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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘diplomatic relations’

Netanyahu Heads to The Hague for Diplomatic Mission

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading to the Netherlands for a diplomatic visit on Tuesday for meetings with top officials on “deepening the bilateral relations” between Israel and Holland.

Netanyahu with meet in The Hague with Prime Minister Mark Rutte as well as with the Dutch King Willem Alexander at the Noordeinde Palace — the first meeting between the prime minister and the monarch since his succession to the throne on April 30, 2013.

The prime minister will also visit the Dutch States General (parliament) and meet with Senate President Ankie Broekers-Knol and House of Representatives Speaker Khadija Arib.

Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with members of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and expected to discuss with them Israel-Netherlands relations.

According to a statement from the prime minister’s office, Netanyahu will present Israel’s policy in the regional context and vis-à-vis Europe.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel and Guinea Announce Diplomatic Relations for the First Time

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold and the secretary of the Guinean president signed an official agreement establishing diplomatic ties on Wednesday evening in Paris.

The Republic of Guinea is a Muslim country in sub-Saharan West Africa, which used to be a territory within French West Africa. The state was established in 1958 after it gained independence from France. Although Israel previously had diplomatic relations with the Territory of Guinea and French West Africa, those connections were severed after the Republic of Guinea became independent.

“We are closing an important circle with the renewal of diplomatic relations between our two countries,” stated Gold after the signing of the agreement. “Israel calls on all countries that have yet to renew their ties with Israel to follow Guinea’s example. This way, we can all act together for the benefit of the region’s nations.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led a diplomatic delegation to several sub-Saharan countries—Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia—with the aim of reestablishing and strengthening existing diplomatic and commercial ties.

During that visit, Netanyahu hinted to the press that he intends to “meet with a leader of a Muslim African country with which Israel previously never had diplomatic relations.”

Later today, Netanyahu commented that “yet another African country will announce renewal of diplomatic relations with Israel in the next few days.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Israel and Turkey to Meet June 26, ‘Declare a Deal’

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Israeli and Turkish delegations are set to meet on Sunday (June 26) to “declare they have reached a deal” to end the six-year-long conflict between the two nations.

The two teams, headed by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and Israeli special envoy Joseph Ciechanover, have been carefully negotiating for months.

But after Sunday’s “declaration,” the agreement will allegedly be finalized, according to a report by the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, and then signed in July by Foreign Ministry undersecretaries of both nations.

Ambassadors will be reappointed in both countries and diplomatic relations will be normalized by the end of July, if all goes well, if the document is signed as expected, if there are no hitches and if everything else goes as planned. According to the report, if that takes place, the final obstacles will also be removed from joint military exercises, joint energy investments and joint defense investments.

If all goes according to plan.

All of Turkey’s demands have been met, in the wake of the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident that so angered Turkey’s then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he severed ties with Israel.

Years of talks — and in particular, these past months of negotiations — have led to creative solutions on both sides that allowed for dignity and saving of diplomatic face with Turkey’s demands still able to be met by Israel. It was a delicate task, given Turkey’s insistence on freedom for Gaza, and Israel’s need for security in the face of the Hamas dedication to Israel’s annihilation.

But that does not mean that the current President Erdogan cannot come up with new demands, or reinterpret those that were met — or suddenly reject Israel’s responses.

Should Israel suddenly take action in response to a national security issue that upsets or offends the Turkish president, it is quite possible he may dial back his nation’s agreement to re-establish ties.

Diplomats and officials on both sides are holding their breath.

Hana Levi Julian

White House Withholding ‘Shocking’ Info on Iran Treatment of US Sailors

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The United States is withholding information about the way Iran treated American sailors it captured earlier this year in the Persian Gulf.

Iran seized two American ships that were stalled in the gulf waters.

But Americans were not given a full accounting of what happened to the sailors on those vessels at the time of the incident. Footage of the Iranians photographing the sailors in prisoner positions briefly appeared on Fox News and a few other news networks in the United States before the State Department released a statement saying the matter was being “handled.”

Now Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia has told the Washington Free Beacon that the Obama Administration is holding back some shocking details about Iran’s treatment of the sailors. Forbes said the sailors were photographed in tears and humiliated in other ways.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Forbes told the Free Beacon information he had the opportunity to review the classified information. However, he said that because it is classified, it could take up to a year before the information is released to the general public, if it is at all.

Forbes added that the incident included violations of international and maritime law — and said in the interview that the United States did almost nothing in response to the aggression.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Slams Claim of Spying on U.S.

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed a report by U.S.-based Newsweek magazine claiming Israel has been “spying” on America.

The foreign minister told listeners on Israel’s Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday morning, “First of all, these are malicious accusations. . . I would not agree to any spying on the United States, not in any form, directly or indirectly.”

Israeli Embassy spokesperson Aaron Sagui also flatly denied the charges, telling Newsweek, “Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period. We condemn the fact that such outrageous, false allegations are being directed against Israel.”

The report, published Tuesday by Newsweek, quoted anonymous senior intelligence officials in the United States, and Congressional staffers.

Written by journalist Jeff Stein, the report began with the question, “Whatever happened to honor among thieves? When the National Security Agency was caught eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, it was considered a rude way to treat a friend. Now U.S. intelligence officials are saying – albeit very quietly, behind closed doors on Capitol Hill – that our Israeli “friends” have gone too far with their spying operations here.”

Stein wrote the espionage had allegedly been revealed in recent visa waiver briefings, saying the spying came under cover of trade missions and joint defense technology contracts. The alleged primary target: “America’s industrial and technical secrets,” according to his report.

Last month a senior House aide also noted the U.S. intelligence community is concerned that adding Israel to the visa waiver program would make it easier for Israeli spies to enter the country, the CQ Roll Call news site reported.

Counter intelligence agents, wrote Stein, had called Israel’s “espionage activities in America… unrivaled and unseemly,” and said they went “far beyond activities by other close allies, such as Germany, France, the U.K. and Japan.” Unnamed Congressional staffers referred to testimony at the briefings as “very sobering … alarming … even terrifying … damaging.”

Of course, wrote Stein, the United States spies on Israel as well. He quoted a former top CIA operative who told him that Israel was “the last place you wanted to go on vacation” because of ‘heavy-handed Israeli surveillance.’

Israel’s foreign minister, however, said Wednesday morning that he heard no complaints about “spying” during a meeting with members of Congress on a visit to the United States last month. Mr. Liberman told listeners he believes the charges are the work of saboteurs trying to scotch relations between the two countries.

The U.S. visa waiver program enables travelers to the United States to enter the country without first having to obtain a visa. According to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security quoted by Newsweek, requirements for entry to the program include “enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the United States, timely reporting of lost and stolen passports, and the maintenance of high counter-terrorism, law enforcement, border control, aviation and document security standards.”

Israelis face a high rate of visa refusal by the U.S. due to the problem of young people entering the country and then staying past the expiration date of tourist visas in order to work illegally.

Another obstacle to Israel’s acceptance to the program is the U.S. government’s perception of alleged discrimination against Arab Americans in Israeli security protocols.

Hana Levi Julian

US Lawmakers Meet with Cuba’s American Jewish Prisoner, Alan Gross

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Four U.S. lawmakers met in Cuba on Monday with imprisoned American Jewish hostage Alan Gross. The legislators visited the jailed social worker at a prison hospital due to his medical condition, which is precarious.

Gross was arrested in December 2009 while visiting Cuba to provide internet access for the Jewish community there. According to a report posted by the Havana Times he was employed at the time by Development Alternatives, Inc., and contracted by USAID, an American government agency.

Gross was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the integrity of the State.” Cuban authorities said he was caught “carrying sophisticated telecommunications equipment prohibited on the island, working for a well-funded, secret USAID program designed to topple the Cuban government.”

Speaking to reporters in Havana following their visit, delegation leader U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee said in a brief statement, “It is in the interests of both our countries to start negotiations, not just talks. It is time for both countries to make a serious commitment to enter into negotiations without preconditions.”

For years, Cuban leader Raul Castro has been trying to persuade the Obama White House to enter negotiations to free the “Cuban Five” — spies who were caught and jailed for espionage in the United States in 1998. Two have already been released, having served their terms. One is serving a double life sentence. President Barack Obama has reportedly shown no inclination to discuss the matter with Cuban officials, and no apparent interest in a swap deal for Alan Gross.

(Likewise Obama has had no interest in discussing a deal to commute the sentence of American-Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to time served. After having agreed to a plea bargain, Pollard was nevertheless sent to prison on a life term in 1987 on a single count of passing information to an ally. Often jailed under harsh conditions at the prison where he is held in North Carolina he is presently in extremely frail health. Hundreds of appeals to U.S. presidents through the decades have left all unmoved — including Obama, who has been approached by the current Israeli government.)

U.S. Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Emanuel Clever (D-MI) also took part in the delegation to Cuba. They met with Alan Gross for 90 minutes, according to the report. The delegation reportedly then met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

There have been no diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana in more than half a century. But Gross, age 65, has vowed that by the end of this year, he is determined to return home to the United States, either “dead or alive.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-lawmakers-meet-with-cubas-american-jewish-prisoner-alan-gross/2014/05/06/

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