Archive for February 24, 2018

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February 24, 2018

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Turkey says US decision to open embassy in Jerusalem damaging peace

February 24, 2018

Ankara reacts with scathing condemnation of US announcement of inaugurating new Jerusalem embassy in May, says US ‘insistence on damaging peace, ignoring UN resolutions was worrying’; Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Friday decision showed ‘determination to violate international law, destroy two-state solution and provoke the feelings of Palestinians.’

News agencies and Ynet reporters|Published:  02.24.18 , 14:24

https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5129364,00.html

The Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry attacked the United States Saturday over its announcement the previous day of its intention to inaugurate the US Embassy in Jerusalem this coming May, to coincide with Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations.

The ministry’s message said the American decision insisted on damaging peace and disregarded decisions objecting to the move by the United Nations and Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

In a statement, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the decision was “very worrying”. The US State Department said on Friday it would open an embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with Israel’s 70th Independence Day and that the embassy will operate out of the current American consulate building in the capital’s Arnona neighborhood.

Turkish President Erdogan's Foreign Affairs Ministry said the American decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was damaging peace (Photo: AFP, EPA)

Turkish President Erdogan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the American decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was damaging peace (Photo: AFP, EPA)

The consulate’s work will continue as usual, and the US will continue providing consular services at the premises of the existing building, including issuing visas and receiving American citizens.

In December, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted an OIC summit of more than 50 countries in Istanbul, where Muslim leaders condemned the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will begin working at the Jerusalem complex and that a new embassy will open by the end of 2019, while the search for a permanent site for the embassy was ongoing.

“We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening,” Nauert said.

Palestinians were irate upon learning of the American announcement, and said it could destroy the prospect of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian’s chief negotiator in peace talks that have been frozen since 2014, said the US move showed a “determination to violate international law, destroy the two-state solution and provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe.”

Erekat, who is also secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, went on to say that US President Donald Trump and his team “have disqualified the US from being part of the solution between Israelis and Palestinians; rather, the world now sees that they are part of the problem.”

He further lamented the fact the move would coincide with the Nakba Day—the 1948 Palestinian exodus, or how the Palestinians refer to the establishment of Israel.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also slammed the move, saying, “This is an unacceptable step. Any unilateral move will not give legitimacy to anyone and will be an obstacle to any effort to create peace in the region.”

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said the decision by President Trump's administration was tantamount to a declaration of war on Arabs (Photo: Reuters)

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said the decision by President Trump’s administration was tantamount to a declaration of war on Arabs (Photo: Reuters)

In Gaza, a Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that “Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against the Arab and Muslim nation, and the US administration must reconsider its move.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, praised the US decision, saying it “will turn Israel’s 70th Independence Day into a much greater celebration.”

“This is a great day for the people of Israel,” Netanyahu noted in a statement released Friday night. “Thank you, President Trump, for your leadership and your friendship.”

Elior Levy, Moran Azulay, Itamar Eichner, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Israeli and American troops gear up for joint 12-day Juniper Cobra drill

February 24, 2018

Source: Israeli and American troops gear up for joint 12-day Juniper Cobra drill – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

The ninth annual Juniper Cobra drill scheduled to take place from March 4-15, will be the largest IDF and US European Command joint exercise taking place this year.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 FEBRUARY 22, 2018 22:08
Israeli and American troops gear up for joint 12-day Juniper Cobra drill

 US Army officers walks on a Patriot anti-missile battery site during a joint Israeli-US air-defence exercise dubbed ‘Juniper Cobra’, in Tel Aviv October 27, 2009. REUTERS/Ziv Koren/Pool . (photo credit: REUTERS/ZIV KOREN)

Israel is gearing up for an extensive aerial drill with troops from the United States European Command set to begin in early March, the IDF announced Thursday evening.

The ninth annual Juniper Cobra drill scheduled to take place from March 4-15, will be the largest IDF and US European Command joint exercise taking place this year with over 2,500 US troops deployed in Europe participating alongside 2,000 Israeli Aerial Defense troops, logistics units, medical forces, and additional IDF units.

The last Juniper Cobra, which occurred in June 2016 and was seen as the “premier exercise in this region,” saw over 3,000 American troops taking part. The drill is also considered the “flagship” exercise of the Israel Air Force’s Aerial Defense Division.

Additional joint exercises between Israeli and American troops will continue after the completion of the drill through the end of March, said the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit.

The country’s defense establishment has undertaken extensive preparations for the exercise in recent weeks, including the reception of American forces to Israel via both air and sea.

“Juniper Cobra 2018 is another step in improving the readiness of the IDF and the IAF in particular to enhance their operational capabilities in facing the threat posed by high-trajectory missiles,” said Brig.-Gen Zvika Haimovich, the IDF’s Aerial Defense Division head.

“The exercise demonstrates the close and strategic cooperation between the IDF and the US Armed Forces,” he continued adding that “in the coming weeks we will be dealing with challenging and complex scenarios adapted to Israel’s operational reality.”

In early February, the IDF confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the large-scale twelve-day drill will simulate a massive missile attack on the Homefront from both the Gaza Strip and the north and will be led by the Israel Air Force.

US confirms Jerusalem embassy opening in May

February 24, 2018

Source: US confirms Jerusalem embassy opening in May – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

The embassy opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

BY MICHAEL WILNER
 FEBRUARY 23, 2018 18:27
US confirms Jerusalem embassy opening in May

After signing, US President Donald Trump holds up the proclamation that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy there, during an address from the White House in Washington, US, December 6, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will officially relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, timed with Israel’s 70th Independence Day, a State Department official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

The official was responding to a message on Twitter by Transport Minister Israel Katz, who seemed to confirm the move would occur in the spring.

“We’re planning to open the new US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May,” the US official told the Post. “The Embassy opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.”

“The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona, on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem,” he continued. “At least initially, it will consist of the Ambassador and a small team.”

I would like to congratulate Donald Trump, the President of the US @POTUS on his decision to transfer the US Embassy to our capital on Israel’s 70th Independence Day. There is no greater gift than that! The most just and correct move. Thanks friend!

US officials have been saying for months that they intend to move the embassy to Jerusalem before the end of this calendar year – a midterm election year in the US.

The State Department continues to scope out sites and architects for the construction of a larger, permanent embassy in Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump touted his decision to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in a speech to a conservative action group in Washington on Friday.

“I said, ‘I have to do it, because its the right thing to do,'” Trump said, of his conversations with world leaders leading up to the decision. “The campaign against it was so incredible. But you know what, the campaign for it was also incredible.”

Heather Nauert, a spokesman for the State Department, elaborated on the administration’s plans in a statement on Friday afternoon and noted that US diplomats are “excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening.”

“Those consular operations, including American citizen and visa services, will continue at the Arnona facility without interruption, as part of the Embassy,” Nauert said. “Consulate General Jerusalem will continue to operate as an independent mission with an unchanged mandate, from its historic Agron Road location. Initially, the interim Embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the Ambassador and a small staff.

“By the end of next year, we intend to open a new Embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the Ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space,” she continued. “In parallel, we have started the search for a site for our permanent Embassy to Israel, the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking.”