Posts Tagged ‘Palestinians’

Israeli minister calls Arab MPs ‘war criminals’

December 11, 2017


© POOL/AFP/File | Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has long advocated land-swaps in a future peace deal that would see some Arab areas of Israel handed over to the Palestinians in exchange for Israeli retention of some West Bank Jewish settlements

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel’s defence minister on Monday called Arab MPs “war criminals” a day after he urged a boycott of Israeli Arabs living near the scene of clashes over the US president’s Jerusalem declaration.Avigdor Lieberman was speaking in a televised parliamentary debate on a motion of no confidence in the right-wing government filed by the mainly Arab Joint List alliance.

Presenting the motion, Joint List lawmaker Hanin Zoabi said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because he is a war criminal.”

“Occupation is always belligerent, violent, illegitimate and a basis for war crimes,” she added, referring to Israel’s 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories.

“All the Joint List are war criminals, every one of you,” Lieberman responded.

The alliance has 12 Arab members and one Jew.

“You exploit the weaknesses and advantages of a democratic state to destroy us from within, we have no illusions,” he told them.

“You are here by mistake and the time will come when you will not be here.”

Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948. Today they account for some 17.5 percent of the population.

Lieberman has long advocated land-swaps in a future peace deal that would see some Arab areas of Israel handed over to the Palestinians in exchange for Israeli retention of some West Bank Jewish settlements.

He has also proposed conditioning the Arabs’ continued Israeli citizenship on them taking oaths of loyalty to the Jewish state.

Dozens of Arab Israelis on Saturday night blocked the Wadi Ara intersection in northern Israel, police said, throwing stones at vehicles and burning tyres in protest at Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The windows of a bus were smashed and its driver was slightly injured. Police arrested two minors and a man from Arara, an Arab town in the Wadi Ara area.

Speaking to Israeli army radio the next day, Lieberman proposed collective punitive sanctions.

“Those who demonstrate in Israel holding Hezbollah, Hamas and PLO flags are not part of the state of Israel,” Lieberman said.

“I therefore call on Israeli citizens to impose an economic boycott on Wadi Ara — don’t shop there, don’t eat in the restaurants and don’t buy services from them.”

Jewish Israelis must simply “give them the feeling they’re not wanted here,” he said, noting instances in which Arabs from the area carried out attacks against Israelis or supported militant activities.

Clashes and protests erupted in the Palestinian territories after Trump’s declaration last Wednesday, but there has been relatively little unrest within Israel itself.



Palestinians miss major reconciliation deadline

December 11, 2017


© AFP/File / by Adel Zaanoun | Palestinians wave the national flag during a demonstration in Gaza City on December 3, 2017, in support of the reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah, though the two groups then missed a deadline for talks December 10, 2017

GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) – Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have missed a major deadline in their reconciliation bid by failing to transfer power in the Gaza Strip, with the rivals on Monday trading accusations of blame.US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has further complicated an already difficult attempt to transfer power in Gaza from Islamist movement Hamas back to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, have seen protests and clashes each day since Trump’s declaration on Wednesday.

Sunday had been the deadline for the handover, a decade after Hamas seized power in the Palestinian enclave in a near civil war with president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank.

An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a December 1 deadline for full transfer of power back to the PA, which is dominated by Fagah, though that was later pushed back to December 10.

In Gaza, the situation was essentially unchanged despite the deadline, with Hamas police still patrolling the streets, while crippling electricity shortages endured.

Hamas claimed on Saturday it had handed over control of all government ministries, but Fatah’s top negotiator later said “obstacles” remained.

PA government spokesman Yousef Mahmud said Monday it had not received full control in key ministries.

In a statement on official Palestinian news agency WAFA, he accused Hamas of seeking to stop the handover.

Fawzy Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told AFP that Mahmud’s statement was an attempt to “cover up the government’s failure to carry out its duties to the people of Gaza”.

Palestinians and international players had hoped that a reconciliation deal could lead to the easing of Israeli and Egyptian blockades on Gaza, reducing the suffering of the two million people largely trapped in the enclave.

Both sides still publicly said they remain committed to the reconciliation, but fears that it could collapse are growing.

– ‘A dead end’ –

They appear no closer to an agreement about the future of Hamas?s vast military wing, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, while they must still resolve the issue of two separate civil administrations.

Abbas has also not yet lifted sanctions against Hamas, including cutting payments for electricity, further worsening an already severe power shortage in Gaza.

There was already little optimism about achieving a full handover by December 10, but Trump’s controversial announcement has added further complications.

The Palestinian government has called for wide-scale peaceful protests against it, but Hamas has called for violence — hailing attacks against Israelis as the start of a new violent intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Four Palestinians in Gaza, including two Hamas fighters, were killed either in clashes with Israeli forces or by Israeli air strikes in retaliation for rocket fire on Friday and Saturday.

Naji Sharab, political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said Trump’s move made the reconciliation bid harder.

“Some want uprising and others don’t. Some want a military escalation and some don’t,” he told AFP. “With the Jerusalem issue, they cannot continue.”

Jamal al-Fadi, a politics professor, said he feared the process could now collapse.

“I believe that in the short term it will hold, but the issue of reconciliation will come back to the top of the agenda considering the needs of the people for solutions.”

“It seems that the process has reached a dead end.”

by Adel Zaanoun


Gaza Rocket Fired Toward Southern Israel

December 11, 2017

No siren went off in warning of the incoming rocket ■ Palestinian media: Israel responds to rocket fire with Gaza strike

Jack Khoury and Yaniv Kubovich Dec 11, 2017 7:18 PM

Image may contain: night, sky and outdoor

Rocket fired from Gaza toward Israel

A rocket was launched from Gaza and exploded in southern Israel on Monday night, the Israeli military said.

Injuries were not immediately reported and no siren went off in warning of the incoming rocket.

Palestinian media in Gaza reported Israeli tank fire at two Hamas positions, one in Khan Yunis and one in Rafah, both located in the southern Gaza Stip.


Image result for Israeli tank fires, photos

FILE photo of an Israel tank firing. Credit Jerusalem Post

On Saturday, an attack tunnel that reached from the Gaza Strip into Israel territory was destroyed by the Israeli army. The Israeli military said that it is clear that Hamas was behind the tunnel. This was the second Gaza attack tunnel Israel has destroyed in the past six weeks.


Israeli military struck Hamas targets in Gaza early Saturday in retaliation for rockets fired from the Strip on Friday evening. Two Palestinian militants belonging to Hamas’ military wing were killed, the group said.

On Thursday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on Palestinians to “ignite a new intifada,” after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

More details soon…

Jack Khoury
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EU tells Netanyahu it rejects Trump’s Jerusalem move

December 11, 2017

By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his case to Europe to ask allies to join the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but was met by a firm rebuff from EU foreign ministers who saw the move as a blow against the peace process.

Making his first ever visit to EU headquarters in Brussels, Netanyahu said President Donald Trump’s move made peace in the Middle East possible “because recognizing reality is the substance of peace, the foundation of peace.”

Trump announced last Wednesday that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with decades of U.S. policy and international consensus that the ancient city’s status must be decided in Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem after capturing it in a 1967 war, considers the entire city to be its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

The Trump administration says it remains committed to the peace process and its decision does not affect Jerusalem’s future borders or status. It says any credible future peace deal will place the Israeli capital in Jerusalem, and ditching old policies is needed to revive a peace process frozen since 2014.

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Photo: Netanyahu with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, December 11, 2017. AP photo

But even Israel’s closest European allies have rejected that logic and say recognizing Israel’s capital unilaterally risks inflaming violence and further wrecking the chance for peace.

After a breakfast meeting between Netanyahu and EU foreign ministers, Sweden’s top diplomat said no European at the closed-door meeting had voiced support for Trump’s decision, and no country was likely to follow the United States in announcing plans to move its embassy.

“I have a hard time seeing that any other country would do that and I don’t think any other EU country will do it,” Margot Wallstrom told reporters.

Several EU foreign ministers arriving at the meeting reiterated the bloc’s position that lands Israel has occupied since the 1967 war – including East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank and Golan Heights, are not within Israel’s borders.

Israel’s position does appear to have more support from some EU states than others. Last week, the Czech foreign ministry said it would begin considering moving the Czech Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while Hungary blocked a planned EU statement condemning the U.S. move.

But Prague later said it accepted Israel’s sovereignty only over West Jerusalem, and Budapest said its long-term position seeking a two-state solution in the Middle East had not changed.

On Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said of Trump’s decision: “I‘m afraid it can’t help us.”

“I‘m convinced that it is impossible to ease tension with a unilateral solution,” Zaoralek said. “We are talking about an Israeli state but at the same time we have to speak about a Palestinian state.”


Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini brief the media at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Trump’s announcement triggered days of protests across the Muslim world and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in which scores of Palestinians were wounded and several killed. By Monday morning, violence appeared to have subsided.

Netanyahu, who has been angered by the EU’s search for closer business ties with Iran, said Europeans should emulate Trump’s move and press the Palestinians to do so too.

“It’s time that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and also recognize the fact that it has a capital. It’s called Jerusalem,” he said.

In comments filmed later on his plane, he said he had told the Europeans to “stop pampering the Palestinians”. “I think the Palestinians need a reality check. You have to stop cutting them slack. That’s the only way to move forward towards peace.”

Trump’s announcement last week has triggered a war of words between Netanyahu and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, straining ties between the two U.S. allies which were restored only last year after a six year breach that followed the Israeli storming of a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza.

On Sunday, Erdogan called Israel a “terror state”. Netanyahu responded by saying he would accept no moral lectures from Erdogan who he accused of bombing Kurdish villages, jailing opponents and supporting terrorists.

On Monday Erdogan took aim directly at Washington over Trump’s move: “The ones who made Jerusalem a dungeon for Muslims and members of other religions will never be able to clean the blood from their hands,” he said in a speech in Ankara. “With their decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has become a partner in this bloodshed.”

The decision to recognize Jerusalem could also strain Washington’s ties with its other main Muslim ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, which has sought closer relations with Washington under Trump than under his predecessor Barack Obama.

Saudi Arabia shares U.S. and Israeli concerns about the increasing regional influence of Iran, and was seen as a potential broker for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal. But Saudis have suggested that unilateral decisions over Jerusalem make any such rapprochement more difficult.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States and veteran ex-security chief, published a strongly-worded open letter to Trump on Monday denouncing the Jerusalem move.

“Bloodshed and mayhem will definitely follow your opportunistic attempt to make electoral gain,” the prince wrote in a letter published in the Saudi newspaper al-Jazeera.

“Your action has emboldened the most extreme elements in the Israeli society … because they take your action as a license to evict the Palestinians from their lands and subject them to an apartheid state,” he added. “Your action has equally emboldened Iran and its terrorist minions to claim that they are the legitimate defenders of Palestinian rights.”

The Trump administration says it is working on a peace proposal being drawn up by Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

European leaders say the decision on Israel’s capital makes the need for a broader peace move more urgent.

“We’ve been waiting already for several months for the American initiative, and if one is not forthcoming then the European Union will have to take the initiative,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald and Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Peter Graff

Hezbollah to Focus on Jerusalem, Best Response to Trump Would Be Third Intifada

December 11, 2017

Image may contain: 2 people, beard, suit and closeup

Nasrallah and Trump. (photo credit REUTERS)

Tens of thousands turn out for Hezbollah rally in Beirut, protesting Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Jack Khoury, Reuters and The Associated Press Dec 11, 2017 4:21 PM

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday that his organization will focus on Jerusalem following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital. Nasrallah said that the best response to the Trump’s announcement would be a third Palestinian intifada.

Nasrallah continued, saying Jerusalem and the struggle for Palestine will be prioritized, and that the different factions working towards this goal must come together and unite.

Tens of thousands of people have turned out for a Hezbollah rally in southern Beirut called to protest Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The rally on Monday, one of several large demonstrations recently held across the Middle East to protest the move, was called by Nasrallah.

Image may contain: 5 people, crowd and outdoor

Hezbollah demonstrators at a protest in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on December 11, 2017 Joseph Eid / AFP

The protesters marched through the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, waving flags and chanting in support of the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The rally came a day after a violent protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, where security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at rowdy protesters who pelted them with stones. The protesters were hundreds of meters (yards) from the embassy.

Jack Khoury
Haaretz Correspondent
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Trump’s dangerous vision of the Middle East

December 11, 2017

By Jonathan Eyal
The Straits Times

It is one thing to shake things up but that does not mean what is likely to follow – selective engagement – will further the cause of peace in the region.

LONDON • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Europe today brimming with confidence. The United States has just recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, a move which Mr Netanyahu touts as confirmation that his policies are being vindicated, and that developments in the Middle East now increasingly coincide with Israel’s interests.

To all intents and purposes, therefore, “Bibi” Netanyahu’s Europe trip resembles more of a victory lap.

But the Israeli Prime Minister may be rejoicing too soon. What President Donald Trump has done in his decision on Jerusalem is to upend the entire history of America’s Middle East diplomacy. And it may be a harbinger of a new US policy in the region, one which is best termed as “selective engagement” of a kind which is unlikely to ultimately favour either Israel or the broader cause of peace, but may well endure long after Mr Trump leaves the White House.

Notwithstanding all his melodramatic, tear-jerking references to history, justice, or the “right of the people of Israel to the holy city”, the bare truth is that the Israeli Prime Minister has always used the city as merely a pawn in his personal political games.

Back in 1995, it was Mr Netanyahu who mobilised lobbyists and lawmaker friends in the US Congress to pass the Jerusalem Embassy Act, legislation which demanded that American presidents move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

He did this not because he cared about the city – he knew that no US president at that time was ever likely to relocate the American embassy – but because he wanted to derail efforts by the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was within striking distance of reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Mr Netanyahu reckoned – correctly as it turned out – that the dispute over who controls Jerusalem would provide the dynamite to blow up any and every chance for Middle East peace. And so it does to this day.

Art by Manny Francisco


By a strange twist of fate, this week marks the 68th anniversary since David Ben-Gurion, the legendary founder of modern Israel, declared Jerusalem as his country’s capital. It will be Mr Netanyahu, a man who negates everything Mr Ben-Gurion stood for, who will now bask in the glory of having achieved the US recognition. And amidst all this congratulatory backslapping, nobody is likely to mention another inconvenient detail: that Jerusalem remains one of Israel’s poorest and least developed cities. Never mind the facts; just feel the vision.

Yet the ramifications of this Jerusalem episode go much further, revealing important details about President Trump’s methods of working, and about his vision of the world in general and the Middle East in particular.

Soon after coming to power in January this year, Mr Trump appears to have been prevailed upon by other politicians, Congress and members of the Washington bureaucracy to give up or at least shelve some of the more controversial policies outlined during his electoral campaign.

Mr Trump did not, for instance, declare China a “currency manipulator”, did not issue a formal ultimatum to the Europeans to increase their defence expenditure immediately or face US abandonment, did not unleash a major trade war, tear up the nuclear deal with Iran or, indeed, recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Most observers – and quite a few leaders around the world – promptly breathed a sigh of relief, and assumed that, once shelved, such dangerous policies would not return to the Oval Office in-tray.

However, it is now clear that this initial restraint is not a permanent one, and that the President’s instincts to pursue policies he believes in regardless of how outlandish these may be remains as strong as ever. That is, essentially, what has happened to the nuclear deal with Iran where the President was initially persuaded to exercise restraint, but ultimately did not resist the temptation to pick the Iran deal apart. And that is what has happened to the Jerusalem question as well; an initial restraint, followed by a sudden decision to push the matter through, regardless of anticipated consequences.

Both the US State Department and the Pentagon were unanimous in their recommendations that recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at this stage would be dangerous and counter-productive. But President Trump went ahead regardless; so much for the theory that the “grown-ups” in the administration can mitigate the President’s impulsive behaviour. So, those who still believe that a political and trade confrontation between the US and China can be averted would be well-advised to look to the Jerusalem episode as a warning not to take the current lull for granted.

The decision on Jerusalem also highlights another aspect of policymaking under Mr Trump: the President’s apparent pleasure in shaking things up, in simply refusing to accept that destroying the status quo can be dangerous. Instead, he sees the overturning of existing policies as an opportunity, as his chance to mould the world according to his views.

He simply does not believe that “Middle East peace”, that elusive notion which enthralled all of us for decades, is synonymous with Arab-Israeli peace. He also does not believe that any Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could reconcile the wider Arab world to the Jewish state; instead, both he and Mr Jared Kushner, his son-in-law who will soon unveil his own proposals for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, believe that the Palestinian question is yesterday’s story, can be largely ignored and pales into insignificance in comparison with the cooperation which the Jewish state can accomplish with the traditional monarchies of the Gulf.

There is an element of truth in all such views. And it is not obvious that previous US presidents who accepted the traditional parameters of American diplomacy and often tried to mediate their way between these parameters were more successful. But Mr Trump deceives himself if he believes that, by simply throwing all these assumptions to the winds, he has hit upon a new strategy which could somehow work.

For although the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not the only crisis in the Middle East and perhaps no longer the most important one either, it still holds the imagination of the Arab world; for better or worse, it is the prism through which the region sees itself, and sees others.

It is also the generator of a sense of injustice about the alleged wrongs of the Western world against Arab nations, and the best catalyst for anti-American sentiments in the region, as events over the past few days have indicated, and as the series of pan-Islamic summits which will be held this week will reaffirm.

It is this sense of injustice which feeds into violence and terrorism, and Mr Trump’s actions will do nothing to reverse it.

To make matters worse, President Trump’s new approach is not accompanied by a commitment for further US engagement in the region. Indeed, precisely the opposite: the key assumption of the Trump White House is that by encouraging the Israelis and a pro-Western coalition of Saudis and a few other Gulf monarchies to cooperate either tacitly or publicly, the US would be able to largely withdraw from a region from which it buys little but still sells plenty of weapons.

It is a policy which won’t work if only because neither Israel nor the Arab monarchies share precisely the same objectives or have exactly the same interest in pacifying the Middle East, even if they could do so. But it is one which largely absolves Washington of responsibilities, and may well continue long after Mr Trump has left the White House, virtually condemning the Middle East to decades of further turmoil.

Which is why, as curious as it may seem, most of Israel’s political, military and security establishment does not share Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s joy at America’s Jerusalem decision.

For it knows that this will render Israel not less, but more, vulnerable. And it also understands Mr Trump’s decision for what it is: a further distancing of the US from shouldering responsibility for the maintenance of order in the Middle East.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline ‘Trump’s dangerous vision of the Middle East’.

Netanyahu Tells EU: Stop Pampering Palestinians – Trump Tells Them the Truth

December 11, 2017

Netanyahu says there is no country in the Mideast that does as much as Israel to protect Europe from the spread of ISIS

Noa Landau (Brussels, Belgium) Dec 11, 2017 1:53 PM

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium December 11, 2017.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Pool REUTERS/Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Pool


BRUSSELS – Meeting with the foriegn ministers of the European Union in Brussels, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the EU needs to stop pampering Palestinians and follow U.S. President Donald Trump, who Netanyahu claimed tells them the truth.

While dining with 28 of the EU’s top diplomats, Netanyahu said that Israel’s actions prevent ISIS from spreading and that “we do this to protect ourselves but also Europe. There is no country in the Mideast that protects Europe like Israel.

Earlier Netanyahu spoke positively of the American peace initiative as the organization’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told the Israeli premier that Europe wanted to be more involved in talks.

Mogherini also praised the two-state solution as the only possible framework for resolving the conflict and said the EU supports the idea of Jerusalem being a shared capital for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Netanyahu, for his part, said peace was contingent on Palestinian recognition Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini brief the media at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium December 11, 2017.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini brief the media at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Last week, Mogherini expressed her opposition of U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent policy change on Jerusalem, inspiring outrage from Israeli officials and the prime minister himself.

But despite the hostility between the two, Mogherini greeted Netanyahu by calling his visit an historic opportunity, especially considering no sitting Israeli premier has paid a visit to the EU over the past 22 years.

“Obviously, the visit comes in a particular time… we believe it is in Israel’s interest, especially in the security interest of Israel, to find a sustainable and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” she said.

“This is why the European Union will increase its work together with our international friends and partners but also with friends and partners in the region, starting from Egypt and Jordan, and obviously with the parties – Israel and Palestine – to start to relaunch the peace process,” she said, noting that the EU plans to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states, with Jerusalem as the capital of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, along the ’67 lines,” the foreign policy chief stated.

As Mogherini pledged more intense European invovlement in the peace process, Netanyahu said that peace depends on “recognizing reality.” He stressed that by recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital last week, U.S. President Donald Trump “put facts on the table.”

Netanyahu said he expected most EU countries to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, adding that making such a move “doesn’t obviate peace, it makes peace possible.”

Mogherini warned against tensions that have arisen in the fallout of Trump’s declaration. “Let me also [add] that the worst thing that can happen now is an escalation of tensions, of violence, first of all around the Holy Places but also in the region and beyond,” she said.

She also condemned attacks on Jews, both in Europe and in Israel.

The Israeli prime minister thanked Mogherini for the invitation and hailed Europe as an important Israeli partner in security and in the forging of peace. He noted that Europe was currently suffering from an influx of immigrants fleeing from conflict areas in the Middle East.

Israel, he asserted, was the main force in the Middle East that prevented Islamic militants from crushing the region.

Netanyahu then left to dine with EU foreign ministers and hold a joint press conference before taking off for Israel by midday.

His stop at Brussels was preceded by a visit to France during which he convened with French President Emmanuel Macron in a parley that was tense but overall successful.

The premier’s visit to the EU is a first one by a sitting Israeli prime minister in many years and comes amid a diplomatic tiff between him and the organization’s foreign policy chief, Mogherini, who bashed U.S. President Donald Trump twice for unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week.

She said she wanted to express “serious concern” over Trump’s announcement, and that the EU maintains its stance that Jerusalem’s status should be determined through negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Before setting up on the trip, Netanyahu reacted to Mogherini’s statements, saying:  “I hear voices condemning Trump [over Jerusalem] but not for rocket fire. I will not accept this hypocrisy. I will represent Israel with my head held high,” Netanyahu said.

In an unusually sharp-worded response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry also reacted,  calling Mogherini’s reaction “surprising” and stated that “every denial of this simple truth [Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem] distances peace by creating expectations among the Palestinians that are disconnected from reality. President Trump took a brave and correct step which advanced the chances for peace by telling the truth.”

EU members were upset with Netanyahu regardless of his disagreement with the foreign policy chief because of the manner in which his visit was arranged. The Israeli prime minister did not schedule a visit through the usual protocol but was instead invited by Lithuania, an Israeli ally.

This surprise move led Mogherini to suggest that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visit the EU in 2018.

Members of the European Parliament are also planning to protest Netanyahu’s visit via a campaign demanding that Israel repay EU funds spent on Palestinian facilities that were thereafter demolished by Israel. The facilities in question were located in Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control.

Noa Landau
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Netanyahu Calls on Palestinians to Advance Peace

December 11, 2017

Israeli prime minister says it is time to recognize Jerusalem as the capital

BRUSSELS—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Palestinians to accept Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Monday, saying that was the best way to advance serious peace talks.

Speaking on his first ever official trip to the European Union capital, Mr. Netanyahu said last week’s decision by President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital had “put facts squarely on the table.”

“Peace is based on recognizing reality,” he said. “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. No one can deny it. It doesn’t obviate peace. It makes peace possible.”

Mr. Netanyahu said his government was awaiting peace proposals from the Trump administration and would “give peace a chance.”

Pockets of anger surfaced Sunday in the Middle East and Asia over the White House’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but predictions of widespread upheaval failed to materialize as riots petered out.

The status of Jerusalem is a highly charged issue because Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. The Trump administration has said its decision doesn’t preclude the establishment of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state should Israelis and Palestinians agree to such a scenario in peace talks.

Most European governments have criticized Mr. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, warning it could make a U.S.-led peace initiative much harder.

Standing beside the Israeli prime minister, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc would continue to consider the status of Jerusalem as a matter to be left to a final peace deal based on a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.

She condemned attacks over the last few days on Israeli citizens and Jews living elsewhere but said it is in Israeli’s interests to commit to credible peace talks with the Palestinians.

“The worst thing that can happen now is an escalation of tensions and violence,” she said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to Brussels is the first he has made since he initially became prime minister in 1996. Israeli officials hope to use the visit to focus on deepening bilateral ties and securing European support for Israeli efforts to constrain Iran’s influence in the region. However European officials have said their focus will be on the peace process.

—Rory Jones contributed to this article

EU’s Mogherini condemns ‘all attacks on Jews everywhere’ — Time to restart “meaningful” dialogue aimed at reaching peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians

December 11, 2017


© AFP | EU foreign ministers are to urge Netanyahu to restart “meaningful” dialogue aimed at reaching peace with the Palestinians.

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini on Monday condemned “all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world” as she met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brussels.Foreign ministers from the 28-member bloc are set to urge Netanyahu — making the first visit to the EU by an Israeli premier in more than two decades — to restart “meaningful” dialogue aimed at reaching peace with the Palestinians.

The visit comes after US President Donald Trump officially recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital — a move widely condemned by international leaders but which Netanyahu said made peace “possible”.

“Let me condemn in the strongest possible way all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world, including in Europe, and on Israel and on Israeli citizens,” Mogherini said ahead of an informal breakfast meeting between Netanyahu and the EU foreign ministers.

Her remarks come after Netanyahu criticised Europe for “hypocrisy” for condemning Trump’s announcement but not rockets fired into Israel from Gaza.

She said the “worst thing that can happen now is an escalation of tensions, of violence” and restated the EU’s position that a two-state solution with Jerusalem as capital for both Israelis and Palestinians was the only sustainable way to resolve the conflict.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and previous peace plans have stumbled over debates on whether and how to divide sovereignty or oversee holy sites.

Jerusalem: Netanyahu expects EU to follow US recognition — “This is the pathway to peace” — Anti-semitism is “an attack on everyone”

December 11, 2017

BBC News

Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini
Mr Netanyahu was met by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. AFP photo

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he expects European countries to follow the US in recognising Jerusalem as his country’s capital.

He is in Brussels for talks – the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited the city in more than 20 years.

But the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini says the bloc’s stance on the matter is unchanged.

Donald Trump’s move has left the US isolated on a highly sensitive issue between Israel and the Palestinians.

Arriving in Brussels, Mr Netanyahu again welcomed the announcement, saying Jerusalem had been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and Mr Trump had put “facts squarely on the table”.

“I believe that all, or most, European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity and peace,” he added.

As well as recognising Jerusalem, President Trump also said he was directing the US state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But Ms Mogherini said the EU would continue to recognise the “international consensus” on Jerusalem.

“We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”

She also condemned “all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world”.

Before heading to Brussels, Mr Netanyahu met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, who urged him to freeze settlement building and to re-engage with Palestinians.

Why Trump’s move was controversial

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Jerusalem is also home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

How the world reacted

Mr Trump’s announcement drew worldwide condemnation and sparked fierce protests which again flared on Sunday.

In the Lebanese capital, Beirut, police used tear gas to stop demonstrators reaching the US embassy, while in Jerusalem itself, a Palestinian was arrested after stabbing and seriously wounding an Israeli security guard.

A burning object was thrown at a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg late on Saturday in what police said was a failed arson attempt.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told the Bild newspaper anti-semitism was “an attack on everyone” after an Israeli flag was burned in Berlin by demonstrators.