Warning of Iran, PM tells Holocaust forum: We remember the world turned its back

Posted January 24, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Warning of Iran, PM tells Holocaust forum: We remember the world turned its back | The Times of Israel

Netanyahu condemns ‘tyrants of Tehran,’ says Jews learned they can only rely on themselves for defense; Rivlin: ‘Racism and anti-Semitism is a malignant disease’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020 (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020 (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told Holocaust survivors and world leaders that the world turned its back on Jews during the Holocaust, teaching the Jewish people that under threat they can only rely on themselves.

Speaking at the World Holocaust Forum’s memorial to commemorate the 75th liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp at Yad Vashem, Netanyahu said the world was similarly failing to unify against Iran, which he charged was the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet.

“Israel is eternally grateful for the sacrifice made by the Allies. Without that sacrifice there would be no survivors today. But we also remember that some 80 years ago, when the Jewish people faced annihilation, the world turned its back on us,” Netanyahu said.

“For many, Auschwitz is the ultimate symbol of evil. It is certainly that. The tattooed arms of those who passed under its infamous gates, the piles of shoes and eyeglasses seized from the dispossessed in their final moments, the gas chambers and crematoria that turned millions of people into ash, all these bear witness to the horrific depths to which humanity can sink,” he said.

“But for the Jewish people, Auschwitz is more than the ultimate symbol of evil. It is also the ultimate symbol of Jewish powerlessness. It is the culmination of what can happen when our people have no voice, no land, no shield.”

He continued: “The Jewish people have learned the lessons of the Holocaust: to take, always to take seriously the threats of those who seek our destruction; to confront threats when they are small; and above all, even though we deeply, deeply appreciate the great support of our friends, to always have the power to defend ourselves by ourselves. We have learned that Israel must always remain the master of its fate.”

While the world learned the lesson about evil, it did not necessarily learn the lesson about pre-emption, he argued.

“There are some signs of hope – and this extraordinary gathering is one of them. Today, the dangers of racism, hateful ideologies, and anti-Semitism are better understood. Many recognize a simple truth: that what starts with the hatred of the Jews doesn’t end with the Jews,” he said.

But, he added, “I am concerned. I am concerned that we have yet to see a unified and resolute stance against the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet – a regime that openly seeks to develop nuclear weapons and annihilate the one and only Jewish state.”

Calling the ayatollahs’ regime the “tyrants of Tehran,” Netanyahu said Israel “salutes President Trump and Vice President Pence for confronting the Tyrants of Tehran that subjugate their own people, and threaten the peace and security of the entire world. They threaten the peace and security of everyone in the Middle East and everyone beyond. I call on all governments to join the vital effort of confronting Iran.”

And he vowed: “I wish to assure again our people and all our friends, Israel will do whatever it must do to defend our state, defend our people and defend the Jewish future.”

Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prince Charles and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier are also due to address the gathering. and other leaders were slated to speak at the ceremony, which brought 40-plus world leaders to Jerusalem.

President Reuven Rivlin thanked the world leaders in attendance “for your commitment to remembering the Shoah, for your commitment to the citizens of the world, to those who believe in the dignity of man.”

President Reuven Rivlin speaks during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, 23 January 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Rivlin said that democracy must not be taken for granted and that the Jewish people know that “if we do not remember then history can be repeated.”

Anti-Semitism “does not only stop with Jews. Racism and anti-Semitism is a malignant disease that dismantles peoples and countries, and no democracy and no society is immune to that,” Rivlin said.yi

Former chief rabbi and Holocaust survivor Israel Meir Lau and Yad Vashem’s chairman Avner Shalev were also set to speak, and survivors were to light memorial flames.

The event, headlined “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” is co-organized by the office of Rivlin, Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center and the World Holocaust Forum Foundation. It marks the third-largest gathering of world leaders ever hosted by Israel, after the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, and comes several days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

Off Topic:  ‘This crime had accomplices’: Full text of Putin’s World Holocaust Forum speech

Posted January 24, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: ‘This crime had accomplices’: Full text of Putin’s World Holocaust Forum speech | The Times of Israel

Those who helped the Nazis ‘were often crueler than their masters,’ Russian president says. ‘The Holocaust was deliberate annihilation. The Nazis intended the same fate for others’

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020, to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020, to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

Full text of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism” World Holocaust Forum event at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Jauary 23, 2020.

Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Today we are brought together at the international forum to honour the victims of the Holocaust by a shared responsibility, our duty to the past and the future.

We mourn all the victims of the Nazis, including the six million Jews tortured in ghettos and death camps and killed cruelly during raids. Forty percent of them were citizens of the Soviet Union, so the Holocaust has always been a deep wound for us, a tragedy we will always remember.

Before visiting Jerusalem, I looked through original documents, reports by Red Army officers after the liberation of Auschwitz. I must tell you, colleagues, it is very difficult, unbearable to read these military reports, documents describing in detail how the camp was set up, how the cold-blooded killing machine worked.

Many of them were hand-written by soldiers and officers of the Red Army on the second or third day after the liberation of the prisoners and convey the shock that the Red Army soldiers and officers experienced from what they saw there, from testimonies that caused pain, indignation and compassion.

Red Army Field Marshal Konev, who then led the military operation to capture the densely populated Silesian industrial region of Germany, used tactics to spare as many civilians as possible and, having received a report about the atrocities committed at Auschwitz, forbade himself from even seeing this camp. Later he wrote in his memoirs that he had no right to lose his moral strength, so that a fair sense of revenge would not have blinded him during military operations and would not have caused additional suffering and casualties among the civilian population of Germany.

January 27 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In this hell, where people from different countries were brought for torture, monstrous experiments and mass killing, hundreds of thousands of people of different ethnicities died. More than half of them were Jews.

The crimes committed by the Nazis, their deliberate, planned, and as they said, ”final solution to the Jewish issue,“ is one of the darkest and most shameful pages of modern world history.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020. (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP)

But we should not forget that this crime also had accomplices. They were often crueler than their masters. Death factories and concentration camps were served not only by the Nazis, but also by their accomplices in many European countries.

In the occupied territories of the Soviet Union, where these criminals were operating, the largest number of Jews were killed. Thus, about 1.4 million Jews were killed in Ukraine, and 220,000 people were killed in Lithuania. I draw your attention, friends, to the fact that this is 95 percent of the pre-war Jewish population of this country. In Latvia, 77,000 Jewish people were killed. Only a few hundred Latvian Jews survived the Holocaust.

The Holocaust was deliberate annihilation of [a] people. But we must remember that the Nazis intended the same fate for many other peoples. Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles and many other peoples were declared Untermensch. Their land was meant to serve as living space for the Nazis, providing for their prosperous existence, while the Slavs and other peoples were meant either to be exterminated or to become slaves without rights, culture, historical memory and language.

Back in 1945, it was first of all the Soviet people who put an end to these barbaric plans. As it has just been said, they protected their Fatherland and liberated Europe from Nazism. We paid a price no nation could even imagine in their worst dreams: a toll of 27 million deaths.

We will never forget this. The memory of the Holocaust will serve as a lesson and a warning only if it remains fully intact, without any omissions. Unfortunately, today the memory of war and its lessons and legacy often fall subject to the immediate political situation. This is completely unacceptable. It is the duty of current and future politicians, state and public figures to protect the good name of the living and fallen heroes, civilians and victims of the Nazis and their allies.

We must use everything we have – our informational, political and cultural capabilities as well as the reputation and influence our countries have in the world – to this end. I am sure that everyone present here today, in this audience, shares these concerns and is ready to protect truth and justice together with us.

We are all responsible for making sure that the terrible tragedies of this war will not happen again, that the generations to come will remember the horrors of the Holocaust, the death camps and the siege of Leningrad – Prime Minister Netanyahu has just said that today a monument to the victims of the siege was unveiled here in Jerusalem – Babi Yar, and the burned-down village of Khatyn, remember that we must remain alert and must not overlook when the first seeds of hate, chauvinism and antisemitism take root, or when people start to indulge in xenophobia or other similar manifestations.

Destruction of the past and lack of unity in the face of threats can lead to terrible consequences. We must have the courage to be straight about this and do everything to defend peace.

I think an example could and should be set by the founding countries of the United Nations, the five powers that bear special responsibility for the preservation of civilisation.

We have discussed this with several of our colleagues and, as far as I know, have received a generally positive response to holding a meeting of the heads of state of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain. We can hold it in any country, in any place that our colleagues would find convenient. Russia is ready for such a serious discussion. We intend to send this proposal to the leaders of the Five without delay.

We are faced with many challenges. We discussed one of them recently at the initiative of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This is about Libya. But we will have to return to this issue at the Security Council and adopt a relevant resolution.

There are many other problems as well. I consider it important and symbolic to hold the proposed meeting this year. After all, we are celebrating 75 years since the end of World War II and the foundation of the United Nations.

A summit of the states that made the main contribution to the routing of the aggressor and the formation of the postwar world order can play a big role in searching for collective ways of responding to current challenges and threats and would demonstrate our common commitment to the spirit of allied relations, historical memory and the lofty ideals and values for which our predecessors, our grandfathers and fathers fought shoulder to shoulder.

In conclusion, I would like to thank our Israeli colleagues for a warm, very hospitable reception here in Jerusalem, and to wish peace, prosperity and all the best to everyone at the conference, and, of course, to the citizens of Israel.

Thank you.

 

Unidentified aircraft reportedly strike Hezbollah base in Iraq 

Posted January 24, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Unidentified aircraft reportedly strike Hezbollah base in Iraq | The Times of Israel

Attack targets terrorist group headquarters in al-Qaim, near Syrian border, with no confirmed casualties, according to Arabic media reports

Illustrative: Popular Mobilization Forces members stand by a burning truck after a drone attack blamed on Israel near Qaim border crossing, in Anbar province, Iraq, August 25, 2019. (AP Photo)

Illustrative: Popular Mobilization Forces members stand by a burning truck after a drone attack blamed on Israel near Qaim border crossing, in Anbar province, Iraq, August 25, 2019. (AP Photo)

Unidentified aircraft attacked a military base used by the Hezbollah terror group near the Syria-Iraq border overnight Thursday-Friday, according to Arabic media reports.

The airstrikes reportedly targeted a Hezbollah headquarters near the Iraqi town of al-Qa’im, according to the al-Hadath and al-Arabiya news outlets.

The aircraft carried out three waves of strikes, the reports said.

Earlier this month, an airstrike in nearby eastern Syria killed eight fighters from Iraq’s Iran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Force) militia.

A monitoring group said the attack was carried out by unidentified aircraft. The US-led military coalition operating in Syria and Iraq denied carrying out the strike.

The attack followed explosions reported at a base near the Iraqi-Syrian border thought to be used by Shiite militias, in what was a suspected airstrike, and several drone strikes in the area.

The area is part of a land corridor for Tehran linking Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

In September, large strikes in the same area that destroyed major parts of a weapons storehouse known as the Imam Ali compound were attributed to Israel.

Israel views Iran as its greatest threat, and has acknowledged carrying out scores of airstrikes in Syria in recent years aimed primarily at preventing the transfer of sophisticated weapons, including guided missiles, to the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Last fall and summer, unidentified aircraft carried out a series of attacks on bases belonging to Iranian-backed militias in Iraq close to the Syrian border.

The Popular Mobilization Force has blamed both Israel and the US for the string of blasts and drone sightings at its bases. Israeli officials have not publicly commented on these allegations, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted at the possibility that Israel has in the past struck in Iraq.

 

This must never happen again, says Saudi cleric as Muslim group tours Auschwitz

Posted January 24, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: This must never happen again, says Saudi cleric as Muslim group tours Auschwitz | The Times of Israel

Unprecedented visit by Muslim World League head Mohammed al-Issa and group of Islamic clerics with American Jewish Committee shows interfaith efforts working, participants say

  • A delegation of Muslim religious leaders at the gate leading to the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz, together with a Jewish group in what organizers called “the most senior Islamic leadership delegation" to visit the former Nazi death camp, in Oswiecim, Poland, January 23, 2020. (American Jewish Committee via AP)
    A delegation of Muslim religious leaders at the gate leading to the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz, together with a Jewish group in what organizers called “the most senior Islamic leadership delegation” to visit the former Nazi death camp, in Oswiecim, Poland, January 23, 2020. (American Jewish Committee via AP)

OSWIECIM, Poland —  The head of the Muslim World League, Mohammed al-Issa, along with an entourage of prominent Muslim religious leaders, on Thursday joined counterparts from the American Jewish Committee on a landmark interfaith tour of the former Nazi extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The world had to ensure that “these kinds of horrible crimes” will never “happen again,” Issa, the secretary-general of the Mecca-based MWL and a former Saudi justice minister, said at the end of the visit.

Organizers said it was “the most senior Islamic leadership delegation” to visit the site of a Nazi death camp. The AJC said that Al-Issa led a delegation of 62 Muslims, including 25 prominent religious leaders, from some 28 countries during the “groundbreaking” visit. At one point, they prayed with their heads pressed on the ground at Birkenau, the largest part of the camp and the most notorious site of Germany’s mass murder of European Jews.

The two groups embarked on the tour amid a flurry of hugs and warm handshakes just days ahead of the 75th anniversary of the camps’ liberation by Soviet troops.

The delegation will continue on to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on Friday, then visit the city’s Nozyk Synagogue and a local mosque, and share in an interfaith Shabbat meal.

Interfaith delegation to Auschwitz including Muslim World League head Mohammed al-Issa, January 23, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

At the death camp, the group was shown the gruesome evidence of the horrors the Nazis inflicted on the camps’ prisoners, which included some 1 million Jews, 75,000 Poles, 21,000 Roma, 14,000 Soviets and around 15,000 others, such as Jehovahs Witness and homosexuals, according to the Auschwitz Memorial Museum. The trip culminated in a memorial service between the former gas chambers and crematorium, at which both Jewish and Muslim prayers were offered on behalf of the Holocaust victims.

The Nazis murdered 1.1 million people at Auschwitz from 1940 to 1945, the vast majority of whom were European Jews. They killed most of the victims in gas chambers.

Mohammed al-Issa embraces AJC’s rabbi David Rosen in front of the gates of Auschwitz, January 23, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris called the trip “groundbreaking,” and said it represented “the most senior delegation of Muslim religious leaders to visit Auschwitz ever” in comments to The Times of Israel prior to the trip.

He believes it will enhance Muslim understanding of the Holocaust.

“To have a major Muslim leader openly saying that the Holocaust happened, that it was horrible, that we have to remember it — this is a huge change,” said Polish chief rabbi Michael Schudrich as the group shuttled between Auschwitz and nearby Birkenau. “It is historic that this level of a Muslim delegation is coming to Auschwitz for the express purpose of mourning and paying homage to the Jewish genocide that happened here.”

Issa’s face reflected feelings of shock and sadness as he looked at piles of used canisters of Zyklon-B, the gas used to suffocate victims, along with mounds of eyeglasses, shoes, prayer shawls, and human hair that the Nazis collected from incoming prisoners.

Many others on the delegation, both Jewish and Muslim, reacted similarly. Some stood lost in the displays long after the group had moved on.

Muslim World League head Mohammed al-Issa looks at piles of shoes once owned by Jews at Auschwitz, January 23, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/Times of Israel)

It was not Issa’s first visit to a Holocaust museum. He toured the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, in May 2018, and wrote an opinion article in the Washington Post in January 2019 condemning the Nazis’ “heinous crimes.” He also declared that “Muslims around the world have a responsibility to learn” about the lessons of the Holocaust.

“I urge all Muslims to learn the history of the Holocaust, to visit memorials and museums of this horrific event and to teach its lesson to their children,” wrote Issa, who is considered an ally of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that Issa has had a moderating effect on the Muslim World League, which once propagated “a virulent strain of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic writing, thinking and preaching.”

Under Issa’s leadership, Satloff said, the organization has shifted its approach to curb hardliners and reach out to other faiths.

Interfaith delegation to Auschwitz including Muslim World League head Mohammed al-Issa, January 23, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

The league, which was founded in 1962, is subsidized by the Saudi government; it also supports mosques and Islamic centers globally.

“Recently there’s been an interest in taking risks, and let’s be honest, the risks that the Muslims face are far more real than the ones the Jews face. It can be life and death,” American Jewish Committee board member Daniel Pincus told The Times of Israel about this latest push for interfaith cooperation.

“I don’t sense that Jews face this,” Pincus said. “Jews who go out and try to do Muslim-Jewish relations or Arab-Israeli relations don’t face death threats in the way that Muslims might if they go back home.”

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At the memorial service concluding the tour, the children of Holocaust survivors spoke about their parents’ experiences, and candles were placed near the former crematorium in honor of the dead. The Kaddish, along with “El Maleh Rachamim,” both Jewish prayers of mourning, were recited. Issa then led the delegation of Muslim personages in prayer. But first, he addressed the crowd.

“According to Islamic faith, we do not have double standards in recognizing these kinds of crimes,” Issa said. “I would like to express to all of you that myself and my colleagues, the Islamic leaders, are deeply touched and affected by these horrible crimes and pictures we’ve seen throughout these monuments.”

“Unfortunately, humanity is still suffering from these kinds of crimes on a large scale today, different human beings [perpetrating] against each other,” he said.” I believe there is a huge responsibility on the international community to do something to deal with these kinds of horrible crimes and to make sure none of this will happen again. Our world will not be able to achieve peace unless we have a strong will together to fight evil.”

Muslim World League head Mohammed al-Issa leads a prayer ceremony in memory of the dead at Birkenau, January 23, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

Following the ceremony, the media lined up to ask questions. When The Times of Israel identified itself, one of Issa’s assistants said that the cleric would not be able to answer any questions from Israeli media “here, especially with all the cameras.”

“Stay in touch,” he said. “We will speak soon.”

Adam Rasgon and AP contributed to this report.

 

Abbas spokesman warns US and Israel not to cross ‘red lines’ with peace plan 

Posted January 24, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Abbas spokesman warns US and Israel not to cross ‘red lines’ with peace plan | The Times of Israel

As Netanyahu and Gantz invited to Washington for discussion of plan said to be very favorable to Israel, Nabil Abu Rudeineh affirms support for Palestinian state along 1967 borders

File: Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 5, 2017. (Flash90)

File: Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 5, 2017. (Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman warned Israel and the United States on Thursday not to cross any “red lines,” following a flurry of reports in Hebrew media about the Trump administration’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a statement, the spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, affirmed that the Palestinians support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Channel 12, citing unnamed Israeli sources, reported earlier Thursday that the US administration’s plan calls for Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and 100-plus settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state on condition that the Hamas terror group gives up its weapons and the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Jerusalem as its capital.

The channel also reported that the US plan would grant Israel full security control in the Jordan Valley, and provide for some minor land swaps and a possible absorption of some Palestinian refugees in Israel; it also said if Israel accepts the plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel would have US support to begin annexing settlements unilaterally.

“If the announcement of this deal, with these unacceptable formulas, is made, the leadership will announce a series of measures to preserve our legitimate rights, and we will call on Israel to assume its responsibilities as an occupying power,” Abu Rudeineh said in the statement, carried by the official PA news site Wafa, without stating wheo pass will be squashed by our people’s resistance and steadfastness,” he said in a tweet. “Our Palestinian people will determine its fate by way of its ongoing revolution, legitimate struggle and absolute belief in the justness of its cause.”

Since late 2017, the Trump administration has made several moves seen as marginalizing the Palestinians: recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US embassy in the Jewish state from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians and the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees, and closing the PLO representative office in Washington.ther he was referring explicitly to the Channel 12 report.

US President Donald Trump, right, and visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk along the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has previously threatened to dissolve the PA and transfer responsibility for the Palestinians to Israel, but it has yet to take major steps in that direction.

The spokesman added: “We warn Israel and the American administration to not cross the red lines.”

US Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz accepted an invitation to come to the White House next week to discuss “prospects for peace here in the holy land.”

He made the remarks to the press following a meeting with Netanyahu and made no mention of the US inviting Palestinian officials.

Later on Thursday, US President Donald Trump appeared to cast doubt on the reports in Hebrew media about the administration’s plan.

“Reports about details and timing of our closely-held peace plan are purely speculative,” he tweeted.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim said that “any deal or project that does not contain our people’s full rights in our land and holy sites will not stand.

“All the attempts to make this deal come t

 

Trump says he’ll likely release plan before Tuesday meet with Netanyahu, Gantz 

Posted January 24, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Trump says he’ll likely release plan before Tuesday meet with Netanyahu, Gantz | The Times of Israel

US president says White House has talked with Palestinians about long-awaited peace agreement, says ‘it’s very positive for them’

US President Donald Trump arrives at Miami International Airport en route to attend the Republican National Committee winter meetings, January 23, 2020. (AP/Evan Vucci)

US President Donald Trump said Thursday that he’ll likely release his long-awaited Middle East peace plan before his meeting early next week at the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz.

“It’s a great plan. It’s a plan that really would work,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One en route to a Republican Party meeting in Florida.

Trump said he was surprised that both Netanyahu and Gantz were willing to take a break from campaigning for the March 2 elections to join him Tuesday in Washington.

“They both would like to do the deal. They want to see peace,” Trump said. “Look, Israel wants peace, Palestinians want peace. They all want peace. Not everyone wants to say it.”

He said his administration has talked briefly to the Palestinians, who have rejected the administration’s peace plan before it even comes out.

“We’ve spoken to them briefly. But we will speak to them in a period of time,” Trump said. “And they have a lot of incentive to do it. I’m sure they maybe will react negatively at first, but it’s actually very positive to them.”

“We took away their money,” Trump added. “That’s a lot of money for them.”

US Vice President Mike Pence, left, hosts PM Netanyahu at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, January 23, 2020 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The US stopped funding the UN agency that focuses on Palestinians, which slashed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza. Trump also closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, saying the Palestinians refused to engage in peace talks with Israel.

US Vice President Mike Pence announced the invitation for Netanyahu and Gantz to visit during a meeting with the prime minister in Jerusalem after addressing the international World Holocaust Forum on Thursday. He said that at Netanyahu’s request, the invitation was also issued to Gantz.

Asked when he would release the plan, which has been shepherded by the president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump said it would be rolled out “sometime prior” to his meeting with Netanyahu and Gantz.

“Probably we’ll release it a little bit prior to that,” Trump said.

The plan is expected to strongly favor Israel, and is unlikely to garner any international support if it is seen as undermining the prospect of a two-state solution.

“We have had no better friend than President Trump,” Netanyahu said. “With this invitation, I think that the president is seeking to give Israel the peace and security that it deserves.”

The Palestinians rejected Trump’s peace efforts after he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US Embassy there in May 2018.

“If this deal is announced with these rejected formulas, the leadership will announce a series of measures in which we safeguard our legitimate rights, and we will demand Israel assume its full responsibilities as an occupying power,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas gives a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 11, 2019. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

He appeared to be referring to oft-repeated threats to dissolve the Palestinian Authority.

“We warn Israel and the US administration from crossing the red lines,” Abu Rdeneh said.

Channel 12, citing unnamed Israeli sources, reported earlier Thursday that the US administration’s plan calls for Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and 100-plus settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state on condition that the Hamas terror group gives up its weapons and the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Jerusalem as its capital.

The channel also reported that the US plan would grant Israel full security control in the Jordan Valley, and provide for some minor land swaps and a possible absorption of some Palestinian refugees in Israel; it also said if Israel accepts the plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel would have US support to begin annexing settlements unilaterally.

It ultimately provides for a Palestinian state but under conditions that no Palestinian leader could conceivably accept, the TV report said. Channel 12 reported that Abbas does not know the details of the plan, and that it is regarded in Ramallah as “dead on arrival.” The PA has had no substantive dealings with the US administration since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

Trump himself seemingly cast doubt on the reports, tweeting shortly after their release that “reports about details and timing of our closely-held peace plan are purely speculative.”

Next week’s meeting could produce an awkward scene. Gantz has made Netanyahu’s indictment on graft charges a focus of his campaign, and his Blue and White party is pushing an effort to counter Netanyahu’s immunity bid before the election. At the same time, they will be joined by an impeached president who is being tried in the Senate.

Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz at a conference in Jerusalem, December 17, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The US was believed to be holding back on releasing the peace plan until Israel had a permanent government. Those calculations may have changed as the deadlock in Israeli politics looks to be further prolonged.

Trump may also be looking for a boost from evangelical and pro-Israel supporters as the Senate weighs whether to remove him from office after he was impeached last month, and as he gears up for a reelection battle this year.

Pence was among dozens of world leaders in Jerusalem on Thursday for the World Holocaust Forum. Many of the participants, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron, also paid visits to the Palestinians in the West Bank. A Palestinian official said Abbas asked the visiting French and Russian presidents to support the Palestinian position when the plan is published.

“He asked them to refuse and act against any Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing closed meetings.

While the plan is expected to be friendly to Israel, it could still face opposition from Netanyahu’s right-wing partners.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yamina party, called Trump a “true friend” of Israel and said the country likely stands before a “historic opportunity.” But he said his party would not allow the transfer of any land to Palestinian control or for a Palestinian state to be established.

Other right-wing politicians similarly voiced alarm at the possibility of a Palestinian state, while left-wing leaders lambasted the purported outline as a threat to a Democratic Jewish state.

 

Netanyahu & Gantz invited to White House for Trump unveiling of Mid-East peace plan – DEBKAfile

Posted January 24, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Netanyahu & Gantz invited to White House for Trump unveiling of Mid-East peace plan – DEBKAfile

After numerous delays, President Donald Trump is to unveil the “Deal of the Century” – his Middle East Peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians – next week.  

He has invited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and opposition Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz to the White House for the event. He is inviting both, to avoid appearing to interfere in the Israeli election of March 2, after deciding to publish the plan without further delay.

The US president will reportedly include in his plan the transition of the Jordan Valley and the areas of Jewish habitation on the West Bank to Israeli sovereign rule. The Palestinians are assigned a demilitarized state.

A high-ranking American source revealed that the Trump plan will shift Israel’s border substantially eastward.

The White House invitation to Israel’s leaders next week was handed to them by Vice President Mike Pence in Jerusalem on Thursday, Jan. 23, when he represented the United States at the world gathering for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The White House ceremony for launching the Middle East peace process is unprecedented in that one of the parties is adamantly opposed to the Trump initiative and will not be present.

As we reported in DEBKAfile on Jan. 21, the Trump plan will not be released in its entirety , but only the main political chapter. Before publication, he conferred in advance with key Arab rulers. The decisive conversation took place on Jan. 6 with Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman who visited the White House. The prince said that his government had no objection to the partial release of the Trump peace plan. Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh el-Sisi and UAE ruler Sheikh Muhammed bin Zayed also agreed. But King Mohammad of Morocco sidestepped the question and avoided giving a clear answer.