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The Local 31-Oct-16
Italian authorities said on Monday they were taking care of more than 15,000 people left homeless by the country’s most powerful earthquake in nearly 40 years. Although Sunday’s 6.6-magnitude tremor did not result in any deaths, the third powerful quake in just over two months has left thousands of homes in ruins or structurally unsafe and emptied a string of villages and small towns across the country’s mountainous central regions. The majority of residents of the devastated villages and towns have taken refuge with friends and family as they anxiously await a green light to return to their homes.
But the national civil protection agency said on Monday it was providing assistance to 15,000 people affected by Sunday’s quake, which was so powerful it caused cracks in buildings in Rome, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) away from the epicenter near the Umbrian town of Norcia. Some 4,000 people from the worst-hit area around Norcia have been sent to hotels on the Adriatic coast with another 500 taken by bus to the inland Lake Trasimeno. More than 10,000 are being put up in converted sports halls and other temporary facilities, including tents, across Umbria and the neighboring Marche region, the protection agency said.
A further 1,100 people are still in Adriatic coast hotels as a result of the August 24th Amatrice earthquake, which left nearly 300 dead. Given the strength of Sunday’s new quake, experts said it was remarkable that it had not resulted in any more fatalities. With many roads blocked by landslips or huge boulders dislodged by the quake, civil protection chief Fabrizio Curcio and reconstruction supremo Vasco Errani were surveying the damage by helicopter. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has vowed that every damaged house will be rebuilt and that communities he described as part of “the soul of the country” would not be abandoned. But after the trauma of three major quakes in such quick succession, the future of the already sparsely populated affected areas looks bleak.
“At the moment I don’t see any possible future,’ evacuated Norcia resident Antonella Ridolfi told AFP. “Everything here will have to be rebuilt. There is nothing really solid left in the center. We have always bounced back after other earthquakes but we’ve never had to deal with one as strong as this.”
Asharq Al-Awsat 02-Nov-16
Israeli-Russian relations have witnessed tension because of the growing Russian military existence in Syria and the Mediterranean and the continuous Russian support for the Palestinian cause at the United Nations.
Political sources in Tel Aviv said that PM Benjamin Netanyahu has conveyed his concerns to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The subject was also tackled during a meeting held between Russian and Israeli officials at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
Sources said that Netanyahu talked with Putin ten days ago, and requested him to renew the conditions of the military coordination between them and to refrain from supporting anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish resolutions at the U.N.
They said that Amir Eshel, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, also visited Moscow to discuss military issues.
During their meetings, Israeli officials revealed their main political concern, which is the possibility of voting on the Israeli-Palestinian issue at the United Nations. According to a senior Israeli official, Tel Aviv has declared that it opposes any intervention in the peace talks especially from the Security Council.
However, Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Gennady Gatilov said that the Israeli response concerning UNESCO’s resolution was emotional and unjustified.
Gatilov said that he asked the Israeli side to deal constructively with this resolution. He added that Russia maintains its efforts to hold a meeting between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow.
As per the military issue, sources said that Israeli army officials have been anxious from the growing number of Russian troops in the region. They added that this anxiety will never be declared publicly, but senior officers in both air and navy forces considered that the growing Russian role in the Middle East is dangerous and that the clash between Russia and Israel is a matter of time.
Israelis have focused in their discussions on the arrival of the Russian aircraft carrier the “Admiral Kuznetsov”, which includes 1,900 soldiers and carries 50 warplanes in addition to a wide range of advanced weapons. The carrier is also able to detect all security activities of Israel.
Israelis also considered that Russia, which announced a few months ago that it intends to withdraw from Syria, has increased the number of its forces with additional ground troops, aircrafts, missiles that can reach warplanes, drones, and ballistic missiles.
Moreover, the S-300 and S-400 missile systems will soon be available in Egypt, Syria, Russia, India, and Iran. To avoid any confusion, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman has clearly declared that the Russian forces will target any unknown body which may threaten Russian or Syrian forces.
IS-RU:161102:(08-NOV-16):Russian premier to discuss Abbas-Netanyahu meeting during visit to Palestine — diplomat
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will visit Israel and Palestine on November 10-11
The question of a possible meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be discussed during the visit of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Palestine and his meetings with the Palestinian leaders, Palestine’s ambassador to Russia, Abdel Hafiz Nofal, said on Wednesday.
“We do not want our meeting with the Israeli leadership to be a mere formality, just a scheduled meeting,” the diplomat said. “This issue will be discussed during Medvedev’s visit.”
Medvedev will visit Israel and Palestine on November 10-11. He will hold talks with Netanyahu on November 10 and Abbas on November 11.
INSS Insight No. 866, 02-Nov-16
SUMMARY: On October 13, 2016, the nomination of António Guterres as the new United Nations Secretary-General was approved at the General Assembly by the organization’s 193 members. Guterres was the only candidate who gained a sufficient number of votes when in a rare show of unity, all 15 ambassadors from the Security Council voted for him. The fact that during the process Guterres publicly proclaimed himself an activist on humanitarian issues made his victory all the more surprising, as both Russia and China have been particularly resistant to vocal activists in top UN posts. Furthermore, many expected to see the major powers struggle to promote their favored candidate. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon stated that hopefully under Guterres’s leadership hostilities toward Israel in the UN will cease; the initiative to appoint a special UN Envoy for the Struggle against Global anti-Semitism will be promoted, and the UN will assume responsibility for the return of the bodies of Israel’s two fallen soldiers held by Hamas since Operation Protective Edge. While the first goal is less likely to materialize, the latter two issues can potentially generate new attitudes that match Guterres’s personal beliefs and promote his aspirations as the world’s new top diplomat.
On October 13, 2016, the nomination of António Guterres as the new United Nations Secretary-General (UN SG) was approved at the General Assembly by the organization’s 193 members. Guterres’s five-year term will begin in January 2017, and can be renewed for an additional five years. While the UN SG serves as the organization’s top diplomat and chief administrative officer, the UN Charter says very little about the position and the requirements for the individual holding it. In addition, given the inherent limitations of power of the SG in light of the structural dominance of the Security Council in the UN, the role of the UN’s top diplomat is ultimately shaped by the person who fills it.
A former Prime Minister of Portugal (1995-2002), Guterres, 67, was until recently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015). In that capacity, he succeeded in persuading governments of Western nations to accept refugees in the largest refugee crisis since World War II. This has been acclaimed as a considerable achievement, particularly against the backdrop of a nationalist backlash in Europe and the United States. Moreover, Guterres was the only candidate who gained a sufficient number of votes when in a rare show of unity, all 15 ambassadors from the Security Council voted for him. In comparison, the first runner up, Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia) received six “discourage” votes in a straw poll – two of them from permanent members.
The announcement of Guterres’s nomination by the Security Council came as a surprise to many who expected to see the major powers struggle to promote their favored candidate. Moreover, the current elections saw a surge in both the number of women and the number of Eastern European candidates who applied for the position: seven out of 13 candidates in each category. The statistic stands out given that since the establishment of the UN, no woman and no candidate from Eastern Europe has ever filled the UN SG post. Although neither of the two characteristics automatically affords the UN’s top diplomat with better capabilities to perform the task, the extensive global debate stirred around these two issues is interesting on three accounts. First, it reflects the strong underlying public call for diversity. Second, it points to the ability of the global citizenry to shape the elections process – as demonstrated by the influx of candidates with traits the public hoped to see at the UN’s highest echelon. Third, and perhaps most poignantly, it demonstrates the blunt limitations of the same global citizenry to effectively shape the outcome of the process.
The fact that during the process Guterres publicly proclaimed himself an activist on humanitarian issues made his victory all the more surprising, as both Russia and China have been particularly resistant to vocal activists in top UN posts. This has led some to speculate what concessions he may have offered Russia and China (in the form of high level political posts at UN headquarters) to secure their vote. Indeed, the potential vetoes of the five permanent members in the election process are perceived as bargaining chips in backroom deals pursuant to rivalries and disputes, particularly in Syria and Ukraine. Similarly, a factor that may have contributed to Russia’s approval of Guterres is its presidency of the Security Council during October, and the positive effect that such an achievement would have on Russia’s image as facilitating the important decision on its watch. It is also possible that the permanent five actively strove to bury their differences so as to protect their shared privilege of nominating the SG, as a Security Council deadlock could potentially open the door to increased involvement of the wider UN membership in the General Assembly.
A different perspective is that Guterres benefited from a selection process that was unprecedentedly open by UN standards. As opposed to the highly secretive process in the past, when even knowledge of potential candidates was limited, in the current process contenders submitted vision statements that were uploaded to a website created by the Office of the President of the General Assembly for the selection process. Furthermore, candidates answered questions from diplomats and the public at large in the first-ever globally televised and webcast town hall-style debate held in the UN building. To this end more than 1500 questions were submitted online from over 70 countries, and candidates were given the opportunity to answer a selection of the top ten questions; to speak to the media following their sessions, and to participate in discussions organized by civil society groups. The current election process was also the first to be closely followed on social media.
Overall Guterres’s candidacy was well received, as expressed for example in a New York Times editorial that asserted that Guterres “is an excellent choice to replace Ban Ki-moon.” Among congratulators were critics of Ban Ki-moon, who fault the incumbent SG for shaping the role as a humble diplomatic servant, as opposed to the more proactive and independent approach practiced by his predecessor Kofi Annan. Other supporters included advocates of the open process who attribute Guterres’s election to the reforms in the election process, which they believe enabled him to win points for his humor, charisma, and professional posture.
Guterres’s personal manifesto notes challenges such as extreme inequality and the changing nature of conflict and terrorism. He emphasizes that “there is no peace and sustainable development without respect for human rights,” and that the solution for humanitarian problems is “never humanitarian” but rather “always political.” He advocates reforming the UN Development System; is minded toward “implementation, implementation, implementation”; and urges continuing the process that is said to have paved the road to his victory, i.e., UN utilization of modern digital platforms to reach out to common citizens. He also hammers out a five-point plan for UN engagement in a “culture of prevention” of crises rather than the current culture of managing them. Notably the fifth point of his plan relates to “fostering inclusion, solidarity and multiethnic, multicultural and multi-religious societies” as the best antidote to racism and anti-Semitism.
Upon Guterres’s nomination, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon stated that hopefully under Guterres’s leadership hostilities toward Israel in the UN will cease; the initiative to appoint a special UN Envoy for the Struggle against Global anti-Semitism will be promoted, and the UN will assume responsibility for the return of the bodies of Israel’s two fallen soldiers held by Hamas since Operation Protective Edge (July-August 2014). While the first goal is less likely to materialize, the latter two issues can potentially generate new attitudes that match Guterres’s personal beliefs and promote his aspirations as the world’s new top diplomat.
IS-UK:161108:(08-NOV-16):In historic first, senior British royal said to be planning official trip to Israel
Times of Israel 08-Nov-16
Formal tour by member of monarchy would end absence for state’s entire existence, during which nearly every other country on earth was visited by a Crown representative
In what would be an historic first formal visit, a senior member of the British royal family is planning an official trip to Israel in 2017, a tour that would coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, according to a UK Jewish community leader.
While royals have visited Israel in the past, no representative of the British monarchy has ever come to country on an official “royal tour.” An official royal visit to Jewish state would be the first in the Jewish state’s 68-year existence, during which nearly every other country on earth has been visited by a representative of the Crown.
The community leader said the details of the visit were not yet finalized but that the trip would be led by a senior member of the royal family.
The British Embassy in Israel could neither confirm or deny that a trip was being considered, saying, “Any planned tours will be announced in due course in the usual way.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it had not received a request or correspondence regarding a royal visit, but a spokesman told The Times of Israel that 2017 trips had not yet been finalized and it was possible that a visit is being planned.
The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said he warmly welcomed the news but was not surprised by the move. “The board has been making discreet but firm representations for some time and it seems they have borne fruit,” he said.
Speaking to The Times of Israel last month after he accompanied Prince Charles to the September funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, Arkush said it was an “open secret” that the UK Jewish community was actively working to encourage a royal visit. “We are pushing hard for a royal visit. It’s not about time. It’s past time for a royal visit,” he said.
‘Best to avoid those complications’
Prince Charles’s attendance at Peres’s funeral and the funeral of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994 were not considered official royal visits and did not include diplomatic meetings. Nor was a brief 1994 visit by his father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, to attend a ceremony commemorating his mother, Alice of Battenberg, who is buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
Official visits by royals to foreign countries are sanctioned by the British government. Despite numerous invitations over the years, no government has approved such a visit to Israel since the end of the British mandate and the establishment of the state in 1948.
“As I said to Prince Charles [at Peres’s funeral], it’s lovely that you came for two funerals — Rabin’s funeral and this funeral. Perhaps now, could you come for a happy occasion?” Arkush said last month. “Prince Charles is not the decider. He smiled. He nodded. He’s a professional up to his fingertips. It’s not his decision.”
On the sidelines of a climate change conference in Paris last December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly invited Prince Charles to make an official visit to Israel, UK daily The Telegraph reported at the time, but this was reportedly swiftly rejected.
“Until there is a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the royal family can’t really go there,” a British government source told the newspaper. “In Israel so much politics is caught up in the land itself that it’s best to avoid those complications altogether by not going there.”
Israeli officials have bristled at royals’ unwillingness to come to the Jewish state, while they appear to have no qualms about visiting authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
In 2007 an aide to Prince Charles warned in an internal email leaked to the press that a visit by the prince would likely be used by Israel to try to boost its global standing.
“Safe to assume there is no chance of this visit ever actually happening?” deputy private secretary Clive Alderton wrote to private secretary Sir Michael Peat. “Acceptance would make it hard to avoid the many ways in which Israel would want [Prince Charles] to help burnish its international image.”
‘The beginning of diplomatic relations’
InJuly 2015, at a ceremony welcoming new UK ambassador David Quarrey to Israel, President Reuven Rivlin issued an informal invite for the British monarch to come to Israel while making direct reference to the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration’s signing.
“During your term here, we will celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which perhaps marks the beginning of the diplomatic relations between Israel and Britain,” Rivlin told Quarrey referring to the November 1917 document that set out the UK government’s support for establishing a national homeland for Jews in Palestine.
“I also want to also convey my warmest regards to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and extend to her an invitation to visit our region,” Rivlin said.
While an official royal trip would coincide with the anniversary, it is a connection that the UK may want to avoid. Ahead of the centenary, Israelis and Palestinians have already launched rival campaigns over the legacy of the Declaration, each interpreting the document’s historical importance according to their respective narrative.
Top officials in Ramallah have vowed to sue the British government over what they call the “notorious” document in which Britain gave “without any right, authority or consent from anyone, the land of Palestine to another people,” as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said at the United Nations in September.
In Jerusalem, the Balfour Declaration is being celebrated as “one of the earliest statements by a major international actor to recognize the Jewish people’s rights to self-determination in their historic homeland,” as the Israeli embassy declared in a statement last week.
In September, UK Prime Minister Theresa May highlighted the fact that the UK and Israel will soon mark the 100-year anniversary of the “UK’s support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people,” in the signing of the Declaration.
IS-US:161102:(08-NOV-16):After export deal, Noble Energy closer to clinching major Israel gas project
Noble Energy’s recent deal to export Israeli natural gas to Jordan marked a major step toward making a final investment decision on its long-delayed Leviathan gas project, executives said Wednesday.
The Houston company’s first gas export contract tied to the $5 billion natural gas project in the eastern Mediterranean Sea could bring in $10 billion in revenue over the next decade and a half. The last few steps that remain before it can start investing in offshore facilities include lining up project financing and securing more domestic gas contracts in Israel.
“We have line of sight around project sanction around the end of the year or early next year,” Noble Enery CEO David Stover told investors in a conference call Wednesday. “We’ve got some things we think we can pull together over the next short period of time.”
So far, the explorer has contracted sales of 450 million cubic feet of gas a day from the Leviathan field, and the new Jordan contract accounts for three quarters of that sum. All told, Noble has secured $12 billion in potential revenue from Jordan and Israel.
Acquiring more domestic contracts from Israel shouldn’t be too difficult. The Israeli government recently decreed the country will increase its reliance on natural gas for power generation by 15 percent, replacing coal. Noble has begun drilling a new development well in another offshore Israeli region called the Tamar field in an effort to meet the rising demand.
“Everything’s on track,” Stover said. “I don’t see anything giving me concern at this point.”
In the United States, Noble has dispatched two additional drilling rigs in recent months, bringing its fleet in the country to six. Two of those are in Colorado’s DJ Basin; another two in the Eagle Ford in South Texas, and two in the Permian Basin in West Texas.
Like many of its rivals, Noble has benefited from lower costs for oil field equipment and services, and has found ways to drill and pump oil more efficiently. But executives noted they’ve seen some cost inflation after the recent rise in oil prices.
“We’re starting to see a little bit of cost creep in some areas,” said Gary Willingham, executive vice president of operations for Noble. “Steel prices have come up, rig costs are starting to creep up ever so slightly. I wouldn’t say it’s anything significant yet.”
Willingham said he believes more than half of cost efficiencies it has gleaned over the last few years will stick even if service costs rise next year.
Noble recorded a $144 million loss in the third quarter, down from a bigger loss of $283 million in the same period last year. Its revenues increased 11 percent as its oil and gas production climbed 12 percent.
* Partners in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field said on Thursday the project’s first development stage will include a capacity of 12 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas a year.
* Later stages could include an additional 9 BCM of gas a year.
* Partners estimate positive cash flow and royalties from the field to begin in 2020.
* Israeli statement to Tel Aviv Stock Exchange includes report by U.S. consultant Netherland, Sewell and Associates.
* Partners in Leviathan include Texas-based Noble Energy with 39.66 percent stake, Israel’s Avner Oil and Delek Drilling who each have a 22.67 percent share, and Ratio Oil with the remaining 15 percent stake.
Aust/Israel Jewish Affairs Council .04-Nov-16
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the World War I Battle of Be’er Sheva (Beersheba in English). The success of the Australian Light Horse regiments was due not only to their courage and daring, but also to their ability to be innovative and to take risks-the very characteristics we need today to enter a new chapter in relations between Israel and Australia.
The relationship between Australia and the small Jewish state is warm and close, despite occasional problems. Australia has always been seen as friendly by Israel, although it’s rarely been a major focus of policy efforts in Jerusalem.
Israel has sought over the years to solicit Australia’s support at international institutions and to gain access to diplomatic and economic opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Both states are immigrant countries. Both societies pride themselves on being down-to-earth and on their egalitarianism, resourcefulness and social mobility. Both appreciate plain speaking and being up-front about the nature of any deal under discussion. All this provides a solid foundation for working together and doing business together.
Australia has a strong Jewish community of around 120,000 that’s made an enormous contribution to the country. It can serve as one component in efforts to bring the two countries closer.
To download full 56 page PDF report, +click here.
Daily Alert extracted from Boston Globe 02-Nov-16
Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is so named for the two Jewish temples that stood on the site for almost nine centuries – the first built by King Solomon nearly 3,000 years ago, the second destroyed by the Roman legions under Titus in 70 CE. One needn’t be a Bible scholar or a historian to know that the cultural, religious, and emotional bonds that link the Jews to Jerusalem are unparalleled. For millennia, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount have been central to Jewish self-awareness – and thus to Christianity as well, since the Temple figures prominently in the Gospels’ account of the life of Jesus.
UNESCO’s tendentious semantics play into an ongoing propaganda campaign by the Palestinian Authority to “de-Judaize” the identity of Jerusalem, the foremost Jewish city on earth. Jerusalem’s holy sites have never been safer, or open to more people, than in the 49 years since it was reunified under Israeli administration
Daily Alert extracted from Israel Hayom 02-Nov-16
According to the global auditing firm KPMG, Israel has become a leading hothouse for financial technology companies, with nine of the most globally promising companies.
Israeli high-tech companies raised $1.19 billion in the third quarter of 2016, the second highest quarterly amount in 10 years.
Forbes magazine reported in September, “Since 2011, there has been a 50% year-on-year growth of Chinese investment in Israel.”
Daily Alert extracted from San Diego Jewish World 02-Nov-16
Israel’s relations with its neighbors have evolved over the course of 70 years to something that is far more subtle and nuanced than what is expressed by intense nationalists or by overseas friends and antagonists, each with their favorite solution.
We should start from the realization that peace is not on our doorstep, no matter what we do. There is no chance that Israel will remove substantial numbers from the 800,000 or so Jews living over the lines of 1967, or that a Palestinian leadership will ratchet down significantly from demands dating to 1947, 1967, or the last meeting between Israel and Palestinian leaders.
Yet we’re getting along with our near neighbors. There are casualties, but nothing like what was experienced in the past, and even further from what other neighbors are doing to one another across the Middle East.
Living near Muslims has exposed us in recent years to a rate of casualties less than that of traffic accidents. We seek to limit the casualties, but should not expect to eliminate them entirely.
Among the guidelines that operate for military and governmental professionals and politicians who reach the crucial offices are not to overreact to violence with excessive force in ways that make things worse, yet to react with impressive force when appropriate.
The purpose of occasional Israeli outbursts of significant violence is to counter upticks in the violence against us, and to remind the waverers among Israeli Arabs and Palestinians about what can happen to them yet again if they lose control over their nationalist sentiments.
IS-CM:161107:(08-NOV-16):Ten Centuries of Islamic Sources Confirm Jewish Ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Daily Alert extracted from Israel Hayom 07-Nov-16
Israel could counter Muslim lies about the Jewish history of Jerusalem by pointing out 10 centuries of Islamic sources that confirm Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, or the Ottoman decrees that guaranteed the Jews the right to worship at the Western Wall.
Aref al-Aref was an Arab public official in the time of the British Mandate in Palestine. In the final years of Jordanian rule over east Jerusalem, he also served as director of the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum near Damascus Gate. Al-Aref, an avowed Palestinian nationalist, adhered to historical truth and scientific research and wrote in his books that the Temple Mount is the same Mount Moriah mentioned in Genesis, the site of the Jebusite threshing floor that King David bought to build the Temple on it, and that David’s son, Solomon, built the Temple in the year 1007 BCE. Al-Aref wrote this when the Old City of Jerusalem was still part of the Kingdom of Jordan.
Israeli archeologist Prof. Dan Bahat notes, “In the Quran itself there are sources, such as Surah 2 and Surah 7, which identify the Hutta Gate as the gate through which ‘the children of Israel’ would one day enter the Temple Mount. The…gate is located under the Mughrabi Bridge, which goes over the women’s section of the Western Wall Plaza.”
Daily Alert extracted from Editorial Jerusalem Post 07-Nov-16
Last week’s U.S. State Department condemnation of Jerusalem’s decision to approve new housing for residents of its Gilo neighborhood heralds yet another unnecessary confrontation between our countries. The Jerusalem Municipality approved the addition of 181 housing units for the capital’s southwestern neighborhood of Gilo, home to some 40,000 residents. Housing construction in a long-established Jerusalem neighborhood – Gilo was founded in 1973 – is not in a “settlement.”
Almost half a century since Israel reunited its divided capital city – divided, like Berlin once was, by war – the media ignorantly parrot the Palestinian narrative that claims east Jerusalem as its future capital, as if the section of the city that Jordan occupied for 19 years had been an historic entity. Consistent with this warped view, the foreign media insistently refer to Jews living in the heart of their historic capital as “settlers.”
They capitalize the term “East Jerusalem” as if it were a historical fact, but Gilo is on the other side of town, built on land purchased by Dov Joseph for the Jewish National Fund during the 1930s. Gilo was once indeed occupied territory: it was Jordanian-occupied Israeli territory from 1949 to 1967, after which its Israeli sovereignty was restored.
Australia’s attorney-general, George Brandis, told the Senate last week that Australia will no longer refer to east Jerusalem as “occupied” territory: “The description of east Jerusalem as “Occupied East Jerusalem” is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful.”
For three millennia, Jerusalem has been the capital of three native Jewish states – Judah, Judea and Israel. Jews have constituted the majority of Jerusalem’s residents since the pre-Zionist 19th century. In contrast, Palestinian Arabs have not ruled Jerusalem for a single day.
Political influence over language is also reflected in the use of the term “West Bank.” The Jordan River is only a few meters wide. The claim that its western bank extends for some 65 km., encompassing Judea and Samaria, demonstrates how politicized terminology drives the conflict. Its use began when the Jordanian government marketed the term in the 1950s in an attempt to legitimize its occupation of the region between 1949 and 1967. Before Israel’s War of Independence, the British Mandatory authorities referred to the region as Judea and Samaria.
The expansion of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods to accommodate the city’s growing population is a matter for the municipality. It is not the concern of third parties such as the U.S. State Department.
Daily Alert extracted from The Tower 07-Nov-16
Dear President-Elect, the world is beset by a constellation of problems – international terrorism, rogue states, and a renascent expansionist Russia. You will not be able to democratize the Middle East or diplomatically “engage” your way with the Vladimir Putins and Ali Khameneis of the world. These are problems to be managed rather than solved. At least the Israelis, who have become masters of this art, can commiserate with your unenviable role.
The only indigenous forces willing and able to take on ISIS and win are the Kurds. The Kurds are religiously moderate, politically centrist, and allergic to the kinds of paranoid conspiracy theories so tragically common in the Arab world. They’re more pro-American than even Americans, and they’re the best fighters in the region by far after the Israelis. They’ve wanted their own state for more than 100 years now, and they were promised one, too, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Under what theory do the Palestinians deserve their own state while the Kurds don’t? The Kurds are our best friends in the Muslim Middle East. They stand with us on every question that matters. It’s time to back the Kurds to the hilt and give them the green light to declare independence, partly because it’s the right thing to do, partly because we need their help and partly because it’s the smart move strategically. Free Kurdish states in Syria and Iraq will permanently deny territory to the likes of both Assad and ISIS.
You could spend your entire presidency litigating every detail of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or we could skip all that and boil it down to its essence: The majority of Israelis have repeatedly elected prime ministers who are willing to sign on to a two-state solution, but the Palestinians haven’t. When a clear majority of Palestinians catch up to the Israelis, the conflict will end. You can try to force the Israelis to give up more than they already have, but it won’t do an iota of good if the Palestinian side remains rejectionist.
There can be no peace between Israelis and Palestinians while Hamas still rules Gaza anyway, and one of the reasons Hamas still rules Gaza is because it’s still receiving money and guns from Iran, just as the Assad regime and Hizbullah do. Iran is a brutally repressive sectarian theocracy that is the biggest state sponsor of international terrorism in the world. It has been our chief adversary in the Middle East since followers of Ayatollah Khomeini took 52 American diplomats hostage at our embassy in Tehran in 1979.
In essence: Get real about Russia, finish off ISIS in Syria, back the Kurds to the hilt, downgrade relations with Turkey, repair our relations with Israel and crack down hard again on Iran. The first rule of foreign policy is that you reward your friends and punish your enemies. Presidents who behave as though this rule doesn’t apply to them are doomed to fail in foreign policy.
Daily Alert extracted from Gatestone Institute 09-Nov-16
Col. Richard Kemp
This week we enter the centenary year of the Balfour Declaration, signed on November 2, 1917 – the first recognition by the greatest power in the world at the time of the right of the Jewish people to their national homeland in Palestine. Under the San Remo Resolution three years later, the Balfour Declaration was enshrined in international law, leading ultimately to the proclamation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948.
In demanding that Britain apologize for a 99-year-old statement supporting a national home for the Jewish people, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas exposes his true position, and the true position of all factions of the Palestinian leadership: that the Jewish people have no right to a national home; the Jewish state has no right to exist.
Despite Britain sometimes sinking into moral weakness over its subsequent failure to support the state that it incubated, the country can be intensely proud that Britain alone embraced Zionism in 1917.
And it was the blood of many thousands of British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers that created the conditions that made the modern-day State of Israel a possibility. These men fought and died in the Palestine campaign to defeat the Ottoman Empire that had occupied the territory for centuries.
Former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, the true motivating force behind the Balfour Declaration, said in 1931: “The Jews surely have a special claim on [Palestine]. They are the only people who have made a success of it during the past 3,000 years. They are the only people who have made its name immortal, and as a race, they have no other home. This was their first; this has been their only home.”
Nothing has changed in the Arabs’ attitudes and actions from Balfour’s day to our own. Yet we have seen a miraculous and untold transformation over those 99 years within the State of Israel.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to make a clean break with the leadership of her predecessor, David Cameron. Even as difficult Brexit negotiations loom, she hopes to draw on her past to reunite the United Kingdom.
In the middle of her most difficult week thus far as British prime minister, Theresa May steps into Westminster Abbey through a side entrance to pray. She’s wearing a blue dress from the British designer Amanda Wakeley beneath her overcoat, and a pair of black-and-pink pumps on her feet. It’s a relatively expensive ensemble. May is 1.72 meters (5’6″) tall and is by far the most elegant woman in the church. The gazes of the other worshippers follow her as she walks down the center aisle.
In the London house of worship, just a stone’s throw from Downing Street, the day’s service commemorates the abolition of the slave trade. The Archbishop of Canterbury has come and Princess Eugenie of York is to lay a wreath at the event. May is there to show her support for the fight against modern slavery — and these days, it is one of the few low-stress items on her agenda.
Recently, the bad news for May has been rolling in on an almost hourly basis. And most of it has to do with Brexit. Since the referendum, the British pound has lost almost a fifth of its value against the dollar while banks and large corporations are considering relocating outside the country. Moreover, the government is tangled in a judicial battle regarding the formalities of leaving the EU, which could delay the process. And the opposition is becoming feistier, with May suffering her first significant defeat in the lower house two weeks ago: Together with Conservative defectors, Labour was able to force May’s government to consult parliament more closely on Brexit.
To make matters even worse, it was revealed last week that just a few weeks before the Brexit referendum, May had issued a stern warning against leaving the European Union. “A lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is in Europe,” she said in a May 26 appearance at Goldman Sachs that was first reported on by the Guardian. Were Britain to leave the EU, she said, there is a danger that capital could shift out of the country. May’s critics see the statements as proof that the prime minister is much more pro-Europe than she admits — and that she is organizing Brexit against her will.
Then, as if she weren’t under enough pressure, the Resolution Foundation, a think tank, reported last week that leaving the EU would cost the British state 84 billion pounds (94 billion euros) over the next five years
Safe from Brexit
May reaches for the hymnal, Psalm 23. As the organ starts playing, she stands up and sings together with the others in the church: “In death’s dark veil I fear no ill. With thee, dear Lord, beside me. Thy rod and staff my comfort still. They cross before to guide me.”
Here, at least, beneath the crucifix, she is safe from Brexit. When she leaves Westminster Abbey an hour later, her steps reverberating as she strides through the Great West Door, she once again has a smile on her face.
It has been four months since the EU referendum and the political climate in Britain has become rougher. May’s government has played a significant role in the change. Home Secretary Amber Rudd sought to force British companies to create lists of non-British employees while Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants from other European countries only have job security until enough British personnel can be trained. In both instances, the government quickly reversed course following public outcry. But a veneer of xenophobia appears to have descended over the country.
It is likely to be a gloomy autumn. Britain isn’t totally sure exactly what Brexit means and whether it will be beneficial to all and Theresa May has thrown her weight behind those who prefer a so-called “hard Brexit.” She has said that she no longer wants the EU to have a say over the country’s immigration policies and that it’s time to revoke the power that judges in Brussels have over Britain. By charting such a course, she is risking harm to the British economy.
May’s view is that the British have decided to become a different country, one with fewer immigrants and less European influence. The voters, she believes, have decided to turn their backs on the country’s traditional partners on the Continent in the hopes that the world is waiting to embrace the British. Thus far, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case. At the recent EU summit in Brussels, the British prime minister was isolated. She can only begin negotiating a free trade agreement with Europe once Britain is no longer a member of the EU.
Part of the Adult World
May’s destiny is to be the woman who leads the British out of the European Union, faced with organizing a years-long process of separation and reorientation. But what’s driving her? And what will it mean for Europe and for the Brexit negotiations?
May was born the daughter of a vicar in Eastbourne, a town in the county of East Sussex on the southern coast of England. Both the church and the region remain significant influences on her today. With no siblings, she read a lot as a child and enjoyed engaging in discussions with her father, once telling the BBC that she became part of the world of adults at a very early age.
She began volunteering for the Tories when she was just 12 years old, stuffing envelopes and mailing off party brochures. The family moved several times, but her parents sought to avoid London. “Theresa was not to be a city girl when she was growing up,” wrote Virginia Blackburn in her recently published biography of May. Her parents died when she was in her mid-20s, her father in an automobile accident and her mother from multiple sclerosis.
The British prime minister isn’t fond of opening up about personal details. She did, though, once say that she likes to cook, owns more than 100 cookbooks and is a fan of cricket. Recently, she has begun talking more about the fact that she and her husband were unable to have children.
She has done so because the issue of her lack of children played a role in her fight for Downing Street. May’s primary adversary, the Brexit proponent Andrea Leadsom, said in an interview with the Times of London that, “as a mother,” she had an advantage over May. Because of her children, Leadsom suggested, she had more of a stake in the country’s future than her childless opponent. The article was headlined: “Being a mother gives me edge on May.” As so often, private lives had become a political issue and the incident shows that women too can hit below the belt. Those wanting to succeed in British politics have to have a hard shell — and be willing to go on the offensive in Westminster.
Winners and Losers
It is a place that has been dominated for centuries by alpha males, and largely still is. Margaret Thatcher held sufficient power and ruthlessness to keep her fractious cabinet in check for 11 years — and in this respect, the Iron Lady and Theresa May are similar. Both were hardened in a male-dominated political realm in which every debate knows only winners and losers.
But where Thatcher governed with implacability and defiance, May spends her nights working her way through dossiers in order to be better prepared than any of her ministers. She is, though, also able to play them off against each other. For example, she assigned three men to the EU negotiations who were at each other’s throats after just a few weeks: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox.
In contrast to many women who build a political career, the prime minister doesn’t try to hide her femininity. She wears leopard-print pumps with stiletto heels and two years ago, in the BBC radio show “Desert Island Discs,” she said that she would like a lifetime subscription to Vogue if she were stranded on an island. Seven members of her cabinet are women (Thatcher had just one). May didn’t enter the race as a feminist, but she has made it seem normal for women to hold political power.
Philip, her husband of 36 years, works in finance in London and May has referred to him as “my rock.” He has recently become more involved in their constituency and does what he can to support his wife.
The rise of Theresa May says a lot about recent changes to Britain’s political landscape. She began her career as a councillor in southern London, learning the ropes in local politics, and established a network of friends and allies that continues to help her to this day. Her current chief of staff, Fiona Hill, is among them as is Chris Grayling, a Euroskeptic who May appointed as secretary of state for transport. May’s self-image could hardly be more different from that of her predecessor David Cameron, a product of Eton. Once asked why he wanted to become prime minister, Cameron answered: “Because I think I’d be rather good at it.”
May never thought the world owed her anything; she was brought up too piously for that. Instead, she places great emphasis on discipline. Over the course of several years, she slowly and inconspicuously worked her way up the political ladder, all the way to the office of Home Secretary. Since 1997, she has represented the constituency of Maidenhead, just an hour’s train ride west of London, in parliament. It is a region of country inns, stone churches and thick hedgerows, with the Thames babbling among the rolling hills covered with woods and meadows. Only the newest Land Rover models on the streets hint outwardly at the 21st century.
But it is also an area that has become home to software and biotech firms, to the electronics company Hitachi and the logistics company Maersk. Maidenhead is anything but provincial. And May tries to make time in her busy schedule for a weekly visit to her constituency to speak with citizens, give out prizes, collect donations and answers voters’ questions. There aren’t many in Westminster who spend as much time with their constituents. “Theresa knows exactly what’s going on here,” says Geoffrey Hill.
Hill is chair of the local Tory association and still seems a bit tired as he sits down at a table in a Maidenhead café. The previous evening, May had celebrated her 60th birthday in London and she had, of course, invited the most important people from her constituency.
“What you see is what you get,” Hill says about May. She doesn’t have a hidden agenda, he says, and there are no scandals to be unearthed. That is far from a given in London, where members of parliament have been caught dancing on tables in the red-light district, among a host of other scandals in recent years. May, by contrast, is down-to-earth, embodying efficiency, and reliability. She is what England would like to be.
The Mays have a home in their voting district and their neighbors include George and Amal Clooney, who occasionally make appearances at the local pub, in addition to bankers, rugby players and Led Zeppelin’s lead singer. It is a place where British reserve is alive and well and the local pastor proudly claims to have rejected 70 interview requests. “Some people here talk a lot,” he says. “But they don’t know anything. The ones who know something don’t talk.”
Given the Nod
Philip Love is a local councillor and a member of the Conservative Party. He was also a member of the party committee that was charged with finding a Tory parliamentary candidate for the newly created district in the late 1990s. There were 240 candidates. One question that was asked of all of them was whether they thought the party did everything right. Love says that many simply answered that, of course, the Conservatives did everything right. “But Theresa eloquently outlined the mistakes we had made in the last 20 years,” Love says. A certain David Cameron was also among the applicants, but he wasn’t chosen. May was given the nod.
May has chosen to place her focus on patriotism, her home country and love of the nation. At the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham in early October, she said: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere” — an astonishing statement because it sounded so deeply provincial. May wasn’t just challenging the cosmopolitan financial and corporate classes in Britain, but also the Londonization of the country. Many in London saw the sentence as a direct challenge to British openness. In rural England, though, it was well received.
May can often seem stubborn and obdurate and elements of her speeches seem narrow-minded and severe. In this sense, she is reminiscent of the Iron Lady. But if one interprets the outcome of the Brexit referendum as rural revenge against the arrogance of London, then her strategy is the correct one. She wants to support regions that have been left behind and provide aid to cities and municipalities that are struggling with the consequences of immigration. She wants to give power back to rural England, and at least one person is standing by to help her.
Nick Timothy is the man who transforms May’s vision into words. He’s 36 and has been writing speeches for May since she headed up the Home Office. Timothy is seen as a combative Euroskeptic who holds more influence over the prime minister than any other person. The news website POLITICO Europe recently referred to him as “the man who is really running Britain.”
A ‘Vow of Silence’
Timothy is the opposite of a London left-wing liberal. He hails from a working class district of Birmingham and has nothing but disdain for capital elitists. If he had a wish available, he wrote in a column for the website ConservativeHome, it would be “a vow of silence from our pompous, hypocritical, self-obsessed political celebrities.”
Like Labour, the Conservatives have the problem that they have been moving their party towards the center of society since the end of the 1990s, but in doing so have neglected the fringes as well as those voters who don’t live in the big cities. Timothy sees one of his challenges as that of steering the disappointed working class away from Labour and UKIP and towards the Conservatives. His rise shows just how radically May has broken with the Cameron years. Her advisors could hardly be more skeptical of the London metropolis.
The danger, however, is that Britain could lose its reputation as an open, cosmopolitan trading nation. May’s advisor is in favor of a reserved foreign policy that shies away from intervention. He is likewise opposed to accepting Syrian children who fled to Europe from the war back home.
Moderate Tories feel excluded by this kind of rhetoric. Those parliamentarians who were in favor of remaining in the EU feel as though they have been silenced and are wondering what role is left for them in the pro-Brexit party.
One of them is the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke. Sitting in his office, Clarke looks a bit like a melancholic St. Bernhard. He has been a Conservative MP since 1970 and knows May from her early days in the lower house — though, like many, he is careful when saying he “knows” her. Actually, Clarke says from his armchair, he doesn’t really know what May’s views are on a lot of broader political issues.
That is rather remarkable given that he was in the cabinet with May for four years. “As Home Secretary, she rarely went outside her brief” in speeches or appearances. She just got on with her job,” Clarke says. But she did her job so well, he continues, that she had long been seen as a candidate for higher office. Clarke doesn’t doubt that deep down May is a pragmatic pro-European. “The fact is that Theresa May is in the biggest political shambles the Conservative Party has found itself in for years.”
The Opposite of Efficient
May entered office with the pretense of changing the country. She wants to reunite the disunited kingdom — poor and rich, Scots and English — and she isn’t afraid of making enemies. She is critical of exploitative business leaders and promises to deal severely with companies that seek to avoid paying taxes.
May has already surprised the British with the speed and efficiency with which she has taken over the business of governing. She will approach negotiations with Europe with a similar resoluteness, no matter what she personally believes and by the end of next March, she wants to trigger Article 50 and begin the formal process of leaving the EU. She is a disciplined, tenacious strategist who is used to getting her way. Europe, though, doesn’t work that way. European politics takes place during late-night meetings in Brussels and is the polar opposite of efficient. May needs something that thus far hasn’t been one of her strengths: patience and the ability to win people over. The negotiations promise to be just as difficult for her as for the rest of Europe.
She has replaced her “Brexit means Brexit” mantra by saying that Britain seeks the “maximum freedom to trade with and operate within the single market.” That hasn’t served to make her Brexit plans any more clear, but even the hint that she might be willing to compromise has made EU opponents furious. Doing so, the Leave.EU campaign says, would be “a clear betrayal of the British people.”
As an EU advocate, May knows how vulnerable she is in a party full of hardliners. Furthermore, she suffers from the taint of having been chosen by the party and not elected by voters. She must defend herself against accusations that she is trying to thwart the will of the British people.
That could ultimately mean that she will — exactly for that reason — be more stubborn in her negotiations with Brussels than others might have been.
Al Arabiya News 07-Nov-16
Saudi Arabia has informed Egypt that shipments of oil products expected under a $23 billion aid deal would be halted indefinitely, suggesting a deepening rift between the Arab world’s richest country and its most populous.
Saudi Arabia agreed to provide Egypt with 700,000 tonnes of refined oil products per month for five years in April, during a visit by King Salman.
The cargoes stopped arriving at the start of October, as festering political tensions burst into the open, but Egyptian officials said the contract remained valid and had appeared to hold out hope that oil would start flowing again soon.
Saudi Arabia’s state oil firm Aramco has not commented on the halt. But on Monday[7 Nov], Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek al-Molla confirmed it had halted the shipments indefinitely.
An oil ministry official told Reuters: “They did not give us a reason. They only informed the authority about halting shipments of petroleum products until further notice.”
The move comes as a source in Molla’s delegation said late on Sunday[6 Nov] evening that he would visit Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main political rival, to try to strike new oil deals
Mo;;a not visiting Iran:.Molla, who attended on Monday[7Nov] an oil conference in Abu Dhabi, told Reuters he was not going to Iran, appearing to contradict the report. “No Iran visit. I am attending the conference,” he told Reuters.
Egypt and Iran’s diplomatic relations have been strained since the 1970s. An Egyptian official visiting Iran would cement a break in its alliance with Saudi Arabia and mark a seismic shift in the regional political order.
WHEN Britain eventually leaves the European Union it will prosper by trading farther afield. So argues Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, ahead of her first big bilateral trip abroad, a three-day visit to India, which begins on Sunday, November 6th. She talks of forging a “new global role” with this trade mission, hobnobbing with Indian leaders and championing free trade in general. The idea is to promote ties between small and medium businesses in the two countries. Yet creating a stronger economic relationship with India will prove much tougher than Mrs May and her colleagues expect.
On the face of it, the signs are good. India has nearly 1.3bn people. Many are emerging as middle-class consumers for the first time. The country is creating a single market for goods and services, reducing internal and external barriers to trade and tackling some corruption and bureaucracy. Its economy, worth over $2trn, is the fastest-growing large one in the world. It is likely to rattle along quickly for many years to come; by 2030, India could rank as the world’s third-largest. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, wants to make it less difficult for businesses to operate there, and to win more foreign investment and trade deals. British firms are already among the biggest investors. Now India is opening up for foreign activity in sectors that might suit British firms especially: notably in insurance, defence, railways and some retail. At the same time, large Indian firms—such as Tata, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, as well as Tata Steel—are in Britain. London has also become a base for Indian firms, for example in business consulting, that tap the wider EU market. A common language, shared cultural, historic, legal and sporting ties, plus the influence of the Indian diaspora in Britain, bode well for closer ties.
Mrs May is thus right to reach out. But anyone expecting quick gains will be disappointed. One of India’s priorities, for example, is avoiding complications over a long-stalled free trade agreement with the EU, which has been under negotiation since June 2007. After 12 rounds of talks, some consensus has been found on issues including trade in rice, sugar, textiles and pharmaceuticals. It is not clear that India’s overstretched trade negotiators will see much benefit in being diverted to work on a deal with Britain alone, especially if that makes it harder to complete one with the bigger EU market. Even if they do decide to talk biltaterally, among the sticking points has been India’s 150% tariff on imports of whisky from Scotland. Future British negotiators would struggle to be more effective than their European counterparts at getting that scrapped. The biggest concern, however, is about Britain’s ever colder shoulder towards Indians who want to travel and study there. Under the Conservatives, Britain has in the past six years become less welcoming to foreigners, notably from South Asia, who hope to attend university and then work. Eye-wateringly expensive visas, increasingly hostile rules to get them, official talk of cracking down on foreign students in Britain, and graduates who lose the right to work after finishing a degree in Britain all leave Indians feeling unwelcome. Anecdotes abound of bright Indian students who win places at the best British universities but are refused visas to travel. Perceptions of generally rising xenophobia in Britain are discouraging to Indians too.
For Mrs May to win a warm welcome in India she needs to offer a message that is not only about investment and trade, but also sets out that Britain—in particular its universities—will again become more open to Indian visitors, migrants, students and their families. America is proving far more successful at attracting the highest-skilled migrants, especially software and other engineers. Other countries, including some in Europe, are rolling out policies to attract more Indian students to their universities. Yet Britain appears more hostile to migrants than it has in many decades. Within a few years, it is worth remembering, India’s economy will be bigger than Britain’s. Welcoming more exchanges of people, as well as encouraging higher levels of trade and investment, would make sense for both sides.
Times of Israel 03-Nov-16
Head of terror group, which hasn’t renounced violence, renews plea to be folded into Abbas-led Palestinian umbrella organization
Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal made a rare plea on Wednesday for uniting his popular Palestinian Islamist movement with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), bringing it, for the first time, into the umbrella group recognized internationally and by Israel as the representative of the Palestinians.
A senior PLO member told The Times of Israel that the group wants to bring Hamas under its framework, while an expert on Palestinian politics said the move was likely to take place.
The call by Hamas — considered a terror group by Israel, the US and most of the international community — for inclusion in the PLO comes amid concerted efforts by the Palestinians to challenge the 1917 British Balfour Declaration, which promised the Jewish people a “homeland” in Palestine, and to establish an independent Palestinian state as soon as possible.
Mashaal called for a “united authority for inside and outside of Palestine under the umbrella of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.”
“It is time we reconsider the organization [the PLO],” he said during a speech in Qatar broadcast live by Al Jazeera at the Fourth Palestinian National Security Conference, which took place in Gaza City.
In Fatah-Hamas unity deals in 2011 and 2014, the Islamist group agreed to join the PLO, but the agreements fell through. There was also a failed bid for Hamas to join the PLO in 2005.
“In order to build our lives and political system on democratic foundations, we must be partners in shouldering responsibility and partners in the decision of war and peace,” Mashaal said.
The PLO, which has been the largest Palestinian umbrella organization since 1964, is headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and dominated by Abbas’s Fatah party.
It also includes the left-wing factions the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), as well as other smaller factions.
While Abbas has said he is committed to a nonviolent and diplomatic strategy to establish a Palestinian state, Mashaal has made it clear that Hamas will not give up employing violence to force Israel’s hand.
“The wager on the diplomatic movement on its own has been proven a failure. Let us agree on a national strategy and that everyone is with the [armed] resistance, which is a legitimate right that raises the cost of the occupation,” Mashaal said.
His call for national unity followed a rare meeting he held with Abbas in Qatar on Thursday.
Hamas has been in conflict with Abbas’s Fatah movement, which runs the West Bank, since 2007, despite multiple attempts to broker reconciliation.
“We want all of the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to be within the framework of the PLO,” Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told The Times of Israel in a phone interview,
Asked about Mashaal’s statement assuring that Hamas would continue its armed struggle, Abu Yousef said: “The type of struggle the Palestinians wage will be decided by the PLO. We agree on the basis that the Palestinian struggle will be a popular struggle.”
Shaul Mishal, head of the Middle East program at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, said it was likely that Hamas would merge into the PLO.
“Both sides are looking to find a common denominator. They realize that to unite is the only effective way to be on the regional map, considering the harsh current events in the region,” he said. “They [the Palestinians] cannot continue working on the bilateral approach with Israel,” which has languished in the past several years.
BICOM (Britain Israel Communication & Research Centre 05-Nov-16
Israel is the UK’s strongest ally in the Middle East, according to a poll conducted by the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), a controversial lobby group.
Some 57 percent of Brits consider Israel to be the UK’s leading ally in the Middle East, an increase on 52 percent from last year.
The BICOM study found that most Brits support Israel and the country’s official positions on key issues such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the Balfour declaration.
BICOM has been accused of being a “sophisticated” pro-Israel lobby group seeking to “cultivate elite opinion” in the UK. Its online survey, which is conducted annually, involved more than 2,000 British adults.
Fifty-six percent of those polled said they thought boycotting Israel hurt both Palestinians and Israelis.
The study also found that 51 percent do not boycott Israeli goods and do not understand why anyone would.
BICOM chief executive James Sorene said: “Our poll shows a very significant shift against the idea of boycotting Israel. The majority opposing it has increased by as much as eight per cent over the past year.”
Forty-eight percent of those polled agreed with the statement: “Hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is antisemitic.” Some 20 percent disagreed.
Polling also found more Brits feel warm towards Israelis (24 percent) than Palestinians (20 percent) and that most Brits (43 percent) believe the British government was right to issue the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
The controversial declaration was a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild – head of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland – that promised to support the idea of a Jewish homeland in historical Palestine as long as the rights of existing non-Jewish communities were not “prejudiced.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, said: “Today’s results affirm the strong ties between our two countries. It is encouraging that, more than ever, Britons view Israel as their strongest ally in the region. Equally important, most people correctly believe that demonization of Israel is, in fact, anti-Semitic, and must not be tolerated.”
According to a 2013 Spinwatch study conducted by UK-based academics and journalists, BICOM owes its existence to arms trade with Israel.
The report, titled ‘The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre: Giving peace a chance?’ states that BICOM’s principal donor is Poju Zabludowicz, the son of Finnish arms magnet Shlomo Zabludowicz.
While BICOM initially sought to influence public opinion, it later changed its strategy to “insulate elites from what it sees as the negative opinions about Israel,” according to the Spinwatch report.
Oil producers in the North Sea, home to one of the world’s key crude-price benchmarks, are poised to ship the most crude in more than four years. The surge takes place just as OPEC tries to contain a global surplus with coordinated output cuts.
Shipments of North Sea grades will increase 10 percent month-on-month to about 2.16 million barrels a day in December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. If all the cargoes load as planned it would mark the most crude oil shipments from the region since May 2012. The increase just from September, when there was field maintenance, would be almost 360,000 barrels a day.
The surge poses yet another challenge to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as it seeks to curb production to steady markets in a world with plenty of oil. OPEC ministers will meet in Vienna on Nov. 30 to decide how to trim output to a range of 32.5 million to 33 million barrels a day. Libya, Nigeria and Iran are claiming exemption from cuts because of their own circumstances, and Iraq has contested how its output has been measured.
“Rebalancing the market is going to be an uphill task,” in part because North Sea supplies are adding to the surplus, Ehsan Ul-Haq, senior market consultant KBC Energy Economics, said by phone. “If OPEC is really interested in reducing stocks and bringing the market into balance, they’ll have to make deeper cuts than promised before.”
While supplies from some nations outside of OPEC are indeed falling, non-members boosting their crude output include Kazakhstan, Brazil and Russia, which last month pumped oil at a post-Soviet era high. OPEC itself increased production to a record 34.02 million barrels a day in October, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts, oil companies and ship-tracking data. In addition, the U.S. is now freely shipping its oil across the globe, following the removal of export restrictions last year.
The wave of North Sea crude will come just as a pile-up of tankers storing or transferring oil in the region dwindles, clearing out a previous surplus. Only one supertanker, Front Ariake, remains floating with North Sea crude off the coast of England. This compares with as many as five Very Large Crude Carriers last month which were holding crude, or preparing to receive it via ship-to-ship transfers.
While shipments of Brent crude are expected to slow in December — due to maintenance at the Cormorant Alpha platform north of Scotland, scheduled to begin later this month — exports of other grades are set to increase. Loading plans are subject to significant change and reorganization.
At least 25 shipments from the U.K.’s Forties field are now scheduled for December, the most since February 2011. Loadings from Norway’s Grane field next month are set to rise to 10, the most since Bloomberg began tracking the grade in 2010. The programs show December exports of 483,871 barrels a day for Forties and 193,548 for Grane.
Further new North Sea oil production may be on the way. Statoil this week submitted to the Norwegian government its plan for development of the Trestakk field. Lower-than-expected costs and a low-risk operating environment are providing a “window of opportunity” for more investment in the region, analysts at BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Group, said Thursday in a note to clients.
The Express 06-Nov-16
There have been simmering tensions between Vladimir Putin and the West
The Russian President has been accused of manufacturing ‘casus belli’ – the justification of war – as he heavily militarises Kaliningrad as part of a “hybrid-war” to destabilise and intimidate Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
Russia’s Baltic territory Kaliningrad, wedged between the three baltic countries and Poland, has recently had scores of missiles deployed to the area.
In response Nato has stepped up its plans to deploy thousands more troops to the Russian border as war-mongering Putin continues to increase his nation’s preparation for war.
Russia has deployed missile systems to the area sandwiched between the Baltic states
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Tony Brenton, Britain’s ex-Russian ambassador said recent Russian activity was “uncomfortable” for the Baltic states.
He said: “The presence of a bit of Russia in the midst of Nato territory is uncomfortable for the Poles, the Balts and Nato.
“The Russians have in some ways used it as a forward base, with troops situated there. In response to US ‘missile defence’ plans they have threatened to site nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad.
“And in the course of the current Syria crisis they went to some trouble to let US satellites see, nuclear capable Iskander missiles on the pad in Kaliningrad.”
But he argued Russia would also be under threat, adding: “Kaliningrad has Poland to its south and Lithuania to its east, both of them NATO members.
“The Russians therefore depend on these countries for transit and other links to Kaliningrad, which is a source of insecurity for them.”
As the West becomes embroiled in a war of words with Russia, Kaliningrad has become the “obvious place” to deploy military weapons.
The Kaliningrad region, which lies along the Baltic sea in what was once East Prussia, has long held strategic value.
Putin has been accused of justifying war with his European enclave
Annexed from Germany in 1945, it was a closed military zone during the Soviet era.
But it has soon become one of Europe’s most militarised places and is now home to Russia’s Baltic Sea, as well as the Chernyakhovsk and Donskoye air bases, with thousands of Russian troops stationed there.
Poet and editor of Irish pages, Chris Agee, called for the the “bleed and crash” of the Russian economy in order to halt Mr Putin’s ambitions.
He said: “Putin could also use the highly militarised Kaliningrad, possessing Russia’s only ice-free European port, Baltiys, as part of a ‘hybrid-war’ gambit to destabilise and dominate the Baltics, or as a manufactured casus belli.
“It is time, in earnest, to bleed and crash the Russian economy – the safest current means of checking Putin’s expansionist ambitions.”
Int. Chr. Emb. Jerusalem News Briefs 07-Nov-16
Reports surfaced over the weekend that the Palestinian Authority has plans to file a claim with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) demanding that Israel hand over to it the Dead Sea Scrolls. “This is another provocative and audacious attempt by the Palestinians to rewrite history and to erase our connection to our land,” Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen said. “The Dead Sea Scrolls are factual and weighty archeological evidence of the presence of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.”
The PA’s claim is based on the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a series of archeological excevations in caves at Qumran, near the Dead Sea, from 1947 to 1956. The caves are located in what is now Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli civil and military control but which the PA claims as part of its rightful territory.
In related news, the PA is attempting to join the international policing organization INTERPOL at its General Assembly meeting in Bali, Indonesia, which begins on Monday and runs through Thursday. Israeli diplomats have lobbied against the PA’s bid with both sides accusing the other of “politicizing” INTERPOL.
An unlikely coalition is emerging in Germany between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and the opposition Greens. Increasingly, leading members of both parties want to stop the construction of a second pipeline that will transport gas directly from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
For the parliamentarians, it is politics not economics that is driving their opposition to Nord Stream 2, an additional pipeline to the original Nord Stream venture. Why, they ask, should a group of European energy companies finance a Russian project and import Russian gas that in effect pays for President Vladimir Putin’s military campaign in Syria and his meddling in Ukraine?
In a lengthy analysis in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, politicians Norbert Röttgen, a Christian Democrat who chairs the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, and Reinhard Bütikofer, a senior German Green in the European Parliament and co-chair of the European Green Party, are quoted as saying the project should be scrapped on moral and political grounds.
The party that continues to support the venture is the Social Democratic Party, Merkel’s coalition partner. And the person ensuring that the Social Democrats do not waver in their support is former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
Schröder was recently appointed chairman of the board of Nord Stream 2. Like the original Nord Stream, the new pipeline is being built by Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy giant, along with a consortium of Western European energy companies. The group consists of Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, and the Anglo-Dutch firm Shell. Once operational—scheduled for 2019—the pipeline will carry 55 billion cubic meters (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of gas a year to Germany.
The agreement to build the first Nord Stream pipeline was signed in 2005 when Schröder was chancellor. During his time in the Chancellery, from 1998 to 2005, he struck up a very close relationship with Putin. Shortly after Schröder lost the 2005 parliamentary election to Merkel, he joined the Nord Stream board, essentially becoming Gazprom’s—and Putin’s—most prominent lobbyist for Russian energy and political interests in Germany.
Despite strong opposition from Poland and the Baltic states, the first pipeline was built. Poland’s main objection was not the fact that it would lose transit fees for transporting Russian gas across its territory to Western Europe. It was the fact that the new gas pipeline would make Europe more dependent on Russian gas imports. It would undermine the EU’s plans for energy security. And it would make a mockery of European attempts to diversify its energy sources.
While Poland did succeed in putting the issue of energy security high on EU’s agenda, it couldn’t stop Nord Stream. It is trying again with Nord Stream 2, this time through the country’s antitrust office. In July 2016, the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection refused to approve the notification in Poland of a joint venture to construct and operate the new pipeline on the grounds that Nord Stream 2 would restrict competition in gas supplies.
The consortium seemed to shrug off such attempts to derail the pipeline. “The applicants have decided to jointly withdraw their merger control notification from the Polish competition authority,” according to a statement by the Nord Stream 2 consortium. The group added that the project would in any case go ahead.
It is now up to the European Commission, the EU’s executive, to decide whether the offshore and onshore parts of Nord Stream 2 comply with the bloc’s third energy package, which aims to create a single EU gas and electricity market. Essentially, competitors must have access to pipelines.
The commission’s views matter. Gazprom dropped plans to build the South Stream pipeline, which would have brought gas to Southeast Europe via pipelines built under the Black Sea. Because the Russian firm would not open the pipeline to competitors, it had to ditch the increasingly expensive project.
What happens in Berlin also matters hugely. Merkel could stop Nord Stream 2. She has already defended it as a purely economic venture even though the project has become intensely political. Conservative and Green parliamentarians suggest Merkel is reluctant to step into the fray because she has to keep the Social Democrats on board.
But it is hard to see the Social Democrats jumping ship with just less than a year to go before Germany’s next parliamentary election. With their own party struggling in the polls and amid uncertainty over whether their lackluster leader, Sigmar Gabriel, will last long enough to stand against Merkel, the Social Democrats are in a very weak position.
Not only that. Younger Social Democrats oppose Nord Stream 2 as much as Putin’s domestic and foreign policies. But they are still in a minority. Gabriel, who in 2015 told Putin he would ignore any EU ruling on Nord Stream 2, has not changed course. One reason is that Schröder still exerts immense influence over the Social Democrats.
Another reason is the hankering after Ostpolitik—Germany’s former policy of rapprochement toward Moscow—based on the belief that big economic deals between Germany and Russia will bind Russia to Europe and positively influence the country’s political and economic direction. That has clearly not happened.
Which begs the question why Merkel continues to support Nord Stream 2 as more Christian Democrats and Greens speak out against the project. It’s a puzzling policy that damages Germany’s standing among its Eastern neighbors, undermines European energy security, and increases Germany’s dependence on Russian gas.
Judy Dempsey is editor in chief of Strategic Europe, the blog of Carnegie Europe.
Hindustan Times 08-Nov-16
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said with UK now looking at the world outside Europe, it is countries like India that it sees as having the potential of becoming its largest trading partner.
“UK is looking at a world outside Europe and it sees in countries like India, one of the largest trading partners,” Jaitley said at the UK-India Tech Summit being held from Monday to Thursday.
While there are voices from the economies of the world to move towards protectionism, it is India that is looking to open its economy further, he said.
“Today our economy is expanding. We are looking to open out, that is the direction of India. India’s voice is getting increasingly noticed in the world,” Jaitley added.
The relationship between the two countries — India and UK — has undergone a change over decades and they can partner across sectors, including tourism and manpower, he said.
“We are trying to take the relationship at a higher level,” he added.
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