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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘State Department’

Jordan’s Arab Bank Goes on Trial in NY for Terror Financing

Monday, August 11th, 2014

A worldwide legal earthquake is about to begin in Brooklyn, where the Jordan-based Arab Bank goes on trial today (Monday) for authorizing money transfers from terror entities to Hamas members abroad.

The case, a lawsuit by the families of US victims of terror, has been 10 years in the making and revolves around ‘martyr payments’ to the relatives of Hamas suicide bombers via the Jordan-based Arab Bank through its New York branch during the second intifada.

The plaintiffs claim in their suit the Bank has violated Section 2339B of Title 18 of the US Code, which makes it illegal for an entity within the United States to provide material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations. Hamas is included on that list. Attorney Gary Osen of Osen LLC is the lead attorney in the case.

This is the first-ever civil trial targeting terrorist financing, one that has dragged on for a decade because Arab Bank has worked just that hard to fight it — or at least to delay the proceedings as long as possible. When the Supreme Court rejected the Bank’s petition to hear the case in June, the way was paved for today’s hearing in Brooklyn.

In April 2013, a New York Federal Court penalizing the Bank with an order imposing sanctions for refusing to submit documents for review by the plaintiffs to determine whether they could be used as evidence in the case.

That order raised Cain between three agencies at the federal level in the Obama administration – the US State Department, the Justice Department, and the Treasury Department – as officials tried to decide just how to deal with this delicate but dirty matter that affects not one, but at least two or more of America’s closest allies in the Middle East.

The Bank claimed it refused to submit the documents because it could have violated bank secrecy laws in Jordan and Lebanon. The lower US court was having none of that and ruled a jury could interpret that to mean an automatic admission of guilt on the part of the Bank.

In a pre-trial statement to Forbes, the Bank commented, “The facts show that Arab Bank provided routine banking service in compliance with applicable counter terrorism laws and regulations, and had no intention of providing support to Hamas or any other known terrorist organization.”

The Bank is accused of facilitating massive money transfers from 1998 to 2004 to Hamas leaders and institutions, as well as to the families of jailed Hamas members and suicide bombers. The money allegedly came from insurance benefits provided by the Saudi Committee and the Hezbollah al-Shahid Foundation. Both supported the intifada by providing benefits to the families of those who “martyred” themselves or who became injured or captured by the IDF in the process.

The insurance was “ultimately designed to provide substantial material support to Palestinian terrorist organizations and to provide a meaningful incentive both to prospective recruits and to individuals contemplating the commission of independent acts of violence in the name of the ‘popular resistance’,” according to the complaint, as quoted by Business Insider.

There were five attacks specified in the complaint in which Arab Bank allegedly facilitated money transfers to the relatives of Hamas terrorists. One was the October 2003 case of John Linde Jr., murdered with two other security officers while escorting US diplomats to interview Palestinian Arab candidates for Fulbright Scholarships. The three were killed by an IED (improvised explosive device, also known as a ‘homemade bomb’) in northern Gaza. A second involved 3-year-old Tehilla Nathansen, killed while sitting on her mother’s lap when terrorists blew up the No. 2 bus in Jerusalem in August 2003. A third child, 8th grader Jacob Mandell, was killed in a hail of rocks hurled by attacking Palestinian Arabs along with another friend while hiking in May 2001. And so on.

US Calls for Israeli Restraint Under Rocket Fire, Arab Violence

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

While calling on Israel to exercise “restraint” in the face of incessant rocket fire and nationwide Arab rioting, the United States says Hamas is not really part of the Palestinian Authority unity government.

Moreover, the U.S. contends that PA unity government leader Mahmoud Abbas carries no responsibility for its actions.

Abbas has yet to break his ties with Hamas and dissolve his Fatah faction’s unity pact with the terrorist organization that rules Gaza.

At a State Department news briefing on Monday, spokesperson Jen Psaki admitted to reporters Secretary of State John Kerry had asked Israel – “as he’s urged both parties” — to exercise restraint and “avoid steps that could further destabilize the situation.”

In response to an immediate question from a journalist as to whether Kerry had also spoken with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in the same manner, Psaki responded:

“He has spoken with him over the course of the last several days or week. I don’t – let me see if I have anything specific over the last – he spoke with him – let’s see – I know last Tuesday. He’s been in – I think it’s important to reiterate here we’ve been in touch on the ground very closely with both parties.”

The journalist persisted, noting, “Well, but you’ve seen the comments that are coming out of Hamas. And now that the U.S. has, in effect, kind of accept the fact that Hamas is now in this unity government, you would think that as leader of this unity government it would be incumbent on President Abbas to rein in or take – try and maintain some kind of control over the activities of Hamas. Isn’t that correct?”

Psaki’s reply: “Well, you’re right. I mean, we’ve stated – you’re right in the sense that we have stated from the beginning that we would judge the interim government by its actions, composition, and policies. And based on what we know now, this hasn’t changed. We don’t believe that Hamas plays a role in the government. However, to your point, it is difficult to see how other aspects of the reconciliation process can move forward in this current atmosphere, and we’ve conveyed that as well.”

The journalist did not let up. “Well, I mean, I understand that you – that maybe it’s a technicality that Hamas doesn’t play a part in this government, but it is a unity government that includes Hamas. And I’m just wondering, now does President Abbas more so than ever bear responsibility for the actions of Hamas?”

Psaki: “No. But we have – President Abbas himself has suggested that there would be serious consequences for whatever party carried out the crimes that we’ve been talking about over the last several weeks. And as I mentioned, it’s difficult for us to see, given this current atmosphere, how other aspects of the reconciliation process could continue.”

Journalist: “Just one quick last one. Did Secretary Kerry mention the specific case of this Israeli-Palestinian teen that was beaten?”

Psaki: “I don’t have any other further details, but I think it’s safe to assume when he’s talking about the escalating tensions on the ground, he’s talking about all of the reports that you’ve seen in the news that we’ve all been discussing.”

Journalist continues: “Did you have a response, reaction – and forgive me if I missed it – to the Palestinian teenager who was killed, this cousin of this – or did that happen over the –

Psaki: “I believe we’ve put out something over the weekend. I can double-check that and certainly. . .

Journalist: “Okay. Thus far, have you seen both sides exercising the kind of restraint that you think is necessary?”

North Korea to Indict 2 Detained Americans

Monday, June 30th, 2014

North Korea has announced it plans to indict two American citizens being held in custody for unspecified crimes.

In a four-sentence statement issued by state-controlled media, North Korea said Matthew Miller, 24, and Jeffrey Fowle, 56, two tourists, had been investigated for “perpetrating hostile acts” after entering the country. The country had evidence and testimony from both about their alleged actions, the statement said.

The two entered on separate tours with Miller’s arrest first announced on April 25, two weeks after his arrival.

According to Japan’s Kyodo News, quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Fowle was detained subsequently after arriving on a group tour in April, due to a Bible left in his hotel room.

The dates of the trials have not been announced, and it is expected to two may be forced into “confessions” of “criminal acts.” The State Department has updated its travel warnings, urging American citizens not to go to North Korea, pointing out the risk of arbitrary arrest and detention.

Criminal Failure by the International Community

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Three hundred and thirty two drone attacks against Al Qaida and Taliban targets on Pakistani territory since 2005 demonstrate U.S. President Barack Obama’s strong resolve against terrorists that threaten the United States. Only last week, the latest wave of air strikes launched or enabled by his government against Al Qaida networks in Yemen killed 55 suspected extremists, possibly including master bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.

Of course no one expects the U.S. to send drones in reply to the news that the Palestinian Authority [PA], upon which he has lavished billions of dollars and thousands of hours of diplomacy, was going into business with Hamas, which the United States has branded a terrorist organization.

But one could hope for something more forceful from Washington than State Department spokesman Jen Psaki’s weak and vacillating response in which she attempted to take the heat off Hamas and the PA by taking a gratuitous dig at Israel. “There have been unhelpful steps from both sides throughout this process,” she said.

If the US response was feeble, the EU’s was treacherous.

Like America and several other countries, the EU designates Hamas as a terrorist organization. Yet the spokesman for Catherine Ashton, EU foreign affairs head, actually welcomed the proposal to bring Hamas into the PA.

Though shameful, this is far from surprising. It is part of a lengthy pattern of witting or unwitting EU encouragement of Middle Eastern terrorism.

The EU has contributed its taxpayers’ money to paying the salaries of convicted Palestinian terrorists via unconditional donations to the PA amounting to billions of dollars since 1994. Some of this money has also been spent on school textbooks, television programs and other PA propaganda that incite hatred and terrorism against Israel.

Ashton and the EU have called repeatedly for an end to the Israeli-Egyptian security operation on land and sea around Gaza. The operation is designed to prevent predominantly Iranian-supplied munitions and materiel for terrorism from entering the Gaza Strip, and to stop Gaza terrorists and weapons moving to attack Israeli or Egyptian targets.

At the same time, the EU, like the UN, has usually remained mute in the face of volley after volley of Iranian-supported rocket attacks from Gaza directed against the civilian population of Israel. These rockets are fired mainly by Hamas and their terrorist bedfellows, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Silence and inaction by such significant international bodies as the UN and the EU must, in these circumstances, add up to at least a degree of culpability.

Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Peace Process, seems to have swallowed Abbas’s suggestion to him that reconciliation with Hamas will be on the basis of “recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements.” On that “understanding,” the UN, like the EU, apparently welcomes and even supports the prospect of a terrorist group’s incorporation into the PA.

Were Hamas indeed to commit — plausibly — to such undertakings, then Israel could of course continue peace negotiations and cooperation with the PA on current terms. But other than Abbas’s words to Serry, there is no indication of this and, in the real world, Hamas is not likely even to consider such conditions.

Prime Minister Netanyahu therefore had no choice other than to suspend the peace process. This was his obligation to the Israeli people and to the international community. How could he possibly continue to negotiate with an entity that is itself negotiating with a vicious, murderous and unrelenting terrorist group hell-bent on the destruction of Israel and outlawed around the world?

Of course Abbas knew full well when he agreed to unity with Hamas that this would end the peace negotiations. But this is only the latest in a series of steps that Abbas has taken to sabotage the peace process. He rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework principles last month; he has repeatedly refused to discuss PA recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people; and at the end of March he initiated a move to join 15 international organizations, contravening an agreement to make no unilateral moves in the international arena during the period of the peace negotiations.

Will Your Child be Born in ‘Israel’?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

The US Supreme Court has agreed to examine the question as to whether or not an American citizen born in Jerusalem can have “Israel” listed on his (or her) passport as their country of birth.

The case is being brought on behalf of Jerusalem (Israel) born, Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, a US citizen. Zivotofsky’s parents tried to have Israel listed as his place of birth, but the US State Department didn’t allow it.

The constitutional question is whether only the President can allow Israel to be listed, something no president has allowed to happen so far, or if Congress can pass a law that overrides the president on what is claimed to be a foreign policy issue.

Congress actually passed the law in 2002 as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, but it was never enforced.

As an aside, if an American child is born in Tel Aviv, the passport will say, “Israel” as the place of birth.

Strangely enough, it’s been reported that the Jerusalem Consulate did add the country name for a man born in Jerusalem before 1948, they wrote “Palestine”.

Of course that is very problematic, as there never was a state of Palestine.

At best, the correct location should have been, “British Mandate for Palestine” or even “League of Nations Occupied Turkey”.

US Palestine Passport

The State Department’s and White House’s official policy has been to not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Sounds very one-sided to me.

The case may be decided by June 2015.

State Dept Press Corps Angry ‘Israel is Pushing Pollard Release’

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

In Tuesday’s daily press briefing conducted by the State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, several members of the media insinuated that it was Israel that raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard’s release from prison, as a condition for continuing the U.S. mediated “peace process” negotiations currently underway.

In fact, in a briefing that lasted less than 35 minutes, more than a third of the time was spent on the issue of Jonathan Pollard, and every one of the questions asked by the State Department press corps appeared to be an effort to convince the State Department that what they all characterized as an Israeli effort to get Pollard released was an outrage.

It was the first set of questions that was raised, it was the penultimate set of questions, and the questions were raised by no fewer than five different journalists, representing media outlets from across the globe.

Throughout the questioning, Harf maintained a solid line of no comment. She refused to comment on whether Pollard’s release was a matter under discussion during the “peace talks.”

The one definitive statement made repeatedly by Harf was “the President has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard.”

But several extraordinary things happened during the press conference, that is, extraordinary in addition to what seemed to be a united front by the journalists who were cross-examining the State Department spokesperson as to why would the U.S. buckle under a demand from Israel to release a convicted spy.

First, a significant comment made by Harf was deleted from the official transcript. That deletion specifically appeared to confirm for the journalists that Israel was the party which had raised the release of Pollard, rather than, as was the general sense in the Israeli media, that it was the U.S. who raised the issue in a desperate attempt to keep the “peace talks” alive.

Reproduced below, is the first relevant section of the transcript of Tuesday’s briefing. Even before this question, it should be noted, the journalist asking this first series of questions claimed that it was Abbas who cancelled the meeting with Secretary of State Kerry, not the other way around, as it has been generally reported.

QUESTION: (at 2:55) Do you want to give us some kind of readout on how it was that the Pollard release was put back up on the table? I know there’s been a lot of conflicting information over the last week, when these reports first surfaced in the Israeli press. We’d like a little clarification on exactly when and why and how, and whether or not Pollard’s release is still on the table, given that Abbas looks like he – that is what’s making him negative on the process right now. (at 3:23)

MS. HARF: (at 3:24) Well, a few points on that. First, the President has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard. I want to be very clear about that. Jonathan Pollard was convicted of espionage and is serving his sentence. I don’t have any further update on his status to provide today. In terms of this being a topic, (at 3:38)

THIS IS WHERE THE AUDIOTAPE OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AND THE TRANSCRIPT DIFFER DRAMATICALLY.  WHAT HARF SAID AS REVEALED IN THE AUDIOTAPE, THOUGH IT DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE TRANSCRIPT AT ALL, IS:

it should be uh no surprise that the Israelis have frequently raised Jonathan Pollard in our discussions, uh, uh, throughout the peace process or at large, but I’m not going to get (at 3:50)

AND THEN THE TRANSCRIPT AND THE AUDIOTAPE RESUME TRACKING:

(at 3:51) into any of the details of the discussions that they’ve had with Secretary Kerry.

White House Denies Concrete Plan to Swap Pollard

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

The White House has denied an Israeli radio report broadcast Wednesday saying the U.S. proposed swapping convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard for 26 Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners to keep the Israel-PA talks alive.

Pollard is entering his 29th year in a U.S. prison, held on a single charge of passing classified information to a friendly ally (Israel) after his arrest in 1985. The crime normally carries a maximum jail term of two to four years.

Israel was set to release the 26 PA terrorists this week in a final tranche of four groups to complete an agreement made as a “good will gesture” on condition the PA would participate in “serious” talks. Since July 2013, 78 PA terrorists have been freed. A number of roadblocks at entrances to Arab cities and towns along major arteries in Judea and Samaria, where terrorists are known to take refuge, have also been opened and new roads paved with funding and assistance from the U.S. government.

But there has no been significant participation in negotiations by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas since November 2013, according to Jerusalem officials. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has notified the U.S. that many senior ministers in his coalition government are opposed to releasing the final group of terrorists, not having seen any real progress in the talks and no movement in any of the PA’s positions.

“There are no plans to release Jonathan Pollard at the moment,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki announced at a briefing. “Jonathan Pollard was convicted of espionage against the United States – a very serious crime. He was sentenced to life and is currently serving his sentence,” she said. The spokesperson sidestepped the issue of whether or not a deal offering a prisoner swap had been offered.

The PA leader announced at an Arab League summit yesterday that he intends to move ahead with unilateral attempts to gain membership for the PA as an independent sovereign nation in international organizations, ignoring his own commitment. Both Abbas and the Arab League are insisting on preconditions by Israel to continue “negotiations” that require the Jewish State to pull back to the 1949 Armistice Line, withdrawing from all “occupied territories” won in 1967. They also demand Israel accept the “right of return” by Arab refugees who fled Israel in 1948 and 1967 and their millions of descendants, and refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish State.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/white-house-denies-concrete-plan-to-swap-pollard/2014/03/26/

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