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Israel, Swiss officials discuss alternative to UNRWA

MEMO | September 5, 2019

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz announced yesterday that Israel and Switzerland will work on finding an alternative to UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Jerusalem Post reported.

These remarks, according to the Jerusalem Post, came following a meeting with the Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in Bern.

During the meeting, Katz accused UNRWA officials in Gaza of cooperating with the Palestinian resistance in carrying out alleged attacks on Israel.

The Israeli newspaper claimed that Katz used quotes from previous remarks made by Cassis himself dating back to May this year when he claimed that the Palestine refugee agency is “part of the problem and not the solution”.

Cassis claimed then that the UNRWA fuelled “unrealistic” hope among Palestinians of a “right to return” to Israel from refugee camps in the Middle East.

Katz claimed yesterday that the existence of UNRWA sustains the status of Palestine refugees, prolongs the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and retains the demand of the Palestinian refugees to return home.

The Israeli foreign minister has recently directed his ministry to lay down a document proposing an alternative to the UNRWA which he discussed with his Swiss counterpart.

Switzerland suspended payments to UNRWA in July after reports about misconduct among its officials.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lebanese President Aoun Receives Swiss Counterpart, Calls for Return of Palestinian, Syrian Refugees

Lebanese President Michel Aoun receiving Swiss counterpart Alain Berset, at Baabda presidential Palace (Monday, August 27, 2018).
Al-Manar | August 27, 2018

Lebanese President Michel Aoun received his Swiss counterpart on Monday, reiterating Beirut’s stance on several issues including the return of Palestinian and Syrian refugees.

In a joint press conference with visiting President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset, at Baabda presidential Palace, President Aoun confirmed Lebanon’s commitment to the Arab peace initiative and the need to respect the rights of the Palestinian people, including their right of return to their homeland.

The President also affirmed Lebanon’s condemnation of the “National Religious Law” which had been endorsed by the Israeli Knesset, noting that the bill contradicted with the “historical path”.

“Lebanon refuses any attempt that tampers with the sanctity of Al-Quds and its unique humanitarian and religious entity,” Aoun said.

Aoun meanwhile, stressed Lebanon’s unwavering position vis-a-vis the return of Syrian refugees to the safe areas of their country. In this context, he voiced Lebanon’s support for the Russian initiatives to help facilitate the return of refugees to their homeland.

“I asked of the Swiss president to have his country side with Lebanon on this issue and not to link the refugees’ return to a political solution — which might take a long time to be reached,” Aoun concluded.

On the other hand, President Aoun expressed heartfelt pleasure welcoming the Swiss President and his wife, Aoun seizing the opportunity to thank Switzerland for its unyielding support for Lebanon.

“Switzerland has always sided with Lebanon and its just causes; it hosted two national dialogue conferences in support of Lebanon in Geneva in 1983 and in Lausanne in 1984,” Aoun said.

The President went on to say that he had briefed the Swiss President on Lebanon’s demand to become an international center for dialogue of religions and civilizations, National News Agency (NNA) reported.

“We discussed the importance of parliamentary elections, especially that they had been held for the first time on the basis of proportionality, and with the participation of immigrants of Lebanese origin, including the Lebanese people in Switzerland,” Aoun added.

Moreover, the President informed his Swiss guest about the most important “workshop” that awaited Lebanon, which is “the development of the national economic plan, the implementation of Cedre Conference, and the fight against corruption.

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas condemns Swiss minister’s comment about right to return

Ignazio Cassis, the Foreign Minister of Switzerland [screengrab / Youtube]
MEMO | May 19, 2018

The Islamic Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas, has condemned a comment by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis about the Palestinians’ right to return. The movement said that it was “shocked” to hear Cassis describe the legitimate return of all Palestinian refugees as an “unrealistic dream” in a comment about the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

According to the minister, “UNRWA poses a problem by holding an unrealistic dream about the return of all refugees.” The question, he said, is whether UNRWA is part of the solution or the problem. “It has long worked as a solution but now it is part of the problem, it is securing the ammunition needed for the continuation of the conflict. As long as Palestinians live in refugee camps, they will remain wanting to return to their homeland.”

Hamas denounced what it called the Swiss minister’s “disgraceful remarks” and demanded that the government of Switzerland should issue an apology to the people of Palestine.

“We reiterate our support for UNRWA and the need to enable it to continue its work mandated by the international community for the relief and employment of Palestinian refugees,” the movement said. “We affirm to all that the adherence of our people to their rights, foremost of which is the return to their land, is not linked to the existence of the camps or the continuation of the Agency’s work.”

The right to return to their homeland, Hamas pointed out, is one to be upheld for all refugees, regardless of where they are or their country of origin. Palestinian refugees are no different, it insisted, and their right to return has been reaffirmed in numerous UN Resolutions over the decades since the 1948 ethnic cleansing of their land. “Furthermore,” added Hamas, “it is an individual and collective right.”

May 19, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela Hits Back Following New Sanctions over Alleged Funding of WMD and Terrorism

By Paul Dobson | Mint Press News | April 4, 2018

Venezuelan authorities hit back at their counterparts in Panama and Switzerland this week after they approved new measures targeting Caracas.

Panama’s Economic and Finance Ministry announced this past March 27 that a warning was being issued to the Central American country’s banks advising them to limit and “diligently” supervise financial transactions involving 55 top Venezuelan officials as well as 16 private businesses allegedly associated with the Maduro government.

The list includes President Nicolas Maduro, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena and rectors Tania D’Amelio and Socorro Hernandez, National Constituent Assembly members Diosdado Cabello and Hermann Escarra, Education Minister Elias Jaua, and Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas.

In an official statement, Panamanian authorities categorized the individuals and businesses as being “high risk in the area of money laundering, financing terrorism, and financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” No evidence was, however, presented to support the allegations.

Venezuela possesses no nuclear weapons and is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as various other treaties banning the acquisition and development of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Similarly, many of those accused by Panama of allegedly financing terrorism belong to institutions which were themselves the objects of violent opposition attacks during last year’s anti-government protests – including the Supreme Court, the National Electoral Council, and regional government offices – which the Maduro administration has repeatedly described as “terrorism”.

Speaking Monday, Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who is included on Panama’s list, fired back, describing the accusations as “fake news” and calling on them to provide evidence.

“Show the accounts, my accounts for example, show where my name, my photo appears,” Saab challenged.

Penitentiary Affairs Minister Iris Varela, who also appears on the list, similarly denied the accusations and called on the Central American authorities to publish a “complete list” of all Venezuelan citizens who own assets in the country, placing special emphasis on those mentioned in the Panama Papers.

“Why don’t they do it [publish the complete list],” she questioned. “Simply because they have assets and fortunes that belong to the [Venezuelan] opposition.”

The recent measures follow close on the heels of an announcement last month that Panama will not recognise the results of Venezuela’s upcoming presidential election, mirroring steps taken by the Trump administration and other regional conservative governments in rejecting the May 20 vote.

Meanwhile, Switzerland also moved to apply sanctions against seven high-ranking Venezuelan functionaries last Wednesday, freezing their alleged assets in Swiss banks and applying travel bans.

In response, the Venezuelan government delivered an official letter of protest to the Swiss charge d’affaires Monday, calling the sanctions a violation of the UN Charter’s ban on unilateral coercive measures and charging Switzerland with “subordination” to Washington and Brussels’ hardline Venezuela policy.

“This erratic action… on the part of a historically neutral country like the Swiss Confederation does not create conditions for dialogue and strengthens extremist positions that seek violent solutions,” reads the text of the letter.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court also issued a declaration Monday rejecting the moves as “illegal”. Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno was named in both Swiss and Panamanian measures.

The latest international actions targeting Venezuela have, however, won praise from members the country’s right-wing opposition, including Popular Will party Political Coordinator Carlos Vecchio, who applauded the Panama measures as “the right path at this stage”.

Vecchio is currently in Paris meeting with center-right French President Emmanuel Macron as part of a European tour aimed at drumming up support for more sanctions against Caracas.

During the meeting Tuesday, Vecchio, together with First Justice party leader Julio Borges and ex-Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma – who is currently fleeing the Venezuelan justice system – called on Macron’s government to apply “more sanctions” against Venezuela and to “halt Petro, gold, and capital legitimation operations,” referring to the South American country’s new crypto-currency. They also urged the French president and other European leaders “not to dialogue” with Caracas.

Translation | We propose to the government of France to support Humanitarian Intervention, criminal court trial, more sanctions, stop operations with Petro, gold and legitimation of capital to get out of the dictatorship that oppresses our people. and Disregard electoral fraud. With a dictatorship there is no dialogue

Opposition presidential frontrunner Henri Falcon, who defied the main opposition in launching his candidacy and has opposed economic sanctions in the past, has yet to issue a public statement with regard to the latest measures from Panama and Switzerland.

So far, only the US and the UK have approved economic sanctions against Caracas, while Canada and the European Union have rolled out sanctions against top Venezuelan officials

International sanctions against Venezuela have been denounced by the UN Human Rights Council as well as by UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas, who labeled the US-led measures “crimes against humanity” and called for the International Court of Justice to investigate.

According to Datanalisis, 55.6 percent of Venezuelans oppose economic sanctions against their country, while just 42 percent support individual sanctions targeting top officials.

Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela Rejects Swiss Sanctions & Panama Accusations of Funding WMD and Terrorism

By Paul Dobson | Venezuelanalysis | April 3, 2018

Venezuelan authorities hit back at their counterparts in Panama and Switzerland this week after they approved new measures targeting Caracas.

Panama’s Economic and Finance Ministry announced this past March 27 that a warning was being issued to the Central American country’s banks advising them to limit and “diligently” supervise financial transactions involving 55 top Venezuelan officials as well as 16 private businesses allegedly associated with the Maduro government.

The list includes President Nicolas Maduro, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena and rectors Tania D’Amelio and Socorro Hernandez, National Constituent Assembly members Diosdado Cabello and Hermann Escarra, Education Minister Elias Jaua, and Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas.

In an official statement, Panamanian authorities categorized the individuals and businesses as being “high risk in the area of money laundering, financing terrorism, and financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” No evidence was, however, presented to support the allegations.

Venezuela possesses no nuclear weapons and is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as various other treaties banning the acquisition and development of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Similarly, many of those accused by Panama of allegedly financing terrorism belong to institutions which were themselves the objects of violent opposition attacks during last year’s anti-government protests – including the Supreme Court, the National Electoral Council, and regional government offices – which the Maduro administration has repeatedly described as “terrorism”.

Speaking Monday, Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who is included on Panama’s list, fired back, describing the accusations as “fake news” and calling on them to provide evidence.

“Show the accounts, my accounts for example, show where my name, my photo appears,” Saab challenged.

Penitentiary Affairs Minister Iris Varela, who also appears on the list, similarly denied the accusations and called on the Central American authorities to publish a “complete list” of all Venezuelan citizens who own assets in the country, placing special emphasis on those mentioned in the Panama Papers.

“Why don’t they do it [publish the complete list],” she questioned. “Simply because they have assets and fortunes that belong to the [Venezuelan] opposition.”

The recent measures follow close on the heels of an announcement last month that Panama will not recognise the results of Venezuela’s upcoming presidential election, mirroring steps taken by the Trump administration and other regional conservative governments in rejecting the May 20 vote.

Meanwhile, Switzerland also moved to apply sanctions against seven high-ranking Venezuelan functionaries last Wednesday, freezing their alleged assets in Swiss banks and applying travel bans.

In response, the Venezuelan government delivered an official letter of protest to the Swiss charge d’affaires Monday, calling the sanctions a violation of the UN Charter’s ban on unilateral coercive measures and charging Switzerland with “subordination” to Washington and Brussels’ hardline Venezuela policy.

“This erratic action… on the part of a historically neutral country like the Swiss Confederation does not create conditions for dialogue and strengthens extremist positions that seek violent solutions,” reads the text of the letter.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court also issued a declaration Monday rejecting the moves as “illegal”. Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno was named in both Swiss and Panamanian measures.

The latest international actions targeting Venezuela have, however, won praise from members the country’s right-wing opposition, including Popular Will party Political Coordinator Carlos Vecchio, who applauded the Panama measures as “the right path at this stage”.

Vecchio is currently in Paris meeting with center-right French President Emmanuel Macron as part of a European tour aimed at drumming up support for more sanctions against Caracas.

During the meeting Tuesday, Vecchio, together with First Justice party leader Julio Borges and ex-Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma – who is currently fleeing the Venezuelan justice system – called on Macron’s government to apply “more sanctions” against Venezuela and to “halt Petro, gold, and capital legitimation operations,” referring to the South American country’s new crypto-currency. They also urged the French president and other European leaders “not to dialogue” with Caracas.

Opposition presidential frontrunner Henri Falcon, who defied the main opposition in launching his candidacy and has opposed economic sanctions in the past, has yet to issue a public statement with regard to the latest measures from Panama and Switzerland.

So far, only the US and the UK have approved economic sanctions against Caracas, while Canada and the European Union have rolled out sanctions against top Venezuelan officials

International sanctions against Venezuela have been denounced by the UN Human Rights Council as well as by UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas, who labeled the US-led measures “crimes against humanity” and called for the International Court of Justice to investigate.

According to Datanalisis, 55.6 percent of Venezuelans oppose economic sanctions against their country, while just 42 percent support individual sanctions targeting top officials.

Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Caracas. 

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

War crimes suit filed in Switzerland against former Israeli minister

By Simon Bradley | Swiss Info | May 31, 2017

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has confirmed that it is examining a criminal complaint against former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, accused of war crimes by a Geneva-based pro-Palestinian group. Livni recently travelled to Lugano in southern Switzerland for a celebration organised by the Swiss-Israel Association.

According to the Le Temps newspaper, Livni has been named in a legal suit filed on Monday by the Geneva-based Urgence Palestine activist group external link in relation to her role in the Israeli military’s “Operation Cast Lead” in the Gaza Strip between December 2008 – January 2009. She was foreign minister and acting prime minister at the time.

The Attorney General’s Office external link confirmed to swissinfo.ch that this ‘[legal] request is presently being studied’.

Operation Cast Lead began with a week of air attacks and shelling, followed by a land invasion of the blockaded coastal strip, sealed off at sea by the Israeli navy. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed and 13 Israelis died.

On May 28, Livni attended an event in the Italian-speaking city of Lugano in southern Switzerland organised by the Swiss-Israel Association external link to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel. She left Switzerland on Monday via Italy.

It is unclear what action the Attorney General’s office will take action in the future, especially if Livni plans to return to Switzerland.

Pursued overseas

A representative from the Swiss NGO Trial International, which fights impunity against war crimes, told swissinfo.ch that Switzerland has a duty to act: “Switzerland has an obligation to work on cases of alleged war crimes if the suspect steps on Swiss territory. If Switzerland opens an investigation, it is in line with Swiss law, especially given the alleged crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead.”

In January 2017, Livni cancelled a visit to Belgium over fears she may be arrested on her arrival in Brussels over war crime allegations. The Brussels prosecutor’s office said Livni was the subject of a 2010 complaint to the federal prosecutor, and the authorities could detain or question her on arrival “to try and advance the investigation.”

Livni, who is still a Zionist Union party member of the Knesset, told Israel Radio at the time that she had pulled out of the Brussels trip for “personal reasons.”

In December 2009, she cancelled a trip to London after being informed that she was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by a British court over her role in the same war.

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 4 Comments

Accused ETA Militant Extradited to Spain Despite Torture Claims

Former Basque politician Nekane Txapartegi, Sept. 2016

Former Basque politician Nekane Txapartegi, Sept. 2016 | Photo: Berria
teleSUR | March 23, 2017

Swiss officials announced on Thursday they would extradite a former Basque politician and purported ETA activist to Spain after denying her request for asylum given allegations she was brutally tortured while in a Spanish prison.

Nekane Txapartegi had fled to Switzerland after a 2007 conviction for supporting the Basque separatist group ETA’s activities, later claiming asylum on the basis that she had been suffocated with a plastic bag, raped, beaten and subjected to electroshock treatment while in a Spanish prison after a 1999 arrest.

At the time of her arrest, Txapartegi was an elected city councilor in Asteasu in the Basque region of northern Spain and was later elected mayor while still in prison awaiting trial.

After several years underground in Switzerland, Txapartegi was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland in April 2016 on an international warrant and has been in detention awaiting the judgment in her asylum request case.

The World Organization Against Torture had intervened in Txapartegi’s case noting that her confession of supporting illegal ETA activities had been extracted via torture, allegations supported by a prison doctor who examined Txapartegi after her detention and found injuries consistent with torture.

In 2010 a Spanish court found four police officers guilty of torturing suspected ETA militants, sentencing them to prison and ordering them to pay compensation to their victims.

The ETA was founded in 1959 in response to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s brutal repression of Basque culture and independent politics.

For over 40 years the ETA carried out clandestine attacks on police and military officials as well as Francoist politicians, sometimes killing civilians in the process.

The ETA was eventually labeled a terrorist organization by both the Spanish and U.S. governments for its fight to achieve Basque independence.

In 2011, the ETA declared a permanent ceasefire.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

15 European leaders call for new arms deal with Russia

RT | November 26, 2016

Fifteen European countries, headed by Germany, have issued a statement pushing for the reopening of “a new structured dialogue” with Russia aimed at preventing a possible arms race in Europe, according to the German foreign minister.

The countries, all belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have expressed their deep concern over the current situation in Europe and support the relaunch of a conventional arms treaty with Russia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

“Europe’s security is in danger. As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less,” Steinmeier said.

The ongoing conflict in the Eastern Ukraine and the fact that Crimea joined Russia in 2014, a move most often dubbed as “annexation” by western officials, have put the question of war in Europe back on the table, Steinmeier continued. Fragile trust between Russia and European countries has suffered a significant setback and a “new armament spiral” is hanging over the continent, the foreign minister warned.

The statement contains strong anti-Russian rhetoric, blaming Moscow for violating arms deals as far back as 1990.

“The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which led to the destruction of tens of thousands of heavy weapon systems in Europe in the years following 1990, is no longer being implemented by the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

Russia put its participation in the treaty on hold in 2007 and then fully walked out of it last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the suspension of the treaty following a US decision to locate missile defense facilitates in the neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland. On top of that, President Putin noted that some of the NATO members did not join or ratify the treaty and there was no point in Russia abiding by the agreement.

Later Putin signed a decree suspending the treaty due to “extraordinary circumstances … which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,” having notified NATO and its members of the decision.

Since then NATO has taken no steps to upgrade the treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in September, 2016, adding that Moscow is ready for dialogue on the subject. However, it is not planning to be the one to initiate it.

The statement names a number of other documents that need to be overviewed, including the OSCE’s Vienna document, stipulating the exchange of information on military movements, and the Open Skies treaty, enabling the monitoring of other countries’ ground forces. The documents are either neglected or in need of modernization.

The countries that spoke in favor of Steinmeier’s initiative include France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

The group of the European foreign ministers is planning to meet again on the sidelines of a OSCE meeting in Hamburg on December, 8-9.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Iran could constrain reckless impulses of US Mideast allies’

RT | April 1, 2015

A deal with Iran over its nuclear program would benefit the US as it needs to change its policy in the Middle East, and even build a constructive relationship with critical regional powers, said Hillary Mann Leverett, a former US negotiator with Iran.

RT: Hopes are high that the six world powers and Iran who have been holding talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne will reach a deal by Wednesday evening. What kind of document do you expect to come out of these talks?

Hillary Mann Leverett: I would assume at this point we can still really think of only a vague document coming out of these talks. There does not seem to be agreement on many of the details, much of the substance that would be detailed in the final agreement.

But that is not really the purpose of what they were trying to get by [Wednesday evening]. This was supposed to be a political understanding of what the agreement would entail, and a final agreement then would be drafted by June 30. So my sense is that if we get an agreement it will be focused more on a reaffirmation in a sense of a core bargain that they struck back in November 2013: that the parties would proceed toward resolving this conflict by Iran agreeing in negotiated contacts to constraints on its nuclear program in exchange for comprehensive lifting of sanctions.

And that is where I think the parties have really got stuck, because the comprehensive lifting of sanctions is something that is not technical. It doesn’t involve nuclear physicists at the table, it requires real political will. And I think that’s where we’ve seen the brinkmanship.

RT: If a deal is agreed on, what kind of reaction is it likely to trigger on Capitol Hill?

HL: I think the reaction will be negative, regardless of what the deal is. Some people in Washington, I think, disingenuously claim that it depends on whether it is a ‘good deal’ or ‘bad deal’. But there is no ‘good deal’ for many of the lawmakers in Washington, the 47 senators who sent this letter to Iran, there’s no good deal for them with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their agenda is regime change. They would be happy for an Iran under a kind of Shah, an American puppet, to have nuclear weapons. But they are not really interested in an independent state to have any nuclear weapons. So I think they would oppose any deal.

I think because of that reality, the focus of the talks in this session has been not so much, not I really think at all, on the US sanctions, but how to really put that in its own box and deal with something more internationally. The focus has been on the UN sanctions, which Congress has no say over. The United States could agree to lift UN sanctions in five minutes. I saw it done on Libya; I saw it done on Sudan. The United States can do it in five minutes; they don’t need to consult with anybody in Congress. And that is what I’m talking about in terms of political will.

It’s up to President Obama whether he will agree and literally pick up the phone and call the UN ambassador and say: “Either vote for the lifting of sanctions or abstain.” It’s all he needs to do. That’s a question of political will; the rest of it is really just political posturing.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) and Head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi talk while other members of their delegation listen after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. officials at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne March 27, 2015 (Reuters / Brendan Smialowski)

RT: The Republicans have warned that any deal with Iran might not survive after Barack Obama is out of the White House. Should we expect the US to make a U-turn on Iran in subsequent years?

HL: We’ve actually seen a bad scenario of this happening in the past. In the late 1970s under President Carter, his administration had negotiated the SALT II treaty with Moscow, with the Soviet Union. And the way he sold it was as if it was a “technical agreement,” that we were “imposing meaningful curbs” on the Soviet Union’s strategic capacity. The Congress defeated it. It was a devastating failure for President Carter.

We could potentially be looking at something like that if President Obama plays the same game by saying that he’s essentially going to hold his nose while he is negotiating with Iran and just try to focus on a narrow technical agreement. He needs to make the case, the strategic case why a fundamental realignment of US policies in the Middle East toward the Islamic Republic of Iran is imperative for the United States, that after a decade of disastrous military interventions in the Middle East, the United States needs a different way. It needs a constructive way forward with Iran. But he has not done that. Instead, my concern is that he is following President Carter’s route. Essentially Carter’s view was that the Soviet Union was an unreconstructed adversary, evil empire in a sense, and he was just going to hold his nose and try to get the SALT II treaty passed. Well, he lost the election in 1980, we got Ronald Reagan, and that was the end of that.

RT: If a deal is reached, how is it likely to change regional dynamics for America’s main allies in the region Israel and Saudi Arabia, who both strongly oppose a deal?

HL: I think it will be very good for the United States. After the end of the Cold War, the United States has gone through a period I think some would call of arrogance, essentially trying to impose its dominance on various regions of the world, including the Middle East. And those who want to go along with it, we characterize them as allies, when they are not really allies per se, they are just going along with the United States. What we really need is constructive relationships with each of the critical powers in the region so that they can restrain even the reckless impulses of our so-called allies. It’s not in our interests when Israel bombs Lebanon, Israel bombs Gaza. It’s not in our interest when Saudis invade Yemen. If you have a better relationship with Iran, it will constrain these reckless impulses of even our allies, and allow the United States to get off this dangerous trajectory of trying to impose its own military dominance on the region.

Read more: Nuclear deal with Iran ‘reached on all key aspects’ – Lavrov

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Swiss, French call to bring home gold reserves as Dutch move 122 tons out of US

RT | November 28, 2014

The financial crisis in Europe is prompting some nations to repatriate their gold reserves to national vaults. The Netherlands has moved $5 billion worth of gold from New York, and some are calling for similar action from France, Switzerland, and Germany.

An unmatched pace of money printing by major central banks has boosted concerns in European countries over the safety of their gold reserves abroad.

The Dutch central bank – De Nederlandsche Bank – was one of the latest to make the move. The bank announced last Friday that it moved a fifth of its total 612.5-metric-ton gold reserve from New York to Amsterdam earlier in November.

It was done in an effort to redistribute the gold stock in “a more balanced way,” and to boost public confidence, the bank explained.

“With this adjustment the Dutch Central Bank joins other banks that are keeping a larger share of their gold supply in their own country,” the bank said in a statement. “In addition to a more balanced division of the gold reserves…this may also contribute to a positive confidence effect with the public.”

Dutch gold reserves are now divided as follows: 31 percent in Amsterdam, 31 percent in New York, 20 percent in Ottawa, Canada and 18 percent in London.

Meanwhile, Switzerland has organized the ‘Save Our Swiss Gold’ referendum, which is taking place on November 30. If passed, it would force the Swiss National Bank to convert a fifth of its assets into gold and repatriate all of its reserves from vaults in the UK and Canada.

“The Swiss initiative is merely part of an increasing global scramble towards gold and away from the endless printing of money. Huge movements of gold are going on right now,” Koos Jansen, an Amsterdam-based gold analyst for the Singaporean precious metal dealer BullionStar, told the Guardian.

France has also recently joined in on the trend, with the leader of the far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen calling on the central bank to repatriate the country’s gold reserves.

In an open letter to the governor of the Banque de France, Christian Noyer, Le Pen also demanded an audit of 2,435 tons of physical gold inventory.

Germany tried and failed to adopt a similar path in early 2013 by announcing a plan to repatriate some of its gold reserves back from the US and France.

The efforts fizzled out this summer, when it was announced that Germany decided to leave $635 billion worth of gold in US vaults.

Germany only keeps about a third of its gold at home. Forty-five percent is held in New York, 13 percent in London, 11 percent in Paris, and only 31 percent in the Bundesbank in Frankfurt.

READ MORE: No ‘gold rush’: Germany keeps reserves in the US

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US helping Israel boycott Geneva summit on occupied territories – diplomatic sources

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RT | November 27, 2014

Switzerland is under diplomatic pressure from Israel, the US, Canada and Australia, which are trying to prevent an international conference in Geneva from taking place in mid-December on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, Haaretz reports.

Delegations from nearly 200 countries are expected to head to Geneva to discuss the situation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Yet, according to Haaretz, Israeli and Western diplomats are ready to go for broke to prevent the gathering from taking place.

Switzerland, as the main sponsor of the summit, is bearing the brunt of diplomatic pressure from all sides.

Israeli authorities told the media outlet that Palestinians and Arab states are also pressing Swiss officials to send out letters of invitation to the conference within a matter of days, the Israeli daily reported on Wednesday.

It was in early April when Israel announced plans of constructing 700 new houses in occupied East Jerusalem, a move that pushed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to ask 15 international conventions to join them in the name of the Palestinian state.

One of those was the Fourth Geneva Convention (signed 1949, came into force 1950), which specifically addresses protection of civilians in war zones and territories under military occupation.

Washington finally accepted that its efforts to extend peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been torpedoed. Several weeks later, Palestinians and the Arab League sent an official request to Switzerland to hold an international conference of the Fourth Geneva Convention signatory states on the issues of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, together with the damage caused by Israel’s armed forces to civilians in Gaza.

The last time the signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention gathered in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was in 2001, after the outbreak of the second intifada. That conference was boycotted by Israel and the United States.

After that summit there have been four fruitless attempts to gather the Fourth Geneva Convention on the issue of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Even the bloody Israeli military Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2009 failed to raise broad international support for holding such a conference, according to the Swiss Foreign Ministry at the time.

The necessity to call the new conference has been not evident this time, too, so Swiss diplomats asked every Fourth Geneva Convention signatory separately whether the time had come to hold a summit.

What the Swiss diplomats have proposed is a three-hour conference at an ambassadorial level, no discussions and no media coverage except for a final press statement. The conference is set to be focused on implementation of the international humanitarian law in troubled Israeli-Palestinian relations.

“We made it clear we didn’t want a political event or debate club, or a conference that would blame or criticize one of the sides,” a Swiss diplomat said.

However small the scale of the proposed event is, Israel strongly objected to it. Israeli diplomats reportedly conducted negotiations in Bern and Geneva, trying to persuade Swiss counterparts to call off the initiative and threatening to boycott it anyway.

“They told us that holding the conference would help a one-sided Palestinian move intended to make Israel look bad and attack it in an international forum,” the Swiss diplomat said.

The US and Canada told Switzerland they are going to boycott the conference, too.

“We strongly oppose the convening of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions and have made our opposition unmistakably clear,” a spokesman for the US State Department, Edgar Vasquez, told Haaretz.

It is true that the conference will have no authority to make any binding decisions, yet its work could engender further international criticism of Israel’s settlement policy on the occupied Palestinian territories.

Besides that, once Israeli diplomats received an updated draft of the conference’s proposed contents, they found out that the updated draft text had been phrased in a politicized way, directly naming Israel and going into detail on the issue of West Bank settlements.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has reportedly been ringing colleagues around the globe, attempting to talk them into declaring a boycott to the conference. Part of this work has been delegated to Israeli ambassadors worldwide.

With all due support on the part of the US, Canada and Australia, these efforts are likely to be in vain, and the Swiss diplomacy is decisive to go on with the plan and announce the conference officially soon.

The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits harming those uninvolved in a conflict, be they civilians, wounded soldiers or POWs, as well as obliging the occupying side to maintain human rights and decent living conditions of an occupied civilian population.

Israel joined the convention, but has never ratified it legislatively. The Israeli government regards the West Bank and East Jerusalem as ‘disputed’, not occupied, areas, therefore considering Israeli settlements as not violating the treaty.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Switzerland mirrors EU sanctions against Russia

RT | August 28, 2014

Switzerland has issued an expanded sanctions list against Russia which includes 5 banks, several companies and 11 Russian citizens. The move comes as the country doesn’t want to be used to bypass European sanctions on Moscow.

On Wednesday the Swiss Federal Council decided to widen its policy against Russia and to take all the measures required “to ensure that the most recent sanctions imposed by the European Union cannot be circumvented via Swiss territory,” the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs said in a statement.

The cabinet didn’t name the five Russian banks, but in July, the European Union sharply reduced the abilities of Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank and the Russian Agricultural Bank.

The affected financial institutions will have limited access to the capital markets of Switzerland. Moreover, Russian banks will require approval to issue long-term financial instruments in Switzerland, the statement said.

Bern also said it had added a further 11 individuals and a number of firms to the list without specifying them.

In addition, Switzerland has banned the import of materials for military purposes, the export of equipment for the oil industry, and limited the opportunity for investment in Crimea and Sevastopol.

The statement also said that the cabinet won’t try to promote any agricultural exports to Russia. Following the Russian food embargo, several European agricultural producers tried to re-export their goods through Switzerland, which were not included in the Russia ban.

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment