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March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

EU Pushes Israel to Negotiate ‘Peace’ as PA Heads to ICC

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

The European Union is pushing Israel to get back to work on reaching a final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority as its leaders prepare to sue Israel for “war crimes” at the International Criminal Court.

The pressure comes on the heels of an historic vote in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was elected for a fourth term, the only person to be so chosen other than Israeli founding father David Ben Gurion.

Late Wednesday night, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini spoke with Netanyahu and congratulated him on his re-election. She confirmed the “readiness of the EU to work with the new Israeli government on the mutually beneficial bilateral relationship as well as the peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” according to a statement sent to media on Thursday. Mogherini and Netanyahu “agreed to work together for the security of Israel and that of the region,” the statement added. The EU foreign policy chief stressed the need for the relaunch of peace negotiations “with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu stated firmly in this campaign that he would no longer attempt and in fact would work to block the establishment of an independent PA state as long as he is in office, due to the security risks such a move now clearly presents to Israel’s citizens at home.

Somehow this message has not been absorbed by the leadership of the European Union.

“The EU is committed to working with the incoming Israeli government on a mutually beneficial relationship as well as on the re-launch of the peace process,” Mogherini said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

“We are at a crucial moment with many threats all over the Middle East. The EU staunchly supports a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the interest of the Israeli people, of the Palestinian people, and of the whole region. We are at your side, you can count on us,” Mogherini assured.

She called on Israel’s “bold leadership” to reach “a comprehensive, stable and viable settlement of a conflict that has already deprived too many generations of peace and security. It’s time to turn this page and I’m confident that we can work together with the international community for a solution that will guarantee peace and security in the Middle East.”

Perhaps the EU leader has been conversing with U.S. President Barack Obama, who is now contemplating an historic change of his own.

For the first time ever, the American president is weighing support for a PA resolution in the United Nations Security Council that would establish a PA state in violation of the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords, and would force Israel to withdraw from Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem restored to its capital in 1967.

On Monday, Netanyahu visited the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa and vowed to preserve the unity of the capital “in all its parts,” saying he would “continue to build and fortify” the city.

The Palestinian Authority is set to become a member of the International Criminal Court at The Hague on April 1.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Wasel Abu Yousseff told Reuters on Thursday, “This makes it more necessary than ever to go to the international community and to go to the ICC and escalate peaceful resistance and boycott against the ‘occupation.’”

UN’s Ban Ki-moon Advises Israel on ‘How to Stay a Democracy’

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon claims Israel can only be a democracy with an end to building in Judea and Samaria.

Ban emphasized Wednesday – the day after Israelis re-elected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to lead the country – that Israel must continue final status talks with the Palestinian Authority for the establishment of an independent sovereign state.

This is “the best and only way forward for Israel to remain a democratic state,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters, speaking for Ban.

Netanyahu had stated during his campaign this time around that he would not allow an independent PA state to be created while he is in office due to the rising security risks. He also committed to continuing to build Israeli neighborhoods in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

During his past two terms in office, Netanyahu maintained a willingness to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority “at any time and any place” in order to secure a final status agreement that would create a “two-state solution.” PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, however, was entirely unwilling to engage in direct talks with Netanyahu and spent the entire five-year period working to avoid every possible opportunity to do so.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor responded to Ban, saying, “The United Nations may disagree with the policies of the Israeli government but there is one fact that cannot be disputed: that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. If the UN is so concerned about the future of the Palestinian people, [then] it should be asking why (PA) President (Mahmoud) Abbas is in the tenth year of a five-year presidential term,” Prosor said.

Abbas was elected in PA polls to serve for a five-year term as the entity’s leader in 2006. One year later, the Palestinian Authority was split in two when the Hamas terror organization carried out a coup and ousted Abbas and seized control of Gaza instead, which it maintains to this day. The Fatah-led PA government has continued to lead only the PA-controlled territories in Judea and Samaria from the entity’s capital in the city of Ramallah since 2006. Moreover, when his term was up, Abbas refused to step down and instead invoked “emergency rule status” which he has continued to this day. No new PA elections are scheduled for the foreseeable future.

Gal-On Reconsiders, Will Stay to Lead Meretz

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Zehava Gal-On has reconsidered her decision to step down and says she will stay on to lead the Meretz party after all.

Gal-On made the decision after it was announced Thursday the far-left party had won an additional seat after the count was completed, raising the party’s total mandate number to five.

The fifth spot came “from young supporters, from IDF soldiers,” Gal-On said in her statement following the announcement of the count by the Central Elections Committee.

US President Obama Punishes Israel for Re-electing PM Netanyahu

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Punishment for Israelis who chose to re-elect Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week was not long in coming from U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Obama administration is now reportedly weighing the option of whether to agree to a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, as well as the withdrawal of Israel from Judea and Samaria, with mutually agreed land swaps.

The resolution would force Israel to enter immediate talks with the Palestinian Authority, in advance of a final status agreement for both sides.

Obama administration officials said Thursday the White House may support passage of this new resolution, according to a report published in the New York Times.

“We are now in a reality where the Israeli government no longer supports direct negotiations. Therefore we clearly have to factor that into our decisions going forward,” a White House official said.

Major differences have emerged between the two administrations over the question of how to deal with the constant threat posed by a Palestinian Authority that succors and glorifies the terrorists in its midst.

Future contacts between Israel and the United States would be managed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Pentagon officials, the White House official added, saying, “The president is a pretty pragmatic person and if he felt it would be useful he will certainly engage. But he’s not going to waste his time.”

For decades, U.S. presidents traditionally call the apparent victor of Israeli elections after the polls have closed to congratulate them on their win. Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has received that call three times in the past, including from President Barack Obama, even during their most fractious relations – but not this week.

Instead, “the day after,” Netanyahu received a public scolding from Obama on his “divisive language” and a refusal by the American president to call his Israeli counterpart to offer the traditional congratulations. Secretary Kerry did make the call, per the tradition.

In an initial response to Israel’s election results, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the U.S. would have to “re-evaluate” its position.

On Wednesday, the White House spokesperson talked about the president’s “deep concern” over the “divisive language” used by Netanyahu’s Likud party, claiming attempts to marginalize Israel’s Arab citizens in social media posts urging voters to get to the polls to offset a high turnout of more radical Arab voters supporting the united Arab party lists. “These are views the administration intends to convey directly to the Israelis,” Earnest said. Similar efforts by Obama during past presidential campaigns among targeted populations were seemingly forgotten.

During Obama’s own electoral campaign, as GOP Congresswoman Ileana Roz-Lehtinen of Florida pointed out, the president himself used divisive language while trying to whip up support from Latinos. “If Latinos sit out the election cycle, we’re going to punish our enemies and we’re going to reward our friends,” he said at the time — which she noted was a “pretty divisive kind of rhetoric” as well.

“The [Israeli] election is over,” Roz-Lehtinen told Fox News. “Let’s move on.”

But in fact, that’s not happening. “They’re really sticking it to Netanyahu to this day,” she added, “… but President Obama needs to understand that the United States Congress sides with Prime Minister Netanyahu on [Iran].”

The straw that broke the camel’s back for the president, apparently, was a remark by Netanyahu during his campaign in which he stated he would not allow creation of an Palestinian Authority state next to Israel due to what is now obviously a security threat.

Earnest, however, said the president still believes a “two-state solution” is best, even though top Israeli leaders warn that such a move would pave the way for an Iranian launching pad on Israel’s borders – or worse, an ISIS terror state right in Israel’s midst.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the administration would “absolutely” continue to push for an independent PA state.

Speaking on CNN, White House political strategist David Simas congratulated Israelis – but not Netanyahu – and noted the difficult process of coalition building still lies ahead.

“Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks and we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government, and we’re not going to weigh in one way or the other, except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward.”

Tamar Group To Sell Gas To Egypt Through Same Old Pipeline Built For Gas Exports To Israel

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Published by Jewish Business News

A consortium of private, industrial, and commercial Egyptian companies will buy at least $1.2 billion of natural gas from Israel’s offshore Tamar field, through the very same pipeline Egypt had used to send gas to Israel.

On Wednesday, the Tamar partners announced a seven-year deal with Dolphinus Holdings, with a minimum 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to be sold in the first three years.

But Reuters cites an energy source in Israel who said the deal is likely to be more than three times higher, as Egypt has been facing an energy crisis.

The gas will run through the underwater pipeline constructed almost 10 ago by East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which executed the Egyptian-Israeli natural gas deal killed by the President Morsi government, and attacks on the pipeline by Salafi terrorists in the Sinai.

A lot of water ran through the River Nile since.

Texas-based Noble Energy is the field’s operator.

Chairman of Delek Drilling Yossi Abu, said the deal highlights Israel role as “an energy anchor for countries in the region” and that the deal will “radically change Israel’s geopolitical status.”

The Dolphinus deal is subject to regulatory and other approvals in Israel, Egypt and from the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG).

US Army Vet Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ on Trying to Join ISIS

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Turkish authorities caught a U.S. Armed Forces veteran this past January as he was allegedly attempting to join Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group, or ISIS.

U.S. federal authorities say U.S. Air Force veteran and New Jersey native Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, flew to Turkey from Egypt in January, but was denied entry to the country. Instead, they say Turkey sent Pugh back to Egypt, who then deported the veteran to the U.S.

(Given the skill and speed with which Turkish authorities caught this suspect, one wonders how three Islamic schoolgirls from the UK managed to sneak through the country into Syria to become Daesh “brides.”)

Pugh was arrested January 10 in Turkey and on January 16 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and has been held in custody since that time, the Wall Street Journal reported. The alleged wannabe terrorist was formally charged by the federal grand jury with attempting to provide material support to ISIS and obstruction of justice. On Wednesday he pleaded “not guilty” in a New York federal court room, CNN reported.

If found guilty, Pugh could be sentenced to a maximum of 35 years in prison.

According to a post on the blog of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Pugh’s Face­book pro­file included mul­ti­ple anti-Semitic and anti-Israel posts as well as posts sup­port­ing Hamas.

One of the posts written by Pugh in July 2014 stated in part, “All the evil done by the Jews came from within them­selves. On the day of Judg­ment full respon­si­bil­ity of the starv­ing, tor­ture, jail­ing and killing of inno­cent Mus­lims will rest upon there (sic) shoul­ders. Allah must really hate them to give the rope to hang them­selves.” He also posted an image with text stat­ing, “Most Jews do not like to admit it, but our G-d is Lucifer.”

In August 2014, he shared an image that ref­er­enced blood libel accu­sa­tions, depict­ing Israel’s Prime Min­is­ter Binyamin Netanyahu slit­ting the throats of sleep­ing children. Pugh also posted sev­eral car­toons equat­ing Jews, Israelis or Zion­ists to Nazis, as well as numerous images claim­ing to depict Israeli war crimes.

Under questioning while being held in Egypt prior to deportation to the U.S. Pugh claimed he had traveled to Turkey to seek employment, denying he had intended to go to Syria, according to the criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court.

However, a search of the suspect’s laptop by federal agents turned up a map of Turkish-Syrian border crossing points, and some 180 jihadist propaganda videos – including a number showing ISIS prisoners being executed. Also found on his laptop was a letter addressed to “My Misha,” whicch stated, “I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic States.”

That Pugh refers to ‘Islamic States’ in the plural form is, in fact, quite chilling: Daesh has indeed spread its influence and its forces from Iraq and Syria into a number of other countries, including Yemen, Nigeria and Libya. Pockets of terrorist cells have also been found in the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, Lebanon, France, Belgium, and Denmark.

Pugh was charged with “obstruction of justice” in response to the suspect’s intentional damage and removal of memory chips from four thumb drives in order to stymie law enforcement officials in their attempts to access data, authorities said. According to the criminal complaint, Pugh was also asked why he had a photo of a machine gun on his cell phone. He replied that he had “no particular reason other than simply liking the photograph.”

But Pugh’s history did not begin with his flight to the Turkish-Syrian border; actually he has been on the “watch list” for more than 10 years. Quoting the criminal complaint, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pugh converted to Islam and then started ramping up his radical sympathies after moving to San Antonio in 1998.

The FBI received a first tip from a co-worker while Pugh was working as a mechanic for American Airlines in 2001, when he was saying he sympathized with Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and supported the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Africa. By 2002, the FBI heard that Pugh had expressed interest in traveling to Chechnya to fight the jihad (Islamic holy war.)

Pugh had already worked as an Air Force mechanic from 1986 to 1990, and was assigned to various bases around the world, according to the U.S. Air Force. He lived abroad for some 18 months, including in Egypt and Jordan, prior to his arrest, according to the criminal complaint. But following his discharge, Pugh had trouble holding down a steady job.

At some point from 2009 to 2010, he worked as an Army contractor for a five month period in Iraq.

Earlier this year, he was fired again, this time from a gig as an airplane mechanic for a firm “based in the Middle East.”

Last Friday, three Brooklyn men also pleaded “not guilty” in Brooklyn federal court to charges of conspiring to aid the ISIS terrorist organization.

Over the past 18 months “dozens” of Americans have faced criminal charges relating to ISIS. FBI director James Comey said at a news briefing last month that his agency has active cases open “in every single state” in connection with the ISIS terror organization.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Preventing Americans from joining ISIS has become a priority for federal law-enforcement officials, but they have been unable to find a singular profile of the type of American who is inspired by the militant group’s propaganda.”

Due to the lack of a hat, a tip of the keyboard will have to do for kudos to WSJ journalists Dion Nissenbaum and Nicole Hong for being able to compose and type that last with a (presumed) straight face.

19 Dead, 20 Wounded in Terror Attack at Tunisia’s Bardo Museum

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Seven foreign tourists and a security official were among the 19 people who died Wednesday when at least five terrorists attacked the famed Bardo museum in Tunis.

In early years at the Bardo, Jewish antiquities were highlighted in the “Judaica Hall” which adjoined a museographic arrangement deployed in the great Iwan hall of the Tunisian palace, arranged by Louis Poinssot in 1932. Poinssot also reorganized the Christian department with newly-laid mosaics on its ground, and created an Islamic department in the pillared hall on the same ground floor.

As tourists gazed on the myriad wonders of the museum, however, gunmen dressed in military fatigues stormed the Bardo, killing and holding dozens of people hostage for a three hour period. Two of the terrorists were later killed by Tunisian armed forces, who freed the hostages. Three others escaped and were still at large Wednesday night local time, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. At least 20 people were wounded in the melee.

The attack was hailed on Twitter accounts aligned with Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, as “ghazwat Tunis” – the “raid of Tunis.” Pro-Daesh accounts tweeted kudos to the attackers.

But no terror group had officially claimed responsibility for the attack by midnight. Thousands of Tunisian citizens have traveled abroad to fight for Daesh, however, though the group has not gained a foothold in Tunisia, an Arab nation that remains home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, on the island of Djerba.

The death earlier this week of Tunisian-born Daesh field commander Ahmed Al-Rouissi, 48, may have been the trigger for Wednesday’s attack. Al-Rouissi, also known as Abu Zakariya al-Tunisi, was high on Tunisia’s “Most Wanted List” for his role in assassinating politicians there. Al-Rouissi led a cohort of Daesh fighters in Libya and was killed in clashes with Libyan soldiers near Sirte, the stronghold of the late dictator, Muammar Qaddafi.

Daesh and Libya Dawn – a second radical Islamist group – are struggling for terrorist supremacy, while both are fighting with government forces in a situation similar to that in Syria.

Tunisian Interior Ministry officials said the Tunis terror operation began at around midday local time, Wataniya TV reported. Three Polish nationals were among the wounded, according to the Polish foreign ministry.

Two Italian nationals also may have been wounded, according to one report; according to the Italian foreign ministry, 100 of that nation’s citizens were confirmed safe and rescued from a tour in the museum.

“This is a black day for Tunisia,” said Karim Ben Sa’a, a tourism official. “We are very sad for these tourists. They visit our country and it is so, so sad to see them die. Our hearts are black.”

The museum, located in the heart of the Tunisian capital, is also a strategic target in that it shares the Bardot palace complex with the nation’s parliament. Police checkpoints were set up outside the offices of the nearby UK British Council.

While the parliament was immediately evacuated during the crisis, MP Sayida Ounissi tweeted, “We are not afraid.”

The attack follows a series of anti-terror activities by the Tunisian government. Last month more than 30 suspected terrorists were arrested, including a number who had returned from fighting in Syria, and some who allegedly were planning “spectacular” attacks, officials said at the time. Counter-terror forces also reportedly foiled attacks against “vital installations” in the country, including the interior ministry and civilian sites in Tunis.

It also came a day after Tunisia announced the results of a major sting operation in which a large number of weapons were seized from radical Islamist terror organizations.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/11-dead-6-wounded-in-terror-attack-at-tunisia-museum/2015/03/19/

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