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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘State Department’

Full Text: Reaction by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Secy Kerry’s Speech [video]

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

“Before why I explain why this speech was so disappointing to millions of Israelis, I want to say that Israel is deeply grateful to the United States of America, to successive American administrations, to the American Congress, to the American people. We’re grateful for the support Israel has received over many, many decades. Our alliance is based on shared values, shared interests, a sense of shared destiny and a partnership that has endured differences of opinions between our two governments over the best way to advance peace and stability in the Middle East. I have no doubt that our alliance will endure the profound disagreement we have had with the Obama Administration and will become even stronger in the future.

But now I want to express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry, a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN last week in a speech ostensibly about peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish State for nearly a century.

What he did was spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace by passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem.

Hundreds of suicide bombers, thousands – tens of thousands of rockets – millions of Israelis and bomb shelters are not throwaway lines in a speech. They are the realities that the people of Israel had to endure because of mistaken policies; policies that at the time won the thunderous applause of the world.

I don’t seek applause. I seek the security and peace and prosperity and the future of the Jewish State. The Jewish people have sought their place under the sun for 3,000 years and we’re not about to be swayed by mistaken policies that have caused great, great damage.

Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders. Israel’s hand has been extended in peace to its neighbors from Day One, from its very first day. We pray for peace. We’ve worked for it every day since then, and thousands of Israeli families have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country and advance peace. My family has been one of them. There are many, many others.

No one wants peace more than the people of Israel. Israel remains committed to resolving the outstanding differences between us and the Palestinians through direct negotiations. This is how we made peace with Egypt. This is how we made peace with Jordan. It’s the only way we’ll make peace with the Palestinians.

That has always been Israel’s policy. That has always been America’s policy. Here’s what President Obama himself said at the UN in 2011. He said, “Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements, and resolutions at the United Nations; if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”

That’s what President Obama said, and he was right. And until last week, this was repeated over and over again as American policy.

Secretary Kerry said that the United States cannot vote against its own policy – but that’s exactly what it did at the UN, and that’s why Israel opposed last week’s Security Council resolution: because it effectively called the Western Wall ‘occupied Palestinian territory.’

Because it encourages boycotts and sanctions against Israel. That’s what it effectively does. And because it reflects a radical shift in U.S. policy towards the Palestinians on final status issues – those issues that we always agreed, the U.S. and Israel – have to be negotiated directly, face to face, without preconditions.

That shift happened despite the Palestinians walking away from peace and from peace offers time and time again. Despite their refusal to even negotiate peace for the past eight years. And despite the Palestinian Authority inculcating a culture of hatred towards Israel in an entire generation of young Palestinians.

Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with the American Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – to mitigate the damage that this resolution has done, and ultimately to repeal it.

Israel hopes that the outgoing Obama administration will prevent any more damage being done to Israel at the UN in its waning days.

I wish I could be comforted by the promise that the U.S. says we will not bring any more resolutions to the UN. That’s what they said about this previous resolution. We have it on absolute incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council.

We will share that information with the incoming administration. Some of it is sensitive. It’s all true. You saw some of it in the protocol released in an Egyptian paper. There’s plenty more; it’s the tip of the iceberg.

So they say, ‘but we didn’t bring it’ and they could take John Kerry’s speech with the six points. It could be raised in the French international conference two days from now, and then brought to the UN. So France will bring it. Or, Sweden – not a noted friend of Israel – could bring it.

And the United States could say, ‘Well, we can’t vote against our own policy, we’ve just enunciated it.’

I think the United States, if it’s true to its word, or at least, if it’s now true to its word, should now come out and say, we will not allow any resolutions any more resolutions in the Security Council on Israel. Period. Not ‘we will bring’ or ‘not bring’ — ‘We will not allow any’ and stop this game of charades.

I think that the decisions that are vital to Israel’s interests and the future of its children, they won’t be made through speeches in Washington or votes in the United Nations, or conferences in Paris. They’ll be made by the government of Israel around the negotiating table, making them on behalf of the one and only Jewish state, a sovereign nation that is the master of its own fate.

And one final thought.

I personally know the pain, the loss and the suffering of war. That’s why I’m so committed to peace. Because for anyone who’s experienced it as I have, war and terror are horrible.

I want young Palestinian children to be educated like our children – for peace. But they’re not educated for peace.

The Palestinian Authority educates them to lionize terrorists, and to murder Israelis.

My vision is that Israelis and Palestinians both have a future of mutual recognition, of dignity, of mutual respect: co-existence.

But the Palestinian Authority tells them that they will never accept and SHOULD never accept the existence of the Jewish State.

So I ask you: how can you make peace with someone who rejects your very existence?

See, this conflict is not about houses or communities in the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, the Gaza district or anywhere else.

This conflict is, and has always been about Israel’s very right to exist. That’s why my hundreds of calls to sit with President Abbas for peace talks have gone unanswered.

That’s why my invitation for him to come to the Knesset was never answered.

That’s why the Palestinian government continues to pay anyone who murders Israelis a monthly salary.

The persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish State remains the core of the conflict – and its removal is the key to peace.

Palestinian rejection of Israel and support for terror are what the nations of the world should focus on if they truly want to advance peace and I can only express my regret and say that it’s a shame that Secretary Kerry does not see this simple truth.

Thank you.”

Hana Levi Julian

Full Text: Speech by Secretary of State John Kerry at State Department

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Coughs.) Excuse me. Thank you for your patience, all of you. For those of you who celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy Chanukah. And to everybody here, I know it’s the middle of a holiday week. I understand. (Laughter.) But I wish you all a very, very productive and Happy New Year.

Today, I want to share candid thoughts about an issue which for decades has animated the foreign policy dialogue here and around the world – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Throughout his Administration, President Obama has been deeply committed to Israel and its security, and that commitment has guided his pursuit of peace in the Middle East. This is an issue which, all of you know, I have worked on intensively during my time as Secretary of State for one simple reason: because the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people. And it is an important way of advancing United States interests in the region.

Now, I’d like to explain why that future is now in jeopardy, and provide some context for why we could not, in good conscience, stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.

I’m also here to share my conviction that there is still a way forward if the responsible parties are willing to act. And I want to share practical suggestions for how to preserve and advance the prospects for the just and lasting peace that both sides deserve.

So it is vital that we have an honest, clear-eyed conversation about the uncomfortable truths and difficult choices, because the alternative that is fast becoming the reality on the ground is in nobody’s interest – not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the region – and not the United States.

Now, I want to stress that there is an important point here: My job, above all, is to defend the United States of America – to stand up for and defend our values and our interests in the world. And if we were to stand idly by and know that in doing so we are allowing a dangerous dynamic to take hold which promises greater conflict and instability to a region in which we have vital interests, we would be derelict in our own responsibilities.

Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles – even after urging again and again that the policy must change. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week, quote, “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share,” and veto this resolution. I am compelled to respond today that the United States did, in fact, vote in accordance with our values, just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council before us.

They fail to recognize that this friend, the United States of America, that has done more to support Israel than any other country, this friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize Israel, cannot be true to our own values – or even the stated democratic values of Israel – and we cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.

And that’s the bottom line: the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.

In fact, this Administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter, with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing Israel’s security and protecting its legitimacy.

On this point, I want to be very clear: No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s. The Israeli prime minister himself has noted our, quote, “unprecedented” military and intelligence cooperation. Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy.

Time and again we have demonstrated that we have Israel’s back. We have strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting Israel in international fora, whenever and wherever its legitimacy was attacked, and we have fought for its inclusion across the UN system. In the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than one-half of our entire global Foreign Military Financing goes to Israel. And this fall, we concluded an historic $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package the United States has provided to any country, at any time, and that will invest in cutting-edge missile defense and sustain Israel’s qualitative military edge for years to come. That’s the measure of our support.

This commitment to Israel’s security is actually very personal for me. On my first trip to Israel as a young senator in 1986, I was captivated by a special country, one that I immediately admired and soon grew to love. Over the years, like so many others who are drawn to this extraordinary place, I have climbed Masada, swum in the Dead Sea, driven from one Biblical city to another. I’ve also seen the dark side of Hizballah’s rocket storage facilities just across the border in Lebanon, walked through exhibits of the hell of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, stood on the Golan Heights, and piloted an Israeli jet over the tiny airspace of Israel, which would make anyone understand the importance of security to Israelis. Out of those experiences came a steadfast commitment to Israel’s security that has never wavered for a single minute in my 28 years in the Senate or my four years as Secretary.

I have also often visited West Bank communities, where I met Palestinians struggling for basic freedom and dignity amidst the occupation, passed by military checkpoints that can make even the most routine daily trips to work or school an ordeal, and heard from business leaders who could not get the permits that they needed to get their products to the market and families who have struggled to secure permission just to travel for needed medical care.

And I have witnessed firsthand the ravages of a conflict that has gone on for far too long. I’ve seen Israeli children in Sderot whose playgrounds had been hit by Katyusha rockets. I’ve visited shelters next to schools in Kiryat Shmona that kids had 15 seconds to get to after a warning siren went off. I’ve also seen the devastation of war in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian girls in Izbet Abed Rabo played in the rubble of a bombed-out building.

Hana Levi Julian

Kerry Defends Obama Decision to Abstain at UNSC Vote Condemning Israel

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Kerry Defends Obama Decision to Abstain at Anti-Israel UNSC Vote

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushed back on Wednesday against the fury in Jerusalem that has followed the decision by President Barack Obama to order the abstention that allowed the UN Security Council to unanimously pass anti-Israel resolution 2334(2016) last Friday.

“The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” he began, saying that only with two states can Israel remain Jewish and democratic. “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths,” he said. “The policies of [the government of Benjamin Netanyahu] are leading … towards one state.”

Kerry flatly denied an accusation by Israeli leaders that Obama was directly behind the formulation and sponsorship of the resolution, saying the administration “did not draft or originate” the measure and instead insisting it was advanced by Egypt and “other nations.”

Nevertheless, Kerry also said bluntly, “The United States did in fact vote in accordance with our values… the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for.” He repeatedly expressed concern that the two-state solution was in “jeopardy,” and that a “one-state solution… will not be able to be both Jewish and democratic.”

In a pointed jab at the Netanyahu government, he said, “Let’s be clear. Settlement activity has nothing to do with Israeli security.” Kerry also called for “both sides” to show willingness to work towards peace by making “meaningful” gestures.

On the part of Israel, he recommended the government “transition the administration of Area C to the Palestinians” in accordance with the once-upon-a-time long-term-goals of the long-dead Oslo Accords.

The Secretary also sketched a brief outline of the points he believes would be best to set as final status goals once the two sides come to the negotiating table, for “the way forward” during direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

They were as follows:

1. Provide for secure and recognized intl borders based on the 1967 lines with mutual agreed equiv swaps, viable and contiguous Palestine

2. Fulfill the vision of Res. 181, two states for two peoples, Jewish and Arab, where each can achieve their national aspirations – with mutual recognition and full equal rights

3. Just equal fair rights for Palestinian refugees … comprehensive resolution consistent with two states for two peoples … compensation, options and assistance … Can come from the international community.

4. Establish united Jerusalem as the international capital for two states with access to holy sites for all three world monotheistic faiths.

5. Satisfy Israel’s security needs and ensure Palestine can provide security for its people in a non-militarized state

6. End the conflict and all outstanding claims and enhanced regional claims by the Arab peace initiative.

Hana Levi Julian

Ex-MK, Accused Spy for Hezbollah, Got A Visa to Speak in Washington DC

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Former head of the Israeli Arab Balad party and a fugitive from Israeli justice, ex-Knesset member Azmi Bishara has somehow been granted an American visa in time to speak next week in Washington DC.

Bishara was accused by the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency of aiding and abetting the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization plot terrorist operations against Israel.

According to a report published last week by the Washington Free Beacon, Bishara is scheduled to speak this coming weekend at a conference in the downtown Marriott hotel organized by The Arab Center of Washington DC, entitled “Democracy in the Arab World: The Obama Legacy & Beyond.” The conference is hosted in partnership with the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

The State Department reportedly declined to confirm whether it had granted a visa to Bishara, who has lived in Qatar since fleeing Israel in 2007, and whose image as a scheduled speaker still appears on the website of the conference. Bishara escaped just hours after he was accused of passing information to Lebanon-based Hezbollah agents and recommending Israeli targets to the Iranian-backed terrorist group in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War. He fled just prior to being arrested by police on charges of spying and aiding the enemy in wartime.

Israel is still holding a warrant for Bishara’s arrest. If tried and convicted Bishara could face life in prison. Since Qatar is not currently a participant in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program it is not clear how Bishara, a wanted fugitive from a U.S. ally, was able to enter the United States.

“We are unable to provide information on individual cases because visa records are confidential under U.S. law,” an official told the Free Beacon. “Visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with U.S. law.” In addition, the source told the Free Beacon, “Section 222 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits us from disclosing details from individual visa cases.”

Bishara is slated to deliver the keynote address, “A Framework for Democracy in the Arab World.” He is listed as the “General Director, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), Qatar.” Attending the same conference from the ACRPS is “Associate Researcher” Marwan Kabalan, a panelist speaking on the “Future Outlook and Recommended US Policies regarding Democracy in the Arab World.”

Kabalan is a Syrian academic and writer who has been a visiting professor in the College of Law at Qatar University, and has written for the Qatar Tribune. He is a recognized writer and expert on Syria, with a PhD in International Relations. In 2012, Kalaban was the Dean of Faculty of International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Kalamoon, Damascus.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, originally scheduled to speak at the event on promotion of democracy in the Arab world, has reportedly canceled his plans to appear.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel, US Seal MOU: ‘Largest Pledge of Military Assistance in US History’

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Israel and the United States have sealed a $38 billion 10-year deal for defense aid, to run from 2019 to 2028.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday night that the memorandum of understanding on security assistance was concluded between the two nations.

“This MOU constitutes the largest pledge of assistance in U.S. history,” he said in a tweet on the Twitter social networking site. “The new MOU will be signed tomorrow in a ceremony at the @StateDept.”

In return for the $3.8 billion in annual military funding, Israel will eventually be required to use the money to buy exclusively American defense products, according to The Hill. In addition, Israel agreed not to request additional funds.

Two days ago, Netanyahu noted in opening remarks to the weekly government cabinet meeting, “We mark 15 years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. We remember the victims. We embrace their loved ones.

“We stand with our greatest ally, the USA, and with other partners in the battle against militant Islamic terrorism.”

Both American presidential candidates in the race to enter the White House next January face a far more uncertain military future than that which faced incumbent President Barack Obama when he took office eight years ago.

The Mideast has changed radically since that time, with the region more unstable and extremist ideologies driving more underlying issues in local societies than ever seen before.

Hana Levi Julian

US 2nd Circuit Appeals Court Reverses Anti-Terror Verdict Against Palestinian Authority, PLO

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan has overturned a landmark $655 million verdict made in February 2016 against the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization, in favor of victims of terror and their loved ones.

The federal appeals court reversed the decision this Wednesday (August 31, 2016), finding that United States courts had no jurisdiction in the case in the first place due to the limited contacts of the PA/PLO groups with the U.S. and Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel did not question the terror under which the plaintiffs had brought the lawsuit, nor did they deny the moral right of the claim.

“The terror machine gun attacks and suicide bombings that triggered this suit and victimized these plaintiffs were unquestionably horrific,” the judges said in the brief. “But the federal courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in a civil case beyond the limits prescribed by the due process clause of the Constitution, no matter how horrendous the underlying attacks or morally compelling the plaintiffs’ claims.”

On April 24, the U.S. district court imposed a $10 million bond on the defendants during their appeal of the February verdict. They were also to make $1 million monthly payments during the duration of that appeal process.

Judge George Daniels presided over Sokolow v. PLO in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District Court of New York, accepting a recommendation made by the defendants and by the U.S. government, which intervened in the case earlier this summer. The government claimed that a standard bond amount would bankrupt the Palestinian Arab organizations.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, who included the Israeli law firm Shurat HaDin, had requested a $30 million monthly bond be paid into an account until the case is resolved, arguing there was plenty of evidence that Arab coffers are in no danger of collapse.

After the appeal was upheld and the February verdict was overturned, attorneys for the plaintiffs contended that the decision contradicted the spirit of the Anti-Terror Act under which the lawsuit had been filed, and which had been passed following the terrorist murder of Leon Klinghoffer in 1985.

Attorney Kent Yalowitz said in a statement, “The very terrorists who prompted the law have now hidden behind the U.S. Constitution to avoid responsibility for their crimes.”

He added that the plaintiffs may consider requesting a review by the full Second Circuit or possibly file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This cruel decision must be corrected so that these families may receive justice,” he said. “No one denies — as the federal jury has found — that the Palestinians carried out these attacks and killed and injured these American citizens, who will not give up seeking justice from the courts.”

He also called for intervention by Congress and the State Department.

Attorney Gassan Baloul, representing the PA and PLO, meanwhile praised the decision, saying in a statement, “We are very gratified that the court fully accepted our clients’ consistent position that the PA and the PLO are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States courts in these matters.”

The PA and the PLO pay high salaries to the family members of terrorists who are convicted of carrying out attacks against Israelis and Jews; the higher the number of dead and/or the longer the prison sentence, the higher the salary to the prisoner and/or his surviving family. Upon his release, he is greeted as a hero and presented with a lump sum, along with assistance in resuming life in society. Terrorists who die in attacks are lauded by the Palestinian Authority government as “martyrs” and heroes, with public squares, streets and children’s events named in their honor.

Hana Levi Julian

US Denies Conditioning $400 Million Payment on Prisoner Release Was Ransom

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The U.S. State Department continues to insist that a $400 million cash payment airlifted to Iran earlier this year was not a ransom payment for the release of four American hostages but new details initially revealed by The Wall Street Journal beg the point.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, were released January 17. A Jewish prisoner also held hostage — Bob Levinson — somehow was not included in the released. Oddly, the Iranians claim they have no knowledge of his whereabouts. As that was taking place, a separate aircraft had landed in Tehran with the cash. State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday the money was held back until the prisoners were freed.

“In basic English you are saying you wouldn’t give [them] the 400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?” asked a reporter during the briefing on Thursday.

“That’s correct,” Kirby replied.

Kirby said negotiations for the return of the money to Iran, which was related to a failed 1979 military equipment deal between the two countries, were separate from the talks about the prisoners. Another $1.3 billion is expected to be paid to Iran in interest on the failed deal.

But Abedini told reporters that he and the other hostages were kept waiting at the airport in Iran for more than 20 hours, and that he was told by a senior Iranian intelligence agent that their departure would depend on the arrival of a second plane.

The State Department has denied these claims.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama likewise insisted the money was not a quid pro quo. “This wasn’t some nefarious deal,” he told journalists during a news conference Aug. 4. “We do not pay ransom for hostages.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/state-department-says-no-prisoners-no-payment-to-iran-is-not-ransom/2016/08/19/

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