Israel Political Brief December 6, 2012: Palestinians appeal to UN over Israel’s E1 East Jerusalem housing plan

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Palestinians appeal to U.N. over Israel’s E1 housing plan

Source: JTA, 12-6-12

The Palestinians appealed to the United Nations Security Council to stop Israel from making plans to build 3,000 apartments in a controversial area outside of Jerusalem….READ MORE

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Full Text Israel Political Brief September 27, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York

Source: PMO, 9-27-12

Photo by GPO

-Transcription-

Thank you very much Mr. President.
It’s a pleasure to see the General Assembly presided by the Ambassador from Israel, and it’s good to see all of you, distinguished delegates.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Three thousand years ago, King David reigned over the Jewish state in our eternal capital, Jerusalem. I say that to all those who proclaim that the Jewish state has no roots in our region and that it will soon disappear.
Throughout our history, the Jewish people have overcome all the tyrants who have sought our destruction. It’s their ideologies that have been discarded by history.
The people of Israel live on. We say in Hebrew Am Yisrael Chai, and the Jewish state will live forever.
The Jewish people have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years. Even after most of our people were exiled from it, Jews continued to live in the land of Israel throughout the ages. The masses of our people never gave up the dreamed of returning to our ancient homeland.
Defying the laws of history, we did just that. We ingathered the exiles, restored our independence and rebuilt our national life. The Jewish people have come home.
We will never be uprooted again.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
Every year, for over three millennia, we have come together on this day of reflection and atonement. We take stock of our past. We pray for our future. We remember the sorrows of our persecution; we remember the great travails of our dispersion; we mourn the extermination of a third of our people, six million, in the Holocaust.
But at the end of Yom Kippur, we celebrate.
We celebrate the rebirth of Israel. We celebrate the heroism of our young men and women who have defended our people with the indomitable courage of Joshua, David, and the Maccabees of old. We celebrate the marvel of the flourishing modern Jewish state.
In Israel, we walk the same paths tread by our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But we blaze new trails in science, technology, medicine, agriculture.
In Israel, the past and the future find common ground.

Unfortunately, that is not the case in many other countries. For today, a great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval.
The forces of modernity seek a bright future in which the rights of all are protected, in which an ever-expanding digital library is available in the palm of every child, in which every life is sacred.
The forces of medievalism seek a world in which women and minorities are subjugated, in which knowledge is suppressed, in which not life but death is glorified.
These forces clash around the globe, but nowhere more starkly than in the Middle East.
Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the rights of all our citizens:  men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians – all are equal before the law.

Israel is also making the world a better place: our scientists win Nobel Prizes. Our know-how is in every cell-phone and computer that you’re using. We prevent hunger by irrigating arid lands in Africa and Asia.
Recently, I was deeply moved when I visited Technion, one of our technological institutes in Haifa, and I saw a man paralyzed from the waist down climb up a flight of stairs, quite easily, with the aid of an Israeli invention.
And Israel’s exceptional creativity is matched by our people’s remarkable compassion. When disaster strikes anywhere in the world – in Haiti, Japan, India, Turkey Indonesia and elsewhere – Israeli doctors are among the first on the scene, performing life-saving surgeries.

In the past year, I lost both my father and my father-in-law. In the same hospital wards where they were treated, Israeli doctors were treating Palestinian Arabs. In fact, every year, thousands of Arabs from the Palestinian territories and Arabs from throughout the Middle East come to Israel to be treated in Israeli hospitals by Israeli doctors.
I know you’re not going to hear that from speakers around this podium, but that’s the truth. It’s important that you are aware of this truth.
It’s because Israel cherishes life, that Israel cherishes peace and seeks peace.

We seek to preserve our historic ties and our historic peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. We seek to forge a durable peace with the Palestinians.

President Abbas just spoke here.
I say to him and I say to you:
We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. That’s not the way to solve it. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood.
We have to sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State.
Israel wants to see a Middle East of progress and peace. We want to see the three great religions that sprang forth from our region – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – coexist in peace and in mutual respect.

Yet the medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East, they oppose this.
They seek supremacy over all Muslims. They are bent on world conquest. They want to destroy Israel, Europe, America. They want to extinguish freedom. They want to end the modern world.
Militant Islam has many branches – from the rulers of Iran with their Revolutionary Guards to Al Qaeda terrorists to the radical cells lurking in every part of the globe.
But despite their differences, they are all rooted in the same bitter soil of intolerance. That intolerance is directed first at their fellow Muslims, and then to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, secular people, anyone who doesn’t submit to their unforgiving creed.
They want to drag humanity back to an age of unquestioning dogma and unrelenting conflict.
I am sure of one thing. Ultimately they will fail. Ultimately, light will penetrate the darkness.
We’ve seen that happen before.
Some five hundred years ago, the printing press helped pry a cloistered Europe out of a dark age. Eventually, ignorance gave way to enlightenment.
So too, a cloistered Middle East will eventually yield to the irresistible power of freedom and technology. When this happens, our region will be guided not by fanaticism and conspiracy, but by reason and curiosity.

I think the relevant question is this: it’s not whether this fanaticism will be defeated. It’s how many lives will be lost before it’s defeated.
We’ve seen that happen before too.
Some 70 years ago, the world saw another fanatic ideology bent on world conquest. It went down in flames. But not before it took millions of people with it. Those who opposed that fanaticism waited too long to act. In the end they triumphed, but at an horrific cost.
My friends, we cannot let that happen again.
At stake is not merely the future of my own country. At stake is the future of the world. Nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons.
To understand what the world would be like with a nuclear-armed Iran, just imagine the world with a nuclear-armed Al-Qaeda.
It makes no difference whether these lethal weapons are in the hands of the world’s most dangerous terrorist regime or the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization. They’re both fired by the same hatred; they’re both driven by the same lust for violence.
Just look at what the Iranian regime has done up till now, without nuclear weapons.
In 2009, they brutally put down mass protests for democracy in their own country. Today, their henchmen are participating in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, including thousands of children, directly participating in this murder.
They abetted the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and continue to do so in Afghanistan. Before that, Iranian proxies killed hundreds of American troops in Beirut and in Saudi Arabia. They’ve turned Lebanon and Gaza into terror strongholds, embedding nearly 100,000 missiles and rockets in civilian areas. Thousands of these rockets and missiles have already been fired at Israeli communities by their terrorist proxies.
In the last year, they’ve spread their international terror networks to two dozen countries across five continents – from India and Thailand to Kenya and Bulgaria. They’ve even plotted to blow up a restaurant a few blocks from the White House in order to kill a diplomat.
And of course, Iran’s rulers repeatedly deny the Holocaust and call for Israel’s destruction almost on a daily basis, as they did again this week from the United Nations.

So I ask you, given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons. Imagine their long range missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, their terror networks armed with atomic bombs.
Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who would be safe in Europe? Who would be safe in America? Who would be safe anywhere?

There are those who believe that a nuclear-armed Iran can be deterred like the Soviet Union.
That’s a very dangerous assumption.
Militant Jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists. There were no Soviet suicide bombers. Yet Iran produces hordes of them.
Deterrence worked with the Soviets, because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose their survival.
But deterrence may not work with the Iranians once they get nuclear weapons.

There’s a great scholar of the Middle East, Prof. Bernard Lewis, who put it best. He said that for the Ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.
Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating Holy War, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth.
That’s not just what they believe. That’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.
Just listen to Ayatollah Rafsanjani who said, I quote:  “The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything, however it would only harm the Islamic world.”
Rafsanjani said: “It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”
Not irrational…
And that’s coming from one of the so-called moderates of Iran.

Shockingly, some people have begun to peddle the absurd notion that a nuclear-armed Iran would actually stabilize the Middle East.
Yeah, right…
That’s like saying a nuclear-armed Al-Qaeda would usher in an era of universal peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’ve been speaking about the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over 15 years.
I spoke about it in my first term in office as Prime Minister, and then I spoke about it when I left office. I spoke about it when it was fashionable, and I spoke about it when it wasn’t fashionable.
I speak about it now because the hour is getting late, very late. I speak about it now because the Iranian nuclear calendar doesn’t take time out for anyone or for anything. I speak about it now because when it comes to the survival of my country, it’s not only my right to speak; it’s my duty to speak. And I believe that this is the duty of every responsible leader who wants to preserve world peace.
For nearly a decade, the international community has tried to stop the Iranian nuclear program with diplomacy.
That hasn’t worked.
Iran uses diplomatic negotiations as a means to buy time to advance its nuclear program.

For over seven years, the international community has tried sanctions with Iran. Under the leadership of President Obama, the international community has passed some of the strongest sanctions to date.
I want to thank the governments represented here that have joined in this effort. It’s had an effect. Oil exports have been curbed and the Iranian economy has been hit hard.
It’s had an effect on the economy, but we must face the truth. Sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program either.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, during the last year alone, Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges in its underground nuclear facility in Qom.
At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war.
Look at NATO’s charter: it made clear that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on all.  NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century.
President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That red line also prevented war and helped preserve the peace for decades.
In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression.

If the Western powers had drawn clear red lines during the 1930s, I believe they would have stopped Nazi aggression and World War II might have been avoided.
In 1990, if Saddam Hussein had been clearly told that his conquest of Kuwait would cross a red line, the first Gulf War might have been avoided.
Clear red lines have also worked with Iran.
Earlier this year, Iran threatened to close the Straits of Hormouz. The United States drew a clear red line and Iran backed off.
Red lines could be drawn in different parts of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But to be credible, a red line must be drawn first and foremost in one vital part of their program: on Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium. Now let me explain why:
Basically, any bomb consists of explosive material and a mechanism to ignite it.
The simplest example is gunpowder and a fuse. That is, you light the fuse and set off the gunpowder.
In the case of Iran’s plans to build a nuclear weapon, the gunpowder is enriched uranium. The fuse is a nuclear detonator.
For Iran, amassing enough enriched uranium is far more difficult than producing the nuclear fuse.
For a country like Iran, it takes many, many years to enrich uranium for a bomb. That requires thousands of centrifuges spinning in tandem in very big industrial plants. Those Iranian plants are visible and they’re still vulnerable.
In contrast, Iran could produce the nuclear detonator – the fuse – in a lot less time, maybe under a year, maybe only a few months.
The detonator can be made in a small workshop the size of a classroom. It may be very difficult to find and target that workshop, especially in Iran. That’s a country that’s bigger than France, Germany, Italy and Britain combined.
The same is true for the small facility in which they could assemble a warhead or a nuclear device that could be placed in a container ship. Chances are you won’t find that facility either.
So in fact the only way that you can credibly prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, is to prevent Iran from amassing enough enriched uranium for a bomb.
So, how much enriched uranium do you need for a bomb? And how close is Iran to getting it?
Let me show you. I brought a diagram for you. Here’s the diagram.

**************

This is a bomb; this is a fuse.
In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages.
The first stage: they have to enrich enough of low enriched uranium.
The second stage: they have to enrich enough medium enriched uranium.
And the third stage and final stage: they have to enrich enough high enriched uranium for the first bomb.
Where’s Iran? Iran’s completed the first stage. It took them many years, but they completed it and they’re 70% of the way there.
Now they are well into the second stage. By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage.
From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.

*****************

Ladies and Gentlemen,
What I told you now is not based on secret information. It’s not based on military intelligence. It’s based on public reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Anybody can read them. They’re online.
So if these are the facts, and they are, where should the red line be drawn?

The red line should be drawn right here
…………..

Before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.
Before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.
Each day, that point is getting closer. That’s why I speak today with such a sense of urgency. And that’s why everyone should have a sense of urgency.
Some who claim that even if Iran completes the enrichment process, even if it crosses that red line that I just drew, our intelligence agencies will know when and where Iran will make the fuse, assemble the bomb, and prepare the warhead.
Look, no one appreciates our intelligence agencies more than the Prime Minister of Israel. All these leading intelligence agencies are superb, including ours. They’ve foiled many attacks. They’ve saved many lives.
But they are not foolproof.
For over two years, our intelligence agencies didn’t know that Iran was building a huge nuclear enrichment plant under a mountain.
Do we want to risk the security of the world on the assumption that we would find in time a small workshop in a country half the size of Europe?

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. The relevant question is at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb.
The red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.
I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down.
This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether.

Two days ago, from this podium, President Obama reiterated that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be contained.
I very much appreciate the President’s position as does everyone in my country. We share the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This goal unites the people of Israel.  It unites Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike and it is shared by important leaders throughout the world.
What I have said today will help ensure that this common goal is achieved.
Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue, and I am confident that we can chart a path forward together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The clash between modernity and medievalism need not be a clash between progress and tradition.
The traditions of the Jewish people go back thousands of years.  They are the source of our collective values and the foundation of our national strength.
At the same time, the Jewish people have always looked towards the future. Throughout history, we have been at the forefront of efforts to expand liberty, promote equality, and advance human rights.
We champion these principles not despite of our traditions but because of them.
We heed the words of the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah to treat all with dignity and compassion, to pursue justice and cherish life and to pray and strive for peace.
These are the timeless values of my people and these are the Jewish people’s greatest gift to mankind.
Let us commit ourselves today to defend these values so that we can defend our freedom and protect our common civilization.

Thank you.

Israel Political Brief September 27, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu draws “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program in UN Speech

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Netanyahu draws “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program

http://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20120927&t=2&i=657485540&w=&fh=&fw=&ll=460&pl=300&r=CBRE88Q1ETE00
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his “red line” for Iran’s nuclear program on Thursday despite a U.S. refusal to set an ultimatum, saying Tehran will be on the brink of a nuclear weapon in less than a year…..READ MORE

Israel Political Brief September 23, 2012: Israel envoy to UN: Act to right wrong to Jews expelled from Arab lands

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Israel envoy to U.N.: Act to right wrong to Jews expelled from Arab lands

Source: JTA, 9-23-12

The United Nations must act to right the “historic wrong” done to Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries, said Israel’s U.N. ambassador to the world body, Ron Prosor….READ MORE

Isael Political Brief November 30, 2011: Israel releases Palestinian Authority funds

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Israel releases PA funds

Source: JTA, 11-30-11

Israel released $100 million in tax funds it had withheld from the Palestinian Authority.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday the handover of the money, the transfer of which had been frozen on Nov. 1 in response to the Palestinians’ recognition as a state by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural and scientific agency.

Israel, which collects tax and customs on behalf of the Palestinian Authority under interim peace accords from the 1990s, has been troubled by the PA’s lobbying for full U.N. membership as bilateral negotiations remain stalled.

Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that the decision to free the cash, a month’s worth of levies that the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority depends on to pay its civil servants, “followed the cessation of unilateral steps on the part of the Palestinian Authority.”

“In the event of the Palestinian Authority resuming unilateral steps, the money transfer will again be reviewed,” the statement said.

Among those opposed to relinquishing the cash was Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who noted that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has feted terrorists freed by Israel as part of last month’s prisoner swap with Hamas.

But Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu party is a junior party to Netanyahu’s Likud in the conservative coalition, said Monday that he would not quit the government in protest at a restoration of the PA funds.

Israel Brief November 29, 2011: World Zionist Organization re-enacts the 1947 recognition of Israel by the UN

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“Every Jew Should Learn About This Day”

World Zionist Organization re-enacts the recognition of Israel by the UN. MK Danon: “Every Jew should learn about this day.”

 

Historical Reenactment of the 29th of November

Historical Reenactment of the 29th of November
Amir Lusky

The World Zionist Organization staged a re-enactment of the November 29, 1947 recognition of Israel by the United Nations in Jerusalem on Tuesday. The dramatic vote in the United Nations 64 years ago gave the British Empire one year to leave the country it had occupied since 1917, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

The event featured live entertainment and street performers as well as an address by Jewish Agency chairman and former Prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky. Other speeches were delivered by World Zionist Organization officials and Knesset Member Danny Danon, chairman of the Knesset Committee for Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.

“We are very happy to be here today to celebrate the decision by the UN in 1947 of a declaration of a Jewish state,” MK Danon told Arutz Sheva.

“I think the main message to the Prime Minister today is not to consider giving any funding to the Palestinian Authority,” he added. “I cannot imagine that [Israel’s first Prime Minister] Ben Gurion would have considered funding a terrorist group.”

The Palestinian Authority recently added November 29 to its list of “catastrophes” besides May 15, the day that Israel declared independence. MK Danon wants to counter the anti-Zionist incitement with a law that would proclaim it “National Zionism Day.”

“It’s very important that every Jew learn about the significance of this day, in the schools, in the synagogues,” he said. “Everyone should celebrate this marvelous day.”

29th of November Reenactment Amir Lusky

 

29th of November 1947 Archive

Israel Political Brief November 28, 2011: PM Netanyahu tells Knesset Committee he’s considering releasing frozen PA funds

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Netanyahu says he’s considering releasing frozen PA funds

Source: JTA, 11-28-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Knesset committee that he could release frozen Palestinian Authority funds soon.

Netanyahu reportedly told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that he is reconsidering holding $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel since the Palestinians have halted their bid to be accepted into international organizations.

Israel has been withholding the tax payments collected on the Palestinians’ behalf since the Palestinians were accepted as a full member of UNESCO, the United Nations scientific and cultural agency. It has continued to withhold them over Fatah-Hamas unity talks….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 23, 2011: UN’s Ban tells Netanyahu to release PA funds

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U.N.’s Ban tells Netanyahu to release PA funds

Source: JTA, 11-23-11

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hand over tax monies collected for the Palestinian Authority.

Ban in a phone call Tuesday also told Netanyahu to stop building in Jewish settlements.

Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority about $100 million in tax payments collected on the Palestinians’ behalf each month.

“The secretary-general appealed to Prime Minister Netanyahu to immediately resume the transfer of Palestinian tax and customs revenues, in line with Israel’s legal obligations,” Ban’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, told the French news agency AFP. “He also expressed his deep concern about Israel’s announcement of further settlement expansions, including in east Jerusalem, which undermine current peace efforts and violate international law.”

Netanyahu and his inner Cabinet of eight ministers in a meeting Sunday decided to continue the suspension that began early this month, shortly after the Palestinians were admitted as a full member of UNESCO, the U.N.’s scientific and cultural agency. The suspension will continue, according to Haaretz, due to new movement between Hamas and Fatah to form a unity government.

The defense establishment, including Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, has called for the payments to be reinstated. Israeli security services reportedly have argued that withholding the funds, which go in part to pay Palestinian police officers, could hamper security arrangements in the West Bank.

Israel Political Brief October 6, 2011: Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird mounts vigorous defense of Israel in address at the United Nations (UN)

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Baird mounts vigorous defense of Israel at UN

Source: CJN, 10-6-11

“Canadian tradition is to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular or convenient or expedient.”

John Baird addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 26.

So said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird just before launching into one of the most vigorous defences of Israel the United Nations General Assembly has heard by someone other than a representative of the Jewish state.

In his Sept. 26 speech in New York City, Baird praised the founding principles of the UN, but said that Canada, at least as governed by the Conservatives, will no longer “go along to get along” with the world body on any number of issues, particularly with respect to Israel.

“We supported the aspirations of those peoples who sought for themselves and their countries brighter futures during the Arab Spring that just passed,” he said. “But we will not go along with the unilateral actions of the Palestinian Authority.”

He called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table to reach a peace deal with Israel, saying it’s the only way to achieve statehood.

Baird then cemented Canada’s position on Israel.

“We uphold Israel’s right to exist. We uphold its fundamental right, like any member state, to defend innocent civilians against acts of terrorism. Just as fascism and Communism were the great struggles of previous generations, terrorism is the great struggle of ours.

“And far too often, the Jewish state is on the front line of our struggle and its people the victims of terror,” he said.

Baird added: “Canada will not accept or stay silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory and its citizens. It was accommodation and appeasement that allowed fascism to gather strength [prior to World War II]. As Winston Churchill said: ‘An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.’”

He then castigated the UN for consistently failing to live up to its founding vision and principles and urged its members to look at the continuing human rights violations worldwide that remain unaddressed and unsolved by the world body.

He cited the plight of women, Christians, Baha’i and other victims of persecution in Iran, as well as Roman Catholics, priests and “other Christian clergy, and their laity, driven to worship underground in China.”

Baird also noted the predicament of Christians being driven out of Iraq by Al Qaeda and Copts who are “being assaulted and killed” in Egypt.

“In Burma, the regime discriminates against several forms of Buddhism and restricts the activities of Muslims. In other places, the Ahmadiyya community faces violence,” Baird said. “Gays and lesbians [are] threatened with criminalization of their sexuality in Uganda.”

All of this, according to Baird, leads Canada to question “the relevance and effectiveness” of the UN at this time in world history.

“The challenges faced by this organization extend beyond financial probity and operational effectiveness,” he said. “This organization is a forum for debate and dialogue, but it must also be a force for positive action to make the world a better place. The UN’s relevance and effectiveness are imperiled when the founding principles are observed in word but not in deed.

“So it is when… Iran, which mocks the values of this organization through outrages such as refusing to allow entry to UN observers on human rights, is permitted to seek leadership roles, such as a vice-presidency of the General Assembly and a spot on the Commission on Population and Development. The greatest enemies of the United Nations are those who quietly undermine its principles and, even worse, those who sit idly, watching its slow decline. We cannot sit idly.”

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said his organization was “impressed and appreciative” of the speech.

“This was an important framing of what the overall Canadian orientation is [to Israel and the UN]. That is, we are going to pursue a transparently principled position on each issue that came up… and not accept complicity,” he said.

Fogel also thanked Baird for putting Canadian support for Israel within a “larger context.”

“We were extremely gratified at [Baird’s] courage and forthrightness. We think that will resonate strongly with likeminded countries within the international community and remind them of the imperative for them to adopt a similar approach.”

Israel Political Brief October 5, 2011: Israel’s Reaction to UNESCO Vote on Palestinian Authority Membership

Israel’s Reaction to UNESCO Vote

Communicated by Foreign Ministry spokesman

“Israel believes that the correct and only way to advance the peace process with the Palestinians is through direct, unconditional  negotiations. In this context Israel welcomed and accepted the Quartet’s declaration of September 23rd 2011.

The Palestinians’ actions at UNESCO negate both the bilateral negotiations route and the Quartet’s proposal for continuing the diplomatic process. Their actions are a negative response to Israel’s and the international community’s efforts to promote the peace process.

UNESCO’s responsibilities address culture, science and education. UNESCO has remained silent in the face of significant change across the Middle East yet has found time during its current meeting to adopt six decisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision to grant the Palestinians membership of UNESCO will not advance their desire for an independent state whatsoever.

Israel thanks the United States, Germany, Latvia and Romania who opposed the decision.”

Israel Political Brief October 5, 2011: Palestinian Authority Pushes for Full UNESCO Membership

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PA Pushes for Full UNESCO Membership

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-5-11

The Palestinian Authority is losing no time is pushing its agenda of gaining diplomatic ground as a full member in as many United Nations committees and agencies as possible, in the context of gaining statehood via the international body, rather than negotiations with Israel.

Three diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press Wednesday that the PA plans to request full member status on Wednesday at the executive board meeting of the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) in Paris.

The PA submitted its application to the U.N. Security Council last month, demanding full membership and recognitionsecurity council un as a sovereign nation with its boundaries along the 1949 Armistice Lines, and claiming much of Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, as its own capital.

Currently the PA holds observer status in the U.N. and in UNESCO, but may have a good chance of winning full membership, since the process for doing so is easier than it is in the full U.N.

However, this is not the first time the PA has attempted to gain full membership in UNESCO, and in the past, the attempt has failed. Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, told the Associated Press that he is trying to persuade other members “not to politicize” the agency and to “leave this subject to New York.”

Barkan commented that “The tragedy is that this hampers UNESCO from doing its real job. A relatively small minority is hijacking the organization for other purposes.”

U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called on lawmakers to cut off U.S. funds to UNESCO if the PA effort succeeds this time.

The PA won partnership status this week in the European Union’s leading human rights body, the Council of Europe, and also is seeking membership in the World Trade Organization.

PA representatives are hoping in this way to pile up memberships in U.N. agencies as a means of forcing the membership issue in the general worldwide body.

The United States, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has already stated bluntly that it will exercise its veto to block the PA from gaining full membership in the U.N. if necessary. But it is not at all clear whether the entity has enough votes to pass such a resolution in any case. Nine votes are needed in the Council to approve the measure.

The Congress of the United States, which warned the PA not to go ahead with its unilateral statehood bid, meanwhile has made good on its threat to cut off funding in response, leaving a number of aid programs scrambling for support and causing concern among government officials from the White House to Ramallah. Promises of aid from Arab nations pledged at donor conferences that never materialized left the PA largely dependent on funding from Western nations — most prominent among them the United States.

Via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief September 26, 2011: Knesset to Vote on Bill Annexing West Bank at End of October

 

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Knesset to Vote on Annexing West Bank

Source: JTA, Virtual Jerusalem, 9-27-11
The Knesset will vote on a bill calling for full Israeli annexation of the West Bank.knesset

Deputy Speaker Danny Danon announced Tuesday that the Knesset will take up the bill, which he authored, at the end of October.

The bill also nullifies any financial obligations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that had been established by previous agreements, according to a statement from Danon’s office.

“If the Palestinian Authority wishes to proceed on this reckless path and bring further instability to the region, Israel cannot continue to pour funds into this sinking ship of failed leadership,” Danon said, referring to the PA’s statehood bid at the United Nations last Friday.

“The funding agreements with the PA were reached with the hope that their leaders would work to create an environment of lasting peace and security with Israel. Given that it is clear that the Palestinians have no such desire, Israel must no longer be required to stand by these arrangements.”

The bill also nullifies the Oslo Accords, since it reads that “All obligations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as established by international agreements … will be considered null and void.”

It was submitted in line with a similar initiative in the U.S. Congress offered by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), which calls for supporting Israel’s rights to annex the West Bank should the Palestinian Authority move forward with its statehood bid without negotiating.

Meanwhile, a letter signed by the leaders of four ruling coalition factions — Likud Party chairman Ze’ev Elkin, Shas chairman Avraham Michaeli, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Uri Orbach, and National Union leader Yaakov Katz — asks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex Jewish-settled areas of the West Bank and calls for increased construction in those areas.

The letter also calls for additional sanctions against the Palestinians and not allowing any country that cooperates with their statehood bid to mediate future peace talks.

Deputy Speaker Danny Danon announced Tuesday that the Knesset will take up the bill, which he authored, at the end of October.

The bill also nullifies any financial obligations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that had been established by previous agreements, according to a statement from Danon’s office.

“If the Palestinian Authority wishes to proceed on this reckless path and bring further instability to the region, Israel cannot continue to pour funds into this sinking ship of failed leadership,” Danon said, referring to the PA’s statehood bid at the United Nations last Friday.

“The funding agreements with the PA were reached with the hope that their leaders would work to create an environment of lasting peace and security with Israel. Given that it is clear that the Palestinians have no such desire, Israel must no longer be required to stand by these arrangements.”

The bill also nullifies the Oslo Accords, since it reads that “All obligations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as established by international agreements … will be considered null and void.”

It was submitted in line with a similar initiative in the U.S. Congress offered by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), which calls for supporting Israel’s rights to annex the West Bank should the Palestinian Authority move forward with its statehood bid without negotiating.

Meanwhile, a letter signed by the leaders of four ruling coalition factions — Likud Party chairman Ze’ev Elkin, Shas chairman Avraham Michaeli, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Uri Orbach, and National Union leader Yaakov Katz — asks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex Jewish-settled areas of the West Bank and calls for increased construction in those areas.

The letter also calls for additional sanctions against the Palestinians and not allowing any country that cooperates with their statehood bid to mediate future peace talks.

via jta.org

Israel Political Brief September 26, 2011: Spain Recognizes Israel as Jewish Homeland

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ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Spain Recognizes Israel as Jewish Homeland

Source: JTA, Virtual Jerusalem, 9-26-11

Spain recognized Israel as the Jewish homeland for the first time and called for a peace deal that does not affect its Jewish majority.spain recognizes israel

Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez declared Israel the homeland for the Jews during her speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday.

Spain is one of Europe’s leading proponents of the Palestinians’ right to a homeland.

Jimenez called Israel “the embodiment of the project to create a homeland for the Jewish people.” She also said Israel’s security is a top issue.

She called on the United Nations to help create a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with land swaps and Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state. She also said that the issue of the right of return for Palestinian refugees should be solved in a way that keeps a Jewish majority in Israel.

via jta.org

Israel Political Brief September 26, 2011: UN Security Council Debates Palestinian Authority Statehood Bid

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

U.N. Security Council Debates PA Statehood Bid

Source: JTA, Virtual Jerusalem, 9-26-11

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to discuss the Palestinians’ bid for statehood.security council un

The council will take up the issue, likely informally, on Monday. All 15 members of the council already have received the letter of application presented to the council on Sept. 22 by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Only the Security Council has the authority to admit new member states to the United Nations. There are currently 193 member states.

The five permanent members of the council have veto power; the United States has said it will veto the request.

Due to the veto threat, it is unlikely that a formal vote will be taken in the near future.

via jta.org

Israel Political Brief September 26, 2011: PA President Mahmoud Abbas Launches “Palestinian Spring”

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Abbas Launches “Palestinian Spring”

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-26-11

“This is the popular Palestinian Spring,” he declared, calling for the official start of a non-violent intifada against Israel.ramallah abbas speech “Raise your heads with pride; you are Palestinians!” he told the crowd that greeted him in Ramallah. The speech followed his application to the U.N. Security Council on Friday for recognition of the PA as a sovereign state, and its “full membership” in the international body.

“The entire free world has accepted your history, your aspirations and your hopes with the utmost respect,” he told the gathering. “We told the world that today there is an Arab Spring – but also a Palestinian Spring. A non-violent Fighting Spring that will reach its goal.”

“Facing this determination – which I conveyed from you to the world – everyone stood up and appreciated your expectations and aspirations,” he told the cheering crowd. “Our diplomatic move, which has already begun, still has a long way to go,” he warned. “We must know that there will be those who will place obstacles in our path. They will block us and our existence here.”

But, he added, “We have emphasized that we wish to obtain our rights via negotiations. The entire world was witness to the civility of this nation, which only demands its rights. We will remain on this land.”

The U.N. speech, carefully geared to excite the PA street without inflaming it, was nevertheless seen by many in Israel as an exercise in official, institutional incitement “from the top.” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said over the weekend that the PA leader’s speech from the podium at the U.N. General Assembly was the “worst example of anti-israel incitement and vitriol” he had ever heard.

Throughout his address, Abbas referred to Israel as a “colonial occupying power” and accused the Jewish State of deliberately targeting civilians, arbitrarily destroying crops, and demolishing schools, mosques and hospitals. He demanded that the U.N. recognize Judea, Samaria and major portions of Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, as the PA’s hoped-for state and that Israel end all construction in Jewish communities in those areas as a precondition for any talks.

Abbas also accused Israel of destroying Islamic holy sites and claimed the IDF sent “attack dogs” against Palestinian Authority Arabs. In addition, he also called for the release of all jailed PA terrorists, including murderers with blood on their hands, whom he referred to as “political prisoners.”

During his trip back to Ramallah, Abbas told the London-based Arab daily newspaper a-Sharq al-Awsat that Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was the “last” leader with whom he could reach a final status agreement, “since he holds tough and almost ideological positions.”

Via israelnn.com

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 23, 2011: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the UN / United Nations Full Text Transcript Excerpts

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Remarks by Israeli PM Netanyahu to the U.N. General Assembly


Photo of Benjamin Netanyahu by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York City, New York

Remarks by Israeli PM Netanyahu to the U.N. General Assembly

MR. : Theassembly will now hear a statement by His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of the State of Israel.

I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of the state of Israel.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMINNETANYAHU: Thank you. Thank you.

MR. : Iinvite him to address the General Assembly.

PRIME MIN. NETANYAHU:Thank you, Mr. President.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israelhas extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago.On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. Iextend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship forneighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey,with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia,with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it tothe other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we wantto forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran,with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extendmy hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, inIsrael our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, and innovatorsapply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers,enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the imageof Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in ourancient biblical homeland — it was then that this was branded shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that thehistoric peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it wasdenounced! And it’s here, year after year that Israel is unjustly singled outfor condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all thenations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assemblyresolutions condemn Israel — the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunatepart of the U.N. institution. It’s the theater of the absurd. It doesn’tonly cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles:Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraqheaded the U.N. Committee on Disarmament. You might say: That’s thepast. Well, here’s what’s happening now — right now, today,  Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. Thismeans, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrustedwith guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thingup.

So here in the U.N.,automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets rises in the west. But they can also decide — they have decided — that the Western Wall inJerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the GeneralAssembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointedIsrael’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi ofLubavich. He said to me — and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you tobe offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there aremany honorable men and women, many capable and decent people, serving their nations here — But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll beserving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in thedarkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the lightof truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long hasbeen a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, Ididn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. The truth is — the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth isthat I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, butespecially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. Thetruth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but onlythrough direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far thePalestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peacewith a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. Andthe truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, when Ifirst came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West.Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries ofslumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless moreare poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumentalhistoric shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growingbetween East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not toliberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militantIslam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews,Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11thit killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smolderingruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving.But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words ofthe president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was anAmerican conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have.

Since 9/11, militantIslamists slaughtered countless other innocents — in London and Madrid, inBaghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. Ibelieve that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism willarm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying todo.

Can you imagine that man whoranted here yesterday — can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? Theinternational community must stop Iran before it’s too late. If Iran is notstopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Springcould soon become an Iranian winter.

That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabshave taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one wouldbenefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. Butas the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish stateon wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be.We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers ofthe present.

And the world around Israelis definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant Islam has already taken overLebanon and Gaza. It’s determined to tear apart the peace treaties betweenIsrael and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. It’s poisoned many Arab mindsagainst Jews and Israel, against America and the West. It opposes not thepolicies of Israel but the existence of Israel.

Now, some argue that thespread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times — if you want toslow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to maketerritorial compromises. And this theory sounds simple. Basically it goes likethis: Leave the territory, and peace will be advanced. The moderates will bestrengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay. And don’t worry about the peskydetails of how Israel will actually defend itself; international troops will dothe job.

These people say to meconstantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and everything will work out. You know,there’s only one problem with that theory. We’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked.In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of thePalestinian demands. Arafat rejected it. The Palestinians then launched aterror attack that claimed a thousand Israeli lives.

Prime Minister Olmertafterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008. President Abbas didn’teven respond to it.

But Israel did more than justmake sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That didn’t calm the Islamicstorm, the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought the stormcloser and made it stronger.

Hezbollah and Hamas firedthousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated.See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn’t defeat theradicals, the moderates were devoured by the radicals. And I regret to say thatinternational troops like UNIFIL in Lebanon and EUBAM in Gaza didn’t stopthe radicals from attacking Israel.

We left Gaza hoping forpeace.

We didn’t freeze thesettlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Getout, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

And I don’t think peopleremember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people fromtheir homes. We pulled children out of — out of their schools and theirkindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even — we even moved loved onesfrom their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza toPresident Abbas.

Now the theory says it shouldall work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could builda peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded.They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a boldact of peace.

But ladies and gentlemen, wedidn’t get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamaspromptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authoritycollapsed in a day — in one day.

President Abbas just said onthis podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams.Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, notto mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai,from Libya, and from elsewhere.

Thousands of missiles havealready rained down on our cities. So you might understand that, given allthis, Israelis rightly ask: What’s to prevent this from happening again in theWest Bank? See, most of our major cities in the south of the country are withina few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in the center of the country, oppositethe West Bank, our cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometersaway from the edge of the West Bank.

So I want to ask you. Wouldany of you — would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to yourfamilies? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israelis are prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we’re notprepared to have another Gaza there. And that’s why we need to have realsecurity arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate withus.

Israelis remember the bitterlessons of Gaza. Many of Israel’s critics ignore them. They irresponsiblyadvise Israel to go down this same perilous path again. Your read what thesepeople say and it’s as if nothing happened — just repeating the same advice,the same formulas as though none of this happened.

And these critics continue topress Israel to make far-reaching concessions without first assuring Israel’ssecurity. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile ofmilitant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us whoinsist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, orat the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.

So in the face of the labelsand the libels, Israel must heed better advice. Better a bad press than a goodeulogy, and better still would be a fair press whose sense of history extendsbeyond breakfast, and which recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

I believe that in seriouspeace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed, butthey will not be addressed without negotiations. And the needs are many,because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the WestBank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.

I want to put it for you inperspective, because you’re all in the city. That’s about two-thirds the lengthof Manhattan. It’s the distance between Battery Park and Columbia University.And don’t forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey areconsiderably nicer than some of Israel’s neighbors.

So how do you — how do youprotect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to its destruction andarmed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can’t defend it from within thatnarrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth, and that’s exactlywhy Security Council Resolution 242 didn’t require Israel to leave all theterritories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about withdrawal fromterritories, to secure and defensible boundaries. And to defend itself, Israelmust therefore maintain a long-term Israeli military presence in criticalstrategic areas in the West Bank.

I explained this to PresidentAbbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country,it could never accept such arrangements. Why not? America has had troops inJapan, Germany and South Korea for more than a half a century. Britain has hadan an air base in Cyprus. France has forces inthree independent African nations. None of these states claim that they’re notsovereign countries.

And there are many othervital security issues that also must be addressed. Take the issue of airspace.Again, Israel’s small dimensions create huge security problems. America can becrossed by jet airplane in six hours. To fly across Israel, it takes threeminutes. So is Israel’s tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to aPalestinian state not at peace with Israel?

Our major internationalairport is a few kilometers away from the West Bank. Without peace, will ourplanes become targets for antiaircraft missiles placed in the adjacentPalestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank? It’snot merely the West Bank, it’s the West Bank mountains. It just dominates thecoastal plain where most of Israel’s population sits below. How could weprevent the smuggling into these mountains of those missiles that could befired on our cities?

I bring up these problemsbecause they’re not theoretical problems. They’re very real. And for Israelis,they’re life-and- death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel’ssecurity have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state isdeclared, not afterwards, because if you leave it afterwards, they won’t besealed. And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.

The Palestinians should firstmake peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell youthis. After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the lastcountry to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations.We will be the first.

And there’s one more thing.Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier Gilad Shalitcaptive for five years.

They haven’t given even oneRed Cross visit. He’s held in a dungeon, in darkness, against all internationalnorms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit. He is the grandson ofZvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust by coming to the — in the 1930s as a boyto the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the son of every Israeli family. Everynation represented here should demand his immediate release. If youwant to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that’sthe resolution you should pass.

Ladies and gentlemen, lastyear in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year in the Knesset and in the U.S.Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a demilitarized Palestinianstate recognizes the Jewish state. Yes, the Jewish state. After all, this isthe body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago. Now, don’t you thinkit’s about time that Palestinians did the same?

The Jewish state of Israelwill always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than 1million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish I could say the same thing about afuture Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day– in fact, I think they made it right here in New York — they said thePalestinian state won’t allow any Jews in it. They’ll be Jew-free — Judenrein.That’s ethnic cleansing. There are laws today in Ramallah that make the sellingof land to Jews punishable by death. That’s racism. And you know which lawsthis evokes.

Israel has no intentionwhatsoever to change the democratic character of our state. We just don’t wantthe Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state. We want to give up — we want them to give up the fantasy offlooding Israel with millions of Palestinians.

President Abbas just stoodhere, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is thesettlements. Well, that’s odd. Our conflict has been raging for — was raging fornearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the WestBank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the — I guess thatthe settlements he’s talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva.Maybe that’s what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has beenoccupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn’t say from 1967; he said from1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because itillustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements.The settlements are a result of the conflict..

The settlements have to be –it’s an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course ofnegotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunatelyremains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in anyborder.

I think it’s time that thePalestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader hasrecognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to President Truman in1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is the Jewishstate.

President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and make peace with us. In sucha genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises. We believethat the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor itssubjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should beready, like us, for compromise. And we will know that they’re ready forcompromise and for peace when they start taking Israel’s security requirementsseriously and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancienthomeland.

I often hear them accuseIsrael of Judaizing Jerusalem. That’s like accusing America of AmericanizingWashington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we’re called”Jews”? Because we come from Judea.

In my office in Jerusalem,there’s a — there’s an ancient seal. It’s a signet ring of a Jewish officialfrom the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall,and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there’s aname of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name wasNetanyahu. That’s my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousandyears earlier to Benjamin — Binyamin — the son of Jacob, who was also knownas Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Samaria4,000 years ago, and there’s been a continuous Jewish presence in the land eversince.

And for those Jews who wereexiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back: Jews inSpain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms;Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling around it. Theynever stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: Next yearin Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land.

As the prime minister ofIsrael, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were dispersed throughoutthe lands, who suffered every evil under the Sun, but who never gave up hope ofrestoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, Icontinue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace. I’ve workedhard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for directnegotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn’t respond. I outlineda vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn’t respond. Iremoved hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement inthe Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinianeconomy. But again — no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezingnew buildings in the settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did thatbefore, ever. Once again — you applaud, but there was noresponse. No response.

In the last few weeks,American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks. There werethings in those ideas about borders that I didn’t like. There were things thereabout the Jewish state that I’m sure the Palestinians didn’t like.

But with all my reservations,I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.

President Abbas, why don’tyou join me? We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just geton with it. Let’s negotiate peace.

I spent years defendingIsrael on the battlefield. I spent decades defending Israel in the court ofpublic opinion. President Abbas, you’ve dedicated your life to advancing thePalestinian cause. Must this conflict continue for generations, or will we be able our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how wefound a way to end it? That’s what we should aim for, and that’s what I believewe can achieve.

In two and a half years, wemet in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you. Ifyou wish, I’ll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better suggestion. We’veboth just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we’re in the same city.We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today in the United Nations. Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinelywant peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peacenegotiations?

And I suggest we talk openlyand honestly. Let’s listen to one another. Let’s do as we say in the MiddleEast: Let’s talk “doogri”. That means straightforward. I’ll tellyou my needs and concerns. You’ll tell me yours. And with God’s help, we’llfind the common ground of peace.

There’s an old Arab sayingthat you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the same is true of peace. Icannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President Abbas, Iextend my hand — the hand of Israel — in peace. I hope that you will graspthat hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Yourpeople call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch. We dwell in the sameland. Our destinies are intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Isaiah –(Isaiah 9:1in Hebrew) — “The people who walk in darkness will see a greatlight.” Let that light be the light of peace.

Netanyahu at the UN: Let’s Make Peace Today, Here at the UN!

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-23-11

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations only minutes after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for Recognition of a Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders. Abbas’ speech received thunderous applause.

Netanyahu took the floor, and quickly made one thing clear. “I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth.”

Netanyahu began by saying that, “Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago.” The Prime Minister went on to offer a hand in peace to Turkey, “with respect,” to Egypt and Jordan with “hope of renewed friendship”, and even mentioned the people of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Libya, Tunisia and Iran. Netanyahu then paused before saying, “But most especially I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.”

Netanyahu spoke a moment about Israel and the great contributions made by the people of Israel to the international community in science, medicine and art. He then said,
“I know this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall.”

He added, “It is here, year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation, more often than all the nations of the world combined! Twenty-one out of the twenty-seven General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. This is unfortunate… it is the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain, but it often casts villains in leading roles…. Hizbuillah controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over a body entrusted to guard world security. You couldn’t make these things up!”

He spoke candidly saying, “So here in the UN’s automatic majority, you can decide anything… that the sun rises in the west. It can be decided that Jerusalem, Israel’s holiest place is occupied Palestinian territory. But even here the truth can break through sometimes.”

Netanyahu then told a story of words imparted to him by the Lubavitch Rebbe in 1984 upon Netanyahu’s appointment as delegate to the United Nations. “The Rebbe said to me… you will be serving in a house of many lies. but remember that even in the darkest place, the light of one single candle can be seen far and wide. so i hope this light will be seen even for two minutes in a hall that for too long as been a dark one for my people.”

Netanyahu told the Assembly: “The truth is Israel wants peace. The truth is I want peace… the truth is, we cannot achieve peace through resolutions. The truth is Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the truth is the Palestinians want a state without peace.”

The Prime Minister spoke in length regarding the threat of militant Islam and the tragic consequences it has imposed on Western Society. He spoke of 9/11, reminding the Assembly what the President of Iran had said only hours before from the same podium, accusing the Americans for conspiring 9/11. Netanyahu looked at the audience and said: “Some of you walked out. All of you should have.”

He reminded those present of the attacks carried out in the name of militant Islam, the bombings in Madrid, Mumbai, London, and the constant terror imposed on the Israeli people. He spoke on the dangers of these powers should they acquire nuclear abilities, as Iran is attempting to do.” If Iran is not stopped, the Arab spring will soon be an Iranian winter.”

“To many people, the solution sounds simple… leave the territories and there will be peace. There’s only one problem… we’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked.”

“In 2000 we made the Palestinians a peace offer meeting virtually all of their demands. They rejected it. They then launched an initiative of terror claiming 1000 Israeli lives… We did more than make offers. We left territories. We left Lebanon in 2000, we left every square inch of Gaza in 2005… and this did not calm the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought it closer and made it stronger. Hizbullah and Hamas sent thousands of rockets from the territories we vacated… see, when we left Gaza, the moderates didn’t defeat the radicals, they were devoured by the radicals.

… we left Gaza hoping for peace. we didn’t freeze the settlements in Gaza. we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says, we got out.

I don’t think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We pulled thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of their kindergartens, we bulldozed synagogues, we even moved loved ones from their graves… and then having done all that we gave the keys of Gaza to president Abbas.

The theory says it should all work out… and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship, a bold act of peace.

But we did not get peace, we got war. We got Iran. Which through its proxy Hamas, promptly kicked put the Palestinian Authority which collapsed in ONE day, in a day.
President Abbas just said Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams, yes, hopes and dreams and ten thousand missiles and grad rockets supplied by Iran. Not to mention the river of lethal weapons flowing into Gaza from Libya and Syria through the Sinai.

Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might understand that given all this, Israelis ask, what’s to prevent this happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our cities in the south of Israel are within 2 kilometers from Gaza, but in the center of the country, our cities are a few hundred meters away from the edge of the West Bank.

So i want to ask you, would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we’re not prepped to have another Gaza there. Which is why we need to have real security…”

Hitting back at the critics of Israel, Netanyahu said: “There are those who want to cast the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist we erect a barrier to keep the crocodile out.. or at the very least jam an iron bar between its jaws.”

He added, “But better a bad press than a good eulogy.”

After contrasting the size of Israel with the size of Manhattan, Netanyahu asked the Assembly members what they would do in his situation.

In response to the critics who claim that Israel is “judaizing Jerusalem,” he stated, “That’s like saying that in the US you are Americanizing Washington of Anglo-izing London. You know why we’re called Jews? Because we come from Judea!”

After explaining why Israel cannot make peace without the Palestinians recognition of a Jewish state, he called upon President Abbas to meet with him to discuss peace today in New York.

“In two and a half years we met in Jerusalem only once though my door has been open to you. If you want, I will go to Ramallah, or better yet, we both flew thousands of miles to come here, to New York. We’re in the same city. We’re in the same building!

Let’s meet here today, in the United Nations. What’s to stop us? Let’s listen to one another… let’s talk “dogri.” [straight up.]

I’ll tell you my needs, you’ll tell me yours, and with God’s help, we’ll find the common ground of peace… I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you.

President Abbas, I extend my hand, the hand of Israel in peace. I hope you will grasp that hand… we are both sons of Abraham, we share the same patriarch, we share the same land, and our histories are intertwined.”

Israel Political Brief September 23, 2011: Excerpts from Mahmoud Abbas & PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speeches at the UN (United Nations) on Israel & Palestinian Statehood Request

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Abbas: ‘Palestine Is Waiting to Be Born’; Netanyahu: ‘Israel Wants Peace’

Source: PBS Newshour, 9-23-11

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas submitted a formal request for U.N. membership Friday, saying negotiations with Israel had repeatedly broken down without results.

Abbas urged the Security Council to vote for full membership, and he called on countries that hadn’t done so already to recognize the state of Palestine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to speak soon. Watch the U.N. General Assembly speeches live here:

Abbas said Palestinians are seeking a greater and more effective role in the United Nations to obtain legitimate national rights for the Palestinian people, as defined by U.N. resolutions of international legitimacy.

He held up a copy of the application to loud cheers in the U.N. chamber.

The Israeli government isn’t committing to the terms of the negotiations based on international law and continues to build settlements in Palestinian territories, Abbas said.

“This policy will destroy the chances of achieving a two-State solution upon which there is an international consensus, and here I caution aloud: This settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence,” he said, according to translators.

Negotiations will be meaningless as long as Israel advances its occupation in order to alter its borders, he said.

He ended his speech by saying “Palestine is waiting to be born.”

Read the text of Abbas’ remarks as prepared for delivery here.

Photo of Benjamin Netanyahu by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.N. General Assembly later in the afternoon, saying Israel wants peace despite its reputation among some in the United Nations.

“In Israel, our hope for peace never wanes,” Netanyahu said, but “we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions but through negotiations between the two parties.”

He said the Palestinians don’t want negotiations.

As for settlements, Netanyahu said that in Gaza, the Israelis uprooted thousands of people from their homes, took children out of schools, leveled synagogues and unburied some graves.

“But ladies and gentlemen, we didn’t get peace. We got war,” he said. And Israel is called upon to make increasing concessions without ensuring its security.

“The Palestinians should make peace with Israel and then get their state,” said Netanyahu.

The U.N. website did not have the text of Netanyahu’s remarks. Statements are supplied by the country of origin.

The Obama administration has promised to veto the Palestinian request for membership if the U.N. Security Council takes it up, saying it would circumvent the peace process with Israel.

 

Israel Political Brief September 23, 2011: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Speech at the UN / United Nations Full Text Transcript Excerpts

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Abbas: Israel is Occupying Power Guilty of Apartheid

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-23-11

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took the stage at the United Nations General Assembly, minutes after he submitted an official request to General-Secretary Ban Ki-Moon for full membership for “Palestine” to the body of the United Nations.

To thunderous applause, Abbas called for a Palestinian state with the “Full borders of June 4, 1967” to be inducted as a full member of the United Nations. Telling the General Assembly that it is time for a “Palestinian Spring,” one theme consistently repeated itself: Israelis are merely an occupying power.

Highlights from Abbas’ speech:

“The Occupying Power continues to intensify, building settlements on the future state of Palestine.”

“Colonial military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people… all the brutality and.. oppression [by the Israelis] …this is a primary cause of the failure of the peace process.”

“[Israelis continue] the systematic confiscation of Palestinian lands and the construction of thousands of new settlements in areas in the West Bank particularly in the Arab part of Jerusalem…”

“The racist wall [is] eating up vast parts of our land, creating seperated islands… destroying families and communiteis… destroying family lives of thousands….”

“[The Israelis] multi prong policy of ethnic cleansing is pushing Palestinian refugees away from their ancestral homeland.”
abbas un
“The occupying power also does excavations that threaten our holy places.”

“[The Israelis] besiege the Holy City with a ring of settlements and an annexation wall intended to separate the holy city from its people.”

“The occupying power continues to impose a strict blockade on the Gaza strip and target Palestinian citizens with air-strikes.”

“Because we believe in peace and because of our convictions and because we have the courage to make difficult decisions… we have decided to take the path of some justice… we agreed to establish the state of Palestine on only 22% of the state of Palestine…”

“Criminal actions of armed civilian militias.. have intensified with frequent attacks against our people targeting schools, universities, mosques, fields, crops, and trees.
Today they killed one Palestinian… despite our repeated warnings, the occupying Israelis have not tried to stop these acts, we hold them fully responsible for crimes of the settlers.”

“Every move [toward peace] was shattered on the rocks of the expansion of the Israeli settlement projects.”

“The goal of the Palestinian people is a realization … for an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, with all the land of the West Bank including the Gaza strip, and all of East Jerusalem.”

Abbas described the Palestinians as “Defenseless people only with their dreams, courage and hope.. against bullets, bombs and bulldozers.”

“When we bring our plight here…. it is obvious we are not taking unilateral steps, our intention is not to de-legitimize israel, only the settlement activities and apartheid policies.
We hope all nations in world stand with us on this regard.”

Abbas also stated that while the Palestinians have their “arms open wide” and have made every attempt at peace, they are willing to sit down “today” at the negotiation table with only a few pre-conditions, which include:

1. The release of “prisoners of freedom” and Palestinians in Israeli prisons without delay.
2. The Palestinian Liberation Organization and its people adhere to the denouncement of violence, rejecting of terrorism in all its forms, especially “State terrorism.”
3. The right to “peacefully protest”Israel’s apartheid policies.

The dramatic speech ended with: “It is very simple. Either there are those who believe we are unnecessary, an unnecessary people… or people who believe we a missing state that needs to be established.”

Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians Formally Statehood Recognition from the UN / United Nations

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

 

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings and JBuzz. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish Studies at Concordia University.

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS: PALESTINIANS FORMALLY REQUEST STATEHOOD RECOGNITION FROM THE UN / UNITED NATIONS

Palestinians Formally Request U.N. Membership: Resisting American pressure, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority formally requested full United Nations membership on Friday as a path toward statehood, rejecting arguments by the United States and Israel that it was not a substitute for direct negotiations for peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Abbas handed a letter requesting the membership to Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, before delivering his speech at the annual General Assembly. Mr. Ban was submitting the request to the Security Council…. – NYT, 9-23-11

 

  • Abbas stakes Palestinian claim to state at U.N.: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations on Friday to recognize a state for his people, even though Israel still occupies its territory and the United States has vowed to veto the move.
    “We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking,” Abbas said in a speech setting out his case to the U.N. General Assembly, which greeted him with a standing ovation…. – Reuters, 9-23-11
  • Palestinian leader asks UN to recognize state: The Palestinian president on Friday formally asked the United Nations to recognize a state of Palestine, defying U.S. and Israeli opposition. The application risks a threatened American veto, and sidesteps nearly two decades of troubled negotiations…. – AP, 9-23-11
  • Palestinians Set to Submit Bid for Membership to the United Nations: Abbas is scheduled to speak around noon ET Friday. Three speakers later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also slated to address the U.N. General Assembly…. – PBS Newshour, 9-23-11
  • Abbas asks for statehood: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally applied for statehood recognition at the United Nations.
    Abbas handed his application to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday morning, shortly ahead of his planned speech to the General Assembly.
    The request will to the Security Council, where it requires a nine-vote majority to pass. However, any of the five permanent Security Council nations can veto it, and the United States has vowed to exercise its veto.
    In that case, Abbas has said, he will take his case to the General Assembly, where he will ask for enhanced status…. – JTA, 9-23-11
  • Abbas Already Presented Official Request to UN: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has already presentedpalestinian poster the official request for full membership of the United Nations body to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon.
    The request was presented just moments before Abbas is scheduled to take the floor and address the General Assembly, requesting full membership for “Palestine.”
    Thousands are gathered in the streets of the Palestinian territories, watching the speech on enormous screens, and waving Palestinian flags. In Ramallah, one man dressed as Yassar Arafat walked around the town to strengthen the “national spirit.”… – Virtual Jerusalem, 9-23-11

Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: Anti-Israel Durban III Conference Opens Major Democracies Boycott — Arab Nations Bash Israel

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Iran, Lebanon others bash Israel at Durban III

Source: JTA, 9-22-11

Representatives of Iran, Cuba and Lebanon blasted Israel at the Durban Review Conference at the United Nations.

While some speakers in the Thursday morning session made reference to what Iran’s representative called “the stonewalling behavior” of a few nations — the more than a dozen countries that are boycotting Durban III out of concern for anti-Israel bias — most speakers used the session as an opportunity to herald the progress of their own countries in combating racism. That included, for example, the representative from Zimbabwe, who called his nation “a tolerant and peace-loving country.”

In his own remarks at the session, Amnesty International’s representative, Jose Luis Diaz, accused many participating countries of being in a “state of denial” about human rights abuses and racism in their countries, saying nations were using the conference to “score political points.”

“We find it striking that while virtually everyone agrees that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance affect all parts of the world, rare are the governments that admit that these phenomena are a real problem in their countries,” he said. “We believe that if there has not been more progress in the struggle against racism, this is in good part due to the tendency of states to play politics with the issue — using it to score points against other states — coupled with the readiness of many governments to bury their heads in the sand about the extent of the problem at home.”

Thursday’s conference was called to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.N. World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. The ostensible purpose of that gathering a decade ago was to talk about racism, but it quickly turned into an Israel-bashing extravaganza.

Israel, the United States, Jewish groups and some European countries have denigrated the Durban process since, skipping the 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva as well as this week’s gathering in New York.

As an alternative, Jewish groups organized a counter-conference nearby on Thursday to spotlight the hypocrisy of the Durban process.

Durban III opens amid boycott by major democracies

Controversial UN anti-racism event missing key European nations, US, Australia; Ban Ki-moon condemns use of platform for anti-Semitism

Source: Jerusalem Post, 9-22-11

The absence of the world’s leading democracies at the  UN-sponsored Durban III anti-racism ten-year commemoration event, which opened in New York on Thursday, sparked controversy at the UN General Assembly meeting and served as a setback for the Durban process.

Dubbed Durban after the city in South Africa where the first conference took place in 2001, the anti-racism process has become, according to many of the 14 countries that pulled out of Durban III, a political event to gut the advancement of human rights and foment hatred of the Jewish state.

Anne Bayefsky, a leading human rights scholar, who organized a counter-conference on Thursday to challenge the misguided notion of  the UN event, sees no reason to honor an anti-racism conference that has become infected with racism. Bayefsky cites the example from Durban I where a  sizable number  of conference participants openly championed the Hitler movement’s elimination of European Jewry and advocated a Nazi solution for Israel’s Jews.  Scores of banners in massive street demonstrations in Durban  stated  “Hitler should have finished the job,” and handouts with Hitler’s face read, “What if I had won? The good things: there would be no Israel.”

The world leaders from the 179 countries who participated in Durban III  adopted a political declaration ,which purports to renew “ their commitment for real action to prevent and combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to focus on the concerns of the victims.” According to critics, the Durban political declaration, which was reaffirmed at the commemoration event, singles out and attacks only Israel for criticism and alleged violations of human rights.

Ambassador Isabelle Pico from Monaco, who represented Western Europe’s countries, alluded to the noticeable lack of their member countries at the event. “While a number of countries from our group are not participating and in spite of the fact that some countries do not participate in this process,” Western European countries will continue to promote  equality.

France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy and Germany skipped the Durban III event because those countries’ foreign ministries viewed the Durban III planning process and Thursday’s commemoration event to be contaminated with anti-Semitism, racism, and hatred of foreigners. The Eastern Europe nations of  Poland ,Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic boycotted the commemoration event for similar reasons. The United States, Israel, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand pulled the plug on their participation in the event as well .

While no country or individual leader was cited during the speeches, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon indirectly referenced the second Durban 2009 conference and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tirades against Israel.

Ban Ki-moon said “we should condemn anyone who uses this platform to subvert with inflammatory speech.” He added that “we are aware that the Durban conference caused immense controversy, “ and alluded to the year 2009.

Ban Ki-moon was the only speaker to tell the General Assembly to take a stand against “anti-Semitism” He also called on the member states to fight Islamophobia and persecution against Christians and discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.

The other diplomatic speakers were from Sudan, Indonesia, and Jamaica.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said “the lead up to this commemoration has been undoubtedly challenging, in no small part because the issues are complex and sensitive. No country can claim to be free of racism but we must be resolute in finding the courage to unite and move ahead together.”

In a New York Daily News opinion piece in August titled  “Meet the UN’s anti-Israel ‘anti-discrimination’ czar, Navi Pillay”, Anne Bayefsky, the expert on the UN, wrote that Pillay has “ been distracted by her anti-Israel and anti-American agenda since taking office in 2008. Pillay is perhaps best known for her unremitting defense of the notorious Goldstone report and for having questioned the legality of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.”

The UN-sponsored Goldstone report accused Israel of war crimes in 2008/2009 during operation cast lead in the Gaza Strip. The report’s main author, lawyer Richard Goldstone, has retracted the finding of war crimes against Israel and shifted the blame to Hamas,  the terror entity that controls Gaza, as the responsible party for transgressions of human rights and international law.

 

Durban III conference opens in New York amid allegations of anti-Israel bias

Counter-convention draws Jewish leaders and prominent supporters of Israel; 13 countries refuse to take part in Durban III

Source: Ha’aertz, 9-22-11

As the Palestinian statehood bid draws increasing support at the United Nations convention in New York, key member states have distanced themselves from a conference marking the ten-year anniversary of the Durban anti-racism conference in South Africa, in which both the United States as well as Israel stepped out due its alleged anti-Israel agenda.

Israel has asked friendly nations to stay away from this year’s event.

The 2001 anti-racism conference was criticized for its harsh language against Zionism’s “racist practices,” calling the Zionist movement one that is “based on racial superiority.” The draft document containing these statements prompted the U.S. and Israel to withdraw their delegations.

In 2009, the “Durban II” conference was held in Geneva, and made headlines after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a speech in which he attacked Israel and denied the Holocaust.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended the conference Thursday, and urged all countries to “stand firmly” against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and reject discrimination against Christians.

Thus far, 13 countries have announced that they will not attend the conference, dubbed “Durban III.” U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on Thursday that “the British Government has decided that the U.K. will not attend the UN meeting.”

He added that the 2001 conference,” and the anti-Semitic atmosphere in which it was held, was a particularly unpleasant and divisive chapter in the UN’s history. It is not an event that should be celebrated.”

The countries who pledged not to attend the conference include nine EU countries, as well as Australia, Canada, and the U.S.

Iran’s Ahmedinejad, however, is expected to take part once more.

A counter conference was held at the Millennium Plaza hotel in New York on Thursday to protest the Durban III convention and its allegedly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic agenda.

High profile speakers included Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, President of the World Jewish Congress Ron Lauder, Israeli Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein, Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, actor Jon Voight, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold, and others.

Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, recalled the original Durban conference, saying, “I almost became part of Durban I. Kofi Annan was the Secretary General. He called me and I said, of course.”

However, once Wiesel saw the program, he realized he could not participate. He told the former UN chief, “Durban I is supposed to be conference against anti-Semitism, but it became conference of anti-Semitism. I resigned in protests and told Kofi I am sure it will become an embarrassment to the UN.”

After the conference, Annan sent the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate a message saying “Elie, you were right.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, spoke as well, saying “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is going to speak to the General Assembly today, Abbas speaks tomorrow. This is not an aberration that can be corrected, this is not a minute flaw – this is every day (at the UN).”

Bolton warned that “the pervasiveness of this anti-Israeli feeling, anti-Americanism, is there every day. Don’t be shocked about what’s happening. The Durban III declaration that will be adopted today – it’s part of the initiative that is going on for some time, the central objective of which is delegitmization of the state of Israel.”

Alan Dershowitz addressed the crowd as well, saying “the reason there is still no peace in the Middle East can be summarized in two letters: UN.”

The Harvard professor continued his attack on the UN, saying “rights of women, children, gays, were ignored, because the UN was too busy debating whether Zionism is racism. The UN has encouraged anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry.”

The American Civil Liberties Union slammed the Obama administration for refusing to participate in the Durban III conference, saying in a statement on Thursday that “the absence of the United States in today’s proceedings is disappointing; it contradicts the administration’s stated position to push for positive models to advance human rights, and sends the wrong message to the global community regarding the U.S. commitment to fight racial injustice everywhere.”

The statement called on the United States to “lead by example and translate their stated commitment to end racial discrimination into concrete laws and policies.”

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