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Iran’s Javad Zarif warns “risk of war with Israel is great” (MunichSecurityConference 2019)

ProductiehuisEU | February 17, 2019

Speaking in the Munich Security Conference, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif blames Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, criticizes European powers for not calling out Israel and the US for their behavior in the region.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its behavior and that of the United States was increasing the chances of a clash in the region.

“Certainly, some people are looking for war … Israel,” Zarif said at the Munich Security Conference.

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif also criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region.

“The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law,” he said.

“Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, US behavior is putting international law on the shelf.”

Zarif, who said Iran was committed to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Tehran received the economic benefits of that accord.

Credit: Bayerischer Rundfunk 2019

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ní Riada Calls on EU to End Funding to Israel

IMEMC News & Agencies – February 16, 2019

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called for the ending of all EU funding to Israel.

The Ireland South MEP made the call as she tabled an amendment designed to close the loophole allowing Israel to use EU funds for military purposes.

“Israel must be completely excluded from receiving any funding for research and development,” she said.

“Every penny that they have received under the research and development scheme, which they have egregiously abused, makes the EU complicit in each and every murder Israel has carried out since 2000.

“That’s over 10,000 Palestinians. More than 2,000 of them children.

“The EU’s Horizon 2020 is the biggest research and development program in the world, with €80 billion dedicated to it since 2014”.

“Israel is allowed to take part in the program on the basis of the EU-Israel association agreement, signed in 2000. An outrageous agreement that we warned two decades would only give legitimacy to Israel’s campaign of genocide.

“We have been proved depressingly right. In that time, in addition to their usual litany of human rights abuses, they have launched no less than five major assaults and invasions on Palestinian territory, started a war in Lebanon and hijacked an international peace flotilla carrying humanitarian aid, massacring those on board.

“EU treaties do not allow any spending on military or defense to be charged to the EU budget. However, the European Commission has been continuously undermining this clear rule for many years now through a blatant loophole made for ‘dual-purpose’ technologies.

“Dual-purpose technology, is any technology that can also be used for military purposes. This allows Israeli arms manufacturers and military companies to apply for EU funding.

“It has been well documented that Israel systematically uses dual-purpose technology for military purposes once it is through the research and development stage.

“Today, I tabled an amendment that calls for the EU to stop funding dual-purpose technology under this program. This would immediately stop taxpayer’s money from subsidizing the Israeli arms industry, and by extension, wholesale murder, under the guise of civilian innovation.

“This, however, is only a start. The EU needs to stop all funding to Israel until we see an end to human rights violations by Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Hamas: Warsaw summit serves Israel only

Hazem Qasem
Palestine Information Center | February 15, 2019

GAZA – Hamas’s spokesman Hazem Qasem on Thursday said that the US-led Warsaw conference serves the interests of Israel only.

Qasem said in a brief statement that the US administration seeks to integrate Israel into the regional community and liquidate the Palestinian cause.

“Warsaw conference portrays Iran as the most dangerous enemy instead of the Israeli occupation, which will lead to more divisions in the Middle East. All this is a free service offered by the US administration to Netanyahu,” he added.

Qasem pointed out that Warsaw conference is a thinly-veiled attempt by Israel and the US to pass the so-called Deal of the Century.

The conference will be attended by representatives from dozens of countries including Arab countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the UAE.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel training mercenaries for Yemen war in UAE camps in Negev: Haaretz

Press TV – February 16, 2019

Israel’s leading daily Haaretz says Tel Aviv is a partner to the Saudi war on Yemen and is “reaping the profits” from its partnership in the brutal aggression.

Haaretz revealed that Israeli officers are training foreign mercenaries, led by the Colombians and Nepalese, in UAE-funded camps situated in the Negev Desert.

Quoting sources in a US House Intelligence Committee, the report said the mercenaries have been recruited by Mohammed Dahlan, security adviser to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Dahlan had “visited these camps on more than one occasion to check the progress of preparations and training received by mercenaries, under the personal supervision of the Israeli occupation army officers,” the report said.

The mercenaries, it added, later took part in the Saudi offensive against the port city of Hudaydah and other conflict zones in Yemen.

American sources were cited as saying that Israel has also sold bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia, some of which are banned.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched the devastating military campaign against Yemen to bring the Riyadh-backed former government back to power. The invaders have, however, failed to achieve their objective in the face of Yemeni resistance.

“Israeli cyber companies, gun traders, terror-warfare instructors and even paid hit men operated by an Israeli-owned company are partners to the war in Yemen,” Haaretz said.

It further cited reports suggesting Israeli companies’ relations with Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Israeli software firm NSO Group is suspected of selling Riyadh Pegasus spyware accused of helping trace Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by a hit squad inside kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October.

Security firm AGT International, which is owned by an Israeli businessman, won in 2007 a $6 billion bid to set up surveillance systems in Abu Dhabi.

Spearhead Operations Group, another company set up by Israeli Avraham Golan, is also responsible for assassinations in Yemen.

Last October, Golan told BuzzFeed media company that there was a plan for targeted assassinations in Yemen. “I ran it. We did it. The plan was under the UAE auspices as part of the Arab coalition,” he said.

Haaretz also referred to some reports that say Israel has sold Saudi Arabia combat drones and intends to sell the kingdom Iron Dome missile systems following US-mediated secret meetings in Washington.

Israel has recently been working behind the scenes to establish formal contact with Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Critics say Saudi Arabia’s flirtation with Israel will undermine global efforts to isolate Tel Aviv and harm the Palestinian cause.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel has starring role in H.R.648, “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019”

As Congress tackles urgent issues of reopening government and setting the budget for the country, it takes the time to prioritize a foreign country: H.R.648 contains assurances that Israel will receive $3.8 billion for arms, and funding for refugee resettlement; the bill also includes threats to de-fund the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and any future state of Palestine–if US demands (dictated by the Israel lobby) are not met.

By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | February 15, 2019

News analysis

On January 23, the House of Representatives passed an appropriations act billed to ““reopen the government and pay our federal employees.” But buried inside the bill are diverse financial allotments and perks for a foreign country: Israel.

The legislation contains paragraphs and sections far removed from the shutdown, committing billions of dollars in payments to Israel – without the robust debate that usually accompanies big-ticket spending.

The bill has now been placed on Senate Legislative Calendar.

Its sponsor, Nita Lowey (D-NY), was handpicked to be House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman because of her staunch pro-Israel leanings.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who appointed Lowey, asserted, “We have people very well paced to share our values” during a speech at the annual conference of the Israeli-American Council (slogan: “Building a coast-to-coast community with Israel in its heart and Israeliness in its spirit”).

It is not unusual for US legislators to advocate for Israel as soon as a new session begins.

A glance through previous years’ appropriations records indicates that the US Congress has for years included issues related to Israel among the earliest legislation of each session. The Senate’s very first bill of 2019, S.1, “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East,”  would authorize assistance and weapons transfers to Israel – which the Consolidated Appropriations bill would then authorize Congress to spend.

Lowey’s House bill, which scarcely mentions any other country by name, contains assurances that Israel will receive money for refugee resettlement and arms, as well as threats to de-fund the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and any future state of Palestine–if US demands (dictated by the Israel lobby) are not met.

Below are the sections of the bill that discuss Israel, followed by an analysis of each:

Israel: Migration and Refugee Assistance (Title III)

The bill text states: “$35 million shall be made available to respond to small-scale emergency humanitarian requirements [throughout the world], and $5 million shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel.” 

The Migration and Refugee Assistance Act was passed in 1962 to deal with unexpected and urgent needs of refugees, displaced persons, conflict victims, and other persons at risk around the globe.

Israel is the only refugee assistance beneficiary named in the bill.

It’s unclear why Israel is to be the recipient of 14% of the US refugee aid, given that Israel is the sixth wealthiest country in the Middle East-Asia-Pacific region, and therefore would appear to be able to shoulder this itself.

Also, it’s unclear why Israel the U.S. would give Israel so much aid for refugee settlement, given Israel’s unfriendly policies toward refugees.

AFRICA: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently reported on Israel’s practice of detain and deport for African refugees: of an estimated 35,000 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees in Israel, the state recognized only eleven as refugees between 2009 and 2018. The rest bear the label “infiltrator,” and face possible expulsion to countries where their safety is questionable at best.

SYRIA: Syria shares a border with Israel; Syrian refugees, the largest single refugee group in the world today. Yet Israel’s former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman has said Israel “will not accept any Syrian refugee to our territory.”

It is also unclear why Israel is to receive U.S. refugee aid when it is the cause of the longest refugee crisis in the world today: Israel prohibits the return of millions of Palestinian refugees families awaiting their UN-mandated right to return, to their land.

Nuclear nonproliferation (Title IV)

The bill text states: “For necessary expenses for nonproliferation, anti-terrorism, de-mining and related programs and activities, $864.55 million, to remain available until September 30, 2020… funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] unless the Secretary of State determines that Israel is being denied its right to participate in the activities of that Agency.”

A former Iranian ambassador to Jordan asserts, “The Zionist regime expects other countries to comply with non-proliferation treaties while it keeps its nuclear arsenal and does not allow nuclear inspectors to monitor its activities.”

The IAEA promotes the use of atomic energy for “peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world” and works to prevent its use “to further any military purpose.”

Israel’s association with the IAEA has always been problematic, as Israel insists on a policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities. Israel cites its “unique security needs” as justification for its ongoing refusal to either declare itself a Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) or sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In spite of its silence, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is universally recognized. According to the Arms Control Association, Israel is believed to have at least 80 nuclear warheads; some estimates place the number at 400.

In addition to its unacknowledged nuclear capabilities, Israel practices the “Begin Doctrine,” a policy of counter-proliferation and preemptive strikes.

Arms Export Controls Act (Title IV)

The bill text states: “For necessary expenses for grants to enable the President to carry out the provisions of section 23 of the Arms Export Control Act, $5.9 billion… [for] the provision of assistance to foreign countries and international organizations… [O]f the funds appropriated under this heading, not less than $3.3 billion  [55% of the total] shall be available for grants only for Israel which shall be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of this Act… Provided further, That funds appropriated or otherwise made available under this heading shall be nonrepayable…

The Arms Export Control Act was put in place to ensure that weapons the US sent abroad would be used for legitimate self-defense. Some countries, including Israel, enjoy assistance in the form of grants; others receive loans.

Much of the world disagrees strongly with Israel’s claims of self-defense in its strikes against its neighbors (the self-defense assertion also contradict its Begin Doctrine – see above).

This year’s $3.8 billion in aid–well over half of the total budget for the entire world–is a record in US military support of Israel, and occurs in the context of Israel’s numerous breaches of international and humanitarian law, including occupation, collective punishment, settlements and annexations, the Separation Wall, the unresolved refugee crisis, the blockade of Gaza, and infringement of dozens of UN resolutions.

Regarding the above clause, “shall be disbursed within 30 days,” Congressional Research Service (CRS) explains:

Israel gets all of its aid money at the start of each year, rather than in quarterly installments like other countries. This is significant: It means that Israel can start earning interest on the money right away – interest paid by the US since Israel deposits these funds into an interest-bearing account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. In addition, because the US government operates at a deficit, it must borrow money in order to give it to Israel and then pay interest on it all year. Together these cost US taxpayers more than $100 million every year.

Loan guarantees (Title VII, Section 7033)

The bill text states: “Extension of Loan Guarantees to Israel—Chapter 5 of title I of the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003 (Public Law 108–11; 117 Stat. 576) is amended under the heading “Loan Guarantees to Israel”— [giving Israel a 4-year extension].

Jewish Virtual Library explains loan guarantees to Israel in simple terms:

Loan guarantees are essentially the explicit agreements between two people – or two nations – that if one defaults on a loan the other is obligated to pay it back… ideally, the United States will never have to pay out even a single dollar.

The United States is accepting responsibility from international creditors for any loans the Israeli government takes out…the U.S. could be hit with up to a $3.8 billion bill, plus interest, if Israel defaults on their loans…

Congressional Research Services (CRS) adds that money borrowed must not be used for military purposes or settlements.

However, as CRS points out, “U.S. officials have noted that proceeds from the issuance of U.S.-guaranteed debt that are used to refinance Israeli government debt free up domestic Israeli funds for other uses.”

Among its domestic expenses, Israel has spent an estimated total of $20 billion on settlements and $15 billion on the occupation. Total US aid to Israel stands at $134.7 billion.

Boycott (Title VII, Section 7035)

The bill text states: [T]he Arab League boycott of Israel…is an impediment to peace in the region and to United States investment…[The boycott] should be immediately and publicly terminated.. all Arab League states should normalize relations with their neighbor Israel; the President and the Secretary of State should continue to vigorously oppose [the boycott – for example by refusing to sell weapons to boycotting countries…and encourage allies to enact anti-boycott laws].

The Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement explains its existence in the context of seventy years of Israeli denial of Palestinian rights and noncompliance with international law:

Governments fail to hold Israel to account, while corporations and institutions across the world help Israel to oppress Palestinians. Because those in power refuse to act to stop this injustice, Palestinian civil society has called for a global citizens’ response of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.

The US Senate recently passed a federal anti-boycott bill, S.1, which ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Kathleen Ruane critiqued:

The bill, Combating BDS Act, encourages states to adopt the very same anti-boycott laws that two federal courts blocked on First Amendment grounds. The legislation, like the unconstitutional state anti-boycott laws it condones, sends a message to Americans that they will be penalized if they dare to disagree with their government.

Palestinian statehood (Title VII, Section 7036)

The bill text states: “None of the funds appropriated under titles III through VI [e.g. global health programs, disaster assistance, economic support funding, peacekeeping operations] of this Act may be provided to support a Palestinian state unless the Secretary of State determines and certifies [that the Palestinian governing body is committed to peaceful coexistence with Israel, fighting terrorism, renouncing belligerency, etc.,]

None of the funds appropriated under the heading “Economic Support Fund” in this Act may be made available for assistance for the Palestinian Authority, if [Palestinians become full members as a state in the UN or any of its agencies – without direct negotiations with Israel, or] Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court (ICC) judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

Israel has officially stated that no Palestinian state should be created apart from direct negotiations with Israel. It views Palestinian efforts at international legitimacy as an attempt by Palestinians to “force their will on Israel through international pressure [which] harms true peace.”

Most US lawmakers, under the influence of the Israel lobby, have acquiesced to the Israeli position.

While insisting on negotiations, Israel refuses to participate in talks that include democratically elected Hamas, and calls on Palestinian leadership to “say the simple words: ‘Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.’”

For their part, Palestinians require a stop to the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land as a prerequisite to peace talks–a requirement that Israel has historically ignored.

Palestinians also point to UN Security Council Resolution 242, in which they were called upon to recognize Israel’s “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” which does not obligate them to acknowledge Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

In addition, Palestinians reference the 1993 Letters of Mutual Recognition – in which they recognized the existence of Israel – as sufficient recognition.

These issues have caused a deadlock in any negotiations, prompting Palestinians to seek out statehood through other means.

Regarding the International Criminal Court, US leaders have claimed that Palestinians bringing a case to the ICC is “not productive” and the US “prefers a negotiated peace process between Israel and Palestine.”

No to Palestinian agency in Jerusalem (Title VII, Section 7037)

The bill text states: “None of the funds appropriated under titles II through VI of this Act may be obligated or expended to create in any part of Jerusalem [a venue for conducting official US Government business with the Palestinian Authority or any Palestinian governing entity].

When President Trump, at the behest of donor Sheldon Adelson, announced the movement of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, he signaled recognition of all of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; Palestinians and most of the world reject this, as East Jerusalem is widely considered occupied, and is the intended capital of a future Palestinian state.

No to “Martyrs’ Fund” (Title VII, Section 7037)

The bill text states: “The Secretary of State shall reduce the amount of assistance made available by this Act…[if a Palestinian governing body pays for] acts of terrorism by individuals who are imprisoned after being fairly tried and convicted for acts of terrorism and by individuals who died committing acts of terrorism…”

Israeli academic Ilan Pappe is one of many who take issue with the notion of a “fair trial” for Palestinians: he describes Israeli military courts as a “humiliating charade” which create the illusion of a fair trial. Pappe insists that the military courtroom houses “a sinister process” and “a bureaucratic self-justification for the system to do what it wants to do.”

Palestinians are prosecuted and judged by Israeli military officials who boast a 99% conviction rate.

The so called “Martyrs’ Fund” or “pay-to-slay” system in the Palestinian territories is actually a fairly typical social safety net, which assists families of Palestinians who are injured or killed in the course of resistance against the Israeli occupation. It also helps to offset the frequent, illegal Israeli practice of demolishing the homes of convicted “terrorists,” a form of collective punishment.

UN Human Rights Council (HRC) (Title VII, Section 7048)

The bill text states: “None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available in support of the United Nations Human Rights Council unless the Secretary of State determines…[that the UNHRC] is taking significant steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item…”

The UNHRC created a permanent discussion point for Israel on its agenda in 2007, one year after the council was formed. The United States officially opposes “Agenda Item 7: Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” claiming it illustrates an anti-Israel bias: “The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council.”

The HRC has consistently supported the Palestinians and cited Israel for abuses dozens of times.

The United States withdrew from the HRC in 2018 in solidarity with Israel; PM Netanyahu praised the move and called the organization “a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization.” Then-Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused the body of having a “disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel.”

——

H.R.648, “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019,” is the spending bill Congress needs to pass in order to extricate the US from its damaging government shutdown and pay federal employees. As Congresswoman Lowey stated, other issues would be addressed at a later date.

But the House has prioritized both monetary and policy issues related to Israel, pledging U.S. taxpayer dollars that address Israel’s interests at the expense of Americans.


Kathryn Shihadah is staff writer for If Americans Knew. She blogs at Palestine Home

February 15, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Guaido’s True Colors: “President” to Fix Venezuelan Relations with Israel

By Jim Carey | Geopolitics Alert | February 13, 2019

Caracas – In an interview over the weekend, “interim President” of Venezuela Juan Guaido promised he would work on restoring relations with Israel.

Despite not actually having a government or being in any type of official position of power within Venezuela Juan Guaido is still somehow making big promises. Last week it was the promise to sell oil he doesn’t control to the US and this week he is setting foreign policy for a state, a military, and a diplomatic core that he doesn’t have.

Regardless of Juan Guaido’s material position, Israel has been more than willing to indulge in the US fantasy in Venezuela and was one of the early states to recognize the fraud as “interim President.” Now it seems Guaido is more than willing to repay the favor should he ever actually hold office.

Guaido made this promise in a recent interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper where he told the interviewer that he was “very happy to announce that the process of stabilizing relations with Israel is in full swing.” While what exactly that means when you’re a President with no power is rather ambiguous, for some reason Guaido has said restoring relations “is very important for us.”

Regardless of all these factors, there are still several reasons the new President has made this a high priority. Even without any actual diplomatic staff recognized by the state, Guaidó has still been in contact with Israel and has even discussed opening a new Venezuelan embassy in Israel, saying it “is one of the subjects we are talking about.”

Another reason Guaidó claims he wants to restore relations with the Zionists is due to the fact that there “are many Venezuelans in Israel and many Jews in Venezuela.”

According to Guaidó, this Venezuelan Jewish community “is very active and prosperous” and have expressed to the president their hopes for renewed relations with Israel.

Guaidó says this Jewish community has a friend in him and he wishes to ‘restore their rights’ and has “no doubt that the Jews are afraid.” Now Guaidó has promised to protect this Jewish community should he ever take power.

Relations between Israel and Venezuela were cut off in 2009 under Hugo Chavez, the previous Venezuelan President and mentor of Nicolás Maduro. Chavez knew well that Israel is very active in Latin America in helping the US subvert democracy and didn’t wish to allow the Zionists a base of operations in his country.

Obviously, the reasons cited by Hugo Chavez to justify throwing the Zionists out of Venezuela is perfectly legitimate but this has been a sore point with Washington and imperial media for some time. US media considers the fact that Chavez expelled the Zionists and supported Palestine as proof of the anti-semitism inside the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

This is all totally ridiculous of course and the Chavistas chose to expel the Israelis in solidarity with Palestine against imperialism. This shift in foreign policy was framed as dangerous and the distrust of Zionism is said to be responsible for the “flight” of Venezuelan Jews to Israel.

But just how big is this important Jewish community?

Before Chavez, the total Jewish population in Venezuela was only estimated at about 22,000 out of over 30 million. Since Chavez took power that population has dwindled down to around 7,000 meaning there are about 15,000 Venezuelan Jews in Israel.

Supposedly restoring the Venezuelan embassy in Israel is very important, just not to more than about 20-30,000 people. Many Venezuelans still oppose any type of outside intervention in their country and it likely wouldn’t matter if it was US or Israeli soldiers but Guaidó is clearly more beholden to his foreign backers than he is to his own people.

With all that said, Guaidó still hopes Israel will invest more in regime change in his country. “Many Western countries have already committed to sending humanitarian aid to Venezuela,” he said adding that he is “confident that Israel will also help us.”

Since Israel is basically a US proxy this likely means Guaidó would like aid from them in the form of firearms like the ones Washington recently tried to smuggle in. Chavez made the correct choice in throwing out the Zionists and their agents of subversion, meaning the best hope for Venezuela to remain independent is for the Chavistas to uphold this legacy of anti-imperialism.

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror

By Jonathan Cook | The National | February 13, 2019

You might imagine that a report by a multinational observer force documenting a 20-year reign of terror by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers against Palestinians, in a city under occupation, would provoke condemnation from European and US politicians.

But you would be wrong. The leaking in December of the report on conditions in the city of Hebron, home to 200,000 Palestinians, barely caused a ripple.

About 40,000 separate cases of abuse had been quietly recorded since 1997 by dozens of monitors from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey. Some incidents constituted war crimes.

Exposure of the confidential report has now provided the pretext for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expel the international observers. He shuttered their mission in Hebron this month, in apparent violation of Israel’s obligations under the 25-year-old Oslo peace accords.

Israel hopes once again to draw a veil over its violent colonisation of the heart of the West Bank’s largest Palestinian city. The process of clearing tens of thousands of inhabitants from central Hebron is already well advanced.

Any chance of rousing the international community into even minimal protest was stamped out by the US last week. It blocked a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council expressing “regret” at Israel’s decision, and on Friday added that ending the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was an “internal matter” for Israel.

The TIPH was established in 1997 after a diplomatic protocol split the city into two zones, controlled separately by Israel and a Palestinian Authority created by the Oslo accords.

The “temporary” in its name was a reference to the expected five-year duration of the Oslo process. The need for TIPH, most assumed, would vanish when Israel ended the occupation and a Palestinian state was built in its place.

While Oslo put the PA formally in charge of densely populated regions of the occupied territories, Israel was effectively given a free hand in Hebron to entrench its belligerent hold on Palestinian life.

Several hundred extremist Jewish settlers have gradually expanded their illegal enclave in the city centre, backed by more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers. Many Palestinian residents have been forced out while the rest are all but imprisoned in their homes.

TIPH faced an impossible task from the outset: to “maintain normal life” for Hebron’s Palestinians in the face of Israel’s structural violence.

Until the report was leaked, its documentation of Israel’s takeover of Hebron and the settlers’ violent attacks had remained private, shared only among the states participating in the task force.

However, the presence of observers did curb the settlers’ worst excesses, helping Palestinian children get to school unharmed and allowing their parents to venture out to work and shop. That assistance is now at an end.

Hebron has been a magnet for extremist settlers because it includes a site revered in Judaism: the reputed burial plot of Abraham, father to the three main monotheistic religions.

But to the settlers’ disgruntlement, Hebron became central to Muslim worship centuries ago, with the Ibrahimi mosque established at the site.

Israel’s policy has been gradually to prise away the Palestinians’ hold on the mosque, as well the urban space around it. Half of the building has been restricted to Jewish prayer, but in practice the entire site is under Israeli military control.

As the TIPH report notes, Palestinian Muslims must now pass through several checkpoints to reach the mosque and are subjected to invasive body searches. The muezzin’s call to prayer is regularly silenced to avoid disturbing Jews.

Faced with these pressures, according to TIPH, the number of Palestinians praying there has dropped by half over the past 15 years.

In Hebron, as at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a Muslim holy site is treated solely as an obstacle – one that must be removed so that Israel can assert exclusive sovereignty over all of the Palestinians’ former homeland.

A forerunner of TIPH was set up in 1994, shortly after Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli army doctor, entered the Ibrahimi mosque and shot more than 150 Muslims at prayer, killing 29. Israeli soldiers aided Goldstein, inadvertently or otherwise, by barring the worshippers’ escape while they were being sprayed with bullets.

The massacre should have provided the opportunity for Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s prime minister of the time, to banish Hebron’s settlers and ensure the Oslo process remained on track. Instead he put the Palestinian population under prolonged curfew.

That curfew never really ended. It became the basis of an apartheid policy that has endlessly indulged Jewish settlers as they harass and abuse their Palestinian neighbours.

Israel’s hope is that most will get the message and leave.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power for a decade, more settlers are moving in, driving out Palestinians. Today Hebron’s old market, once the commercial hub of the southern West Bank, is a ghost town, and Palestinians are too terrified to enter large sections of their own city.

TIPH’s report concluded that, far from guaranteeing “normal life”, Israel had made Hebron more divided and dangerous for Palestinians than ever before.

In 2016 another army medic, Elor Azaria, used his rifle to shoot in the head a prone and badly wounded Palestinian youth. Unlike Goldstein’s massacre, the incident was caught on video.

Israelis barely cared until Azaria was arrested. Then large sections of the public, joined by politicians, rallied to his cause, hailing him a hero.

Despite doing very little publicly, TIPH’s presence in Hebron had served as some kind of restraint on the settlers and soldiers. Now the fear is that there will be more Azarias.

Palestinians rightly suspect that the expulsion of the observer force is the latest move in efforts by Israel and the US to weaken mechanisms for protecting Palestinian human rights.

Mr Netanyahu has incited against local and international human rights organisations constantly, accusing them of being foreign agents and making it ever harder for them to operate effectively.

And last year US President Donald Trump cut all aid to UNRWA, the United Nations’ refugee agency, which plays a vital role in caring for Palestinians and upholding their right to return to their former lands.

Not only are the institutions Palestinians rely on for support being dismembered but so now are the organisations that record the crimes Israel has been committing.

That, Israel hopes, will ensure that an international observer post which has long had no teeth will soon will soon lose its sight too as Israel begins a process of annexing the most prized areas of the West Bank – with Hebron top of the list.

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli Army Admits the Palestinian Motorcyclist They Killed Had No Explosives

IMEMC News – February 11, 2019

Following an investigation by the Israeli military into the killing of a Palestinian motorcycle rider on February 5th, and the severe wounding of his passenger, the military was forced to admit that their initial claim that the young man had explosives was a false claim.

Abdullah Faisal Omar Tawalba, 19, was shot and killed by Israeli forces on February 5th, 2019, at an Israeli military checkpoint in Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank.

His passenger, Omar Ahmad Hanana, 15, was also shot by the Israeli military and badly injured, but is in stable condition at the Jenin Governmental Hospital run by the Palestinian Authority.

Initially, the Israeli military reported to the media that the young men had approached the checkpoint and “tried to plant explosives”.

An investigation by Israeli military police found no evidence whatsoever of any explosives of any kind.

The soldiers claimed that they “heard an explosion,” and were sure “an explosive was thrown at the roadblock, before they opened fire.”

The checkpoint where Abdullah was killed by the soldiers is located near the entrance of the al-Jalama village, northeast of Jenin in northern West Bank. The army’s initial statement claimed that Palestinians were riding a motor cycle and “hurled an explosive at the soldiers”.

There were no injuries of any soldiers.

Mahmoud Sa’adi, the director of the Emergency Department of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, said the slain Palestinian has been identified as Abdullah Faisal Omar Tawalba, 19, from the al-Jalama village, and added that Omar Ahmad Hanana, 15, was injured but is in a stable condition.

Palestinian medical sources said the medics moved the slain Palestinian, and the wounded teen, to Jenin Governmental Hospital.

They added that Tawalba was shot with several live rounds in the head and legs.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Tel Aviv irate after Total says Israel not worth investing in

Press TV – February 11, 2019

French energy giant Total has sparked the anger of Israeli authorities after its chief executive said making investment in the “complex” Israel was not worth the risk.

Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said in an interview with the Financial Times that it was too “complex” to invest in Israel, noting that his company’s operation in the Middle East was a sticking point.

“We like complex situations … up to a certain point. Let’s be clear,” he said.

Pouyanne further said that the stakes in Israel were not big enough to accept the risks involved, partly due to the competition already in the region.

Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz slammed the stance as “unacceptable,” saying firms that refused to invest in Israel were living in the “past decades.”

“I reject it with two hands, I think this is a miserable view,” Steinitz said, adding “We will consider our reaction to this as it is totally unacceptable, to boycott [Israel].”

Israel relies heavily on gas. The Tel Aviv regime has long been developing a number of offshore gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea.

Steinitz claimed that other international firms, including Google, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, that had invested in Israel had not faced any problems in the Arab world.

“Companies that were afraid to make investments in Israel in the past because of the Arab Muslim world made the wrong calculation,” Steinitz said, adding he had met many energy ministers from Persian Gulf Arab countries in recent years.

“If somebody is avoiding investing in Israel because it might have interests in Iran then that can be the only reason, because the Arab world is not concerned,” the Israeli minister claimed.

However, a person from the gas industry, said, “It’s not only Total who faces these kinds of realities in the region.”

Texas-based Noble Energy and Israeli company Delek Resources have been the two main operators in Israel. Executives say the largest international operators are still concerned about the fragile politics of the region.

In 2017, Total signed a contract to develop phase 11 of Iran’s multi-billion-dollar South Pars gas project with an initial investment of $1 billion.

However, the French company pulled out of the project in August after it failed to obtain a waiver from the US.

Total is also investing in the eastern Mediterranean basin where Israel and Lebanon are involved in a maritime dispute.

Last year, the Lebanese government announced that it had signed gas exploration and production contracts for two energy blocks, including the disputed Block 9, with a consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek oil and gas companies.

Total, however, said it would not drill the first well of Block 9 near the disputed sliver of waters, adding that the well would be drilled over 25 kilometers from the maritime border claimed by Israel.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Israeli and US Forces to Begin Major Military Drills

IMEMC News & Agencies – February 9, 2019

Amid growing tension along the northern border, Israeli and US forces will hold their annual joint exercise next week, to test the level of coordination between the two armies, in the event of future conflicts.

The exercise is part of a long standing agreement, between the US and Israel, to hold bilateral training exercises on a regular basis. An Israeli military spokesperson stressed that it was not associated with a particular threat or world event.

The goal of the drill – known as Juniper Falcon – is to strengthen cooperation, mutual learning, and coordination between the armies. In 2017, 12 American F-15E Strike Eagles and approximately 80 Airmen attached to the 494th Fighter Squadron flew missions with the Israeli Air Force.

The drill is expected to include over 300 US Army soldiers and 400 Israeli soldiers from different units.

The last Juniper drill, which took place in March 2018, was labeled as the largest Israeli and US European Command joint exercise in 2018, with more than 2,500 US troops deployed in Europe, participating alongside 2,000 Israeli troops, logistics units, medical forces, and other units.

On Wednesday, the United States purchased the Iron Dome missile defense system from Israel, for an immediate need of the United States Army. “This is yet another expression of the strengthening of our strong alliance with the US,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Days of Palestine further notes that the American F15 Eagle warplanes were used to kill thousands of Palestinians, during the 3 deadly wars that the Gaza Strip faced, in 2008, 2011 and 2014.

February 9, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 16 Comments

Iran FM Zarif to visit Lebanon amid Tel Aviv-Beirut tensions

Press TV – February 9, 2019

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will pay a visit to Lebanon amid growing tensions between Beirut and Tel Aviv.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Zarif will travel to Lebanon at the head of a delegation on Sunday to hold talks with senior officials in the West Asian country.

The trip comes amid reports of a massive military exercise held by the Israeli army to simulate a war on Lebanon. Yiddish News reported on Friday that the drill involved tanks and warplanes.

The maneuver comes days after the secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement expressed his readiness to bring defense systems from Iran in order to confront Israeli aircraft.

Syria and Iraq are accepting Iran’s help and benefiting from it, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, adding, “Whatever the Lebanese Army needs to become the strongest regional army, I am willing to go to Iran and bring it.”

“Why should Lebanon remain afraid to cooperate with Iran?” he asked.

“In the military field, wouldn’t people make an uproar and accuse Hezbollah of dragging Lebanon into war should the party shoot down an Israeli aircraft attacking Lebanon? I’m a friend of Iran, and I’m willing to bring the Lebanese Army air defense systems from Iran to confront Israel.”

Israeli warplanes regularly violate Lebanon’s sovereignty and targets belonging to Hezbollah, which has been successfully helping Syria contain Takfiri militancy.

Israel launched two wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006, in both of which Hezbollah inflicted heavy losses on the regime’s military. Israeli officials have even threatened another war on Lebanon.

Lebanese officials have repeatedly complained about Israeli jets’ violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty.

On Friday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister designate Saad Hariri blasted Tel Aviv for its “continued violation of Lebanese airspace and territorial waters.”

He made the remarks at a meeting with Major General Stefano Del Col of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

“The escalation in the Israeli tone towards Lebanon does not serve the interests of the calm that has been going on for more than 12 years,” he said.

The Israeli army enjoys an overwhelming support from the Western countries.

Zarif told Russia’s RT television on Wednesday that the US and EU countries should be held accountable for exports of arms to the Middle East and stoking wars in the region.

“The arms which are daily fired above the heads of ordinary Yemenis and kill many people are not of local production. They were manufactured in the USA, France, the UK as well as in other European countries. They should be held accountable for that,” Zarif said.

February 9, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Canada, Israel and the “Rule of Law”

By David Kattenburg | CounterPunch | February 8, 2019

On the ropes for arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhau, as US-Canada extradition law required, now under fire, two of its own diplomats held by the vengeful Chinese, and a third Canadian facing execution on drug-smuggling charges, coveted trade relations in peril, Ottawa has been staking out high minded positions.

Few are higher minded — or richer — than that of Liberal MP John McKay, Chair of the Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, speaking to CBC news about China and its Canadian captives: “It’s hard to make a trade deal with another country that doesn’t respect the rule of law,” McKay declared.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, has been trumpeting a similar line. The rule of law is not a “smorgasbord” to pick and choose from, Freeland said the other day, regarding the China imbroglio.

Really? Although Israel’s West Bank settlements are flagrantly illegal under the most canonical of twentieth century laws, the 4th Geneva Convention (Global Affairs Canada says so at its website) the Canadian government is pleased to do business with settlement businesses (i.e. invest) under the most favourable terms.

To be precise, Israel’s settlement enterprise violates Article 49(6) of the Convention. In Convention lingo, it constitutes a “grave breach.” Article 1 of the Convention obliges State Parties like Canada to hold miscreants accountable for grave breaches. The FGC has been incorporated into Canadian law, as the Geneva Convention Act. Under the Act, grave breaches are subject to prosecution and lengthy imprisonment in Canada. Of course, Canada cuts Israel lots of slack.

Then there’s Article 25 of the UN Charter, obliging member states to uphold and abide by Security Council Resolutions. Several dozen have declared settlements unlawful. UNSC 2334, passed unanimously in December 2016, called on State Parties to “differentiate” in their trade relations between Israel ‘proper’ and the settlements.

Canada does not. Not content simply to ignore calls from the supreme council it dearly wishes to join, the Trudeau government defends Israel’s right to label its settlement goods “Product of Israel” on Canadian store shelves (deep-sixing Canadian consumer protection laws), even though Canada’s formal position is that West Bank settlements are decidedly not part of Israel. In the Trudeau government’s view, Israel’s right to market unlawful, ‘Product of Israel’ settlement wines on Canadian store shelves trumps the right of Canadians to know, truthfully, where the food and drinks they consume come from – not to mention the right to live in a country that upholds international law.

(Full disclosure: I am Applicant in a law case on this issue before the Federal Court of Canada).

Israel appreciates Canada’s subtle endorsement of its de facto annexation strategy. But the annexation of territory acquired by force is strictly prohibited in modern public law. So is the economic exploitation that typically ensues. These prohibitions are “customary” in status. Everyone must abide by them. No exemptions. No excuses.

Tell this to Israel’s staunch friend Justin Trudeau. Quietly, without the fuss generated by Donald Trump’s flashy but symbolic Jerusalem decision, Canadian trade officials have been cleansing legal clauses from the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA). A minute provision stipulating that trade will be carried out “in accordance with applicable rules of international law” has been extirpated from the new, improved deal heading for Third Reading and certain passage in the next few weeks.

Invited to reconsider, late last November, Liberal members of the Standing Committee on International Trade refused. An amending line to the new CIFTA Act put forward by committee member Tracey Ramsey (NDP) — “relations between the Government of Canada and the State of Israel as well the implementation of the provisions of the agreement itself shall be based on respect for human rights and international law” — was declared “inadmissible” by the committee’s Chair. The amendment would “create new obligations on the Government of Canada,” the Chair ruled.

Two days later, Canadian authorities arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhau on a US warrant, throwing Ottawa on the ropes simply for doing what the law required. Stung by China’s revengeful response, Canadian leaders now appeal to the rule of law. Their righteous calls would carry more weight if Canada played by the rule book with its own best friends.

David Kattenburg is a Winnipeg-based educator, journalist, activist and child of holocaust survivors. He has traveled to Israel and Palestine on a host of occasions, reporting for his Green Planet Monitor web magazine (www.greenplanetmonitor.net). Kattenburg is Applicant in a truthful wine labeling case to be heard by the Federal Court of Canada in late May 2019.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment