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August 31, 2016 / 27 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

Finally: Congress Asking UNRWA for Real Number of Palestinian Refugees

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.

UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.

Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.

Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”

The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.

But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.

In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.

“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”

Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”

The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”

And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”

Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.

A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.

It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.

Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

JNi.Media

Israel Engaged in Secret Efforts to Obtain Restitution for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The State of Israel is engaged in clandestine efforts to obtain restitution for the lost or stolen property of Jews who fled Arab countries after the State of Israel was founded. This was revealed in a discussion of the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday morning.

“The expatriates from Arab countries fled, leaving their property behind,” said MK Avraham Neguise, the committee chairman. “We want to do historical justice by making sure that this property is finally restored to its owners.”

Hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Arab countries and the Middle East already faced persecution on the eve of Israel’s establishment in 1948. Once Israel declared its independence, they had to flee.

According to Avi Cohen, director general of the Social Equality Ministry, which helps funnel support to the poorer sectors in Israeli society, Israel has already been acting clandestinely to restore some of the property that belonged to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, investing millions of shekels to do so.

“Classified work is currently underway, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry, in which we will invest millions to restore the property of Arab and Iranian Jewry,” Cohen said. “The work will come to fruition within four to six weeks. I cannot say more than that.”

Although Iran’s Jewish community did not face the same repercussions as Jews in Arab countries did in 1948, tens of thousands of Iranian Jews fled Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The officials at the meeting made other suggestions regarding restitution. Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog hinted that a regional agreement would give Israel an opportunity to make the issue a top priority.

“The topic was mentioned explicitly in our elections platform,” Herzog said. “If there should be movement toward a regional agreement, the topic must definitely be placed on the agenda.”

Ze’ev Ben Yosef, a member of the World Likud executive committee, was skeptical of Herzog’s idea.

“It’s problematic to link the issue of restitution to a political agreement because the other side is in no hurry to reach such an agreement,” he said.

Others who were present argued that the issue of the lost or stolen property belonging to Jews who fled Arab and Muslim countries should gain more international recognition, especially since the UN gave refugee status to Palestinians and their descendants who fled their homes during Israel’s War of Independence.

“The moment that the UN supports refugees from Arab countries, it must recognize that there are Jewish refugees,” said Eli Gabbay, a former MK of the National Religious Party. “It must be guaranteed, through a political process, that just as the UN grants funds to the Arab refugees, it will make restitution to the Jewish refugees.”

MK Anat Berko (Likud), a descendant of Jewish refugees from Iraq, echoed Gabbay’s statement. “If you want to recognize Arab refugees, you must also recognize Jewish refugees,” she said. “I, too, see myself as a daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

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

NY Daily News: BDS DOA at DNC

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

The feisty tabloid that gave the world the immortal 1976 headline “Ford to City: Drop Dead” has done it again on Tuesday, with the headline “BDS is DOA at the DNC,” which continued, “Staving off challenges from Bernie Sanders’ delegates, Democrats under Hillary Clinton’s leadership do right by Israel.”

The grownups have prevailed, apparently, at the 2016 democratic platform committee, according to the Daily News report, drafting a platform that would “stop the party from destructively setting benchmarks for negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians by calling for ‘an end to occupation and illegal settlements.” Not on Hillary’s watch, Mr. Sanders.

The draft platform reportedly suggests that “a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity.” Folks on the right may not like it, but the current, subdued version, beats whatever crazy talk had been suggested by Bernie Sanders’ five proxies on the platform committee— Keith Ellison, Bill McKibben, Dr Cornel West, James Zogby and Deborah Parker—including a call to “end Israel’s illegal settlements and military occupation of the Palestinian territories.”

While Sanders has 5 out of the 15 spots on the Democratic party’s platform committee, presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has 6, and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has 4. That’s 10 political grownups who actually want to win in November, versus 5 sons of Abbie Hoffman, who can be immensely entertaining in a debate, but usually lead to a GOP landslide come November.

But the Clinton-Wasserman Schultz platform draft doesn’t only push back the anti-Zionist crazies, according to the Daily News, it also commits to “retaining [Israel’s] qualitative military edge” in the region, and to Democrats opposing “any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.”

Like they said it so eloquently at the start: BDS is DOA at the DNC.

JNi.Media

UNESCO to Question Jewish Ties to Western Wall in Arab-Sponsored Draft Resolution

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

United Nations Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog organization, expressed concern today that UNESCO may fuel anti-Jewish incitement and violence, and the increasing PA Arabs’ denial of Jewish religious and cultural rights, by adopting an Arab-sponsored draft resolution that denies Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and Temple Mount.

The Jordanian-Palestinian draft text on the Old City of Jerusalem was submitted to the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which meets over the next 10 days in Istanbul for its 40th annual session.

“This inflammatory resolution risks encouraging the past year’s wave of Arab stabbing and shooting attacks in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, which began with false claims that Israel was planning to damage holy Muslim shrines,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Under the battle cry of “Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger,” incitement in September by Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sparked a wave of terror attacks across Israel which began on the Temple Mount and eastern Jerusalem. At least 40 have been killed and more than  500 wounded. The Arab attacks include 155 stabbings, 96 shootings, 45 car ramming attacks, and one bus bombing.

The draft now before UNESCO includes the following problematic language:

  • The draft refers ten times to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, exclusively using the Islamic term for Temple Mount, without any mention that it is the holiest site in Judaism. This is part of a larger campaign at the UN, and particularly in UNESCO, to Islamize sites historically belonging to other faiths.
  • This year’s proposed draft is even more extreme than the resolution adopted in 2015. The new version three times uses the Islamic term Buraq Plaza while placing the parallel name “Western Wall Plaza” in scare quotes, implying skepticism or disbelief concerning what is the most hallowed site for Jewish worshippers over two millennia, due to the ancient wall’s connection to the Holy Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 CE. Last year’s resolution also sought to diminish the Jewish connection by putting the name Western Wall in parentheses after the Islamic term, yet the new use of quotation marks intensifies the denialism that was famously promoted by Yasser Arafat’s negotiator at Camp David, and which continues in Palestinian Authority statements.
  • Israel, which is referred to throughout as “the Occupying Power” in Jerusalem, is called to restore “the historic Status Quo,” with the new word “historic”—a change from last year’s text—implying a reversal of any changes since 1967.
  • Jerusalem’s light rail, which is used daily by thousands of Arab residents among others, is accused of having a “damaging effect” on the “visual integrity” and “authentic character” of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem—even though the track passes through an existing highway and only facilitates transportation for visitors of all faiths.

The 21 members on the UNESCO world heritage committee are: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Good luck to all of us.

Jewish Press Staff

Ambassador Roet Torpedoes OIC Scheme to Legitimize Terrorism in UN Counter-Terrorism Document

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

(UNHQ, New York, July 1, 2016) The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), attempted to introduce language condoning terrorism under certain conditions into a draft of a UN Counter-Terrorism Resolution. The official document is expected to be finalized on Tuesday when the General Assembly concludes a bi-annual Review of its UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

The OIC, an organization of 57 member-states that considers itself “the collective voice of the Muslim world”, has Permanent Delegations to the United Nations as well as to the European Union. Several days prior to the start of the Review, OIC Representative Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi (Saudi Arabia) sought to insert the following clause to the draft of the resolution:

“Terrorism in the name of self-determination and national liberation does not constitute terrorism.”

Shortly after Rep. Al-Mouallimi addressed the General Assembly, Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador David Roet delivered an impassioned and powerful speech.

“The UN must decide if wants to be a relevant actor in facing the challenges of terrorism in the 21st century, or does it prefer to cave in to the narrow political interests of a number of member-states,” Roet proclaimed from the podium.

Roet invoked the particularly bloody past few days in Israel that saw a 13 year old girl stabbed to death in her bed and a father shot to death in front of his family.

“One day, two parents have to bury their child. And on the next day two children bury their father.  Do these murders not constitute terrorism? Do these attackers not constitute terrorists?”

Subsequent to Ambassador Roet’s speech, some significant diplomatic maneuvering by the Israel’s Mission to the UN, and a steadfast refusal on Israel’s part to allow member-states to compromise draft language for the sake of a unanimous consensus, the clause was ultimately not included in the final draft of the review, entitled “The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review”.    The day also coincided with the release of a much anticipated report, in the works since February, by the so-called Middle East Quartet: The UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union.

In it, the Quartet refrained from assigning blame to one side but reiterated its position that a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to achieve an enduring peace. The report also provided recommendations regarding what it believes are the major obstacles to achieving a negotiated peace: continued violence, terrorist attacks against civilians, incitement to violence, settlement construction and expansion, and the Palestinian Authority’s lack of control in Gaza.

Stephanie Granot

Netanyahu to Ban: Help Bring Israelis Back from Gaza, Rectify UN Bias

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and soon-to-be outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faced a daunting agenda Tuesday (June 28) for their meeting in Jerusalem.

The two leaders met with journalists ahead of their afternoon talks, with Netanyahu using the opportunity to call on Ban to rectify the ever-present UN bias against Israel, and also to exert his influence to force Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorists to return its Israeli hostages to their families.

The latter has in particular taken center stage in Israeli politics in recent days as Turkey closed a deal this week with Jerusalem to renew its diplomatic ties on condition it would be allowed to rebuild the electric and water infrastructure in Gaza, as well as intervene with Israel for the terrorist-run enclave when there are security matters to discuss.

Not all of the Netanyahu government cabinet was in agreement with the deal that restored the ties between Israel and Turkey (but has yet to be signed, in July.)

Netanyahu also said that it’s time for the United Nations to end its biased treatment of Israel, and asked Ban to be the one to rectify that situation in his remaining six months in office.

“I remember well when you came in Israel in 2013 you said that Israel and the Israeli people face some bias,” Netanyahu said.

“That’s an understatement,” he went on. “But you also said that Israel must be treated equally at the UN. I appreciate your candor and this clear moral stance. It was exemplified in your efforts to secure the final Palmer report which was very important for Israel, and Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your personal efforts in that particular instance.

“Regrettably, the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East.

“Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate.

“So today I want to echo your words from 2013, Israel still faces bias at the UN.I know that your desire for all countries to be treated fairly and equally remains true today. I urge you to dedicate your last six months as the Secretary General of the United Nations in trying to right this wrong. And when I say that, it’s not just for Israel’s sake. It’s for the credibility of the UN.

“If you can unfairly and in a bias way single out a country and apply to it what I call the ‘Ostracon rule’ – which is just decide to kick them out – just decide to brand them as criminal or whatever, you can apply that same principle to any other country, and this served as the downfall of the Athenian assembly, the first such body on which all of our parliaments and the UN itself is modeled after.

“I believe that this Ostracon problem, the singling out of Israel and the unfair treatment that it receives is a palpable threat to the future of the UN and not just for the interests of our country.”

In addition to his focus on the bias against Israel, however, the prime minister pressured Ban on helping the Jewish State retrieve its citizens and soldiers from Gaza. In connection with this issue, Netanyahu has faced intense opposition from coalition members on the newly-closed deal to renew diplomatic ties with Turkey. The ministers point to the fact that Israeli hostages are still being held by Hamas in Gaza; two live captives, and the kidnapped bodies of two killed IDF soldiers from the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. Those who oppose the agreement say Turkey should pressure its beneficiary, Hamas, to return the hostages before any deal is signed.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-to-ban-help-bring-israelis-back-from-gaza-rectify-un-bias/2016/06/28/

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