Posts Tagged ‘Israelis’

Trump says giving peace a chance before U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem

October 8, 2017


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast on Saturday that he wanted to give a shot at achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians before moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In June Trump signed a temporary order to keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, despite a campaign promise he made to move it to Jerusalem.

In an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on the TBN program “Huckabee,” Trump noted his administration was working on a plan for peace between the two sides.

“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” he said.

“If we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think it’ll lead to ultimately peace in the Middle East, which has to happen,” he said.

Asked if there was a timeframe for the embassy move, Trump said: “We’re going to make a decision in the not too distant future.”

Reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by Diane Craft


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A billboard calls on US President Donald Trump to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Jerusalem Post

Washington- US President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast on Saturday that he wanted to give a shot at achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians before moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In June, Trump signed a temporary order to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv, despite a campaign promise he made to move it to Jerusalem.

In an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on the TBN program “Huckabee,” Trump noted his administration was working on a plan for peace between the two sides.

“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” he said.

“If we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think it’ll lead to ultimately peace in the Middle East, which has to happen,” he said.

Asked if there was a time frame for the embassy move, Trump said: “We’re going to make a decision in the not too distant future.”

Hours before going on air, Trump took to Twitter to promote the show and his appearance on it, inviting his followers to watch him make an appearance on Huckabee’s show as his very first guest. The fact that Huckabee managed to snag such an important guest for the first episode of his show was criticized by many, seeing as the former governor’s daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, currently serves as White House Press Secretary.

Many in Israel were looking forward for the president to make good on his campaign pledge and move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital, but were disappointed to discover that Trump was backtracking on his promise as the first months of his presidency and his key Israel visit both went by without significant progress towards a move.

Trump’s decision to halt the embassy relocation was perceived as a stinging blow, despite the fact that has sent officials from his administration with increasing frequency in recent months to attempt to accelerate the stagnant peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Both Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who serves as a shadow diplomat in the White House in charge of US-led peace efforts, and US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt visited the region numerous times in the past six months to negotiate with government officials in Israel as well as Palestinian Authority representatives.


Palestinian Reconciliation Meant To Stop Israeli Siege of Gaza Strip — Stop Israel from “swallowing up the West Bank”

October 1, 2017

The Jerusalem Post

 OCTOBER 1, 2017 01:42

Hamas chief in the Strip Ismail Haniyeh tells the Palestinian people that talks underway to solve the rift between Hamas and Fatah are really meant to stop Israel from “swallowing up the West Bank.

HAMAS LEADER Ismail Haniyeh gestures during a news conference in Gaza City earlier this month

HAMAS LEADER Ismail Haniyeh gestures during a news conference in Gaza City earlier this month. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh released an official statement aimed at the Palestinian people on Saturday evening in which he explained that the attempts to forge a reconciliation between his party, which rules in the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the party in control at the West Bank, comes as a reaction to Israel’s unfavorable actions in the region.

“The reconciliation is a will and a decision, to prevent Israel from swallowing up the West Bank and continuing its siege of the Gaza Strip,” Haniyea stated as Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdahllah arrived at the Strip from Ramallah on a key visit.

Over the last day, security officials from the Palestinian Authority, including the presidential guard (which is expected to take on the responsibility of managing border checkpoints between Israel and Egypt according to the potential reconciliation accord), arrived in Gaza to continue coordinating several topics between the two parties as they attempt to solve the deep rift between them.

Haniyeh described Hamas’ decision to end the long and bitter conflict between the two parties as a “strategic” one, and acknowledged that he foresees that there will be setbacks along the way.

“We understand that the inner-Palestinian reconciliation process could be long because of the setbacks along the way, and the fact that there are many issues that require brave decisions, but we are certain that we have started tearing down the wall of separation. We are in a situation of national, regional and international changes in addition to the strong Egyptian backing which supports the end of the rift.”

The Hamas leader also stressed that his organization will continue the dialogue with Cairo in order to implement all the agreements, build a national joint government and prepare for elections for the parliament and the presidency.

“We are certain of the whole organization’s support for this move- seeing as Hamas made this decision out of a national will and with the support of its political and military power, as well as its steadfast stature facing the siege and the wars, while answering the will of our people for the sake of unity,” Haniyeh affirmed.

The end of the Palestinian rift would “renew everyone’s hope, and we hope that our brothers at the PLO will make an effort in this direction, to make the first move together successfully, as the government goes back to acting in the Gaza Strip and taking the responsibility upon itself,” his message to the Palestinian people concluded.


Israelis Express Worry Over Rise of Germany’s Far Right AfD

September 25, 2017
 SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 13:02

Jerusalem Post

Likud lawmaker Yehuda Glick calls to reach out to AfD Party.

A demonstrator protests against anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland in Germany

A demonstrator protests against anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland in Germany. (photo credit:HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS)

Israeli opposition lawmakers expressed concern over the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which came in third place in Sunday’s German election.

The far-right has not been represented in the two houses of Germany’s legislature since the 1950s

Israel-Germany Parliamentary Friendship Group chairman MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) said he respects the results of Germany’s democratic election, but sees them as a warning sign.

“The rising strength of the extreme Right in Germany teaches us about a growing, dangerous atmosphere. Xenophobia, racism and extremism are conquering a significant portion of the German public, and prove that the democratic layer is fragile and vulnerable,” Shai stated.

Shai added that Merkel, whom he called one of Israel’s greatest friends in the world, must spend the coming term examining the change in her country and blocking its rightward drift.

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni expressed confidence that “just as [Merkel] knew to courageously stand up for her values, she will also know how to deal with the worrying rise of the extreme, antisemitic Right.”

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid tweeted congratulations to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her election to a fourth term in office, but added in Hebrew: “An important challenge stands before Germany: To eradicate the strengthening extreme right in their land.”

Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz tweeted in German that “this election is a bad day for Germany democracy, with the entry of xenophobes and open antisemites into the Bundestag.”

MK Dov Henin of the Joint List, who has identified as a communist, said, “The ugly wave of the racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic Right is growing in the whole world and is an expression of a deep crisis in the system. The answer cannot be rallying around a disappointing social order; rather, an alternative of real change in the other direction.”

Likud MK Yehudah Glick courted controversy by saying that the AfD is not as bad as opposition lawmakers have said.

“All those panicking over the election of a right-wing party in Germany should know that Frauke Petry, who stands at the head of the party, is working intensively to remove any suspicion of antisemitism from the party,” Glick tweeted.

Petry, the party’s co-chairperson, said soon after the election that she will not join the AfD faction in the Bundestag.

Glick followed up the tweet by saying that he is concerned that there are “Nazi elements” in Germany, and that racism towards any minority, including Muslims, must be combatted. In addition, he said he was not congratulating the AfD, just commenting on the “panic” over them. Petry, he said, has visited Israel and Yad Vashem and opposes racism and antisemitism.

“Whoever thinks all evil is on the Right and the whole Right is evil, is wrong. There are moderates on the Right like Petry, and there are things that are no less disconcerting in the other parties… including Merkel’s party’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Remember the [German] foreign minister’s preference of Breaking the Silence over our prime minister? Remember the speech by the head of the Socialist Party, Martin Schulz, in the Knesset, when he said Israel steals water from the Palestinians?” Glick wrote.

The Likud MK argued that Israel should seek ties with positive factors in all parties and combat negative factors in all parties.

According to Glick, “The growth of the Right throughout Europe comes from deep concerns of many Europeans over a radical Islamic takeover of Europe. Whoever thinks this is an unfounded concern is mistaken. Translating that into racism is worrying.”


Hamas Leader in Cairo to Discuss Gaza Blockade

September 9, 2017

Image result for Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas, photos

Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh

GAZA — The new chief of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in Cairo on Saturday to hold talks with senior Egyptian officials about the blockade of Gaza on his first such visit as leader, a Hamas spokesman said.

In the past few months Hamas has sought to mend relations with Egypt, which controls their one international border crossing from the Gaza Strip. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been wary of ties between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, ousted from power by Sisi after mass protests.

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, a densely populated coastal territory that shares borders with Egypt and Israel, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.

For much of the last decade, Egypt has joined Israel in enforcing a partial land, sea and air blockade of Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the talks with Egypt will focus on alleviating the blockade and mending a longstanding rift with rival group Fatah, headed by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

An Egyptian source confirmed Haniyeh’s arrival with a delegation for talks on the border crossing, security and power supplies.

Image result for Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas, photos

Haniyeh with Turkey’s Erdogan

Haniyeh was elected Hamas leader in May. The group maintains a sizeable armed wing in Gaza since seizing the enclave from Fatah in 2007.

Hoping to pressure Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza, Abbas has cut payments to Israel for the electricity it supplies to Gaza. This means that electricity has often been provided for less than four hours a day, and never more than six.

Abbas has vowed to keep up sanctions against Gaza, saying measures are aimed against Hamas and not ordinary people. In turn, Hamas is trying to make a crack in the wall of sanctions by improving its relations with Egypt and other Arab countries.

Israel, which signed a 1979 peace treaty with Egypt and coordinates closely with it on security, is maintaining a close watch on discussions between Egypt and Hamas. Like the United States and the European Union, it regards Hamas as a terrorist group.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; editing by Maayan Lubell and Ros Russell)

Palestinian court extends detention of rights activist

September 7, 2017


© AFP | Rights activist Issa Amro is lead by Palestinian security forces from a court in the West Bank city of Hebron on September 7, 2017

HEBRON (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) – A Palestinian court extended for four days Thursday the detention of a prominent rights activist who criticised president Mahmud Abbas’s administration, his lawyer said.Issa Amro was detained on Monday by Palestinian security forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on accusations of causing strife, among other charges, rights activists say.

A closed court in Hebron Thursday extended his detention for four more days, Amro’s lawyer Muhannad Karaja said after the session.

“We are surprised by this decision. We were expecting he would be freed today because Issa is a well-known activist,” Karaja told AFP.

Media, diplomats and supporters of Amro were turned away at the court, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

Amro is the founder of Youth Against Settlements, a campaign group in the tense city of Hebron where Jewish settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves in the centre.

He was detained after criticising the Palestinian Authority’s arrest of a journalist from Hebron on social media at the weekend.

Palestinian officials have not publicly commented on Amro’s detention and attempts to reach the police were unsuccessful.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both criticised the arrest.

“It is outrageous that a prominent human rights defender has been arrested simply for voicing his opinion online. Criticising the authorities should not be a criminal offence,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East.

She said Amro’s detention was the “latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech.”

Separate to the Palestinian arrest, Amro is currently on trial by Israel on a range of charges dating back to 2010.

He has rejected all the charges, saying they are politically motivated to prevent his peaceful resistance to Israel’s occupation.

Palestinians vie with Israel over Muslim pilgrims to Jerusalem — Part of Holy Land’s religious tourism

August 31, 2017

By Ali Sawafta and Dan Williams

Hamas Chief Says Iran Again Funding Operations

August 28, 2017

Yehiyeh Sinwar

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas’ new leader in the Gaza Strip said Monday his group has repaired relations with Iran after a five-year rift and is using its newfound financial and military aid to gear up for new hostilities with Israel.

The announcement by Yehiyeh Sinwar came as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was visiting Israel. At a meeting with the U.N. chief, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complained about what he called rising anti-Israel activity by Iran and its allies in the region.

Iran was once the top backer of Hamas, an Islamic militant group that seeks Israel’s destruction. But Hamas broke with Iran in 2012 after the group refused to support Iran’s close ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the Syrian civil war.

During a four-hour meeting with journalists, Sinwar said those ties have been restored and are stronger than ever.

“Today, the relationship with Iran is excellent, or very excellent,” Sinwar said. He added that the Islamic Republic is “the largest backer financially and militarily” to Hamas’ military wing.

It was the first time that Sinwar has met reporters since he was elected in February. The 55-year-old Sinwar, who spent two decades in Israeli prison after being convicted of masterminding the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers, has close ties with Hamas’ militant wing and takes a hard line toward Israel.

Israel and Iran are bitter enemies, and Israel has recently expressed concern that Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah are seeking a permanent military presence in Syria near the Israeli border. Both Hezbollah fighters and Iran have backed Assad’s forces in the Syrian war.

In his meeting with Guterres, Netanyahu alleged Iran is building sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce “precision-guided missiles” to be used against Israel.

“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment, and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as warfronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel,” Netanyahu said. “This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the U.N. should not accept.”

Israel has also accused the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, of failing to prevent Hezbollah from smuggling huge quantities of weapons into southern Lebanon in violation of a 2006 cease-fire. UNIFIL’s mandate is up for renewal at the end of the month and Israel is pressing for the force to have an increased presence to better monitor and prevent the alleged Hezbollah arms buildup.

UNIFIL’s commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, told The Associated Press last week that he has no evidence that weapons are being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the Hezbollah-dominated south. But Guterres promised Netanyahu that he will do everything in my capacity” to ensure UNIFIL fulfills its obligations.

“I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective,” he said.

Responding to Israeli claims that the U.N. is biased, Guterres stressed his commitment to “treating all states equally.” He said those who call for Israel’s destruction peddle in a “form of modern anti-Semitism” — though he also said he doesn’t always agree with the country’s policies.

Guterres heads to the West Bank on Tuesday and is scheduled to visit Gaza on Wednesday. The U.N. maintains major operations in Gaza, running schools and health clinics and delivering humanitarian aid. Guterres is not scheduled to speak to Hamas.

Late Monday, Guterres met with Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, commander of COGAT, the defense body that is responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs.

Mordechai blamed Hamas for the poor conditions in Gaza, saying the group tries to exploit civilians and aid programs. He also said Hamas’ refusal to return the remains of two dead Israeli soldiers, along with two Israeli civilians it is holding, hinders Israeli efforts to assist Gaza.

“The terror organization Hamas does not hesitate at all and repeatedly exploits the Gaza residents by attempting to take advantage of Israel’s assistance, despite the severe civil hardships in the strip,” Mordechai said.

Guterres later met with the families of the dead soldiers and captive Israeli civilians.

In his briefing with reporters, Sinwar would not say how much aid Iran provides his group. Before the 2012 breakup, Iran provided an estimated $50 million a month to Hamas.

Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas’ forces in 2007. Since then, it has fought three wars with Israel. Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks. It is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Sinwar stressed that the Iranian aid is for “rebuilding and accumulating” Hamas’ military powers for a larger fight against Israel that is meant to “liberate Palestine.”

“Thousands of people work every day to make rockets, (dig) tunnels and train frogmen,” he said. “The relationship with Iran is in this context.”

But the shadowy leader said his movement does not intend to start a fourth war with Israel, instead preferring to remedy dire living conditions in the impoverished coastal enclave.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Hamas takeover a decade ago. Trying to pressure Hamas and regain control, Abbas has asked Israel to reduce electricity supplies to Gaza, and he has slashed the salaries of thousands of his former government employees there.

The result is that Gaza suffers acute power outages of up to 16 hours a day, unemployment of nearly 50 percent and widespread poverty.

Sinwar has turned to Egypt, which has begun to ease the blockade as it seeks Hamas’ help in controlling their border. The Egyptian military has been fighting an Islamic insurgency in the Sinai desert, near Gaza.

Relations with Cairo “have improved dramatically,” Sinwar said. Egypt has recently sent fuel to ease the power crisis in response to Hamas’ building of a buffer zone along the border.

“We will knock on all the doors, except that of the (Israeli) occupation, to resolve the problems,” he said.

Sinwar was among more than 1,000 Palestinians released by Israel in 2011 in exchange for an Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, whom Hamas kidnapped in 2006.

Sinwar said there would be no new talks over a prisoner swap until Israel frees 54 prisoners released in the Schalit swap that have been re-arrested.

“We are ready to start negotiations through a mediator, but only when the table is cleaned. Freed prisoners must feel they are immune.”


Federman reported from Jerusalem.


© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP/File / by Ali Choukeir | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on July 30, 2017 shows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) receiving prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Jeddah

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Guterres faces Israeli criticism of UN bias against Israel; lays a wreath at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial for the six million Jews killed by Nazis during World War II

August 28, 2017


© AFP | UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres lays a wreath at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial for the six million Jews killed by Nazis during World War II, on August 28, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres defended the United Nations against accusations of bias against Israel during a visit to Jerusalem on Monday while also condemning what he called “modern anti-Semitism”.Guterres also said he was “shocked” by a recent white supremacist rally in the United States that led to harsh criticism of US President Donald Trump.

Visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Monday, Guterres said anti-Semitism was “alive and well”.

He also referred to the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that ended in bloodshed. Trump triggered outrage when he suggested both sides were at fault after the unrest.

“I was shocked a few years ago to listen to the chant of a group of neo-Nazis in a developed country in the world, chanting ‘blood and soil,’ a slogan of the Nazis,” Guterres said.

His spokesman later clarified that he meant to say days instead of years, referring to the US rally.

“And that is a dramatic demonstration that it is our duty to do everything possible… to fight anti-Semitism in all its expressions.”

Guterres made similar pledges to fight anti-Semitism when he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

Netanyahu has frequently accused UN bodies of being biased against Israel and he repeated those allegations when meeting Guterres.

“I think it has an absurd obsession with Israel, flagrantly discriminatory tactics,” he said, while saying his country has a “robust democracy” that works toward the “betterment of humanity”.

Netanyahu spoke of decisions taken by UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Council that led to outrage in Israel.

Israel is frequently targeted at the United Nations over its occupation of Palestinian territory.

Guterres pledged to act impartially as an honest broker.

“To be an honest broker means that all countries must be treated equally,” he said.

Guterres also said: “To express that the right of existence of the state of Israel doesn’t exist or the wish to destroy the state of Israel is an unacceptable form of modern anti-Semitism.”

However, he made clear that he believed Israeli settlement building was an obstacle to peace, and when meeting Rivlin said disagreements would occur.

“We will always be very frank in dialogue with the state of Israel in trying to find ways for peace to be possible in this region,” Guterres said.

UN chief faces stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in first visit

August 28, 2017


© AFP / by Joe Dyke | Peace efforts to end the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians have been at a standstill since April 2014. In this photo from 2008, a Palestinian man walks past an Israeli border policeman in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

JERUSALEM (AFP) – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres meets Israeli leaders Monday on his first visit since taking office, with long-stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians and a United Nations force in Lebanon high on the agenda.Guterres is likely to seek to push Israel and Palestinian leaders closer to renewed talks on their decades-old conflict during his three-day visit that ends Wednesday, but the interests of Israeli leaders lie elsewhere for now.

They have said they want to press Guterres on the UN peacekeeping force in neighbouring Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, accusing it of “blindness” to what they call an arms buildup by Hezbollah.

The trip comes as the UN Security Council debates renewing the force’s mandate for a year, with a vote expected on Wednesday.

After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Guterres is due in Ramallah on Tuesday for talks with Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is visiting Turkey and is not expected to meet Guterres during the trip.

Guterres will then travel to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

After arriving on Sunday evening, the UN chief met Jason Greenblatt, a top aide to US President Donald Trump charged with pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Greenblatt was part of a US delegation last week including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner that held talks with Netanyahu and Abbas. He remained in the region for further discussions.

Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who took office in January, is likely to try to take steps to keep the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a viable option at a time when it is under threat.

Peace efforts have been at a standstill since April 2014 and Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank has continued.

Trump has said he wants to reach the “ultimate deal” — Israeli-Palestinian peace — but he himself has cast doubt on the two-state solution, saying he could support a single state if it meant peace.

Such statements deeply concern Palestinians, while delighting right-wing Israelis who want their country to annex most of the West Bank.

– ‘Blindness’? –

The two-state solution envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and has been the focus of international diplomacy since at least the early 1990s.

At the same time, many analysts say both Netanyahu and Abbas are not in position to make any major concessions for now.

Netanyahu faces pressure from his right-wing base not to do so and to continue settlement building, and there is little incentive at the moment for him to change course, some analysts say.

The 82-year-old Palestinian leader is unpopular and his Fatah party, based in the West Bank, continues to be divided from Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

Israeli leaders have made clear they want to discuss other topics with Guterres, including Hezbollah.

On Sunday, Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely echoed US claims that the commander of the United Nations force in Lebanon was turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.

Israel fought a war against the Lebanese Shiite group in 2006.

“We shall not allow this blindness to continue,” Hotovely said.

She said that Hezbollah’s deployment along Lebanon’s border with Israel would be a “very central issue” in the discussions with Guterres.

“He will meet the head of military intelligence and receive a briefing, and also meet the prime minister, and I am sure that he will not leave here with the feeling that the mandate given to the UN is being implemented on the ground,” Hotovely said.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric has however expressed “full confidence” in the force’s commander.

Netanyahu has also frequently spoken of what he sees as Israel’s arch-rival Iran seeking to expand its presence in the Middle East, particularly in neighbouring Syria, and will likely discuss this with Guterres.

Beyond that, Israeli officials regularly accuse UN bodies of bias against their country, saying they disproportionately focus on its occupation of Palestinian territory, and are likely to call on Guterres to address it.

by Joe Dyke

Israel Vows Not To Repeat The Mistake of Early Release for Terrorists

August 27, 2017
 AUGUST 27, 2017 12:15
The parents of Israeli officer Hadar Goldin, who has been missing since the 2014 battle of Rafah, stated that they “feel abandoned by the government”.
Avigdor Liberman

Avigdor Liberman. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated on Sunday that Israel will not repeat the “mistake” of freeing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the bodies of missing IDF soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul as well as other Israeli citizens held in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Addressing the resignation of Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former coordinator on the issue of prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action, Liberman referred to the 2011 deal which released over 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for the release of former IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who was held captive by Hamas for 5 years.

Lotan, who was working without remuneration, resigned on Thursday after three years in the position. He was appointed in 2014, replacing David Meidan who played a key role in formulating the prisoner exchange deal which led to the release of Gilad Schalit in 2011.

The Defense Minister stated that Israel “will not repeat the mistake of the Schalit deal, which freed 1,027 terrorists, including murderers and their agents, including Mahmoud Qawasmeh, who was released to the Gaza Strip and financed the abduction of three youths, and Yahya Sanwar, who leads Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”

Kawasme helped fund the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and Sinwar, who was elected as the group’s leader in Gaza in February, is regarded by Israeli security officials as one of the most uncompromising leaders of Hamas.

According to Liberman seven Israelis have been murdered by Palestinians released in the deal and 202 have since been rearrested for involvement in terrorism, of whom 111 are still in Israeli prisons.

Liberman added that before replacing Lotan it was important to “draw clear borders for the State of Israel and its emissaries and to especially stand firm against our enemies and make it clear to them that we have no intention of compromising on the security of the people of Israel.”

The Defense Minister thanked Lotan for his commitment and effort in returning Goldin and Shaul and added that he understood and accepted the criticism from the families of the kidnapped soldiers. He added that he remains personally committed to their return as well as the other Israelis held in the Gaza Strip.

In addition to Goldin and Shaul, two other Israelis, Abera Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli, and Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin, are both believed to be held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Mengistu and al-Sayed both suffer from psychiatric disorders and both crossed into the Gaza Strip voluntarily. They have been missing for three years.

Their cases are viewed by Israel as a humanitarian issue unrelated to the cases of Goldin and Shaul. Hamas has denied holding Mengistu hostage, but Israel has made it clear that they hold the group responsible for the safety of both Mengistu and al-Sayed.

Mengistu’s family said of Lotan’s resignation that without reassurance from the prime minister, “no progress in the returning of our son will be made.”

The Goldin family has been critical of the government, saying that it has failed to engage in any serious negotiations to retrieve the bodies of the two soldiers. They expressed their appreciation of Lotan and the work he did but also stated that they “feel abandoned by the government.”

Goldin’s father, noted historian Simcha Goldin, said on Israeli television Friday that “the government gives Hamas everything [it] wants and expects the envoy to accept it.”

The family, which demands that the soldier’s remains be brought to Israel for a proper Jewish burial, stated that the government is essentially paying lip service, saying they are “doing everything to bring back Hadar and Oron [Shaul]”  while in reality, “nothing is [being] done.”

Former Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe ‘Bogie’ Ya’alon said that “The resignation of Lior Lotan is a cause for worry. We have a moral duty to bring our soldiers to a [Jewish] burial in Israel and to bring back our missing citizens.”

Both Goldin and Shaul are believed to have been killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge and their bodies held by Hamas for the past four years. The militant terrorist organization has attempted to use the two soldier’s bodies as bargaining chips in negotiations for the release of prisoners.