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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘officials’

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

16 Senior Yisrael Beiteinu Officials to Be Indicted on Corruption Charges

Monday, September 26th, 2016

AG Avihai Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitzan on Monday decided there was sufficient evidence to indict Former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, former Deputy Minister Faina Kirshenbaum, and fourteen additional senior members of public institutions pending a hearing, Walla reported. According to a State Prosecution announcement, Misezhnikov and Kirshenbaum are likely to face corruption charges.

The initial charges were revealed in the 2013 State Auditor report on Misezhnikov’s conduct regarding various bids estimated at millions of dollars under his authority, which he was accused of steering towards people in his close circle. The investigation revealed that Misezhnikov approved million dollar budgets for projects on condition that they would employ his confidant Julia Root, at the time he was serving as Tourism Minister. The Auditor’s report also accused Misezhnikov’s chief of staff at the ministry, Limor Barzilai, of knowingly interfering with the investigation.

The State Attorney’s Office Economic Department told the legal representative of 16 suspects on Monday that their idictment is being considered pending a hearing. Misezhnikov is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, possession and use of a dangerous drug, and obstruction of justice. Deputy Minister of the Interior and the Secretary General of the Israel Beiteinu party Kirshenbaum is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, money laundering, and tax evasions.

Among the additional suspects is Director of the Organization Department of the Israel Beiteinu party David Godovsky, former Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture Rami Cohen and his wife Batya Cohen, Tamar Regional Council Head Dov Litvinoff, Ayalim Association Chairman Matan Dahan, and his deputy Danny Glicksberg.

This represents the culmination of the two-year long “Case 242” that was conducted by the Investigations and Intelligence Division Lahav 433 of the National Fraud Unit, which involved the investigation of 480 individuals, the seizing of tens of thousands of documents, arrests, and more than 900 statements. So far police have also seized property in an estimated value of $6.65 million. Police have so far recruited seven state witnesses, including Gershon Mesika, who resigned his post as head of the Shomron Regional Council.

JNi.Media

Israeli Officials Outraged Over Humanitarian Aid Transferred to Hamas

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Israeli officials were outraged after learning that an employee of the Christian humanitarian aid organization World Vision was indicted for funneling money and resources to the terrorist organization Hamas.

“Israel has today confirmed what it has known for a long time, which is that Hamas is sustained with funds from ‘human rights organizations,’” said Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud). “Instead of improving the situation in the Gaza Strip and rehabilitating it, Hamas uses the money intended for children and the needy instead for the benefit of manufacturing rockets and tunnels.”

The southern district of the State Attorney’s Office filed an indictment on Wednesday against Mohammed El-Halabi, World Vision’s senior branch manager in Gaza. El-Halabi was arrested at the Erez crossing on June 15 as he was attempting to return to Gaza.

The indictment against El-Halabi charges him with committing a number of offenses related to direct and indirect support of and involvement in terrorism on behalf of the Hamas terror organization.

El-Halabi, who confessed under questioning to having been an active Hamas member since his youth, said that Hamas chose to dispatch him in 2005 to infiltrate World Vision in light of his prior work for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Gaza. While employed with UNDP, El-Halabi helped collect intelligence for Hamas by stationing “farmers” near the border with Israel who were actually operating as lookouts for the terror organization.

El-Halabi worked his way up the hierarchical ladder in the Gaza branch of World Vision until he eventually became its director, allowing him to have full control over the branch’s budget and aid packages.

The indictment states that after becoming director, El-Halabi helped transfer money and logistical supplies to Hamas through a number of fraudulent schemes, including fictitious humanitarian projects, false registration of Hamas activists as World Vision employees, and the reporting of fraudulent budget figures. Supplies included iron rods, pipes, and building materials, which were used for the construction of Hamas military outposts and terror tunnels.

El-Halabi admitted that the humanitarian aid was received almost exclusively by Hamas terrorists and their families. El-Halabi distributed thousands of food packages and medical supplies to Hamas terrorists every month, including during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Additionally, El-Halabi confirmed that the money which was transferred to Hamas was primarily intended to strengthen the terror organization’s military capacity through the purchase of weapons and the financing of the construction of Hamas’s underground terror tunnel network.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely stressed that the activities of human rights organizations operating in Gaza must be monitored.

“It is important to tighten the investigations into contributions to human rights organizations and to be especially concerned that money is used for the purposes for which it was donated,” added Deputy Minister Hotovely.

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Avi Dichter expressed the need to be aware of how other international aid organizations are distributing their donations as well.

“Reasonable international bodies operating in Gaza are used as sources of money for the financing of Hamas terrorism in Gaza, and the difference with World Vision is just that the other bodies have not yet been exposed as such,” said Dichter.

“The naivete that characterizes the humanitarian organizations with good intentions is what enables Hamas terrorists to endorse the support for terrorist infrastructure,” the committee chairman added.

World Vision adamantly denied the allegations against El-Halabi in the indictment and claimed that the organization continuously made certain that all its humanitarian aid was not misappropriated.

“Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true,” World Vision said in a statement. “We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Knesset Committee Quarrels with Anti-Drug Officials over Colorado Legalized Weed

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

The Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, chaired by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), is interested in drawing applicable conclusions from the legalization of soft drugs in Colorado.

“It’s been four years into the legalization in Colorado and the sky did not fall,” Zandberg said during the committee’s meeting last Monday. “When things are legalized, the assumption is that more people smoke legally and report it.”

Dr. Adi Inbar, from the Knesset Research and Information Center, presented the figures of the first year of legalization in Colorado: “The main conclusion is that it is too early to determine the effects of this move, the future trends and its implications on other places”.

Dr. Yossi Harel-Fisch, Chief Scientist of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, said, “The result deriving from meetings of professionals from all around the world is that not enough time has passed to draw conclusions. We are worried about some trends – Colorado is unique also within the US for its high rates of drug use over the years. According to the figures, Colorado is placed first among the 50 states in marijuana use among youth aged 12-17.”

Harel-Fisch presented additional figures showing an increase of 32% in the number of students who are expelled from school due to drug-related issues, as well as an increase in marijuana use among students, a 30% rise in emergency room visits due to the use of soft drugs and an increase of 44% in the number of people killed while driving under the influence of soft drugs.

MK Sharren Haskel (Likud) said, “It is strange that people from the Knesset Research and Information Center say that there are no unequivocal figures, and yet the Israel Anti-Drug Authority presents unequivocal facts. It creates an uneasy feeling.”

Dr. Harel-Fisch replied that “The rates are not precise and therefore do not prove a causative relationship. There are many interpretations but no clear conclusions.”

Committee Chairwoman Zandberg replied: “It is unclear why cannabis stands for itself, it should be considered the same as any other substance on the list. While we see a moderate increase in cannabis use, we see a rise in designer drugs which cause harm. In Colorado figures show that the crime rate is declining, as is the number of road accidents. . . . and a new figure shows a drop in the use of medicine parallel to the increase in cannabis use.”

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) stated that “The main concern is for children and teenagers, and the question is whether legalization was made alongside an educational plan. During a visit to the Geha Mental Health Center yesterday, I was told of an increase in the purchase of the ‘Nice Guy’ drug, which causes a rise in violence towards staff and mental patients.”

Orit Shapiro, Head of the Prevention and Education Division at the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, noted that “over the past few years we have found that some youths are confused as to what is allowed and what is not dangerous. Legalizing would have immediate implications on the use of drugs – if it is allowed by law, then it must be fine.”

In response, MK Zandberg said, “There is an improper situation here, and you claim that the discourse is harmful. We are trying to have an intelligent discussion — alcohol is a more dangerous drug than cannabis, designer drugs as well, and my feeling is that because cannabis is considered criminal — you cling to the horns of the altar.”

MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), said “Criminal law today does not reduce cannabis purchase, but it [negatively influences] the attitude towards criminal law. We must reexamine the policy and should begin with no incrimination. It will enable us to combine criminal law with the symptoms which should actually be tackled”.

JNi.Media

France Calling for Use of Force in Syria

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told BFM-TV today that “if it is proven, France’s position is that there must be a reaction, a reaction that could take the form of a reaction with force.”

He added that “there are possibilities for responding,” but refused to elaborate. He did state that if the UN Security Council could not make a decision, one would have to be taken “in other ways.”

Syrian government officials said the claims of an army chemical weapons attack on its own civilians were “totally false” and the news outlets reporting those claims were “implicated in the shedding of Syrian blood and support terrorism.”

Turkey’s deputy prime minister has said only the Syrian government is in possession of the type of chemical weapons the opposition claims were used in the attack. Turkey’s foreign minister said “all red lines” have been crossed by the Assad regime.

But Iran has rejected the claims that its ally, President Bashar Assad, had deployed chemical weapons, saying the rebels would be responsible, if such an attack had really taken place.

“If the information concerning the use of chemical weapons is accurate, very definitely they were used by terrorist groups… who have shown they will not hold back from committing any crime,” Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said to the IRNA news, referring to the rebels.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged international supporters of the Syrian regime to “wake up to … its murderous and barbaric nature” ahead of the UN meeting, Sky News reported.

But Russia, the traditional supporter of the Assad regime, suggested the attack could be a “premeditated provocation” by opposition forces.

Officials from Russia and China are reported to have blocked a stronger press statement supported by Britain, France, the US and others, Sky News reported.

Earlier, Mr Hague said that if verified, the attack “would mark a shocking escalation in the use of chemical weapons in Syria”.

He added: “Those who order the use of chemical weapons, and those who use them, should be in no doubt that we will work in every way we can to hold them to account.”

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/france-calling-for-use-of-force-in-syria/2013/08/22/

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