Posts Tagged ‘Netanyahu’

NY Times’ Friedman: Netanyahu ‘too cowardly’ to take steps necessary for peace

May 24, 2018

Top columnist also pans Hamas for its disastrous policies in Gaza since Israel pulled out; says environmental issues may soon force sides out of their corners

Times of Israel
May 24, 2018, 6:19 am


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on May 21, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on May 21, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “too cowardly” to take the necessary actions for peace with the Palestinians, while Hamas has proved a disaster for the residents of the Gaza Strip, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote on Tuesday.

In a piece titled “Hamas, Netanyahu and Mother Nature,” the veteran Times writer lamented the intransigence he felt was exhibited by both the Israeli government and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, and said environmental and humanitarian dangers could soon force both Israelis and Palestinians to look beyond their differences to increased cooperation.

Friedman said the Netanyahu government’s settlement expansion policies have made “separating Israelis and Palestinians increasingly impossible and therefore an apartheidlike situation increasingly likely.”

Netanyahu, Freidman, asserted, “wants it all,” unable to accept any significant concessions to Palestinians that a peace accord would require. “And with President Trump and the US Congress writing him blank checks, [he] thinks he can have it all. So why bother making any concessions for peace?”

He added: “I get why Israel has no choice but to defend its border with Gaza with brute force. But I find it a travesty that a country with so much imagination in computing, medicine and agriculture shows so little imagination in searching for secure ways to separate from the Palestinians in the West Bank to preserve its Jewish democracy.”

New York Times columnist, Thomas L. Friedman. (Rebecca Zeffert/Flash90)

Meanwhile in Gaza, Hamas, in Friedman’s estimation, was eligible for “an anti-Nobel Peace Prize — that is, the Nobel Prize for Cynicism and Reckless Disregard for One’s Own People in Pursuit of a Political Fantasy.”

Israel, he said, “ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005. If Hamas had chosen to recognize Israel and build a Palestinian state in Gaza modeled on Singapore, the world would have showered it with aid and it would have served as a positive test case for the West Bank. Hamas chose otherwise.”

The terror group that rules the Strip instead chose violence, using the recent marches in Gaza “to disguise its utter failure to produce any kind of decent life for the Palestinians there.”

Palestinians wave their national flag as they demonstrate near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Jabaliya, on May 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

He said the world, including Arab nations, is “fed up” with Palestinians’ demand to return to ancestral lands which today are part of Israel. “History is full of such injustices and of refugees who have reconciled with them and moved on — not passed on their refugee status to their kids and their kids’ kids.

Notably, Friedman did not criticize the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which Israeli leaders have accused of repeatedly rejecting generous peace offers and of an unwillingness to truly accept a Jewish state.

The columnist warned that “Mother Nature” could soon “batter” both sides, noting that the ongoing blockade of Gaza and severe electricity shortages had led to sewage treatment in the Strip being virtually non-existent, and Palestinians dumping “about 100 million liters of raw sewage into the Mediterranean daily.” The sewage was now flowing north and damaging Israeli desalination plants.

View of the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip from Israel. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

Meanwhile Gaza was quickly running out of clean drinking water, and Israel could soon have a true humanitarian disaster on its hands.

Friedman concluded: “If there were ever a time for Israel to take a few calculated risks to try to nurture a different pathway with Palestinians in the West Bank, it’s now. Unfortunately, its prime minister is too cowardly, and America is too slavishly supportive, for that to happen. Over to you, Mother Nature.”


US under pressure to recognise Israeli-occupied Golan Heights

May 24, 2018

Israel is pressing the Trump administration to recognise its sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, an Israeli cabinet minister said on Wednesday, predicting U.S. assent could come within months.

Interviewed by Reuters, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz described endorsement of Israel’s 51-year-old hold on the Golan as the proposal now “topping the agenda” in bilateral diplomatic talks with the United States.

Any such move would be seen as a follow-up on the U.S. exit from the international nuclear deal with Iran, and President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the opening of a new U.S. embassy there this month.

Trump’s moves were hailed by Israel and caused deep concern among major European allies of Washington.

© Jalaa Marey, AFP | An Israeli flag is seen placed on Mount Bental in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on May 10, 2018

There was no immediate comment from the White House on Katz’s remarks.

The Golan Heights form a strategic plateau between Israel and Syria of about 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles).

It was part of Syria until Israel captured it in the 1967 Middle East war. It moved Israeli settlers into the area that it occupied, and annexed the territory in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

Once willing to consider returning the Golan for peace with Syria, the Israelis have in recent years argued that the civil war in Syria and the presence there of an Iranian garrison backing Damascus show they need to keep the strategic plateau.

Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, cast the Golan proposal as a potential extension of the Trump administration’s confrontational tack against perceived regional expansion and aggression by Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy.

“This is the perfect time to make such a move. The most painful response you can give the Iranians is to recognise Israel’s Golan sovereignty – with an American statement, a presidential proclamation, enshrined (in law),” he said.

The message to Tehran, Katz said, would be: “You want to destroy (U.S.-ally Israel), to generate attacks (against it)? Look, you got exactly the opposite.”

The matter, raised by Netanyahu in his first White House meeting with President Donald Trump in February 2017, is now under discussion at various levels of the U.S. administration and Congress, Katz said.

“I reckon there is great ripeness and a high probability this will happen,” he said. Asked if such a decision could be made this year, he added: “Yes, give or take a few months.”

Asked about Katz’s comments, a U.S. Embassy official in Israel said: “We don’t as a general policy discuss our diplomatic communications.”

Russia, Damascus’s big-power ally, has long insisted that Syria’s territorial integrity should be restored – a position implicitly requiring an eventual return of the part of the Golan occupied by Israel.

Katz, however, played down any prospect of a blow-up between Moscow and Washington, casting the proposed U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan as a piece of a larger Syria mosaic.


With Syrian President Bashar al-Assad beating back the insurgency against him, now could be the opportunity for Assad and Russia to show the Iranians out, Katz said.

He described the Iranian presence next door as the Netanyahu government’s main concern, by implication offering Assad a chance for immunity from Israel.

“This is a moment of truth for Assad. Does he want to be an Iranian proxy, or not?” Katz said. “If he becomes an Iranian proxy, then sooner or later he’s condemning himself, because Israel is acting against Iran in Syria … If not, then we have always said we have no interest in getting involved there.”

Russia, Katz said, would respond to a U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan with declarations that “they won’t do the same and they do not have to support this”.

“But in actuality, from their perspective, if it gives

Israel something in the wider Syrian context, what do they care? Assad’s survival is more important to them, as Syria is so weak,” he said. “They want a new, overall re-arrangement.”

Katz suggested that a U.S. move on the Golan could also prod the Palestinians – who have shunned the Trump administration since it announced in December that it would relocate the embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv – to revive peace talks.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their own state, along with the West Bank, also occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – among the geographical disputes that have dogged their diplomatic contacts with Israel.

“They should hurry up and sit down with Israel, because where Israel says it is determined to be, it will be, and it won’t give up, and history is working in our favour,” he said.

Syria tried to regain the Israeli-occupied Golan in the 1973 Middle East war, but the assault was thwarted. The two signed an armistice in 1974 and the land frontier has been relatively quiet since.

Since 1967, about 20,000 Israeli settlers have moved to the Golan, which also borders Jordan. Some 20,000 Druze Muslims also live there. Israel gave the Druze the option of citizenship, though most rejected it.

In 2000, Israel and Syria held their highest-level talks over a possible return of the Golan and a peace agreement. But the negotiations collapsed and subsequent talks, mediated by Turkey, also failed.


For Many Muslims, Israeli Occupation Is The Problem

May 20, 2018

Washington’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem continues to cause harm and suffering. On May 14, 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers and hundreds were injured. This is pretty much the end of the Donald Trump administration’s role in the Middle East peace process.

The move has also undermined any remaining hope for a two-state solution. The Trump administration is giving full support to Israel’s long-standing policy of “creating facts on the ground” and then grabbing more Palestinian land for reasons of security and the Israel’s so-called “natural growth” needs. This mindset has never taken into account the security, freedom and prosperity of the Palestinian people. They are expected to accept the 70-year occupation without putting up any resistance or objections. No other modern political story has been as tragic and hypocritical as the story of Palestine under occupation.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, cloud, nature and outdoor

Palestinian people during the protest against the U.S. relocating its embassy to Jerusalem and the Israeli state’s occupation on their lands, Gaza Strip, May 15.

Not many believed that the U.S. was an honest broker in the Middle East peace process in the first place. Trump’s Jerusalem decision is the last nail in the coffin. The Palestinians do not want to deal with the U.S. administration and they are right. The Trump administration has given them no hope, no encouragement, no support and nothing to keep them in the negotiations. Trump’s officials have said for months – without sharing any details – that they have been working on a new road map for peace. As it turns out, the only road map that has emerged so far is one destined to end in a crash – a crash that has the potential to set fire to the entire region. The Jerusalem move may have fulfilled the weird theological beliefs of some evangelical Americans and Zionists, but it has done immense damage already. The so-called Western liberal world order and its governments are either silent or utterly helpless when it comes to the Israeli occupation. They accept every Israeli claim at face value and design their policies according to the dictates of the Israeli lobbies in their respective countries. They have no desire or courage to confront the U.S. and Israeli governments to hold them accountable for their irresponsible, provocative and criminal actions. They just want the problem to go away. Countless U.N. resolutions condemning the Israeli occupation have been brushed aside. No other country or occupying force in the world has violated as many U.N. resolutions as Israel.

Given the political realities on the ground, Israel will continue its “piece-by-piece” policy of perennial occupation. It will continue its strategy of erasing the Palestinian people from the face of the earth with impunity. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plays the “Israel on the brink of destruction” card, it is the Palestinians who are facing the threat of annihilation by a military machine and apartheid state with its shameless racism and brutality. In fact, many Israelis do not even use the word “Palestinian” because they don’t recognize them as an official group of people.

Netanyahu cannot cover up his crimes and domestic troubles by attacking President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He may enjoy the relative silence of the international community and the disunity and lethargy of the Arab world, but he can never break the will of the Palestinian people and our support for them. He attacks Erdoğan because Erdoğan is the only leader who has the humanity and courage to call out the Israeli violence for what it is: Systematic massacring of a people living under occupation. He is a democratically elected leader forcefully criticizing Israel for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

As it often happens, the truth is the first casualty of war. Much of the European and American media once again failed to tell the truth in regard to the ongoing violence. The headlines read “Dozens killed in Gaza” and none of them referred to the Israeli brutality and willful killing, as if the Palestinians died of some sort of natural disaster or epidemic. They equate the killer and the killed to tell a story of “clash and confrontation” that does nothing but help Israeli officials in their shameless promotion of violence against a defenseless people. But this is nothing new. This is a story that keeps popping up in every Israeli attack on the Palestinian people. Palestinians never get a voice and are thus victimized twice. They are killed by an apartheid state but accused of violent extremism and terrorism. They are forced to live under occupation in their own land but never seen as having a right to claim their homes. They are subjected to discrimination, humiliation and dispossession on a daily basis but are accused of anti-Semitism. Much of the Western media coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands seeks to justify the greatest story of injustice and brutality in modern history.

Just imagine how the world would have reacted if the 62 people killed on May 14 were Israelis rather than Palestinians. It would not have been a news story but a bombshell. It would have changed the parameters of regional and international politics. Western governments would have done everything in their capacity to punish those responsible. Even armies would have been mobilized. But none of that happened because the victims were Palestinian and the culprit was Israel which, with the deadliest army in the Middle East and unconditional U.S. support behind it, claims to fear for its existence in the face of rock throwing kids and women. In reality, Palestinians have nothing else to defend themselves, their families, their elderly, their homes, their olive fields, their lives and dignity with.

It is with these considerations in mind that Turkey called for an extraordinary summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to mobilize Muslim countries to defend Palestinians against Israeli aggression. Turkey took a number of other measures in response. It declared three days of mourning, called its ambassadors in Washington and Tel Aviv back and held an emergency session at the Turkish National Assembly.

Thanks to the irresponsible and populist policies of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, peace has never been as far away as it is today. Muslim countries, Europeans, Africans, Asian nations and Latin American countries must come together to stop the downward spiral of blatant violations of international law by Israel and the unjust punishment of the Palestinians.

The problem is the occupation and without ending it, there will be no peace, no security, no prosperity for anyone.

By İbrahim Kalın
Daily Sahah

Trump Administration Plans to Reveal Middle East Peace Plan Next Month

May 19, 2018

Sources say Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblat are briefing various partners on the plan’s details and aim to roll it out after Ramadan

U.S. President Donald Trump speaking at the White House in Washington on May 18, 2018,
U.S. President Donald Trump speaking at the White House in Washington on May 18, 2018, Susan Walsh/AP

The Trump administration is aiming to roll out its much-hyped but long-delayed Middle East peace plan next month amid signs it may further alienate the Palestinians by slashing millions of dollars in funding for humanitarian and development projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

Five U.S. officials and a congressional aide say the administration intends to release the peace plan in mid- to late-June, shortly after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, although they cautioned that the timing could slip depending on developments in the region. They say the plan’s main authors — President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt — have already begun quietly briefing select allies and partners on elements of the proposal.

Yet any Palestinian willingness to even consider the plan would require conditions to improve and anger to subside considerably in the coming weeks, an unlikely scenario as the Palestinians say evidence of one-sided Trump giveaways to Israel continues to pile up. U.S. allies in Europe and the Persian Gulf also have felt compelled to criticize the administration for its approach. Ostensibly, Trump would need buy-in from those same countries to build enough momentum for any peace plan to succeed.

The administration has been resisting congressional demands to fully close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington because Greenblatt and Kushner want to keep that channel open in case the Palestinians are open to re-entering negotiations with Israel based on the plan. The office was ordered closed by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last November, but has been allowed to stay open for limited purposes under the administration’s interpretation of the law requiring it to be shut down in the absence of peace talks.

The prospect of Palestinian interest in the peace proposal appears dim, however, particularly since Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas recalled the mission’s chief earlier this week to protest Monday’s opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The embassy move is said to have contributed to violent protests in Gaza that were met with deadly force from Israel. Nearly 60 Palestinians were killed Monday by Israeli forces, drawing condemnations and calls for restraint from Europe and elsewhere. The U.S. declined to join those calls and, while regretting the loss of life, opposed efforts at the U.N. to open an international investigation into the violence.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the embassy move and the administration’s unreserved defense of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies have alienated and angered the Palestinian leadership, which accuses the administration of abandoning its role as a neutral arbiter in the conflict. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said any deal needs to be between the Palestinians and Israel — not the United States.

“I don’t need Jason Greenblatt. I don’t need Kushner,” Erekat said. “It’s our lives.”

That sense of betrayal may deepen significantly this summer as millions of dollars in U.S. assistance to the Palestinians appears likely to be cut and the funds re-allocated to other regions. That money has been on hold since last year and existing funding for some projects will start to run out in just months if it is not approved in the next two weeks. If that does not happen, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will have to notify aid recipients that continued U.S. funding is not forthcoming and those programs will begin to be shut down. Local staffers would be laid off and U.S. officials running the projects would be reassigned elsewhere.

Of $251 million in U.S. aid planned for the Palestinians in 2018, only $50.5 million has been reported spent, according to the government’s online tracker, The remaining more than $200 million is currently on hold, a figure that does not include an additional $65 million in frozen U.S. assistance to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon. The U.S. aid pays for programs on education, health, good governance and democracy promotion as well as disaster preparedness and security.

For several months the White House has been sitting on State Department and USAID recommendations to spend at least some of the money, according to the officials. Three officials said there is no indication those recommendations will be acted upon any time soon despite appeals from lawmakers and even expressions of concern from Israel, which sees value in the assistance especially in the security sector. One official said there was “an overwhelming lack of urgency” about making a decision on the funding. The other two said there was no sign that the end-of-May timeframe would be met.

“The administration is currently reviewing U.S. assistance to the Palestinians,” USAID said in a statement to The Associated Press. “USAID is in discussions with all affected implementing partners on the status of the review, and is working closely with the interagency, as the administration concludes its review.”

At immediate risk are between five and 10 of the some 20 USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza, along with proposed new initiatives, the officials said. Without a quick decision those will run out of money by the end of 2018, they said. Nearly all of the others will run out of money in early 2019 unless the U.S. funding is unblocked, they said.

A wake up call for the Muslim world

May 19, 2018

It was only five days ago that 62 innocent people were viciously murdered in Gaza. On Friday, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Istanbul for an emergency session. However, we, as a newspaper, doubt that the 1.6-billion strong Muslim World will be able to put forward an effective proposal to address the crime. We fear the leaders of Islamic countries will again use this occasion to express their grief and leave it at that before returning to their palatial homes, so much lighter and relieved at having done something.

Today, many Muslim countries are suffering under a self-perpetuating disorder with their ruling class beholden to the Western puppet masters that feed them. Their people, meanwhile, find no avenue to express their wants and desires. Many Muslim governments prefer to lean on the West to cement their rule rather than address their people’s grievances.

Daily Sabah
May 18, 2018

Palestinians carry a protester injured during clashes with Israeli forces along Gaza border, May 14, 2018
Palestinians carry a protester injured during clashes with Israeli forces along Gaza border, May 14, 2018.  Credit SAID KHATIB/AFP

Ignoring the will and sentiments of their own people, these Muslims leaders, princes and kings among men, look so magnificent living in glorious palaces behind the tall walls. However meaningless their lives are, however hollow their hearts are, they succeed in achieving their only priority: Perpetuating their rule.

No wonder Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems so confident. The U.S. and the Jewish lobby capitalize on the timid and spiritual feebleness of such Muslim countries.

We can no longer act surprised when we hear some Muslims leaders accede to their Western benefactors’ will and say that Palestine and Jerusalem are not issues of interest.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to extort some Muslim countries is just the most blatant attempt by Western governments to squeeze the last speck of self-respect out of their national will. Being forced to buy weapons with cameras rolling may be enough to placate them for a while. In the long run, however, humiliation has no limit. You need to obey your master no matter what.

Muslims leaders who think it is wise to accede to everything the West says act on the belief that as long as they give the hungry monster what it wants, it will let them be. No matter what happens this story will eventually end with the West devouring the lackey. When they have nothing to give, the West will move onto the next eager servant that will do its bidding.

We, at Daily Sabah, to not wish to employ clichés such as the “brotherhood of Islam” and such, because we know for many, such religious sentiments hold no value. Just try to be wise and compassionate and focus on the interests of your people. Don’t sacrifice your country’s future to your narrow, mainly dynastic, interests.Remember, no one is safe. As the dominoes fall one by one, no country or leader should feel secure. The chaos that is spreading in the region will eventually consume the entire Islamic world. These days, no matter where one goes, the Islamic geography is synonymous with chaos and violence.

What we need is to focus on our future. Muslim leaders need to understand why the West wants to use them. You, the Muslim leaders, should never forget the fact that the U.S. and Israel will never care about the interests of your people. You should take care of your people’s interests.

However, you cannot because you have almost no influence in any international organization or platform that truly matters. You have no lobbying power or influence anywhere in the world.

You only have the OIC. You should at least try to use it effectively. The OIC was founded by the countries of the Islamic world after Jerusalem was occupied by Israel after the 1967 war. It is a city that binds us together. We, as Muslims, may not be united economically and politically, but when it comes to Jerusalem, we always stand united. The fate of Jerusalem is interlocked with the future of Islam.

In this day and age, we have no option but to institutionalize. Countries, individually, have almost no influence. Turkey believes in the OIC and the need to institutionalize it. We need to transform it into an institution that produces concrete solutions to the problems of our age and should ensure it does not fall victim to sectarian conflicts.

Turkey is the term president of the OIC. Don’t boycott the proceedings just because the meetings take place in Istanbul. Rather than getting annoyed at the way Turkey handles regional issues, Muslim leaders need to join in and cooperate. Instead of succumbing to jealousy, try to understand why your people love Turkey and what it represents. If you try to understand it, you will realize that its source is nothing more than Turkey accepting its historical responsibilities. If you do the same, your people and many more will admire you, too. Turkey is not a country that is after domination. It wants partners.

Those who fail to heed this call for cooperation will soon have reasons to regret their carelessness. The failure to satiate the needs and passions of the people will eventually result in the people themselves taking action.

Only time will tell who will lead them.


Muslim Leaders Call for International Protection Force for Palestinians

May 18, 2018

Muslim Leaders Call for International Protection Force for Palestinians

A demonstrator blows a trumpet during a protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza Strip May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu MustafaREUTERS


ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Muslim leaders called on Friday for an international force to be deployed to protect Palestinians after dozens of protesters were shot dead by Israeli forces on the Gaza border this week.

At a special summit in Turkey convened by President Tayyip Erdogan, they also pledged to take “appropriate political (and) economic measures” against countries that followed the United States in moving their Israel embassies to contested Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Erdogan, who is campaigning for re-election next month, used the summit to verbally attack Israel, comparing the actions of its forces to Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews in World War Two, when millions were killed in concentration camps.

He also castigated the United States, saying its decision to move its embassy had emboldened Israel to put down the protests at the border with Gaza with excessive force. Most countries say the status of Jerusalem – a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians – should be determined in a final peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s step to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there reversed decades of U.S. policy, upsetting the Arab world and Western allies.

Guatemala this week became the second country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, and Paraguay said it would follow suit this month.

The final declaration of the meeting of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation described the killing of 60 Palestinians, protesting the embassy move on Monday, as “savage crimes committed by the Israeli forces with the backing of the U.S. administration”.

It said the violence should be put on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly, and called on the United Nations to investigate the killings.

The summit was attended by Jordan’s King Abdullah, a U.S. ally whose Hashemite dynasty is custodian of Muslim sites in Jerusalem.

Abdullah said the U.S. decision five months ago to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had “weakened the pillars of peace … and deepened the despair that leads to violence.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on Muslim countries “to totally cut their relations with the Zionist regime (Israel) and also to revise their trade and economic ties with America”.

A populist with roots in political Islam, Erdogan has described Israel as “terrorist state”.

“The children of those being subject to all sorts of torture in concentration camps during World War Two are now attacking Palestinians with methods that would put Nazis to shame,” Erdogan said on Friday shortly after addressing a rally of thousands of people in support of Palestinians.

The United Nations must send “an international peace force to the people of Palestine, who are losing their young children to Israeli terror every day,” Erdogan said, comparing the proposed deployment to peacekeeping forces sent to Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.

The violence in Gaza led to Turkey and Israel expelling each other’s senior diplomats this week. Erdogan has also traded barbs on Twitter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel, however, was the 10th-largest market for Turkish exports in 2017, buying some $3.4 billion of goods, according to IMF statistics.

“We have excellent economic ties with Turkey. And these relations are very important for both sides,” Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told Israel Radio on Friday when asked if Israel should break ties with Turkey.

The plight of Palestinians resonates with many Turks, particularly the nationalist and religious voters who form the base of support for Erdogan, who has been in power for 15 years.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tulay Karadeniz in Istanbul; additional reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun in Istanbul, Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Parisa Hafezi and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by David Dolan and Dominic Evans; editing by Grant McCool)

An Angry Erdogan Stands to Harm Israel-Turkey Economic Ties

May 17, 2018

Unlike during the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, this time, an angry Erdogan could harm Israeli economic ties

.The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaks at Chatham House in central London, Britain May 14, 2018.
The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaks at Chatham House in central London, Britain May 14, 2018.REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Relations between Israel and Turkey haven’t been warm in recent years, but they certainly improved after Israel agreed to provide $20 million in compensation to the victims of Israel’s Mavi Marmara raid.

Now that appears to be at risk as the two sides engage in a staccato duel of recalled and expelled envoys and insults. The war may not end with words but rather endanger economic ties.

>> Turkey and Israel expel envoys over Gaza deaths ■ Turkey invites press to film ousted Israeli envoy frisked at airport ■ Occupier! Murderer! The hypocritical war of words on Gaza between Israel and Turkey

Until the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, Turkey-Israel ties encompassed a close defense relationship as well as trade and tourism. The defense links, which included joint air force exercises and big contracts such as a $1 billion project by Israel to upgrade 170 Turkish tanks, evaporated in an instant.

But the trade and business ties remained apart from the political tension and even grew stronger in the years that followed. As much as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raged at Israel, he let business go on as usual for fear of the damage it would do to his country.

Advantage Turkey

has gotten the most over the years from the relationship isn’t easy to quantify. If an Israeli buys a low-priced shirt made in Turkey who benefits the most? The seller who earns a profit or the buyer who gets a low-cost shirt? That is the magic of the market economy: When it works it works to everyone’s’ benefit. That’s why the politicians left it alone even as they traded insults and accusations.

For logistical reasons, foreign trade is usually conducted with a country’s nearest neighbors. But Israel does virtually no business with its Arab neighbors, so Turkey has always held out big promises, albeit promises that have never been fulfilled.

In any event, economic ties between the two countries began to warm without any direct connection to the agreement they came to in 2016 over the Mavi Marmara affair. Instead, it was due to the Israeli government’s efforts to lower the cost of living and to the Syrian civil war.

The cost-of-living drive included creating more competition in the aviation sector to lower airfares. That led to a surge of air travel to Turkey by Israelis, not to stay there but to use Istanbul for connecting flights to their final destinations.

In 2012, before Open Skies went into effect, 686,000 people traveled to Turkey from Israel on 4,706 flights; last year nearly 2 million did on 12,400 flights. Both sides have benefited from this. Israelis get much cheaper airfares and Turkish airlines and airports benefit from the business.

Turks don’t travel to Israel in big numbers, but the Syrian civil war suddenly made it an important transit point for Turkish agricultural and other exports to Jordan, since they could no longer ship their goods by truck through war-torn Syria.

Nowadays Turkish freighters arrive in Haifa Port with trailer trucks and drivers onboard. The trucks and their Turkish drivers travel through Israel to the Sheikh Hussein Bridge and on to Jordan. About 30-40 trucks do the route every week, a relatively small number that could be a lot bigger if Turkish companies decided to service the giant Saudi market via the same route.

David Behrisch, managing partner at Tiran Shipping, an Israeli shipping agency, says that so far the ups and downs of Israeli-Turkish diplomatic relations have had no effect on the convoys.

“I haven’t felt any tension, even after the Mavi Marmara. I don’t think I’ll feel it now either, I spoke with the Israeli consulate in Istanbul and they told me that it’s business as usual and it will stay that way,” he said.

Israeli-Turkish trade came to $4.3 billion in 2017, with a significant surplus for Turkey. Israeli exports to Turkey amounted to $1.4 billion while imports from Turkey were $2.9 billion. Israeli exports to Turkey are mainly chemicals and refined oil and its imports mainly cars, metals, machinery and textiles.

The real opportunity for boosting trade is natural gas. Turkey needs it and Israel has big reserves. Turkey is dangerously reliant on imported Russian gas and Israel wants to use its energy resources to enhance its standing in the region.

The two sides have held talks for many years, but nothing has resulted. As one source put it, “There are always talks underway with Turkey. I assume that if they were to get strong support from both governments, they would advance.”

One reason Israel isn’t giving full-throated support is that it would prefer to export its gas to Europe through Cyprus and Greece, which is a more politically reliable option than Turkey, said Prof. Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University. No one will invest the $2 billion required to construct a pipeline to deliver the gas to Turkey from Israel’s Leviathan field without guarantees of long-term contracts.

Zisser says Erdogan has always been careful to contain his anger when it comes to the Turkish economy and knows how to distinguish between politics and business. “He knows the limits, but in the dynamic of the Middle East it’s hard to know where he will take his next step,” he says.

Netanyahu’s Son Posts ‘F*ck Turkey’ on Instagram Amid Diplomatic Row

May 17, 2018

In response to the image, Netanyahu’s associates responded: ‘Yair Netanyahu is a private person, as is his Instagram account’


Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, posted a controversial image saying “Fuck Turkey” on his Instagram account on Wednesday. This follows a diplomatic row between Israel and Turkey which began Tuesday, when Ankara expelled Israel’s ambassador over the number of Palestinians killed during protests in the Gaza border on Monday.

Yair Netanyahu's Instagram post
Yair Netanyahu’s Instagram postInstagram

In response to the image, Netanyahu’s associates responded: “Yair Netanyahu is a private person, as is his Instagram account.”

>> Turkey and Israel expel envoys over Gaza deaths ■ Occupier! Murderer! The Hypocritical War of Words on Gaza Between Israel and Turkey | Opinion >>

Earlier Wednesday, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the only remaining Turkish representative in Israel to a meeting to protest the security check Israel’s ambassador to Turkey was subjected to upon leaving the country.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry ordered Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh to leave Turkey Tuesday for consultations for an undetermined period of time over the reported killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his son Yair visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 18, 2015.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his son Yair visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 18, 2015.THOMAS COEX/AFP

>> After Day of Relative Calm on Gaza Border, Hamas Reassesses Its Tactics | Analysis <<

Turkish media was invited to cover the departure of Naeh, who was subjected to what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as a harsh and humiliating security check. Apparantly, Naeh was frisked and requested by security personnel at Istanbul Airport to take off his shoes while the Turkish press looked on.

In response to Naeh’s expulsion, Israel ordered the Turkish consul general in Jerusalem, Husnu Gurcan Turkoglu, who is responsible for Turkey’s relations with the Palestinians, to return home for consultations. Turkey’s ambassador to Tel Aviv had already been recalled, as had Turkey’s ambassador in Washington.

In response to Israel’s expulsion of the Turkish envoy, Turkey summoned Israel’s consul general in Istanbul, Yossi Levi Safri, and also asked him to leave the country.

Erdogan said Tuesday that “Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state. … He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.”

In return, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Erdogan. “A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves from an attempt by Hamas. A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria is the last person to preach to us about combat ethics.”

On Tuesday, South Africa recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv, saying it “condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border.” Over the last several days, Ireland, Belgium and Luxemborg summoned their Israeli ambassdors to express their dismay and protest over the death toll in Gaza

UN probing Turkish shipment of Israeli-made equipment to Iran — report

May 17, 2018

Jerusalem-based electronics maker says Turkish firm ‘deceived’ it by sending electronic parts to Islamic Republic in violation of Security Council sanctions

Times of Israel

Illustrative: Electronic capacitors. (Eric Schrader/Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Illustrative: Electronic capacitors. (Eric Schrader/Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The United Nations is reportedly investigating a shipment of electronic components from Turkey to Iran last year in violation of international sanctions, and has asked for Israel’s cooperation since the products were manufactured in Jerusalem.

The case began in July 2017, when inspectors in the United Arab Emirates checked an Iran-bound shipment and found the electronic parts, which are banned from being exported to Iran under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, advanced as part of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Thursday.

The UN was said to find that the electronic parts were made by Celem Power Capacitors, an Israeli firm based in Jerusalem. The UN Secretariat — the body responsible for investigating breaches of Security Council resolutions — subsequently wrote to the Israeli government, asking it to provide “relevant information” on the subject.

Celem Power Capacitors, one of Israel’s largest manufacturers of electronic capacitors, was shocked to receive the UN request, the newspaper report said.

The company said it had no idea its products would be sent to Iran, saying it had been “deceived” by the Turkish firm to which it made the delivery.

“We will cooperate with any investigation,” the Israeli company was quoted as saying. “We will prove that we sold it to Turkey, to an established firm. We don’t sell to enemy countries. Most of our sales are to Europe and the US, but Turkey is not an enemy country and there is no obstacle to trading with it.”

“In any case, if the shipment did get to Iran, it means the buyer deceived us,” the supplier concluded.

The report came amid heightened tensions between Jerusalem and Ankara.

President of Turkey and the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the AK Party’s parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on May 8, 2018. (AFP/Adem Altan)

Israel and Turkey are involved in an ongoing tit-for-tat dispute over Israel’s response to Monday’s violent protests at the Gaza border.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 62 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,700 more injured in clashes this week.

The IDF said Tuesday that at least 24 of the dead were members of terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Those two terror groups subsequently acknowledged 53 of their members were among the dead. Israel claims that Hamas is spurring the violence and using it as cover for attacks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan placed the blame for the deaths squarely on Israel, accusing it of being a “terrorist state” that commits “genocide.” Turkey recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and expelled Israel’s envoys to Ankara and Istanbul.

Israel responded in kind, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying Erdogan “well understands terrorism and slaughter” and should not preach to Israel over military ethics.

Israel expelled Turkey’s consul-general in Jerusalem and, on Wednesday, summoned the country’s deputy ambassador in Tel Aviv for a dressing down.


Israeli Lawmakers Revisit Armenian Genocide Amid Turkey Row — Erdogan Says Netanyahu Has “Blood on His Hands”

May 16, 2018

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuly and Likud MK Amir Ohana stated they would submit legislation to make Israel the 30th country to recognize the Armenian genocide.

 MAY 16, 2018 10:39

 Knesset votes down bill recognizing Armenian genocide


Wallenberg Foundation decries Israel not recognizing Armenian Genocide

armenia genocide

People mourn at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Museum in Yerevan. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuly and Likud MK Amir Ohana stated they would submit legislation to make Israel the 30th country to recognize the genocide of 1915, in which the Ottoman Empire killed over 1.5 million Armenians.

The move came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Israel over violent protests along that Gaza border. The Turkish President later recalled his ambassador from Israel and commented on Twitter that Israel is “an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s lands for 60+ years.”

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s lands for 60+ yrs in violation of UN resolutions.

He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.

Want a lesson in humanity? Read the 10 commandments.

Subsequently, Jerusalem withdrew its ambassador from Ankara, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter that “Erdogan is among Hamas’s biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter.”

Benjamin Netanyahu


Erdogan is among Hamas’s biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us

Members of the Knesset in response concluded that the time had come to recognize the Armenian genocide by the Turks, a move Israel had previously avoided in order not to harm diplomatic relations with Turkey.

MK Shmuly emphasized that “We won’t accept moralizing from the antisemitic Turkish butcher who bombs thousands of Kurds in northwest Syria every day, and whose country is responsible for the genocide of the Armenian people and the historic horrors toward the Assyrians,” adding later that recognition of the genocide should have happened long ago.

MK Ohana argued that the diplomatic reasoning behind not acknowledging the genocide no longer existed, emphasizing that “it’s not too late to do justice. The time has come to officially recognize the terrible injustice done to the Armenians. When Hitler presented Wehrmacht officers with his plan for mass extermination in Poland, including women and children, he soothed the concerns about the world’s reaction by saying ‘who, after all, speaks today of the Armenians?’ For that reason alone we should have already officially recognized this genocide.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid sponsored a bill to recognize the Armenian genocide earlier this year, but it was voted down in February, which means it cannot be submitted again until August.

Lapid called for Israel to downgrade ties with Ankara permanently along with recognizing the Armenian genocide, openly helping the Kurds and encouraging the US to try to remove Turkey from NATO.

“We don’t reconcile with antisemites like Erdogan. The time has come for the government to say what has been clear for a long time: Erdogan is part of the axis of Islamic terror,” Lapid stated.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has called for the Knesset to recognize the Armenian genocide, as did his predecessor, President Reuven Rivlin. Many bills to recognize the atrocities were proposed and voted down over the years, but the Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee has voted to recognize the genocide.

A diplomatic source said the situation is very delicate and that the final decision whether to recognize the genocide or not would be Netanyahu’s.

The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the issue.

Silence of Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries over the massacre of unarmed Palestinians is disturbing

May 16, 2018

IT was the massacre of unarmed Palestinians, and not the celebrations of the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, that stood out this week. Over 60 Palestinians have been killed and 2,700 injured in Gaza as Israeli forces fired on protesters, killing mostly teenagers.

Dawn (Pakistan)

In fact, the Israelis not only used live bullets but also fighter jets and a tank to prevent protesters from breaking the barricade. According to one report quoting doctors, some of the exit wounds caused by Israeli ammunition were ‘fist-size’. This kind of brutality has not been seen since the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

It all happened a mere 90 to 100 kilometres from the site of celebrations at the newly built American embassy in the occupied land. The bloodbath continued as participants from both Israel and the United States sang ‘Hallelujah’ and the Israeli prime minister declared it a “glorious day”.

Palestinians clash with with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018, as Palestinians protest over the inauguration of the US embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem.

Palestinians clash with with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018.MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

May 14 was also the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel. Palestinians refer to the day after as Nakba, or the catastrophe, when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee or were expelled from their homes and became refugees.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky and outdoor

Hamas and the Palestinians send a message: “We want Israelis dead.” “We want Israel gone.”

Donald Trump’s decision to shift the US embassy to Jerusalem has given a bloodier turn to the Palestinian issue and has led to diminishing hopes of any solution to the conflict. The move is a manifestation of the close alliance between President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The use of brute force has failed to deter the Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation.

Despite the US support to Israel, the previous administrations in Washington had refrained from taking the controversial step. There had been some effort to understand and respond to the Palestinian narrative. But Trump’s blatant support for Israeli expansionism has made the peace negotiations more difficult.

Read: Israel’s man in the White House

In his recorded message at the Jerusalem ceremony, Trump declared that his greatest hope is to achieve peace. Amusingly, he has also claimed that he has an interest in solving the “toughest deal of all”. While condoning the carnage of unarmed Palestinians, Trump says he still intends to present a detailed peace initiative.

His move has plunged the region into greater turmoil and effectively brought to an end any arbitration role for the US in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. While fully endorsing the Israeli narrative, the Trump administration has crossed a red line.

As one analyst put it, “it is an unravelling of the peace process framework which for the past 25 years has led to neither peace nor all-out war”. Not surprisingly, the Israeli prime minister sounded more triumphant and defiant in his celebratory speech. “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay,” he declared.

Most shamefully, the American and Israeli officials put the blame for the violence on the protesters. The use of brute force, however, has failed to deter the Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. Hundreds of casualties in Gaza are likely to trigger an uprising or intifada spreading to the West Bank.

It is evident that the Trump administration is complicit in the Israeli violence against the hapless Palestinian population. Washington has also blocked the call for a UN investigation into the incident. The move has further emboldened Israeli expansionism and rendered the Middle East situation more explosive.

While the US moves and the carnage in Gaza have evoked strong condemnation by the international community, there is no effective voice for the support of the Palestinians’ right to their homeland despite several UN resolutions. The silence of Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries over the plight of the Palestinian people is particularly disturbing.

It reflects the realignment of forces in the Middle East. It is true that key Arab countries seem more willing to sanction a settlement less favourable to the Palestinians than before because they want Israel as an ally against Iran.

The Jerusalem ceremony took place days after Trump announced the US would unilaterally pull out from the Iranian nuclear deal. Not surprisingly, the controversial decision to reimpose US sanctions on Tehran has been welcomed by Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Both countries have been opposed to the treaty signed by Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China besides the United States. Opposition to Iran has brought the two countries on the same side of the Middle East civil war. That has also led to Saudi Arabia’s increasing tilt towards Israel on the Palestinian issue.

The comments made by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, during his recent visit to the United States illustrate the shift in the kingdom’s position on the Palestinian issue. He reportedly scolded the Palestinian leadership for what he described as a decades-long history of “rejecting peace with Israel”, adding they should either begin to accept peace proposals or “shut up”.

A leaked Israeli foreign ministry cable sent by a diplomat from the Israeli consulate in New York said that the crown prince’s comments, made during the closed meetings, apparently caused people to “literally fall off their chairs”.

He made it clear that the Palestinian cause was not a priority for the makers of foreign policy in Riyadh and that the kingdom has to face much wider threats in the region, such as Iran. Although the king tried to exercise damage control because of his son’s outrageous remarks, it does not signify very much as the crown prince is effectively in charge.

Not surprisingly, the US move to shift its embassy to Jerusalem did not evoke much opposition from the kingdom and other Gulf countries. It has indeed emboldened Israel. There is a clear indication that the cooperation between Riyadh and Israel could further increase with the rising tensions in the Middle East following the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

That may also allow Israel to continue using brute force to suppress the Palestinian resistance movement. Undoubtedly, there have been mass protests in some Muslim countries, but is this enough to draw the attention of the international community to Israel’s expansionist objectives under the patronage of the United States?

The writer is an author and journalist.

Twitter: @hidhussain

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018

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