Examples of continuous Israeli harassment/murder of Palestinians

Two senior Saudi Arabian officials, both of whom formerly served as government ministers, reportedly visited a synagogue in the French capital in what Israeli media have depicted as “a historic first.”

Report Emerges of New Saudi-Israeli Stunt Sat Nov 25, 2017

Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday that Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa, who is the head of a Saudi government-funded organization and a former justice minister, and Saudi Ambassador to France Khalid bin Mohammed al-Angari, an ex-education minister, had made their visit to the grand synagogue of Paris this week.

Issa is also an official adviser to the royal court in Riyadh and to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The visit came amid numerous reports suggesting growing ties between Tel Aviv and Riyadh. The two sides have no diplomatic relations but are known to be in secret contact.

While there have been many reports of those secret ties, individual instances of Saudi overtures to the Israeli regime are often depicted as singular and “surprising” incidents.

The two Saudi officials who visited the Paris synagogue were hosted by France’s chief rabbi, Haim Korsia, and the synagogue’s rabbi, Moshe Sebbag. Sebbag expressed “surprise” over the visit.

“This was very exciting. This was their first time in a synagogue, and I was frankly surprised that they came,” he said.

Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli regime had “secret” but “fruitful” cooperation with Arab governments, noting that peace between his regime and Arab capitals would “happen in the end.”

Earlier this month, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel had covert ties with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

His comments came one day after Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman called on Arab states to befriend Israel and team up against Iran.

On November 16, Chief of Staff of Israeli military, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, said Tel Aviv was ready to share intelligence with Saudi Arabia in their joint efforts to confront Iran. He said that in a first ever interview by an Israeli military official with a Saudi media outlet.

On November 14, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper published a secret undated letter from Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in which Jubeir put forward a plan to normalize ties with Israel despite “risks” of a public backlash.

Back in September, reports emerged about a secret visit by bin Salman to Israel, where he held consultations with senior Israeli officials over “regional peace.” However, an official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry denied the news.

Earlier this week, Israeli blogger Ben Tzion claimed he had made secret visits to holy Muslim sites in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon, and Jordan. He reportedly holds a Russian passport.

He posted photos of himself inside the al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia, in which he can be seen pointing to his name written in Hebrew.

Observers say the increasingly public but informal contact between Israeli and Saudi officials, such as the synagogue visit, are attempts to test the waters before Riyadh and Tel Aviv potentially declare open relations.
4 dead after explosion & fire destroy building in southern Tel Aviv (VIDEO, PHOTOS) 27 Nov, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM1Rrdmiezs (2:00 min.)

A powerful explosion has rocked Jaffa, the southern part of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, causing a building to collapse and triggering a massive fire. At least four people have reportedly died in the incident.

Rescue workers discovered three bodies under the rubble, while a fourth victim, a man, succumbed to injuries sustained in the explosion and fire, local news outlet i24NEWS reports. Four more people were injured.

The initial explosion, at about 11:10 pm local time (21:10 GMT), was heard as far away as central Tel Aviv.

It was not immediately clear if anyone remained trapped in the collapsed building, which reportedly used to house a construction supplies store.

Local media reported that screams could be heard under the debris of the building. The blast was so powerful that debris was scattered to nearby streets, with fire engulfing cars parked in the vicinity.

The cause of the blast and subsequent fire is still being determined. A preliminary investigation indicated that the source of the explosion might have been in a hardware store next to the building, Arutz Sheva reported, citing police.

I24news reported that the fire was likely sparked by flammable materials kept in the paint shop located in the building.

At least four people were killed in Tel Aviv Monday night when a large explosion set cars on fire and caused a building to collapse in the south-central neighborhood of Jaffa, local media report. The cause of the mayhem has yet to be discovered.

Explosion, Fires Rage in Tel Aviv - Reports (Photos - Videos)
JERUSALEM, Israel - A woman trying to cross the road is sent flying, propelled by police skunk-water cannon, after being caught in an ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem on Sunday

WATCH as woman is hammered by water cannon in Jerusalem after protesting against forced conscription (Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccTqT4GGRA0 (2:40 min.)

Police deployed the water cannon, which is diluted with a putrid smelling substance, to disperse an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sit-in against army conscription at a main intersection in the city.

Footage shows several protesters being repeatedly struck by water, before policemen attempt to drag them away from the sit-in.
The Israeli military threatened that Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s resistance movement, will be a target of assassination in Tel Aviv’s next war against the Arab country.

Israeli Army: Hezbollah Chief to Be Assassination Target in Future War

“There won’t be a clear victory picture in the next war, though it’s clear that Nasrallah is a target,” the military’s chief spokesperson, Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, told a conference for journalists in the city of Eilat on Monday, presstv reported.

“It is clear that if he dies, it will influence the [military] campaign,” Manelis added.

Tens of Israeli settlers stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Israeli-occupied Old City of Jerusalem and desecrated the third holiest Islamic site.

Dozens of Israeli Settlers Raid, Desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque

An unnamed official from the Department of Islamic Waqf and Islamic Higher Council said a total of 52 settlers and an archeologist forced their way into the holy site through the Bab al-Magharibah under tight protection of several groups of Israeli soldiers and special police forces, Safa reported.

The settlers performed acts deemed provocative by Palestinians in the mosque courtyard before leaving the sacred site through the Chain Gate, Bab al-Silsileh.

A leading Arab newspaper blasted the recent remarks by the Lebanese prime minister against Hezbollah resistance group, stressing that Saad al-Hariri is not able to accomplish the job Israel couldn’t complete against Hezbollah.

Arab Daily: Hariri Unable to Accomplish Israel's Unfinished Job against Hezbollah

"When Israel as a nuclear power in the region has failed to defeat and disarm Hezbollah and has been heavily defeated by Hezbollah forces twice, then al-Mostaqbal party (affiliated to Hariri) and its allies will not be able to implement what Israel has become desperate in accomplishing it, specially now that Hezbollah and the coalition accompanying it have come out of the crisis in Syria with victory and enjoys support of the Lebanese president and the army," al-Ray al-Youm newspaper wrote on Wednesday.

The Arab daily expressed the hope that Hariri would show self-restraint and prefer Lebanon's interests to the interests of regional and international actors since surrendering to other options means destruction and return to civil war which will harm Hariri and his affiliates more than others.

The International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People is commemorated worldwide, with officials expressing their support for the Palestinian cause and denouncing the Israeli conduct in the occupied lands.

World Marks International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People

Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member, urged the international community on Tuesday to help establish an independent state of Palestine along the pre-1967 boundaries with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital, Shafaqna reported.

“On November 29, seventy years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (II). With the partition of historic Palestine, the victimization and suffering of the Palestinian people began,” She said, adding that “Israel was created at the expense of the indigenous people of the land who were violently uprooted.”

In 1977, the UN General Assembly called for the annual observance of November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,

The world body highlighted “the fact that the question of Palestine remains unresolved and that the Palestinian people have yet to attain their inalienable ... right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property, from which they have been displaced.”

Ashrawi further said that the international community should hold the Israeli regime “accountable for its belligerent occupation and for the grave injustices committed against the Palestinian people.”

“Israel’s denial of Palestinian independence and freedom will further increase its isolation and delegitimization and cause irreparable damage to the security and stability of the region and beyond,” she noted.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a message in support of bringing an end to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He reiterated his readiness to engage in a process that “will realize a two‑state solution, end half a century of occupation and resolve all final status issues,” adding, “Now is the time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel.”

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.

Palestinian officials say they want the resolution of the conflict with Tel Aviv based on the so-called two-state solution along pre-1967 boundaries.
The President (Putin) reaffirmed willingness to develop economic ties with Palestine in the future.

Putin favors Palestinian state with capital in East Jerusalem , November 29, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a message of congratulations to his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Kremlin reported on its website on Wednesday.

"Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the Middle East Quartet of international mediators, takes a principled stand in support of the realization of the Palestinians’ legitimate right to self-determination. We are in favor of a comprehensive and fair settlement in the Middle East on a solid international legal basis, including the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. It should result in the end of the Israeli occupation of the Arab lands that began in 1967 and the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem," the Russian head of state noted in his message of greetings.

"Amid the persisting tensions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and in view of the growing terrorist threat in the region, your continued commitment to the political and diplomatic solution to the Palestinian problem and your policy aimed at overcoming the intra-Palestinian discord acquires special significance. For our part, we will continue to assist efforts to restore the Palestinian national unity," Putin stressed.

The president reaffirmed willingness to develop economic ties with Palestine in the future and actively participate in resolving its pressing social issues. He highlighted the significance of the activities of the Russian-Palestinian commission on trade and economic cooperation. In conclusion, Putin wished the Palestinian leader good health and success and "peace and prosperity on their native soil" to the Palestinian people.

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was established by UN General Assembly Resolution 32/40 of December 2, 1977. The date was chosen because on November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed one of the key documents concerning the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, namely, Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine. It envisaged the establishment of two independent states - Arab and Jewish - on Palestinian territory and a special international regime for Jerusalem. The Day of Solidarity is designed to pool the world community’s efforts aimed at ensuring the Palestinian people’s right to gain state independence and securing the return of refugees to their homes, which they had to flee during the conflict.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump had vowed to transfer the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, however, when he came to office, no such move followed.

Trump Expected to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Next Week - Reports

According to Reuters citing unnamed US officials, President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a speech next week, recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, in a controversial move that could further ignite tensions in the Middle East. However, no confirmation from the White House or State Department immediately followed.

The media speculations come in the wake of Trump's campaign pledge to transfer the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he hasn't fulfilled when becoming president.

After Trump signed the waiver to delay the embassy's relocation plans for six months in June, the White House said that the measure does not mean backtracking on the promise, and the US president still intends to follow through on it. According to US Ambassador to the UN Nikky Haley, this issue "is a matter of time."

Commenting on the waiver, Trump earlier stated that he would like to try to establish peace between Israel and Palestine before moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 mandated that the US mission be relocated from Tel Aviv no later than May 31, 1999, but every president since Bill Clinton has signed a presidential waiver every six months to avoid moving the embassy.

The international community does not recognize Israel's claim on the entire city, largely considering eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, to be part of Palestine.

Previously, many world officials, including EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, as well as representatives of Paris and Tehran, have warned Trump against relocating the embassy to Jerusalem, saying that the decision will further complicate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip, and want Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories it took after the Six-Day War in 1967.

Palestine and China signed a memorandum of understanding on free trade between the two countries during a ceremony held at the Prime Minister’s office in Ramallah.

Palestine, China Sign Agreement on Free Trade

Minister of National Economy Abeer Odeh and Chinese Deputy Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen signed the memorandum of understanding on free trade in the presence of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and China’s Ambassador to Palestine Chen Xingzhong, WAFA reported.

Prior to this, Hamdallah received the deputy Chinese Minister of Commerce at his office and discussed with him ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

Hamdallah praised China's continuous support for Palestine and pointed out the importance of China's participation in the industrial zone, which will be built in Tarqumiya, in Hebron district. He said this will contribute to reinforcing the national economy and to the creation of jobs in Palestine.

He also briefed the guest on the obstacles facing development in Palestine as a result of the Israeli occupation, especially in Area C, which is under complete Israeli control and which makes 64% of the area of the West Bank.

At least three people were injured after the Israeli army bombed a number of targets in the blockaded Gaza strip, a Palestinian Health Ministry official said.

Three Palestinians Injured in Israeli Attack on Gaza

The injuries are not life-threatening, said Health Ministry Spokesperson Ashraf Al-Kudra in a statement on Thursday, Anadolu reported.

The Israeli army said earlier on Thursday that “the Israel Air Force and tanks attacked four targets in Gaza,” in retaliation for alleged rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.

No group has claimed responsibility for the alleged rocket attack, while Palestinian officials have yet to comment on the army’s assertions.

Israeli forces carried out raids across the occupied West Bank, detaining 23 Palestinians, according to the local sources.

Israeli Forces Detain 23 Palestinians, in Raids across West Bank

Locals in the West Bank said those arrested include three Palestinians were detained by the Israeli forces in the southern district of Bethlehem,
Ma'an reported.

They added that Israeli forces carried out search and detention raids in Bethlehem city, where they assaulted and detained a Palestinian identified as Muhammad Fayez al-Dibs.

In the Bethlehem-area Husan village, Israeli forces detained two teenagers identified as Ismail Hasan Hamamreh, 19, and Yazan Khalid Badr Shusheh, 19, after raiding and searching their homes.

Israeli forces also raided the al-Arroub refugee camp in the Northern Hebron district and detained a former prisoner identified as Said Thib Hajajreh, and two “children,” identified as Ammar Muhammad Mahmoud Jawabreh and Ibrahim Ahmad Jawabreh.

According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces conducted 147 search and arrest operations across the West Bank between November 7 and November 20.

Meanwhile, Addameer recorded 6,198 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of October. The group has estimated that some 40 percent of Palestinian men will be detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
The stern warning came a day after a senior White House official said that President Donald Trump planned to make a pertinent announcement sometime next week.

Arab League, Palestinians Warn US Against Recognizing Jerusalem Israeli Capital

Any move by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would “fuel extremism,” increase instability and derail the peace process, the leaders of the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority said.

On Monday, Trump is also expected to decide on the renewal of a six-month waiver on the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Today we say very clearly that taking such action is not justified … It will not serve peace or stability, but will fuel extremism and resort to violence,” Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement.

“It only benefits one side; the Israeli government, which is hostile to peace,” he added.

For his part, Mahmoud Habash, one of the top advisors to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, warned on Saturday that “the world will pay the price” for any change in the status of Jerusalem, and that its recognition as the capital of the Jewish State was fraught with “complete destruction of the peace process.”

On Saturday, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas likewise urged Washington to give up on its planned relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

"This would represent a US assault on the city and give legitimacy to [Israel] over the city," Hamas said in a statement.

The international community does not recognize Israel's claim to the entire city, largely considering East Jerusalem, including the Old City, to be part of Palestine. Jerusalem is sacred for the followers of three major religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

At the heart of the dispute is the legal status of East Jerusalem. Israel proclaimed its ownership over East Jerusalem after the Six-Day War Israel fought with Egypt and Syria in in 1967, a move that has not been recognized by the majority of UN states and international organizations.

As the political status of Jerusalem has not been recognized internationally, there are no foreign embassies located in Jerusalem.

Palestinians want to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip, and want Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories it seized during the Six-Day War.

In 1980, the Israeli Parliament passed the Jerusalem Law declaring Jerusalem the unified capital of Israel. The action has not been recognized by any other country, including the United States.

Thousands of people participated on Saturday in the funeral of Mohammad Odeh, 46, in the village of Qusra, South of Nablus, who was shot dead by an Israeli settler on Thursday in front of his family while attending to his land.

Thousands Participate in Funeral of Palestinian Killed by Israeli Settler

Palestinians said the settlers wanted to push Odeh out of his land and when he refused to leave, he was shot dead in cold blood and from a short distance, WAFA reported.

As Odeh was being taken to hospital by locals, soldiers stopped them at a Hawwara checkpoint, South of Nablus, and took the body to Abu Kabir forensic center in Jaffa for an autopsy.

The body was returned to his family 24 hours later and kept at Rafidya hospital in Nablus until the burial.

People gathered at the hospital as Odeh’s body was taken to his hometown where he was buried in the presence of thousands of people.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) said a total of 450 Palestinians were arrested by the Israeli regime forces in the month of November.

Prisoners' Group: Israeli Forces Arrested 450 Palestinians in 1 Month

PPCS spokesman Riyad al-Ashqar said on Friday that 80 underage children and 22 women were among those Palestinians taken into custody last month, Middle East News reported.

Most of the detentions took place in Jersualem al-Quds with about 150 cases, he added.

Ashqar also stressed that the number of Palestinians sentenced to life had increased significantly in November and reached a record high of 509 people.

Almost 6,280 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, 465 of them under the controversial administrative detention, according to figures provided by the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

About 20,000 Israelis on Saturday joined a demonstration in Tel Aviv against government corruption in response to a new legislation being pushed by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition that critics say is aimed at keeping the public in the dark about the investigations.

'March of Shame': Tens of Thousands of Israelis Protest Against Gov't Corruption

The demonstration was by far the largest of the weekly gatherings against Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently being investigated over allegations of corruption and abuse of office, but denies any wrongdoing.

The Israeli police are carrying out two investigations regarding the prime minister: Case 1000, focusing on whether Netanyahu provided anything in return for expensive gifts from businessmen, and Case 2000, an alleged deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes, exchanging reduced critical coverage of the prime minister in return for weakening of a competing newspaper.

Local media earlier reported that the police were in possession of recorded conversations between the prime minster and the media mogul.

​Saturday's protest was prompted by a draft law coming up for its second reading on Monday, which would prevent Israel's police from publishing their findings in the investigations and issuing recommendations to the prosecutor's office on indictments related to public officials. Netanyahu has said he has no interest in promoting personal legislation but he has not ordered its two sponsors, close confidants in his Likud party, to withdraw the bill.

Critics believe the bill is a blatant attempt to shield Netanyahu and leave Israelis in the dark about his investigations, while supporters say it would protect suspect's rights.

The protesters marched along Rothschild Boulevard to Habima Square, demanding transparency and accountability in government.

"It's almost like a monarchy here now," said one of the protesters, Hagai Peled, as cited by Jpost. "What's going on with our government is going to silence the voices of everyone here in Israel so that no one can complain or say anything, so we want to protest."

The prime minister has refuted allegations of illegal activities saying that that media reports about his alleged close links to the publisher were designed to mislead the public.

If charged, he would come under heavy pressure to resign or could call an election to test whether he still has a mandate.
As Israel prepares for yet another war directly on its border, the truth about Israel’s vast military capabilities has been largely absent in the corporate media.

Israel Has Built a Robot Army — and It Should Scare the Sh*t Out of You

However, if one were to be fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be able to travel to Israel’s border with Syria in the north and the Gaza strip in the south, they might see what looks more or less like a scene from RoboCop.

Israel is the first country in the world to use unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to not only patrol its borders but also to replace soldiers on missions, as well. The new Border Patroller model can be armed with remote-controlled weapons, reconnaissance means, and additional components that cannot be fitted on the traditional Guardium model it had been using for years prior.

The robot is also able to patrol underground and gather information for units that are present on the surface. For example, it can help soldiers avoid booby-trapped tunnels.

These robots can be given pre-designated routes for their patrol, making them more or less autonomous.

According to the New York Post: “The increasing use of robots by the Israel Defense Forces is part of a larger strategy to minimize risk to soldiers when possible. In addition, soldiers require breaks, food and water. All a Guardium needs is a full tank of gas. Other UGVs in use by the IDF include the Segev, which is based on a Ford F-350 pickup truck.”

However, this is only the beginning of Israel’s robotic capabilities. As the Post notes, the same thing is happening in the water, too. Israeli defense contractor Rafael has developed an unmanned patrol ship that is currently defending Israel’s strategic ports and patrolling the coastline.

Israel also has advanced a “drone that can reach Iran,” an unmanned aerial vehicle that can stay airborne for 24 hours and is believed to be capable of launching air-to-surface missiles. Israel has also deployed satellites far smaller than American ones that can discern objects as small as 20 inches from hundreds of miles away.

If that wasn’t enough, the small nation has also developed a tank that more or less comes with its own personal missile defense system.

Earlier this year, Defense News reported that Israel is readying its Iron Dome defense system for its first intercept test in the U.S., which is aimed at selecting an interim solution for a medium and short-range air defense system.

Not to mention that according to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s leaked emails, the country has at least 200 nuclear weapons “all targeted on Tehran.”

So why is Israel going to such great lengths to modernize its army far beyond that of any other country?

As the New York Post explains: “Due to Israel’s small size and lack of territory, all ballistic missiles deployed in the region — Syria, Iraq and Iran — can reach anywhere within the country and pose a strategic and possibly even existential threat. Israel, the developers argued, needed a system that could shoot down enemy missiles over neighboring countries and provide overall protection for the tiny Jewish state.”

In fact, a top Israeli general has already admitted that the country cannot fight Iran alone and would instead seek to rely on American help to take on the Islamic Republic if a direct conflict should ever arise.

So, are Israel’s advances in military technology purely defensive and for deterrence purposes only, or does the country’s leadership have something far more preemptive in mind in the coming years under the Trump administration?

Only time will tell, but one way or the other, these vast technological developments will be frightening for the civilians caught in the middle, to say the least.
US President Donald Trump recognized Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the Zionist entity’s capital on Wednesday and announced plans to relocate the US embassy there.

Trump Recognizes Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as Zionist Entity’s Capital Wed. December 6, 2017

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said from White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. ‘”After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”

“Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach it,” said the US leader, who declared that “the United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.”

“This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace,” Trump said, as he announced that Vice President Mike Pence would travel to the region in the coming days.

“So today we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate,” Trump claimed.

Kremlin concerned over US plans to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Syria condemns in strongest terms US Administration’s intention to move US Embassy to occupied Jerusalem

Trump orders plan for US embassy to move to Jerusalem

Bolivia to Seek UN Security Council Meeting on Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Status

Turkey: US Recognition of Al-Quds Risks Igniting ‘Fire’ in Region

Rouhani: Plot against Al-Quds Latest Adventure by Global Arrogance

Lebanon’s Berri: New Balfour Declaration Paves Way for Deal of Era at Expense of Palestinian Cause

Pope Francis Defends Al-Quds ‘Status Quo’

Palestinians Abroad condemn US step to move embassy to Jerusalem

Palestine Media Forum hosts international journalists in support of Palestinians

Fatah calls for new intifada in support of Jerusalem

In comparison to the focus on opposition to the move and its possible ramifications, relatively little has been said about why Donald Trump’s administration has decided to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and signal its intent to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv.

Why is Trump moving on Jerusalem now?

For example, one widely-shared piece of analysis does not really answer the question in its title, namely, “Why is Trump undoing decades of US policy on Jerusalem?”

believe there are three main reasons, none of which are mutually exclusive.

First, US domestic politics. Today’s announcement plays well with Trump’s base amongst right-wing Christian evangelicals, as well as with the likes of influential individuals like Sheldon Adelson. “Hallelujah!” proclaims alt-right site Breitbart’s main splash today, welcoming the news.

The fact that such constituencies are already committed to Trump does not rule out the fact that policy steps can be taken as a gift to the converted; Trump-ism has never been about building wide coalitions, or reaching out across various divides, but about energizing and mobilizing a base.

Don’t forget, of course, that a pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was part of Trump’s election campaign; for a president who has struggled to fulfil his promises, a win is a win.

Second, Benjamin Netanyahu, along with other senior Israeli officials, might well have done a good job in persuading the Trump administration to make such a move – something that the likes of Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and US envoy to Israel David Friedman would be personally amenable to anyway.

For Netanyahu – and this is already evident in remarks made this morning – such a shift in American policy fits nicely with his narrative about a confident, nationalistic Israel expanding its diplomatic ties, the warnings of international isolation from his political enemies shown to be hollow threats.

Whether Trump’s decision on Jerusalem is actually in the best interests of Netanyahu, or his coalition, is a separate matter; but misguided or otherwise, Netanyahu would appear to have been urging the Trump administration to take such a step.

Third – and this is perhaps where many commentators are missing a trick – the Trump administration might well envisage, and justify, the Jerusalem shift in the context of its much-heralded efforts at securing the “deal of the century”.

At first glance this can seem counter-intuitive, since everyone from Jordan to the European Union has criticised the Jerusalem announcement as detrimental to efforts at advancing so-called Israeli-Palestinian “peace” and a “two-state solution”.

In fact, the Trump administration is more likely to view, and present, the Jerusalem move as a gesture to Israel that will create the expectancy or pressure for a corresponding “gesture” in return, such as economic-focused measures in the occupied West Bank.

Whether or not this calculation quite adds up, is another question – though Mahmoud Abbas and his team have, over the years, demonstrated a notable capacity for giving US efforts “one more chance”.

In other words, rather than being an inexplicable spanner in the works of the Trump administration’s wider efforts at birthing the “ultimate deal”, the White House – and perhaps Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman too – may well see the move as part and parcel of that very project (hence the weak response, thus far, from Riyadh).

On the ground, meanwhile, the reality for Palestinian residents of what is an apartheid city remains unchanged: home demolitions, municipal discrimination, brutal raids, and settler-driven displacement. This is Jerusalem’s grim reality that, by their long-standing inaction, Israel’s allies have played a crucial role in facilitating. Trump thus joins a crowded field of the complicit.

If the leaks about US President Donald Trump’s announcement of a shift in the US position on occupied Jerusalem tomorrow are true, then the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict will have entered a new, unprecedented phase since 1967. That was the year that the fate of Jerusalem formed one element of the Palestinian cause.

The legal, political and popular consequences of Trump’s plans for Jerusalem

If America actually recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moves its embassy there, which many are linking to America’s upcoming announcement on the so-called comprehensive settlement or comprehensive deal, it will give Israel everything and literally nothing to the Palestinians.

While a strong Arab reaction is not expected, given the current Arab governments, a popular reaction, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories and among the Palestinian communities in diaspora, will most likely be the greatest. This warns of a new intifada that could theoretically be much bigger than the previous intifadas. There may also be a popular Arab and Muslim reaction against the Palestinians.

In the event that the US president moves forward with this decision, there are two possible scenarios. First, there is a possibility that Trump will announce recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and, at the same time, issue orders to begin the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The second scenario would be Trump’s announcement of the US’ recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and, at the same time, sign a presidential decree delaying the implementation of Congress’ decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem by six months.

There are some in Tel Aviv and the US who believe that the successive dramatic developments regarding the Russian intervention in the US elections and the revelation that Trump’s former national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, may agree to testify against him in this case, will strengthen the chances of the US President actually going through with this step in order to reinforce his internal status by courting Israel’s friends in Congress, many of whom are members of the Democratic Party and Jewish lobby groups.

At the same time, the other Israeli and American leaks, referred to by Israel’s Channel 2 indicate that it is unlikely that Trump will progress towards any of the two scenarios, as some of his advisors have warned him of the consequences of announcing any shift in the American position on Jerusalem on the fate of the American efforts aiming to formulate an initiative to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Furthermore, such a move may lead to political embarrassment for Arab countries that Washington is counting on for their role in passing the American settlement initiative. This especially applies to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. It will also lessen the manoeuvring margin for the PA leadership.

If the leaks are true and Trump actually announces his country’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, only, or if he follows this up with announcing steps to move the American embassy to the Holy City, this will have a negative effect on the American ability to announce its settlement initiative, regardless of its content.

Also, the legal consequences of America’s upcoming announcement depend on the content of the announcement itself. If Trump announces “united” Jerusalem (East and West Jerusalem) as Israel’s capital, then this move will have very dangerous legal implications. It will be a dramatic reversal of the American position on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories after the 1967 war, and obliterates Washington’s position on the settlement issue in the city.

Such recognition would mean that the US no longer sees the Israeli presence in East Jerusalem as a form of occupation, and this would mean an American recognition of the legality of the Jewish settlements built by Israel after the 1967 War. Some of these settlements were built on land considered the West Bank that was later annexed within the borders of occupied Jerusalem.

In addition to this, such a move would represent a political and practical embodiment of resolving the Jerusalem issue, before embarking on any negotiations. It also confirms that this cause is no longer one of the permanent solution issues. If the recognition of “unified” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel coincides with the announcement of beginning the process to move the embassy, this would be another practical representation of America’s recognition of Israel’s control of Jerusalem.

This move could lead to major security implications, as it could pave the way for a popular Palestinian reaction that could ignite the situation in the West Bank and occupied Palestinian territories. Fear of this scenario has made some Israeli military commentators express reservations regarding Trump’s next step. This was expressed by Roni Daniel, the military commentator for Israel’s Channel 2.

It could also affect the internal Palestinian arena in a manner that positively reflects on the chances of implementing the reconciliation agreement reached by Fatah and Hamas. This is due to the fact that Trump’s move could lend credibility to the calls for immediate reconciliation.

On the other hand, given the fact that a team within the Trump administration is aware of the potential ramifications of such a step, it is not unlikely that the American president will ultimately back down from it. Instead, the hubbub left by the leaks regarding the upcoming announcement may be utilised to pressure the PA leadership to accept the ideas in the draft of the American initiative to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict referred to on Saturday by some Arab media outlets. This initiative calls for declaring a Palestinian state with temporary borders on about 50 per cent of the West Bank’s area, with Israel maintaining security and sovereignty privileges over the borders and airspace. It also suggests providing a large financial aid package for the future “state”.

It is clear that there isn’t even the slightest chance that the PA leadership will accept such proposals, as the suggestions are basically a distorted version of self-governance. All of the parties in the Palestinian arena, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who has repeatedly announced his rejection of the idea of a state with temporary borders, are aware that accepting this idea would be a liquidation of the Palestinian cause, as it also excludes a solution for the refugee issue.

Given the ideological differences between Israel’s left and right wing forces regarding their position on the projects to resolve the conflict, and the fact that head of the Labour Party, Avi Gabbay, who claims to lead the “peace camp” in Israel has openly refused to evacuate even one of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Palestinian leadership has even more motivation to avoid positively responding to the American initiative.

(This article first appeared in Arabic on Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed 3 December 2017)
More headlines on Trump's decision to move Israel's Capital to Jerusalem ...
Note: Trump's declaration comes 6 days before Hanukkah begins at Sundown on Tuesday December 12th.

Jerusalem Authorities Illuminate Old City Walls With US, Israeli Flags (Photos - Video)

In break with decades of US policy, Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Israeli PM hails ‘historic’ US decision on Jerusalem

Israeli PM Calls on All States to Recognize Jerusalem as Jewish Capital

Leader: Zionists to Receive Major Blow if Al-Quds Declared Israeli Regime’s Capital

Trump Declaration on Jerusalem Destroys Two-State Solution - PLO

King Salman warns against embassy move to Jerusalem

Saudis voice alarm over possible US move on Jerusalem

EU raises concerns over US move on Jerusalem

UK backs negotiations for Jerusalem's status

France's Macron Says Trump's Jerusalem Move 'Regrettable'

Erdogan threatens to cut ties with Israel over Jerusalem controversy

Jerusalem status ‘red line’ for Muslims, Erdogan warns Trump

Thousands across Turkey protest Trump’s Jerusalem move

Turkish Organizations Launch Widescale Protests of US Israel Embassy Move (Photos - Video)

Protests erupt across the Middle East over Trump’s Jerusalem decision

Hamas: Occupiers Own No Land in Palestine to Choose a Capital For

Erdogan phones leaders over US move on Jerusalem (Map)

US Warned against Relocating Embassy

If the UN, Arabs, Turks and Europeans all advise against moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, why do it?

ANALYSIS: Four theories behind Trump’s Jerusalem embassy move Tuesday 5 December 2017

US President Donald Trump’s expected announcement of plans to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has quickly whipped up a furor, with pundits and foreign leaders warning of intifada-style upheaval and the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Which begs the simple question: why announce the move? Trump has spoken of a desire to strike the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians – relocating the embassy would likely render Washington unable to play an honest broker in future talks.

Meanwhile, Trump has heard warnings from Arab and European leaders, UN boss Antonio Guterres and even his own State Department pen pushers. The message is clear: an embassy shift would break with decades of US policy and risk fuelling further unrest in the Middle East.

Joyce Karam

Countries/orgs that have warned #Trump against #Jerusalem move:
•Saudi Arabia
•Arab League

Even the US public rejects the idea. A recent survey from the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, shows that 63 percent of Americans oppose the move, against 31 percent who back it. Democrats more strongly oppose relocation, while Republicans are almost evenly split.

To answer the conundrum of Trump’s much-anticipated policy shift, which was expected on Wednesday, Middle East Eye asked experts from across the political spectrum for their theories on what is motivating the 45th president.

1. The ‘Trump is acting presidential’ theory - First, MEE turned to Benny Avni, a pro-Israel hawk and New York Post columnist. In Avni’s charitable interpretation, Trump is finally coming good on what the American public wants and what its lawmakers decreed 22 years ago.

Congress passed a law in 1995 calling for the US embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. To keep it in Tel Aviv, its current location, presidents must sign waivers every six months, as Trump did in June and was due to review again this month.

“It is US law to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Avni told MEE. “A host of American presidents, after promising during their election campaigns to do this, deferred it for six months at a time.”

Jerusalem, or at least the western part of the city, has long been home to Israel’s governing institutions and it is way past time for Washington and others to recognize it as a functioning capital city by posting envoys there, Avni said.

Avni questions the results of the Brookings opinion survey. “The real poll is the US election,” he said. Americans consistently elect lawmakers who vote for bills that support Israel militarily and diplomatically.

It remains unclear what Trump will announce on Wednesday, but top US officials have said he will likely recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and order plans for relocating the embassy in the future, while delaying the move for another six months.

2. The ‘Trump is playing to his base’ theory - Shibley Telhami, the scholar behind the Brookings poll, follows the numbers. While his data show that Democrats overwhelmingly reject an embassy move, and Republicans are “evenly split” on the issue – Trump may be appealing to a narrower constituency still.

Among evangelical Christians, one of the most avidly pro-Trump sections of the American electorate, some 53 percent support the embassy shift to Jerusalem, while 40 percent oppose the relocation, Telhami said.

There are other fans to consider. In March 2016, Trump promised the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful lobby, that he would “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem”.

This translates into cash. The Las Vegas gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who made a multi-million-dollar donation to Trump’s election chest, is reportedly frustrated by the lack of pro-Israel policies coming out of the West Wing.

At the end of the day, these minority interest groups may not swing Trump very much, added Telhami. “No one is breathing down his neck politically,” he told MEE. “Who’s going to walk away from him in the short term on this issue? Nobody.”

3. The ‘Trump is muscling the Palestinians’ theory - Trump would not be the first US president to like the sound of his name linked to a breakthrough in Israel-Arab relations – the holy grail of peace deals has been pursued by Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and other forerunners.

But Trump’s negotiating technique – as evinced by his approach to trade deals and his past property dealings – involves one powerful party turning the screws on a negotiating partner to win favorable terms.

In this case, a mooted embassy relocation – together with moves to cut UN funding to Palestinians and to shut the Palestine Liberation Organisation's (PLO) office in Washington – may be an effort to muscle President Mahmoud Abbas.

According to Josh Ruebner, an analyst for the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, the announcement may be “part of a posture to threaten and pressure Palestinians into accepting a weak deal for them” when Trump unveils his peace proposal, expected early next year.

4. The ‘Trump is ill-advised and biased’ theory - The least favourable interpretation of Trump’s gambit is that it does not hail from a cogent strategy at all – that his son-in-law Jared Kushner, envoy Jason Greenblatt and other point men on the Middle East are hopelessly biased towards Israel.

These aides are “unprecedentedly inexperienced, living in a bubble” and leading Trump down a dangerous path, said Telhami. Trump may well have wanted to strike a peace deal, but that now looks too much like hard work and he seeks an exit.

A US embassy shift would inflame Arabs and force Abbas away from the negotiation table. “Trump’s team has come to the realisation that the deal of the century is not attainable and it’s better to blame someone else than blame themselves,” said Telhami.

For Ruebner, the reality is bleaker still. Kushner, Greenblatt and their buddies in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet never planned to offer the Palestinians a realistic deal in the first place.

“Despite their lip service to a two-state solution of the issue, all are ideologically committed to Israel retaining control over 100 percent of historical Palestine, without recognising any national or human rights for the Palestinian people,” Ruebner told MEE.

(This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.)
US President Donald Trump appears to have missed a deadline for signing a waiver on a US law requiring its embassy to be moved to Jerusalem (al-Quds), in an act of brinkmanship over one of the Middle East’s most fraught issues.

Trump Misses Deadline over Moving US Embassy to Al-Quds Tuesday December, 05, 2017

According to diplomats and Palestinian officials, the original deadline was expected to have fallen on Friday at midnight and was pushed to Monday. That deadline passed without an announcement after a White House official said no action would be taken on Monday.

Amid mounting anxiety over Trump’s intentions, the US president was facing a growing chorus of warnings over potential repercussions over a unilateral US decision regarding Jerusalem’s status.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, described the status of Jerusalem as a “red line” for Muslims that could lead to a severing of relations with the Zionist regime of Israel, while the European Union warned of possible “serious repercussions”.

Some reports suggest Trump may reluctantly announce the signing of the waiver in the coming days, others that he may also announce that he plans to recognize al-Quds as Israel’s capital. The latter would result in the Palestinian leadership “stopping contacts” with the US, a diplomatic adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas said.

In June, Trump issued a waiver to comply with the 1995 law, which insists the president must relocate the embassy to Jerusalem or explain at six-monthly intervals why doing so is not in the national security interests of the US.

The failure to announce the signing of the newest waiver does not indicate whether or not the US president has approved it. However, it feeds into a growing tension in the region.

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in 1980 and sees it as its exclusive domain. Under international law, the area is considered to be occupied territory.

All foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv with consular representation in Jerusalem. For more than two decades successive US administrations have signed a legal waiver delaying by six months plans to move the US embassy to the Holy City.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmad Aboul Gheit warned any such move would pose a threat “to the stability of the Middle East and the whole world”, while the French president, Emmanuel Macron, warned Trump that Jerusalem’s status must be decided “within the framework of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians”.

The White House statement saying that Trump would miss the deadline came after a frantic 48 hours of public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders.

“The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, who said a declaration on the move would be made “in the coming days”.

Palestinian sources made clear they had expected the waiver to be continued. “We were told the waiver would be signed,” one official told the Guardian. “The expectation of (Palestinian) President Mahmoud Abbas office was that then Trump would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which we and no Arab leader can accept.

“If that happens,” the source added, “we will walk away from contacts with US officials.”
The issue on the status of Jerusalem should be tackled within the framework of the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, a Russian diplomat noted earlier.

Russia disagrees with US stance on Jerusalem, says diplomat Thursday December 07, 2017

Russia does not agree with the US position to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told TASS on Thursday. "We don’t agree with this," he stressed.

According to Gatilov, this decision by the US "will worsen a general situation in Palestinian-Israeli relations, in the Middle East on the whole".

"The decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem made by the US administration, President [Donald] Trump is at variance with relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and certainly we believe that these are wrongful moves that can only complicate the course of a further development of the situation in the Middle East," the senior diplomat said.

The issue on the status of Jerusalem should be tackled within the framework of the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, "Recognizing West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we do not impose any solutions on the parties concerned. All issues, including the status of Jerusalem, should be resolved at the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations," the diplomat stressed.

Russia's stance - The Russian Embassy can be moved from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem only after all problems related to the status of the Palestinian territories are solved, Russian Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein stated.

"In practical terms, the Russian Embassy can be moved from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem once all problems related to the final status of the Palestinian territories are solved," the diplomat stressed.

"While recognizing West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we do not impose any solutions on the parties concerned. All issues, including the status of Jerusalem, should be resolved at the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations," Shein noted.

He recalled that, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement of April 6, 2017, "the Russian leadership decided to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." "This statement is aimed, above all, at reaffirming Russia’s stance in favor of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis," he said.

Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump stated that "it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." He directed the Department of State to start making arrangements to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the key issues of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Israel established control over the eastern part of the city during the 1967 conflict. It insists that Jerusalem is its single and indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want to make the eastern part of the city the capital of their state.

Trump's Decision on Jerusalem Provokes Criticism Worldwide

Israeli Minister Admits Trump's Jerusalem Move Coordinated with Some Arab Leaders

Palestinians in Gaza Burn US, Israel Flags

Two Rockets Launched From Gaza Strip Did Not Reach Israel - Israeli Military

Trump's Jerusalem Move 'Step Closer to Armageddon' Say US Evangelical Christians

Ismail Haniya: US Decision on Jerusalem 'War Declaration'

Mahmoud Abbas Lambasts Trump's Decision on Jerusalem

World Leaders Slam Trump’s Jerusalem Move as ‘Irresponsible, Dangerous’

Arab Countries Denounce US Decision on Jerusalem Status

Lebanon Warns against Trump Al-Quds Decision

Haniyeh Says Peace Process “Buried Forever”, Calls for New Intifada

UN Guterres: Jerusalem Final Status Must Be Resolved Through Direct Negotiations

Christmas Lights Switched off in Bethlehem in Protest over Trump’s Al-Quds Decision

Jerusalem is an occupied city and UN resolutions do not allow its status to be unilaterally changed, a statement by the Muslim Brotherhood said yesterday.

Muslim Brotherhood: Jerusalem is occupied, US cannot change status quo

Released after US President Donald Trump announced that his administration will recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and move its embassy to the occupied city, the statement expressed the group’s condemnation of Trump’s decision and reiterated its firm position on the Palestinian cause, which it believes is the most important cause of the Arabs and Muslims.

“The Arab and Muslim nations’ right to the holy city of Jerusalem is a deeply rooted right in history and in the present, such unfair decisions will not change this fact, regardless of the source or form of the decisions.”

The group also urged Arab and Muslim leaders to hold an emergency summit in order for their efforts to be united and to make decisions in favor of the cause and in support of the steadfastness and struggle of the Palestinian people to restore all of their legitimate rights.

It also called on the PA to sever all forms of communication and security coordination with the occupation authorities and to file a complaint against the US to the Security Council for violating international law and the resolutions issued by the Council regarding Jerusalem. It also called for moving forward with all the suits and war crime cases against Israel in the ICC.

A Saudi proposal for a peace initiative between Israelis and Palestinians offers the village of Abu Dis as the future capital of Palestine instead of East Jerusalem, stirring widespread anger.

Saudi offers Abu Dis as future capital of Palestine Wed. December 6, 2017

Activists have released a new hashtag under the name “Jerusalem is our capital” in response to the Saudi proposal.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman made the proposal during Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Riyadh last month.

According to the proposal, the Palestinians will get a non-contiguous state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over which they will have only partial sovereignty while the majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank will remain. The proposal does not grant Palestinian refugees and their descendants living in other countries the right of return to Israel.

According to the paper, Saudi Arabia gave Abbas two months to respond to the offer.

Abu Dis is a Palestinian town near occupied East Jerusalem. According to the Oslo Accords it is classified as Area B which is administered by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

US President Donald Trump is expected to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the relocation of the US Embassy to the international city today, a decision that upends decades of US policy and risks fuelling violence in the Middle East.

France ordered a halal market in Paris to close because it does not sell pork or wine, considered as forbidden for Muslims according to the Islamic Sharia.

France Orders Halal Market in Paris to Close Thu Dec 07, 2017

The Good Price market in Colombes did not comply with the conditions of its lease, which stated the shop must act as a "general food store," the Court of Nanterre ruled, Independent reported.

The local authority argued members of the local community were not being served properly because the shop did not sell pork or alcohol products.

A bailiff's report said the store almost exclusively stocked Halal products. When the manager was questioned at the time, he said: "It's business. I look around me and I target what I see."

The court said the products the shop stocked were "restrictive and did not fit the broad concept of general good." It ordered the termination of the store's lease and ordered the eviction of the tenants.

The manager was ordered to pay €4,000 to the local authority in legal costs.
After US President Donald Trump's recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs believes Moscow should follow suit.

Israeli Minister Calls on Russia to Follow US in Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

The time has come to consider moving the Russian Embassy to Jerusalem," Elkin said, adding that Russia has previously announced it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and instructed the US State Department to launch the process of relocating the US Embassy, which is currently located in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem. Israel's Ambassador to Russia discussed the situation in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Israeli Ambassador to Russia: Too Early to Address Jerusalem's Borders Issue

The Israeli authorities believe that it is too early to discuss Jerusalem's borders with Palestine in light of the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital, Israeli Ambassador in Russia Harry Koren said Thursday, in an interview with RIA Novosti.

"The topic of borders has always been closely linked to security issues. If we are talking about the current external border of Jerusalem, it has been said many times before that we are not ready to leave the Jordan River line, unless it is clear, what is going on to the west of that line, in the future Palestinian state, how stable it is, whether it is capable of turning into another Gaza, and whether everything is calm in neighboring Jordan, or whether the transfers of arms to terrorists take place," the ambassador said.

Koren reiterated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to ensure full access for representatives of all confessions, including Christians, Muslims and Jews, to their holy sites.
And in light of latest US move, many Palestinians call for renewed struggle to resist Israeli occupation.

Thirty years after first intifada, Palestinians look to past for fresh lessons ( 8 December 1987 - 8 December 2017 )

BETHLEHEM - As the world has reacted with disbelief at the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinians have been commemorating the 30th anniversary of the start of the first intifada.

But three decades later, many Palestinians feel that the situation has never been as dire as it is now. With some 70 percent of Palestinians under the age of 30, that period might literally feel like a lifetime ago - yet the uprising still looms large in Palestinian consciousness, as some hope it could yet inspire a new popular movement against the Israeli occupation.

'Fire hidden under the ashes'

On 8 December 1987, an Israeli army truck ran into Palestinians in the Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabalia, killing four.

The incident, which Palestinians saw as a deliberate attack, is widely recognized as the spark that began the intifada, or “uprising”.

“The intifada was a big surprise for everyone,” Abu Ahmad, a resident of the occupied West Bank refugee camp of Dheisheh, who participated in the first intifada, told Middle East Eye.

“The economic situation in the West Bank at the time was relatively good, and perhaps even better than many surrounding states. The occupation’s pressure on the people was less than it is now, and targeted more directly against Palestinian revolutionary organisations.”

“But suddenly, Israel, the entire world, and - most importantly - Palestinians discovered that there was a fire hidden under the ashes that no one had noticed until then,” he added.

Abu Ahmad, who was 22 when the intifada began, rejected the commonly held belief that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) orchestrated the movement from its inception.

“The PLO heard of the intifada at the same time as the people in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“It was surprised like everyone else, and, in fact, it played a negative role when it tried to take control of the intifada.”

For Israeli professor Ido Zelkovitz, who heads the Middle East studies department at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College in Israel, “all the signs” were pointing to an imminent wave of unrest - growing protests at Palestinian universities, a financial crisis in the early 1980s - yet the Israeli government was unprepared for a scenario in which Palestinian civilians would spontaneously rise up.

“The fact that the Israeli government was not ready for this popular resistance gave Palestinians an early advantage and helped Palestinians create this alternative local leadership while challenging the old guard of the PLO and Fatah,” Zelkovitz said.

The “old guard”, he said, “were more focused on diplomatic and military armed resistance without taking into consideration the needs of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”.

Sense of unity

The most striking feature of the first intifada was its sweeping popular appeal and the sense of unity that was felt across Palestinian society.

“It was an amazing period from my point of view,” remembers Khawla al-Azraq, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

“It was a real struggle because it was popular, everyone was involved, there was a meaning to what we did,” she told MEE.

“Even though I was pregnant at the time, I didn’t care - I would go to demonstrations, I would throw stones, I participated in solidarity activities to support the families of prisoners and martyrs. All of my time was dedicated to the daily struggle.”

Azraq recalled how Palestinians took things into their own hands - not only through demonstrations, boycotts, and strikes, but also by running underground schools and clinics in defiance of an Israeli crackdown on Palestinian education.

While the first intifada was largely peaceful, the official Israeli reaction to it was anything but. Then-Israeli defence minister Yitzhak Rabin - who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 - infamously encouraged Israeli forces to “break the bones” of Palestinian demonstrators.

Until now, I can’t forget seeing Israeli soldiers on TV using stones to break the bones of youths, it was terrible,” Azraq said, pointing out that similar policies were still being implemented by the Israeli army today.

Abu Mahmoud, another resident of Dheisheh, was imprisoned alongside Abu Ahmad during the first intifada.

Both described the torture and violence used by Israeli forces against Palestinian detainees at the time - doctors and guards beating naked prisoners with batons and rifles, transfers between prisons during which the inside of the prisoner transport vehicle would be “completely red with blood”.

But the extreme levels of violence used against Palestinians backfired against Israel, the two men said.

“We sent the occupation back to its natural form, that is, without any make-up. It returned to being a pure military occupation against occupied people,” Abu Ahmad said.

“Palestinians who thought they were impartial and that Israelis would not assault them, once their children were beaten up or detained, or their homes were destroyed, we would find them with us at the protest the next day… The occupation was the biggest inciter against itself.”

In the aftermath, hope remains

After six long years, the intifada ultimately led to the 1993 Oslo Accords and the subsequent creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), an institution intended to serve as a transitional government before the creation of an autonomous Palestinian state. The deal was seen by many at the time as a culminating achievement after years of struggle.

“Oslo helped the Palestinian leadership talk to the international community, negotiate, do a lot of advocacy, and make people around the world support our rights,” Azraq said. “Meanwhile the situation on the ground for Palestinians became worse.”

Almost 25 years later, the increasingly unpopular PA remains in place, and Israeli policies - increased settlement expansion, the blockade on Gaza, the illegal separation wall in the West Bank - have left many disillusioned.

“Today I believe that no one supports Oslo apart from those who benefit from Oslo, those who benefit from the continued existence of the PA,” Abu Ahmad said.

“Israel did everything, but it was not able to break the will of the Palestinian people (during the intifada). Oslo broke it. The impact of Oslo on the will of Palestinians was twice the impact of the Israelis.”

“In 1987, there were Palestinians and the occupation,” Abu Mahmoud said.

“Categorising people was easy: You were either with the Palestinian people or against the Palestinian people. But today there are Palestinians, the PA and the occupation. The existence of the PA in the middle is a huge issue for this generation.”

The first intifada nonetheless still looms large in the Palestinian collective consciousness, as younger Palestinians continue to see that period of history as an inspiration for any possible future popular movement against the occupation.

“For the (younger) generation, the first intifada is a beautiful poem,” Abu Ahmad added.

“They cannot evaluate it like I do, its positives and negatives, where we succeeded and where we failed. They see it as a very beautiful image.”

Abu Ahmad said he was hopeful that Palestinian youth could succeed where the generation of the first intifada failed.

“We had a beautiful dream at the time, but we could not compare it to the outside world, because we were not able to travel, we did not have the internet,” he said.

“This generation has seen the world, travelled, learned, they have technology in their hands and they use it well. They have the real will to resist. Real will is what triumphs.”

The current context has only further brought to the foreground the notion of a popular uprising, as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new intifada on Thursday in response to Trump’s decision regarding Jerusalem - an idea resonating across the Palestinian political spectrum.

“We need a new Intifada,” Munther Amira, the head of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), told MEE at a protest in the city of Bethlehem on Thursday against the American move.

“It has to look like the first intifada in that it has to be a popular intifada, and I would advise my people that it be non-violent,” Amira added. “They (Israel) own the power but we own our bodies.

We can raise our voices, we can change history through non-violence, and we will continue struggling against this occupation, as close to what we did during the first intifada as we can.”

Azraq was cautious about the likelihood of a similar movement occurring today, pointing to the obstacles currently standing in the way of a large-scale Palestinian movement.

“Any intifada, any revolution needs good, strong leadership with a clear programme supported by the people,” she said. “But now the Palestinian people don’t trust their leadership.”

However, she remained positive.

“In Palestine or anywhere, the more people are under pressure, the more they rise up, the more they resist,” she said. “I think the revolution is still inside the people and I believe it will continue. I don’t know if we will succeed within my lifetime or my son’s lifetime, but we need to keep the hope.”

Tensions in the Middle East are running high, as Trump's controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has complicated the prospects for the peace settlement.

Tillerson Says US Hopes to Sign 'Deal of the Century' in Middle East - Lavrov

"Tillerson hinted that the US is figuring out "the deal of the century", which will resolve at once the Israel-Palestine dispute. We [Russia] would like to understand what it will look like," Lavrov said during a press conference.

The foreign minister, however, noted that US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel runs counter to all agreements.

Lavrov expressed hope that the United States will clarify its position on at the UN Security Council.

Trump's gesture has greatly complicated the prospects for Washington to normalize relations with the Arab world, as previously current US administration advanced the logic "let's normalize ties between the US and Arab countries and then the Palestine problem will resolve itself," according to the Russian minister.

Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed concern over Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital since it complicates the situation in the Middle East and is likely to split the international community.

Clashes erupted between the Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces amid the massive outrage with Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. According to the latest information, over hundred people have been injured in the ensuing confrontation.

Palestinian Protest in Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza Strip Against Trump's Decision (Videos and timeline of events)

Earlier, Palestinians leaders' called for a so-called ‘day of rage’ after Friday prayer, to express their disagreement with US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, local media reported. Earlier Hamas' leader even called for a new intifada – an uprising against Israel.

Israeli police have reinforced their presence in Jerusalem, while the Israel Defense Forces have deployed additional troops to different locations across the West Bank, The Times of Israel said. At the same time, Israeli authorities did not announce any plans to impose restrictions on Muslim worshipers praying on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Israeli security forces are, in particular, concerned about a possibility that the so-called lone wolf attackers may try to stage terrorist attacks, the publication said.

Muslims all over the world took to the streets to voice their outrage over US President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Muslims Worldwide Protest Against Trump’s Jerusalem Gambit (PHOTO, VIDEO)

The US president's decision to officially recognize the city of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital sent ripples across the Muslim world, with thousands of people in different countries taking part in protest rallies held in response to this development.

* West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem
* Afghanistan
* Jordan
* Indonesia and Malaysia
* Egypt
* Turkey

Trump's pivotal decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital has elicited strong condemnation from Palestine, with Mahmud Abbas, its leader, warning of grave consequences for the peace process in the region.

Palestine Not to Hold Talks With US Until Trump's Decision Cancelled - Envoy

Palestinian ambassador in Moscow Abdel Hafiz Nofal told Sputnik Friday that Palestine no longer considers the United States a mediator in the Middle East Quartet and is seeking new guarantors for the talks on resolution of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

According to the envoy, for the last 25 years the US has "privatized" the role of mediator, monopolizing the position and subsequently squeezing out opportunities for other countries to play their part and thus Palestine insists on the necessity "to reach new agreements in the peace process".
This was submitted to Newsweek by Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations. I view it - as one sided and full of arrogance?

Trump’s Jerusalem Decision May Lead to Permanent Peace in Israel

The American president, Donald Trump, has made a bold decision.

By announcing that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he has not only proven himself as a reliable ally whose word can be counted on, but also a courageous leader who is not afraid to stand for what is right.

This decision is right for Israel, it is right for the United States, and it has a good chance of positively influencing the possibility for peace in our region.

"Jerusalem is an inseparable part of Israel and her eternal capital. No United Nations vote can alter that historic fact."

This quote was not said by one of our leaders in response to the shameful Security Council resolution 2334 last December. It was part of a statement by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, on December 5, 1949 only days after the UN voted for a resolution calling for the internationalization of Jerusalem.

Ben Gurion's response was to move forward with a planned announcement about the moving of our Knesset (parliament) and other national institutions to Jerusalem.

The announcement by the Israeli government was met with condemnations from around the world. The US even went as far as to refuse to hold any diplomatic meetings in Jerusalem and they continued to send official cables to an office of our Foreign Ministry in Tel Aviv.

Nevertheless, Ben Gurion's brave decision was the right one for Israel. It made clear the idea of turning our historic capital into an international zone administered by others was a non-starter for Israel.

The decision also had long-term positive effects such as galvanizing Jews around the world with an allegiance to the holy city which had served as our capital since the days of King David.

Prime Minister Ben Gurion also put the countries of the region on notice that Israel would not shy away from making the right decisions – even in the face of international pressure.

Similarly, President Trump's decision carries immense significance for Israel and our region.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Trump to Israel last May, he did so in what he called “Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, the united capital of the Jewish state.” By publicly affirming this vital understanding of our national being, President Trump has laid the groundwork for other countries to soon follow suit.

While some may doubt that other states will want to make such a move for fear of retribution from Arab countries, it is important to recall that many countries around the world take their cues from the US when it comes to certain aspects of their foreign policy.

This decision is also beneficial for the US interests. Israel is America's most stable and loyal ally in the Middle East. We stand by the US at the UN, and in every other forum, on almost every question of foreign policy.

Public opinion of the US by Israelis is consistently one of the highest in the world. More importantly, Israel is an island of stability in the one of the world's most tumultuous regions.

America knows that our democracy is strong, and our commitment to safety and security can be counted on and this in turn serves US interests in the Middle East.

Critics of US foreign policy have made the claim that over the past few years American allies have often been taken for granted while adversaries were rewarded. The nuclear agreement with Iran and past decisions to turn a blind eye to Assad's brutal regime in Syria are just two examples of America's opponents who have benefited from this policy.

Recognizing Jerusalem as our capital serves notice that the US respects its allies and supports them.

Finally, and probably most importantly, this decision may set in motion events that will make peace between Israelis and Palestinians more likely.

Israel exists in a tough neighborhood where strength is respected and perceived weakness can lead to disaster. Our two peace treaties were reached after Egypt and Jordan understood that Israel is here to stay and no amount of war or military might can defeat us.

Similarly, the Palestinians began considering diplomatic negotiations – in addition to their ongoing terror campaigns – only in the aftermath of the Gulf War when they lost the hope of forcing a settlement on Israel through the prism of Cold War politics.

The recognition of Jerusalem as our capital can serve as a healthy reality check for the Palestinians. As more and more countries begin to recognize our capital as fully under Israeli sovereignty, the reality will set in that neither terrorism nor Security Council resolutions will succeed in forcing our hand on a compromise in Jerusalem.

This understanding will remove the issue of Jerusalem from the other thorny final status disputes that have long vexed negotiations between us and the Palestinians. Freed from at least one part of their unrealistic expectations, this may encourage the Palestinians will finally turn to real direct negotiations.

There are times when leaders have to make the hard choice not only because there may be great geopolitical benefits from such a move, but because it is simply the right thing to do. This is what guided Prime Minister Ben Gurion when he moved the Knesset to Jerusalem almost seven decades ago.

President Trump has made a similar courageous decision today.

Danny Danon is Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
Israeli aircraft and tanks have targeted two security posts in the besieged Gaza Strip, media reports said.

Israeli Tanks, Aircraft Attack Gaza Security Posts

The attack on Thursday night had no casualties, residents of the Palestinian coastal enclave said, presstv reported.

The Israeli army claimed that the attack was a response to rocket attacks from Gaza earlier in the day. However, no claim of responsibility has so far been made by the Palestinian resistance movement.

Reuters said the al-Tawheed Brigades claimed responsibility for the missile launches from Gaza.

Reports said the number of injured Palestinians continues to climb as clashes with Israeli forces continue to escalate across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, in response to US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Over 50 Injured, 9 with Live Ammunition, in Clashes across Palestinian Territory

Palestinian and world leaders warned Trump against making the announcement, for fear of instability and violence across the region, that is now expected to continue in the days to come, Maan reported.

Nine were injured with live ammunition according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health and a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent, there are upward of 50 injuries in total, nine of which are injuries with live ammunition.

Of the live-bullet injuries, four were reported to be in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and five from the Gaza Strip. Also in Ramallah, eight Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets.

In Gaza, four Palestinians from the southern district of Khan Younis were injured with live ammunition, and one Palestinian from northeastern Gaza was injured. The injuries were reported as light to moderate.

In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, medics told Ma’an that at least three Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets while two, including a young boy, were treated for severe tear-gas inhalation. In the Kafr Qaddum town of the Qalqiliya district in the Northern West Bank, five injuries were reported, four of which are tear-gas related, and one with a rubber-coated steel bullet.

In Hebron city, clashes erupted following a march in the city. Israeli forces raided the city, firing tear gas and chasing down dozens of Palestinian youths who were throwing stones.

A senior Palestinian official in President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah party said on Thursday that US Vice President Mike Pence, due to visit the region later this month, "is unwelcome in Palestine".

Official: US Vice President Pence 'Unwelcome in Palestine'

A senior Palestinian official in President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah party said that US Vice President Mike Pence, due to visit the region later this month, “is unwelcome in Palestine”, Cetus News reported.

“In the name of Fatah I say that we will not welcome Trump’s deputy in the Palestinian Territories. He asked to meet (Abbas) on the 19th of this month in Bethlehem, such a meeting will not take place,” Jibril Rajoub said.

Aides for Abbas were not immediately available for comment.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) condemned the US president’s “cheap and stupid” move to recognize Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of the Zionist regime, saying the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) would soon wipe out the Israeli enemy.

Iran’s IRGC: Palestinian Intifada to Wipe out Zionism Soon

In a statement released on Thursday night, the IRGC said Donald Trump’s silly measure to declare al-Quds the capital of ‘Israel’ will cause revenge against the “usurpers of the oppressed Palestine.”

“The cheap and foolish move of the US president to recognize Al-Quds as the capital of the fake and child-killing regime of Zionists amounts to a great sedition designed against the Islamic Ummah with the aim of violating the rights of Palestinians.”

“Now the Islamic world and other freedom and truth-seeking societies are duty-bound to thwart the nasty and satanic plots of the enemies through adopting decisive and prudent stances,” the statement added.

The IRGC called on Iranians from all walks of life to participate in large numbers in the nation-wide rallies against the US and the Zionism following Friday prayers.

“The Palestinian Intifada will continue in the new phase with a higher speed with the all-out support of the Islamic Ummah and the world’s anti-arrogance and freedom-seekers individuals. The intifada will unveil the scandalous face of the Great Satan’s strategies and policies in the region. With the divine blessing of the great lord, it will also put an immediate end to the criminal regime of Zionists and remove the cancerous tumor of the Zionism from the body of the Islamic world.”

Hundreds of people rallied in Aleppo on Friday, to demonstrate against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Syrians in Aleppo protest Trump’s Jerusalem decision – video

One protester said that Trump had “opened the gates to hell”, arguing that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine and that “without Jerusalem there is no Palestinian state.”

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis took into streets on Friday afternoon to rally against the US decision to recognize Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of the Zionist entity.

Saudi Warplanes Fly over Pro-Palestinian Crowded Rallies in Yemen

In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, crowds responded to the call of Ansarullah leader Sayyed Abdol Malik Al-Houthi and rallied to support al-Quds against the US attempt to hide its Arab and Islamic identity in order to serve the Zionist interests.

In Saada, the Yemenis also heavily participated Friday morning in the rally held in protest of the US Jerusalem recognition under the US-Saudi warplanes which were flying over the scene.

Early on the same day, the Saudi warplanes committed a new massacre which claimed 23 Yemeni martyrs in Saada.
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