Wednesday, November 27, 2019

UN adopts Israeli resolution on agricultural technology

WASHINGTON - The United Nations General Assembly adopted an Israeli-led resolution this week. 

Some 147 countries voted in favor. Arab League countries, who usually automatically vote against Israeli-led resolutions, decided to abstain.

The Israeli resolution, titled "Agricultural Technologies for Development," is intended to help improve access to agricultural technology capabilities for developing countries, helping fulfill the secretary-general's goal of promoting sustainable development, the Israeli Mission to the UN said in a statement.

"The resolution speaks to Israel's strong capabilities in agriculture, irrigation and water management practices [and in] youth job creation in agriculture, and is consistent with Israel's longstanding cooperation with other countries, especially in Africa," the statement reads. "The overwhelming support the resolution received indicates its importance for many nations around the world, especially developing countries."

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said he is satisfied with the passage of the Israeli initiative.

"Israeli technologies have made the State of Israel a global power of knowledge and innovation that contributes to the global development effort," he said. "The countries that chose not to support us are the very ones that need to implement this resolution the most. Their decision to stick to their political biases only ends up harming their citizens, who are thirsty for the technology and advancement opportunities outlined in the resolution."

Settlements - Legal or Not?

(Guest posting by Charles Smith)

The subject of “settlements” has been made a top factor in the Palestinian fight to discredit and eventually overcome Israel. It is discussed constantly in the media, and has been made into a big political issue in Europe, America, generally. You’d think the matter concerned at least China or Russia and was of world-wide importance. But it does concern the Jews, so the facts are that it concerns only one out of about 200 cases of building in “occupied” land by other nations worldwide, and then it is only on a dot on the map.

I'd class the supporters of the Palestinian narrative - that the "settlements" are illegal and are preventing peace in the M.E. - including representatives of many countries, large numbers of students and others – into two categories: 
a) those who are influenced by antisemitism and 
b) those who are ignorant of the facts and have accepted blindly what they’ve heard from spokesmen or the media.

I'm sure  that 95% of them haven’t the time or the interest, so haven’t checked the true legal situation via reliable sources. This probably applies to Jewish people as well, since most people can’t start reading legal opinions about everything that’s going on. I have made the effort, however, as it’s so important to us living here.

I came across a fairly short article in the papers today. It gives, what I think is a very  good summary of the important facts of the matter, and so a basic understanding of what we Israelis see as the true situation, and the flaws in the situation as it is broadcast and accepted by a huge majority world wide (for the two reasons mentioned above).

There is one more relatively minor factor, regularly used in discussions on the matter, which is not mentioned in the article. So just to add this to your ammunition if needed:

Another clause in the Geneva Convention (after WWII) on which most arguments are based, states that one state can’t occupy land captured from another state in a war. The Israeli (and now apparently also American) position is that the so-called West Bank was taken back from Jordan in the war they started in order to destroy the new Israeli state, but was never recognized as part of Jordan i.e. it was never part of another state. All the opposition choose to ignore that small problem, while accepting and relying absolutely on another clause !! (Questionable motive?)

Last note before you read the short article: Just to remind, once again, that the whole subject is a total red herring, since the one and only factor actually preventing any progress in the non-existent “peace process”  is the absolute refusal of the Palestinians to EVER consider acceptance of any Jewish independent state in the M.E. All the rest could be settled in no time if they dropped that eternal brick wall.

Journalists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq tour Israel

By Herb Keinon  November 26, 2019

The Foreign Ministry hosted a delegation of Arab journalists last week – including from countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations – in an attempt to chip away at Israel-hatred in the Middle East.

“My goal is to bring people here to get to know the real Israel, to see it first hand, and not through television or social media, and see how Israel is unjustly slandered,” said Hassan Kaabia, the Foreign Ministry’s spokesman for the Arabic media who organized and accompanied the group.

This is the second such delegation in four months.

The delegation, which toured the country for five days, included senior journalists from Saud Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Egypt, as well as two musicians from Iraq.

Israel has no ties with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Iraq, and Kaabia said he did not know whether the governments of those countries knew about the visits.

“I deal with people, not governments,” he said, adding that he knows the members of the delegation from interactions he has had with them on social media. The Foreign Ministry has an active Arabic Facebook and Twitter pages.

Unlike the six person delegation that came in July, where one member – Saudi blogger Mahmoud Saud – was willing to be identified and go public, none of the members of the current delegation would identify themselves. Saud was cursed, jeered and spat upon by Palestinians when he visited the Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount during his visit here. He frequently posts pro-Netanyahu items on social media.

The Saudi journalist in the most recent group, whom Kaabia said was very well known in his home country, said in reference to the Palestinians in an interview with Army Radio’s Jacky Hugi that he did not understand why there had to be problems with Israel because of a “small minority” who had refused the opportunity to create a state in 1947 because they were busy asking why Jews should have an independent state.

Faced with a sea of hatred toward Israel in the Arab world, Kaabia said that these delegations – though small – can have a major impact. He said that the members of the current delegation are well known in their countries – with a YouTube release of one of the Iraqi musicians songs garnering 24 million views – and that they will all write about their visit, as well as talk about it with their family and friends.

The delegation met for two hours with Foreign Minister Israel Katz, as well as other Foreign Ministry officials and Knesset members from across the political spectrum. They also toured Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other parts of the country.

As to why they were not willing to go public, Kaabia said that their reply was that the Arab street is not yet ready for open ties with Israel, “So let’s do it slowly.”
The delegation’s visit came the same week that an organization called the Arab Council for Regional Integration held an inaugural meeting in London and supported engagement with Israel.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday posted a link to a New York Times story on the conference, and wrote: “It’s time for Arab countries to abandon boycotts and engage #Israel.” Pompeo added that “Arab thinkers who risk their lives to bravely advocate a regional vision of peace and coexistence shouldn’t face retribution. We need dialogue.”

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Will They Ever Learn?

Israel struck tens of Iranian targets in Syria following rocket attacks on the Jewish state earlier the day.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday night carried out a series of strikes against tens of Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria in response to a rocket attack by Iranian-backed militia on Israel earlier in the day.
The IDF stated that it carried out “wide-scale strikes on Iranian Quds Force and Syrian Armed Forces targets in Syria in response to the rockets fired at Israel by an Iranian force in Syria” early Tuesday morning.
The targets included surface-to-air missiles, headquarters, weapons caches and military bases in Syria, the IDF stated, while providing a detailed map of the locations of the attacks.
During the IAF’s strike, the Syrian air defense fired missiles at the IAF fighters, despite “clear warnings” by Israel to Syria to refrain from such fire. The IAF responded by destroying a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries, the IDF said.
While Syria’s official SANA news reported that two people were killed in the attack and another two were injured, a Britain-based war monitoring group reported that 11 people were killed, with seven of the casualties assumed to be Iranians, according to the Associated Press.
The Israeli attack was conducted from the Golan Heights and from Lebanese airspace, and the “majority” of the Israeli missiles were intercepted by Syria’s air defense system, the report claimed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which has assets on the ground in Syria, reported that the Israeli strike generated explosions that were heard in the capital Damascus and its vicinity.
The SOHR noted that the Israeli attacks were conducted in areas “where the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian militias are active,” and that the strike targeted  “sites from which the four missiles were launched from inside the Syrian territory” on the Golan Heights earlier in the day.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

What International Law?

Let’s be clear where we stand vis a vis International Law

"The most important distinction in international law and specifically about the rules of war is that here is a dividing line. On one side are combatants; on the other side are non-combatants. He added that one "cannot fight people who are innocent civilians. You can cross that line accidentally, but you can’t cross it deliberately. If you deliberately target civilians, that’s a war crime." – stated the Prime Minister

However, he continued, "Terrorists, including the terrorists in Gaza do something entirely different. They target civilians deliberately. They target our cities; they target Ashkelon, as they did today. They target the communities around Gaza. They target Tel Aviv. They target Jerusalem. They deliberately target civilians. That’s a war crime. Now, they commit a second war crime. They not only target civilians, they hide behind civilians in civilian areas, so that they know that we, who are trying to avoid hitting civilians, will not hit them in their places of hiding. So they’re committing a double war crime. They’re targeting civilians and they’re hiding behind civilians, trying to basically receive a safe situation where they can keep on doing this."

Meanwhile,  the ruling of the European Union court against Israel re labelling of products that while the EU chooses not to join the sanctions on Iran, it imposes economic-diplomatic restrictions on Israel . The hypocrisy continues

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The EU court favours BDS

November 12, 2019 / JNS – Yisrael Medad

The European Court of Justice has just published its interpretation of “the underlying rules concerning indication of origin in connection to the matter of labeling agricultural products” in response to the case brought by the Psagot Winery (a case that former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has now termed “stupidity”).

The main thrust of the judgment—despite all the denials and obfuscation by the European Union—is to enable a boycott of those wines as well as other grown, produced and manufactured foodstuffs and items in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley and parts of Jerusalem:

Point 1 -“Foodstuffs originating in the territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin, accompanied, where those foodstuffs come from an Israeli settlement within that territory.”

Veiled by a humanitarian concern for freedom of information and in taking a stand that there is illegality in the existence of the “settlements,” the European Union has now redoubled its political efforts to ethnically cleanse the heart of the Jewish homeland of Jews.

In claiming that there is a failure to indicate the country of origin which then “might mislead consumers into believing that that foodstuff has a country of origin or a place of provenance different from its true country of origin” is itself a misleading claim.

After all, foodstuffs produced by Arabs in the same area, if labeled as “Palestine” (as, for example, the Taybeh Brewing Company does) would be quite misleading as there is no country or state by that name. It is a geographical name of a region. In fact, it became “Palestine” in the modern era, sanctioned by international law, only because of Zionism and the just goal to reconstituting in that area the Jewish national home.

Moreover, Israel legally maintains a belligerent occupation—that is, one whose origin is as a result of hostilities. The hostilities themselves—namely, the 1967 Six-Day War—were of a self-defense nature against aggression. As the court notes, the relevant regulation refers equally to a “territory” and a “state.” To label the wine as made in “Judea” or “Binyamin” or “Samaria” should suffice. Israel surely exercises its “full range of powers recognized by international law” in those territories.

Moreover, as the court notes:

Point 2 - it follows from the very wording of the Union Customs Code that that term [the concept of ‘country of origin’] refers to entities other than ‘countries’ and, therefore, other than ‘States.’ ”

It would logically follow from all that verbiage that labeling a bottle of Psagot wine or dates from the Jordan Valley as “Binyamin, State of Israel” or “Jordan Valley, State of Israel” is not misleading and falls within the geographic definition required. After all, the court, as I understand, agrees with this as so:

Point 3 - “the indication that a foodstuff comes from an ‘Israeli settlement’ located in one of the ‘territories occupied by the State of Israel’ may be regarded as an indication of the ‘place of provenance,’ provided that the term ‘settlement’ refers to a specific geographical area.”

But no, the court insists that its judgment is intended “to prevent consumers from being misled as to the fact that the State of Israel is present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity.” But Israel does exercise its legal sovereign power in being the legitimate occupier of those areas in accordance with international law. Occupation per se is not necessarily illegal.

Point 4 - “first of all underlined that the settlements established in some of the territories occupied by the State of Israel are characterised by the fact that they give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law.”

That “characterization” ensues from the label and an “omission of that indication … might mislead consumers. Consumers have no way of knowing, in the absence of any information capable of enlightening them in that respect.”

But why should consumers need to know about a supposed “violation” of humanitarian law”? I can only guess, despite E.U. protestations otherwise, that it wishes to point the consumers in the direction of boycott. There can be no other reason. As the court makes explicit:

the provision of information to consumers must enable them to make informed choices, with regard not only to health, economic, environmental and social considerations, but also to ethical considerations and considerations relating to the observance of international law. The Court underlined in that respect that such considerations could influence consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Quite clearly, they intend to educate consumers to take “ethical considerations” that can only lead to conclusions for the practice of boycott. Moreover, the court’s reasoning is quite shakey.

The official response from the E.U. Spokesperson’s Office in Tel Aviv states : The E.U. does not support any form of boycott or sanctions against Israel. The E.U. rejects attempts by the campaigns of the so-called “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement to isolate Israel.

I beg to differ with that assertion.

NGO-Monitor detailed on Tuesday the corrosive financial and political backdrop to the decision, which includes that fact that NGOs, as a stepping-stone to boycotts, pushed for labeling and, ironically, receive large funds from these same E.U. governments. There is a lot more.

Of course, there is another way out.

Why not initiate direct marketing to Europe, which, I think, is already done on a small scale? Internet sales. It could be, facetiously but advantageously, marketed as “The Wine Banned By Brussels.” It would tell the consumer that the E.U. bureaucracy wants to prevent him from making quality purchases based on a political outlook. As a friend suggested, for Judea and Samaria-friendly people, “the E.U. wants you not to purchase this wine because they are made by Jews in places the E.U. forbids Jews to live.”

Jews are by right in Judea and Samaria. The League of Nations confirmed our historical connection to these territories. In the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan, the terms “Judea” and “Samaria” are employed. Jews were not in Judea and Samaria between 1948-1967 due to an inhumanitarian and illegal ethnic-cleansing operation conducted by Arabs between 1920 and 1948. Our presence there post-1967 is a result of Arab terror and aggression.

Hospital Evacuates in Face of Rocket Fire

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Renewal of UNRWA's Mandate - Absurd

 Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)
Israel views with great concern the recently published findings of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) investigation into UNRWA and calls for the full and transparent release of all findings of the investigation. These findings strengthen Israel's claims that deep and comprehensive change in the operational model of the agency is required.

Under the leadership of UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl over the past several years, the politicization of UNRWA has expanded, the budget deficit has inflated, and the operational model has become unsustainable. The stepping aside of Krähenbühl is but the first step in a long process that is needed to eliminate corruption, increase transparency, and prevent politicization of the agency.
Israel calls on the international community and all contributing countries to take part in an evaluation process to create a new and more effective operational model.

The recent developments prove that the automatic renewal of UNRWA's mandate for three more years is absolutely absurd, immoral, and unreasonable.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz stated: "UNRWA's conduct illustrates that the agency is part of the problem, and not part of the solution. The agency perpetuates the refugee issue in a political manner, and in doing so distances any possibility for a future resolution. The international community needs to find a new model that will provide humanitarian assistance to those who truly need it, and must remove from the agenda the futile idea of the return of the refugees.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

UN consulting with Israeli NGO to improve UNRWA operations

The United Nations has begun exploring alternatives to the mandate of UNRWA, the relief agency it created in 1949 to specifically cater to Palestinian refugees.

The latest steps come against the backdrop of allegations that the agency’s actions are tainted by corruption. UNRWA directors have been accused of abusing authority for their personal gain and suppressing legitimate dissent “to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.”

The Trump administration has been pushing for reforms in UNRWA and has even sanctioned the agency over its failed financial practices, withholding over $100 million in funding.

For years Israel has accused UNRWA of being grossly one-sided in favor of the Palestinians, while UNRWA-sponsored schools for Palestinian children have also come under criticism for using textbooks that blatantly incite against and demonize Israel.

A local newspaper, Israel Hayom  learned, meanwhile, that the office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked pro-Israel non-governmental organizations to submit proposals for UNRWA operations.

One of the NGO’s approached by Guterres’ office is the Center for Near East Policy Research – headed by journalist David Bedein – which has long-been been a vocal critic of UNRWA. Decades ago, Bedein was among the first to shine a light the severe deficiencies within UNRWA’s operations and is a respected voice on the subject.

Guterres initially met personally with Bedein and his associate, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Director of Global Social Action Agenda of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Cooper is a leading voice in the fight against anti-Semitism, and has also been seeking reforms in UNRWA for years. Following their meeting, the UN chief tasked one of his advisers with continuing to hold consultations with Bedein and Cooper.

“I’m not against UNRWA, and not against the Palestinians,” Bedein told Israel Hayom.

“I approached this issue because in my training I’m a social worker and I wanted to help rehabilitate the refugees. But from the moment I discovered that UNRWA adopted the principles of the Palestinian Liberation Organization – which aspires to destroy the State of Israel, and not the values of the UN, which aspires to resolve conflicts and strive for peace – I understood that the refugees cannot be rehabilitated in a professional manner.
“Therefore, the extension of UNRWA’s mandate, which is planned for the near future, needs to be conditioned on transparency and a fundamental change of [UNRWA’s] educational system,” said Bedein.

Cooper added that he was particularly incredulous over Germany and Japan turning a blind eye to the issue.

“These two countries decided to insert themselves… and supplement the budget and donations the American administration stopped paying. Even if I disagree I can understand it. What I can’t understand, however, is why these countries agree to donate tens of millions of dollars without oversight and no transparency?! I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Cooper said.

Increasing oversight
The sides have thus far held four meetings on the matter, with another one scheduled for mid-November.

In the meetings, Cooper, Bedein and other researchers presented Guterres’ representative with their findings into UNRWA’s severe deficiencies. They put an emphasis on the rampant incitement against Israel and Jews in UNRWA-run schools in east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon.

The UN official was also shown the stark difference between the mandate given to UNRWA by the UN, and the mandate it has given to The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency, which handles all the other refugees in the world. For example, the UNHCR is required to rehabilitate the refugees under its purview, while UNRWA perpetuates the plight of Palestinian refugees.

Similarly, the Palestinians are the only ones permitted to hand down their refugee status from generation to generation in perpetuity, while others across the globe lose their refugee status after a generation or two. As a consequence, the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled Israel during the 1948 War of Independence have since ballooned to nearly 5 million Palestinian refugees – a phenomenon without parallel in the world.

The most urgent step required to properly manage UNRWA, Bedein and Cooper told the UN official, is to increase oversight and transparency over the agency, as donor countries are also in the dark over how their money is spent.  The UN official requested more detailed proposals and the sides agreed that the alternatives would be presented at the fifth meeting in around a week and a half.