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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘relations’

Turkey’s President Erdogan Shakes Hands With Israel’s Female Diplomat, Shani Cooper

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shook hands Wednesday with Israel’s female interim head of its embassy in Ankara, Shani Cooper, who has been appointed to field the office until permanent ambassadors are appointed by the two countries.

The ceremonial handshake was part of a tradition carried out with the diplomatic corps each year to celebrate Turkey’s Victory Day on August 30.

This time, Erdogan specifically asked to welcome Cooper — a move seen by analysts as an effort to send a positive message to Israelis who are closely watching the Turkish leader in the wake of a six-year break in relations between the two countries.

Cooper responded warmly to the request, expressing Israel’s support for Erdogan and the Turkish nation.

Erdogan requested an interpreter, through whose services he responded with positive remarks on the diplomatic relations between the two countries. He wished Cooper good luck on her position as well.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan’s office sent the approved, signed agreement with Israel to the office of Turkey’s prime minister. Simultaneously in Israel, the government cabinet ministers also issued their final approval on the document as well.

The agreement is considered to be officially ratified and becomes effective after seven days if no objections are filed on either side.

Hana Levi Julian

President Rivlin and Paraguayan President Cartes Commit To Improving Bilateral Relationship

Monday, July 18th, 2016

by Jonathan Benedek President Reuven Rivlin and Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes together acknowledged the long bilateral friendship between their countries since Israel’s founding in 1948 in a warm meeting Monday morning at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. The two men committed to expanding ties with each other during their joint news conference with reporters. “Paraguay was and still is a true friend of the State of Israel since its establishment and even beforehand when it voted for it on November 29, 1947,” said Rivlin.

The United Nations held a vote on the Partition Plan on November 29, 1947, which proposed to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Paraguay was one of 33 UN member states to vote in favor of the plan.

“We are happy to strengthen the ties between the two countries and I hope that your visit here will further improve the good relations,” Rivlin told his Paraguayan counterpart.

One of the manifestations of such an improvement was the reopening in 2015 of the Israeli embassy in Paraguay, which had ceased operations in 2002 due to financial constraints. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs often closes embassies and consulates on the basis of budgetary decisions over the allocation of available financial resources.

In light of Israel’s announcement earlier this year that it would close several of its consulates around the world including those in Philadelphia, Belarus, El Salvador, and Marseilles, the reopening of the embassy in Paraguay demonstrated that Israel has prioritized the advancement of relations with Paraguay and with much of Latin America.

“The reopening of our embassy in Paraguay was an important milestone for the rest of Israel’s activities in Latin America in general and with MERCOSUR specifically,” explained Rivlin.

MERCOSUR is a unified common market in Latin America that includes Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Israel was the first country to sign a free trade agreement with the trading bloc on December 18, 2007. An environment allowing for the expansion of the exchange of goods and services between Israel and MERCOSUR has enabled Israel and Paraguay to conduct a number of joint initiatives together.

“We have been able to expand our relationship in a variety of areas: the economy, science, technology, business, and security,” noted Rivlin.

President Cartes acknowledged the value of partnering with Israel in such areas. “Israel stands out in its capabilities in agriculture, science, and technology,” said Cartes.

“We are interested in being involved in the exchange of knowledge and technology, which will contribute to the development of our country and its young population,” he continued. “This is an exciting and historic time for all of us and we are very excited and pleased to visit Israel, a friend of Paraguay.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Shiloh Musings: Will Brexit and Theresa May make for Better Britain-Israel Relations?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
Here in Israel, there are those who say that one of the reasons that some British voted for Brexit was the EU’s extreme anti-Israel policies including the fact that it sponsors all sorts of pro-Palestine activities and NGOs which work very blatantly not only against Israel but supporting the Arab terrorists. That is what the pro-Brexit crowd meant by saying that they were interested in economic ties but not in the politics.

The Jerusalem Post has a very optimistic article about Great Britain’s new incoming Prime Minister, Theresa May. Here’s for hoping that they are right about her, although if their optimism is only based on a speech she gave two years ago when visiting, I’m more a pessimist. As regular readers of this blog know very well, I do not take such speeches very seriously. They are no more true than film scripts.

Theresa May, a ‘long-standing friend of Israel’

The parliamentary chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel issued a statement saying that “Israel can rest assured that a UK led by Theresa May will be there in its moments of need.”
…May, according to former ambassador to London Daniel Taub, “has been a long-standing friend of Israel and the Jewish community.” He said that as home secretary, May was very supportive of “our efforts to deepen British- Israel ties in the area of homeland security, and also very receptive to the concerns of the Jewish community regarding anti-Semitism and violent extremism.” Her ministry was responsible for Britain’s MI5 intelligence service, and as such was both aware and appreciative of the close intelligence and security cooperation between the two countries.
…May’s only visit to Israel was in the summer 2014, when the bodies of the three kidnapped youth from Gush Etzion were discovered. In a speech in September of that year to the Conservative Friends of Israel, she discussed that trip, and that speech provides a glimpse of her outlook on Israel.
“The murder of those boys – and the loss of life among Israelis and Palestinians in the subsequent military operations in Gaza – is a sad reminder that the Arab/Israeli conflict is not just an abstract debate argued over the pages of Western newspapers and television screens,” she said.

Batya Medad

Israel and Turkey Agree to Restore Relations After 6-Year Rift

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Tower Magazine website}

Israel and Turkey have reached a reconciliation agreement aimed at normalizing ties after six years of strained relations.

“The Middle East is in turmoil. My policy is to create islands of stability with our close neighbors,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Monday press conference in Rome, the Times of Israel reported. “This agreement is good for both sides.”

Relations between Israel and Turkey devolved after the IDF’s 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara. The ship, which was under the control of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation—a group designated as a terror organization by the Netherlands and Germany—was part of a flotilla attempting to break Israel’s legal naval blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. After the IDF boarded the Mavi Marmara, they were attacked by members of the crew. Ten crew members were killed in the ensuing fight, and several Israeli soldiers were injured. The other ships in the flotilla were diverted without incident.

As part of the agreement, Israel has agreed to pay $20 million in compensation to the bereaved and injured, and in return Turkey will pass legislation banning legal proceedings against the Israeli soldiers in its courts. Turkey also dropped a demand for Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza, and will only be permitted to send aid to the territory after it passes security checks at Israel’s Ashdod port. Ankara will also be allowed to build a hospital as well as a power and desalinization plant in Gaza.

In addressing these terms, Netanyahu stressed that the deal will secure the “continuation of the maritime security blockade off the Gaza Strip coast.”

“This is a supreme security interest for us. I was not prepared to compromise on it,” Netanyahu continued.

Turkey in return has committed to thwart the plotting and financing of Hamas terrorist acts against Israel from its soil. It will also not stand in the way of Israeli involvement in international forums to which it belongs, mostly notably NATO.

Jerusalem and Ankara will also restore full diplomatic relations, appointing ambassadors and lifting restrictions on military and intelligence cooperation. Netanyahu added that the deal will open Turkey to Israeli natural gas exports, and that the country could possibly serve as a gateway to European markets. “[The deal has] immense implications for the Israeli economy, and I use that word advisedly,” the prime minister told reporters.

While not a formal part of the deal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also personally pledged in a letter to help return the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza war, which are thought to be held by Hamas, and free two Israelis reportedly being held by the terrorist group. One of the captives is an Ethiopian Jew — described as mentally-ill by his family — who wandered into Gaza accidentally in 2014; the second man, a resident of a Bedouin town in Israel’s Negev desert, also apparently crossed into Gaza of his own volition. He has been described as mentally disabled.

The agreement is expected to be approved by Israel’s security cabinet on Wednesday.

Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Netanyahu on the agreement when the two met in Rome on Monday, calling it a “positive step.”

“Israel comes out on top here,” Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College who focuses on Turkish and Israeli affairs, told Reuters. “From the start it believed that a deal could be worked out where Turkish aid was able to enter the Gaza Strip under Israeli supervision. It seems this is what was struck.”

“Restoring relations with Ankara is a linchpin in Israel’s strategy to unlock its natural gas wealth,” Reuters added, noting that Israeli energy stocks and shares in Turkey’s Zorlu Energy rose in reaction to the agreement.

A senior Turkish official has also called the deal a “diplomatic victory.”

The deal with Turkey is the latest indication of Israel’s ongoing efforts to establish and strengthen relations with other regional and global powers.

Tower Magazine

Moscow Confirms Official Netanyahu Visit Set for June 7

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to fly to Moscow next month on an official state visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties with Russia.

“The visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu is scheduled for June 7,” a spokesperson told RIA Novosti. The date was confirmed Friday (May 13) by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, according to Sputnik News.

Netanyahu traveled to Moscow for a short briefing with Russian leaders on the day before the start of the Passover holiday (April 21).

The prime minister was accompanied by top military and defense leaders who met with their Russian counterparts during the visit.

Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Russian-Israeli cooperation in Syria and in a number of other areas. The two leaders also discussed the Israel-Palestinian Authority conflict as well as other regional issues.

Hana Levi Julian

Russia Sees No Chance of Repairing Relations with Erdoğan

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Relations between Russia and Turkey cannot be restored, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news conference on Tuesday. “As far as Turkish officials are concerned, there are no prospects [for current diplomatic ties],” she said. “Those people did what they did. As we now perfectly understand, it was their conscious choice. As for relations between countries and peoples, they will be developing.”

Close to two months after Russian planes began flying combat missions to support Syrian president Assad’s ground forces against rebel and ISIS forces, on Nov. 24, the Turkish Air Force downed a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber. The diplomatic fallout from that shoot-down was fast and stormy, and it has remained on that level, although there have been no more actual military confrontations. Since the incident, Russian trade relations with Turkey have all but ended, and both countries have been painting each other as supporters of terrorism.

In early February, Turkish president Recep Erdogan sought an audience with President Vladimir Putin, but he is yet to receive an invitation. Instead of agreeing to talk, Putin accused Turkey of stabbing Russia in the back.

“The house of cards of what [the Turkish authorities] decided to build in international relations has started falling apart,” Zakharova told the press. “As for relations between peoples and countries, they will certainly continue to develop. There can be no antagonism campaigns against the Turkish people, business and representatives of economic medium,” she added, suggesting it was all strictly about Erdogan.

David Israel

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-slams-claim-of-spying-on-u-s/2014/05/07/

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