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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘UN Security Council’

UN Security Council Meets in Fiery Session on Syria

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council with a speech that scolded all member states, saying the humanitarian crisis in Syria “shames us all.”

The sluggish response of the international body and its inability to resolve the five year-long crisis that has left nearly half a million Syrians dead “should haunt every member of this Council,” he said. Ban finished off the tongue-lashing by saying, “We are at a make-or-break moment.”

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, chairing the session in his final month as rotating president of the Security Council, also wasn’t gentle with his words, calling the Syrian civil war the “most devastating conflict of the 21st century” and saying the nation had become a “byword for failure.”

In particular, Key said, UN member states had failed “to put peace, and the lives of innocent people ahead of self-interest and zero-sum politics,” according to Stuff.

At the end of the day, he said, “Syrians must reach agreement on their future government. But at this point it is clear that Syrians by themselves cannot end this war.” He added that a UN resolution had already set out the required steps and established a timeline but that it had never been implemented.

“The next few days will be critical in restoring the cessation of hostilities and getting humanitarian aid flowing. We urge the Syrian parties to abide by the arrangement. This Council should unite to back those efforts… And it must provide more than just cosmetic change with regard to the central question of President [Bashar] Assad’s future.”

Hana Levi Julian

88 Senators Asking Obama to Protect Israel from Hostile UN Resolution

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Senators Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Michael Rounds (R-SD) have led 88 Senators in a letter urging President Obama to veto one-sided UN resolutions on the Israeli-PA conflict. Anticipating that Obama is planning to embark on a post-election peace push using the UN Security Council, the 88 Democratic and Republican senators are telling the president to curb his enthusiasm.

“At this delicate stage the international community should both provide hope to the parties and avoid taking action that would harm the prospects for meaningful progress,” the Senators’ letter cautions, pointing out that “even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiating table and make the compromises necessary for peace.”

The letter reminds Obama of his own UN envoy Susan Rice, who in 2011 told the UNSC: “It is the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ conflict, and even the best-intentioned outsiders cannot resolve it for them.” It also reminds the president of his own speech at the UN General Assembly, back in September 2011, when he said, “Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us — who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them.”

“We could not agree more with these statements,” the Senators’ letter concludes. “We urge you to continue longstanding US policy and make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months.”

Now let’s sit back and watch what President Obama does after Nov. 8.

David Israel

Analysis: Obama $38 Billion MOU Designed to Shackle Congress, Fight Not Over

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Late Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement regarding the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the US, saying: “In a short while, in Washington DC, a historic agreement will be signed between the United States and Israel. This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of security assistance to Israel over the coming decade. This is the largest military assistance package that the United States has ever given to any country.”

A few lines down, Netanyahu wrote: “I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement,” and, “I also thank our many, many friends in the American Congress and among the American people for their great support, which crosses party lines and embraces the length and breadth of the United States.”

There, in the cross-section between the President and Congress, is where the drama over the US aid package to Israel will be taking place in the coming months. It also explains why the PM has embraced a deal that is, clearly, a step back in terms of Israel’s ambitions for US military aid.

According to Ha’aretz, citing senior defense ministry officials, as recently as last July US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and then Defense Minster Moshe Ya’alon have reached an agreement in principle on a $45 billion aid package over ten years. Why is Israel now willing to settle for $7 billion less? Ha’aretz, typically, blames the cut on Netanyahu’s refusal to toe the line on the Iran nuclear deal, and his insolent battle against the President in Congress over it. But that doesn’t explain why Sec. Carter was offering the larger amount months after Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech in Congress.

Like all deals, the $38 billion MOU must still be confirmed in the Senate, first by the Appropriations Committee and then by the full Senate. One key member of the committee is Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC), who earlier this week told the Washington Post: “The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion. I said, ‘Tell the administration to go [expletive] themselves.’”

The 10-year aid package reaching its conclusion in 2017 was set at “only” $31 billion, but, in addition, Congress has been awarding Israel additional funds: $729 million in 2014 to help with the acquisition gaps caused by the Gaza War, as well as to help the development of the Iron Dome system. In 2015 Congress gave Israel $620 million in addition to the aid package, and this year the estimates are around $600 million. So that the aid Israel currently receives from the US is pretty close to the MOU’s $38 Billion. Israel will only benefit from an additional $100 million annually. For a country boasting a $300 billion annual GDP, this is the definition of chump change.

Why, then, did Netanyahu agree to an MOU that compels Israel to pay back whatever amount Congress adds in military aid, which would include an attempt by, say, Senator Lindsey Graham, to tack on an extra $7 billion to the proposed package?

“I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill,” Graham told the Post. “We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.”

The MOU awards the Israeli missile defense development effort $500 million per year, more than the $487 million Congress gave it in 2016, but less than the Senate appropriations bill for 2017, which gives Israel $600 million. By the way, Obama asked for only $145.8 million in the budget. So, should the MOU go through the Senate, Israel would lose $600 million right off the bat. And Israel signed a letter, as part of the MOU, that any amount tacked on to the aid package in later years, Israel would be obligated to give back.

A White House official said this is better for Israel, since “the fact that under our offer Israel can count on the administration’s commitment to provide a substantial level of missiledefense assistance for a 10-year period is substantively different from the missile- defense support it has received in previous years.” There’s some truth to it — rather than go lobbying every year for that money, Israel is guaranteed a moderately lower sum, it’s already in the bank.

“You know the White House pressured them into writing that letter,” Graham said. “It is a level of antagonism against Israel that I can’t understand.”

Graham is irate because the MOU was a White House attempt to neutralize the Republican Congress’s ability to forge an independent relationship with the Jewish State. They can continue to invite Bibi to talk to them against the next president, if they so wish, but they can’t give him a penny. Vindictive? Probably. But also understandable. This President spent much of his two terms in office fighting Congress over foreign policy. He’d like to leave his successor a cleaner slate, at least when it comes to dealing with Israel.

The MOU is also better for the Pentagon, which, together with the White House, can keep all the money going to Israel inside one, manageable package. Should the need arise for additional funds, Israel would have to go to the President, not Congress, and when Israel asks for something, Israel also has to give something. Also, in six years, according to the MOU, Israel will lose the right to spend any of the aid package on its own military industrial complex — all the money must stay in the US. Of course, by then Israeli manufacturers would follow Elbit and Rafael and forge partnerships with US corporations, but the jobs in Israel would be lost.

“I’m not pleased with a provision in the MOU which prohibits Israel from using American defense assistance on Israeli defense suppliers,” Senator Graham wrote on his website. “Israel’s homegrown defense technology is some of the best in the world.” He added, “Under our old agreement Israel was allowed to develop cutting-edge military technology and was required to share this technology with the United States. I’m proud to say that many of these advancements helped protect the lives of American service members in uniform. I do not believe this new provision will serve the interests of the United States or Israel. I do fear it will be Americans wearing the uniform of our nation who will pay the price for this short-sighted change in policy.”

So, it’s obvious why the MOU represents a good deal for the Administration. But why was Netanyahu “duped” into signing the MOU? There are two possible explanations, and they both have to do with the coming lame duck session of Congress. Since last summer, there have been persistent rumors in Jerusalem and Washington that, once the November 8 election is over, the Obama Administration would spend its last breath on squeezing a 2-state deal out of Israel. To do that, the rumors went, Obama would join the majority in the UN Security Council to pass resolutions that push Israel against the wall. It would be ugly, it would be painful, there would be no support for the move from either the Democrats nor the Republicans, but it won’t matter. It would be a move that can’t be stopped by Congress, and Israel would, at last, bow to the pressure.

Did Netanyahu sign the MOU in return for an Obama promise to leave him alone between Nov. 9 and January 17? Perhaps. Of course, the above nightmare scenario is not something we would expect from any US president, except for the fact that President Obama has been so capricious and unpredictable about his bizarre “Arab Spring” campaign, that if anyone would dream up something like that it would be him.

The other point has to do with the conversation Netanyahu had with Senator Graham earlier this week, in which, we understand, Graham did most of the talking, and only part of it was taken up by expletives. The Senator from South Carolina, with Bibi’s blessing, can bury the MOU. He has at his disposal several parliamentary means of delaying it until after the start of the new year. It won’t be simple, and there are members on the Democratic side of the Appropriations Committee who are decidedly not friendly to Israel (Senator Patrick Leahy, Dem – Vt comes to mind) who would attack Graham viciously. But if Graham can drag this deal long enough, he could get it tossed and rewritten by the next Administration.

JNi.Media

UNIFIL Soldiers Wounded in Southern Lebanon by ’30-Year-Old’ Landmine

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

A group of UNIFIL soldiers were injured Wednesday when their vehicle inadvertently ran over a “30-year-old landmine” in southern Lebanon, according to the Al Masdar News website.

A military source in Beirut told Al Masdar the UNIFIL vehicle was patrolling along the Lebanese-Israeli border, driving off pavement near the village of Maqam, when it hit the landmine.

The explosive reportedly dated back to the Lebanese Civil War, according to the report. The UN soldiers were rushed to the nearest field hospital by the ambulance that arrived at the scene.

UNIFIL — the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon — was originally created by the UN Security Council in March 1978 to “confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese government in restoring its effective authority in the area,” according to the agency’s website.

After the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the Security Council “enhanced” that mandate. The force was ordered to monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and “extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.”

In addition, the force was tasked with ensuring that no weapons or armed militias other than the Lebanese government forces were to enter the region — a mandate that was blithely ignored within seconds after it was set forth.

Since the ceasefire (UN resolution 1701) the Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist group has taken control over the country and has exerted significant control over the government as well. The terrorist group possesses possibly the largest arsenal in the entire hemisphere, thanks to the generous support of Iran, and has completely restocked and exceeded the prior supply level of rockets and missiles it held at the start of the Second Lebanon War.

The group has been threatening for the past five years to eventually invade Israel and seize control of the Galilee. As a result, the Israeli military has begun to include military and civilian drills that feature evacuations of the civilian populations of major northern Israeli cities, in response to those threats.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli African Strategy Gaining More Allies

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced on Sunday that Director General Dore Gold met with the president of the Republic of Chad, Idriss Déby Itno, at the Chadian president’s palace prior to establishing diplomatic relations with the Republic of Guinea last week.

“The meeting took place in the wake of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to four African states, reinforcing the importance with which the prime minister views Israel’s relations with Africa,” stated the MFA on Sunday.

According to the MFA, Dir. Gen. Gold and President Déby Itno discussed topics of mutual interest to both countries, including ways to expand bilateral cooperation between them.

The announcement of the meeting between Gold and Déby Itno comes on the heels of Netanyahu’s statement last week that “yet another Muslim African country will announce reestablishment of ties with Israel.”

The Republic of Chad is an Arabic-speaking Muslim-majority state in sub-Saharan central Africa. Chad used to maintain official diplomatic relations with Israel, but severed ties in 1972 following intense pressure from its Arab neighbors and from Libya and Sudan.

Déby Itno is also the current chairman of the African Union (AU), a regional organization into which Israel wishes to be readmitted as an observer.

Netanyahu visited several sub-Saharan countries—Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia—earlier this month in order to gain allies in international forums such as the AU and UN.

“There are 50 countries in Africa,” Netanyahu said during his African tour. “Just about all of them, could be allies of Israel. They vote at international forums, and I know people don’t believe this, but I think we can change the automatic majorities in the U.N. and so on.”

Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin is also scheduled to meet on Monday with the president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Marcel Alain De Souza, who is currently visiting Israel. ECOWAS is a regional group of 15 West African countries and is meant to be a single large political and economic bloc.

The UN Security Council rejected a Palestinian Authority resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria in 2014. According to Ron Prosor, then Israeli ambassador to the UN, Rwanda and Nigeria, which are now friendly to Israel, helped balance the vote in Israel’s favor by abstaining.

In addition, Rwanda, along with India and Singapore, also delivered a critical vote in June within the UN Non-Aligned Movement in favor of making Israel the chair of a UN committee (the Legal Committee) for the first time in history.

While “changing the dynamics at the United Nations is not instant pudding,” as former Ambassador Prosor commented, the Israeli Africa-facing strategy shift seems to begin to bear fruit.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

UN Secy-Gen Ban Ki-Moon Rants to Security Council on Israel, Ramallah & Gaza

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a special meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday that he is dissatisfied with all the players in the Israel-Palestinian Authority drama. The outgoing international leader addressed the meeting on the situation in the Middle East, offering his assessment of how he believes peace can best be achieved in the region going forward.

Ban ranted in a long statement about myriad issues regarding Israel, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority government and Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization. He clearly had long felt deep frustration about all three players.

High on the list of the issues that earned his “concern” was the passage in Israel this week of an NGO Transparency Law, approved by the Knesset on Monday. But Ban also expressed disgust over: – Israel’s continued plans to build housing for its residents in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, – Palestinian Authority leaders’ continued glorification of terrorism to its people and incitement of attacks against Israelis and Jews, and – Gaza’s Hamas rulers’ continued unwillingness to unite in a single government with the Ramallah-based PA leadership, stop stealing donated building supplies from its people for the construction of its terror tunnel infrastructure, and focus on peace, not war.

The NGO Transparency Law so despised by the UN leader forces some 27 mostly leftist Israeli non-governmental organizations who receive more than half of their financial support from foreign governments to report the source and amount of that funding to the government, and to reveal the information on every piece of literature they produce.

The United States Internal Revenue Service maintains similar regulations for tax-exempt non-profit organizations under the IRS 501(c)3 and other codes.

Ban visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority last month. He said that a report issued by the Middle East Quartet (United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations) makes it clear that “the prospects of a two-state solution grow more distant,” even as “negative trends” are rising. He named Israel’s NGO Transparency Law as one of those trends.

“The failure of Israeli and Palestinian leaders to advance peace has created a vacuum. Extremist voices have filled that space,” Ban said.

“Recent incidents reinforce the mounting risks. Those responsible for recent terror attacks must be held accountable. However, closures – such as those in Hebron — as well as punitive demolitions and blanket revocations of permits penalize thousands of innocent Palestinians and amount to collective punishment,” he went on.

Ban said “Israel’s passage of the so-called ‘NGO Transparency Law’… contributes to a climate in which the activities of human rights organisations are increasingly delegitimized.

Just as bad, he complained, “All the while, Israel’s settlement enterprise marches on. Days after the Quartet called on Israel to cease settlement construction and expansion, Israel announced plans to advance building approximately 560 housing units in the West Bank and 240 more in occupied East Jerusalem. This is in flagrant disregard of international law. These actions constitute an undeniable contradiction to Israel’s official support for a negotiated two-state solution.

“I urge Israel to immediately cease and reverse these plans,” he said. “We must ask: How can the systematic expansion of settlements … the taking of land for exclusive Israeli use … and the denial of Palestinian development be a response to violence? Such policies will not bring the two-state solution closer to reality.

“Such policies will not make Israelis safer or more secure,” Ban insisted. “As many former Israeli military and intelligence officers have clearly stated, these policies will do precisely the opposite. Indeed, every brick added to the edifice of occupation is another taken from Israel’s foundation as a majority Jewish and democratic state.”

Hana Levi Julian

Danon Warns UN Security Council Hezbollah Snuggles Bases Among Civilian Homes, Schools

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon warned the UN Security Council at a special meeting Tuesday that Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist group is aiming some 120,000 missiles at Israeli cities; a number far higher than the 7,000 rockets the group had in 2006.

In fact, Danon produced evidence that supported his claim that Hezbollah possesses more missiles in its underground arsenal than the entire European membership of NATO together maintain above ground.

Worse, perhaps, is the fact that the group has built many of its bases next to children’s schools — a human-shield tactic used by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

At the meeting, which was held to discuss the situation in the Middle East, Danon shared new intelligence which included aerial imagery of a village that had been transformed into a terrorist base.

“The village of Shakra in southern Lebanon has become a terrorist stronghold,” Danon told the Council. “One in every three buildings there is being used for terrorist infrastructure which includes launching pads for missiles, weapons caches and more.

“Nor has Hezbollah stopped here; it chose to situate its bases next to schools and other public structures. And in so doing, it has endangered innocent civilians,” he said.

Weapons are also being stored in civilian areas, according to IDF soldiers who spoke with the BBC. “Every mission that I’ve been on personally has been observing Hezbollah operations in a heavily populated area,” a soldier told the UK-based media outlet. “In a house with a family living in it, or in a house next door or behind it.” “It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to evict Hezbollah from southern Lebanon,” Danon emphasized.

The IDF pointed out in an article published Tuesday on its English-language blog that Hezbollah has joined Iran in working to destablize the entire Middle East, with footholds around the world. “This Shi’ite militia from Southern Lebanon has grown into a sizable international threat,” according to Israel’s military analysts.

Hezbollah trains, funds and fights alongside armies and militias that promote Iranian interests and ideologies, exacerbating conflicts not only throughout the Middle East, but also by exporting chaos well beyond their borders.

Former national security adviser IDF General (ret.)Yaakov Amidror told the BBC on Tuesday that Hezbollah’s firepower is magnified more than ten-fold over what it was before the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

“Now they have more than 120,000 rockets and missiles,” Amidror said. “It’s a huge number that you don’t find in any country in Europe, for example. When you see all these efforts, you ask yourself one question: what for?”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/danon-warns-un-security-council-hezbollah-snuggles-bases-among-civilian-homes-schools/2016/07/12/

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