Wednesday, September 28, 2016

From Ian:

Shimon Peres, the last of Israel’s founding fathers, dies at 93
Shimon Peres, the last of Israel’s founding fathers, died early Wednesday morning at the age of 93.
Peres died in his sleep at around 3:00 am local time on Wednesday, Rafi Walden, Peres’s personal physician who is also his son-in-law, said.
He died surrounded by family members, a source close to Peres added.
Peres’s office sent a statement early Wednesday announcing that his family would speak to the press at the Sheba Medical Center at 7:00am and would be joined by the hospital’s director Professor Itzik Kreiss
The former president and prime minister had been “fighting for his life,” doctors said Tuesday as he suffered a rapid deterioration to his condition, two weeks after a major stroke. Peres died overnight Tuesday-Wednesday at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital, after his family members and those close to him who had been called late Tuesday to say their final goodbyes.

IsraellyCool: Leaders, Politicians & Celebrities React To The Death Of Shimon Peres
I will update this post as more reactions are published.
World Leaders, Influencers and Politicians

Shimon Peres 1923-2016

Shimon Peres: A renaissance man and workaholic who outlived all his rivals
“Don’t worry,” Shimon Peres used to tell his adversaries. “I won’t forget to die.” The longest serving of all of Israel’s public servants, Shimon Peres completed his seven year term of office as President of the State of Israel, just two weeks shy of his 91st birthday.
Although this marked a turning point in his life in that there was no higher position to which he could aspire or be elected or appointed, it did not mean that Peres would disappear from the international stage.
Well before the conclusion of his presidency, Peres, a Nobel Prize laureate, was already planning to continue much of what he was doing before – except that instead of sitting in the president’s mansion in Jerusalem, he would be working out of the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa.
For Peres to stop working would be a preparation for death.
His workaholic character caused the breakup of his marriage. Though he frequently spoke of his wife Sonia as the love of his life, when he had to choose between her and the presidency, he chose the latter.
His detractors would accuse him of narcissism, but it was not so much a matter of him wanting to add to his illustrious string of titles as his desire to continue living.
David Horovitz: Shimon Peres, relentless advocate of a better Israel, a better world
When you work with a country’s founding prime minister at the very start of its statehood, and you’re still its iconic elder statesman seven decades later, you’re going to impact a lot of people’s lives. Directly and indirectly, Shimon Peres surely affected the lives of more Israelis than anybody else. And if we haven’t yet become the nation at peace that he strove for us to become, it surely wasn’t for the lack of his trying.
Looking back through clips today, I realize I must have interviewed Shimon Peres more than I’ve interviewed anybody else. Year after year when he was president; a few years ago onstage at the Jewish Federations General Assembly in Jerusalem; at a world Jewish media summit here in 2014; at The Times of Israel’s Gala in New York last year in front of 1,200 people, and a few more times besides. And I only knew him in the latter stages of his extraordinary life.
The consistent theme in his conversations, in the presidential years and beyond, was that peace is attainable. He would argue, even in the darkest of periods, that Mahmoud Abbas is “absolutely” a partner for peace. He would implicitly criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and others, for not doing enough to advance it. “If you’ve decided on a Palestinian state, then you have to make that decision happen,” he told me once, asking plaintively, “So what’s the alternative? That there be one state and the majority will determine its nature?”
Beloved abroad, polarizing at home, Peres was the peace-making face of Israel
Shimon Peres, one of Israel’s most eminent politicians and the last of the state’s founding generation to wield power, died early Wednesday in Tel Aviv two weeks after suffering a stroke. He was 93.
When he ended his presidency in 2014, Peres was the world’s oldest head of state, and the only person to have served as both Israel’s prime minister and its president. Although his long and illustrious career was full of internal rivalries and professional disappointments — including a leadership ploy that entered the history books as “the stinking maneuver” — in his later decades, Peres became known as Israel’s elder statesman, admired by leaders across the globe and more widely respected at home than at any point in his turbulent political career.
Peres, who never won a popular election — his accession to the presidency in 2007 was a result of a secret ballot among Knesset members — was one of Israel’s most successful, shrewd, divisive and, ultimately, beloved politicians. A man of many stripes — a lifelong Labor leader who defected to the free market center of the Kadima party; a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who, according to foreign sources, gave a scarred and threatened state the ultimate deterrent weapon; and a signatory to the Oslo Accords who years earlier, as defense minister, helped lay the foundations of the settlement movement — he was considered by many to be one of Israel’s strongest assets, an erudite politician unblemished by corruption.
On the international stage he was respected for his conciliatory positions and his unending quest for peace; on Israel’s ideological right, for years, his name was synonymous with naiveté and far worse.
“The Palestinians are our closest neighbors,” he said often. “I am sure they can become our closest friends.”
Elliott Abrams: Shimon Peres
The last American founding father, James Madison, died in 1836, 60 years after independence had been declared. Today, in the 68th year of its independence, Israel experienced the loss of its own last founding father. Shimon Peres was the last statesman who had been a force in Israeli life from independence in 1948 through all of its wars and all of its peace treaties, and served as Israel’s president until 2014.
Peres, who was born in what was then Poland, was in Israeli government and politics for two thirds of a century. The man who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 had been Director General of its Ministry of Defense in the early 1950s, where he played a key role in securing the arms that allowed Israel to survive Arab attacks.
Peres was 93, and until the last year his vitality was astonishing. He could have passed for a healthy man in his 70s. This longevity and energy help explain his decades of influence on Israeli political life.
This is not to say that Peres was Israel’s greatest hero: its generals and its first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, vie for that honor. Nor was he its greatest prime minister or political leader. He was actually unpopular in many quarters, and lost numerous elections, until in old age he won the respect to which his career entitled him. Peres was long criticized for excessive optimism about peace with Israel’s neighbors, so it is ironic that when he passed from the scene his predictions appeared in some important ways to be coming true. Israel’s relations with Egypt and Jordan are close and cooperative, at least on security matters, and now relations with the Gulf states appear to be warming up. I recall Ariel Sharon saying to me in 2005 that Israel did not seek to be the lion but refused to be the lamb either. The Arab lions are not exactly lying down with the Israeli lamb today, but they are not attacking it either and many governments appear to be realizing that cooperation with Israel can be to everyone’s benefit.
Shimon Peres, Israeli Statesman and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 93
Shimon Peres, an Israeli statesman who helped build his country into a nuclear-armed regional military power, shared a Nobel Peace Prize for laying out a short-lived framework for peace with the Palestinians and more recently defended Israel’s controversial military actions in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, died early Wednesday at a hospital in Tel Aviv. He was 93.
The cause was complications from a massive stroke earlier in the month, the Israeli government announced.
Mr. Peres, who held nearly every high office in his country and whose influence spanned 10 U.S. presidencies, was the last of a generation of politicians who came of age as Israel did and helped guide it through regional conflicts and economic restructuring.
In addition to having been the president and serving as prime minister three times — once briefly in an acting capacity — he had been foreign minister, information minister, finance minister and defense minister. It was during his time as defense minister that Israel pulled off the exquisitely orchestrated 1976 rescue of Israeli hostages at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda.
After more than a half-century of involvement in the most important events of Israel’s history, Mr. Peres had become “the grand old man of Israeli politics,” said Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at Harvard’s international security program and a former deputy national security adviser of Israel. “You could feel his influence everywhere.”
Yet Mr. Peres left a complex legacy. At every stage in his political career, the European-born Mr. Peres had to fight the sense that he was insincere, consummately political and opportunistic. He never passed for an Israeli-born sabra and always seemed to be slightly removed from the country he led.
World Leaders to Arrive in Israel for Friday Funeral of Shimon Peres
World leaders are expected to arrive in Israel in the coming days to attend Shimon Peres’s funeral on Friday.
Peres, former president, former prime minister, former defense minister, former foreign minister, former minister of eight other ministries, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, and winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize died early Wednesday after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He was 93.
US President Barack Obama and Britain's Prince Charles, are among a who's-who list of foreign dignitaries who are expected to arrive for his funeral.
The Foreign Ministry held an emergency meeting in its situation room Wednesday morning to coordinate the logistics of the arrival of the most world leaders expected to visit the country at one time since Yitzhak Rabin's funeral 21 years ago.
In addition to Obama and Prince Charles, other leaders expected to arrive include German President Joachim Gauck, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Togo President Faure Gnassingbé.
In addition, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva and Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann were also due to arrive for the funeral.
Both US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton are expected to arrive, as is US Secretary of State John Kerry and an as yet unnamed top senior British minister.
Netanyahu mourns loss of Peres as Israel bids farewell to a founding father
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife expressed their condolences early Wednesday morning at the passing of Israel’s ninth president and internationally cherished diplomat emeritus Shimon Peres.
Few are the people in Israel's history who have done as much for the state and the Jewish people as Shimon Peres, Netanyahu said in a statement released just before a special cabinet meeting he is convening to honor the former president.
“Like all the citizens of Israel, the whole Jewish people, and many in the world, I bow my head in memory of our beloved Shimon Peres,” he said in a statement.
Peres, who dedicated his life to Israel's independence, was a visionary who looked to the future, Netanyahu said. But he was also a man for whom security was utmost in his mind, and who buttressed the country's security capacities in many ways, some of which are still not publicly known to this day.
And as a man of peace, Netanyahu said, “he worked until his last days toward reconciliation with our neighbors for a better future for our children.”
Netanyahu's said that the first time he met Peres was 40 years ago at the grave site of his brother, Yoni, killed in the 1976 Entebbe raid.
President Rivlin cuts Ukraine visit short after Peres' death
President Reuven Rivlin has cut his visit to Ukraine short after learning of the death of former President Shimon Peres, who passed away at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer overnight Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Rivlin addressed the Ukrainian parliament to commemorate 75 years since the 1941 massacre at Babi Yar, when 33,771 Jews were shot to death by German forces and Ukrainian collaborators in a forest ravine outside the capital Kiev. In total, over 100,000 people were killed in the Babi Yar ravine, including Jews, Roma, and Soviet prisoners.
In a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Rivlin said, "The blood of our brothers and sisters, that was spilled at that dark time, places upon us the duty to remember, and teach the whole world, about the dangers of not just anti-Semitism, but of all hatred, and all racism."
Rivlin told Poroshenko that Israel and Ukraine had enjoyed diplomatic ties for close to 25 years, and said that his visit was "a chance to celebrate our cooperation, and make fresh commitments to work together for the benefit of both our peoples."
Obama says ‘a light has gone out’ with Shimon Peres’s death
Moments after news of Shimon Peres’s death emerged early Wednesday morning, eulogies began pouring in from world leaders from across the globe.
“There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves. My friend Shimon was one of those people,” US President Barack Obama, who is expected to attend the late president’s funeral Friday, said in a statement.
“Shimon was the essence of Israel itself — the courage of Israel’s fight for independence, the optimism he shared with his wife Sonya as they helped make the desert bloom, and the perseverance that led him to serve his nation in virtually every position in government across the entire life of the State of Israel,” he said.
Peres worked with every US president since John F. Kennedy, noted Obama, adding that “no one did more over so many years as Shimon Peres to build the alliance between our two countries.
“A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever,” Obama continued. “Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves — to the very end of our time on Earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others. For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah, Shimon.”
Dennis Ross reflects on Peres, the strategic thinker
I first met Shimon Peres in 1986. He was prime minister in the national unity government at the time. I was part of vice president George H. W. Bush’s delegation. In our meetings, Peres conveyed a sense of mission, determined to change Israel’s circumstances and ready to explore new possibilities with the Arabs for peace. But at the time, it was less the formal meetings that impressed me; I was struck much more by the informal meeting we had at Sde Boker, the kibbutz David Ben-Gurion had retired to in the Negev.
Peres sat with the vice president in Ben-Gurion’s small library and spoke of his mentor. He spoke of Ben-Gurion’s attributes as a leader – he was a visionary; he placed a premium on education and science; he understood the need to think ambitiously; to make big, often unpopular decisions; he was never willing to settle; he was demanding of everyone but most of all of himself; he saw threats that Israel faced but also believed that not acting – sometimes militarily, sometimes diplomatically – could invite the greatest threats to Israeli security; his sheer force of will made it possible not just for Israel to emerge but to survive against all odds.
Peres’s tone was reverential in speaking of Ben-Gurion, and he emphasized the importance of Israeli leaders measuring up to the standard that Ben-Gurion had set. In the 30 years that I have known Peres, I have seen him model himself on Ben-Gurion – to think strategically, to imagine where Israel needed to be in the future, to embrace change, and to never fear making decisions. Many have described Peres as a dreamer, at times naïve, speaking of a new Middle East in the 1990s when the region was far from being transformed and resistant to globalization and its implications.
I saw him differently. I saw a pragmatist who understood the danger of stagnation. I saw a leader steeped in the Zionist ethic that Israelis should shape their national destiny and not let others do so. I could see how as a man in his 20s, Ben-Gurion would rely on him to build Israel’s military establishment. One of the great ironies of Peres’s career is that he was often seen in Israel as not being credible on security because he had not served in the military. And yet it was Peres who built the Defense Ministry, was the key player in persuading the French in the 1950s to provide arms to Israel when Israel had no other source, and later during the Kennedy administration made two trips to Washington to convince the president and Bobby Kennedy that Israel needed American weaponry to offset what the Soviets were providing to Egypt, Syria and Iraq. In no small part, it was Peres who persuaded John Kennedy to break the US taboo on providing modern weapon systems to Israel.
Obama, Hollande, May among over a dozen world leaders to honor Peres at funeral
Israeli authorities were gearing up Wednesday evening for the funeral of the country’s ninth president, Shimon Peres, who died early Wednesday morning at the age of 93.
US President Barack Obama will attend the Friday event, the Foreign Ministry said, along with Secretary of State John Kerry.
Former US president Bill Clinton, a longtime friend since his term in the White House during the height of the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, is also slated to attend.
They top a long list of world leaders expected at the funeral. Also flying in:
French President Francois Hollande
German President Joachim Gauck
British Prime Minister Theresa May
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Australian Governor General Peter Cosgrove
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė
Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis
Britain’s Prince Charles
Polish President Andrzej Duda
Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann
European Council President Donald Tusk
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini
Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy
Former British prime minister David Cameron
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz
Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Portugal’s Foreign Minister Augosto Santos Silva
Speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament Valentina Matviyenko
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende
PreOccupiedTerritory: Iran Mulls Nuclear Strike On Israel As World Leaders There For Peres Funeral (satire)
Military and political chiefs in the Islamic Republic of Iran are considering an attack on Israel this Friday when dozens of Western heads of state and leaders assemble in Israel to pay last respects to Shimon Peres, who died this morning, in an effort to eliminate opposition to Iranian ambitions for regional hegemony.
Peres, 93, succumbed to complications from a stroke he suffered two weeks ago, and is scheduled to be buried on Friday in Jerusalem. US President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, the Prince of Wales, Pope Francis, and numerous other dignitaries have already announced plans to attend the funeral. The prospect of rival or enemy leaders gathered in one place has Iran’s upper political and military echelons considering the viability of an atomic strike on or near the location of the proceedings. If successful, such an attack would eliminate many of the people who represent a check on the Islamic Republic’s efforts to build and strengthen its sphere of influence in the Middle East and beyond.
Lieutenant General Douq Nouqqem of the Republican Guard reported to other senior commanders today that they should be on alert for orders to conduct such a strike, pending a final decision by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the subject. While such an attack carries immense risks, explained the general, the opportunity to destroy so many opponents at once is not expected to present itself again anytime soon, if ever.
“Our Supreme Leader’s decisions tend to follow a deliberate, thoroughly considered process that takes the long-term view, and he is not in the habit of rashness,” General Nouqqem wrote in a message to the commanders of the relevant facilities and units. “However, given that this situation has developed only in the last day, and will not persist beyond Friday, a quick decision is necessary, and we must be prepared to act on a strike order.”
Mahmoud Abbas hails ‘brave’ peace partner Shimon Peres
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas paid tribute Wednesday to the late former president Shimon Peres who died earlier in the day.
Abbas hailed Peres as a “brave” partner for peace and sent his family condolences over his death, the official PA news agency Wafa reported.
“Abbas sent a message of condolence to the family of former president Shimon Peres, expressing his sadness and sorrow,” the report said.
“Peres was a partner in making the brave peace with the martyr Yasser Arafat and prime minister (Yitzhak) Rabin, and made unremitting efforts to reach a lasting peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life,” Abbas was quoted as saying.
Abbas is expected to address Fatah members on Wednesday night and reports said he would say a few words about the the late Israeli leader.
Earlier Wafa vilified Peres in an obituary, describing him as an architect of the settlement movement who was responsible for the deaths of Palestinians and committed “many crimes.” The article noted that Peres was also responsible for building the Dimona nuclear reactor.
The article made no mention of Peres’s role in the peace process or the Oslo Accords, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
IsraellyCool: Vile Reactions To Shimon Peres’ Death By Leading Israel Haters And Antisemites
I really hate doing this – it almost makes me ill to drudge these up – but I think it is crucial to help show what kind of people oppose Israel and support BDS.
I did a similar exercise when Shimon Peres first had his stroke. Here, I will focus on reactions of some of the more well-known haters.
The reactions range from portraying him as a criminal and murderer to outright happiness he died. As you read them, remind yourselves Peres tried to do more for peace than nearly anyone.
Post likely to be updated throughout the day.
Indigenous activist is the new 'face' of B'nai Brith Canada
Activist Ryan Bellerose sees Israel as not just “a light unto nations” in a general sense — it’s a prescription, too.
Specifically, the State of Israel, whose establishment Bellerose considers the “greatest human rights story ever," can offer a blueprint for securing land and rights for indigenous tribes around the world.
This connection between Israel and native peoples is personal: Bellerose, 40, of Calgary, is a member of the Metis nation, which is recognized by the Canadian government as one of the country’s official aboriginal peoples.
Bellerose, who was raised Roman Catholic and now practices Cree spirituality, jokes that his friends call him "Rabbi Ryan." He rose to prominence within Jewish circles when he launched a successful pro-Israel organization, Calgary United With Israel (now known as Canada United With Israel) in 2013.
And now Bellerose, who was raised in northern Alberta in the Metis settlement of Paddle Prairie, has been hired by B’nai Brith Canada as its advocacy coordinator for western Canada.
While he’s not a member of the tribe, he feels that he has “some valid things to teach and to learn” from his Jewish friends.
Why Israeli Jews lean to the right and American Jews to the left
A report published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center reveals a growing gulf between American Jews and Israelis on everything from religious observance and affiliation, to political ideology, and views on hot-button issues like Palestinian statehood and US aid to Israel.
The world’s two largest Jewish populations, each numbering some six million, have strongly positive feelings towards each other, Pew’s Neha Sahgal said.
“When we compared the attitudes of American Jews to Israel and Israeli Jews to the United States, it became really clear that they share an affinity for each other.”
Sahgal added that roughly 40% of American Jews have visited Israel – roughly the same proportion of Israeli Jews who have traveled to the United States.
“That’s a pretty high number, 40%,” said Sahgal.
‘Red State Israel’ versus ‘Blue State Americans’
But while the relationship between American and Israeli Jews remains strong, the two differ sharply on politics, and contrast strongly in religious observance and identity.
While American Jews lean strongly to the left, Israeli Jews tend to identify with the political center or right-wing.
To some extent, this has created cultural tensions between some progressive American Jews – particularly among younger Jews – and the Jewish state.
Palestinians Issue Blood Libel at UN "Human Rights" Council, Accuse Israel of "Lynching"
On September 23, 2016, the UN Human Rights Council held its regular session dedicated specifically to demonizing Israel, agenda item 7. In his statement, Palestinian representative to the UN Human Rights Council Ibrahim Khraishi claimed that Israeli security forces protecting Israelis from hundreds of Palestinian stabbing, shooting, and car ramming attacks were "lynching" the Palestinian terrorists.
In his words (as translated by the UN's official translators):
"Mr. President, the occupying power has continued to exercise gross violations, especially by settlers, Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and depriving the Palestinian civilians from [sic] their lives. Israel still plays a role of the victim, changing [sic] this course through its statements to this Council, which it claims they're in that it is [sic] being targeted by attacks, despite the fact that they have been primary violators of human rights. Since the beginning of this year a large number of civilians have been killed, have been martyred, especially in the beginning of this week through lynching. 104 persons were lynched..."
At UN "Human Rights" Council, Democratic Jewish State of Israel Accused of Committing "Genocide"
Although Israel was founded on the ashes of the worst genocide in history, which targeted the Jewish people, at the UN the Jewish state is accused of committing "genocide" against the Palestinians.
Speaking on September 23, 2016, at the session dedicated to demonizing Israel, agenda item 7, Cuba and Nicaragua both accused the only democracy in the Middle East of committing the most heinous crime against humanity. Despite being warned by the President of the Human Rights Council about using appropriate language after the United States objected to the use of the term genocide, Cuba was allowed to repeat its slanderous accusation, and Nicaragua subsequently followed suit.
Their statements included the following:
Cuba: "Genocide against the Palestinian people must be brought to an end and those responsible and their accomplices should respond and should be held accountable to their crimes. We firmly believe –[The United States objects to use of the term genocide, and the President of the Human Rights Council reminds Cuba to use UN standard language when discussing a state.] I will continue with my statement now, Mr. President.
Genocide against the Palestinian people must be brought to an end, and those responsible and their associates must respond and be held accountable for their crimes..."
More Anti-Israel Hate at the UN From "Civil Society"
Speaking on September 26, 2016, at the UN Human Rights Council session dedicated to the demonization of Israel, agenda item 7, Tourner La Page, a UN-accredited NGO, attempted to delegitimize Israel's creation and very existence. In its words:
"Since its birth, Israel has engaged in a policy of forcible displacement of Palestinians from their homes and lands. More than 750,000 Palestinians were displaced, some of them internally, during the "Nakba", the tragedy in 1948 by which the majority of Palestinians were forcibly uprooted and expelled from their homes and lands in Mandate Palestine, or fled in fear for their lives after the brutal massacres perpetrated by Israeli militias and forces against thousands of Palestinians in a clear act of ethnic cleansing...
We condemn in the strongest terms the apartheid policies that Israel operates in the occupied territories in terms of racially segregated roads and a discriminatory permit regime, the imposition of a dual legal system in the Occupied State of Palestine, and the fragmentation of the territory and enclosure of Palestinians into Bantustan-like areas."
Obama’s November surprise
Notwithstanding his apparent pro-Palestinian sympathies and affiliations prior to running for the Senate and later the White House, President Obama initially maintained this policy. The expressed threat of an American veto foiled Abbas’ 2011 bid to win UN member-state status for “Palestine.” He settled for recognition of non-member-state status by the General Assembly in 2012.
As moves by the PA to bring the issue of statehood to the UN picked up steam last year, however, it appeared to walk back this commitment. While U.S officials privately maintained there was “no change,” Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power refused – despite the urging of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – to state publicly that the U.S. would use its veto to stop a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.
The conventional wisdom was that Obama’s refusal to make such a public declaration was intended to exert pressure on Netanyahu to tone down his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and later to punish him for it or hold it out to secure concessions. As his presidency enters its final months, it’s clear something even more nefarious is at work.
President Obama’s failure to clarify his administration’s position has greatly damaged prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even if it is Obama’s intention to veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes up at the UN, his refusal to publicly state this – or, put differently, his determination to go on the record for the history books not saying it – has fueled perceptions among Palestinians and European governments facing pressures of their own that American will is softening.
It is imperative that Congress use the tools at its disposal to make this unwise path as difficult as possible for the Obama Administration.
Ultimately, a one-sided UN declaration such as this serves only to postpone by a long shot the day when Palestinian leaders accept Israel as it is – the homeland of the Jewish people – and allow their subjects to enjoy the lasting peace and prosperity they and their neighbors deserve.
Gaza Terror Group Claims New Rocket Can Hit Strategic Locations Throughout Israel
A Gaza-based terror group unveiled a new rocket that it claims can hit strategic installations in Israel, Channel 2 News reported Monday.
The Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella group made up of former members of other terror factions, unveiled a new rocket yesterday in a ceremony in Gaza. The group, which is believed to be financed by Iran, took credit for kidnapping Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.
The rocket, called A-AT, can allegedly hit strategic installations all over Israel. Israeli security officials have not yet commented publicly on how serious a threat these new rockets are.
While Hamas remains the main terrorist organization governing the Gaza Strip, another group, Other groups have recently gained significant backing from Iran. In May, Iran pledged $70 million in financial aid to Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Quds Brigade. Iran also backs Gaza’s new Shiite militant group al-Sabirin, which Israel’s Channel 2 described as being modeled after Hezbollah. Al-Sabirin is led by a former Islamic Jihad commander and reportedly receives $10 million annually from Iran.
For its part, Hamas has also been improving its rocket making capabilities, as well as investing significant resources into building a terror tunnel network with which to attack Israel. Hamas spends an estimated $40 million of its $100 million military budget on tunnels. An Israeli official estimated in July that Hamas digs some six miles of tunnels every month.
Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold said in May that Hamas is stealing around 95 percent of the cement that enters Gaza, which is intended for civilian reconstruction projects. “From our own investigations we found that out of every 100 sacks of cement that come into the Gaza Strip [from Israel], only five or six are transferred to civilians,” he stated. Hamas uses the cement to build and expand its underground infrastructure.

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