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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘State Department’

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

Israel: Okay to Demolish 30 Illegal Structures in “Arab” Susiya

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

The State of Israel has the right to demolish 30 illegal structures built in the new and illegal Arab “village” of Susiya, according to a draft document to be submitted Wednesday to the High Court of Justice.

Although usually the Defense Ministry Civil Administration decides these issues, this time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would make the call on whether or not to demolish the structures, rather than Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the document stated.

The prime minister’s review would take until the end of October, after the completion of the Jewish high holy days, after which time the state would inform the Court whether the shacks would be legalized, or demolished.

The state warned the Court, however, that legal remedies would remain in place against any new construction that appears in the area after 2014, and that laws against illegal construction would be enforced.

The Regavim nongovernmental organization (NGO) has consistently researched and litigated the case against any new building by Arabs from the Palestinian Authority in the area, which is completely under the control of Israel.

Regavim is calling on Israel to demolish all illegal structures post-2014, regardless of international pressure.

The United States and the European Union have for months been pressuring Israel to legalize the village. The European Union has in addition been encouraging the Palestinian Authority to continue illegal construction in Area C. In some cases, this activity has actually forced Israel to demolish structures built with funding, or directly, illegally built by the European Union itself.

Due to the sensitive diplomatic nature of the issue, the matter was sent directly to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for attention.

The modern Jewish community, established in 1983 under the Mount Hebron Regional Council, is located next to the ancient city of Susiya, now an archaeological site featuring a 5th-8th CE synagogue with a magnificent mosaic floor, and the mosque that replaced it.

The site was formally declared an archaeological site in 1986 by the Israel Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration; the Arab population chose to locate its “village” precisely on the same spot.

The IDF expelled the squatters, who began with 25 families in 1986, despite opposition from the United Nations which claimed they were living in “houses” at the time. The Arab villagers were moved instead to a site few hundred meters southeast of the original ancient city.

Just 13 families comprised Arab Susiya in 2008. But as it became more fashionable in the international community to target Israel’s right to govern Area C of the Oslo Accords, Mount Hebron and the area around it rose to prominence as a key battleground. Arab Susiya did too, and by 2015 the “village” rose to its current population of 50 families, comprising several hundred people.

Hana Levi Julian

FBI Backs Down, Hillary Clinton Not Charged on Personal Server Use at State Dept.

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

FBI Director James B. Comey told reporters on Tuesday (July 5) he would not advise the Justice Department to file criminal charges against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her use of personal servers for all emails during her tenure at the U.S. State Dept.

“No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he said, explaining that in order to file criminal charges, the agency needed to prove deliberate intent to send and receive classified and/or secret information on a personal server.

However, he said, “There was evidence that [she and others with whom she communicated] were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive and classified information,” Comey told reporters at a news conference in Washington DC.

Clinton clearly put national security at risk, he acknowledged. Any regular government official could have faced administration penalties for the same actions, he said.

Over the past year, the agency scrutinized 30,000 emails, checked numerous servers and spoke with dozens of aides and other staff members. Of the emails that were examined over the past year, 110 emails in 52 chains contained classified information; 36 chains were determined to contain “Secret” information. Nine chains contained “Top Secret” information and eight chains contained “Classified information. Thousands of emails were not turned over to the authorities.

But that’s not all: At least 34,000 emails were destroyed by Clinton and her attorneys, who reportedly made the decision on which ones who permanently destroy by sorting them using keywords and scanning with subject lines, Fox News reported.

The former Secretary of State was questioned three days ago by the FBI, just after her husband and former President Bill Clinton hopped aboard a plane on the tarmac before Justice Department Attorney General Loretta Lynch could disembark. The two chatted for about 30 minutes “allegedly “only” about their grandchildren, and former colleagues,” Lynch said later when asked by reporters.

But the whiff of other issues was unmistakable, and Hillary Clinton’s session with the FBI followed soon after, after a year of resistance and very involved, dragged out scrutiny into how and where her long-lost emails had gone missing. Lynch subsequently said she would most likely stand by the FBI’s recommendations regarding any indictment following the investigation into Clinton’s use of her personal server.

Some of those emails were destroyed by Clinton’s own attorneys, who reportedly made the decision on which ones to ditch by sorting with keywords and scanning the subject lines, according to a report broadcast on Fox News.

When considering the standard regulations, at the very least the State Department should revoke Hillary Clinton’s Top Secret security clearance at this point, given the concrete evidence uncovered thus far. But “should” does not seem to apply in this campaign, let alone in the legal sphere when it comes to Hillary Clinton, according to former U.S. District Attorney and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The investigation was focused on whether or not Clinton violated 18 U.S.C. Section 793 of the Espionage Act — which Comey contends that she did not, due to lack of “intent.”

But Giuliani disagreed in an interview on Fox News Tuesday afternoon, pointing out that provision (f) in the code is very specific, defining “extreme carelessness” as “gross negligence.” That, he said, is a felony under the law — which means that Hillary Clinton broke the law. Repeatedly:

Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document. . .relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer, Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Hana Levi Julian

State Dept. Says Liberman Appointment ‘Raises Legitimate Questions’ About Direction of Israeli Govt

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

The U.S. is not happy about the appointment of Israel’s new defense minister, Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman, to the coalition government. This became patently obvious at Wednesday State Department briefing (May 25, 2016) in Washington DC after a long round of questions on other topics — most of them about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s misdeeds during her tenure as Secretary of State — when the session was nearly over. There were just a few minutes left, said State Department spokesperson Mark Toner, who seemed almost to be waiting for someone — anyone — to ask the question.

And then finally, the very last one, squeezed in at the final second, a reporter managed to deliver the perfect pitch over home plate. Following is the question — clearly a softball — tossed to the harried spokesperson, who practically leaped to answer it, and his response.

Q: I know it’s like the fifth day in a row, but at least it’s now formally been announced that Avigdor Lieberman is to be Israel’s defense minister. Do you have any comment on the new Israeli government and his appointment to that job in particular?

Mr. Toner: I do. We have seen reports an agreement’s been reached to expand the coalition.

“We’ve also seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history. And we also know that many of its ministers have said they opposed a two-state solution.

“This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in – headed in, rather – and what kind of policies it may adopt, but ultimately we’re going to judge this government based on its actions.

“We’re going to work with this government as we have with every Israeli government that preceded it, with the goal of strengthening our cooperation, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel, and in our commitment to working towards a two-state solution.”

Hana Levi Julian

Bill Introduced to Undo US Ban on Label ‘Made in Israel’ if Beyond Green Line

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) introduced legislation on Monday, Feb. 1, that would undo a regulation recently re-issued by the Obama administration that would ban the right to label any goods produced beyond the 1940 Armistice Line (the “Green Line”) as made in Israel.

The JewishPress.com reported last week that U.S. Custom and Border Protection re-issued a 1997 regulation – written at a very different time, under very different circumstances – which the State Department insisted it will now “strictly enforce.”

The original regulation was issued in 1997.

Prior to that time, the only acceptable designation for anything produced in the area west of Jordan, west of Syria, south of Lebanon and to the east and north east of Egypt was Israel, according to U.S. Customs. But after the Oslo Accords were signed, the State Department directed the Treasury Department to ban the label “made in Israel” for anything made in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”).

But in the intervening nearly 20 years, the Oslo Accords have failed, acting Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas announced to the United Nations that his people are no longer bound by the Accords, there is no viable Palestinian Arab leadership and there is no unity between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Arab governing party in Gaza.

Even under the Oslo Accords, Israel was given complete control over Area C, while the Arabs were given some or all control over Areas A and B, so insisting that no products made anywhere in the “West Bank” – including Area C – can be labeled Israel is not even consistent with the Oslo Accords.

COTTON REJECTS CLAIM THE REISSUANCE OF THE BAN WAS NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED

On Monday Cotton made clear his distaste for the recently re-issued administration’s directive which he said “plays right into the hands of those who are driving insidious efforts to boycott Israeli goods. While some say the directive merely ‎restates an old labeling rule originally drafted 20 years ago with no intention to stigmatize Israel, the truth is the rule was lightly if ever enforced and serves little purpose today.

“Its vigorous enforcement now — coming after a concerted lobbying campaign on the part of groups looking to weaken Israel — will have the undeniable effect of isolating our closest friend in the Middle East and giving other nations an excuse to unfairly treat Israel in trade relations.”

The Arkansas senator rejected the administration’s claim that the labeling effort was simply a bureaucratic matter that was not politically motivated. He called the move the administration’s latest effort to put daylight between the United States and Israel.”

Cotton denounced the current global effort, in some quarters, to delegitimize Israel, calling those behind it, “too weak politically and too wrong morally to succeed in quick and dramatic fashion. They instead seek to achieve their aims gradually with incremental steps like labeling rules. It’s incumbent on all those who stand with Israel therefore to remain ever vigilant.”

That is why, Cotton said on Monday, he introduced the legislation to rescind the administration’s directive requiring the special labeling of Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”) and Gaza Strip.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Israel Condemned for Preparing to Designate State Land in Jordan Valley

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Israel is preparing to designate 370 acres (approx. 1,000 dunams) of agricultural land in the Jordan Valley as state land – and the the expected reactions of outrage are already starting from the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations. Even “concern” from the United States, before the ink is dry.

The land is located in Area C – legally under the control of Israel under the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords – and a bit north of the Jewish community of Almog.

Israel farmers have been working the land for several years. It is agricultural land. And yet, the world is screaming about Israel extending its “settlements.”

Why? Because the parcel is within driving distance of the city of Jericho, which is currently under the complete control of the Palestinian Authority, in Area A — which makes it fair game for the PA’s expansionist policies and fantasies, fed by the European Union and egged on by some Arab nations as well.

Legally, however, under current Israeli law land which lies fallow for several years automatically reverts back to government property; the law dates back to 1858, under the Ottoman Empire.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led the international chorus of condemnation Thursday with a statement on his website.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about reports of the Israeli Government authorizing the declaration of 370 acres in the West Bank, south of Jericho, as so-called ‘state land. Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the Government of Israel supporting a two-state solution to the conflict,” the statement said.

Likewise, U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement Tuesday, “We strongly oppose any steps that could accelerate settlement expansion and we believe they’re fundamentally incompatible with a two-state solution and call into question frankly the Israeli government’s commitment to a two-state solution.”

That wasn’t enough, however.

Palestinian Authority journalist Said Erikat of the Al Quds newspaper has become a professional at lobbying for the cause in the guise of asking questions as a reporter.

Following is a transcript of his exchange with Toner over the U.S. view of Israel’s designation of state land in the Jordan Valley.

TONER: Please, Said [Erikat of Al Quds). ERIKAT: Can we go on to Palestinian-Israeli issue?

TONER: Yep, sure. I think so, yeah.

ERIKAT: I know John responded at length to the comments made by Ambassador Shapiro yesterday, and he also commented on the report by – a human rights report – but – and your position on the settlement. But the Israelis today announced the expansion of settlements, about 1,000 dunams or 300 acres and so on. And my question to you – not pertaining to your stance on your settlements, which is quite clear – but it seems that the Israelis, every time there is a report or there is any – or there’s criticism by you, by the Europeans, they go ahead and they just, like, poke you in the eye and just take more land and expand the settlement. Is that a pattern that you see?

TONER: I don’t know if it’s a pattern, Said. I mean, we’re obviously aware of the reports —

ERIKAT: You can almost —

TONER: No, I know, we’re —

ERIKAT: You look at it and you can see it every time.

TONER: We’re – yeah, you’re referring to the decision, the defense ministry’s decision for – to declare some 400 acres in the Jordan Valley as — ERIKAT: Right.

TONER: — yeah, as state land, and that obviously appears to be, as we’ve seen before, a step towards building settlements in that area. I don’t know if it’s a pattern. I feel as though I sound like a broken record, but we strongly oppose any steps that could accelerate settlement expansion, and we believe they’re fundamentally incompatible with a two-state solution and call into question, frankly, the Israeli Government’s commitment to a two-state solution.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-condemned-for-preparing-to-designate-state-land-in-jordan-valley/2016/01/21/

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