Archive for November 28, 2018

Off Topic: Facebook removes viral video protesting Airbnb boycott 

November 28, 2018

Source: Facebook removes viral video protesting Airbnb boycott – Israel Hayom

 

Iran’s patience with EU is running thin, nuclear chief warns

November 28, 2018

Source: Iran’s patience with EU is running thin, nuclear chief warns – Israel Hayom

 

US lobbies Europe to back United Nations vote on condemning Hamas

November 28, 2018

Source: US lobbies Europe to back United Nations vote on condemning Hamas | The Times of Israel

Israeli envoy says General Assembly expected to vote Friday or Monday on resolution slamming rocket fire from Gaza

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting on April 13, 2018, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting on April 13, 2018, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The United States is leading a push at the United Nations to win crucial backing from European countries for a resolution condemning Hamas, the Israeli ambassador said Tuesday.

The General Assembly is expected to vote Friday or possibly Monday on the proposed resolution condemning rocket firings into Israel and demanding that Hamas end the use of violence.

Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon told reporters that US diplomats were in talks with their EU counterparts on the draft text. European backing would significantly boost chances of approval by the 193-nation body.

“The US is negotiating the language with the EU,” Danon told a briefing. “For us it’s very symbolic to have this resolution presented with the support of the EU.”

If adopted, it would mark the first time that the assembly has voted to condemn Hamas, the Islamist terror group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

In this file photo taken on June 13, 2018 Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks to the General Assembly before a vote to condemn Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in the General Assembly in New York. (Don Emmert/AFP)

European diplomats said there were disagreements on the proposed US text, notably including references to UN resolutions and to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is supported by the UN.

A draft text seen by AFP “condemns Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence” and “demands that Hamas and other militant actors cease all provocative actions and violent activity.”

The European Union has put Hamas on its blacklist of terror groups, but the 28-nation bloc has struggled to come up with a united position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In June, US Ambassador Nikki Haley sought to amend an Arab-backed resolution condemning Israel for the violence in Gaza, but failed to win the required votes in the assembly.

The US amendment condemning Hamas received 62 votes in favor, with 58 against and 42 abstentions.

The Israeli ambassador said the US draft resolution had created a “win-win solution” for his government because it had forced capitals to turn their attention to Hamas.

On Thursday, the United Nations will hold events to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinians, which commemorates the adoption of the 1947 partition plan intended to establish an Arab state and a Jewish state.

 

Senator Rand Paul blocking US military aid to Israel

November 28, 2018

Source: Senator Rand Paul blocking US military aid to Israel | The Times of Israel

Kentucky Republican who previously called to cut assistance to Jewish state holding up $38 billion defense package

Sen. Rand Paul speaks during a hearing before Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, July 25, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Rand Paul speaks during a hearing before Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, July 25, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is blocking US military aid to Israel.

Paul, who has previously called to cut defense assistance to Israel, recently put a hold on the US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, which codifies into law the $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over 10 years that was negotiated in the final days of the Obama administration.

A hold is a parliamentary procedure that allows senators to prevent a motion from reaching a floor vote.

The Senate passed the act in early August; the House of Representatives followed suit the following month. Now the Senate must pass a final version in line with the bill passed by the House.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, has bought advertisements on Facebook identifying Paul as the main force blocking the act, the Washington Free Beacon reported, citing what it called sources close to the effort.

Meanwhile, Christians United for Israel, or CUFI, sent out an Action Alert email blast on Monday to its supporters calling on them to flood Paul’s office with calls and letters encouraging him to support the legislation. CUFI also invested heavily in ads in Kentucky to target the senator’s constituents directly on the issue, the Free Beacon reported.

Paul’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Paul, a presidential candidate in 2016, alienated pro-Israel Republicans almost as soon as he became a senator in 2011, when he embraced his congressman father’s longtime call to cut defense assistance to Israel. The younger Paul later backtracked, saying he regarded Israel as a close ally, and would cut assistance only once it was clear the country was self-sufficient in its defense needs.

The hold comes as Israel faces major immediate threats from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, and Iran.

The $38 billion deal negotiated in 2016 is the most generous ever to Israel. The act also expands a stockpile of weapons that the United States keeps in Israel, which may access the stockpile in wartime. It also enhances Israel’s qualitative military edge and urges space research cooperation between Israel and the United States.

 

Israeli envoy said to meet with Sudan officials, offer aid in bid for new ties 

November 28, 2018

Source: Israeli envoy said to meet with Sudan officials, offer aid in bid for new ties | The Times of Israel

Secret Istanbul meeting seen as part of efforts to establish diplomatic relations with a number of central African nations

Omar al-Bashir, center, president of Sudan, stands between Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, left, and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the annual Arab League summit on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 held this year on the Dead Sea in Jordan.  (AP Photo/ Raad Adayleh)

Omar al-Bashir, center, president of Sudan, stands between Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, left, and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the annual Arab League summit on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 held this year on the Dead Sea in Jordan. (AP Photo/ Raad Adayleh)

A senior Israeli diplomat reportedly met with Sudanese officials in a secret meeting held in Istanbul as part of efforts to renew ties between the two countries and even establish full diplomatic relations.

The meeting took place around a year ago between a special Israeli Foreign Ministry envoy and a team of senior representatives from Sudan, including then-intelligence chief Mohamed Atta, Channel 10 news reported Tuesday night.

According to a source familiar with the meeting quoted by the channel, the two sides discussed “the warming of relations between the countries and possible Israeli aid to Sudan in the fields of medicine, agriculture and the economy.”

The meeting, the report said, was part of Israel efforts to establish diplomatic ties with a number of central African nations and was known to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry offered no comment on the meeting.

The report comes after Chadian leader Idriss Déby made a historic visit to the Jewish state and Netanyahu announced that he will soon fly to N’Djamena to announce the resumption of full diplomatic ties with the Muslim-majority country, nearly half a century after they were severed.

A senior Israeli official told Channel 10 that Déby’s visit was laying the groundwork for normalizing ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger.

According to the report, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Flying in the airspace of traditionally hostile African countries — namely Chad and Sudan — would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent.

Flying directly from Israel to Brazil over Sudan could shave some four hours off the average journey, which currently takes at least 17 hours, and requires a stopover in either Europe or North America.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

Israel has long been wary of Sudan, which was traditionally seen as close to Iran. However, in early 2017, Khartoum joined Sunni Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in severing its ties with the Islamic Republic.

At the time, the country also appeared to make overtures toward Israel. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. According Hebrew-language media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.

In the past, Sudan has allegedly served as a way-station for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Israel has reportedly intercepted and destroyed transfers of weapons from Sudan bound for Gaza.

In 2009, the International Criminal Court also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.

However, since it broke ties with Iran, Sudan is no longer perceived by Israel as a threat, but rather as a potential ally.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prepares to cast his ballot for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy, File)

Netanyahu portrayed Déby’s unprecedented visit as the result of his hard-won diplomatic efforts, referring to his three visits to Africa over the last couple years and his surprise trip to Oman in October.

The visit to Oman, a major diplomatic victory for Netanyahu, was an apparent sign of Israeli progress in improving ties with Gulf countries.

Also Sunday, Netanyahu added that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.

 

Netanyahu to elite troops: Once they could slaughter us, today we can respond 

November 28, 2018

Source: Netanyahu to elite troops: Once they could slaughter us, today we can respond | The Times of Israel

Following CNN poll that found rampant anti-Jewish views among Europeans, PM tells IDF commandos ‘the best answer to anti-Semitism is Israel and the IDF’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meeting with soldiers from the IDF's Commando Brigade, on November 27, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meeting with soldiers from the IDF’s Commando Brigade, on November 27, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

At a major training exercise of the Israeli military’s brigade-level elite Commando Formation on Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s military prowess was the Jews’ “best answer” to anti-Semitism.

Netanyahu’s comments followed the publication Monday of a poll by CNN that showed over 20 percent of Europeans believe Jews have “too much influence” across the world.

“The best answer to anti-Semitism is the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces,” Netanyahu, who has also been serving as defense minister since the resignation earlier this month of Avigdor Liberman, told the soldiers. “Once we were a leaf driven by the wind; they could slaughter us. Today, we have the power to respond.”

Netanyahu’s visit coincided with a 10-day training exercise the brigade is conducting throughout the country, practicing its responses to various complex attack scenarios against Israel and Israeli civilians by different enemies.

“We are on the eve of Hannukah. The spirit of the Maccabees is here – you are the Maccabees. We overcome our enemies with the extraordinary strength and extraordinary spirit that I see here, that I see in the IDF and all our warriors,” Netanyahu said.

Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

During the visit, the prime minister, received a briefing from Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and brigade commander Col. Kobi Helleron on the brigade’s capabilities and the threats it is expected to face. He was also given a demonstration of the various commando units’ advanced new weapons systems.

Netanyahu’s comments followed an interview he gave the day before to CNN discussing the anti-Semitism poll findings.

In that interview, he accused the extreme left and radical Islam of perpetuating the world’s oldest hatred, but refrained from criticizing right-wing leaders accused of using anti-Semitic tropes.

“I’m concerned because I think anti-Semitism is an ancient disease that rears its ugly head. It first attacks the Jews, but it never stops with them. It then sweeps entire societies,” he said.

Protesters on the Place du Chatelet in Paris demonstrating against Israel, April 1, 2017. (Thomas Samson/ AFP/ Getty Images via JTA)

Despite this concern, Netanyahu commended “most of the European countries’ governments” for working to combat anti-Semitism, specifically naming German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Netanyahu focused much of his criticism of European anti-Semitism on what he dubbed “new anti-Semitism,” which he differentiated from the “old anti-Semitism in Europe that came from the extreme right.”

“There’s also new anti-Semitism that comes from the extreme left and also the radical Islamic pockets in Europe that spew forth these slanders and lies about Israel, the only democracy in this entire region, the only one that has the courts, human rights, rights for all religions, gays, everything, I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) hold a Rubik’s Cube at the Hungary-Israel Business Forum in Budapest, Hungary, on July 19, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)

Asked about Hungary and Poland, whose right-wing leaders have been accused of employing anti-Semitic imagery, Netanyahu said he did not believe the two countries’ governments were doing so and said the real problem is calls for Israel’s destruction.

“I don’t think they do and I think that ultimately the real issue is can we tolerate the idea that people say that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist, which I think is the ultimate anti-Semitic statement,” he said.

“Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, anti-Israeli policies, the idea that the Jewish people don’t have the right to a state, that’s the ultimate anti-Semitism of today,” Netanyahu added.

 

Trump says US troops will remain in Middle East for Israel’s sake 

November 28, 2018

Source: Trump says US troops will remain in Middle East for Israel’s sake | The Times of Israel

US president notes he could lower military presence in region as cheaper oil leads to reduced reliance on Saudi Arabia, but will not, partly due to concerns for Israel’s security

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following his teleconference with troops from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following his teleconference with troops from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, November 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

US President Donald Trump said in an interview published Wednesday that, although he could remove troops from the Middle East, citing cheaper oil as an explanation, one reason not to do so is concern for Israel’s security.

“Now, are we going to stay in that part of the world? One reason to is Israel,” Trump told the Washington Post.

“Oil is becoming less and less of a reason because we’re producing more oil now than we’ve ever produced,” he added, appearing to envision a world where the US would be less beholden to Saudi Arabia. “So, you know, all of a sudden it gets to a point where you don’t have to stay there.”

Trump publicly thanked Riyadh last week for plunging oil prices, after he was harshly criticized for deciding not to further punish the kingdom for the killing of US-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

People hold signs during a protest at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Washington, DC, on October 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Trump last week suggested that Israel would face major regional difficulties in the Middle East were it not for the stabilizing presence of Saudi Arabia, explaining his decision not to take measures against Riyadh.

“Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters at the time from his Mar-a-Lago resort home in Florida.

During the wide-ranging interview, Trump also threatened to cancel an upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the captureof three Ukrainian ships and their crew in the Black Sea this week.

Ukraine’s parliament voted Monday to impose martial law in parts of the country to fight what its president called “growing aggression” from Moscow, after the weekend naval clash off the disputed Crimean Peninsula, in which Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels, amid renewed tensions between the neighbors.

Western leaders and diplomats have urged both sides to deescalate the conflict, and the US has blamed Russia for what it called “unlawful conduct” over Sunday’s incident in the Black Sea.

Three Ukrainian ships are seen as they docked after been seized, in Kerch, Crimea, November 25, 2018. (AP Photo)

Trump said he was awaiting a “full report” by his national security team on the matter: “That will be very determinative. Maybe I won’t have the meeting.”

“I don’t like that aggression,” he added. “I don’t want that aggression at all. Absolutely. And by the way, Europe shouldn’t like that aggression. And Germany shouldn’t like that aggression.”

The US president reiterated his rejection of a federal government reportreleased last week that concluded that damage from global warming was intensifying, saying he does not believe the scientific consensus that the crisis is man-made.

“One of the problems [is] that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers,” Trump told the Washington Post. “You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean.”

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen during the 32nd Annual Group of 30 (G30) International Banking Seminar in Washington, DC, October 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

Much of the interview was dedicated to Trump’s criticism of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, nominated by the president last year. Trump said he was “not even a little bit happy with my selection” so far, but the report detailed an unorthodox reason for his decision not to reappoint predecessor Janet Yellen — her height.

The 5-foot-3-inch (160-centimeter) economist, who is Jewish, is “not tall enough” to lead the country’s central bank, Trump told aides on the National Economic Council on several occasions, the newspaper said, citing current and former officials. The officials said Trump had also asked them whether they agreed with his opinion on her height.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.