Archive for October 10, 2018

With Nikki Haley’s departure, Israel loses its staunchest ally at the UN

October 10, 2018

Source: With Nikki Haley’s departure, Israel loses its staunchest ally at the UN | The Times of Israel

( Niki was the most wonderful surprise of the trump administration.  I really loved that woman… – JW )

The US envoy was an AIPAC rockstar and one of the most popular Trump officials. Whoever replaces her may have a hard time filling her heels in the eyes of the pro-Israel community

Illustrative: US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley voting against a Security Council resolution on Jerusalem on December 18, 2017. (Eskinder Debebe/UN)

Illustrative: US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley voting against a Security Council resolution on Jerusalem on December 18, 2017. (Eskinder Debebe/UN)

WASHINGTON — With Nikki Haley’s surprise resignation Tuesday as US ambassador to the United Nations, Israel will be losing its most outspoken champion at the world body, a figure dubbed “Hurricane Haley” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for her muscular defense of the Jewish state in front of an often hostile crowd.

Sitting in the Oval Office Tuesday morning, not even an hour after news broke of her departure, Haley listed what she considered her achievements in the diplomatic posting. Chief among them was standing up to the UN’s “anti-Israel bias” and defending the Trump administration moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

It’s not clear who will take Haley’s place — US President Donald Trump said he would name a successor in a few weeks — but it’s safe to say they will be somebody simpatico with Trump on America’s place vis-a-vis the UN and defending Israel there.

It’s harder to say whether whoever does get the nod — some have speculated the president’s daughter Ivanka could get the job — will be able to match Haley’s zeal as an Israel supporter in Turtle Bay.

Haley’s predecessor, Samantha Power, also spoke out loudly against anti-Israel bias at the UN, but it was a smaller part of her role as envoy, and she never earned the kind of cheers Haley did from the pro-Israel community. Power, moreover, represented the Obama administration when it allowed an anti-settlement Security Council resolution to pass by withholding the US veto in December 2016.

Haley’s tenure in New York was widely noted — and, in some corners, criticized — for its defiance in the face of international diplomats who challenged US President Donald Trump’s approach to the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Her departure was unanticipated and took the pro-Israel community by surprise,” Matt Brooks, the Republican Jewish Coalition CEO, said on Twitter. “Stunned and shocked by the surprise resignation of @nikkihaley as UN Amb. She was a consequential and impactful force at the UN.”

Beyond rhetorically supporting the embassy move, she was a major proponent of the United States exiting the UN Human Rights Council, citing its reflexively critical posture toward Israel, cutting aid to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, and blocking a resolutioncondemning Israel as responsible for the deaths at Gaza border clashes this spring.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, DC, on March 5, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm)

For those moves, she was treated as a rockstar when she spoke before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual conference the last two years.

At her first address before the confab, in 2017, she told the crowd of 20,000 that “there’s a new sheriff in town” to massive applause.

“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement,” she said. “It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick ’em every single time.”

Those words came shortly after Trump assumed office and vowed to reverse course of the Obama administration, which allowed passage of a Security Resolution in December 2016 that condemned Israel for its settlement enterprise.

Haley, like her boss, often bucked precedents set by past administrations to not weigh in on final-status issues on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the most sensitive issues that veteran negotiators have long insisted should not be dealt with until the conclusion of peace negotiations.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, left, speaks to Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon before a Security Council meeting on the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Friday, June 1, 2018 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Most notably, she has questioned the Palestinians’ claim to a “right of return,” in which all Arabs who were displaced between 1947 and 1949, including millions of their descendants, would “return” to modern Israel.

UNRWA claims there are more than five million registered Palestinian refugees, when there were roughly 750,000 after the 1948 war, of whom it is estimated tens of thousands are still alive. Unlike every other refugee population, which shrinks every year, the Palestinian one exponentially increases.

The Palestinians claim that five million people — tens of thousands of original refugees from what is today’s Israel, and their millions of descendants — have a “right of return.” Israel’s population is almost nine million, some three-quarters of whom are Jewish. An influx of millions of Palestinians would mean Israel could no longer be a Jewish-majority state. Israel claims a “right of return” is a non-starter in negotiations, as it would abrogate Israel’s Jewish majority and character as a Jewish state.

In August, Haley publicly sided with Israel, saying the Palestinian “right of return” should be taken “off the table. “I absolutely think we have to look at right of return,” she said during an appearance at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a DC-based think tank closely aligned with Israel.

Asked whether the issue should be “off the table,” Haley replied: “I do agree with that, and I think we have to look at this in terms of what’s happening [with refugees] in Syria, what’s happening in Venezuela.”

Haley also criticized the way UNRWA recognized Palestinian refugees when the Trump administration cut aid to the agency. “You’re looking at the fact that, yes, there’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance,” she said, while insisting that the Trump White House would not restore its previous funding levels unless the body made dramatic reforms.

“We will be a donor if [UNRWA] reforms what it does … if they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account, we will look back at partnering with them,” she said, adding that “the Palestinians continue to bash America” and yet “they have their hand out wanting UNRWA money.”

Longtime Israel watchers in the United States said that Haley focused on Israel more than past US ambassadors. “She speaks about Israel a lot, more than Susan Rice and Samantha Power did,” Elliott Abrams, a hawkish diplomat who served as deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, told McClatchy last month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haly on Friday, 28 September 2018 in New York. Avi Ohayon /GPO

Haley created controversy in December 2017 when she pressured other countries to refrain from voting in favor of a resolution that censured the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The resolution passed 128 to 9, and Haley gave a speech indicating that Washington would not forget who voted against it.

“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” she said of the vote. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Critics said the move seemed like she was bullying other countries, and not acting like a diplomat.  Haley later held a party for countries that votes with the United States — who she deemed “America’s friends.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley walks out of the chamber as Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour begins to speak at a UN Security Council meeting concerning the violence at the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip, at United Nations headquarters, May 15, 2018 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Haley was also criticized for blocking former Palestinian prime minister Salaam Fayad from being appointed as the UN’s special envoy for Libya. “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said.

Fayad was widely seen in Washington as a moderate voice in the Palestinian political scene. As prime minister, he advocated negotiations with Israel and “taking a page out of the Zionist playbook” by building a Palestinian state institutionally. He was eventually booted out by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli officials were quick to hail Haley Tuesday after she announced her departure. Her Israeli counterpart, Danny Danon, told Haley in a statement that “wherever you are, you will continue to be a true friend of the State of Israel.”

In the Oval Office Tuesday, Trump said Haley would stay in her position through the end of the year. He said a successor would be named in two to three weeks but did not name any prospective candidates.

Twitter users began to speculate that perhaps his daughter, Ivanka Trump, could be nominated. One of the president’s biggest supporters, the right-wing firebrand Ann Coulter, suggested her almost immediately after Haley’s resignation was announced.

Ann Coulter

@AnnCoulter

Trump should replace Nikki Haley with Ivanka.

Indeed, the president’s Jewish daughter was considered a possibility as to replace Haley as early as November 2017, with Politico Magazine running a story saying that White House officials had already floated the idea.

“It’s not as crazy as it sounds,” the piece’s author, Richard Gowan, said.

 

Low turnout for Columbia U rally urging admin to protect pro-Israel students 

October 10, 2018

Source: Low turnout for Columbia U rally urging admin to protect pro-Israel students | The Times of Israel

( My disgust with my alma mater just keeps growing… – JW )

Only about 40 demonstrators show up, including a handful of extremist Jewish Defense League members and some middle-aged supporters, but not large Jewish groups on campus

Protesters outside the main gates of Columbia in New York City called on the university administration to do more to protect pro-Israel students, October 4, 2018. (Ben Sales)

Protesters outside the main gates of Columbia in New York City called on the university administration to do more to protect pro-Israel students, October 4, 2018. (Ben Sales)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The organizers of a rally to support pro-Israel students at Columbia University didn’t want the Jewish Defense League to show up.

And yet there they were, a few demonstrators wearing the extremist right-wing group’s insignia, a clenched fist punching into a yellow Jewish star.

The leader of the group’s New York chapter, Karen Lichtbraun, marched up and down the small police barricade chatting up the other protesters. She said six of her members had come to demonstrate on behalf of the students.

The October 4 rally outside Columbia’s main gates in Upper Manhattan was organized by Students Supporting Israel, a campus group with chapters across the country. It called on the university administration to do more to protect pro-Israel students, whom SSI says are harassed for their views.

But most of the 40 or so demonstrators appeared not to be students. Many were older, mostly middle-aged, protesting on their behalf. The rally was posted on Facebook and was the subject of a news release sent out by Miller Ink, a West Coast public relations firm that represents some pro-Israel groups. In the past, SSI’s Columbia chapter has received support from the Lawfare Project, a legal aid group that supports pro-Israel causes.

One of the older protesters, a non-student who wore a black face mask and identified himself only as “Big Rob,” said he attended the rally in order to encourage pro-Israel students to aggressively confront their adversaries.

“The way to help yourself is by demonstrating you’re willing to take a risk, you’re willing to take a loss to extract a price,” Big Rob said in a gruff voice. “Whatever it takes: kicked out of school, a fat lip, a bloody nose, a night in jail, whatever it is. They want to play it safe. That’s why the tormentors are emboldened.”

Ofir Dayan at Columbia University, New York, September 2017 (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Columbia undergraduate Ofir Dayan, daughter of Israel’s consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, told the New York Post that members of Students for Justice in Palestine have harassed her on campus. Dayan said she has been called a “murderer” and “terrorist” by mobs of Palestinian supporters, and that when her father spoke at the university in February, she was handed a flier calling him a “war criminal.”

SSI Columbia’s president, senior Dalia Zahger, told JTA at the rally that she has had similar experiences. Zahger recalled an instance when she and three friends were confronted after an SSI meeting by a group of 50 protesters chanting at them.

“They called me a terrorist in all kinds of different situations,” said the 25-year-old senior, who came to Columbia after serving in the Israeli army. “There were about 50 people there and they started yelling chants at us against Israel. They were there for a different protest, not connected to us. They saw us and decided to scream at us.”

Dalia Zahger, president of Columbia’s Students Supporting Israel, on October 4, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Earlier this year, with the help of Lawfare, SSI filed a complaint with the university administration claiming harassment of pro-Israel students by anti-Zionist groups. The university, according to Zahger, has repeatedly dismissed the complaint.

“In a society and institution committed to open debate of contentious questions, conflicts inevitably arise,” Caroline Adelman, spokesperson for Columbia University, told JTA in a statement on the Thursday protest. “We have many resources available to support students who may feel concerned about their safety, and we promptly review and investigate reports of discrimination or harassment, where appropriate. The safety and well-being of our students is always of paramount importance.”

Only a handful of students showed up at the rally. Zahger and a few older attendees claimed that was because students were too scared to out themselves as pro-Israel, they were unaware of how bad things were or people discount Jewish claims of discrimination.

“If there would be any other minority treated the way Jewish students are being treated here, you would have thousands of people here standing with them,” said protester Rabbi Elchanan Poupko, the president of Eitan, a nonprofit supporting American Israelis. “When it comes to Israel and Jews, unfortunately, people don’t feel that the same safe spaces and support are required.”

But other large Jewish groups on campus also stayed away from the protest. The campus Hillel’s leadership did not respond to requests for comments, and Aryeh, a large pro-Israel group at Columbia, declined to endorse the rally or encourage its members to attend. The group’s president, Adele Stolovitz, was reluctant to comment on SSI, but told JTA that her group prefers to engage students in pro-Israel activism rather than confronting the administration.

“Aryeh had no official part in that protest at all,” she said. “We are not currently petitioning the administration in any way. Most of our outreach is on a personal basis, and we like to engage the students more than the administration.”

Although SSI tends to be more provocative — in 2016, the group inflated a 12-foot Pinocchio doll on campus to call out what it said were lies being propagated by anti-Israel students — it was uncomfortable with the JDL presence at its rally. The JDL was founded in the late 1960s by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated violence in response to anti-Semitism. The FBI labeled it a terror group.

Today, the JDL, which has a small New York chapter, frequently protests on behalf of right-wing pro-Israel causes.

Following the rally, SSI published a statement condemning the JDL and clarifying that it had asked its members to leave. It said there were three JDL members at the rally.

“We apologize for any distress the three individuals caused,” the statement said. “We did not intend on allowing such an extreme group of individuals to attend. Again, we condemn JDL and what they stand for on the strongest possible terms.”

But at the rally, Lichtbraun said she had no qualms about protesting on behalf of students — even if there weren’t that many students there.

“Most of the pro-Israel groups have not taken to the street, have not organized a protest,” she said. “They’ve stayed in their safe classroom.”

 

Iran cheers Haley’s resignation from UN: ‘There is no new sheriff in town’ 

October 10, 2018

Source: Iran cheers Haley’s resignation from UN: ‘There is no new sheriff in town’ | The Times of Israel

Tehran’s mission says departing envoy was a ‘serious problem,’ caused isolation of US; secretary-general, diplomats offer praise

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Iran’s mission to the United Nations welcomed Tuesday’s surprise resignation of US Ambassador Nikki Haley, one of the Trump administration’s most vocal opponents of the Islamic Republic.

“We do not know who she was or what she was about, but she was a serious problem at the UN with her uninformed statements & her causing the isolation of US,” Alireza Miryousefi, the mission’s press secretary, wrote on his Twitter account.

He also quipped “there is no new sheriff in town,” referring to remarks Haley made at the 2017 annual meeting of the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby.

“For anyone that says you can’t get anything done at the UN, they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town,” she said at the time, promising to defend Israel and oppose Iran at the world body.

At the UN, Haley pushed member states to enforce US sanctions on Iran as part of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and also criticized its missile program and support for armed groups in the Middle East.

In one noticeable instance, Haley gave a press conference in front of missile parts she said were provided to Yemeni rebels by Iran, a charge denied by Tehran.

Gholamali Khoshroo, Permanent Representative of Iran to the UN, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East on September 11, 2018. (UN/Loey Felipe)

Gholamali Khoshroo, Iran’s envoy to the UN, said Tuesday the US’s isolation in the international community had increased during Haley’s tenure because of the US pursuit of unilateralism, according to state-run media.

The report on the IRNA website described Haley as “one of the anti-Iranian figures of the United States government, [who] has always taken strong stance against Iran.”

Khoshroo also said that Haley had failed to push the world away from supporting Palestinians.

Iran’s comments ran in stark contrast to reactions from politicians in Iranian arch-enemy Israel, where the US envoy was widely praised for her defense of the Jewish state at the UN.

Haley’s departure was also met with words of praise from other Western countries, even those the envoy sparred with during her two-year tenure.

Illustrative: US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley points to previously classified missile segments she says prove Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by providing the Houthi rebels in Yemen with arms, during a press conference at Joint Base Anacostia in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

Despite her blunt talk and criticism of the UN, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a message of “deep appreciation” for Haley after she announced she would step down at the end of the year.

Stephane Dujarric, Guterres’s spokesman, said the UN had yet to receive formal notification of her resignation as Washington’s permanent representative to the world body.

“The secretary-general wishes to express his deep appreciation for the excellent cooperation and support that Ambassador Haley has always demonstrated,” he said.

“They had a very productive and strong working relationship during her tenure as United States permanent representative.”

Haley announced her unexpected decision at the White House with US President Donald Trump.

She gave no reason for the move or what her next step would be except to say she did not plan to run in 2020 and would campaign for Trump’s reelection.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres shaking hands with new US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at the United Nations in New York, January 27, 2017. (AFP/Bryan R. Smith)

At the United Nations, she was a vocal defender of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, which has challenged multilateral approaches to the world’s biggest problems.

She has pushed strongly for reform of the UN, which the Trump administration sees as bureaucratic and wasteful.

During her tenure, the United States broke with traditional UN positions on the Palestinians, withdrew from UNESCO and cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, and abandoned the UN Human Rights Council as biased against Israel.

Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Karen Pierce, told AFP she was “very disappointed” by Haley’s resignation, which she said learned through media reports.

France’s ambassador, Francois Delattre, praised Haley as one of the US administration’s “most talented” officials.

Despite some disagreements, he said, “we established a working relationship that was particularly close and trusting.”

Ashish Pradhan, an expert with the International Crisis Group, said Haley’s departure raised the prospect of an even more hawkish replacement.

“The fear now is whether the person who replaces her will take an even tougher line against the UN, especially with National Security Adviser John Bolton now in the White House,” he said.

 

Trump’s peace plan for two Palestinian states kicked off by fuel trucks for Gaza – DEBKAfile

October 10, 2018

Source: Trump’s peace plan for two Palestinian states kicked off by fuel trucks for Gaza – DEBKAfile

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won praise from US special ME negotiator Jason Greenblatt for letting the Qatar-funded fuel trucks go through to the Gaza Strip on Oct 9.  That is because its was the first step, DEBKAfile reports, towards implementing the administration’s Israel-Palestinian peace plan, partnered with Israel and Egypt, to eventually separate the Gaza Strip from Judea and Samaria (West Bank) to form two separate Palestinian entities.

While Israeli politicians still argue about the pros and cons of the ageing “two-state solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, after decades of getting nowhere, Washington, Jerusalem, Cairo and Doha are beginning to shape this widely different ” two-state” formula. The fuel trucks are expected to be followed by deliveries of other essentials, as well as cash injections, for the financially-strapped Gaza population. These aid consignments will not be handed to the Hamas-ruled administration but unloaded at UN-controlled facilities for distribution to the people, under the supervision of the world body’s peace negotiator Nickolay Mladenov.

As it begins to take shape, this process faces numerous pitfalls. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is burning with rage, but he has not commented on the fuel delivery to Gaza and, still more importantly, neither has the Fatah party which he heads. US, Israeli, Egyptian and Gulf intelligence services have begun to conclude that although he and his close cronies are still capable of stirring up the media against the new plan, his power to follow through is waning. Abu Mazen’s ultimate threat to stop transferring all payments to the Gaza Strip – not just stopping payment of its electricity bills – has met with an Israeli counter-threat to cover the shortfall by diverting to Gaza all the moneys collected for the PA in Ramallah.

Although all the parties to the new US peace plan are holding silent until President Donald Trump sets a date for its publication, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources have learned that certain Western and Gulf agents are in contact with elements of the Palestinian Fatah to head off any plans fto respond to the initiative with a new terrorist onslaught in Judea and Samaria or Jeruslem.

A complication has also cropped up in the Arabian Gulf.  Qatar, which is part of the new US lineup, is also Saudi Arabia’s bitterest adversary after Iran, although both are close allies of Washington.  Nevertheless, the US, Egypt and Israel decided to take a chance and leave the Saudis out of their Middle East peace initiative. President Donald Trump’s angry outburst on Oct. 7: “Saudi Arabia and its King would not last two weeks in power without American military support” – is tied in with this complication. It also finds the Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman (MbS)’s star dimming at home and the oil kingdom falling into economic decline.

In addition to funds, Qatar is an asset by dint of its friendship with Turkey up to and including  the granting of military bases to Ankara. The US sees Qatar as the key to bringing Turkey aboard the peace plan, despite its prickly relations with Israel. Trump’s new adviser for Syria, James Jeffrey, has been assigned with restoring good relations between Ankara and Washington, while also mending its diplomatic and security fences with Israel.

The co-architect of the new US Israel-Palestinian peace plan, President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner won unusual kudos on Tuesday, Oct. 9, from Nikki Haley. In her comments at the White House upon quitting the post of US ambassador to the UN. She said: “Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands” and added: “What I’ve done working with him on the Middle East peace plan, it is so unbelievably well done.”

 

US welcomes Israel’s efforts to ease Gaza crisis

October 10, 2018

Source: US welcomes Israel’s efforts to ease Gaza crisis – Israel Hayom

 

PM Netanyahu thanks US envoy for fighting UN ‘hypocrisy’ 

October 10, 2018

Source: PM Netanyahu thanks US envoy for fighting UN ‘hypocrisy’ – Israel Hayom

 

Iran spent $16B to destabilize Middle East, US State Department ‎says 

October 10, 2018

Source: Iran spent $16B to destabilize Middle East, US State Department ‎says – Israel Hayom