Posts Tagged ‘US Embassy in Jerusalem’

Israel’s Liberman Says Israel, U.S. Must Leave U.N. Human Rights Council

May 17, 2018

The UN body is set to discuss the deadly protests in Gaza and the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem Friday.

 MAY 17, 2018 12:13

Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister speaking at the 7th Annual JPost Conference in NY

Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister speaking at the 7th Annual JPost Conference in NY. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Israel and the US must immediately withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council to protest its decision to hold an emergency session Friday against Israeli actions on the Gaza border,  Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman wrote on Twitter Thursday morning.

“Israel is under a double attack,” Liberman wrote in the post. “A terror attack from Gaza and an attack of hypocrisy headed by the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

The Human Rights Council’s condemnations of Israel, Liberman wrote, “are meant to deter Israel from protecting itself. They will not succeed.”

“We must stop permitting this celebration of hypocrisy,” the defense minister wrote, “and immediately withdraw from the Human Rights Council, and work diligently so that the United States joins us in this step.”

Friday’s session has been “convened per an official request submitted this evening by Palestine and the United Arab Emirates, on behalf of the Arab Group of States, which has been supported by 26 States thus far,” the UNHRC said.

It will address additional issues with respect to Israeli actions in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and is likely to also take up the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem this week.

Friday’s meeting in Geneva will be the 28th special session the UNHRC has held since its inception in 2006 and the 8th that has focused on Israeli actions against the Palestinians. The last one on Israel was in July 2014 in the middle of the Gaza war.

The UNHRC has held more special sessions on Israel than any other country. The only other one country on which it has focused such scrutiny is Syria on which there has been five sessions. None have been held on Iran.

It has also approved more resolution against Israel than against any other country.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the council unless it undergoes a process of reform and stops its biased treatment of Israel.

But it is presumed to have put that threat on hold as long as the UNHRC refrains from publishing its black list of companies both in Israel and abroad with business engagement in areas of the country located over the pre-1967 lines including the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

When Liberman was foreign minister, he cut Israel diplomatic ties to the UNHRC in 2012, but those ties were re-established in 2013. Israel however, boycotts UNHRC sessions that it holds to be biased, such as the debates against Israel which the UNHRC is mandated to hold during every session under Agenda Item 7.


Dozens killed in Gaza as US opens Jerusalem embassy

May 15, 2018

Israeli forces have killed at least 58 Palestinians protesting along the Gaza security fence. Meanwhile, US and Israel celebrated the inauguration of a new US embassy in contested Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and live rounds at Palestinian protesters along the Gaza security fence on Monday, killing at least 58 people according to the Gaza health ministry. A total of 2,771 were wounded, including 1,373 by live ammunition, the ministry said.

CreditThomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The clashes erupted as US and Israel held an inaugration ceremony for a new American embassy in contested Jerusalem, which US President Donald Trump described as a “a great day for Israel.”

It was the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war. Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have been holding weekly protests since March 30 demanding the right to return to their former lands in Israel and an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The US embassy move from Tel Aviv has added further fuel to Palestinian anger. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Read moreUS embassy in Jerusalem opens, further fracturing a ‘fragile city’

The day as it unfolded:

  • Early in the morning, Trump supporters began to gather outside the new US embassy compound in Jerusalem as thousands of police officers patrolled the streets
  • About 40,000 Palestinian demonstrators gathered along several points on the Gaza security fence, where protests have been ongoing for six weeks.
  • Some Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails while burning tires to create black smoke.
  • Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition at protesters in what the army said were “standard operating procedures” to prevent a breach of the fence.
  • Israel said it had a right to defend itself.
  • As the violence played out in Gaza, in Jerusalem, US and Israeli dignitaries and guests celebrated the opening of the new Jerusalem embassy.
  • Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, told the audience “we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

The world reacts

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Israel committed “massacres” and “the US is no longer a mediator in the Middle East.”

Vowing to continue protests, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said:  “We say clearly today to all the world that the peaceful march of our people lured the enemy into shedding more blood.”

Germany’s foreign office said in a statement: “Israel has the right to defend itself … However, the principle of proportionality appies.”



We are shocked and deeply concerned by the reports on today’s protests in , in which dozens of people have been killed or injured. Everyone must now work to ensure that the situation does not escalate in an even worse way:

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated Germany’s concern for the “oppressive humanitarian situation” in Gaza,  adding that he had “warned repeatedly of the repercussions” of moving to embassy to Trump, and condemned the violence in Gaza.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said: “Dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been killed and hundreds injured from Israeli fire today, during ongoing mass protests near the Gaza fence. We expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life.”

The United States blamed Hamas for the violence. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” White House spokesperson Raj Shah said.

UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that “those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account.”

Muslim and Arab countries broadly condemned Israeli violence and criticized the US for moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Some of the strongest words came from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who accused Israel of “genocide” and “terror.” Turkey also recalled its ambassador from Washington and Israel.

South Africa recalled its ambassador.

Palestinians carried a wounded protester on Monday near the fence between Israel and Gaza.Credit Haitham Imad/EPA, via Shutterstock

US blocks UN probe

Ahead of a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, diplomats said the United States blocked the adoption of a draft statement calling for an independent probe of the deadly Gaza-Israel border violence.

The Palestinian UN envoy wants the Security Council to condemn the killings.

However, Israel wants the Security Council to condem Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Protests to continue

The US embassy move and Gaza violence puts Trump’s still unrevealed Middle East peace plan in question. Palestinians have boycotted meeting with the United States and said Washington can no longer act as an impartial mediator.

Read more: Opinion: An anniversary, an embassy, and the destructive power of Donald Trump

Protests are set to continue on Tuesday as Palestinians mark the 70th anniversary of what they call the “Nakba” (“catastrophe”) — when 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forced off their land when Israel was created in 1948. Tuesday also marks the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which Friday prayers are likely to turn into further protests.

cw, es/se (AP, AFP, Reuters,dpa)

See also:


Death in Gaza, New Embassy in Jerusalem, and Peace as Distant as Ever


One Palestinian killed, dozens injured in Gaza protests against inauguration of US embassy in Jerusalem

May 14, 2018

Israeli gunfire killed at least one Palestinian and injured wounded at least 28 other along the Gaza border on Monday, medics said, and protesters streamed to the frontier for the climax of a six-week demonstration as the United States prepared to open its embassy in Jerusalem.

Larger crowds were expected to gather later in the day to protest the move of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

The embassy inauguration was due to occur at 4:00 pm (1300 GMT).

Smoke rises as Palestinians protest near the border fence on the Gaza side of the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from the Israeli side of the border, May 14, 2018 (Reuters Photo)

Fifty-four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests and clashes began along the Gaza border on March 30.

The protests are calling for Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation to be allowed to return to their homes now inside Israel.

No Israelis have been wounded and the military has faced criticism over the use of live fire.

Israel says it only opens fire when necessary to stop infiltrations, attacks and damage to the border fence while accusing Hamas of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence

Bilal Fasayfes, 31, was getting on a free bus to the border with his wife and two children in the southern Gazan city of Khan Yunis.

“If half the people die we won’t care,” he said.

“We will keep going so the other half can live with dignity.”

Also in Khan Yunis, groups of masked young men, some carrying wooden bats, walked between shops forcing them to close to respect a general strike.

Muataz al-Najjar, 18, who was wounded four times in the last seven weeks, once from a bullet and the others from gas canisters, said he hoped to break through the fence.

“We will return and the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv will be prevented.”

At Shifa Hospital, where doctors say they are running low on crucial supplies and being forced to discharge patients early to make space for the next wave, a large tent was established outside in front of the emergency room.

At mosques in the cities, large speakers were set up that are expected to broadcast messages encouraging people to go to the border.

Faris Abu Hajaras, 50, said his family was from Jaffa, now within Israel, but he had never been there. He is a builder but said Israel’s blockade of the strip meant there was no work.

“We will stay peaceful with our hands like this,” he said, lifting them to the sky. “But death comes from God. Maybe you and I are walking together and you get shot in the head and I will be fine.”

Israel to boost Gaza border, West Bank forces for US embassy move

May 13, 2018

The Israeli army said it would almost double the number of troops surrounding the Gaza Strip and in the occupied West Bank to tackle Palestinian protests against Monday’s controversial opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem.

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Three additional infantry brigades will be deployed next week, two around the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank, army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters on Saturday.

The move nearly doubles the number of fighting units currently serving, he said, without giving specific figures on troops to be deployed.

The announcement does not concern Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, where responding to protests is the responsibility of the police.

US President Donald Trump will not attend the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, but his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner will.

A signature campaign promise, Trump’s December announcement of the embassy move led to major protests in Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city as their capital.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to protest along the Gaza border Monday, with the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas voicing support in recent days for attempts to breach the fence into Israel.

“What’s the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?” the organisation’s Gaza head Yahya Sinwar said, arguing Israel has never defined its borders.

Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting for seven weeks to be able to return to their historic homes they fled in 1948 and which later became part of Israel.

A 15-year-old teenager who was shot in the head Friday succumbed to his wounds on Saturday evening, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said.

The death brought to 54 the number of Palestinians killed since clashes began on March 30, with hundreds of others injured.

No Israelis have been injured.

Israel has vowed to use the necessary force to prevent any breach on Monday and has accused Hamas of using the protests as a pretext to carry out attacks.

On Saturday Conricus said the rules of engagement had not been changed.

The United Nations and the European Union have called for an independent investigation into the deaths, but the Jewish state has rebuffed them.

The United States has defended its ally and accused Hamas of using Palestinians, including children, as human shields by encouraging them to protest along the border.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Separately Saturday Israeli aircraft carried out a number of strikes against what the army said was a Hamas attack tunnel near the Gaza border.



New US embassy in Jerusalem high-profile but humble

May 10, 2018

Washington’s contentious new embassy in Jerusalem is high-profile, but it’s no gleaming new building changing the ancient city’s skyline.

© AFP | A worker puts up a road sign indicating the way to the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 7, 2018

Instead, Ambassador David Friedman will set up shop in existing consular offices in the leafy middle-class Arnona neighbourhood on the city’s southern edge for the near to mid-term.

Eventually, a purpose-designed embassy will be planned and built, according to the US State Department.

“Initially, the interim embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the ambassador and a small staff,” a US official told AFP, declining to give further details.

“The ambassador will continue to divide his time between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during the initial phases of the embassy move, as this is a multi-year process.”

So far around $400,000 has been spent on upgrades to the building, a US embassy spokeswoman said.

US President Donald Trump will not attend the inaugural event, but Washington will be represented by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, senior White House aide Jared Kushner.

The foreign diplomatic corps has not been invited as the event is considered a bilateral one, the embassy spokeswoman said.

Trump’s unilateral decision delighted Israelis and enraged Palestinians, who want to make the eastern, mainly Palestinian, part of the city the capital of their future state and say that Trump’s decision ignores their demands.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday said the city would name a small roundabout adjacent to the embassy as “Trump Square”.

“Naming this square in honour of the president is our way of showing our love and respect for the president and the American people,” he said in a statement.

The question of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat has called for diplomats, “civil society organisations, and religious authorities to boycott the inauguration.”

“Those who attend the ceremony will be sending an ominous message, a message that they encourage flagrant violations of international law and (of) the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” he said.

The building, which opened to the public in 2010, houses consular operations including American citizen and visa services.

Those functions “will continue at the Arnona facility without interruption, as part of the embassy,” the US official said.

The building is about a mile from the east Jerusalem Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber, home to several perpetrators of militant attacks — including one in 2015 that killed two Israelis and a US-Israeli dual national.

Security at the US facility has been visibly beefed up of late, with security guards permanently on guard on the street outside and several Israeli border police jeeps parked nearby.

On Monday street signs in the neighbourhood were switched to read “US Embassy” in Hebrew, Arabic and English, replacing signs saying “US Consulate.”

On social media, the US embassy updated its Twitter handle to @usembassyjlm.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini Warns U.S. of “False Steps” on Middle East Peace — Europe, Arab League see ‘eye to eye’

February 27, 2018

 FEBRUARY 27, 2018 08:23

 Image result for Federica Mogherini, photos

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini appeared to warn the US against putting forward its peace plan at this time, saying in Brussels on Monday that “given the region, any false step can be very dangerous.”

Speaking to reporters after a meeting in Brussels between the 28 EU foreign ministers and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers, Mogherini said both the EU and Arab League ministers “have dealt with the conflict long enough around our common table to know what can fly and what cannot fly, and we believe it is wise to consider what can fly and cannot fly in terms of peace plans before putting any plans on the table and avoiding any false steps.”

The Arab delegation – called the Delegation of the League of Arab States on Jerusalem, which was set up after US President Donald Trump’s decision in December to recognize the holy city as Israel’s capital – included the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority. The delegation also included Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Mogherini said the EU and the Arab countries “have a level of knowledge of the file, of the region” that “cannot be underestimated and has to be taken into consideration appropriately if we want to avoid false steps.”

The EU is adamantly opposed to Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, as is the Arab League.

“What brought us here, the ministers of the League of Arab states and the ministers of the European Union, is this concern we have about any false step on the Middle East peace process and on Jerusalem in particular,” Mogherini said.

Any false step, she said, could “strengthen radical positions, close the space for those who still want to live side by side in security and peace and could turn the conflict from a political conflict into a religious conflict, and then we will have a problem much bigger than the one we have today.”

The United States has been working on a peace plan for months. But since Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem in December, the Palestinians have been pushing for the EU to take a more active position in the peace process, claiming that the US is no longer an honest broker and is biased toward Israel’s positions.

Mogherini opened up her press conference by saying the EU and the Arab ministers are very much on the same page regarding the relaunch of the Middle East peace process.

“We have full convergence of purpose,” she said. “We have clearly seen that we see eye to eye between the European Union and its member states, and the League of Arab states and its member states, first and foremost on the need to preserve the horizon of two states as the only viable one, with Jerusalem as both the capital of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine and the need to preserve the status of the holy places.”

The ministers decided to coordinate their positions and actions, and there was a “commonality of perspectives,” Mogherini said.

The ministers also discussed the need to “use this moment to discuss the possibility to not only advance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also on the Israeli-Arab conflict, that could create an interesting incentive, or environment, to move forward,” she said.

The EU and the Arab League shared “a lot of concerns about the situation on the ground,” specifically the US decision to move the embassy and the current state of financing to UNRWA, Mogherini said.

The EU foreign ministers’ meeting with the Arab delegation follows a meeting they had last month with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and one in December with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, told the Likud faction he will travel to the US on Saturday night for a meeting with Trump and personally thank him for his decision to open the US Embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

Israel is currently in contact with other countries to follow the US lead, Netanyahu said, adding that he is “convinced it is only a question of time” before other states “join the important move by the United States.”

Netanyahu said he also will discuss with Trump the need to make decisions now regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran, as well as how to prevent Iranian aggression in the region. This is important not only for Israel, but also for the US and the world, he said.