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January 16, 2017 / 18 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘dept’

Fire Dept.: Nataf Fire Caused by Molotov Cocktail from Nearby Arab Village

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The blaze at the communal village of Nataf in Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, just twelve miles west of Jerusalem, in pre-1967 Israel, was most likely caused by a Molotov cocktail that was tossed from behind the fence of the Arab Katane village, just east of the “green line,” Jerusalem District Fire and Rescue spokesperson announced Wednesday.

The initial conclusions of fire investigators are that a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a grassy forest area and the strong and shifty winds helped the fire spread into a nearby canyon.

The fire spread quickly towards kibbutz Ma’ale HaHamisha and religious moshav Mevo Horon, but especially to Nataf. The fire raged through the local natural and planted forests to reach the outer homes of the village, trapping it from the east and from the west. The fire also gutted local ranch style restaurant Rama’s Kitchen (see images).

About 150 firefighters worked through the night Friday and into Saturday this week in Nataf, whose 400 residents were evacuated.

The Fire and Rescue announcement said following the investigation, a final report will be turned over to police.

The fire at Beit Meir in the same area continues.

David Israel

PA Arabs, State Dept. Mourn Fidel Castro, as Miami Exiles Dance in the Streets

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

The “Palestinian cause” was close to Fidel Castro’s heart throughout his political life, Al Jazeera reported on Saturday, in a lengthy account of the Cuban dictator’s anti-Israel and pro-Arab policies. According to the Arab channel, the diplomatic ties between Cuba and Arab refugees began as soon as Castro had become Prime Minister in 1959, following the Cuban revolution, when Raul Castro and Che Guevera visited the Gaza Strip, which at the time was under Egyptian occupation.

Incidentally, in 1959 Israel opened its first consulate in Havana, headed by Yoel Bar-Romi, who later described his excitement at the Castro revolution, which reminded him of Israel’s war of independence.

Al Jazeera claims that Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro developed close diplomatic and personal ties, and Castro invited Arafat to Cuba “at least eight times,” each time welcoming the PLO terrorist “like he was a head of state.”

Cuba condemned Israel at the United Nations for the first time after the 1967 Six-Day War. Cuba also began to provide military support to the Fatah movement, and eventually extended its support to both the Palestinian popular and democratic fronts. In 1973, Castro, who was eager to become president of the organization of non-aligned nations, severed diplomatic relations with Israel. A little earlier, Cuba and Nicaragua were the only Latin American countries who granted the PLO full diplomatic status.

Castro was a co-sponsor of the 1975 UN resolution 3379 declaring that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” The resolution was repealed in 1991.

The Obama State Dept. on Saturday issued an announcement saying, “We extend our condolences to the Cuban people today as they mourn the passing of Fidel Castro. Over more than half a century, he played an outsized role in their lives, and he influenced the direction of regional, even global affairs.”

“As our two countries continue to move forward on the process of normalization – restoring the economic, diplomatic and cultural ties severed by a troubled past,” the announcement went on, “we do so in a spirit of friendship and with an earnest desire not to ignore history but to write a new and better future for our two peoples. The United States reaffirms its support for deepening our engagement with the Cuban people now and in coming years.”

Meanwhile, according to the NY Times, Miami’s Cuban-American community took to the streets of Little Havana in the middle of the night to celebrate. They banged pots and pans, sang the Cuban national anthem and waved the Cuban flag. “They danced and hugged, laughed and cried, shouted and rejoiced.”

“Him dying represents the end of something awful that happened to us,” one Cuban woman told the Times. “It’s actually him — not anybody else — who caused this. It’s because of him that we lost our opportunity to have a life in our country.”

President-elect Donald Trump described Castro as a “brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” and expressed his hope that Castro’s death would result in freedom for Cubans.

David Israel

State Dept on ‘Illegal Settlements’: Jews Bad, Arabs Good

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

This will soon change, you know, but for now it was fascinating to watch how State Dept. Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau, at a daily press briefing, November 14, 2016, was able to describe the exact same construction issue as against and for peace, depending on the religion of the people involved.

A reporter said: “Yesterday, Israel’s ministerial committee for legislation unanimously approved a law to retroactively legalize the illegal outposts. Do you have any comment on that?”

Trudeau responded: “We’re deeply concerned about the advancement of legislation that would allow for the legalization of illegal Israeli outposts located on private Palestinian land. … If this law were enacted, it could pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank. … Our policy, as you know, on settlements is clear. We believe they are corrosive to the cause of peace.”

Next question, without an interruption, hardly a break for air:

“Also, a couple of days ago the Israelis made a Palestinian family of 12, or a number of families, demolish their own homes in East Jerusalem. I wonder if you have any comment on that.”

Trudeau: “We’ve spoken before to this practice of demolition. … We believe that any actions like that raise tensions are counterproductive to peace.”

To conclude: building Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem without legal authorization is “corrosive to peace,” while building illegal Arab homes in the same territory is not only a good thing, demolishing them is also corrosive to peace.

Spoken like an honest broker.

David Israel

State Dept. Condemns Jerusalem Housing Construction Amid Hints of Obama ‘November Surprise’

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israeli diplomats are expecting President Barack Obama to force a diplomatic resolution for Israel and the Palestinians at the UN (Obama’s Israel Surprise?). “The White House has been unusually tight-lipped about what, if anything, it might have in mind,” the WSJ noted, “but our sources say the White House has asked the State Department to develop an options menu for the President’s final weeks.”

The Netanyahu cabinet has been extra careful not to provoke the ire of the retiring emperor on the eve of that portion of his term when he no longer needs to worry about the Jewish vote and will be free to follow his heart’s desire on the future of Jewish life in the Middle East. But it’s hard not to provoke Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry when their threshold for irritation seems to be so low. Such as the building permits for 181 new homes in Gilo, in the 1967 liberated territories, approved by the Jerusalem municipality back in 2012 (the permit was merely updated on Wednesday this week).

When asked during his daily briefing about the Israeli most recent 181 violations of mankind’s hope for peace, State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby said, “We’re deeply concerned by those reports that the local planning and construction committee in Jerusalem approved permits for … 181 housing units and five community center infrastructure projects in Gilo, which is in East Jerusalem. Our policy on settlements, as I said before, is very clear. We strongly oppose settlement activity, which we believe is corrosive to the cause of peace.”

See? On John Kirby’s planet, which he shares with Kerry and Obama, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his entourage were already on their way to the Knesset in Jerusalem to sign a peace treaty recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State and maintain good neighborly relations with the Palestinian State next door, when suddenly a text message appeared on his smart phone telling him the Jews had decided to force a mass invasion of 181 Jewish families into Gilo — so the entourage turned back and returned to Ramallah.

“These decisions by Israeli authorities are just the latest examples of what appear to be a steady and systemic acceleration of Israeli settlement activity,” Kirby announced, lamenting that “in just the past few weeks, we have seen reports of an entirely new settlement near Shiloh, a potentially new settlement outpost in the North Jordan Valley, and over 80 Palestinian structures demolished in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

To provide much-needed context to the spokesperson’s wailing: the new homes in Shiloh will house the anticipated evacuees from Amona, uprooted by decree of a Supreme Court gone insane. And those illegal structures were an attempt by the Arabs to build without a permit in Area C, governed exclusively by Israel — a clear and intentional attempt by the EU, the US and local Arabs to violate the Oslo agreements.

When Kirby suggested that the above moves “raise serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” he was asked if the Administration might be planning to “draw a line in the sand where it comes to actions that you say or you believe hurt the environment for negotiations for a two-state solution.” He answered: “I think [it] shouldn’t surprise anybody that, as an administration … we routinely talk about the situation in the Middle East and in Israel, and that, obviously, is something I think you know Secretary Kerry’s very focused on, so of course we have discussions about this. But I don’t want to get ahead of those discussions.”

There you have it: the most an Administration official has allowed himself to say regarding his bosses’ post-election plans for Israel.

The WSJ suggested on Monday that the Obama Administration might “sponsor, or at least allow, a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction, perhaps alongside new IRS regulations revoking the tax-exempt status of people or entities involved in settlement building.”

Back in 2011, the Administration vetoed precisely this kind of resolution.

A vindictive President Obama could initiate or at least not vote against the formal recognition of a Palestinian state at the Security Council. It would cause Congress to erupt in a storm of rage, especially if the president uses an executive order to do the wicked deed. Which means the next president could revoke such an order with the stroke of a pen.

Which must make one wonder if a President Hillary Clinton would dare to reverse an executive order recognizing the Palestinian State. What do you think?

JNi.Media

Two Former Senior State Dept. Officials to Incoming President: Lay Off the Peace Vision Thing

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

“Memo to the Next President: Avoid the ‘Vision Thing’ in the Mideast,” two former senior State Department officials whose work centered on Middle Eastern issues, Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky, wrote in Politico this week. Based on their more than half a century’s worth of combined experience working on Middle Eastern issues in the Department of State, the two offered both their former boss, Hillary Clinton, and her opponent, Donald Trump, a list of ten things they should not do or say, if they wish to survive the “landmines, traps, hopeless causes, and impossible missions” this region has to offer in ample portions.

Eighth on their list of commandments is: Thou shall not “chase after Israeli-Palestinian peace without clear indications that the locals themselves and the Arabs, too, are prepared to act.”

“It should be evident by now,” they point out, that the gaps on the core issues “between Prime Minister Netanyahu and [Chairman] Abbas are just too wide to be bridged.” True enough. They also point out that even if they support the two-state solution (which they don’t disclose), it does not stand a chance unless the leaders of both sides “are willing and able to make decisions” — and it’s highly unlikely that whomever is chosen to succeed Abbas would be able to make them.

What’s left to be done, then, without the hope for peace any time soon? Plenty, apparently: “help keep Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation afloat; promote development of the Palestinian economy and issues relating to movement through checkpoints and border crossings; try to identify smaller issues such as the greater development of areas in parts of the West Bank under Israeli control; and increase cooperation on issues such as water, electricity, and infrastructure.”

Until there’s a change in the current stalemate, the two ex-officials, who are now working for Washington think tanks, recommend that the next Administration “stay away from high-profile US-initiated efforts to take on the big peace process issues. The advice Bill Clinton gave to one of us before the July 2000 Camp David summit is inspirational but not always right: trying and failing isn’t better than not trying at all. Failure undermines US prestige and power in war and peacemaking. It already has.”

Still, Miller and Sokolsky advise, don’t hang a closed-for-the-season sign on US involvement in the Middle East. The stakes – terrorism, energy security for much of the world, and nuclear proliferation – are as high as they’ve ever been. The US may not be able to transform the region (no Arab Spring 2.0, please), but it “cannot easily leave it either.”

And so, for a sane and pragmatic Mid-East policy, “avoid the vision thing, in particular major involvement in nation building and conflict resolution where locals have an insufficient stake, will or capacity to take on the lion’s share of the responsibility. Instead, drill down on protecting core vital interests that involve American security and prosperity, work with partners who, while not sharing US values, may share some key US security interests, and look for opportunities to use tools such as economic and technical assistance and support for civil society to build capacity and help governments deliver economic and social justice to their public.”

Amen.

JNi.Media

State Dept. Not Huge Fans of Netanyahu Video on Peace and ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ [video]

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

One of the disturbing points few in the media discussed back in 2005, when the Israeli government was strong-arming its 8,000 or so citizens off their lands in the Gaza Strip, was the fact that no one was entertaining the possibility of letting the Jews of Gaza become citizens of the Palestinian Authority. In fact, one of the things government agents took care of early on in the process was to disarm the residents of Jewish Gush Katif, so that they, too, wouldn’t dream of staying and defending themselves on their own.

Now one of the Israeli politicians who voted 4 out of 5 times for the program to exile the Jews of Gaza, including the dead and buried, then Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), has begun to ask that very question, this time regarding the Jews of Judea and Samaria: how come no one is talking about transferring the Jewish communities, along with their people, over to Palestinian Authority rule, as a legitimate Jewish minority with equal rights? Why is everyone insisting the area must remain free from Jews?

In a video he posted this weekend, Prime Minister Netanyahu is asking why everyone around the world is convinced Jewish settlements are such a threat to peace. Because while no one would seriously claim that the nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel are an obstacle to peace, having close to half a million Jews living in Judea and Samaria makes peace impossible.

“It’s called ethnic cleansing,” Netanyahu says on the video, noting that while Israel’s diversity “shows its openness and readiness for peace, the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews.”

On Friday, State Dept. Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau used her daily press briefing to rebut Netanyahu’s accusation, although a careful reading of her attack on the PM reveals she didn’t really answer his main argument.

The reporter who cited the Netanyahu video did a good job of digging up the key points, saying the PM is “talking about settlements and talking about the Palestinians wanting to have a state that has no Jews in it at all and saying that this is ethnic cleansing. And he also says that that demand is outrageous, that it’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find it outrageous. And then he says some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.”

Trudeau responded: “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful.”

She explained that “settlements are a final status issue that must be resolved in negotiations between the parties,” and the next line out of her mouth was: “We share the view of every past US administration and the strong consensus of the international community that ongoing settlement activity is an obstacle to peace.”

So, to reiterate, 1. Shame on you, Mr. Netanyahu for using bad words; 2. We will deal with the status of those Jews in Judea and Samaria when everything else has been resolved; 3. Jews living in Judea and Samaria are a menace to peace.

Why? What if the PA and the Israelis decide that they want Jews living in a free Palestinian State, carrying Palestinian passports and enjoying equal rights? How then would today’s settlements have been a threat to peace?

Trudeau continued with the familiar, regurgitated statements about the thousands of new settlement units being built (we wish) and the vicious demolitions of illegal Arab structures in accordance with Israeli law, which the US should respect but doesn’t. She then announced that the US is “engaging in direct conversations with the Israeli Government on this. … We’ll have our conversation with our Israeli allies and friends and we’ll see where that goes.”

Not everyone in Israel is happy with the Netanyahu video. MK Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the Joint Arab List, accused the PM of revising history. And MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) said that with one video Netanyahu managed to wipe out her accomplishments in the Sharon government, guaranteeing that the clusters of settlements would remain part of Israel as part of a two-state solution.

Israeli rightwingers will probably start drilling the PM on Sunday, after they emerge from their Shabbat rest. They won’t be happy with the fact that the PM has so openly entertained the possibility of a Palestinian State as a given fact. But the points Netanyahu made were sound and they could go a long way in stirring the presidential campaign’s foreign policy debate.

JNi.Media

State Dept. Funded Netanyahu Overthrow, Destroyed Evidence

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Rob Portman (R-OH), reported on Tuesday that the Obama administration had funded the OneVoice Movement, a leftwing group that waged a smear campaign to oust Netanyahu during the 2015 elections.

Meanwhile, according to the Washington Free Beacon, a State Department senior official admitted to the committee that he deleted several emails with information about the campaign, or as the report put it, “The State Department was unable to produce all documents responsive to the Subcommittee’s requests due to its failure to retain complete email records of Michael Ratney, who served as US Consul General in Jerusalem during the award and oversight of the OneVoice grants.”

As to the campaign itself, the report said: “On December 2, 2014, at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Knesset voted to schedule new national parliamentary elections for March 2015. Within weeks, an international organization known as the OneVoice Movement absorbed and funded an Israeli group named Victory15 or ‘V15’ and launched a multimillion-dollar grassroots campaign in Israel. The campaign’s goal was to elect ‘anybody but Bibi [Netanyahu]’ by mobilizing center-left voters. The Israeli and Palestinian arms of OneVoice, OneVoice Israel (OVI), and OneVoice Palestine (OVP), received more than $300,000 in grants from the U.S. State Department to support peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine over a 14- month grant period ending in November 2014.

“OneVoice used the campaign infrastructure and resources built, in part, with State Department grants funds to support V15. In service of V15, OneVoice deployed its social media platform, which more than doubled during the State Department grant period; used its database of voter contact information, including email addresses, which OVI expanded during the grant period; and enlisted its network of trained activists, many of whom were recruited or trained under the grant, to support and recruit for V15. This pivot to electoral politics was consistent with a strategic plan developed by OneVoice leadership and emailed to State Department officials during the grant period. The State Department diplomat who received the plan told the Subcommittee that he never reviewed it.

“OneVoice’s use of government-funded resources for political purposes was not prohibited by the grant agreement because the State Department placed no limitations on the post-grant use of those resources. Despite OneVoice’s previous political activism in the 2013 Israeli election, the Department failed to take any steps to guard against the risk that OneVoice could engage in political activities using State-funded grassroots campaign infrastructure after the grant period.”

Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said in a statement that the State Dept. funding of the V15 campaign constitutes a blunt intervention on the part of the US in Israel’s internal affairs, which proves once again how timely and vital the new NGO transparency legislation has been. “The people of Israel have elected a government to take care of the national and security interests of Israeli citizens and not to execute the dangerous plans foreign countries are trying to arrange for us.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/state-dept-funded-netanyahu-overthrow-destroyed-evidence/2016/07/13/

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