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March 3, 2015 / 12 Adar , 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

Congressional Bill Introduced: Europe Must Reject Anti-Israel BDS in Free Trade Deal

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

If Europe wants to enjoy the benefits of what could be the largest free trade deal in history, the leaders of its member nations will have to pay a price: they must agree to reject the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, say two U.S. Representatives – one from each side of the political aisle.

The Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act was formally submitted Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 10) on Capitol Hill under bipartisan sponsorship, which is expected to smooth the way for rapid passage.

But there’s a catch. The legislation will “leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel, said Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), who co-sponsored the bill.

Additional co-sponsors are to be recruited to the measure after its introduction to the floor. The two lawmakers said they are optimistic the bill will pass through the House of Representatives.

It’s a great deal. It is estimated the measure could add as much as 0.5 percent to the European Union’s annual economic output. The flip side of it, however, involves how the bill impacts the ongoing free trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU. Foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges will have to disclose links to BDS activities, and whether they have faced any pressure for avoiding participation in any boycotts.

“The bill … establishes a clear U.S. policy of opposing BDS as detrimental to global trade and regional peace and stability,” the two lawmakers wrote in their introduction to the legislation. They also noted that the measure was created in response to a growing trend among countries “primarily in Europe, to isolate and delegitimize Israel through BDS for political purposes.”

“Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel, but commercial relations across the globe,” Roskam told reporters.

“The US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act will ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting US companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel.”

Vargas likewise noted, “BDS is a harmful political tactic which seeks to undermine and diminish Israel’s economic strength. We need to reassure our commitment to our ally in the region by clearly defining US policy to oppose this practice and dissuade other nations from adopting BDS policies toward Israel.”

The measure also unequivocally underlines the “strategic importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit of sustainable peace and regional stability,” making it clear that boycotts break down the potential for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the lawmakers said.

Perhaps that bit of wisdom should be directed towards the PA headquarters at its capital in Ramallah: Its latest anti-Israel economic boycott has just been launched, punishing local merchants far more than Israeli manufacturers. Worse, the boycott reinforces for Israelis the utter futility of attempting to secure any lasting agreement with anyone who claims to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Arab governments in the Middle East come and go, and so do those who lead the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The PA commitments in particular – on paper or otherwise – can be likened to a ritual courtesy one carries out in ceremonial garb. They mean everything for the moment, but are instantly put aside when “reality” steps back into the scene. In that moment, all is forgotten and anything goes, as happened with the obligations of the internationally recognized Oslo Accords.

A bill such as the Roskam-Vargas measure is invaluable, coming at a time when a European groundswell of anti-Semitism appears to be growing into a tsunami and the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be floundering in ways never seen before. The entire Middle East is in disarray, and Israel may be facing an existential threat from Iran as it gallops towards a nuclear military threshold. It is precisely now, as Iran strengthens its terrorist guerrilla proxies to the north and south of Israel’s borders, that the Jewish State most needs the support of its friends in the international community.

How fortunate that the lawmakers in Congress have chosen this moment to reaffirm — and concretely demonstrate — America’s commitment to Israel, and to underscore the strong relationship both nations share.

EU Openly Funds, Builds in West Bank to Change Israel-PA Status

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Hundreds of European Union-funded Palestinian homes, schools and other buildings have dotted the hills and valleys of Judea and Samaria – including Area C, the area placed under Israeli control by the Oslo Accords.

In fact, more than 400 Palestinian houses were illegally built with EU assistance in the area that is supposed to be under Israeli jurisdiction. The EU was a signatory to the international law designating the areas with their respective authorities.

No one has addressed the issue, which has been virtually ignored by the international community until Britain’s Daily Mail publication blasted the issue on its website, complete with incriminating photos and maps.

Jake Wallis Simons, writing for MailOnline, noted that all of the Palestinian buildings, “which have no permits, come at a cost of tens of millions of Euros in public money, a proportion of which comes from the British taxpayer.

“This has raised concerns that that EU is using valuable resources to take sides in a foreign territorial dispute.”

Wow. Points for bravery and sheer brazen audacity to you, Simons. Hope your site’s still standing next week, given the current trends in Europe and frankly, the UK.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to advance with plans to demolish the structures, Israeli media reported Friday. The order came a day after Simons posted his piece on The Mail’s website.

Some 17 such villages can be found in various locations around the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), flying the EU flag and displaying EU stickers and signs.

Brussels-based EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic denied the construction was taking place, saying, “The EU’s funding will provide training and expertise to help the relevant Palestinian Authority (PA) ministries to plan and build new infrastructure and enable people to reclaim and rebuild their land there. To date, no construction has started yet under these programs. The EU is not funding illegal projects,” she claimed.

When presented with photograph documentation of the actual homes not only completed but those in process of being built, with the EU logos in place, however, the spokesperson declined to comment.

Shadi Othman, an on-site spokesperson for the EU in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, spoke with The Mail on the phone. He told the news outlet, “We support the Palestinian presence in Area C. Palestinian presence should not be limited to Areas A and B.

Map of illegal structures throughout Area C funded and/or built by the European Union. (Map: Regavim)

Map of illegal structures throughout Area C funded and/or built by the European Union.       (Map: Regavim)

Othman made the situation crystal clear: “Area C is part of the occupied Palestinian territory which eventually will be Palestinian land. Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development. This is part of the work done to build the future Palestinian state which will live side by side with Israel. It’s an international and EU interest to protect the viability of the two-state solution.

And in case anyone had any doubts about where the EU’s bias lies – or why EU officials were in such a rush to meet with Israel’s opposition leader, Labor party chairman Isaac Herzog, this Saturday on the sidelines of the Munich security conference, consider the rest of Othman’s statement and its implications for the national security of Israeli citizens:

If some people are complaining about this, we should not forget the illegal Israeli settlements that are built on occupied Palestinian territory and are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace.” (ed. note: italics added)

No White House Worries Over ‘Election Proximity’ with Herzog

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Is the Obama administration tampering with Israel’s electoral process? Top U.S. officials met on Saturday in Munich with opposition leader and Labor party chairman Isaac Herzog, a candidate in the upcoming election.

U.S. President Barack Obama and senior White House staff repeatedly have claimed the upcoming Israeli national elections were too close to allow American administration officials to meet with Israeli candidates, including the prime minister.

Just a matter of policy, after all.

So how does that fit with a meeting between Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Isaac Herzog? Of course, the meeting was not “formally” scheduled and there were no photo ops.

The two American leaders both have said they will skip Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress on March 3 specifically because the date runs too close to Israel’s elections.

Herzog also managed to squeeze in meetings with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the sidelines of the security conference.

Following the talks in Munich, Herzog told Israel’s Channel 10 news that Netanyahu “won’t get to meet with a single American official on this visit – not from the National Security Agency, not from the White House, not from the State Department. It’s a complete boycott. Even if that’s not stated, that’s the story.”

And what a story it is. A complete endorsement of Labor party candidate Isaac Herzog, for whom the White House is clearly campaigning, along with the European Union.

One might be tempted to think that U.S. President Barack Obama is fiddling with Israeli politics. Tampering, even, with help from the European Union.

But isn’t that illegal?

“The EU Funds Illegal Construction” Claims a Report by Israeli NGO

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

According to a special report by “Regavim”, an Israeli NGO, the EU is actively funding and supporting the creation of illegal Bedouin villages in Area C. The EU provides the Bedouin with caravans which replace their traditional tents, thus creating permanent villages.

The report claims the new villages are created with no coordination or approval by the Israeli authorities which hold sovereignty over Area C by law.

In the Oslo Accord, the territory known as the West Bank was divided into three areas: A, B and C. Area C is the only area under full Israeli sovereignty; therefore construction projects need to be approved by Israel’s Civilian Administration. Ovad Arad, the Judea and Samaria Field Coordinator at Regavim explained the magnitude of the EU’s activity. “Between 2012-2014 the EU has actively promoted the illegal building of approximately 400 houses, replacing traditional Bedouin tents. The houses can be seen all over Area C – aluminum caravans with the EU’s sticker on them,” he told Tazpit News Agency.

“Imagine a hypothetical situation in which the EU is actively building permanent residence for the Romani gypsies in southern France or Spain, without any governmental approval,” Arad told Tazpit News Agency. “This would be unheard of”.

Shadi Othman, the communication and information officer for the EU office in East Jerusalem claims the illegal building is part of humanitarian aid provided lawfully by the EU. “The buildings are not permanent, they have no infrastructure, and they were built before the 2013 snowstorm. Furthermore, Area C is an integral part of the West-Bank and Palestine, we are fully mandated to provide humanitarian aid for communities there,” Othman told Tazpit News Agency.

Othman also claims the EU’s notifies Israeli authorities on its actions.

Meir Deutsch, Regavim’s Policy Coordinator spoke to Tazpit News Agency and explained the problematic aspect of the EU’s activities. “According to the Oslo accord and international law, the state of Israel holds sovereignty over Area C. Therefore, the Israeli Civil Administration is the only authority eligible to approve new buildings or villages. The EU dose not coordinates the construction of permanent Bedouins villages; it acts unilaterally on the field and shapes reality in accordance with the Palestinian interests.”

“The houses given to the Bedouins are permanent; a temporary house has wheels on it and therefore can be mobilized from place to place. These EU Aluminum caravans have no wheels whatsoever,” Deutsch told Tazpit News.

Deutsch dismisses the claim the aluminum caravans were distributed to help the Bedouins cope with the harsh December 2013 snowstorm, “the EU started handing those caravans in 2012, well before anyone knew a snowstorm will hit the country. In addition, Area C rarely gets any snow, so suggesting the caravans were handed for that purpose seems absurd to me,” he told Tazpit News. Deutsch also dismisses the EU’s claim of providing humanitarian support. “We don’t see the EU providing humanitarian support for Bedouins which live under the same humanitarian conditions in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, or other parts of Israel for that matter,” he told Tazpit News.

Deutsch elaborates and highlights the EU’s objection to the “noayma plan”, an Israeli plan to give Area C Bedouins lands for free and build them a new city, north of Jericho. “The EU opposed the Noayma plan. It had the potential to create a permanent residence for Bedouins. If the EU is honestly concerned with the Bedouin’s humanitarian situation, it could have supported the plan,” Deutsch told Tazpit News.

Regavim’s report accuses the EU for double standard towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The report points to the fact the EU criticizes’ Israel whenever it takes unilateral steps, while actively participating in unilateral Palestinian steps. Therefore, the EU promotes Palestinian goals and interests at the expense of Israeli interests, and with no regard to any regional political implications.
According to the report, the actions taken by the EU undermine legitimate Israeli sovereignty, while exacerbating and fueling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

UNRWA Runs Out of Money that Israel Says Being Used for Terror Tunnels

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

UNRWA said Tuesday it has suspended it program  rehabilitate Gaza, which may be good news for Israel since it says material shipped to Gaza are also being used to rehabilitate terror tunnels.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told President Reuven Rivlin in New York Monday night that the United Nations has sent a team to Gaza to investigate assertions by Israel that metal and cement shipped into Gaza are being used for tunnels as well as homes.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told The Jewish Press he is not aware of any money being used for the tunnels, some of which have been identified by the IDF as newly constructed.

The UNRWA program to help Gazans, whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hamas rockets as well as Israeli fire in last summer’s war, is dependent on pledges of $5.4 billion, including $720 million for UNRWA, made by foreign donors at a conference in Cairo last October..

“The gap between expectations after the October Cairo conference and present reality is widening. There are genuine fears that if UNRWA halts this program, the consequences could be dramatic,” said Gunness.

He added, “All of the money that we can dispense has been spent. There is no more money.” He also stated that no money is missing.

There are two UNRWA aid plans, one for rental subsidies and the other for cash payments for Gazans to buy materials.

The Jewish Press has learned that most of the money that actually was turned over to UNRWA came from Saudi Arabia, followed by the European Union.

The constant threat of violence from Gaza is often fueled by great expectations, and the halt to work for homes in Gazans could stir up the locals again.

And what happened to all of the pledges?

Par for the course, most Arab countries have not lived up to their promises.

For example, Qatar pledged $1 billion.

With the price of oil having caved in since October, perhaps the richest country in the world, which has investments of more than $100 billion, cannot find the shekels for its poor brethren in Gaza.

Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad may need the small change for the maid to clean his home in London, for which he paid $62 million and then spent another $110 million to refurbish, complete with marble bathrooms.

Rocket Fire Returns to Southern Israel – Again!

Friday, December 19th, 2014

NYC, NY – Rocket fire returned to southern Israel on Friday, disrupting the Sabbath preparations of local residents again, despite initial attempts by government officials to keep the news from leaking out.

The IDF announced in the morning hours it was checking reports to see whether the activation of the Red Alert system had been a “false alarm.”

It was the third such event to occur in southern Israel in recent weeks. It follows by a few days the European Parliament’s decision to remove Hamas from the European Union’s list of foreign terror groups.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror organization has been test firing its rapidly improving arsenal of mortar shells, rockets and missiles into the Mediterranean for months.

By early afternoon, Israeli military officials announced that this time Gaza terrorists had, in fact, aimed their weapons directly at southern Israeli civilians. It was the first time since the end of the summer’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge the IDF had admitted a rocket landed within Israeli territory.

This is also the third time a rocket has been fired at southern Israel, and has exploded on the Israeli side of the border, since the end of this summer’s 50-day war.

The Red Alert siren was heard blaring through communities in the Eshkol Regional Council district, located less than 15 seconds away by rocket fire from the Gaza border.

The Qassam rocket itself exploded in an open area, where it caused no property damage and no physical injuries to local residents.

An Eshkol resident commented that people living in the area have been holding their breath for months, waiting for the “other shoe to drop,” so to speak.

“The war ended… but nothing was done to change the reality,” Anat Hefetz told Ynet. “For four months already nothing has been done to prevent this… No initiatve was taken. We left the area on the other side to be controlled by Hamas… There are always infiltrations, attempts to shoot rockets and ‘false alarms.’ It does not surprise us,” she said.

Weeks ago, it became clear that Hamas has also resumed its terrorist tunnel building activity as well. The organization was able to pull materials for the construction from the limited goods allowed into Gaza by Israel due to pressure from the international community.

(Ed. Note: Story filed from New York before the start of the Sabbath.)
—-

For readers familiar with our wartime coverage, Friday’s rocket report log looked like this:

12:36 PM – Army admits that a rocket actually landed in Israel in an open area. This is the first time since Operation Protective Edge that the IDF admits that a rocket landed within Israel’s territory.

No injuries or damage reported.

11:46 AM A rocket alert was heard in the Eshkol region.

The IDF is checking if this is a false alarm or if there was a rocket launch, and if so, where did the rocket fall.

European Jewish Leaders: Court Decision on Hamas ‘Legitimizes Murder’

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) has expressed outrage over the removal of Hamas from the European Union’s list of officially designated terror organizations, after the European Court of Justice in Luxemburg accepted an appeal filed by Hamas against its inclusion in the list.

“We have reached a new low in moral relativity if an organization explicitly dedicated to the destruction of a nation and people, which actively target and commit terrorist acts against civilians, is no longer considered a terrorist organization,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said. “One just needs to look at Article Seven of the Hamas Charter to know their proudly stated genocidal aspiration to the mass murder of Jews all over the world.”

“If an organization like that can be removed from a terror list then there is something very wrong with a system, because this decision legitimizes murder and genocide.”

The appeal was accepted because it was argued that Hamas’ inclusion on the list of terror organizations was conducted against EU procedures and does not include sufficient legal evidence to brand Hamas a terror organization.

“It is a ridiculous assertion that there is insufficient legal evidence to brand Hamas a terror organization,” Dr. Kantor continued. “All the judges had to do was read the Hamas Charter and then have someone translate the thousands of videos and statements released to the public in Arabic which openly call for and glorify the murder of innocent civilians, men, women and children.

“This is a very dark day for the European Union and thanks to this decision we as European Jews, who Hamas openly declares as targets for annihilation, feel less secure on our continent.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/european-jewish-leaders-court-decision-on-hamas-legitimizes-murder/2014/12/17/

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