals, could change.
Assad understands that if he invites Iran to entrench itself militarily inside his country, he is challenging Israel, he said. “If Mr. Assad invites Iran in militarily, that changes our position. So that is up to Iran and to Mr. Assad.”
Zarif, in addition to dismissing Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus,” said the recent shooting down of an Israeli F16 after it bombed an Iranian site in Syria had shattered Israel’s “so-called invincibility.”
“Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors,” Zarif said, accusing Israel of “mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon.”
“Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes, it’s as if a disaster has happened,” Zarif said.
“What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility [of Israel] has crumbled.”
He accused the United States of using the conference to “revive hysteria” against Iran and denied that Tehran was seeking “hegemony” in the Middle East.
Zarif also poked at Netanyahu for his legal problems, saying, “Israel’s major problems are its years-long criminal occupation policies, and I’m not even talking about its corruption.”
Kerry, meanwhile, said at the conference that it was wrong to assume that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon as soon as the scope of the deal ends.
“If your house is on fire, are you going to refuse to put it out because you are concerned it will light on fire again in 15 years? Or are you going to put it out and use the intervening time to prevent to ever catching fire again?” he asked.
Before addressing the conference, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, visited a memorial to the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes killed in Munich in 1972.
“There is [a] special meaning to the fact that we are standing at the place where 11 of our athletes were murdered just because they were Jews and Israelis. Millions were slaughtered here just because they were Jews,” he said. “The great difference is that we have a state and this state has acted, and is acting today, against terrorism and those who would destroy us.”
Netanyahu then led the members of his delegation in singing “Hatikva.”
The Article was published on The JPost
One year after the State of Israel introduced a law that required supermarkets to charge customers for the use of plastic bags use of the bags has dropped by 80 per cent, and bag waste found in the sea has halved, according to government sources. Such a rewarding news for UN Environment’s EU-funded SwitchMed project and its Israeli partners who have contributed to this success.
Big supermarkets must charge their customers at least 0.10 Israeli new shekels (about $US 0.03) for each bag, and must show the cost of the bags on the customer’s bill. Additionally, supermarkets must report the number of bags distributed to the Government, and proceeds of the sale go to the government to fund projects to cut air pollution throughout the country.
The law comes in part as a result of UN Environment’s SwitchMed’s work with the country to set up a National Action Plan on sustainable consumption and production.
A two-day policy workshop run by UN Environment’s EU-funded SwitchMed project entitled “Policy Tools for Circular Economy” held in Jerusalem in 2014 highlighted facilitated the formulation of the legislation by highlighting the lessons learnt from similar laws internationally.
Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection, MK Zeev Elkin, highlighted how successful the law has been by international standards. “We see 80 per cent reduction in plastic bags consumption in less than a year,” he said. “This is a success even in worldwide standards. For comparison, an 80 per cent reduction rate in the use of disposable bags at large retailers is the European Union’s target for 2020, for which five years of deployment have been given. I am proud of the Israeli public that understands the importance of reducing plastic bags waste and changed its behaviour so rapidly”.
The SwitchMed sustainable consumption and production programme aims to promote a switch by the Mediterranean economies towards sustainable consumption and production patterns and green economy, including low-emission development, through demonstration and dissemination of methods that improve resource and energy efficiency. It also seeks to minimise the environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of products and services and, where possible, to promote renewable energy.
The article was published at the EU Neighborhood Centre website
It looks like the EU is anxious to try and fill the US’ role as a peace mediator. From the EU External Action website:
Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini have decided to convene an extraordinary session of the international donor group for Palestine, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC).
There is an urgent need to bring all parties together to discuss measures to speed up efforts that can underpin a negotiated two-state solution.
Furthermore it is necessary to enable the Palestinian Authority to execute full control over Gaza, based on the Cairo agreement from 12 October 2017.
The meeting will be held in Brussels on 31 January 2018 at Ministerial level, hosted by the European Union and chaired by Norway.
The impression one gets from this is not that the EU particularly expects to gain any more traction towards peace than it has in the past 69 years. Instead, it feels like the EU sees an apparent vacuum created by the US — and wants to fill that vacuum by giving Palestinians more money, and by tacitly agreeing with them that Jerusalem belongs to them as a basis for negotiations.
In this case, peace isn’t the goal. In reality, the EU is using the conflict to make itself look more relevant.
Because if the EU wanted peace, taking Jerusalem off the table and admitting that the city is Jewish is the single most effective move that the EU could make towards pushing Palestinians to compromise — rather than insisting on acting like a victor that can impose its terms on the region.
The Article was Published on The Algemeiner
Will Netanyahu come in like a lion and leave like a lamb?
They say that March, the third month of the year, comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.
This is the third New Year’s Day for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since his election to his fourth term as prime minister in March 2015. The year ahead for Netanyahu is expected to come in like a lion, continue like a lion, and go out like a lion.
The developments that will make this year particularly ferocious for the prime minister include the criminal investigations of Netanyahu and his wife Sara, controversial legislation in the Knesset, and diplomatic developments set to be advanced in the year ahead by US President Donald Trump.
Perhaps such challenges would be less problematic for Netanyahu if he still had capable former coalition chairman David Bitan at his side. But Bitan has been neutralized by his own criminal investigations, in which he is set to be questioned by police a dizzying three times this week.
Bitan’s replacement David Amsalem is as despised in the Knesset corridors as Bitan is beloved. His ability to defend Netanyahu from his powerful and sensitive post will be hindered by his lack of grace, charisma, and ability to work well with people of differing views.
After yet another delay, the police are expected to recommend in March to indict Netanyahu for breach of trust and perhaps bribery in Case 1000, the “Gifts Affair,” and Case 2000, the “Newspaper Collusion Scandal.”
As Netanyahu and his associates constantly remind people, the police recommendations have no legal significance. Only Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit will decide Netanyahu’s fate, and if the police do not ask for more time, that will happen sometime by the end of 2018.
But when the police recommendations are leaked to the press, there will be tremendous pressure on Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to remove his Kulanu party from the coalition, as Ehud Barak threatened to do with his Labor Party when police recommended indicting Ehud Olmert.
Chances are that Kahlon will stay, and Netanyahu will succeed in passing up David Ben-Gurion to become the country’s longest-serving prime minister on September 23, 2018.
But there is always a chance that Netanyahu himself could initiate an election before then if he decides it would serve him tactically.
What could throw everything off is if the police decide at any given point to declare Netanyahu a suspect in the much more serious Submarine Affair, Case 3000. With all due respect to newspapers and cigars, if Netanyahu traded Israel’s national security for money for his confidant, that would blow the other two cases out of the water.
The Jerusalem Post’s legal correspondent Yonah Jeremy Bob reported on Friday that the Police Recommendations Law, which passed last week, is completely unclear about whether the police could issue recommendations about Netanyahu in Case 3000.
There are also investigations of Netanyahu’s wife Sara for alleged misuse of public funds, which could either make the political year even more intense or perhaps calm it down if she becomes the legal scapegoat who gets thrown in the fire while her husband is cleared of charges.
While the focus all year will remain on the probes, there will be controversial legislation in the Knesset almost every week when the parliament is in session. The most problematic politically for Netanyahu will be over matters of religion and state, where his coalition is especially divided.
But there will also be bills that will change how political campaigns are financed, the role of deputy ministers, and whether land in Jerusalem can be relinquished in a diplomatic agreement. And that’s just in the Knesset.
The Likud central committee and other party institutions will also be making decisions that could tie Netanyahu’s hands before talks with the Palestinians could potentially begin.
While the Palestinians are currently saying they will not negotiate with Israel as long as Trump is president and the US is the mediator, they will come under tremendous pressure to back down from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and his American counterpart, Jared Kushner.
“Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime – I see a real hope for change,” Netanyahu said himself when Trump came to his residence in Jerusalem.
If that happens, perhaps Netanyahu’s coalition could be unraveled from the Right or from within the Likud.
But then again, maybe Netanyahu will be able to tame all those potential lions and march into 2019 politically unscathed.
If that happens, he will definitely have what to celebrate a year from now.
The article was written by Gil Hoffman and was published on The JPost
EIPA in partnership with MEP Peter Niedermüller Péter hosted the opening of the photo exhibition “From Balfour Declaration to the Jewish Nation, a celebration of Israeli life through the lens of David Seymour/Chim”, featuring pictures of life in Israel in the early days of its statehood. MEP Lars Adaktusson (EPP, Sweden) commend the resilience of the Jewish nation in the face of adversity, and underlined the European responsibility of fighting anti-semitism and any form of delegitimization of Israel. The evening concluded with the lighting of the first candle for Chanukah.
Europe Israel Public Affairs applauds the decision of US President Donald Trump to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
The move comes after more than two decades after the adoption by the US Congress of Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Every 6 months the sitting American President would sign a waiver from that bill.
President Trump opened his historical address stating “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done”
Czech Republic followed suit becoming the first EU country to break the bloc of Member States and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
EIPA Director Alex Benjamin observed that despite differences between EU and Israel over the 1967 imposed borders, and most vehemently over the settlements issue, more EU countries should consider acknowledging the de facto status of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. “We fail to see the reasons for High Representative Federica Mogherini ‘serious concerns’. The US announcement does not prejudge nor impose borders for Jerusalem, which are still subject to final status talks. It merely reflects the historical accuracy of the last five decades, during which Jerusalem functioned as Israel’s capital.”
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, EIPA Founder added “Historical evidence attests our Jewish presence in Jerusalem dating way back to 3000 years ago. Jerusalem has always been our home. It is about time state leaders catch up with history and acknowledge this indisputable fact.”
A cross party group of 60 Members of the European Parliament have urged the EU’s Foreign Affairs Chief, Federica Mogherini to marginalize, both financially and politically organizations such as BDS (Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment) that are increasingly becoming a virulent source in the spread of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism under the pretense of exercising freedom of speech and association.
The unprecedented initiative, spearheaded by representatives of the four major political groups, MEP Cristian DAN PREDA, MEP Ioan Mircea Pascu (S&D, Romania) and a Vice-President of the European Parliament, MEP Petras Austrevicius (ALDE, Lithuania), MEP Arne Gericke (ECR, Germany) “calls upon ensuring that no public funds go to organizations calling for a boycott of the State of Israel, and to instruct agencies not to engage with companies, organizations or other entities involved with the BDS movement”.
MEP Cristian DAN PREDA, foreign affairs coordinator for the largest political group, the European People’s Party, and co-initiator of the letter underlined his party’s opposition to calls for the suspension of the bilateral agreements with Israel as some of his extreme left wing colleagues echo directly from the BDS playbook. “It’s in the interest of this House, and of our citizens, to see an upgrade in the partnership agreement with Israel. We should not allow the current stalemate in the peace process to dictate the terms of our relationship with Israel.”
Swedish MEP and President of EIPA’S political Board Lars Adaktusson – a co- signatory – underlined that “the Union, and the Parliament, is in danger of being deemed irrelevant as a peace broker if it fails to address the incitement on its own soil against Israel.”
Vice President of the European Parliament, Ioan Mircea Pascu concluded that “boycotting strategic ties with Israel, a leader in the intelligence and defence international community, may prove counterproductive to the common security interests of both EU and Israel”.
The 60 signatories, among which are Chair of Security and Defence, MEP Anna Fotyga (ECR, Poland), Vice-Preident Pavel Telicka (ALDE, Czech Republic), Dietmar Koster (S&D, Germany), Vice-Chair of Human Rights Beatriz Becerra (ALDE, Spain) urged their Foreign Affairs chief to “address the incitement to hatred and violence and discriminatory practice of calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel.”
Europe Israel Public Affairs Founder Rabbi Menachem Margolin welcomed the initiative of the 60 MEPs: “Israel sometimes feels misunderstood by Europe, and this leads to a further strain on the relations. The European Parliament takes pride in its diversity, and we are glad to see such a wide support for investment, rather than divestment from something that has been for more than 3 decades a mutually advantageous bilateral relation”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement condemning the “horrific and criminal terrorist attack” in Sinai and sent condolences to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian people and the families of those murdered.
“Terrorism will be defeated more quickly if all countries act against it together,” he said.
Other Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum also condemned Friday’s attack and sent condolences.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein spoke to Egypt’s ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat, and expressed his shock while asking the ambassador to express the sympathy of the Knesset and the people of Israel in the parliament in Cairo.
Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi party leader Naftali Bennett suggested a new world order is being created in which “the distinction is between terrorism supporters like Iran and ISIS and supporters of humanity.”
Bennett called for an international coalition to include Russia, Europe, the US, Israel and the Arab world, saying, “we have all been hurt by terror.”
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter: “We must all stand together in the fight against this indescribable evil.”
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon claimed that “the axis of evil had struck a heavy blow today in Egypt” and stated: “together we can defeat it.” Ya’alon said terrorism is a shared enemy for all people and states who favor peace and tolerance.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog wrote in Arabic on his Twitter page expressing his condolences: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Egypt.”
Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz tweeted that the El-Arish attack is “a terrible human tragedy” and wished, on behalf of the people of Israel, “a quick recovery to those wounded and consolations to families of the hundreds of those killed.”
“This is the time for solidarity with the Cairo government and the people of Egypt. To increase [our] security cooperation and push back against those seeking to shake [our] regional stability,” Peretz said.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan expressed his deepest sympathies with the people of Egypt and called for a united front against radical Islamic terrorism.
MK Oren Hazan [Likud] called on Israel to send immediate humanitarian aid to Egypt and, using social media to address Netanyahu, reminded the prime minister: “After the earthquake, you offered humanitarian aid to Iran despite it being an enemy country and a terrorism exporter – it is, therefore, our moral duty to aid our neighbor [Egypt] with whom we have a peaceful relationship.”
The Article was Published on The JPost website
EP President declares that terror representatives and former terrorists will no longer be allowed to participate in parliamentary events.
About two months after the participation of terrorist Leila Khaled as guest of honor at the European Parliament, President of the Parliament Antonio Tajani on Wednesday announced that representatives of terrorist organizations or former terrorists would not be allowed to participate in the Parliament.
The announcement came after a move led by MEP Anders Vistisen – accompanied by legal counsel Yifah Segal, director of the International Legal Forum (ILF) – who handed to the President a letter signed by 60 members of Parliament, quoting European Union laws and guidelines proving that Khaled’s visit violated them.
In his reply to MEP Vistisen and the Legal Forum, the President approved the laws and understandings mentioned in the letter and confirmed that there would be no further participation of terrorist representatives or former terrorists, as defined by the EU’s list of terrorist organizations, in the Parliament.
“The fact that the Popular Front (PFLP) has been on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations for years has not stopped factions in the European Parliament from hosting representatives of the organization in parliament, providing a respectable platform for disseminating its messages of hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism,” said Yifah Segal, director of the ILF.
“In the process in which we had the privilege of taking part, we wanted to demonstrate how this practice blatantly violates guidelines and rules of the EU itself. This important decision defines what sounds to the Israeli ear as obvious, but which has been possible until now without any sort of limitation in EU institutions,” she added.
The article was published on Arutz 7 website
Swedish aid to Plestinian Arabs is not peaceful, to put it mildly. Supporting anti-Zionist plays that turn history on its head for unsuspecting Western audiences and calling it aiding culture, is a way to make peace unattainable.
In Sweden there is an ongoing discussion about whether Sweden is funding Palestinian terrorism or not. The truth is that Sweden supports Palestinian projects and NGOs promoting terrorism and violence. By doing so Sweden is in fact guilty of encouraging violence and extremism in the Palestinian society.The Swedish aid is not peaceful and we need to protest how it has been misused.
For years Sweden has, unfortunately, been promoting violence by funding NGOs which encourage violent resistance to the Israeli presence in the Middle East.
In Jenin, a town in the Palestinian controlled part of the disputed territories in Samaria there is a theatre called the Freedom theatre (TFT). The theatre very actively promotes BDS against Israel, glorifies terror and takes part in campaigns aimed against Palestinians who choose peaceful co-existence with the Israeli society.
Sweden supports TFT with hundreds of thousands of shekels every year. According to the theatre’s annual report of 2015 the Swedish government payed salaries and student grants to the staff at the theatre for about NIS 152 083 and supported TFT with NIS 204 449 in total in 2015. In 2016 TFT received NIS 244 000 from Swedish funds. The money is transferred through PPAN a Palestinian BDS network which has been given over NIS 8 million from generous Sweden since 2016. This money cover the TFT’s performances in Jenin’s refugee camp. And last year over 12 500 Palestinian children and adults watched its performances.
So what kind of plays does TFT perform that would promote Sweden’s official peaceful goals with development aid? Are these plays about peace, building bridges between people or ending violence?
No, no and no.
’The Siege’ is the title of one popular play TFT recently has been touring with in Palestinian towns and in the US.
The play is based on an event that took place between April 2 and May 10, 2002, during which 39 armed terrorists occupied the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, taking 200 civilians and 46 monks, even children, hostage. According to some testimonies the terrorists used pages in the Bible as toilet papers and kept the food in the church for themselves while the hostages starved.
The Palestinian terrorists booby-trapped the church with 40 bombs and threatened to blow the holy site up and kill the hostages. The terrorist later agreed to leave the church as they were promised to be sent to freedom in Europe and Gaza.
However in ’The Siege’ the terrorists are portrayed as action heroes defending their homeland. Terrorists like Ibrahim Moussa Abayat contributed their narrative to the script. He is also featured in the promotional video clip for the play.According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abayat was involved in shooting attacks and killings of several Israeli civilians. On the poster advertising the play an actor playing one of the terrorists is seen smiling posing with a rifle.
Another play TFT is performing is ’Return to Palestine’. The play centres around Jad, a Palestinian Arab, who grew up in the US. One day he travels to the ‘Palestinian territories’. According to the Palestinian Authority Maan News Agency in the end of the story Jad reaches the conclusion that the land needs blood and sacrifice for its survival and for a free life. In an interview with Maan News Agency, Shireen Jarrar, secretary of the board of directors of the Freedom Theatre, says that the play presents a very beautiful message to all expatriates. She also says that the message of the play carries an invitation to the Palestinian Arab expatriates to ”return and challenge all difficulties”. The performance is funded not only by Sweden but by the PA ministry of Culture.
‘Return to Palestine’? I call it an invitation to terror and violence as the main character of the play concludes that violence (blood and sacrifice) is the way forward.
Terror organizations like PFLP have met with TFT. In 2014 it met with the terror organization. During the meeting TFT staff revealed to PFLP that TFT not only graduates artists, it also graduates ”performing resistance fighters”. The younger generations in towns like Jenin who come to TFT shows will be encouraged to perform acts of violence and terrorism as TFT portrays Palestinian terrorism as heroic and its terrorists as poor victims.
Some prominent members of TFT have a background in terror organizations.
Palestinian online newspaper Donia Al-Watan has interviewed the late TFT member Rabea Turkman, who was a Fatah militant in the Al Aqsa martyrs’ brigades since the age of 16.
Al-Watan asked Turkman if the theatre is an alternative to armed struggle. His answer was that the theatre is not an alternative to armed struggle but a complement to that. He also added to his answer, that in all revolutions art has been a form of resistance, without denying armed struggle.
So TFT does not see its ”cultural resistance” as an alternative to armed activities, it is merely a complement to terror activities. The cultural resistance is not replacing the armed struggle but rather serves as a tool to keep the people fed with the ideas of armed struggle and hostility towards Israel. In Europe and the US ”the Palestinian cultural resistance” has the goal to change our Western perspective of Palestinian terrorists from viewing them as terrorists to viewing them as victims, freedom fighters and heroes. The end goal is to make Israel lose support in Europe and the US.
Another member of the Al Aqsa martyrs’ brigades active in the theatre is one of its co-founders, Zakaria Al-Zubeidi. He is described in Palestinian media as a local leader of the Fatah armed wing.During the second intifada he was the terrorists’ bombmaker. But he is also the co-founder of the local branch of the Fatah armed wing in Jenin. TFT also reveals that Al-Zubeidi allegedly has been hiding 50 weapons. The theatre in addition to this states that staff, students, and board members have been arrested multiple times.
TFT also has cultural activities for children, which may look innocent on the surface. The ”soft” activities with small children however are there to create a positive image of TFT and to divert attention from TFT’s focus on graduating ”performing resistance fighters” and showing solidarity with terrorists.
TFT is just one of many many organizations Sweden is currently funding with millions of shekels from the Swedish tax payers’ money. Another organization is the anti-Semitic Miftah which until just recently made neo-Nazi material available on it’s webpage (now removed). Miftah has also been promoting violence in its contests for youths.Yet another organization Sweden funds is the Abu Dis Youth Club which honors acts of terrorism with championships and teams named after terrorists while hosting PFLP events inciting the youths to violence.
Sweden needs to wake up and realise that its foreign aid projects in the Palestinian territories are immoral and wrong. So on November 5I invite the Swedish tax payers to protest the irresponsible way in which Swedish development aid has been used. We will protest the government for inciting to violence with its destructive aid policy. For the very first time in history a demonstration against the Swedish government’s anti-Israel policies will take place in the heart of our democracy, outside the Swedish parliament.
May the truth liberate the Swedish people and ignite democratic resistance against Sweden’s immoral and destructive aid policy that creates terrorists instead of peacemakers.
Tobias Petersson is the director of Swedish think tank Perspektiv på Israel (Perspective on Israel)
The article was published on Arutz 7 website
The Balfour Declaration was a document signed in November 2, 1917, by then-British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, which declared Britain would “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
In preparation for the 100th anniversary of the historic declaration, the Palestinian delegation in London launched an accusatory campaign according to which “the declaration helped establish the State of Israel and led to the Palestinian disaster.”
The campaign includes posters with photographs of what is described as “the peaceful life of the Arab population in Palestine” before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, alongside photographs taken after the establishment of Israel that purport to show the “destruction and bereavement among the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinians planned to hang the posters at London Underground stations, where hundreds of thousands of people pass every day.
But Transport for London (TfL), the authority responsible for the transport system in Greater London, refused to allow the hanging of the posters on the grounds that the ads “did not comply fully with our guidelines.”
These guidelines bar “images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity.”
“Palestinian history is a censored history,” Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, claimed. “There has been a 100-year-long cover-up of the British government’s broken promise, in the Balfour declaration, to safeguard the rights of the Palestinians when it gave away their country to another people. TfL’s decision is not surprising as it is, at best, susceptible to or, at worst, complicit with, all the institutional forces and active lobby groups which continuously work to silence the Palestinian narrative. There may be free speech in Britain on every issue under the sun but not on Palestine.”
The British Foreign Office denied Palestinian claims it was involved in the decision to disqualify the campaign.
The European Commission intends to suspend all payments to Muslim Aid. The revelation comes after New Europe’s uncovering of over 14 million Euro of Humanitarian Aid financing to Muslim Aid, a UK-based charity that has among other things, been banned in Israel for fundraising for Hamas, an organisation recognised as a terrorist organisation by the European Union.
Responding to New Europe, a European Commission spokesperson confirmed that “the Commission has already notified Muslim Aid of its intention to suspend all pending payments and in line with contractual obligations is currently waiting for Muslim Aid’s reply to the suspension”.
Despite the fact that Israel considers Muslim Aid a fundraiser for Hamas, the European Commission clarified that, “The concerns regarding Muslim Aid of which the Commission has been informed of are not in any way related to allegations of financing terrorism.”
This suggests that the grounds on which the Commission has called for the suspension of funding to Muslim Aid is on different grounds. The Commission was vague – but told New Europe that “The Commission has taken measures to prevent EU taxpayers’ monies from being unduly spent or diverted.”
In a letter dated 22 September to New Europe, after our initial publications, the CEO of Muslim Aid wrote that, “Our Charity is categorically not being investigated for terror ties or any misappropriation of funds. It is therefore incumbent on you to remove your article from your website with immediate effect as it is wholly untrue.”
Muslim Aid has even more problems, as the European Antifraud Office, OLAF, told New Europe that they “are aware of reports regarding possible irregularities involving European Commission Humanitarian Aid managed by Muslim Aid.” As a result, OLAF is currently conducting a preliminary assessment as to whether or not to launch an in-depth investigation into Muslim Aid’s use of EU funding. The OLAF press office told New Europe that “OLAF fully respects the presumption of innocence.” If OLAF opens an investigation that concludes that there was mismanagement of EU funding by an organization, they could be called upon to return some or all of the funding previously received.
The Article was published on New Europe
The European Parliament Committee on Security and Defencewill discuss the Security situation in the Middle East next Monday 25th September.
An exchange of views on the situation in the Middle East with a focus on US-Israel relations and perspectives is scheduled in the presence of experts including:
- Mr Marco Morettini, Deputy Head of Division for Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Regional Policies, EEAS (European External Action Service)
- Mr Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, U.S.
- Mr Yossi Kuperwasser, Senior Fellow, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, former Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Israel
The debate will emphasize the need for a common strategy between the EU, US and Israel to implement talks on the peace process and setting up a common position for the security and stability of the Middle East.
HERE you can follow the live broadcast of the event from 3.00 P.M.
Faaborg-Andersen believes Israeli decision makers pay attention when the EU voices concern.
Lars Faaborg-Andersen left Israel at the end of August after a four-year stint as the European Union’s ambassador, lamenting the fact that, despite excellent bilateral ties, many Israelis still perceive Europe as a bastion of anti-Israel bias and antisemitism.
Europe-Israel relations are “rock solid,” he tells The Jerusalem Report, but the focus invariably is on the areas of disagreement, which account for no more than 15-20 percent of the relationship, in his estimation.
“I think it is kind of frustrating when we consider the track record we have of cooperation. And it’s not like we are at a standstill ‒ we are adding new areas of cooperation all the time, including most notably, I would say, anti-terrorism, which is a common threat to us and we have a lot to learn from each other,” he says.
“We have a lot to learn from Israel on many of the technical aspects of fighting terror and I think Israel might have something to learn from us on some of the social and political aspects of fighting terror, including issues such as deradicalization. So, I think, given the flourishing nature of our cooperation, it is frustrating to see us portrayed as being anti-Israel.”
In a farewell news conference in Tel Aviv, the Danish diplomat said there is not only a great misunderstanding on the part of Israelis over the role of the European Union, but also on EU policy and objectives.
Much of the friction concerns settlements as Brussels has been consistently critical of Israeli West Bank construction and insists that any agreement with Israel include a clause that excludes EU funding from reaching any Jewish community over the 1967 Green Line ‒ the West Bank, the Golan Heights or East Jerusalem. Indeed, Israel briefly suspended diplomatic discussions with the EU after Brussels decided to label goods imported from Jewish settlements.
Recently, there was tension over Israel’s demolition of a number of illegally built Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli control, which had been partially financed by the EU or EU-member states.
Faaborg-Andersen doesn’t attempt to deny the differences of opinion, but stresses that they mustn’t overshadow the mutually beneficial bilateral ties that have an immense impact on Israel.
“Europe remains Israel’s biggest trading partner, the biggest partner in science and technology, the biggest partner in transportation and, maybe in the future, the biggest partner in energy,” he says. “Israel remains the EU’s most significant partner in the region. This is why we have some difficulty understanding the perception that the EU is anti-Israel.
“When you look at the facts it’s very different. There is also criticism that we are engaged in boycotting Israel. How can people get that idea to square with the fact that we have 32 billion euros in mutual trade every year? The EU is the single biggest public funder of science and research in this country. This doesn’t sound like a boycott to me.”
If Israelis were aware of the true nature of the bilateral relationship, he says their perceptions of Europe would change – also when it comes to antisemitism.
“Antisemitism in Europe is a phenomenon we are combating ‒ even more than Israel is ‒ and we are actually taking very determined steps to do something about it, including through cooperation with Internet providers and closing down websites that have antisemitic content, and we actually have good results on this.”
More than five decades of trade, cultural exchanges, political cooperation and a developed system of agreements have cemented bilateral relations. The 28-member bloc (soon to shrink to 27 after Brexit) accounts for about one-third of Israel’s total trade, and it was the EU’s 24th ranked trade partner globally in 2015.
Furthermore, Israel was the first non- European country to be associated with the EU Framework Program back in 1996, and its participation in the various cooperation programs since has been a success story giving added value to both sides. Israel’s participation in the Horizon 2020 program, signed in 2014, for instance, enabled thousands of Israeli researchers and entrepreneurs to cooperate with their European and international counterparts in cutting-edge scientific projects.
More recently, the 2013 Open Skies agreement has opened up scores of European destinations for Israeli tourists with lowcost flights and turned Israel into a regional flight hub.
Faaborg-Andersen’s tenure in Israel included a war, elections and the frustration of ongoing diplomatic deadlock in attempts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
He warns that the breakdown of peace negotiations combined with ongoing settlement activity makes the prospects for a two-state solution increasingly impractical. The diplomatic deadlock, he warns, could have serious implications for Israel’s longterm security and Palestinian aspirations, creating a potentially dangerous reality that may be exploited by radical elements in the region.
The outgoing EU ambassador met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about 10 times during his four-year stint and the EU assumption is that the Israeli leader remains committed to the two-state solution, as he outlined in his policy speech at Bar-Ilan University in October 2013, although questions remain over what kind of Palestinian state he envisions.
Bilateral political cooperation thrives in a number of areas and includes ongoing efforts to ensure regional stability by bolstering Jordan and Egypt.
On the security front, Faaborg-Andersen acknowledges that Israel has provided real-time intelligence to European countries regarding the Islamic State threat. Two high-level Israel-EU anti-terrorism dialogues have taken place, and workshops have been held on deradicalization, terrorism financing and non-conventional terrorism, such as the cyber threat.
While sensitive to accusations of interfering in internal Israeli affairs, the ambassador has spoken out a number of times against Knesset legislation perceived either as damaging to peace prospects or anti-democratic. Two recent cases are the NGO transparency law that forced human rights groups that receive more than half their funding from abroad – including from European governments – to disclose it prominently in official reports and the law legalizing settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land.
Faaborg-Andersen believes Israeli decision makers pay attention when the EU voices concern.
“I’m sure because I know that Israel is taking into account the expected international reaction to various pieces of legislation that is put on the table in the Knesset. It was very clear during the whole discussion of the NGO transparency bill and, obviously, also when the issue of retroactive legalization of settlements on private Palestinian land was discussed.
“Of course, Israel is very attentive to what the international community thinks about what is going on here. So, I think it’s the duty of the international community, including on me as the representative of the EU, to let them know in advance what the likely reaction will be on such issues so they can take this into consideration. The worst thing would be if they weren’t aware that something would trigger a response. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called to the Knesset to discuss with different MKs exactly these issues. So, yes, indeed, I think people are listening.”
Faaborg-Andersen, who has returned to the Foreign Ministry in Copenhagen awaiting his next assignment, has been replaced by Italian diplomat Emanuele Giaufret as the EU’s new envoy.
Spain, Finland, Russia: in the space of a few days, Europe is reminded, yet again, that terrorism – like the virus it is – kills brutally, indiscriminately and, critically, transnationally.
On Thursday, August 17, a van rammed into crowds of people in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas boulevard – a hub of tourism and social life. Thirteen were killed with dozens more injured. The atrocity was followed by a knife attack the very next day in the Finnish city of Turku, which killed two people and injured eight. Another knife attack, this time in the Siberian city of Surgut on the 19 August, injured eight. Islamic State has claimed responsibly for all the attacks.
In a democratic society based on liberal values it is impossible to stop every madman that wishes us harm. Sadiq Khan was criticised but right when he said that the threat of terror attacks was now ‘part and parcel of living in a big city’. If you want total security move to North Korea.
Recent terror ‘successes’, however, are more to do with state failings than terrorist brilliance. In too many countries counter-terrorism measures are still insufficient. And the reason is simple: We are fighting 21st century terrorism with 20th century methods. Nonetheless, more can, and must, be done. One country, above all, has the method and the solution: Israel.
This little country of eight million has been dealing with terrorism since the state’s inception 70 years ago. From airline hijackings to suicide bombers to stabbings, shooting and vehicle attacks, Israel has seen them all – and has adapted accordingly.
Pini Schiff, Israeli Former Head of Security at the Israel Airports Authority believes the most pressing change that Europe needs to make is at the intelligence level. ‘Both the U.K. and France, for example, have really professional agencies,’ he says, ‘but that is not enough. There is not enough communication between intelligence agencies across Europe, like there is between all branches of the Israeli security services. It needs to be a ‘one nation’ intelligence community.’
He’s right. The horrific attacks in Brussels in March 2016 that killed 32 people were, in part, enabled by the absurdity of a city with a population of 1.5 million having six police forces, which didn’t communicate properly with one another. This led to major intelligence failings. While an extreme case, this sort of senseless de-centralisation is what allowed the attackers to slip through and it is present (to far lesser degrees) across Europe
European countries must now come together as one to combat terror – be it far right or jihadist. Both Interpol and Europol are European-wide police agencies focusing on a wide array of criminal activities. In January 2016, the European Counterterrorism Centre was set up as an organ of Europol. It is clearly failing. It must become autonomous and receive increased funding.
Intelligence is the first level at which terror must be fought. But the war is now also on the streets. Urban centres are the new battleground. As an Israeli counter-terrorism official (who cannot be named due to the sensitivity of his work) told me: ‘simple things, like placing bollards and barriers at strategic points in major centres can almost eliminate the possibility of vehicle rammings’.
But the most important changes must come at the level of education. A principle problem with terror is that it forces us into ever more intrusive legislation. An educated public can relieve the burden. As the counterterrorism official explains: ‘In the 21st century we have witnessed the new phenomenon of the lone wolf: Someone not part of a cell, someone who doesn’t buy guns or explosives and is therefore much harder to track.’
If someone can now be radicalised just by going on the internet, what can be done? Well, for a start, in Israel, the police have a dedicated Facebook page where people can report terrorist content they find posted on social media, and, critically, all of which is checked. It has saved lives.
Combating the threat of the lone wolf – and avoiding more draconian anti-terror legislation – comes with greater public awareness.
‘If, for example, you see your neighbour going out at 3am every night or see him or her buying a lot of knives, or carrying a suspicious backpack. Look at Anders Breivik,’ the counterterrorism official concludes, ‘all the red flags were there before and no one did anything. People need the courage to speak up. Every tip can lead the authorities to something much bigger.’
The Op-Ed was written by David Patrikarakos and was published in blogs.spectator.co.uk
Shin Bet and police forces uncover a Hamas payment network that provided financial assistance to the families of convicted terrorists, including the mother of a terrorist who carried out the kidnapping and murder of Sgt. Nachshon Wachsman in 1994; security forces raid homes of families, seize NIS 100,000 in cash.
Shin Bet and police forces uncovered a network of money transfers from Hamas to the families of convicted terrorists, including the mother of Tarek Abu-Arafa, who took part in the 1994 kidnapping and murder of IDF soldier Nachson Wachsman.
According to police and the Shin Bet, the financial transfers uncovered were managed by Hamas operatives from the Gaza Strip. The purpose of the transfers was to provide financial support to the families of terrorists with the intent of encouraging more terrorism.
Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman ordered the funds seized and overnight Monday, security forces raided the homes of families receiving funds from Hamas.
More than NIS 100,000 in cash was seized along with one vehicle.
The raids were carried out in Ras al-Amud, Beit Hanina, Isawiya and Wadi al-Joz in east Jerusalem.
The deputy mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, submitted a bill on Wednesday that would ban municipal funds and space being used for activities that aim to boycott Israel.
Becker, a leading German political voice against antisemitism, said, “The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement with its messages uses the same language the National Socialists once used to express: ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’”
The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” he said.
The proposed law would outlaw all public funding and space for the support of “antisemitic BDS activities.” The bill in Frankfurt, which has a population of nearly 733,000, would also urge private companies to refrain from commerce with BDS groups.
The deputy mayor spearheaded his Christian Democratic Union’s adoption of its anti-BDS platform at the party’s congress in 2016.
Becker said on Wednesday, “Frankfurt maintains, with its partnership with Tel Aviv, a special closeness to Israel and has continued to expand over the previous years this special relationship.”
The municipality said in a statement that Becker announced Frankfurt’s clear position against BDS in light of anti-boycott measures taken by other national and regional legislatures, including Munich’s.
Becker said BDS, at its core, is a movement that “delegitimizes the State of Israel and uses the method of a boycott to defame [Israel].” He cited BDS actions to intimidate artists who want to appear in Israel.
He also noted the boycott activities of “department store police” who stigmatize Israeli products in order to pressure stores to turn against the Jewish state.
Anti-Israel activists have over the years marched into stores in Bremen, Bonn and other German cities to single out Israeli goods for opprobrium.
Becker said his city is engaged for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Last week, Becker wrote on his Facebook page: “With the rising terrorism in Europe, more and more people start to understand the situation that Israel has been facing since David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independence of Israel on May 14, 1948. This rising awareness should also open the eyes of the people in Europe to see that it is up to us to support Israel, as it is the only democratic country under the rule of law in the Middle East. Israel is the democratic bridge between Occident and Orient and is linked closely to our European values and virtues and way of life.”
He continued, “This year marks a decade of suffering for the people in Gaza. No, not from Israeli policy, as many people in Europe might think. No, people in Gaza suffer from a lack of freedom, from a lack of democracy, from the brutal rule of Hamas, which is betraying its own people and has been governing Gaza since Israel withdrew in 2005 and Hamas took over power in 2007 after fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The corrupt leadership of Hamas has received hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade, but the money has not gone to the people, but to the accounts of corrupt Hamas leaders and to the funding of terrorism and terrorist infrastructure in their fight against Israel.”
Becker further said that “there should not be any European tax-money funding terrorism. And as long as it is not possible to track where our tax money meant for the humanitarian aid in Gaza goes, we should freeze our financial support.”
Neda Amin, 32, who wrote regularly from Turkey for The Times of Israel’s Persian website, faced deportation, feared she would be sent back to Iran
Neda Amin, a Turkey-based, Iranian-born blogger for The Times of Israel’s Persian website, arrived safely in Israel on Thursday morning, and was met at Ben-Gurion Airport by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz.
Amin was being threatened with imminent deportation by Turkey. She feared that if no other country took her in, she would be sent back to Iran, where she feared for her fate.
After The Times of Israel alerted the Israeli authorities to her plight, government officials immediately responded and paved the way for her safe arrival in Israel.
“Thank you,” said Amin, over and over when she arrived, embracing Horovitz. “You saved me.”
Horovitz thanked all of the Israeli officials who had worked to ensure her well-being. “I’m proud to live in a country that responded so instinctively to help somebody who was in danger.”
“As soon as we brought Neda’s case to the attention of the Israeli authorities, everybody was helpful and professional,” he said.
Amin has blogged regularly for The Times of Israel’s Persian site, and has done some freelance work. “She feared for her life, and her work for the Times of Israel was apparently a factor, so I felt we had an obligation to ensure her well-being, and I am very grateful to all the Israeli officials to whom I turned for assistance for providing it, immediately,” said Horovitz. The officials at the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, he stressed, were particularly helpful.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who issued the visa for her entry into the country, tweeted Thursday: “Welcome to Israel!”
Amin had appealed to the United Nations in Turkey to protect her, noting that the UN previously designated her a refugee in 2015, and had also appealed to human rights organizations and others to intervene on her behalf.
The UN Watch NGO circulated a petition on Amin’s behalf, warning that she was “in grave danger should she be deported back to Iran.”
Amin, 32, left Iran for Turkey in 2014.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
17 Members of the European Parliament, from across the political spectrum, pushed back hard on a far left initiative by fellow MEPS who extended an invite to relatives of convicted Palestinian terrorists to address the Delegation for relations with Palestine.
In a letter addressed to the President of the European Parliament, Mr. Antonio Tajani, the 17 signatories wrote “We are utterly appalled with the understanding that our colleagues from DPAL, under the pretext of discussing, ‘the situation of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails after the hunger-strike’, are in fact offering a public platform to relatives of convicted terrorists”.
The letter, sent by EIPA political board President and Swedish MEP Lars Adaktusson, comes on the eve of the meeting in Strasbourg of Members of the European Parliament sitting on theDelegation for relations with Palestine (DPAL) and their guest speakers, Mrs. Fadwa Barghouti, wife of Marwan Barghouti,and Sumoud Saadta, daughter of Ahmad Sa’adat.
The signatories conclude that the organizers of the hearing are blatantly ignoring “the Council Decision listing both the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PLPF) and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade as terrorist organisations”.
“We, Members of the European Parliament, are seriously concerned with the message this forum sends to our constituencies amidst such turbulent times in Europe”.
“Given that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict involves a wide range of issues, we encourage our colleagues, who choose to show their support for the Palestinian self-determination, to engage with Palestinian actors pursuing peace, and not with convicted terrorists.”
Teodora Coptil, head of relations with the EU Institutions at EIPA : “With a newly formed Committee on Counterterrorism, the European Parliament should vehemently enforce its rejection of any form of incitement and hate speech, and discipline its Members who are offering an official platform to PFLP and Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade affiliates; such actions undermine the very core of European values and norms”
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the founder of EIPA, added:
“Can you imagine what the reaction would be had the family of Osama Bin Laden would be invited to the European Parliament to express the motivation and supposed rationale of their terrorist relative? It is unthinkable.
Yet this is precisely what the Delegation for Palestine sought to do. We welcome the MEPs initiative to quickly move and raise their objections at this abhorrent move. It is now up to the President to ensure that this doesn’t happen.”
To read the letter and list of MEPs please go to the following link:
Letter_regarding the meeting agenda of the Delegation for relations with Palestine
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, attended the funeral of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Saturday.
Kohl died at the age of 87 on June 16.
The burial ceremony was also attended by world leaders including current German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and former US president Bill Clinton.
The prime minister was reportedly asked to speak during the ceremony, but respectively declined due to the Shabbot observance.
Netanyahu thanked Merkel before the funeral for concluding procedures ahead of the signing of a memorandum of understanding for security assistance between both nations after Germany’s National Security Council reportedly approved the sale of three advanced submarines to Israel on Saturday.
According to the report, Israel will receive three more Dolphin submarines in a $1.5 billion deal with German shipmaker ThyssenKrupp.
Macron also told Netanyahu that he expects the premier to attend an event in Paris marking the 75 anniversary of Jewish expulsion from France scheduled in two weeks. Netanyahu along with Macron are both expected to speak at the event.
Following the late German leader’s death, Netanyahu praised Kohl’s “commitment to Israel’s security” during his tenure as chancellor, and expressed appreciation for his “empathy” for the Jewish state.
“His sympathy for Israel and Zionism is reflected in my many meetings with him,” Netanyahu continued, “and his position was always firmly in favor of Israel, which has been steadily present in Europe and in other international forums.”
The article was published on The JPost
Jerusalem continues outreach to subregional groups.
Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Budapest next month for a meeting with the heads of the four central European countries that make up the Visegrad group, as Israel continues to try to build relationships with various regional subgroupings around the world.
Netanyahu is expected to meet with the heads of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia at the summit on July 18-19.
This visit will come less than a month after Netanyahu met with the heads of Cyprus and Greece in Thessaloniki, with Israel having developed a close alliance with those EU countries. And in early May, Netanyahu went to Liberia to take part in a summit there of 15 West African states.
With Jerusalem’s relationship with the European Union often strained because of the Palestinian issue and the desire of some key voices in Brussels to link development of ties to that issue, Israel has adopted a policy of forging close ties with specific countries or groupings of countries inside the EU who are more sympathetic to Israel’s position and are also interested in having close bilateral relations.
For instance, the energy issue has bound Israel much closer to Cyprus and Greece, and the Visegrad countries find themselves interested in forging closer ties because of economic, security and energy issues as well. These countries forums, as well as inside discussions in EU institutions in Brussels.
The same dynamic is at work in Africa. With Israel having been boxed out of any formal status in the African Union, largely because of the opposition of South Africa and the Arab North African countries, it has made inroads instead with African organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States, or even ad hoc groupings, as Netanyahu did last July when he met the leaders of seven East African countries.
Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest will be the first visit there of an Israeli prime minister since the country emerged from Communist rule in 1989. He is expected to hold both bilateral talks with the leaders of each of the Visegrad countries, as well as a joint meeting as well.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto was in Israel in May. The V4, as the Visegrad group is known, is a political and cultural alliance aimed at facilitating the integration of the four countries in European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
Szijjarto told the Hungarian news agency MTI when he was in Israel that the three most important aspects of economic cooperation with Israel were in the areas of automobile navigation, water management and energy.
“The automobile industry provides the backbone of the Hungarian economy, and the future development of this sector of industry fundamentally determines the growth of the Hungarian economy,” Szijjarto highlighted.
Close cooperation with Israel could make Hungary the European center for the testing and development of self-driven vehicles, he said.
“Based on the buying up of certain companies, it has become clear that Israel will be one of the global centers for the development of [autonomous vehicles]. Israeli company NavNGo is one of the Hungarian government’s strategic partners, employs hundreds of GPS software engineers in Hungary and is one of the world leaders within the field of developing such software, and plays an extremely important role in making self-driven cars a reality,” he said.
Audi, Opel and Suzuki exports make up a huge percentage of the country’s overall exports, and Europe’s largest engine manufacturing plant is located in the country.
With regard to energy, the foreign minister – referring to Israel’s offshore operations – said: “Israel’s natural gas deposits could play a significant role in the energy security of Europe and Hungary. If extraction begins according to schedule in 2019-20, Hungary will have an interest in purchasing gas [either via a pipeline or in the form of liquefied natural gas] in view of the fact that we would like to purchase natural gas form as many sources as possible.”
The article was published on The Jerusalem Post
‘A Horse Walks into a Bar’ snags prestigious award; judges ‘bowled over’ by novel; winnings to be split with translator Jessica Cohen
Author David Grossman on Tuesday was announced as the winner of the Man Booker International Prize of 2017 for his novel “A Horse Walks into a Bar,” becoming the first Israeli writer to receive the prestigious award.
Grossman’s novel, translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen, is set in a comedy club in Netanya, focusing on an embittered comedian falling apart on stage.
“Thank you all. I will cherish this award and this evening,” Grossman said after receiving the prize at a ceremony in central London.
“I thank first of all my wonderful, devoted, translator, Jessica Cohen,” the 63-year-old author added.
The translator, Cohen, was born in England, raised in Israel and lives in Denver, and has translated Grossman as well as Etgar Keret, Rutu Modan, Dorit Rabinyan and others.
“David Grossman has attempted an ambitious high-wire act of a novel, and he’s pulled it off spectacularly,” said chair of the judging panel Nick Barley in a statement.
“‘A Horse Walks into a Bar’ shines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft,” he said.
Grossman and Cohen will share the £50,000 ($64,000) award.
“This is only the second year that the Man Booker International Prize has been awarded to a single book, with the £50,000 prize divided equally between the author and the translator,” the award panel said in a statement.
Another major Israeli author, Amos Oz, was also nominated for the prize for his book “Judas.”
The other contenders were Argentine novelist Samanta Schweblin and her debut novel “Fever Dream,” French writer Mathias Enard’s “Compass,” Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen’s family epic “The Unseen,” and Danish novelist Dorthe Nors’ “Mirror, Shoulder, Signal.”
Since he started writing in the late 1970s after being fired from public radio following anger over his critical coverage, Grossman has won numerous Israeli and international awards.
His 1986 novel “See Under: Love” is seen by a number of critics as his masterpiece, delving into the Holocaust and the generation of Jews that followed.
His 2008 novel “To the End of the Land,” published after his son Uri who was killed fighting in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, contemplates the effects of war while portraying Israeli life.
Grossman’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and he was also decorated with France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1998.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
Government looking for ways to solve escalating situation, even as PM calls matter an ‘internal Palestinian dispute’ between Hamas, PA
Israel is in talks with Egypt and the European Union to head of an impending humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip amid an escalating dispute over electricity supply to the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, according to a report on Wednesday.
Sources in Israel told the Israeli daily Haaretz that discussions were underway with Cairo and with European countries on ways to solve the power supply to the Strip, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to distance Israel from the situation by saying the matter was an internal Palestinian dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu’s comments came a day after the Israeli security cabinet decided Sunday night it would cut the amount of power it supplies to Gaza, at the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who is seeking to ramp up pressure on Hamas, the ruling party in the Strip and his Fatah party’s bitter rival.
Egypt, meanwhile, which has tense relations with Hamas, has offered the terror group more freedom at its border and much-needed electricity, in exchange for it agreeing to a list of security demands, Arab media reported Tuesday.
The list of includes a demand that Hamas hand over 17 men wanted by Cairo on terrorism charges, more protection by Hamas at the border, the cessation of weapons smuggling into the Sinai, and information on the movement of militants into Gaza via underground tunnels, the London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat reported.
Gazans currently receive only three or four hours of electricity a day, delivered from the territory’s own power station and others in Israel and Egypt. In April, the PA told Israel that it would only pay NIS 25 million ($11.1 million) of the NIS 40 million ($5.6- 7 million) monthly bill. Israel currently supplies 125 megawatts to Gaza, around 30 percent of what is needed to power Gaza for 24 hours a day.
The Israeli cabinet decision would see a reduction of about 45 minutes to the amount of time every day during which Gaza receives electricity, Hebrew media reported.
Hamas responded to the decision by saying it would have “disastrous and dangerous” results that could lead to an outbreak of violence.
Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel was not seeking a confrontation with Hamas.
“The issue of electricity in Gaza is a dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony to launch a major housing construction drive in the central Israeli town of Be’er Yaakov. “Hamas is demanding that the PA pay for the electricity, and the Palestinian Authority is refusing to pay. It is an internal Palestinian dispute.”
“In any case, I want to make it clear that Israel has no interest in an escalation [with Hamas] and any other speculation is wrong. But we have an interest in security, and our policy is clear on the subject of security and it won’t change,” he said.
The power cuts, as well as a number of other steps taken by the PA since last month, are aimed at forcing Hamas to cede control of the Strip, or begin footing the bill itself.
Both Israel and the PA charge that Hamas would have the money to supply Gaza’s power needs if it didn’t expend a large part of its resources on armament and preparation for future conflict with the Jewish state.
Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, took control of Gaza in 2007 after a violent conflict with the Fatah party. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
The enclave’s only power plant stopped running in April, after Hamas ran out of fuel and refused to purchase more from the Palestinian Authority over what it said were high taxes.
Egypt also provided a small amount of power to Gaza, but those power lines have been malfunctioning.
According to Major General Yoav Mordechai, who heads COGAT, the Defense Ministry unit that administers civilian manners in the Palestinian territories, Israel currently supplies Gaza with 125 megawatts monthly — around 30 percent of what is needed to power Gaza for 24 hours a day.
After the new decision is implemented, Israel will supply Gaza with only 75 megawatts a month.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
The Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah agreed on Tuesday to strengthen economic ties between Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel.
Kahlon, along with the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories Major General Yoav Mordechai, held a meeting with Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah in order to lay out a plan for economic and civil partnership.
During the meeting, which was the latest of a series of meetings between the two parties, Israel agreed to allow for the opening of Allenby Crossing on the Jordan-West Bank border for 24 hours a day within the coming months and, after 2018, for the crossing to be open permanently.
The opening of Allenby Crossing, which is controlled by the Israeli Airport Authority, will impact the some 2.3 million people who use the crossing each year, mostly Palestinians. The crossing is the only exit point for Palestinians between the West Bank and Jordan and is also used for the transfer of merchandise. Allenby Crossing is currently open on weekdays from 7:30am to 1:30am and on weekends, from 7:30am to 3:00pm.
Israel also agreed to allow the establishment of an industrial zone near the Tarqumiya crossing.
Both sides agreed to strengthen economic cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government moving forward. The meeting was conducted with the knowledge of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
The article was posted on I24news
“Come writers and critics
Who prophesies with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.”
Simon and Garfunkel.
The European Parliament voted on Thursday afternoon on its annual position on ways of “Achieving the two-state solution in the Middle East”. The Resolution has been postponed for a couple of months, presumably to allow the MEPs to get a better sense of the lay of the land following the US Presidential paradigm shift in pushing the process back up on the list marked “urgent” (regular readers will know from previous newsletters that many presidents prefer to ignore the Siren’s call of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.)
That Members of the European Parliament reached a compromise text, the result of lengthy and often tedious negotiations, is admittedly – as one astute political observer wryly observed – a success in itself.
It is often said that building consensus across the 5 major political groups (ECR, EPP, ALDE Greens and S&D) on the Middle East Process is akin to swimming through treacle, yet this time there was a discernible move away from the standard and largely default Israel bashing position towards a much more measured and mediator conscious parliament role in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
EIPA welcomed the resolutions clear and unambiguous language that condemns “all acts of violence, acts of terrorism against Israelis, and incitement to violence which are fundamentally incompatible with advancing a peaceful two-states solution”.
It seems that events and ongoing concerns about the terrorist threat in Europe is resulting n not only a much more alert Brussels, but also marks for the first time that the EU Institutions put the issue of terrorist acts and incitement ahead of the hitherto number one subject: settlements as an obstacle to peace. We at EIPA can only welcome this signal as a more thorough and balanced understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and much more in line with the Quartet report.
EIPA was particularly pleased that the line in the resolution that “No EU funding can be directly or indirectly diverted to terrorist organisations or activities that incite these acts” was included in the text.
It marks a positive and significant step forward in efforts to make the PA leadership accountable for hate speech and incitement in the future (again our more regular readers will know that achieving conditionality represents a fundamental plank of EIPA’s strategy) For us conditioning EU aid on a rejection of violence would be in perfect alignment with the EP’s “call for effective use of existing European Union leverage and instruments towards both parties in order to facilitate peace efforts”.
Well, well, a reasonably positive EU resolution on Israel. Wonder that Messrs. Simon and Garfunkel would have made of it?
You can find the EP resolution HERE
Why the European Parliament, and other EU institutions, need to take a strong position on the movement calling for a boycott of the State of Israel.
Brussels took upon itself the Snakes and Ladders task of building a common European position on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by pushing in the last five years for a hands-on approach designed to ensure a return on the European political and economic investment in the region.
This policy of “differentiation,” in Brussels jargon, reflects the European Union’s self-professed determination “to take any action to preserve the two-state solution on the ground” by making a distinction in its bilateral agreements with Israel between Green Line Israel and Palestinian territories. So far, the policy has yielded two sets of EU Guidelines, on Israeli participation to Horizon 2020 in July 2013 and on indication of origin of products, respectively EU labeling of settlement products, in November 2015.
Doves in Israel, and around the world, anticipated that the EU’s new policy would expose the allegedly pro-Palestinian grassroots movement for what it is, an umbrella of organizations and individuals that deliberately question the legitimacy of the State of Israel and that represent a hotbed for anti-Semitism.
There was hope that once there was a clear EU policy distinction between the State of Israel and its settlements in the territories, the voices calling for a boycott of Israel would change their tune and start lobbying Brussels to instead begin exerting its economic leverage to foster a vibrant Palestinian civil society and an accountable Palestinian political leadership.
Instead, the EU’s policy is becoming the thin end of the wedge that BDS activists use to access EU institutions, employing Trojan horse tactics that seek nothing less than a complete severance of economic, cultural, scientific ties with Israel.
High Representative Federica Mogherini has repeatedly reassured Prime Minister Netanyahu of “the EU’s opposition of boycotts against Israel”. And in all other bilateral forums, committees and subcommittees with Israel, EU officials are all singing from the same sheet: The policy of differentiation does not constitute a boycott of the State of Israel, but merely an implementation of existing EU legislation.
I could question the good will and intention of the EU diplomats, who selectively isolate one of the core issues of the conflict, as if it exists in a vacuum, or the zealous use of “existing EU legislation” for a still in progress European foreign policy. It is not the purpose of this piece, however.
I would like to draw attention to the fact that the line between diplomatic pressure put on the government of Israel on the issue of settlements and a fully-fledged boycott of the Israel is getting more and more blurred as BDS activists are offered shelter under the EU’s freedom of speech. Europe cannot afford itself to go down that path,regardless of the stalemate in the peace process.
BDS leader Omar Barghouti is frequently invited to address members of the European Parliament, the Delegation for relations for Palestine (DPAL), and other forums, and offered the public space to openly call for the boycott of Israeli products, academic exchanges and other types of sanctions.
His crude tactic of trying to “make the occupation unbearable” comes at the cost of demonizing and entire population and infringing on their civil liberties by seeking their isolation in trade, cultural exchanges, academic cooperation and security.
Mirroring the institutions’ impulse for “a continued, full and effective implementation of EU legislation,” one cannot but wonder why does EU shy away from substantiating its rejection of BDS. This position has been articulated on multiple occasions, including in MEP Martina Anderson’s answer on the question of the legitimacy of the BDS movement: “The EU rejects the BDS campaign attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel.”
Similarly, European Council President Donald Tusk, in his first visit to Israel in August 2015, ahead of the publication of EU guidelines on labelling, reassured Prime Minister Netanyahu that “we have to avoid words like boycott because for sure this is not the intention of Europe. No country in Europe wants to boycott Israel.”
Concrete action needs to be taken by Brussels. The EU’s guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities participation to Horizon 2020 from July 2013 did not dissuade BDS activists who are lobbying members of the European Parliament from continuing to question, three years later, the participation and allocation of funds to the Israel Ministry of Public Security through LAW-TRAIN, an EU-funded project on drug trafficking.
Similarly, another European legislator addressing the European Commission on its Patronage of WATEC Italy 2016, questions the participation in the fair of Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. Furthermore, an entire political group finds it “balanced” to call for an end to all cooperation between Israel and the European Defence Agency, and to allow no funding to Israeli entities through Horizon 2020.
Unmistakably, Europe is going through a period of social disorder marked by disenchantment with mainstream politics, and one does not need further proof following Sunday’s results in the French presidential elections.
As such, for the sake of preventing further scapegoating tendencies and radicalization, I would like to make the following recommendations:
- Allocate resources and establish a task force within the European Commission that would monitor and investigate the impact of BDS on the European communities, possibly under Commissioner Vera Jurova (Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality);
- Issue a notice to all member states, asking them to monitor the activities of BDS supporters and take further legal action in line with the Council Framework decision from November 2008 that “racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and rule of law” and to take measures to punish the following intentional conduct: Publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by race, color, religion descent or ethnic origin;
- Prevent EU taxpayers’ money to fund any entity that calls for the boycott of the State of Israel;
- Issue a notice on BDS supporters’ access to the EU institutions and a disclaimer for any organizations or entities that call for a boycott of Israel.
European political leadership, as well as EU policy makers, should indeed “take further action in order to protect the viability of the two-state solution.” They should not allow, under any circumstances, their policy to be misused and ultimately abused by BDS activists operating under the pretext of freedom of speech and association.
The above recommendations would ensure that the EU’s stated aim of getting a meaningful return on its investment would encounter many more ladders than snakes going forward.
This article was written by Teodora Coptil, a consultant specializing on the EU’s policy for MENA region and head of institutional relations at Europe Israel Public Affairs, a Brussels-based NGO advocating for a strategic EU-Israel bilateral relation and accountability of EU aid going to the Palestinian Authority. it was also published on Ynet.
Two-minute siren brings country to a standstill amid memorial ceremonies marking annual remembrance day
Israelis across the country paused for two minutes Monday morning in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in Europe under Nazi rule as a siren pierced the clear blue sky in an annual marking of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The 10 a.m. siren was to be followed by ceremonies at schools, memorials and elsewhere in honor of those who lost their lives, as well as Shoah survivors.
The country’s central commemoration event got underway immediately after the siren at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem, where dignitaries will lay wreaths next to a monument commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.
Among those taking part in the wreath-laying are President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Restoring Their Identities: The Fate of the Individual During the Holocaust,” Yad Vashem said ahead of Remembrance Day.
At 11 a.m. the Knesset was scheduled to mark the day with a ceremony titled “Unto Every Person There is a Name,” in which lawmakers recite names of victims of the Nazis for nearly two hours.
The ceremony’s name comes from a famous poem by the Israeli poet Zelda Schneersohn Mishkovsky (commonly referred to by her first name alone). The musical version, which is often played at memorial ceremonies, repeats, “Unto every person there is a name given by…their mother and father,” “their sins,” “their loves,” and “their death.”
Decades after the liberation of the Nazi camps, the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day continues to be marked with solemnity in Israel, with restaurants, stores and entertainment centers closed and Holocaust-themed movies and documentaries broadcast on TV and radio.
Most schools and many preschools hold official assemblies where students honor the dead and hear stories from survivors.
At 1:30 p.m. local time, thousands of people are expected to take part in the March of the Living event in Poland, walking along the three kilometers (1.8 miles) of railway tracks between the sites of the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.
Chief Justice Miriam Naor and Education Minister Naftali Bennett will accompany a delegation of Israeli officials and Jewish students from around the world at the annual march.
The Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies began at Yad Vashem on Sunday evening, with six survivors lighting beacons — one for every million Jews slain. Moshe Ha-Elion, Moshe Jakubowitz, Jeannine Sebbane-Bouhanna, Moshe Porat, Max Privler and Elka Abramovitz were chosen to light the symbolic torches this year.
During the ceremony, Rivlin said that Holocaust survivors had bequeathed a solemn message to the world that people must preserve their humanity, even in the face of the greatest horrors.
The president said Holocaust remembrance and the lessons to be learned from the genocide of the Jewish people are founded on three central pillars: self-defense, a shared destiny, and human rights.
“Man is beloved, every man, created in God’s image. This is a sacred obligation that the Jewish people cannot and does not wish to evade. At all times. In every situation. So too, we cannot remain silent in face of the horrors being committed far away from us, and certainly those happening just across the border,” he noted, referring to the Syrian civil war that is estimated to have cost over 300,000 lives. “Maintaining one’s humanity: this is the immense courage bequeathed to us by the victims – and by you, the survivors of the Shoah.”
Rivlin’s words stood in stark contrast to Netanyahu’s, whose main thrust was to blame the Allies’ failure to bomb the Nazi concentration camps from 1942, which he said cost the lives of four million Jews and millions of others.
Citing recently released UN documents that show the Allies were aware of the scale of the Holocaust in 1942, some two years earlier than previously assumed, Netanyahu said this new research assumed “a terrible significance.”
“If the powers in 1942 had acted against the death camps — and all that was needed was repeated bombing of the camps — had they acted then, they could have saved 4 million Jews and millions of other people.”
“The powers knew, and they did not act,” he told the audience at the national ceremony at Yad Vashem.
In a bleak address, the Israeli prime minister said that the Holocaust was enabled by three factors: the vast hatred of the Jews, global indifference to the horrors, and “the terrible weakness of our people in the Diaspora.”
The Article was published on The Times of Israel
Sister of Basema Atallah, 55, remains under arrest on charges of aiding Hamas in smuggling attempt
One of the two Palestinian women from Gaza caught trying to smuggle explosives in medicine containers into Israel as they headed for cancer treatment at a Jerusalem hospital has been freed from Israeli custody.
In a statement on Wednesday announcing the detention of two Gaza women, who are sisters, the Shin Bet security agency said the women had entry permits to Israel for medical treatment and accused the two of aiding terror activity at the behest of the Hamas terror group.
The explosives were “sent by Hamas and it is believed that they were meant to be used to carry out attacks in Israel in the near future,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Ragheb Atallah, the patient’s husband, said his wife, Basema, 55, has gone for treatment of colorectal cancer in Jerusalem more than 10 times since July and has never had a problem before. He said his wife was unaware that she may have been smuggling anything illegal into Israel.
“Someone asked them to take a bottle of medicine on their way for a patient there,” he said. “The bottle was closed and they did not know what is inside. It seems there was something and this caused disruption,” the husband said Thursday.
Ragheb Atallah said his wife was released and has been given permission again to go to the hospital, but her sister, 57-year-old Ibtessam Eid, remained in Israeli custody.
While Israel tightly controls its crossings in and out of Gaza as part of a security blockade, it allows tens of thousands of Palestinians to leave the Strip to seek medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan each year.
The Article was published on The Times of Israel
‘Where is the Arab leadership? Where are you, traitors? Have you forgotten your own people?’
Israeli-Arab journalist Lucy Aharish interrupted her nightly newscast on Israel’s Channel 2 to address the chemical attack in Syria. The first Arab to host the nightly news in Israel spoke in English as she ripped into the world’s Arab leaders, calling them “traitors.”
“The images that struck us yesterday are not fake news, but old news,” Aharish said addressing the images of dozens of Syrians murdered by a chemical attack that world leaders have blamed on Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Where is the Arab leadership? Where are you, traitors? Have you forgotten your own people?” Aharish continued.
“A week ago the Arab League held a summit meeting, they sat their with suits and ties, they spoke about peace, about negotiations, prosperity, about the fight against terror.”
“Their blood is screaming in Arabic,” she insisted.
This was not the first time Aharish spoke in English to address atrocities in Syria. On December 15, 2017, Aharash denounced the seige on Aleppo as a holocaust.
“Right now, in Halab, Syria, just an eight-hour drive from Tel Aviv, a genocide is taking place,” said Aharish, using the Arabic name for Aleppo. “You know what? Let me be more accurate: It is a holocaust. Yes, a holocaust.
To watch the video see the piece in Haaretz
Under 2 percent of the European Parliament, along with 150 guests, attended the inaugural ceremony for the Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament intergroup in Brussels on Tuesday.
Thirteen-year-old Ayla Shapira, a resident of Samaria who she was injured at age 11 when terrorists threw a firebomb at the car she was travelling in, addressed the 15 MEPs and guests, sharing her personal story.
She explained that her family was attacked by a 16-year-old Palestinian who wanted to receive payments for his family while he was jailed for his attack. Shapira asked the parliamentarians to consider that fact when they believe themselves to be sending aid money to Palestinians for the purposes of peace.
The intergroup was established on the initiative of the foreign relations group of the Samaria Regional Council, the head of which, Yossi Dagan, was present and spoke at the ceremony.
West Bank representatives signed a joint declaration with the MEPs promising to cooperate to stop the funding of terrorism and reduce trade barriers facing Jewish pioneers in Judea and Samaria. During the event, the participants toasted with wine produced in the West Bank.
Three MEPs spoke at the event. The cofounder of the Group of Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament,Petr Mach spoke, as well as Fulvio Matruscielli, and Branislav Škripek. They all expressed their support for Israel.
In addition, Nati Rom, the founder of Lev HaOlam (a West Bank organization that helped to organize the event), spoke about the organization’s efforts to fight against BDS by distributing products from the West Bank around the world. He emphasized that “the forces driving terror are the same ones that call for boycotting Israel. Communities must work together against this discrimination of Jewish products and preserve the free market.”
The article was published on Ynet on the 28.03.2017 (in the link you can also find a video with her speech)
One of the founders of the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been arrested for concealing large sums of money from tax authorities.
Police say Omar Barghouti, founder of both the BDS movement and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, was arrested on suspicion he committed tax evasion over the past decade, concealing $700,000 in earned income from tax authorities.
During a raid of Barghouti’s house, police say they found credit cards and purchase records confirming the allegations against him. After being taken into custody, Barghouti was transferred to Haifa for interrogation before being released on bail.
Investigators say Barghouti received the money from a company in the Palestinian Authority which sells and rents ATM machines, where Barghouti has served as director. The BDS co-founder also received large sums of money from speaking tours around the world. In both cases, Barghouti is believed to have concealed the hidden incomes in banks outside of the reach of Israeli tax authorities – one in the United States and one in Ramallah.
The Qatari-born anti-Israel activist was raised in Egypt but received permanent residency status after he married an Israeli Arab woman. Barghouti currently resides in the northern Israeli town of Acre (Akko) and studied in Tel Aviv University – despite his own calls to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
Barghouti has openly advocated for the destruction of the Israel as a Jewish state and the end of Zionism. Barghouti rejects the two-state solution, and has compared Israel to both Apartheid-ridden South Africa and Nazi Germany.
The Article was published on Arutz Sheva website
Israel’s emergence as a center for automotive technology got a vote of confidence on Monday when Intel Corp. said it would pay $15 billion for Mobileye NV, a Jerusalem-based maker of chips and software for driverless cars. It will be the largest takeover of an Israeli tech firm and follows a series of deals and partnerships inked in recent years by major tech and auto companies.
“The deal proves in a dramatic manner that our vision is coming true. Israel is becoming a global technology center, not only in cyber, but also in the automotive area,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a text message. Israel had already singled out the automotive technology sector as a possible economic boon, allotting it 250 million shekels ($68 million) for the next five years.
At least five major car manufacturers have made investments in Israel. Ford Motor Co.bought computer vision and machine learning company SAIPS AC in August and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG invested in transit app Moovit in 2015. Daimler AG and General Motors Co. have also opened research and development centers in the country.
The Mobileye deal went far beyond the $4.7 billion sale of fiber-optic company Chromatis Networks Inc. to Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2000, which was the country’s biggest tech deal before Mobileye. Founders Ziv Aviram, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman Amnon Shashua, will share just under $1 billion from the sale, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Dec. 31. Shmuel Harlap, the largest shareholder, will make $1 billion, according to Bloomberg data as of April 1, 2016.
Netanyahu’s Director General Eli Groner said the autonomous tech sector could potentially boost economic growth by 50 percent.
Israel is not renowned for its car-making industry, once turning out fiberglass-shelled cars that were briefly popular in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the country is now benefiting from the automobile industry’s increasing focus on software rather than hardware.
In Israel, the automotive technology sector currently counts about 350 startups, according to industry monitor IVC Research Center, with the potential, according to Gruner, to grow bigger than the cybersecurity industry, which drew 15 percent of global capital raised by the sector in 2016, according to Start-Up Nation Central, a group that promotes Israel startups.
Argus Cyber Security, based in Tel Aviv, in January announced a partnership with Qualcomm Technologies to protect cars from hackers. Otonomo Technologies Inc., a data platform that tells users when to stop driving due to a malfunction and can call emergency services when there is an accident, is working with nine car manufacturers, including Daimler. Aquarius Engines, which has designed and developed an engine to generate electric power, is working with Peugeot SA and three other automobile companies.
Gal Fridman, chairman and chief marketing officer of Aquarius Engines, said the deal “definitely makes our lives easier.”
“It validates Israel’s ability in technology in the automotive industry, traditionally American and German and not at all Israeli,” Fridman said. “Mobileye has dramatically helped us open the door wider into this industry.”
The autonomous sector is expanding even as Israel’s tech sector suffers from growing pains. Although the country’s tech industry grew faster than gross domestic product nearly every year between 1998 to 2009, in the five years following it surpassed national growth only once, in 2012. The Finance Ministry acknowledged in a report last year that the industry that fueled Israel’s economy for the past two decades was stagnating.
Mobileye has also had its issues. Last year, Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla Inc.stopped using Mobileye’s systems and the two companies argued publicly about the breakup.
After the Mobileye acquisition was announced, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who have been reducing corporate taxes, announced they would consider further cuts.
“We view this deal as an indication that the more attractive Israel is for foreign investors, the more tax revenue we will generate,” Groner said in a phone interview.
Tax breaks are already part of the government’s program to encourage global technology companies to do more research and development in Israel as other countries vie for companies like Intel to put down roots on their soil.
“The deal will increase the attention and funding for the already burgeoning Israeli cohort of next generation autonomous driving technology startups,” said Jon Medved, founder of OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform based in Jerusalem.
The Article was published on Bloomberg.com on the 14th of March 2017.
The measure was introduced by Christian Imark, a National Council deputy from the conservative Swiss People’s Party. It passed 111- 78.
Switzerland’s National Council – the lower chamber of the legislature – passed a bill on Wednesday to stop government funding of organizations that promote boycotts of Israel and spread antisemitism and racism.
The measure will be submitted in May to the Council of States, the upper chamber of the legislature, which will decide whether it becomes law.
Olga Deutsch, director of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor’s Europe Desk, told The Jerusalem Post: “Today’s positive developments in Switzerland mark a milestone in seriously countering BDS campaigns, antisemitism and hatred, by equating them in the motion. The motion sets an important precedent. NGO Monitor was instrumental in providing details to Swiss decision-makers regarding their government’s funding of organizations that oppose official Swiss foreign policy, such as NGOs that propagate anti-normalization, BDS, and one-state frameworks.”
She added, “This is a perfect opportunity for Israeli and European officials to capitalize on the Swiss example and work together on guidelines and evaluation mechanisms that contribute to positive change in addressing this serious issue.”
The measure was introduced by Christian Imark, a National Council deputy from the conservative Swiss People’s Party. It passed 111- 78.
Dominik Feusi, a senior editor with the Basler Zeitung newspaper, first announced the groundbreaking motion on Twitter, writing “Swiss parliament approves a Motion to end funding of NGOs who work for terror, hate, racism or antisemitism…”
Imark’s motion to slash funding for organizations that boycott Israel appears to the first national parliamentary act in Europe to blunt economic and political warfare targeting the Jewish state.
The head of the Federal Council, Didier Burkhalter from the FPD Liberal party, opposes the measure. According to an article in the Zurichbased Weltwoche weekly, Burkhalter, who oversees the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, blames only Israel for the collapse of the peace process.
Feusi published a series of eye-popping investigative reports over the past year on alleged financial misconduct in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The Swiss government provided funds in December to the US- and EU-designated terrorist organization Hamas for a conference in Geneva. Switzerland’s government funneled nearly $60 million to diverse projects in the Middle East, many of which are shrouded in secrecy.
Swiss government money flowed to the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, which advocates the boycott of the Jewish state. Switzerland – in contrast to the US, Canada and the EU – does not recognize Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.
Switzerland also funds the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which routinely calls for the arrest of Israeli politicians and compares Israel with the former apartheid regime in South Africa, and Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based legal center that engages in lawfare against the Jewish state.
According to NGO Monitor: “The Swiss government, directly through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (managed by the Institute of Law at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm in Sweden), provides core-funding to a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada and Israel.”
NGO Monitor continued: “From 2013 to 2016, the IHL Secretariat provided a total of $2.38m. to organizations directly affiliated with the PFLP, while the Swiss government’s contribution amounted to approximately one-quarter of the total secretariat budget. The IHL Secretariat distributes 56% of its budget to NGOs that advocate for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaigns against Israel.”
Silvia Müller, a spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, told the Post that “Switzerland decisively condemns calls for hate, violence, forms of racism and antisemitism.”
She said that “Switzerland works together with organizations that uphold democratic values and principles and work for human rights and humanitarian international law.”
BDS Switzerland slammed the anti-boycott motion because “its goal is to ban financial support for human rights organization in the context of Israel/Palestine.”
The group said the motion is an attack on the Palestinian population, freedom of speech and organizations that work for human rights.
The piece was published on The JPost on the 9th of March 2017
Help us fight BDS and win a FREE return ticket to ISRAEL!!!!!
Last month we held our first jam-packed pro-Israel anti-BDS conference at the European Parliament.
This was our poster for the event, one idea out of many.
We are sure some of you think could have done a better job… so we decided to make it interesting and fun!
Design a cracking anti-BDS poster and you might win a flight to ISRAEL.
So what do you need to do?
- go on our Facebook page
- Like and Share the post
- Design an anti-BDS poster
- Post your poster on our wall (with a short explanation if you wish)
The winner will be announced on the 15 of March.
Get stuck in and we look forward to seeing your efforts.
*Participants would be giving up the copy rights for their designs
The European Union has invested €7.7 million in the Israeli-led project NanoPack, a new initiative to develop antimicrobial food packages for perishable foods, based on nanotechnology. These solutions could reduce the staggering 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year, which cause major economic loss and significant harm to the world’s natural resources.
In order to extend food’s shelf life, the team – led by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology – is using novel antimicrobial surfaces and natural materials.
“NanoPack will demonstrate a solution for extending food shelf life by using novel smart antimicrobial surfaces, applied in active food packaging products,” Dr. Ester Segal of the Technion said in a statement. “NanoPack will enhance food safety for consumers by significant growth inhibition of food-borne microbes, which in turn will prevent food-borne illness outbreaks and early spoilage.”
Applying the power of nanotechnology, the project will employ polymer composites based on natural Halloysite Nanotubes (HNTs) as reliable and safe carriers, capable of tailored release of bio-active payloads. Thanks to their size, HNTs are unable to migrate from the food packaging into the food.
Worldwide, a trillion plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute, according to the Earth Policy Institute. Simon van Dam, Project Manager of NanoPack, tells NoCamels the team will also examine whether these new packages can be recycled.
Natural oils prevent disease
Maximizing safety, HNTs in the NanoPack food packaging slowly release tiny amounts of potent, natural and EU-approved essential oils into the packaging headspace. The oils exhibit both antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and can be tailored to inhibit growth of most food-borne microbes.
The active polymer films developed by NanoPack exhibit broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties, without the use of nanomaterials such as silver particles, which have raised health concerns of toxicity and microbial resistance.
NanoPack intends to develop, scale up and run pilot lines in operational industrial environments to manufacture and validate antimicrobial polymer films that are commercially feasible and accepted by retailers and consumers alike.
According to Segal, the three-year project, involving 18 research teams from European countries, is excepted to “present better-performing, safer and smarter products that will position Europe as the leader in food nanotechnology and smart antimicrobial packaging while increasing competitiveness and growth.”
the article was published at NoCamels.com
MK Gila Gamliel (Likud), Minister for Social Equality, spoke at EU conference encouraging investment in Israel, countering BDS.
MK Gila Gamliel, Minister for Social Equality, spoke at the EIPA (Europe Israel Public Affairs) Conference in the EU Parliament entitled “Israel: Include. Invest. Involve. 3 I’s to counter B, D and S”. The conference took place in cooperation with EJA and the Israeli mission to the EU.
Text of the minister’s speech:
Shalom and good afternoon.
I am delighted to be with you as Israel’s first ever Minister for Social Equality, a ministry established to enhance Israel’s effort to combat social inequality. I strongly believe that helping create a more equal society in Israel will make a stronger, better country for us all.
Since its founding, Israel has been committed to a vision of a society of equal opportunity. Our Declaration of Independence guarantees equal rights for all citizens – regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion.
In a region of instability and violence, I am so proud to stand here as a woman, as a mother of two young daughters, as the daughter myself of immigrants [to Israel] from Libya and Yemen, representing the State of Israel!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the last decade, we have been witnessing a notorious global campaign against the State of Israel, known as BDS. It is but the newest weapon in a decades-old effort to eliminate Israel, and deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination.
For years, those who wanted to destroy Israel first tried wars, and failed.They tried terrorism, and failed. And now they are trying another method which was also used in the past: anti-Israel boycotts. The Nazis used boycotts of Jewish goods in the 1930s. For decades, starting in the 1950s, Arab countries boycotted Israel. Any company that sold products to Israel could not sell products to Arab states.So this is not new. We thought these demons of the past were gone.
Let me be clear: the aim of this movement is not the two-state solution or any peaceful solution.
It seeks the return of Palestinian refugees — not to a future Palestinian State — but to Israel: to Haifa, to Jaffa, to Jerusalem. In this way, it seeks to undermine Israel’s right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people. That’s what this conflict has been about since Israel was created in 1948. And that is what it remains about today.
The method has changed: instead of only fighting the Israeli army on the battlefield or killing civilians through acts of terror, the BDS movement seeks to destroy Israel’s image in the eyes of the world. If you say a lie enough times people will believe it. Yet, as hundreds of thousands of people are being killed in Syria, including some by chemical attack, as Yemen is being ripped apart by outside forces – these self-styled advocates of human rights are silent. We don’t see movements to boycott parties to these conflicts.
But Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is singled out for boycotting! The leaders of the BDS movement do not care that their boycott actually hurts Palestinians. This is simply of no interest to them and their supporters. For the head of the BDS, attacking Israel supersedes everything, even
their own people.
The voices of BDS are the voices of hatred and bigotry. These are the voices of demonization.
They echo the voices of demons of the past. This discriminatory campaign may have a new name but is the same old poison of the past.
Make no mistake: Every country has its faults. It is legitimate to disagree with some of Israel’s policies. But to single out Israel and to hold it to a different standard than any other nation in the world – is anti-Semitic. It is anti-human rights and anti-peace.
So let us be honest and call out the BDS movement for what it is: the latest evolution of the effort to wipe Israel off the map.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Just as the conflict will not be resolved by the decades-old tactic of boycotting Israel, lasting peace will only be achieved through education. Everything begins with education towards peace.
Shalom — or peace – is the first word our children learn in school. Tragically, all too often, Palestinian children are incited to hatred, to violence, and to murder.
It is well known that Hamas incites to kill. But this incitement all too often is coming not just from Hamas but from the Palestinian Authority. Most Europeans are unaware – or intentionally blind themselves to –the extent of Palestinian incitement to violence, and where it is coming from.
It is not on the news in Europe. It is not in newspapers here. It doesn’t receive coverage on TV.
It simply isn’t PC –politically correct — to say that the PA – yes the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas — names streets, names squares after the worst Palestinian killers of Jewish men women and children. They give money to the families of suicide bombers.
This is incitement to kill; pure and simple. Just as we will not achieve a resolution to the conflict through an immoral boycott, we will never get to peace without education towards peace.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We are living in difficult times. The threat of radical Islamic terrorism should unite – must unite —
the Western World. The same terrorism that brought death to the streets of Israel for year is now targeting the streets of Europe. Just like there should be no double standard in singling out one
country for boycotting and taking no action in the face of genocide taking place in neighboring countries, there must be no double standard when it comes to terrorism.
The killing of civilians is terrorism. Period. There can be no excuses. Period. As I told the UN Security Council, the world all too often loses its voice when it comes to terrorism against Israel! We must say in a loud clear voice: we condemn and will fight against terrorism everywhere, anywhere. There is no difference between the targeting of innocents, whether here in Brussels, Paris, Istanbul or Jerusalem.
In conclusion, as Minister for Social Equality, I believe that women are powerful agents of moderation, particularly in the face of extremism. As leaders and decision makers we can be a stabilizing force. Especially in this region of the world, women are an untapped potential for more peaceful societies. It is an honor to be part of a society where we champion the empowerment of women and gender equality: where we have a woman, Golda Meir, who served as Prime Minister; where a woman is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the second time now; where women serve in top business roles, and where an Arab parliamentarian is the Chairperson of the Committee for the Advancement of Status of Women in the Knesset.
This is my Israel.
Thank you very much
23/01/2017 European Parliament , Brussels.
Want to see what supporting Israel and fighting BDS looks like in the European Parliament? EIPA is delighted and humbled by the over 250 people that came out to show their disgust at BDS and their support for Israel at our event in the European Parliament on Monday evening. With distinguished guests from the Israel and the EU’s political scene to schoolkids from Antwerp, all contributed to an unforgettable and inspiring evening, culminating in a rousing Hatikvah and Isreali street food party. If you missed it, well you missed it! Enjoy the pics nonetheless.
ISRAEL. include. invest. involve
3 ‘i’s to counter the b.d. and s
Europe Israel Public Affairs, in partnership with the Israeli Mission to the European Union organizes in the European Parliament, Bruxelles its first public conference for pro-Israel activists across the 28 member states of the European Union, on 23rd of January 2017, 16:00-19:00.
Please join us in the European House for a debate on why inclusion, investment and involvement are better than boycott, divestment and sanctions as a means for further development of the EU-Israeli ties.
Come and share with us why you like Israel!
For allowing us to facilitate your access to the European Parliament, please fill in your details HERE:
Speaking at a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, Theresa May lauds Israel’s ‘thriving democracy,’ pledges to support Israel, oppose boycotts, expunge anti-Semitism from British society: ‘No British taxpayers’ money will be used to make payments to terrorists or their families.’
LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a staunchly pro-Israel speech Monday during which she declared her government’s unwavering support for Israel, proclaimed her unequivocal opposition to boycotts and reiterated her commitment to expunging anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial from British society.
Speaking at the annual Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, May announced her intention to make her country one of the first in the world to adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism and to clamp down on hate crime after an increase in the number of reported incidents targeting Jews.
Speaking to more than 800 guests, May described the 1917 Balfour Declaration—Britain’s pledge to create a Jewish state in Palestine—as “one of the most important letters in history” before stating her believe that the two-state solution, for two peoples brought about by direct negotiations, “without preconditions” offered the only plausible blueprint for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
May lauded Israel as “a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance, an engine of enterprise and an example to the rest of the world for overcoming adversity and defying disadvantages.”
Recalling her experiences during a 2014 visit to Israel, the prime minister added that “it is only when you walk through Jerusalem or Tel Aviv that you see a country where people of all religions and sexualities are free and equal in the eyes of the law.”
May also acknowledged Israel’s disproportionate impact on the world: “It is only when you travel across the country that you realise it is only the size of Wales—and appreciate even more the impact it has on the world.”
Citing the kidnapping and murder of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in 2014, she said “it is only when you witness Israel’s vulnerability that you see the constant danger Israelis face, as I did during my visit.”
After heaping praise on Israel’s life-saving work around the world, from Nepal to Haiti, and paying homage to Israel’s late former President Shimon Peres, May assured her listeners that “no British taxpayers’ money will be used to make payments to terrorists or their families.”
May then addressed anti-Semitism in British society and announced her much anticipated promise to adopt an international definition. “That means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.”
In a similar vein, she also pledged to continue her predecessor’s (David Cameron) vision to build a National Memorial to the Holocaust next to Parliament.
May then turned her focus to British Labour Party, expressing her disgust with anti-Semitic elements within it and what she described as its hard-left allies. Furthermore, she ridiculed the UK Labour Party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson who broke out singing Am Yisrael Chai (“The people of Israel live”) at a recent annual Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) lunch.
“No amount of karaoke can make up for turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism, May insisted. “No matter what Labour say—or sing—they cannot ignore what has been happening in their party.”
The anti-BDS motion is a setback for BDS activists.
Germany’s Christians Democratic Union party on Wednesday passed a resolution opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement because the anti-Israel action is antisemitic.
“Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called to not buy from Jews. That is nothing other than coarse antisemitism,” the CDU said.
The CDU likened BDS to the National Socialists who boycotted Jews in the 1930s. BDS dresses up antisemitism in the “new clothes of the 21st century” as anti-Zionism, the party said.
“The German CDU declares with this motion its disapproval and rejection of every form of BDS activity and condemns these activities as antisemitic. The CDU will decisively oppose every hostile action that Israel faces.
The CDU professes its deep friendship toward Israel and continues to work toward a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” the resolution read.
Uwe Becker, the chairman of the CDU branch in Frankfurt, which formulated the resolution and submitted it at the CDU conference, said he was pleased with the result.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was nominated at the convention to run as the party’s candidate in next year’s federal election. The CDU’s resolution appears to be the first German party motion to reject BDS and classify the anti-Israel movement as antisemitic.
Last week, Israel’s ambassador to Germany criticized BDS activities in the state of Lower Saxony.
Writing in the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung daily, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman said: “In Oldenburg a teacher agitates against Israel in an official way; in a magazine of the GEW labor union [the Education and Science Workers Union]. This teacher publicly spreads the proposal to relocate Israel to Baden-Württemberg” in southeastern Germany, wrote Hadas-Handelsman.
The ambassador cited additional outbreaks of contemporary antisemitism in Lower Saxony and asked: “What is wrong in Lower Saxony?” The administration of the Social Democratic Gov.
Hopefully the Hezbollah and Hamas cases do not foretell the beginning of a new era in which EU-Israeli/Arab views on regional security further diverge.
This week, a five-members Knesset delegation, headed by MK Yaakov Perry, will visit the European Parliament in Brussels. It is always a great pleasure to welcome Israeli friends, especially now, around the start of the Christian and Jewish new years. It makes it an opportune moment to reflect on the state of EU-Israel relations and highlight some positive and worrying tendencies.
The recent EU-Israeli cooperation on Creative Europe, to increase jobs and growth by supporting the cinema, cultural and creative sectors in Europe and Israel, is to be welcomed.
While such efforts and other EU-Israeli cooperation on mutually beneficial subjects are to be supported, they may not be overshadowed by two worrying security trends in Europe.
The first worrying trend is to not call a spade a spade, or rather, call both the “military” and “political/social” wings of terrorist organizations terrorist organizations. It is part of the Oriental naiveté through which the EU views the Middle East.
In the case of Hezbollah, the EU included solely the military wing in its terrorism list, on July 22, 2013. The theoretical assumption came after strong evidence was uncovered pointing at Hezbollah’s fingerprints all over the 2012 Burgas bombing.
One does not need to look far to see Hezbollah and trouble.
Hezbollah plays a significant role in Syria (as do Russia and Iran), which is a critical cause of the Syrian refugee crisis. Some of these refugees turn up on the shores of Europe. Therefore, it is not only a regional or Syrian interest, but also a European interest to stand strongly against Hezbollah. Those are, sadly, Hezbollah’s facts (or boots?) on the ground.
To highlight the absurdity of the flawed EU logic, one could view al-Qaida as having an urban planning wing because of its desire to level tall buildings, as once suggested by Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor in Foreign Policy, February 2013. The EU’s position on Hezbollah’s military and political/ social wings is just as startling and futile. As Hezbollah mixes its political and social welfare activities with its terrorist and criminal ones, any clear distinction between its activities can no longer be made. Deputy secretary general of Hezbollah Naim Qassem has said it himself: the Party of Allah (Hezbollah) does not have a political/ social wing on the one hand and a resistance (meaning military) wing on the other. Therefore, without delay, the EU should include Hezbollah as a whole on the EU’s terrorism list.
The second worrying trend is the recent advice given by advocate general Eleanor Sharpston in the opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to not include the Hamas movement on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations. The issue is part of an ongoing legal confrontation between the ECJ and the European Council; the latter favors such an inclusion.
While the ECJ opinion is not binding, various insiders note that in most instances – citing figures as high as 80% – it is followed in the final ruling, which is expected before 2017.
Hopefully the Hezbollah and Hamas cases do not foretell the beginning of a new era in which EU-Israeli/Arab views on regional security further diverge. It is glaringly obvious that, in the EU’s quest to combat terrorism, it would be counterproductive and counterintuitive to not include Hamas, or Hezbollah in its entirety, in the EU terrorist list. Stronger European-Israeli cooperation in all areas of mutual interest should be nurtured, to enable our regions to be safer, more innovative and more prosperous. The upcoming Knesset delegation could not come at a more perfect time.
We look forward to welcoming our Israeli friends at the 42nd inter-parliamentary meeting and may there be many more years of warm fruitful cooperation!
Bas Belder is a Dutch member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group at the European Parliament. He is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, serves as vice-chair of the Israel Delegation and is a member of Europe Israel Public Affairs Advisory Committee.
Two events took place last week in two places as far apart as you can imagine, but they had something in common.
The first took place in the House of Lords where Jenny Tonge from the Liberal Democrats hosted a meeting calling on the government to apologise to the Palestinians for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which Her Majesty’s government recognised the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the land of Israel.
During the event it was argued that Jews were to blame for the Holocaust, Jews suggested the Final Solution to Hitler (the fact that the Jews were the victims was strangely omitted), the State of Israel was compared to Isil and one of those who spoke claimed that “the Jews are the real anti-Semites.” To my knowledge none of those present bothered to tell him that his statement was absurd at worst, and actually still absurd at best.
The second event took place a few days prior, far away from the House of Lords, in the settlement of Efrat near Bethlehem. A group of dozens of Palestinians came to the “Tent of Peace” which was built by the Mayor of the local authority in honour of the Jewish holy day of Sukkot. They sat there together, Jews and Muslims, Sheiks and heads of Palestinian villages with Jewish settlers, enemies on paper but also just human beings, who live in the same battered and bruised land, and know that not everything in life is politics.
The conversation also wasn’t political. They drank coffee which was far too sweet (another Middle Eastern sin of which we are all guilty), talked about the rain that wasn’t yet coming, a bit about Judaism and Islam. The Mayor spoke about the fact that relationships between people are the key to a life together rather than pieces of paper signed by politicians.
Among the Palestinians was the family of a girl who had been killed in a road accident by a settler. As a result of the dialogue between the two sides, speed bumps were put in place on the road leading to their village and the people of Efrat came to pay their respects to the family. Another flare up was averted.
Two days later four of the Palestinians who had visited the “Tent of Peace” were arrested by the Palestinian Authority for “contact with the enemy.”
The Palestinian Authority people made clear that they knew that there was no “political dialogue” in the “Tent of Peace”. From their perspective, any attempt to conduct normal dialogue between people was a crime, and the punishment was jail. For them, so long as there is no Palestinian state, Jews and Arabs should only see one another through the sight of a gun.
As one who supports an agreement with the Palestinians and two states for two peoples, these two separate events sadden me to the same extent. An agreement, any agreement, will be dependent not only on maps and security arrangements but also on trust. If the Palestinians believe any dialogue with a Jew is a crime, and if supporters of the Palestinians think that the Jews are the ones who killed themselves in the Holocaust and they don’t deserve a state, who exactly are we supposed to talk with?
The blatant anti-Semitism on display at Jenny Tonge’s event doesn’t bother me. Lord Balfour supported the creation of a home for the Jewish people because he understood that there would always be people like that. The creation of the State of Israel doesn’t prevent modern anti-Semitism, it just allows us to tell the anti-Semites that they can shove it.
What does bother me though is that meetings like the one in the House of Lords strengthen the conviction of the Palestinians, time and again, that they have no reason to try and reach a reasonable compromise. If that’s the way Jews are talked about in the House of Lords, then even the Palestinian Authority can drop the façade of being moderate and start to lock up anyone who dares talk about peace and coexistence.
The piece was written by Yair Lapid,a member of Knesset, Chairperson of the Yesh Atid Party, is a former Finance Minister and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Knesset. It was published in The Telegraph on the 1st of November 2016
What were you like as an 8 year old? I can’t imagine most of you can remember, but I can be pretty sure it involved dolls or an action man/GIJoe type figure, a train or a shop set, coupled with seemingly unlimited amounts of energy in playing with friends and generally, as the saying goes “acting the maggot’.
It was, as it should have been for most of us, a time of innocence, and while we might have played cowboys and Indians, we never thought of actually hurting anyone.
There isn’t much that shocks me. I moved to Northern Ireland when I was sixteen, the IRA came to our house and held my mother and aunt at gunpoint to hijack our car, we knew families ripped apart by terrorism. I was involved in the Northern Ireland Peace Process for a number of years, and then my Jewish path led me to be an advocate for Israel. So similarly to Northern Ireland, when it comes to the sadistic and barbaric way and means that incited Palestinians find to kill, maim and injure innocent Israelis, I rarely flinch.
This week though was different. Army footage captured two figures on the Israeli side of the security fence at Migdal Oz, when the IDF sent out a team to intercept the pair, they found two 8 year old Kids armed with knives.
When questioned they admitted that they had been sent to kill Israelis.
IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner, talking to the media, said,“When two, eight-year-old children are sent on a mission to attack Israeli civilians it is clear that the hateful rhetoric that echoes within Palestinian society abuses the most vulnerable of minds,”
I couldn’t agree more. Let us remember (as if we could ever forget) that so far in the year-long wave of terror attacks that has killed at least 34 Israelis and injured dozens, some of the terrorists carrying out stabbing attacks were as young as 11 or 13.
But 8 is a new, tragic and stomach churning low. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, maybe it’s because my wife is due to give birth in two weeks, but this barely reported incident really struck me.
I’m director of a pro-Israel advocacy group here in Brussels, and I’ve been saying what I’m about to tell you so often to Members of the European Parliament and their advisors, that I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. But I promise you I will never stop saying it:
What hope of peace is there when your supposed partners are incited to such a degree that they will send 8 year old children to kill indiscriminately? What hope of peace when the Palestinian population is constantly fed a narrative that Jews, Israelis, are scum, pigs, dogs, apes, rapists, cockroaches that must be killed, and constantly resisted? Whose ‘filthy feet’ are a desecration? That every drop of Palestinian blood spilt in Jerusalem is “pure”?
The worst part is that us, the population of Europe, we the taxpayers’, are paying for this murder provoking rhetoric.
That’s not an exaggeration. The EU is the largest supporter of the Palestinian authority in the world. Over the years Mahmoud Abbas and his hate preaching acolytes have received Millions and Millions in direct EU aid.
Is this aid conditional on a rejection of incitement to violence? Does the EU say we will only fund you if you stop supporting violent acts, stop praising them and embracing the perpetrators as martyrs? Has it ever, like the US congress did, turn the funding tap down significantly when Mr Abbas made his ‘filthy feet’ comment?
That would be a big, fat, and in our opinion, utterly shameful, NO.
The PA know that whatever they do and say, they get their millions in pocket money regardless.And that can’t be right can it? That’s why I have made it my organisation’s priority, through the establishment of a European Parliamentary Working Group, to look at the whole issue of how EU funding can and should be made conditional on a commitment – to borrow from the Northern Ireland Peace process playbook – to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.
That means no incitement. That means laying the ground with your population and preparing them for peace. That means an end to language that dehumanizes.
And above all it means that sending two incited 8 year old kids with knives to stab and not even condemning it carries a heavy political price.
Until that happens, let’s not kid ourselves that there can be a meaningful peace process.
The European Parliament will vote this coming Wednesday on the report concerning the EU’s strategy after Iran’s nuclear agreement. MEP Richard Howitt’s report passed through its first reading in the Foreign Affairs committee on the 6th of October 2016 with 38 votes for, 15 against, following consultations with the Trade Committee on the 14th of July 2016.
The resolution is steeped in European “pragmatism”, with a scent of European values and norms.
Acknowledging Iran’s position in the Middle East, second largest economy, and in the world, the country with second largest gas reserves, the report is a classic example of European expediency when it comes to opening relations with Iran and reducing its energetic dependency on Russian gas reserves. The report calls for the opening of an EU delegation in Teheran that would facilitate and foster dialogue and trade relations, as well as for the appointment of an Iranian expert for accessing the Horizon2020, European research flagship program.
Under the regional security headline, the report falls short of condemning Iran sponsoring terrorist activities for actors like Hezbollah and Al Nusra. While “the principle of ensuring respect, safety and security for peoples in all countries in the Middle East, including Israel and the Palestinian people” will be the best reference you will get for condemning the anti-semitic and Holocaust denial recurring statements of the Iranian religious and political leadership.
Here at EIPA we are deeply concerned with this tilting of balance towards the strategic interests at the expense our European values in a foreign policy trend that separates Iran’s destabilizing behaviour in the region and its human rights record from the nuclear file.
For further reading, please click HERE
The Palestinian ‘narrative’ has scored another victory, this time at UNESCO. But it’s not a victory; it’s actually a defeat. The addiction to lies does not change reality or solve any problem—it pushes away the chance for reconciliation or peace.
Dr. Omar Jaara of An-Najah University appeared on Palestinian television four years ago and said that Moses had led the Muslims out of Egypt and that the subsequent Israeli conquest of the land was “the first case of a Palestinian liberation through an armed struggle.” He attributed the battle between David and Goliath to the Palestinians as well.
For a moment, it seemed like a satire program, but it was completely serious. “This is our logic, and this is our culture,” Jaara explained in the interview, which was recorded by Palestinian Media Watch.
Four years have passed and the historian is celebrating. The Palestinian “narrative” has scored another victory, this time at UNESCO. Allegedly, this not just a victory but an overwhelming victory: Although Brazil and Mexico expressed reservations over the resolution on Tuesday, there was no new vote, and the decision remained unchanged. The Palestinians even managed to convince Christian countries, as Israeli diplomat George Deek tweeted, to adopt a resolution which means that “Jesus was a liar.”
There is no big surprise here. After all, we are living in the era of narratives, which is the post-factual era. It possible that in a year or two, UNESCO or another international organization will adopt a resolution confirming Jaara’s narrative about the Exodus from Egypt.
But it’s not a victory. It’s actually a defeat. If we wish to know why the Palestinians remain in their grim situation, this self-deception is one of the reasons, and the international support they receive only worsens it. It’s not just happening in international bodies with a majority of dark states. The Palestinians are enchanting, or terrorizing, the academia in the free world, to the point that most of its members have become loyal servants of the Palestinian lie—sorry, the narrative. They are slowly succeeding in turning the Palestinian Nakba into a pivotal, unique event, an ultimate crime, although tens of millions of people have experienced worse cases of expulsion and uprooting. They receive almost absolute support in most leading newspapers in the free world. Nevertheless, they believe the Jews control the academia and the global media.
It’s not that the Palestinian propaganda is sinking into an abyss of self-deception and illusions on its own. The problem is that this propaganda has become the leading motif not just in institutions with a dark majority, that it has been adopted—or is being encouraged —by an absolute majority of “human rights organizations” in the West. They are always on the Palestinian side, and this support is mainly racism. Because they think the Palestinians can get away with it.
The addiction to lies does not change reality and does not solve any problem. On the contrary, it pushes away the chance for reconciliation or peace. It perpetuates Palestinian suffering. It should be mentioned that in Lebanon, for example, there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who can only dream about the standard of living of the Palestinians in the West Bank. For decades, they have been suffering from deep discrimination enforced by law, but no one cares about them. No one is fighting for their rights. There has not been a single UN discussion about them.
The leading Palestinian principle is: We’ll make every effort to harm Israel, but we won’t make any effort to improve our situation. In practice, they are not really harming Israel; they are harming themselves. After all, the UNESCO resolution does not really help the Palestinians; it just makes them feel that they have scored some virtual, empty victory.
All this should not lead to the conclusion that Israel can rest on its laurels. Far from it. The fact that the Palestinians are engaged in self-deception does not call for another freeze or another outpost or another acre. Because we also have people who see it as a victory, and that is self-deception as well. The Palestinians are in over their heads. We should look at what is happening to them so that it won’t happen to us too.
The Op-Ed was written byBen-Dror Yemini and was published on Ynet on the 19th of October 2016
Israel and the European Union senior officials held this week their 2nd counter-terrorism dialogue at the Israeli foreign ministry in Jerusalem. They discussed challenges in the field of counter-terrorism in Israel and Europe.
The Israeli delegation was led by the Head of Division for Strategic Affairs at the foreign ministry and the Head of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau at the National Security Council.
The EU delegation was headed by Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Pedro Serrano and the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.
The delegations included representatives of different agencies that deal with counter-terrorism from a wide range of perspectives such as defense, legislation, intelligence and law enforcement.
Israel considers itself as a key player in efforts to stem a rising tide of Islamic terrorism.
During a recent visit to the Netherlands, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said : “Europe as a whole is undergoing changes. It faces very great challenges over the spread of radical Islamic terrorism.’’
He discussed Israel’s “central role” as the “most stable and most stabilizing element in the Middle East,” one that contributes greatly to preventing the spread of terrorism.’’
Meeting attended by delegations from four governments marks one of the highest level public interactions between Israelis and Palestinians in the last two years.
Israeli and Palestinian ministers held a rare meeting in Jericho on Wednesday morning, as a possible first step toward a thaw in the peace process which has been frozen for over two years.
“I think the success of today’s meeting will help increase the chances of dialogue at the level of heads of states, a summit where the head of the Palestinian Authority can participate. Today’s meeting seems to point in a positive direction,” Minister-without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) told reporters at the city’s Oasis Hotel.
“Given the stagnation in the public dialogue, it was very significant to hold a diplomatic dialogue that speaks to the will to move forward together,” Hanegbi said.
The Likud minister had just met with PA Minister for Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, in an event organized by Japan and hosted by its visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Kentaro Sonoura. Jordan’s Saleh Kharabsheh, secretary-general of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, was also present at the meeting.
The meeting, attended by delegations from each of the four governments, marked one of the highest-level public interactions between Israelis and Palestinians in the last two years. It comes amid failed attempts by the European Union and Russia to organize a high-level Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
That the delegations could explore ways to advance economic, industrial and agriculture issues that touch people’s lives “is an excellent basis for continued diplomatic contacts,” Hanegbi said.
The diplomats and politicians met to advance a Japan-sponsored industrial park in Jericho, thereby turning that West Bank city near the Dead Sea into an economic pipeline for the production and export of Palestinian products to the larger Arab world.
Japan has contributed $300 million to the Jericho Agricultural Industrial Park, termed the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity.” Israel has given $50m. for the project and will help facilitate the construction of a new road to the Allenby Border Crossing into Jordan, which will run parallel to Route 90 in the Jordan Valley.
The Palestinian-only road will allow goods to be delivered quickly from the industrial park to the crossing.
After the meeting, Sonoura noted that this was the fifth such meeting since planning for the park had begun in 2006.
The last such four-way dialogue had taken place at the same hotel in 2013.
Back then, he said, the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians appeared to be moving forward.
This time, the meeting was held outside the context of any such framework and without a clear sense of what is likely to happen between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Still, he said, “the importance of cooperation has not faded.”
“It is my understanding that since the peace talks stopped in 2014, this is the first time that both the Palestinians and Israeli leaders at the ministerial level have met in public. This gives great power to the initiative,” Sonoura told reporters after the meeting.
Before the meeting and again afterward, both Sheikh and Hanegbi publicly shook hands.
Sheikh opened his remarks by wishing the Israeli delegation in Hebrew “Boker tov” (“Good morning”). He also exchanged a few Hebrew pleasantries with Hanegbi after the meeting.
Hanegbi told reporters that the meeting had focused on issues relating to the industrial park and that the atmosphere had been very positive.
He added that he believes that the drop in violent Palestinian attacks against Israelis had paved the way for the meeting to take place.
“We saw the major decrease in the hostilities in the last four or five months,” said Hanegbi, who explained that the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian delegations had “sat like neighbors trying to help each other.”
Improving the Palestinian economy would also help create peace in the region, Hanegbi said.
“For many, many years we tried to convince our Palestinian neighbors to put all their energy in building their own livelihood. Unfortunately, some segments of the Palestinian society are still drowning in their own animosity toward Israel,” he said.
“This meeting focused only on the positive,” Hanegbi said.
But the best way to resolve the conflict, he said, is the resumption of direct Israeli- Palestinian talks.
“Many parts of the political arena are trying to bridge the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians.
This includes Russia, the United States and Europe.
In our view, major progress can be achieved only through direct negotiations without preconditions,” Hanegbi said.
Sheikh welcomed the project but said that “we must ensure that there are suitable and sustainable water and electricity resources” as well as “freedom of movement and access” for the goods.
He was pleased, he said, that Jericho, which has been a “hub of industry” for thousands of years, will continue to play a key role in developing the Palestinian and regional economy.
This vision, however, can be achieved only with “an independent state of Palestine,” Sheikh said.
The article was published on The Jerusalem Post website on the 8th of September 2016.
Elham Mhamid doesn’t take her responsibility lightly. Neither does she take her handicap too seriously. The 26-year-old from Umm el-Fahm worked hard to become captain of the Israeli women’s goalball team. She also happens to be legally blind, suffering from achromatopsia, a hereditary disorder characterized by decreased vision, light sensitivity and a complete inability to see color.
She takes great pride in representing Israel in international competitions. And no competition is bigger for her than next month’s Paralympics in Rio.
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“For me being captain comes with a lot of pride and responsibility and I think I deserve this responsibility,” Mhamid told The Jerusalem Post. “I will do everything to make my country, my relatives and the Arab sector proud, showing that there is no difference between all of us and that we can live together.”
Goalball is a team competition designed specifically for blind athletes and is one of 23 sports in the Paralympics. It was added to the program of the 1980 Summer Paralympics, the first sport in the games designed specifically for disabled athletes.
Each team consists of three players who try to throw a ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponents’ goal. Players use the sound of the bells to judge position and movement of the ball. Mhamid was the first Israeli woman to take up goalball 10 years ago. The Israeli women’s national team was established shortly afterwards.
“I loved sport from a young age but wasn’t allowed to play in school because I couldn’t see the ball,” she said. “I always felt I was missing out on something. Then, at the age of 15, I heard about goalball. At the same time our current coach, Raz Shoham, decided to set up a women’s national team and I joined.”
Israel’s goalball team won the gold medal at the 2015 International Blind Sports Federation World Games in Seoul. Now the team is aiming for the top of the podium in Rio de Janeiro.
“We are aspiring for the gold medal but it won’t be easy,” said Mhamid. “It will be a big challenge to face the best teams in the world.” Mhamid, who is studying for her master’s degree in drama therapy at the Kibbutzim College of Education (Oranim) in Tel Aviv, said there was initial tension between her and Jewish members of the team, but that quickly faded. “It was difficult at the start,” she admitted.
“I only began learning Hebrew when I was 18 and didn’t know the culture. I was even scared of soldiers. They also didn’t understand my culture. We slowly began to get to know each other and everything worked out. Now I feel that I really belong. I love everyone and they love me.”
Mhamid is unhappy with the limited media coverage received by the Paralympics. “If you broadcast the Olympics then you have to broadcast the Paralympics. That shouldn’t even be a question.”
“There is an additional reason to show the Paralympics which is to raise awareness of the different sports which people are unfamiliar with,” she said.
“I only started with goalball at the age of 15 or 16, but had I known about it earlier I would have been able to begin training beforehand. There are a lot of kids who are sitting at home and don’t know about the different sports in which they can take part.”
Mhamid said the squad is like family. “We sleep together, we go out together, we train together, we cry together and we do everything together,” she explained. “This is like my second family.”
Despite not being able to relate to “Hatikva,” Mhamid is desperate to hear it in Rio. “Any way you look at it, the national anthem doesn’t relate to me. Nevertheless, I still get emotional hearing it when I’m on the top of the podium and I see the flag,” she said. “I would like the national anthem to relate to me one day. I’m part of this country. I belong here. That should be a given.”
The Paralympics start on September 7, in the same venues as the Olympics, which end Sunday night.
The article was published on The Jerusalem Post on the 21th of August 2016
‘The future belongs to those who innovate,’ Netanyahu says at launch event
After decades of dedicating himself to public life in Israel, anyone would think that 92-year-old former President Shimon Peres would want to put his feet up and enjoy his retirement. But he doesn’t seem to know the meaning of slowing down and appears to become more active with age. On Thursday morning he proved this when he was joined by other top officials to launch the Israeli Innovation Center, which will be established at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa.
Leading movers and shakers in the world of Israeli start-ups and innovation gathered at the center, a non-profit organization that brings together a diverse and multi-faceted spectrum of participants, to hear all about the new innovation hub that highlights some of Israel’s best technologies.
Israel has been dubbed the “Start-up Nation” due to the high number of innovative technologies and successful start-ups that have been developed in the country.
Peres, who was noticeably emotional about the launch, was greeted with rapturous applause and a standing ovation when he took to the stage at the beginning of the event.
“We were a country with limited resources,” Peres said. “We had a small population, but we believed in our vision that led to our creation. We overcame our desolate land, and we turned it into one of agriculture that for the first time was built on hi-tech.”
Peres told the adoring audience that the new center was a source of pride for the country and that it would help bring peace between nations.
He even went on to say that it’s not only Israel who can benefit from innovation, but the whole region. “l call on our neighbors to establish a startup region.”
The current president, Reuven Rivlin, was next to speak and while the applause for him wasn’t as loud as it was for Peres, he was also welcomed with a standing ovation.
Rivlin said that Peres was the symbol of Israeli innovation and that as he gets older, he becomes more creative.
The president highlighted that while there is a lot to be proud of in Israel in terms of technology, there is still a long way to go. He talked about how people from Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities aren’t always given the same opportunities as others. “We are trying to change this,” he said emphatically.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau, who gave an address at the end of the event, also spoke about the disparities that exist within the country. He focused more on the geographical inequalities and said that he was working to make sure that every part of the country is able to enjoy the benefits of Israel’s technology and innovation sectors.
He joked with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai that Tel Aviv wasn’t the only city in the country that can benefit from investments in innovation infrastructure and that he wanted to see towns and cities from the north and the south of the country leading the way.
Netanyhau noted that countries around the world turn to Israel because “they know that our security systems and technologies are the best.” He said that because Israel has years of experience in dealing with terror, it has become a global leader in technology.
In a very impassioned speech, Netanyahu excitedly told the audience that this year alone he had met with some 120 heads of states and foreign ministers, and when talking about the success story of Israeli innovation he told them all: “The future belongs to those who innovate.”’
He also had some criticism and said that while Israel should be lauded for what it has achieved, there are still problems. The prime minister noted that education needed to be improved and also that markets should be freed up so that more people have the opportunity to innovate.
In what was a moment of comic relief at an otherwise formal event, the guests of honor – Rivlin, Peres, Netanyahu and his wife Sara, all tried on Virtual Reality headsets so that they could experience the cutting-edge technology firsthand. To the amusement of many in the audience, Netanyahu removed his headset after a few seconds as it appeared that it wasn’t working. Rivlin, Peres and Sara, on the other hand, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Dr Yossi Vardi, one of Israel’s first high-tech entrepreneurs, led a panel titled “Innovation as a Tool for Social Empowerment.” He introduced the participants – Dr. Kira Radinsky, Sari Rott and Liat Segal – as some of the leading figures in the Israeli innovation scene. He said that the fact they were all women was by chance and that they were chosen because they are the best in their field.
In a tribute to what the Peres Center is all about, a group of five children from the northern Arab village of Daburiyya presented a cutting-edge recycling robot that they had created. They each took turns to explain how and why they had invented the robot and received possibly the loudest applause of the day.
The Israeli Innovation Center will open its doors in 2018 to hundreds of thousands of visitors from Israel and around the world, with a focus on students, soldiers, ministers and heads of state, tourists, and business delegations from around the world. It will attempt to tell the story of Israeli technologies that have changed the world.
The article was published on i24news on the 21th of July 2016
EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini will adress the European Parliament on Wednesday 6th of July. She will be presenting the European External Action Service’ Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy. The document , published in June 2016 underlined EU support for a two-state solution.
Then, she will outline the new initiatives adopted by the Quartet regarding the Middle East Peace Process.
The Quartet denounced the use of violence of the Palestinians, and the constant incitement against Israelis. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was reportedly furious about the Quartet conclusions.
Follow HR Mogherini speech here at 15:00 on Wednesday in the following link :
MEP of the Month: Meszerics Tamás (Greens, Hungary)
When we think of a really good friend, we think of them knowing us well enough to tell us if we are doing something wrong and not just heap praises and sycophancy upon us. Great friends are our levelers, our mirrors to the world. And Tamas Maszerics is such a friend for Israel and for us here at EIPA.
Yes, a Hungarian Green is not who one would immediately think of, and yes the Greens as a whole are not renowned for their love of the State of Israel, but Tamas has been a rational and valued voice for us in the European Parliament, giving praise where praise is due, but also being firm and reasoned when he disagrees with our analysis. Just this week he took time out of his busy schedule as the Green co-ordinator for Foreign Affairs to meet with a group of PHD students from Ben Gurion University and give them his thoughts. Not all agreed with his analysis, but all were unanimous in their gratitude to have a straight talking, no nonsense friend of Israel such as him. Thanks Tamas and Mazal Tov from all of here at EIPA!
Palestinian terrorist stabbed a 13-year old to death in her bedroom on Thursday morning after he infiltrated the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, which is located next to Hebron.
“My daughter was sleeping calmly when he [the terrorist] came into her bedroom,” Hallal’s mother Rina told Army Radio. “She was happy,’ she added.
A Magen David Adom paramedic said that when he arrived at the scene the teenage girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, was unconscious and was not breathing. They were able to resuscitate her at the scene, but it was touch-and-go during the whole journey to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, as they continuously fought to keep her alive.
She was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival, without ever regaining consciousness.
After the attack, the IDF and one of the Prime Minister Office’s spokesman tweeted a photograph of her blood-stained bedroom.
Hallel had been a member of a dance troop and had performed in Jerusalem the night before. Her step-father, Amihai, is a cousin of Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, and runs a boutique winery. She will be buried in old Jewish cemetery in Hebron. The funeral procession will leave from Kiryat Arba at 6 p.m. The terrorist, Mohammad Tarairah, 17, breached the settlement’s fence and then entered the Ariel home that was located on a security road, near a yeshiva high school for boys.
Among the Magen David paramedics who responded to the scene, was the wife of the wounded member of the security team.
She went with her husband to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. Doctors there said that the wounded man, believed to be age 30, was suffering from gun shot wounds and that his injuries were not life threatening.
Residents of the settlement of some 8,000 people located right outside the Palestinian city of Hebron, were asked to remain in their homes for about half-an-hour until it was clear that there were no more attackers in Kiryat Arba. Since the wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis began in September 2015, there have been many attacks in and around Hebron, as well as on the outskirts of Kiryat Arba. But an infiltration into the settlement itself is rare.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met and ordered the IDF to close off the Palestinian village of Bani Na’im, located near Kiryat Arba, where Tarairah lived. They also ordered the IDF to rescind work permits belonging to Tarairah’s immediate and extended family.
According to his Facebook posts Tarairah was partially inspired by a vehicular terror attack just outside of Kiryat Arba in which an Israeli couple was lightly insured. The IDF unit which responded to the attack shot and killed the Palestinian driver.
Tarairah mentioned her in his posts, under the hashtag “a sister to bravery”.
At the beginning of the week he wrote a post saying that “the death is a right and i am asking for my right.” His uncle, Yousuf Tarahirah, carried out a car-ramming attack in Hebron in March.
The article was published on The jerusalem Post on the 30th of June 2016
Words are cheap these days. Everyone is a ‘star’, ‘breaking news’ can last all day, and ‘legend’ status is bandied about freely.
But what we woke up to this morning is truly unprecedented.
Britain has voted to leave the European union. And they may not be the last country to do so. They weren’t the first – that honour/calamitous decision depending on how you see the news this morning – goes to Greenland. They left what was then called the EEC in 1985.
But with all respect to Greenland, Britain is a much bigger fish, economically and politically. It was a major and important member of the European Union. There are questions this morning whether the UK can even survive when Scotland voted massively to stay in the EU. The Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned, prompting a period of uncertainty as to whom will take up the reins and negotiate the terms of departure.
These are the deep questions that the UK has to answer.
But we are a Pro-Israel advocacy group operating at the heart of the EU Institutions, and we are busy looking at the current lay of the political land and what it will all mean for the EU Israel relationship.
Our offices sit opposite the European Council and the European Commission. And some of us sat outside the office this morning taking it all in. Eurocrats walked past in groups, the most common words we picked up were “I don’t know’, ‘slap in the face’, most looked ashen faced with smartphones in hand reading the news. And to be honest we are not far behind. This truly is uncharted territory.
Let us be honest again, the UK- Israel relationship was a rollercoaster ride with as many highs as lows: From the British Mandate to good relations during the Suez Crisis. In the 60’s Britain was seen as pro-Arab. The 80’s were not much better, with Britain imposing an arms embargo on Israel during the 1982 Lebanon war. But since then, things were on the up again. Relations were strong, a majority of British parliamentarians are pro-Israel and only last year the British government began efforts to outlaw BDS activities in the UK.
So we have lost a good, solid and largely dependable pro-Israel voice in the European Institutions. We have lost not only a great number of MEPs who were our friends and allies, but also many more British staffers and policy wonks – those who actually prepare the briefing notes, do the research and advise their political and bureaucratic masters on lines and positions to take on Israel. So from that perspective it’s sad and you could allow yourself to worry.
But there are opportunities too. The emerging markets as we call them: Balkan States, the Visegrad group of countries, and not forgetting the Baltic States, will undoubtedly feel emboldened after Brexit. They will feel their voices have become louder in the Council and Parliament, they will also feel that that Britain’s unprecedented – there’s that word again – departure shows cracks in the old established power blocks, and that they can be the cement.
As these countries enjoy a by and large excellent relationship with Israel, their cement can only be good news for us, and we anticipate a deeper and more co-operative relationship with them at Permanent Representative and EU institutional level.
But the real question is can the EU, as presently constituted, even survive? This morning it feels like a game of Jenga. The UK have removed their brick from the tower, and the edifice looks shaky and could potentially collapse.
So we say goodbye to Britain in the EU playground with a heavy heart. But just like all playgrounds, there are always plenty of others to make friends and continue to play with. This is EIPA’s task in the months and years ahead.
Unprecedented clubs and hoops victory gives girls’ squad momentum for August Olympics in Rio
The five-member, all-girl squad took gold in the clubs and hoops category.
The five-member, all-girl squad took gold in the clubs and hoops category.
The team also won a silver medal for its ribbon routine, and, two days ago, captured the bronze in the all-around competition.
The team from Belarus topped the Israeli squad in ribbons, with 18.516 points to 18.4.
The favorite, Russia, disappointed with many mistakes, earning a score of just 17.933, which kept it off the podium.
After Sunday’s success of the Israeli rhythmic gymnasts at the European Championships — which took place in the Israeli city of Holon — the team will be heading in August to the Olympics in Rio, where it will compete in the all-around.
The Article was published on the 19th of June 2016 on The Times of Israel
An Israeli ambassador to the UN will head a UN committee for the first time since joining the organization in 1949, Danon was elected after a diplomatic campaign including opposition by Muslim member-states.
After months of behind-the-scenes diplomatic struggles, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon was elected to head the UN Legal Committee (officially named the Sixth Committee) on Monday. The committee deals with sensitive topics including fighting global terrorism.
This is a historic event, as it marks the first time an Israeli representative will head a permanent UN committee since its induction into the organization in 1949
109 nations voted for Danon (the process only included votes cast for a candidate for the position, and did not include ‘nay’ votes). Palestinian representative Dr. Riyad H. Mansour worked to convince voting representatives to not support Danon until the last second. Iran’s delegation was also active in trying to stop the appointment, sending representatives a letter on the matter.
The Israeli victory came after a long, complex diplomatic struggle by Israeli representatives worldwide .Their main opponents were the Arab nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“I am proud to be the first Israeli elected to this position,” said Ambassador Danon, “Israel is a world leader in international law and in fighting terrorism. We are pleased to have the opportunity to share our knowledge with the countries of the world.”
“We will not allow dictatorships and anti-Israel countries to harm our standing in the international community. Those who tried to block our appointment would be well advised to take note of the jurisdiction of this committee, as they have much to learn about international law,” he continued, “We are a full member of the UN and any attempt to deny us of our legal rights in this organization will be met with uncompromising rejection.”
Ambassador Danon’s candidacy received widespread backing from many member-states, led by the United States and the Europeans.
Prior to today’s appointment, Ambassador Danon was first elected as the Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group’s candidate for the position. Then, following the objection by the Arab Group to approve the nomination, the General Assembly proceeded to elect Ambassador Danon by a secret ballot. All 193 UN member-states were eligible to take part in today’s election. After his election, Ambassador Danon was congratulated by colleagues from around the world.
The article was published on Ynet on the 13th June 2016
By now, you will have undoubtedly heard about last night’s despicable terror attack in the trendy and buzzing Sarona district of Tel Aviv, in which 4 people were killed and over a dozen injured when two gunmen opened fire on diners in a restaurant.
EIPA was busy as soon as news broke of the attack, and today we managed to mobilise 21 vital and important voices in the European Parliament, despite a busy Strasbourg session into action. Why did we do so?
Largely because of the anodyne response from the EEAS’ chief’s Federica Mogherini spokesperson. It appeared that the attack didn’t warrant a response from the High Representative herself in person.
This is the sum total of what the spokesperson had to say:
“Wednesday night’s terror attack in the Sarona complex in Tel Aviv exposed scores of innocent civilians and families to indiscriminate fire. Four people were killed and more seriously injured. Our thoughts are with the families of the dead and injured. Those responsible for these murders must be brought to justice. Those who praise this attack must be condemned.”
A cross-party group of 21 Members of the European Parliament – including Vice-Presidents, Senior Foreign Affairs Committee Members and the Chairman for the delegation for relations with Israel felt this didn’t go nearly far enough.
The MEPs, in their joint statement – which we at EIPA initiated – said today from Strasbourg”
“We Members of the European Parliament, are shocked and saddened at the terror attack that took place last night in the Sarona Market, Tel Aviv.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, Idan Ben Arieh, Ilana Neveh, Michael Faiga and Mila Meshayev and we wish a speedy recovery to the 13 people wounded as a consequence of this heinous and abhorrent terrorist act.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this act of senseless barbarism, and call upon the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to promptly, and without equivocation, denounce this act of terrorism, and again on the occasion of his visit to the European Parliament on June 22.
“We also call upon the High Representative of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, to condemn this terrorist act, and to denounce the Palestine Liberation Organisation for inciting further violence by calling the attack ‘a natural response’.
“We reiterate our ongoing support for a two state solution on the basis of 1967 borders, whilst ensuring the security of the State of Israel in tandem with an independent democratic and viable Palestinian State.”
We at EIPA want to thank the 21 MEPs, and if you want to as well, their names are below and you can find their details HERE
Cristian Dan PREDA (EPP, Romania), Ramon TREMOSA I BALCELLS (ALDE, Spain), Lars ADAKTUSSON (EPP, Sweden), Fulvio MARTUSCIELLO (EPP, Italy), Arne GERICKE (ECR, Germany), Petras AUSTREVICIUS (Vice-Chair ALDE, Lithuania), Jan ZAHRADIL (Vice-Chair ECR, Czech Republic), Bas BELDER (ECR, the Netherlands), Tunne KELAM (EPP, Estonia), Hannu TAKKULA (ALDE, Finland), Marijana PETIR ( EPP, Croatia), Milan ZVER (EPP, Slovenia), Frederique RIES (ALDE, Belgium), Geoffrey van ORDEN ( Vice-chair ECR, UK), Charles TANNOCK (ECR, UK), Ioan Mircea PASCU (S&D, Romania, Vice President of the European Parliament), Andrej PLENKOVIC (EPP, Croatia), Artis PABRIKS (EPP, Latvia), Davor Ivo STIER (EPP, Croatia), Ryszard CZARNECKI (ECR, Poland, Vice President of the European Parliament), Ramona Nicole MANESCU (EPP, Romania)
In the meantime, we thank for your support at this difficult time, and we all hope for easier days ahead.
The state comptroller’s report on Israeli government efforts to tackle BDS does not make for pleasant, much less reassuring reading. It speaks of failures, inter departmental fighting and a lack of a clear plan to deal with the scourge that is the BDS movement. In short, the report claims that the campaign is flailing, largely ineffective and, as presently constituted, will more than likely fail.
And it leaves me, and countless other pro-Israel advocates deeply frustrated. But there’s something we can all do with this frustration. We can take matters into our hands.
I was at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday. It was a packed hall, full of inspirational people who want to help, who want to do something. But as panel speaker Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein rightly noted, its not enough. We can’t do it on our own, we need help and support from Christians, Atheists, in fact from whoever we can find that are committed to the cause.
I’m talking about building an army. No, not that kind of an army. I’m talking about an army that fights with it’s mind, that fights with its collective intellectual muscle to exert unstoppable pressure on governments in Europe who might be swayed into anti-BDS initiatives.
One of my media adviser colleagues, based in our Paris Office, went to meet a French Parliamentarian who was planning to vote in favour of ‘La Republique’ recognising a Palestinian state. In his office, the parliamentarian showed my colleague one of the nearly 400 identical letters from the public calling on him to recognise a state. The parliamentarian added, very matter of factly, that he is elected to serve the needs of his constituents, and if he receives such a volume of mail on such an issue, he felt compelled to act.
So there you have it. It’s not rocket science. Politicians, like everyone else respond to pressure. So where was our pressure? Where were our 400 letters of rebuke?
That’s where an army comes in. And I’m 100% convinced that a cross-European army would defeat BDS here.
So we are building one. In two of the organisations that I direct, Europe Israel Press Association, and Europe Israel Public Affairs, we undertook two test cases of online advertising. We increased interest in our work by as much as 3108%. So it’s clear that there is interest. But interest is not enough. It’s action that counts.
In the coming weeks we intend to campaign online, advertise and visit Shuls, churches, Universities, think tanks, you name it, to recruit active participants in this army.
We will be working with other Jewish groups, Christian organisations and will be taking a leaf out of AIPAC’s book on how to mobilize and defeat anti-Israel activities and initiatives wherever, and whenever they arise.
We will mobilize whenever there’s a pro-BDS media article, whenever a politician or student leader speaks up in favour of a BDS campaign.
We are in a war ladies and gentlemen. And contrary to current military thinking, this war can only be won with boots on the ground.
You see, as our online advert noted, Israel’s greatest asset isn’t its army, or its public representatives. It’s you, the public reading this, you have the power by hitting the dislike button, by leaving a comment, by writing a letter, by picking up the phone. Combined, we are powerful force for pro-Israel advocacy and defeating the BDS movement.
It’s not a lost cause and never has been. Together we can do this.
So I’m calling you to arms. Join the EIPA army today. You can do so HERE, on our website.
Manuel Valls, in Israel to advance his country’s plan for Mideast summit, says he has ‘a genuine desire to help the situation’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Monday the French initiative for an multinational conference to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, telling French Prime Minister Manuel Valls that direct negotiations were the only path forward toward a lasting agreement.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Jerusalem before a closed-door meeting with Valls, Netanyahu said a multilateral effort would replace bilateral talks and not bring about any agreement.
“Peace is not achieved in international UN-style conferences, nor through international diktats that come of meetings of countries around the world sitting to decide our fate,” Netanyahu said. “Peace is achieved through direct negotiations where the Palestinian Authority would face a historic choice: recognize a Jewish state side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian sate, or try to eliminate it.”
The meeting with Valls came as part a two-day trip to the region by the French premier that began Sunday, aimed at advancing his country’s plan for the summit in the face of opposition from Netanyahu.
The Israeli prime minister claimed Monday that the international conference was being used by the Palestinian leadership as a way to prevent direct talks with Israel.
“The Palestinian Authority does not see the French initiative as an inducer for negotiations, but as a way to avoid them,” he said.
Instead, Netanayhu said, he would be willing to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “in Paris or wherever,” and hold face-to-face negotiations without international mediation. “Every difficult issue will be on the table,” he said.
Abbas has welcomed the French initiative to hold a meeting of foreign ministers from a range of countries on June 3, without the Israelis and Palestinians present.
According to the plan, another conference would then be held in the autumn, this time with the Israelis and Palestinians in attendance. The goal would be to eventually restart negotiations that would lead to a Palestinian state.
Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.
Earlier Monday Valls met with President Reuven Rivlin, who, in his first public statements on the French initiative, also criticized the plan, saying “there are no shortcuts in the Middle East.”
Preempting Netanyahu’s comments, he said that Israel was weary of such international efforts as they absolved the Palestinians of responsibility to negotiate.
Valls told both Rivlin and Netanyahu that France had Israel’s best interests in mind.
“France has a genuine and real desire to help the situation between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said in his statements to both Rivlin and Netanyahu.
Before his meetings with senior Israeli officials, Valls visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial where he laid a wreath in memory of the six millions Jews killed during the Holocaust. He also went to the Givat Shaul ceremony in Jerusalem cemetery to visit the graves of four French citizens killed in the January 2015 attack on the Hypermarche Kosher supermarket in Paris, and whose bodies were bought for burial in Israel.
After meeting with Netanyhau Valls will travel to Ramallah for a series of talks with Palestinian Authority officals, including meeting with Abbas.
Valls’s visit comes at a time of political turbulence in Israel, with Netanyahu expected to soon finalize coalition negotiations with the Yisrael Beytenu party, led by hardliner Avigdor Liberman, who is detested by the Palestinians.
Liberman, who lives in a West Bank settlement, is expected to take on the key role of defense minister.
On Sunday, Netanyahu told his cabinet that adding Liberman to the coalition would not negatively impact peace efforts.
“A broad government will continue to strive for a diplomatic process with the Palestinians and we will do so with the assistance of elements in the region. I personally deal with this a lot, in many places, and I intend to continue to do so,” he told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
To watch the meeting with PM Netanyahu klick HERE
The Article was published on The Times of Israel on 24 may 2016.
Europe’s media are rightly focussed on the despicable Islamist stabbing attack in Munich this morning that has left one dead and three injured.
So most Europeans will have undoubtedly missed that in Jerusalem, also this morning, two 80 year old women were stabbed in the back whilst out for a morning stroll by Palestinian assailants who fled the scene and went back to East Jerusalem.
Two 80 year old women. Probably grandmothers. About as much threat to anyone as a feather duster.
Shlomi Tedegi, a medic, described the scene of the attack: “In an area adjacent to the promenade we saw two approximately 80-year-old elderly women lying in the dirt. They were fully conscious and suffering from stab wounds, one in the extremities and her upper body and the second in her upper body.”
Meanwhile in Gaza, the Israeli defence forces keep uncovering fresh terror tunnels, and large amounts of chemicals used to propel rockets.
Starting tonight, Israel marks Yom HaZikaron, the remembrance day for all the soldiers who have fallen in defence of the country, from 1948, 1967, 1973, two Lebanon wars and all the attacks and skirmishes in between, as well as remembering the 23,447 Israeli citizens murdered to date by terrorists. It is rare to meet a single Israeli whose family circle or whose friends haven’t been touched someway by terrorism, or a loss of a loved one on active duty. This remembrance day is not harking back to a bygone age, it reflects every day reality and the price that Israel pays for simply existing. The numbers go up every year.
The number one overarching concern for Israeli citizens, wherever they are, is security. They want the freedom that most of us enjoy in Europe, despite the recent terror attacks: to live a life without concern that you may be stabbed, blown up on a bus, your house hit by a rocket or just randomly targeted to be shot whether you are a boy, girl, man, woman, pensioner, whatever.
Events in Munich, and the threat of Munich – and much worse besides – is the daily reality for Israeli citizens.
And sadly, shamefully, it is being massively overlooked by the EU. Who prefer to hold debates about settlements, and later today in Strasbourg about demolitions of illegal Palestinian buildings in Area C.
Tonight’s debate in the European Parliament, where EEAS Chief Federica Mogherini will speak too, is symptomatic of this myopia and, to be brutally honest, total lack of regard for Israeli security.
There is a simple and perhaps inconvenient truth that the EU must digest: The Palestinian population is currently completely unprepared for peace. They are fed from birth with a steady and unrelenting diatribe of hatred for Jews and Israelis. They are incited to stab, murder and maim. Most cannot even countenance the existence of the State of Israel. As one Israeli academic and thinker once noted “Even if we were to move all of Israel into a small apartment in Tel Aviv, it would be too much for them”.
Taking all of the above into consideration and in the absence of any concerted EU effort to tackle this ongoing and daily incitement, this raw and unbridled hatred that saw two stabbed 80 year olds lying in the dirt; we would respectfully ask any European citizen if they would want unchecked and illegal construction of homes by people who seek their and their family’s destruction within rocket reach of their own homes, cities, villages or hamlets?
We think the answer would be a resounding no.
So why must it be imposed on Israeli citizens? Something for all of us to think about as MEPs and Mrs Mogherini gather this evening to discuss demolitions of illegal buildings that they support through EU taxpayer funded programmes.
This Article was written by our executive director , Alex Benjamin and was published on The Times of Israel
The European Union Delegation issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Israel The EU Delegation to the State of Israel, together with all Embassies of EU Member States in Israel, joins people in Israel
commemorating today the deaths of six million Jews – innocent men, women and children, murdered simply for being Jewish. Remembering the Shoah means for us recalling our joint responsibility for the future, continuing to stand strong against antiSemitism, prejudice and racial discrimination in all their forms. It is our duty to fight against anti-Semitism on every front. We cannot and will not accept that Jewish communities in Europe do not feel safe. Attacks on Jews are attacks on all of us – against our way of living, against tolerance and against our identity. The European Union was built on the foundations of our values of democracy, human dignity and fundamental rights. We are determined to defend these values against hate, violence and fanaticism. Never forget. Never again.
The statement was published on 4 May 2016 on the EEAS website
An arch Eurosceptic might at first seem an odd choice for an Israeli advocacy organisation based in Brussels, where liaising directly with the European Institutions is our bread and butter, but few people are more friendly to Israel’s cause than Daniel Hannan.
In a recent TV debate with EIPA’s director, he stated his opposition to the EU, through deciding what territory Israel should and shouldn’t have, of predetermining final borders ahead of any negotiations.
And that’s not all: Mr Hannan came up with such a succinct summary of Israel and its detractors that we wish we had his eloquence.
“Israel’s story is by no means unblemished; but it is uplifting. It’s a story of how freedom can take root in even the most unpromising conditions. Such a story appeals to optimistic types, but repels the envious, the eternally aggrieved, the gloomsters who see free markets as some kind of racket — the same people, indeed, who tend also to be anti-British and anti-American, whether they be Left Bank intellectuals or Putinite nationalists or Bolivarian revolutionaries.”
Mazal Tov Daniel and thank you!
0.41%. I want you to keep that number in mind. It’s important in the context of the current UK Labour Party woes over Anti-semitism.
That’s the percentage that British Jews make of the entire UK population. Or for those of you who prefer real numbers, we Jews are 263,000 people out of 64.1 million in the UK as a whole.
Let’s put that into an even bigger context, there are more members of the labour party (388,000), than there are Jews.
So anyone looking at these numbers is probably thinking the exact same thing I am. How on earth has such a tiny minority managed to exert such a strong influence on British politics? And how on earth have such a tiny minority managed to effectively bring about one of biggest crises in the opposition labour party since the early 1980’s?
Well the short answer is that we haven’t and we don’t. We have simply been used as the latest pawn in the game of thrones by moderates in the parliamentary Labour Party who desperately want to unseat the radical head of Labour, Mr Jeremy Corbyn and his far left leaning acolytes.
Of course, we are quite right to feel indignant at the recent comments from some in the Labour Party about Israel, Hitler and Zionism. But they came from people that we shouldn’t be in the least bit surprised about.
‘Red Ken’ Livingstone has a history longer than my arm on being rabidly hostile to Israel and being supportive of the Palestinians. Jeremy Corbyn regards the IRA, Hamas and the PLO as legitimate friends and people to be negotiated with, and Naz Shah – who was suspended from the Labour Party last week – is the MP who dethroned George Galloway, the Saddam loving anti-semite, in Bradford: a town with the largest Muslim population in the UK, where race riots took place and where anti-Israel hostility is commonplace.
The only difference between these people from the last election is that they were marginalised, on the periphery, and not representative of the party as a whole. Like the embarrassing drunk uncle at the dinner table they were tolerated and derided in equal measure.
Now they sit at the top table, advising Corbyn and able to articulate their wacko views with impunity. Or so it seemed until last week.
You see, up until the moderates pulled out the Jew/Anti-semite card and put it on the table, they were out of options to get rid of Corbyn. They had tried throwing everything at him: Trident (the UK’s nuclear deterrent that Corbyn opposes), his desire to get rid of the Army, his poor performances at Prime Minister’s question time, his views on minimum wage and taxing the rich to the hilt, etc, etc, etc…
None of it worked, none of it stuck. For the moderates it was like one of those nightmares where you are trying to fight someone off and the punches you land, seemingly with all your force, feel soft and have no effect.
So somewhere, in a corner office in the House of Commons, a researcher was put to work on the Jewish/anti-semitism card. They sifted through tweets, facebook posts, old statements, speeches, you name it, to find the necessary dirt on the wacko faction. They didn’t have to look too hard.
They then picked the two weeks before the London Mayoral, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Assembly elections, not to say regional elections to launch their attack.
The idea was to create such a furore that the effect on Corbyn would be shattering. As it stands, Labour look set for their worst regional council elections since 1982.
Their Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has already said the row was costing him electorally.
The outworking of all this is that post-elections, the moderates can legitimately start sharpening their knives and inflict their badly wanted death blow on Corbyn and reclaim labour, putting it back on the centre ground.
And we helped them do it. We responded exactly as we were supposed to. Ambassador Mark Regev, Israeli politicians, Rabbis from every denomination, all appeared on TV. We, this tiny minority, got huge airtime and acres of newspaper coverage.
Ask any British Jew what they want most, and most will tell you to live peacefully, quietly, and to live a Jewish life without fuss and attention.
That’s why it sits so badly with me that we have been manipulated like this. Used and I would say, abused in this inter-Labour warfare.
We have been used in the past as pawns across the Political spectrum. We need to be more careful in future before falling into the same trap again.
The piece was written by EIPA executive director, Alex Benjamin.
We Arabs may be the people in the world who write the most poetry and romantic odes about human virtues such as brotherhood, justice, equality and the need to protect humanity, its soul and its right to inheritance. Our emotions, though, are nothing more in today’s reality.
The fact that we are in this position comes as no surprise. I say this as we are see Italy’s media campaign centred on politics, humanitarianism and civil liberties; as we witness its dedication to these virtues in its reaction to the death of student Giulio Regeni who was killed in Egypt a few months ago. Italy did not let the death of its citizen pass without comment just so that it could maintain its “economic” relationship with Egypt. It has pursued this case so that Regeni’s death has become a pan-European if not global issue. The Egyptian government now finds itself in an unenviable position because the Italian media in particular, and the world in general, has turned Egypt and its credibility into dust.
There is no doubt that the regime in Cairo is facing a crisis because of the unbelievable conditions that are experienced by the majority of Egyptians. This is not due to price increases, nor to the political authoritarianism in the country, but is because the regime is in the middle of an international scandal due to the death of an Italian university student in Egypt at the hands of the intelligence services or some other agency. It does not matter who killed Regeni, according to the Italians, but what is important is that an Italian citizen was killed in Egypt under mysterious circumstances. From an Italian perspective, therefore, it is important to shake the ground under the feet of the Egyptian authorities.
Not a day goes by without members of the Italian parliament mentioning Regeni’s name. Not a day goes by without the Italian newspapers covering every detail of the case and its progress. Not a day goes by that Egypt is not criticised. Not a day goes by that demonstrations do not take place on Italian streets and they are happening because of Regeni’s death. Not a day goes by that the Egyptian government does not find itself in a predicament because it has yet to provide the Italian government with any reasonable explanation about what happened to the student.
It was sad to see Egyptian representatives at a televised press conference answering questions as if they were in the dock in a court. They struggled to answer embarrassing questions. Both the Egyptian government and media have expressed their regret with regards to Regeni’s death, and there is now no other option but to find a way to free them from the consequences of this issue. Regeni’s ghost has become a nightmare for the regime that finds itself preoccupied with the death of a European citizen and Italy’s recall of its ambassador from Cairo.
Notice how the Italian government and people responded to the death of one university student in Egypt, and compare that to the tens of thousands of Arabs dying every day without anyone ever hearing of their story or knowing their name. Who is seeking justice on their behalf? A country which views the death of one citizen as the death of an entire nation is one which will work to protect human rights and force anyone who seeks to violate them to think twice about it. This is how self-respecting governments protect themselves and their people. Nobody can take governments seriously if they swat their own people like flies.
Regini’s case reminds me of the Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, the soldier who was held captive by Hamas for more than 5 years. Not a single day went by that Israel did not try to rescue him. Shalit’s case became a cause célèbre across the globe. As it took centre stage, an article appeared under the following title “Shalit the Israeli and Shalout the Arab”. Shalout is an Arabic vernacular term meaning to “to be kicked aside”. The article painted a clear picture of the differences between an Israeli or Western citizen on one hand and an Arab citizen on the other by making the distinction that the former is treated like a citizen while the other is thrown aside like an old shoe. When we Arabs call for the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one Israeli hostage, we are admitting to the discrepancies in the value of human beings, and that one Israeli, or westerner, is worth thousands of Arabs.
Now look to how the Israeli government is trying everything within its power to retrieve the remains of the famed Israeli spy Eli Cohen who was captured by the Syrian regime years ago and killed. Did you know that the Israelis have been speaking with the Russians in an effort to convince the Syrian regime to release Cohen’s remains so that he can be reburied in Israel? Do not be surprised if Bashar Al-Assad releases them via the Russians so that he can gain more Israeli support.
Notice the difference between Israel and the Syrian regime; while the Israeli government has been asking Putin for his help to retrieve the remains of one person, Assad has been asking him for his help to slaughter Syrians. His regime has been using all of Russia’s new weaponry to kill Syrians and destroy Syria. Putin himself admitted recently that Syria is the best place to try out new weapons and munitions.
A leader who makes little of his people gives the green light to outsiders to disrespect and hate him and them. Respect your citizens so that others can respect you.
The Piece was written by Faisal Qassem and it was Published on the MEMO website on the 22 April 2016
Less than 2 years after Operation Protective Edge, the IDF, using advanced technology, discovered the tunnel in the Eshkol regional council area; it was meant for an attack by Hamas’s elite ‘nokhba’ unit.
Nearly two years after the end of Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has uncovered a Hamas attack tunnel crossing the border fence into Israel, which is believed to have been dug after the 2014 war, it was cleared for publication on Monday morning.
The shaft was discovered inside Israeli territory, just a few dozens of meters from the border fence, in the Eshkol Regional Council, but not very close to nearby communities.
Officials in the defense establishment say the tunnel was likely meant to be used in a strategic attack against Israel, in which dozens of Hamas fighters from the elite “Nukhba” unit would participate.
Since the tunnel’s discovery last week, IDF engineering forces and fighters from elite units have been working in the open area between Kisufim and Kerem to destroy it.
The tunneling took place on both sides of the border, and the Palestinians in Gaza reported on it, but Hamas refrained from using the tunnel or taking other offensive steps against the IDF. And this despite the fact that according to Israeli officials’ estimations that Hamas was aware that the IDF had uncovered and destroyed the tunnel.
At the start of IDF operations, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and GOC Southern Command Eyal Zamir were present. Residents in the area were told that the matter was under IDF control and that there was no real danger, therefore life went on as usual. Even farmers in the area were updated and were given no special instructions.
A senior security source said last week around the time of the tunnel’s discovery, “We are not surprised by Hamas’s efforts as that is an opportunity for them to carry out a strategic attack. Hamas is not rushing to battle. We have identified other tunnels dug by Hamas, but they have not penetrated our territory.”
Hamas’s excavation of this tunnel appears to be have been done relatively fast compared to those dug in the years prior to Operation Protective Edge, pointing to their having learned lessons and invested an unprecedented amount of money – millions of shekels – in the project. Even the depth of the tunnel, about 30 meters, is considered unusual.
Nevertheless, in other respects, it is the same type of tunnel discovered before and during Operation Protective Edge – reinforced walls, digging pathways, branches and inner depth.
According to a senior Southern Command official, Hamas employs 800 tunnel diggers who enjoy high salaries compared to other operatives in the organization, and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades chief, Mohammed Deif, considers the tunnels a flagship project highlighting the strengthening of the organization’s military wing.
The fact that no weapons were found in the tunnel, and that Hamas realized that the tunnel was discovered almost instantaneously and yet chose not to use it to attack the IDF, reinforces the defense establishment’s opinion that the tunnel was not meant to send terrorists into Israel in the nearby future but rather in further down the line.
Not an Iron Dome-level success yet
Over the past year, after receiving intelligence on the matter, the IDF focused much of its efforts on finding tunnels along the Gaza Strip border. IDF forces have been seen scanning the area in past months, attempting to find shafts and tunnel openings. The IDF responded to any tip by residents of the Gaza border communities, who reported suspicious noise, even in cases involving towns relatively far from the border fence.
The new tunnel’s discovery is the result of field action, intelligence work by both the military and the Shin Bet, and above all, the result of the IDF’s new tunnel-discovery technology, which has been used along the border over the past year.
The IDF is treating the discovery of this tunnel as an initial step, heralding the new system’s full implementation in a few months. The new system is part of the IDF Southern Command’s “Southern Glow” operational plan, which includes the fortification of border measures against a mass invasion by Palestinian forces, as well as the deployment of early warning trackers which should aid in the discovery of terrorists crossing into Israel. Assuming the planned receives the required budget, “Southern Glow” is expected to be implemented during the next two years, starting with higher-risk areas.
IDF officials expressed their approval of the new technology used in discovering the tunnel, but the security community prefers not to call this a revolutionary moment or compare it to the implementation of the Iron Dome missile defense system. Still, the results of Israel’s investment in this technology over the past few years have led a number of other countries to send representatives to learn how to combat the tunnel threat from Israel.
“We need to make this discovery into a method, with the test coming in the next few months, in which we will try and find more tunnels,” said a senior Southern Command officer. “This is an ability that allows the discovery of very small spaces at depths of 30-40 meters, down to the level of ground water. We are still developing our method of handling this system. What we thought would happen during a certain time period with this system is taking four times longer (than expected).”
The senior officer doesn’t rule out the possibility that Israel’s breakthrough in the anti-tunnel fight could cause an escalation of violence on Israel’s southern border.
“We have defined the mission as being the destruction of all attack tunnels without reaching an escalation, but an escalation will not deter us. Hamas knows we’ve strengthened our defenses and that it will have a hard time surprising us. If we end up in a war over this – then so be it. This is a long, protracted struggle. Hamas is a sophisticated enemy. It learns lessons and implements them fast. Each one of these tunnels that we foil is a loss for it. Hamas will have to contend with the dilemma of whether or not to act if it sees itself losing other attack tunnels.”
The article was published on Ynetnews website ,18 April 2016
US Vice President Joe Biden denounced those in the international community and in the Palestinian Authority who have failed to condemn Palestinian terror attacks against Israel.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms the US condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts,” Biden said in Jerusalem on Wednesday at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Force was a US veteran who had served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be killed on the Jaffa boardwalk by the Mediterranean sea on Tuesday evening.
The attack occurred just a short distance away from where Biden was meeting former president Shimon Peres.
Biden noted that his wife and his grandchildren who have joined him on this trip, were having dinner on the beach nearby.
“It just brings home that [terror] can happen anywhere at any time,” Biden said.
When the issue of the attack came up during his meeting with Netanyahu, they had wanted to jointly visit with the other Vanderbilt students who had been with Force, but learned that the group had departed or were departing.
Such violence, he said, “can not be accepted. This can not be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way to behave. It is just not tolerable in the 21st century.
“They are targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, grandfathers [and] American citizens.
“There can be no justification for this violence. The US stands firmly behind Israel’s right to defend itself,” Biden said.
Force is the second US citizen to be killed while visiting Israel since the wave of terror began. In November, Ezra Schwartz, 18, was killed by a Palestinian terrorist who shot at cars that were stuck in traffic at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank.
Netanyahu thanked Biden for his strong support and denounced the PA for failing to condemned his people’s terror attacks against Israelis, including the one in which Force was killed.
“Unfortunately President Abbas has not only refused to condemn these terrorism attacks. His Fatah party actually portrays the murderer of this American citizens as a Palestinian martyr and a hero. This is wrong. This failure to condemn terrorism should be condemned itself by everyone in the international community,” Netanyahu said.
Palestinian society itself persistently incites against the Jewish states and glorifies those who kill its citizens, Netanyahu said.
Civilized societies must stand together to fight terrorism, said Netanyahu who added that his country had not better partner in this battle than the United States.
“I look forward to continuing to work together with you and President Obama to strengthen the remarkable and unbreakable alliance between our two countries,” Netanyahu said.
For the only MEP elected to the European Parliament from Germany’s Family Party, Mr Gericke packs quite a punch. An outspoken critic of the erosion of family values, when he speaks in the European Parliament, people listen. But it is his unashamed support for the State of Israel, his love of the country and its democratic values, and his willingness to step up to the plate in defence of it that sets him apart for us here in EIPA.
As a member of EIPA’s advisory committee and a newly signed up member of a Parliamentary working group looking into accountability and conditionality of EU Aid as a whole, Mr Gericke is often seen speaking up on Israel’s behalf, either late into the night during Parliamentary debates in Strasbourg or first thing in the morning at briefings and events.
An articulate drafter of Parliamentary questions and also questions to the European Commission too, Arne Gericke has a knack of getting straight to the matter, leaving little wriggle room for opponents to try and untangle themselves. For these reasons and for being a great friend of EIPA’s as well as Israel’s, Mr Gericke you are our MEP of the month. Mazal Tov!
Today (25th of February) Members of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee and MEPs on EIPA’s Advisory Board met with Mr. Ohad Cohen, Head of Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry.
The joint event in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Trade and Mission to the EU, underlined the importance of strong EU-Israel bilateral trade relations.
With a current détente in relations between the EU and Israel following the fallout of the labelling guidelines, MEPs, key staffers and representatives of the Ministry of Trade, held a round table discussion about the clear mutual benefits to both Israel and the EU of continued trade arrangements and Research and Development programs.
MEPs did however hear of Israel’s concerns about the spill-over effects of the labelling guidelines and the associated possibility of a “quiet boycott” of Israeli companies and products which may happen under the radar.
Another key question raised was how to ensure that EU-Israel economic relations were decoupled from matters relating to the on-going political machinations of the peace process.
Another week and still the indiscriminate stabbing attacks against Israelis continue, another week and still no condemnation from the Palestinian Authority, nor calls on this bloodlust to cease.
Can you imagine the international uproar and the weight of worldwide opinion if Israelis were wandering around randomly stabbing Palestinian Arabs? And can you imagine if the Prime Minister and his Ministers justified it as ‘popular resistance’? It would, quite rightly, result in a deafening cacophony of condemnation.
Yet with one more off-duty sergeant dead, and a civilian and two border guards wounded as a result of stabbing attacks in Sha’ar Binyamin and Jerusalem this week, there is instead deafening silence from the European Union. No attempts to hold the Palestinian Authority and its president Mahmoud Abbas to account. No attempts to impose cuts on their funding as they seek to wash their hands and say “this is simply a reaction to the occupation”.
Meanwhile Israelis, stoic as always go about their daily lives and respond in the way they do best: with gallows humour.
I was in Jerusalem at the start of the week, the first time since October, and the sense of tension was palpable. People looked over their shoulders, were wary of people who didn’t look Israeli, and they make jokes about who gets to stand in the middle if they are walking in threes, as that’s the best place to be if someone tries to stab you.
Whilst waiting for an Israeli friend to show up at Cinema City in the Government quarter, I found myself leaning against a wall, rather than sitting down so as to get a better view of people passing by. And I felt bad, knowing this is daily life for hundreds of thousands of Israelis.
This has to stop. And the EU needs to massively up its game in getting it to stop. If the Palestinian Authority think it can get away with inciting violence, then cry crocodile tears after acts of terror take place, well, it will.
So far – and now we are now in our fifth month since the wave of stabbing started – the EU has done precious little. A few words of condemnation, but no sanctions, no holding to account, no proper scrutiny, in short nothing of real diplomatic nor political worth.
So, as a result, the Palestinian Authority can continue to act with impunity. Safe in the knowledge that the EU is a toothless tiger. And that means more stabbings. More dead Israelis and Palestinians.
As Director of a Brussels based pro-Israel advocacy group, we are actively working on a political campaign to ensure that there is conditionality when it comes to EU aid.
What do I mean by conditionality? The Palestinian Authority gets Millions of Euros in taxpayers money in aid and support. Money that currently goes to support the cradle to the grave hatred of anything Jewish or Israeli. It currently supports schools named after suicide bombers, it supports the families of incarcerated terrorists, with a sliding scale of money dependent on the atrocity committed. It supports a regime – and I use that word in its proper context – that espouses the politics of the lowest common denominator: rabble rousing and hate mongering as a tactic to avert attention from its own shortcomings, namely endemic corruption and complete impotence in meeting the pressing social and economic needs of the people it professes to ‘represent’ despite the billions in aid money it has received over the years. I put represent in parentheses for good reason, the last and only elections, as you know, were in 2005.
And Brussels is turning a blind eye for now. Which is hardly surprising given it has its collective blinkers on when it comes to its obsession with settlements. After the labelling debacle of last November, the EU has been trying to mend bridges with the State of Israel.
But it still refuses to tackle the bloody great elephant in the room, resplendent in neon signage that flashes “Palestinian violence and incitement to violence.”
Ask any Israeli what their biggest concern is and the vast majority will answer in one word: security. Yet all of the EU’s diplomatic ammunition is pointed at settlements, thereby alienating one side of your partners for peace, and worse still playing directly into the false Palestinian assertion that “it’s the settlements stupid”.
If the EU is serious about getting the Peace Process back on track, serious about being seen as an honest broker, and serious about rebuilding its relationship with the Israeli government and its people, it needs to remove the blinkers and allow the spotlight to move to EU aid and funding Mahmoud Abbas’ hate churning Palestinian Authority.
It needs to hit the PA where it hurts: In its pockets. Conditionality means that PA funds get cut unless it stops inciting violence.
With 229 attacks to date, 340 hurt, and 32 Israelis murdered since this ‘campaign’ started, it’s essential that this incitement stops.
Turn the screws on PA bank accounts today and I’d bet it will stop tomorrow.
This Op-Ed was written by EIAP executive director, Alex Benjamin and was published at The Times of Israel as well.
A lot has already been said about the Swedish government’s Middle East policy and I will not get dug down in my past criticism of it. After spending a couple of days in Israel together with colleagues from the European Parliament, I would like however to underline a clear observation; The Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström’s anti-Israeli statements have damaged the image of Sweden more than we so far have realized.
That the Israeli government´s representatives, parliamentarians and media began speaking about a flaring diplomatic crisis is one thing, but when the general public and ideological supporters of Wallström react in the same way it illustrates the seriousness of the situation. In fact, Sweden’s reputation has been destroyed as a result of Wallström´s actions and some of the foremost critics are her own Social Democratic Party friends in the Israeli Labour Party.
In the meetings and conversations that I participated in, both in the Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish government’s actions have been a recurring topic. This was clearly expressed in Knesset’s Vice President, Social Democrat Nachman Shai, who explained that Margot Wallström not only has hurt her own image, but also Israel´s:
”What we are talking about is a terrible mistake. Tell her that we are hoping for a quick generation shift in Swedish Social democracy.”
Alongside this debacle, Israeli domestic politics are dominated by the country’s security situation. A special focus is of course on the Palestinian attacks against innocent civilians, attacks who are currently spreading terror among the population. Since the wave of terror began last year, over a hundred attacks have been conducted in which around thirty people have been killed and hundreds injured.
The functions of fundamental social institutions is being challenged and people’s daily lives have been limited. What previously was easy suddenly became impossible. At the same time, I was impressed by how well the society seems to work, how people’s concerns are taken care of and how quickly the necessary political decisions and measures have been taken. The handling of national crises in Israel is part of normality.
The security challenge is constantly present, and it also applies to the neighbouring countries, regionally and globally. Israel is surrounded by more or less hard line, hostile dictatorships ruling over their 450 million inhabitants. In addition a number of militant terrorist organizations are currently operating in Israel’s immediate vicinity; Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Sinai. All sharing the expressed purpose to destroy Israel.
This is relevant and important to recall in a political context where Israel is often portrayed as the stronger and militarily superior party. This is of course correct in relation to the Palestinians but in a broader perspective the country is in a vulnerable position facing the surrounding dictatorships and terror organizations.
After days of political discussions, meetings and field trips, I can conclude not only that the outside world´s perceptions of Israel’s security situation is at odds with reality. In the Swedish and European context it is almost only the occupation and the settlements that are discussed, which makes the picture incomplete. Other major events and phenomena are neglected or silenced.
People interested in foreign policy and media consumers seldom get to see the true Israel. A country with successful enterprises, entrepreneurship, research and education with empathetic and involved citizens.
Let me mention some of these citizens – people who daily are involved in shaping the Israeli society. Recently I met them in their different situations and places:
Salman Zarka, doctor at the Ziv hospital in Safed near the border with Lebanon and Syria. For years he has been responsible for projects treating victims of the civil war in Syria. Often the patients are people who were rescued by Israeli army patrols in the border areas.
When I met Salman Zarka he explained that the main focus is treating seriously injured and traumatized patients – both soldiers and civilians. So far, he and his team have been able to save the lives of 580 severely injured people out of the total of 3000 war wounded Syrians who so far have received care in Israeli hospitals.
”Most of them have learned at an early stage to see Israel as the worst enemy. But as a doctor and human being, it is my job to save lives, regardless of nationality”.
Gad Moshe Yarkony, Mayor in Eshkol in southern Israel. Born and raised on the Kibbutz Nirim, just a few kilometres from the border with Gaza, Yarkony lived for many years under attacks from Palestinian terrorist groups. In the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas he served in the Israeli army when a Palestinian rocket attack changed his life. Two of his closest friends were killed in the attack that also wounded himself. Hit by shrapnel both his legs are today amputated.
”The attack took place on the last day of the war. But I made a decision; to survive and work for peace with the Palestinians. From my hospital bed, I announced my candidacy for mayor.”
Yehuda Cohen, head of the Lipski company in Ariel in the West Bank. For several years Lipski is one of the leading manufacturers of plastic products in the region. The company is profitable, sales are steadily increasing and 20 per cent of what is produced is exported to Europe.
Half of Lipskis over a hundred employees are Israelis, half of them Palestinians. Yehuda Cohen said that staff turnover is low, and wages and employment conditions are the same for Palestinians and Israelis.
”For me, this job is a peace project. The owner of the company is considering moving the production because of the uncertainty regarding the EU’s decision on labelling of goods from the occupied territories. If so, I will not follow, since I want to continue working for coexistence with the Palestinians.”
Israel, like all countries is neither perfect nor flawless. But in all its simplicity, the meetings with Salman Zarka, Gad Moshe Yarkony and Yehuda Cohen, however complete the widely recognized and unfortunately one sided negative picture of the Middle East’s only democracy.
It’s time for that picture to change.
(This is an English translation of the blog post in Swedish ”Det verkliga Israel” published on this blog on February 13th 2016)
you can also find it here
After a difficult end to 2015 in the EU-Israel relationship due to the labelling guidelines, EIPA kicked off 2016 with a hugely successful standing room only event in the European Parliament entitled “Safeguarding the Peace Process: can the EU be an honest broker?”
Hosted by European Parliament Vice-President Pascu and Lars Adaktusson MEP, the cross party event heard from distinguished Israeli and EU speakers on the subject of Palestinian incitement, conditioning EU aid on a rejection of Incitement to violence and lastly on the EU’s role in the Peace Process.
The decision to label settlement goods causes friction within the bloc and strains ties with a staunch ally.
Israel’s U.S. ambassador sent gift boxes for the 2015 holiday season containing wine, olive oil, body cream, and halva — and a defiant note calling out the European Union.
The products came from what the international community considers to be occupied territories, and Ambassador Ron Dermer was determined to make a blunt point about the EU’s recent move to instruct member countries on how to label goods produced in areas outside Israel’s 1967 borders.
“The Jewish state is singled out and held to a different standard than other countries,” Dermer wrote. “Of the over 200 unresolved territorial disputes around the world, Europe decided that only these Jewish-made products deserved to be labeled.”
“In response to this effort to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights,” he added.
Dermer’s reaction reflected the anger that many in Israel felt after the EU announced that the wording such as “product of West Bank (Israeli settlement)” should be displayed on cosmetics and food products, similar to the guidelines already in place inBelgium, the U.K and Denmark.
More than one month after the guidelines were issued, the fallout continues. The decision has dogged European officials, caused friction within the European Union and strained the bloc’s ties with Israel.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini faced combined pressure, built up over several years, from the European Parliament and EU countries critical of Israel’s settlement activity to act. But now, as she tries to reassert her role as a trusted broker in the Middle East peace process, the labeling decision has made her task difficult.
“For Mogherini it’s never been the right time,” said Hugh Lovatt, the Israel/Palestine project coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “She ran out of runway and had to issue it before the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on November 16, because member states said ‘we don’t want to have to bring this up again.’”
In the immediate aftermath, Israeli canceled some meetings, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The labeling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories; Europe should be ashamed of itself.”
Then, at the end of November, Israel announced that it was suspending diplomatic contact with EU officials involved in peace efforts with the Palestinians.
“There have been a lot of gesticulations from the Israelis,” said one European diplomat, adding that particular ire had been directed at France, Belgium, Malta, Ireland and Sweden — countries traditionally seen as being more likely to criticize Israel.
But the diplomat said the EU is talking to Israel as before, pointing out that Fernando Gentilini, the EU’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, did not raise the issue on his recent visit to Israel.
The Israeli reaction “is an intimidation technique that the Israelis have tried and tested many times,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “For us, there’s no fundamental questioning of our relationship with Israel.”
Hostage to politics
Mogherini had a model for how not to proceed, in the previous attempt, by her predecessor, Catherine Ashton.
“It was handled badly,” a source close to this year’s deliberations said of the labeling guidelines proposed in 2013. “The Americans never heard about the proposal [before it was issued] and neither did the Israelis.”
Ashton’s push came at a time when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to revitalize the peace process. Israel complained and at Kerry’s request the EU shelved the proposal, which was hardly heard from again during the rest of Ashton’s tenure.
This time around, the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians were informed before the guidelines were released. “The work of quiet diplomacy,” the source said.
Another element of the strategy employed by Mogherini’s team was to attempt to use both political and technical arguments. Unlike the Ashton move, which was handled exclusively through the European External Action Service, this time more prominence was given to the role played by the Commission’s trade directorate.
“The EEAS chose to put communication on this matter in the hands of DG Trade, and say it was purely technical,” an EU official said. “As a way to unload the burden.”
In issuing the guidelines, an EU official argued the Commission was merely responding to member states’ request for “full and efficient implementation of existing legislation when it comes to the [Israeli] settlements.”
“This notice does not create any new legislative rules,” a Commission spokesperson said. “While it reflects the Commission’s understanding of the relevant EU legislation, enforcement remains the primary responsibility of member states.”
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskisreiterated that the labeling instructions were just “a technical issue, not a political stance.”
The problem, according to Lovatt, was that by delaying publication out of fear of stoking tensions in the region, “Ashton and then Mogherini held the labeling guidelines hostage to political considerations — so they’ve lost the legal, technical argument which they’ve had in previous situations.”
He compared the labeling fuss to the way Brussels brought in its rules for financing going to entities located beyond Israel’s 1967 borders.
“There was no attempt to intervene politically to delay the EU’s funding guidlines in July 2013,” Lovatt said. “In that case the EU stuck to its guns without having to sacrifice political capital.”
Instead, on labeling, “it has taken three years and two ministerial letters to write three pages,” one exasperated diplomat pointed out. “We organized the Crimea sanctions against Russia in three weeks! It’s unfortunate, if this had gone ahead three years ago we would have avoided the hysterics.”
This article was written by Vince Chadwick and Maia De La Baume and was published on the Politico website on 04/01/2016
As I write this, there is no currently viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no diplomatic process underway, and no indication of imminent negotiations. Yet, even with no way forward, even with no clear timetable for an end to the conflict — the tragedy that envelops us all — we are duty bound to recognize where and how we can take effective action to improve the prospect that we willbe able to live together, Jews and Arabs, in our region as we are destined rather than doomed to do.
Israel must take steps to improve the situation independent of the geopolitical territorial debate — steps that every sensible person understands serve simultaneously Israel’s moral and practical interests. Without resolving the question of whether or not Israel today has a Palestinian partner for peace, it is self-evident that the building of the new Palestinian city, Rawabi, is in Israel’s interest. Likewise, it is clear that cultivating channels of communication and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen, educators and cultural figures improves our situation. Is there anyone who does not see the value and importance of the majority of the Jewish population being able to speak Arabic (a plan for which I am pleased to see has been brought before the Knesset)? When it comes to all these possibilities, we should have started yesterday.
Even in Jerusalem, seen by many as the greatest diplomatic challenge to any peace treaty, there is much we can do. It is worth understanding that the Israeli right has long ignored the eastern part of the city for reasons of internal political differences, while the left has equally neglected investing in the need for infrastructure to serve the 300,000 Palestinians of the city as part of an ideology of political separation from the Palestinians. Thus, in debating the future, we have neglected to deal with eastern parts of Jerusalem in the present — and thereby literally abandoned the security of Jewish inhabitants and the welfare of Arab ones. Does anyone think that dealing with the sewage, roads, schools and medical centers of eastern Jerusalem can or should wait until the end of the conflict? Is there anyone who thinks the consequences of these economic disparities in the city will stop at genuine or fictitious political borders? At concrete walls or fences? Or as a result of this or that agreement on sovereignty?
In the heat of our internal controversy over the country’s borders, the character of our neighbors and the nature of the final settlement or its feasibility, we are prone to ignore the necessity of managing relations between people in the present. But it is the here-and-now in which people — including children and young people — actually live. It is the present in which their consciousness is formed and their path in life crystalized.
Last night Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to suspend contacts with EU representatives regarding the political process/peace process with the Palestinians.
Mr Netanyahu has ordered contacts to be frozen until “a reassessment process is completed”.
The MFA indicated in a statement that Israel was withdrawing from several bilateral forums dealing with the Palestinian issue.
“We have suspended the subcommittee on diplomacy, the subcommittee on human rights and international organizations,” the ministry said. “The remaining dialogues [with the EU] are continuing as planned
The move is a response to the recent decision by the EU to label settlement products from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Earlier this month the Prime Minister said: “The EU has decided to label only Israel, and we are not prepared to accept the fact that Europe is labelling the side that is being attacked by terrorism.” He then went on to add: “The Israeli economy is strong and will withstand this.”
It should be stated that whilst Israel is suspending cooperation and work with the European Union itself on the peace process, it will continue diplomatic cooperation with individual member states such as Germany, Britain and France.
In addition to the suspension of contacts with the EU, and as part of its fight against the EU decision, Israel has decided to take measures against 16 European countries: the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium and Finland.
The measures include summoning the ambassadors of the 16 countries to the Foreign Ministry for an official rebuke; and restricting meetings between ambassadors and senior Israeli officials to low-level government staffers.
Here at EIPA we view this as a worrying move at a time when EU-Israel co-operation in fighting the terror and threat of terror should be at its peak.
As firm believers that the EU and Israel have much to share and co-operate on, we urge both sides to be restrained in their language and to rebuild the important political and diplomatic ties that both share.
We will of course keep you up to date on latest developments and to clarify the situation going forward. In the meantime we again urge cool heads to prevail, so that this situation can be seen as a diplomatic storm in a teacup that can and will be overcome as quickly as possible.
It’s an odd sensation when friends in Israel are calling you up or sending you messages to stay safe. In Brussels.
The lockdown here – that has only been lifted this morning after the terror alert was downgraded – was the first real taste for many in the European capital of what the threat from Islamist terrorist looks and feels like. It was something so alien and so uncomfortable that many had no clue what to do.
Watching all this on the evening news from their living rooms in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, many an Israeli would be forgiven for allowing themselves a wry smile and a “welcome to our world” remark. Let us not forget that ordinary Israelis are still facing a wave of stabbings and car rammings that continue to kill, maim and injure. This week saw 2 more dead and 11 wounded, including a 12 year girl that was stabbed.
Instead, Israel, despite the recent raw deal it got from the EU on labelling, and despite an overarching feeling that Europe doesn’t really care, was magnanimous and generous in its response to the terror attacks in Paris and the dark shadow of a real threat to life in Brussels.
Quietly, surely and delicately Israel has been sharing its expertise in dealing with terror with its counterparts in Europe. Last week many Israeli anti-terror experts were in Brussels, all below the publicity radar, offering briefings, solutions and best practice.
The highest profile of these visits this week came from IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who held a number of private meetings with Belgian security officials.
The purpose of the trip was to establish unprecedented security ties involving Belgium and Israel. During his one-day trip to Europe, the IDF chief of staff also held meetings with high ranking military officials from the United States. Earlier this week, it was also revealed that Germany had received from Israeli intel services
key intelligence regarding an imminent terror attack against a packed soccer stadium.
This led lead German authorities to cancel a scheduled friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands at Hanover Stadium on November 17.
It is a sad state of affairs that terror has brought its blood soaked hands to Europe. To many experts it wasn’t a case of if but when. Well, there can be no doubt that it is here now, and European capitals, particularly Paris and Brussels are left undeniably altered and shaken.
It’s a tough lesson for Europe to learn, where old certainties and comfortable clichés such as “why can’t we all just get along?” no longer apply.
This harsh new reality does however offer an unprecedented opportunity for rapprochement between the EU and Israel after a testy few months.
We do, after all, now share a very simple and stark reality: That there are those who seek our destruction, by any means necessary. That there are those who abhor democracy, freedom of speech and the liberties that we take for granted.
I sincerely hope that the tragic episodes in Paris and Brussels will wake Europe from a slumber that somehow separates and compartmentalises the Israel-Palestinian conflict into something “other”, something that is unique.
It is anything but. Settlements and the temple mount are simply the latest smokescreen in a long running attack on the only democracy in the middle east. This is instead a sadly on-going struggle against fundamentalism that sees no place, no future and no role for any non-arab in the region, just as it views any non-adherent to this brutal and murderous narrative as the enemy.
Israel has shown this week that it can swallow its bruised pride on EU labelling, rise above it and take a decisive and leading role in showing EU states how to deal with and fight terror. It is showing people how you can live and prosper, in spite of terrorism.
Brussels is renowned as a foggy place. But its is starting to feel like people are now slowly beginning to see what is at stake.
The Op-Ed was written by Alex Benjamin, EIPA executive director and was published in The Times of Israel
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon on Monday called on the global body to denounce terrorism instead of legitimizing Palestinian terrorism.
The call came as the UN commemorated “Palestinian Solidarity Day” and passed a series of anti-Israel resolutions.
“Over the years, this assembly has passed countless one-sided resolutions blaming Israel for any and all problems confronting the Palestinians,” Danon said in a speech to the General Assembly.
“It is unfortunate that the seventieth session has joined the pitiful UN tradition of passing more than twenty empty anti-Israel resolutions, which deepen the conflict, distance us from real dialogue, and diminish the prospects of peace,” he continued.
Danon noted that in 1947, the UN adopted a resolution to partition the British Mandate into a Jewish state, and an Arab state but the Palestinians refused to accept it, and instead have launched “violent waves of terror every time they had the opportunity for statehood”.
“If the Palestinian leaders really want peace, why do they refuse to sit in the same room with the Israeli Prime Minister? To sit down and to negotiate?” said Danon.
“If the Palestinian leaders truly want a home for the Palestinian people, why do they reject the very idea of a home for the Jewish people?
“If the Palestinian leaders are concerned for the protection of their own people, why do they encourage and incite them to terror and violence?” said Danon, who stressed, “No amount of biased resolutions and empty symbols will bring the change that the people of the region so desperately need.”
“You can raise a Palestinian flag here in the UN, but as long as the Palestinians fail to raise a generation committed to peace and reconciliation, there will be no end to violence,” he stated.
Danon held up a picture of the recent victims of terrorism in Israel and said, “This is a shameful day for the UN.”
“Instead of issuing a clear and categorical statement denouncing all acts of terror, this institution has granted legitimacy to Palestinian terror,” he continued.
The heinous murder of a twenty innocent Israelis, just because they are Israelis, is no different than the cruel massacre of innocents in France. Terror is terror is terror, and it must be fought against, not justified,” stressed Danon.
If the UN wants to play a constructive role, it must get a grip on reality, and hold the Palestinians accountable. Demand that the Palestinians leaders cease their incitement to violence,” he said.
“Insist that President Abbas finally, finally respond to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s repeated calls to negotiate. And make it clear that peace will only come once the Palestinians accept that Israel is the home of the Jewish people.”
this article was post on 24 November 2015 on Arutz Sheva website
As you will be aware, and after much fanfare, the EU published its guidelines on labelling of products in the West Bank and Golan Heights.
Here at EIPA we think that in the midst of a continuing wave of indiscriminate terror attacks against Israel’s civilian population, the decision to publish these guidelines makes zero political sense from a set of EU institutions that want to be seen as an honest broker in the Peace Process.
The EU’s Foreign Policy Chief can try and dress this move up as consumer protection, a technical trade detail or as a non-binding set of guidelines, but to the vast majority of Israelis it will be viewed very simply: as a slap in the face and an overt political move to punish Israel.
What is worse is that EU labelling of settlement products gives credence to the Mahmoud Abbas narrative that the stabbing attacks and car-rammings are somehow linked to settlements.
This lack of balance and a feeling of Israel getting the stick while the Palestinian authority gets the carrot has already had grave consequences for the EU- Israel relationship. This relationship is very important and we at EIPA are concerned at the needless deterioration of it.
As we write, Israel and the EU are engaged in a game of tit for tat. In retaliation at the publication of the EU guidelines – which in short will see an EU refusal to recognise products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights as “product of Israel”, instead they must say “product of West bank (Israeli settlement)” – Israel has done the following.
- President Rivlin has cancelled his planned visit to the EU in Brussels on December
- The EU envoy to Israel was summoned to the MFA and was reprimanded
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suspended dialogue with the EU on a number of fronts
- Deputy Foreign Minister Hotoveli said the MFA will suspend all peace negotiations with the EU
- Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked said she will examine taking legal steps against the EU
- Minister Uri Ariel has returned his European made Citroen and is now driving a Japanese car
The question has to be asked: Was a move on labelling even necessary? What ends does it serve from an EU perspective other than souring the political milk with one side in the peace process?
EIPA will be working hard to convince the various Foreign ministries around Europe that this move should absolutely not be implemented if European capitals want to enjoy a balanced and harmonious relationship with the state of Israel.
The actions of the EU are an ample example of how not to behave diplomatically and politically. This damage will take time and effort to repair. EIPA are committed to facilitate this much needed rapprochement in the weeks ahead.
To read the Guidelines click here
Mahmoud Abbas is such a master of stretching the elasticity of the truth, such a perverter of language, that in ordinary circumstances you couldn’t help but admire his downright deluded chutzpah. This week he reminded us here at Europe Israel Public Affairs of Comical Ali, the information minister during the Iraq War, with his lies and deluded pronouncements.
But this is not something that we can laugh at. He is the Leader of Israel’s supposed partner in peace. He is supposed to represent Palestinian interests. In short he is supposed to be a statesman.
Instead, he continues to incite violence and terror, firstly by feeding Palestinian paranoia about Israel’s desire to change the status of the Temple Mount (something that is patently and unequivocally untrue, as Israel has repeatedly stated), secondly by lying about Israel murdering a teenager (said teenager is in fact being treated well in an Israeli hospital despite his attempt to murder in a stabbing attack), thirdly by his downright refusal to accept responsibility for starting the fire of violence and terror, and lastly, and perhaps most sinisterly, his continuing and frankly shameful refusal to condemn the attacks and call on them to end.
People on both sides are dying because of it.
This week we were also treated to another word bending extravaganza worthy of the world finest linguistic contortionist. These acts against innocent Israelis (including the stabbing of a 70 year grandmother at a bus stop) are deemed as “popular resistance”.
Now, when most people think of “popular resistance” they think of a strike, a picket line, a demonstration, or something like social protests. For Mahmoud Abbas scores of teenagers roaming the streets, shops, bus stops, trams, synagogues, restaurants, bars, schools, wherever to stab Jews (any Jew will do) is not attempted or wilful murder. Its not terrorism. Its popular resistance.
A Palestinian man ran into a group of orthodox Jews at a tram stop this week, got out and used a hatchet to hack at the injured. In this distorted Palestinian world, the assailant told his attorney (remember that Israel affords the basic human right to legal representation despite the lack of respect of human right shown by those committing such abhorrent crimes), that this was in fact…wait for it…A car accident. He had clearly learned a trick or two from his master in Ramallah.
What are European Leaders saying about this? They are urging both sides to restrain. Both sides. Is the lunacy of Abbas’s language so contagious that it has spread to the EU Institutions? Has political correctness got so bad and so twisted that the attempted murderer and the 70 year old are treated the same? As if she prompted the attack? Mr Abbas must be laughing to himself at such a false premise.
13 MEPs, all friends or members of EIPAs’ political advisory board, wrote last week to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, urging them to send a strong and unambiguous message to Mahmoud Abbas that incitement to hatred and silence in the face of murder would not be tolerated by the Brussels institutions.
As of today, still nothing. Not even a courteous acknowledgement of the letter by democratically elected parliamentarians from across the political divide and across the continent. Mr Schulz delivered his state of the Union speech to the European Summit yesterday here in Brussels and didn’t even mention events in Jerusalem.
Despite all of this, despite a bewildered, afraid and traumatised Israeli public, may of whom are calling for a tough response, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again, and only yesterday, extended his invitation for peace talks with Mr Abbas, at a place of his choosing and without pre-conditions.
Like him or loathe him. Mr Netanyahu is showing statesmanship and solid political leadership.
One doesn’t expect any reciprocity from the Palestinian leader.
But one certainly does from Brussels. The fact that a strong statement is not forthcoming from the EU’s leadership, that outright murder is couched and downgraded through political language and that the aggressor is treated in equal terms as the victim, is indeed worthy of the late comical Ali.
Except nobody in Israel, nor indeed the hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Europe, are laughing.
Instead they feel nauseous. It feels to them like Israeli and Jewish lives don’t matter.
And Europe, right now, is doing nothing to prove that this is not, in fact, the case.
Alex Benjamin is the director of EIPA
Today Members of the European Parliament and EIPA’s Advisory Board took part in a special breakfast briefing with H.E. Ambassador of Israel to the European Union, David Walzer on the recent wave of terror attacks on Israeli civilians. The MEPs discussed other pressing issues for the EU-Israel relationship such as the security implications of the ISIS presence in Iraq and Syria and the new dynamics in the region as a whole.
The start of a new year is an excellent time for reflection. When looking at the past year, I can’t help but notice that the struggle for Israel’s security in Europe remains. One needs to keep reacting to efforts that seek to undermine Israel’s legitimacy in Europe and it’s security in the Middle East.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is growing in Europe. This BDS movement may be strong but it’s not powerful. Thankfully, there are true friends of Israel inside Europe and the European institutions. They work hard to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism within the European Union. They did it again, when faced with the strong negative draft joint motion for resolution on the EU’s role in the Middle East Peace Process that was adopted in the European Parliament last week.
In a very short timeframe, they had to reflect and think of strategies to tone down the language proposed by the Socialist and Democrats Party. The proposed resolution contained so much negative language that it was almost impossible to imagine any agreement by all political parties on a joint text. After four hours of negotiations, in which the European People’s Party (EPP) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), the first and third largest parties at the Parliament, teamed up to delete the most poisonous language from the document. The end result is still not satisfying, but much worse was prevented.
They are the face of the true friends of Israel in Europe. They seek to achieve the best possible outcome with what they’re given – a very bad deal. Nevertheless, they prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We reacted and used our political weight to tone down the text as much as feasibly possible. It was the choice of the lesser evil.
We took out, for example, the wording, which called for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners currently serving sentences in Israeli jails. The ECR and EPP refused profusely to include any such reference, arguing that some terrorists are in prison because they planned to commit, directly or indirectly, a terrorist act. Releasing such people would go entirely against peace and EU values. Finally, the left was forced to make a huge concession to leave out any such reference in the final draft of the resolution.
Other wording that was deleted from the text included the call for the labelling of Israeli produce originating from entities beyond the green line. The draft text called for the ‘correct labelling of Israeli settlement produce on the EU market, in line with existing EU legislation’. The ECR and the EPP once again used their political weight and demanded any such reference be omitted. How can, we argued, such reference be conducive to the EU’s attempt to create a positive environment in which peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians can resume?
Another success of our persistence was the inclusion of the passage that any rocket fire into Israel by militant groups is unacceptable and that it is imperative for the EU to work in partnership with Israel to prevent the re-arming of terrorist groups in Gaza and the West Bank. Unfortunately, the basic notion of Palestinian terrorism is always downplayed in the corridors of the European institutions. It is the friends of Israel who remind their left-wing colleagues, that the latter is the root cause for instability in the region and the true obstacle to peace.
All in all, the end result is not perfect but worse was prevented. In Europe, the friends of Israel, want to retain strong economic, scientific and security cooperation with Israel. Side by side with the Jewish state, we want to equally benefit from EU-Israeli collaboration and secure and safe and prosperous future for both our regions. We therefore will continue to work hard to secure strong EU-Israel relations and expand our cooperation in this coming new year.
Bastiaan Belder is a Dutch member of the European Conservatives and Reformists group at the European Parliament. He is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as Vice-Chair of the Israel Delegation. He is also an advisory board member of the Europe-Israel Public Affairs.
This Op-Ed was posted on The Jerusalem Post on the September 25th 2015
Have you ever lost touch with a friend that you used to get on with? You aim to stay in touch but then after a while it doesn’t happen. The time of absence becomes embarrassingly long and instead of trying to rekindle things, it’s easier to let things slide. One side feels bitter at the spurn while the other is oblivious and just carries on with their life.
That’s what the EU-Israel relationship feels like just now.
The last Israeli Prime Minister to visit the capital of the EU institutions was Yitzak Rabin. That was 2