The UN Security Council on Tuesday dismissed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s claim, made before a special session of his cabinet on the grounds of the region in question earlier this month, that the Golan Heights would “forever” remain under Israel’s control, as it has been since 1967. In the 19 years from 1948 to June 9th and 10th, 1967, a succession of Syrian governments used the vantage point of the Golan heights to target the Israeli civilian population along the shores of lake Kinneret.
“It is time that the international community recognized reality,” Netanyahu said on April 17, announcing, “Whatever happens on the other side of the [Syrian] border, the border itself will not move. And secondly, the time has come after 40 years for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.”
Incidentally, what happens on the other side of the border is the brutal slaughter of military and civilians that has reached, according to some estimates, half a million dead, with about ten million civilians displaced. Had any Israeli prime minister in the past acted on the insane notion of returning the heights to the Syrians, Israel would have had to deal today with the worst fighting forces humanity has to offer virtually controlling its fate from high on top of the Golan basalt hills.
After reviewing Netanyahu’s claim, the UN Security Council members “expressed deep concern” over his position and “stressed that the status of the Golan remains unchanged.” The UNSC rotating president, China’s UN envoy Liu Jieyi, told reporters that Israel’s imposing its laws in the Golan is against Council resolution 497, and is “null and void and without international legal effect.”
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon responded saying, “Holding a meeting on this topic completely ignores the reality in the Middle East. While thousands of people are being massacred in Syria, and millions of citizens have become refugees, the Security Council has chosen to focus on Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will meet Tuesday to discuss what is being called “the Israeli escalation against the occupied Syrian Golan.” The driving force behind the meeting was a request by Kuwait, which holds the rotating chair of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers.
Kuwait wants the group to ‘take a unified and strong position… on the Israeli government’s [cabinet meeting] held in the occupied Syrian Golan” — that is, the government held its cabinet meeting last week for the first time on the Israeli Golan Heights, ruffling just about everyone’s feathers that day except those in Israel.
The Arab nation was likewise upset by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks on that day, in which he stated “the Golan Heights will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty.”
This is not news to any Israeli — after all,the Golan was annexed to Israel decades ago, in 1981 – but the OIC considered the statement a provocation. A statement released by the Arab organization named it a “serious escalation and flagrant violation of the resolutions of international legitimacy and international law.”
In fact, every single bit of territory won by Israel in the 1967 Six Day war – a defensive, existential war for survival – is still in fact considered by the international community a violation of some resolution or regulation decided in the global forum.
Last Thursday a similar meeting was held by the Arab League, calling for a special criminal court to hold a session on Israel. European nations such as Germany joined the United States – Israel’s “best friend” – and Syria in their condemnation of Netanyahu’s statement.
The move by the U.S. was particularly odd, given that Netanyahu has been especially careful not to criticize President Barack Obama publicly in any way despite provocations by his staff.
For half a century, half of the Golan Heights has been a sovereign part of the State of Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu simply reiterated the fact that it is not realistic nor sane to expect the state to return such a strategic territory to an enemy nation bent upon Israel’s destruction.
Hillary and Bernie locked horns, clashed, yelled and smashed into each other almost literally last night in Brooklyn, NY. There were cheap shots and there were deep cuts. It can be safely said that the behavioral gap between the Democratic and Republican debates have narrowed significantly, so neither side can claim the high ground any longer. As to the portion of the debate in which we were most interested, US-Israeli relations, we must agree Hillary made us feel a little safer. Sanders started off from the point of view of B’Tselem and J Street, while Hillary at this point is a little to the right of J Street. After last night’s debate, if you’re a Democrat who cares about Israel, we advise you to buy an industrial size laundry clip, put it on your nose and vote for Bill’s wife. Not because we endorse her, we really really don’t, but she scares us a little less than Bernie does.
And now, to what they actually said last night about how they’d like to finally bring peace to the region…
Blitzer: Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”
What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?
Sanders: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.
But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.
Heckler: Free Palestine!
Sanders: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.
Sanders: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.
Sanders: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.
That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…
Blitzer: … Thank you, Senator…
Sanders: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.
Blitzer: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?
An interactive delegate calculator that lets you simulate how the 2016 Republican nomination process could unfold.
Clinton: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…
Clinton: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.
They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.
So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.
That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…
Blitzer: … Thank you…
Clinton: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.
Blitzer: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.
Sanders: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.
And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?
I believe that it was, you have not answered that.
Clinton: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.
I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.
Clinton: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.
So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.
Blitzer: Thank you, Secretary.
Sanders: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.
Sanders: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long-term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.
That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.
Clinton: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.
There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.
I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.
Blitzer: A final word, Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.
Clinton: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.
If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.
Blitzer: Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.
All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.
The three Israeli victims of Saturday’s terror attack in Istanbul were identified overnight after their families were notified of the tragedy by authorities.
Yonathan Suher, Simcha Dimri and Avraham Goldman, and an Iranian national were murdered by a suicide bomber Saturday morning on Istiklal Street in the Taksim section of Istanbul. Numerous foreign consulates line the two-kilometer pedestrian strip along with cafes, restaurants and shops.
The three victims were part of a 14-member Israeli culinary tour of the ancient city once known as Constantinople. Their bodies are to be repatriated on Sunday.
The remaining 11 members of the tour were wounded in the attack. Two of the wounded Israelis are critically injured; two are seriously hurt and six are in good condition. Five returned in an overnight flight to Israel via the planes sent on Saturday night by the IDF and Magen David Adom (MDA). Two of the wounded in serious condition are expected to return Sunday afternoon.
An Iranian national was also killed; 28 other people, including three foreign nationals, were wounded in the bombing.
Dimri, 60, was with her husband Avi when she was killed; Avi sustained serious wounds to his legs and lung. Dimri was a retired kindergarten teacher; the family is well-known for their philanthropy and community activism in their home city of Dimona, said Mayor Benny Biton in a statement to media. Dimri is survived by three sons, a daughter and a number of grandchildren.
Two sons, Nadav and Ben, flew to Istanbul with the Magen David Adom plane on Saturday night to be with their father as he recovers in a hospital.
Both Suher, 40, and Goldman, 70 are dual U.S. citizens as well, according to Israeli, U.S. and Turkish officials. Suher, a Tel Aviv resident raised on Kibbutz Shiller, was celebrating his birthday with his wife Inbal, according to a statement from his family. He served in the IDF Military Police Corps and earned a law degree before launching a career in high-tech. His wife was wounded; he is survived by two children.
“We are grateful to the Foreign Ministry and MDA (Magen David Adom) medical teams for the assistance they have given us so far, and we pray for the well-being of Inbal, who was injured in the attack and underwent surgery last night in Turkey,” Suher’s family told media in a statement.
The bomber detonated his explosive at a quiet time, according to one of the injured, leading officials to speculate the attacker either was aiming for the Israelis or was spooked into attacking earlier than planned.
The street is normally busy with numerous shoppers filling restaurants and cafes.
Turkey is extremely tense at this time, after six terror attacks within the past nine months have taken the lives of more than 200 victims.
Saturday’s attack has been added to three others blamed on Da’esh operatives with the ISIS terrorist organization. Two others were blamed on PKK terrorists with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Jewish mega billionaires Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban and others are gathering members of The Tribe this weekend for a secret meeting on how to fight the Boycott, Divest & Sanction movement against Israel.
In the past year, student groups at a record 15 universities have adopted resolutions that demanded divestiture of the funds of their college funds from Israel-linked firms.
Adelson, who owns a casino as well as a vast array of media outlets, will host the meeting in Las Vegas, according to a report by The Forward newspaper.
A select list of pro-Israel activists have been invited to the closed-door weekend, which is not being discussed on the record by anyone.
The summons received by those who were invited requested their presence for an effort to brainstorm with the philanthropists at the Venetian Hotel.
Israeli-born Los Angeles Hollywood billionaire mogul Haim Saban is apparently one of the active movers behind the initiative, according to a source quoted in the report. Saban has already apparently spoken with former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, now a Knesset Member, to discuss the idea of setting up a task force to deal with BDS activists on American college campuses. The project would be aimed at countering anti-Israel activity on campus.
Another Israeli-born philanthropist, California real estate developer Adam Milstein, is allegedly the brains behind the actual structuring of the project. Milstein recruited Canadian businesswoman Heather Reisman along with Adelson.