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May 28, 2016 / 20 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘us state department’

US: Imminent Terror Threat in Sofia, Bulgaria

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

The U.S. Embassy in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia warned its nationals Thursday of an imminent terror threat in the city. Americans were being advised to avoid using the mass transit system and to stay away from specific locations in the city. Among the sites to avoid were main streets and other crowded areas, including the streets around the Hotel Pliska.

In a similar vein, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Europe following the Brussels terrorist attacks Tuesday (March 22):

“U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events.”

Nationals were advised to “Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.

“European governments continue to guard against terrorist attacks and conduct raids to disrupt plots,” the advisory continued.

“We work closely with our allies and will continue to share information with our European partners that will help identify and counter terrorist threats.”

Hana Levi Julian

US: UNRWA Gets Add’l $6M for Yarmouk ‘Palestinians,’ Only $10M for Nepal

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

The U.S. State Department issued a quiet little bombshell with an unheralded press release dated April 27, which revealed that on April 24, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power announced that an additional $6 million of U.S. taxpayer money is being provided to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “in response to the devastating crisis in Yarmouk.”

This latest $6 million comes in response to the Yarmouk Emergency Call for Funds, which seeks funding for a 90 day rapid response effort.

This tranche brings the total U.S. contributions to UNRWA in response to the crisis in Syria to more than $57 million in 2015 alone. Keep in mind that UNRWA only serves those designated by the U.N. as “Palestinian refugees,” and not ordinary Syrian citizens.

What has happened in Yarmouk, Syria, has indeed led to a grave humanitarian crisis. Still, the context matters.

When the barbarian ISIS members entered the “Palestinian refugee” camp of Yarmouk, on the edge of Damascus, earlier this month, it had already been the site of two years of deadly clashes.

Those clashes were largely between the members of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, which supports the Assad regime, and the Palestinian Arab camp residents who oppose the Baathist regime of Assad. Yarmouk was also the site of several bombing raids by Syrian Army jets.

So for years, as the civil war in Syria has raged on, the civilian population throughout Syria has suffered appallingly. The recent murders and brief takeover of Yarmouk by ISIS has further led to “severe restrictions on food, medicine, clean water and electricity.” This is tragic, beyond a doubt.

But is the answer to the problem to just keep funneling in money to UNRWA, an agency that would not exist were these particular people living in Syria not labeled “Palestinian refugees”? The fallout from the latest tragedies would exist, of course, because of the Syrian civil war and the ISIS barbarism, but it is exponentially larger because the people in this “refugee camp” have never been absorbed into the general population of Syria (or Lebanon or Jordan, for that matter).

Why is it that the U.S. government believes taxpayer funds must be used to sustain a “Palestinian refugee” population indefinitely, putting aside the question of why they are considered refugees at all. That civilians caught in a brutal civil war should be the recipients of humanitarian aid is beyond dispute, but the duplications, to say nothing of the cost of maintaining a separate humanitarian agency just to serve one separate, designated afflicted group cannot be efficient, to say the least.

According to UNRWA (which exists solely to support these “refugees”), “there are 480,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria,” a full 95 percent of whom rely on UNRWA for their basic needs.

Not only that, but 470,000 of those “refugees” rely on small grants to sustain them: in other words, UNRWA is supplying the goods and services for their basic needs in addition to a cash supplement. If this special population were absorbed by their Muslim brethren anytime over the preceding half-century, it is impossible to believe they would not be vastly better off and better able to withstand the current onslaught.

To put it in context, the devastating series of earthquakes that struck in and around Nepal this month has already claimed thousands of lives. The number dead is expected to increase to 10,000. At least eight million people have been affected, nearly one quarter the country’s population, with over two million living in the most severely affected districts.

Vast swathes of the Nepalese infrastructure have been destroyed; the damage is inestimable.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Obama Caught Telling Truth, State Department Tries to Fix It

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

As reported yesterday, President Obama admitted that Netanyahu was correct when he said that the sunset clause in the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran “paves the way” for Iran to get nuclear weapons.

Obama admitted that in years 13 and 14 under his deal, the breakout time, which has since dropped to its current 2-3 months, and which the deal hopes to expand to 1 year, then drops to zero.

“What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.”

The State Department faced a crisis when Obama accidentally told the truth, and to correct it, Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the President’s words got “a little mixed up”, and he was referring to a “hypothetical” case of what would happen without a deal.

MAtt Lee: I’d like to go to Iran and president’s rather unusual sales job and his most recent interview. He said after 13 years Iran would or could have a capability to produce a weapon —

Marie Harf: His words were mixed up – referring to a scenario where there was no deal.

Of course, Harf’s statement sounds mixed up as the President was quite clear.

Jewish Press News Briefs

US ‘Deeply Troubled’ Palestinians Join Intl Criminal Court, 21 Intl Treaties

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

The U.S. issued a strongly-worded response Wednesday to the move by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to sign the Rome Statute joining the International Criminal Court at The Hague and 21 other international treaties.

Jeff Rathke, director of the Office of Press Relations at the U.S. State Department, said in a statement the actions taken Wednesday by the Palestinian Authority and Abbas were “counter-productive.”

In fact, Abbas directly defied the endless requests, recommendations and “advice” by U.S. envoys — including Secretary of State John Kerry — not to carry out such an action. It followed by one day the United Nations Security Council vote to nix the PA’s draft resolution submitted by Jordan demanding Israel withdraw its forces by 2017 from all territories conquered in the 1967 Six Day War.

Wednesday’s signature by Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah means the Palestinian Authority may have the right to initiate international criminal lawsuits and investigations in the Court — against those who are also members. However, the entity will also be subject to the same scrutiny and will be held to the same human rights standards as well.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement, “We are deeply troubled by today’s Palestinian action regarding the ICC. It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people.”

Jewish Press Staff

US Adds ISIS-Linked Gaza Terror Group to Foreign Terror List

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The U.S. State Department has declared the Mujahedeen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC) to be a foreign terrorist organization.

The MSC is an umbrella organization comprised of Gaza-based global jihad terror organizations connected to Al Qaeda. It is also linked to the Islamic State — also known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant).

The group has claimed responsibility for the August 2013 missile attack on the resort city of Eilat, and for a March 2013 attack on Sderot.

Jewish Press News Briefs

State Dept. Calls for Restraint, But Doesn’t Know Name of Kidnapped American Boy

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

In Wednesday’s press briefing, US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki called for restraint on all side, during the search for the three kidnapped boys.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, we’ve been in touch with both the Israelis and the Palestinians throughout the course of the last several days since these teenagers were kidnapped. We know this is a difficult time obviously on the ground. We’ve urged continued security cooperation between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the search for the kidnapped teenagers. We were encouraged by President Abbas’s strong statement to the Arab and Islamic foreign ministers today in Saudi Arabia. But – and certainly as the search continues and in our conversations, we urge both sides to exercise restraint and avoid the types of steps that could destabilize the situation. And that’s a message that we are conveying in all of our conversations as well.

After 6 days, she also finally admitted that one of the kidnapped boys is an American citizen.

MS. PSAKI: We do, yes. So we can confirm that one of the kidnapped was an American citizen.

But after 6 days, Psaki doesn’t actually know his name.

QUESTION: Which one? MS. PSAKI: I believe his name has been reported. I don’t have it in front of me right now.

The State Department still believes that paying the PA, which then pays Hamas had no influence in Hamas’s decisions (such as pulling their financial chestnuts out of the fire).

QUESTION: But there’s – numerous Israeli officials have said that the U.S. decision to work with and continue to fund the Palestinian government, the new unity government, is – contributes – contributed to this incident with the three – is it – am I correct in thinking that you still would reject such an allegation?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, that is correct.

Keep that certainty of hers in mind, while recalling that Ms. Psaki couldn’t even bother to learn the name of the kidnapped American boy.

It’s Naftali Frenkel.

Shalom Bear

US Admits: Hamas Unity Government Can Launch Rockets, and Still Receive US Funds

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on Wednesday that the US condemns the rocket fire from Gaza, and expects the Palestinian Unity Government and PUG president to condemn those attacks. But Psaki admits that condemning, not stopping those attacks is the maximum they expect from PUG President Mahmoud Abbas.

Furthermore, Psaki admits that even though Hamas is a member of the Palestinian Unity Government, the US admits that Hamas independently controls Gaza, and admits that Hamas launches rockets at Israel, and admits that the US will ignore all that continue to work with and fund the Palestinian Unity Government of which Hamas is a full member and consequently, a recipient of those US funds.

At the end, Psaki answers that the rocket launches really aren’t large enough of an attack to get the US to change its position.

The questions are great, and it makes for such fascinatingly convoluted reading:

MS. PSAKI: Well, we condemn all rocket fire from Gaza. It is unprovoked aggression against civilian targets and is totally unacceptable. We welcome President Abbas’s prompt and outspoken condemnation of this attack. We note that he has demanded that all the Palestinian factions remain committed to the ceasefire agreement that was signed in Cairo in 2012, and we expect the Palestinian Authority will do everything in its power to prevent attacks into Gaza – from Gaza into Israel. But we acknowledge the reality that Hamas currently controls Gaza.

QUESTION: Well, okay. So the Israelis say that President Abbas, since the unity government has been formed, that he bears responsibility for not disarming this or not preventing this attack and attacks of its kind. Do you agree that President Abbas shares – or it is his responsibility to do that, and that he is – the Israelis could look at him and say this is his fault?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we believe that President Abbas must do all in his power to prevent deterioration in the security situation, but we would also note that he has upheld his responsibility to maintain security coordination with Israel and he has publicly stressed his commitment to do that. And so I think he has made every effort to be – continue to be a partner in this regard.

QUESTION: So this doesn’t have any – this attack doesn’t have anything – won’t have any bearing on your decision to work with the unity government and continue to provide assistance to it?

MS. PSAKI: It does not. Obviously, we’re concerned about it and we condemn it in the strongest terms. But his – President Abbas’s ability to impact these type of attacks is really severely limited at this point in time.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but isn’t that part of the – I mean, that’s part of the entire problem with agreeing to go along and work with a government, is it not? I mean, the Israelis said the whole time that these attacks are going to continue. If you recognize that his ability is extremely limited to prevent this kind of thing, for there to be security cooperation between him, his government, and the Israelis, how is it that you made the leap to go ahead and say, “All right, this is a government that we can do business with?”

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is one – this was the creation of an interim technocratic government. Obviously, at some point there will be elections. This is an interim period. As we’ve long stated, we’ll – we’re continuing assistance if we – but we’ll be watching closely and if something changes, so will – we’ll act accordingly. But nothing —

QUESTION: So how many more rocket attacks do there have to be before you decide that it’s – that we made a mistake?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Matt, you’re familiar, I’m sure, with what the criteria are for delivering assistance. While we’re very concerned about these rocket attacks and we feel President Abbas needs to do everything possible to prevent them, we understand that his ability to do that is severely limited at this point in time.

QUESTION: So but then I don’t understand why – I can’t – I mean, if you think that this guy doesn’t have control over everyone who is either a member of or is backing his unity government, why would you do business with it? Why would you give it money? I mean, if you were one part of – I don’t know, one segment of the Israeli society, political society or otherwise, you could, if you hold Abbas responsible for this attack, hold the United States, in a sense, responsible for this attack because you guys are just continuing to support the unity government.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there are no members of Hamas in the technocratic unity government – technocratic government, I should call it, which is the accurate —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — term for it. That is one of our criteria for continuing to provide assistance. We’ll be watching closely over the course of the coming weeks and months.

QUESTION: So even though it is backed by Hamas and you hold Hamas responsible for this rocket attack today, that – you don’t see a connection? No?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not suggesting we don’t understand the connection, Matt. But again, this is a case where President Abbas strongly condemned these actions. We think he should do everything possible to prevent them from happening and to call for and provoke unity among these groups. But we understand at this point in time there’s very little that he can do to prevent them.

QUESTION: Why is it in your interest to continue to deal with the interim government notwithstanding this rocket attack?

MS. PSAKI: Because the Palestinian people and our relationship with the Palestinian Authority is an important relationship to the United States. We continue to believe that support to them is something that is important to the United States.

QUESTION: But if Hamas feels that it can shoot rockets from Gaza into Israel with impunity and this has no effect whatsoever, for example, on its ability to form a unity government with the PA, even if there are no Hamas members in the actual government – you have a disincentive that you could use here, which would be to stop dealing with the unity government or to stop funding it, and that might tell Hamas, “Well, maybe we should think twice about sending rockets in.” But the way you’ve cast it, they can send an unlimited number of rockets in and they can still be supportive of this unity government and you’ll still give the unity government and the PA money.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we made a decision as the United States Government that our assistance to the Palestinian Authority is important to the United States. And so that’s why it is continuing. And they did – have met the criteria, including the Quartet principles that have been laid out. We will be judging this government by its actions and we will address issues as needed moving forward, but nothing has changed at this point in time.

QUESTION: You don’t see this attack as an action of the government?

MS. PSAKI: No, we —

QUESTION: You see it by – you see it as an action by a supporter of the government. Not you, I’m talking about Hamas, right? I mean, you – correct me if I – I mean, if you – well, is that correct? Let’s just start there. You see this as an attack by Hamas on Israel. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Yes. You do understand the equivalent – the Israelis say that because Hamas is a – while there are no Hamas members in it, this government, this technocratic government is supported by Hamas, and therefore this is a problem. You don’t agree with that.

MS. PSAKI: Well again, Matt, this is a technocratic government that just formed in the past couple of weeks. We’ll be watching events closely as time continues. The government itself has abided by the principles that we have outlined through the Quartet and what the United States expects as well, and we’ll evaluate accordingly. But nothing has changed as it relates to our assistance.

QUESTION: All right. And then just on Abbas himself, you say that he has condemned it. But the condemnation is really – I mean it’s good, I suppose, that he is not applauding and saying this is a good thing. But he needs to stop it, doesn’t he? Isn’t that the U.S. position?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he’s also demanded that all factions abide by the ceasefire agreement.

QUESTION: Right. But at some point it’s got to be actions, not words, right? So this is – I just – this is not an action enough to get you to – to get the Administration to change its position?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Clarification: Are you certain that it was Hamas that fired the rocket, or could it be some rogue group from Gaza? Because there are all kinds of rogue groups.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I don’t have any more information. I think we’re all familiar with the connection between Hamas and Gaza and how they control Gaza.

Jewish Press News Briefs

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