Friday, March 22, 2019

From Ian:

Israel's Sovereignty on the Golan Heights: Why Now?
The restoration of part of the Jewish people to part of its historic, indigenous territory did not need ratification by the League of Nations or the U.N. Jews lived there from the beginning – sometimes only a remnant, and after 70 C.E. under various occupations, and in increasing numbers beginning in the 19th century. Its capital was never anyone else’s capital. To be a modern, independent state, however, the Jewish people accepted the international standards of the 20th century – the Balfour Declaration, with an endorsement by the U.S. Congress in 1922, the League of Nations, and the United Nations – in support of its sovereign status.

That’s it. The fact that the Arab States not only did not accept those standards, but went to war more than once to turn the clock back has nothing to do with anything.

As we mourn the passing of Moshe Arens — Israeli patriot and diplomat, defense minister and aeronautical engineer, we quote him. “According to the second law of thermodynamics there are no reversible processes in nature. Nothing can return exactly to its original state. This law may not hold in international relations, but the exceptions are few and far between.”

The U.N. may have a better chance of reversing the laws of thermodynamics than of bringing Syria to accept its obligations under U.N. Resolution 242.

But in 1967, the U.N. was smarter than that. Resolution 242 did not confirm some nebulous “right to exist” for Israel; that was established. It didn’t even call for “peace” as its ultimate aim. Instead, it required “a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security.” Peace was the condition that would provide security – and security for a sovereign Israel was the endgame.

How long is Israel required to wait? It has been almost 52 years since Syria lost the Golan Heights as a result of aggression from that space that began before the independence of Israel. It is 45 years since Israel repulsed the aggression of the Yom Kippur War.

It is appropriate for the world to ratify Israel’s right, not to minimal or shaky “existence,” but rather to “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” on the Golan.
Trump's Golan Announcement Was No Impulse Tweet
Donald Trump once again overturned decades of U.S. policy via Twitter when he declared on Thursday that the United States should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a disputed territory Israel seized in the 1967 war with Syria. The area, he wrote, is “of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

The timing of the announcement, ahead of Israeli elections on April 9, drew immediate accusations that it was aimed to benefit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces a competitive campaign as well as a looming indictment over alleged corruption. Following the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem last May, this was the second time that Trump reversed long-standing U.S. positions on Israel, appearing to offer a major gift to the Israeli prime minister without any obvious concessions in return. Yet the push for Trump to make such a move has been going on for more than a year, due to parallel efforts by Israeli officials and members of Congress.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was already drafting a plan to reinforce Israel’s control over the territory, which it effectively annexed in 1981, last summer. The rationale at the time had less to do with Israeli politics than with Iran, which was consolidating strength in Syria via its proxy Hezbollah and directly threatening Israel’s borders. The issue was also being discussed at the highest levels of the State Department and the National Security Council, according to Mark Dubowitz, who co-wrote a February 2017 op-ed calling for the Golan recognition and was engaged in the discussions. The National Security Council would not comment on internal discussions, and the State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the meantime, the Cruz plan was rolling along, and it was introduced as a Senate resolution co-sponsored by the Republican Tom Cotton in December. That was only days before Trump announced, also via tweet, his intention to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Trump has since partially reversed that policy, and the administration now says it intends to keep about 400 troops in Syria.
Trump's support for Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights expected to make waves at UN
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon wrote, "We are at the beginning of a historic moment for the State of Israel. President Trump once again proves the strength of the alliance between the US and Israel. The time has come for the world to recognize that the Golan Heights is an inseparable part of the State of Israel."

A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres responded with no comment when asked for reaction to Trump’s tweet.

Last month Guterres’ Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen was dismissive when asked about a push by Congress to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. He told reporters, “Obviously the Security Council is very clear that Golan is Syrian territory.”

Under former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a law in 1981 that officially annexed the Golan Heights. Begin cited serious security threats from Syria including the threat of missile attacks. Days later the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that condemned the move, adding to its resolution 242 of 1967 that called for the removal of Israeli forces from its recently conquered territory during the Six-Day War.

U.N Security Council Resolution 497 from 1981 stated in part “that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.”

Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of international law at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., and director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, told Fox News the resolution, “is not binding and has no legal force; it was merely a statement of the Council’s opinion. The U.S. has a sovereign right to disagree.”

Kontorovich, who has advised senior members of the U.S. administration on the Golan Heights, praised what he described as Trump’s courage. “Only a clear statement that the Golan is part of Israel can deter Iranian and Syrian attempts to challenge Israel’s control. While American politicians of all stripes claim they support Israel’s control of the Golan, most lacked the courage to translate this into the necessary diplomatic language of sovereignty - until Pres. Trump.”
Daily Kickoff: The drive to dominate the pre-AIPAC convo — Trump’s Golan gift
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich tells us: “I think it’s quite clear it’s not about the Israeli elections. And one reason it’s not about the Israeli elections is because support for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan is across the board. Bibi gets a lot of credit for this result, but so does Yair Lapid and people from Gantz’s party have worked hard for this result. This is truly a national project in Israel. And it’s good for everyone in Israel, it’s not a partisan issue in Israel.”

“Trump could have waited just a few days and announced this during the AIPAC conference, which would be a feather in AIPAC’s hat. But there’s a reason he didn’t, and I think the reason is that AIPAC was actually not pushing for a recognition of sovereignty. AIPAC was pushing — and you can see from their statement about this — for something that every last Democrat would approve of, a statement that Israel should retain control of the Golan Heights, which is a big difference. And what I think Trump is showing is that he is adopting a position that is more favorable to Israel than what AIPAC encouraged, and he is stealing AIPAC’s thunder by doing this before their conference.”
Another wonderful gift from Pennsylvania Avenue
The day on which we read the eternal sentence from the Book of Esther (8:16): "The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor," which was uttered when salvation arrived after great despair – on that very day, Purim – we learned about another wonderful gift from the 45th president of the U.S., Donald Trump. He was recognizing Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. Trump, as usual, put the news out on Twitter. A tweet of new heights!

After President Trump's historic tweet, I couldn't help but remember the funeral of former Syrian President Hafez Assad, which I covered in 2000. In the streets of Damascus, I saw Syrian women mourning the dead president, crying, "Who will hold onto the Golan for us?" I'm sorry to disappoint you, Syrian people, it looks like no one will give you back the Golan.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was interviewed in the Israel Hayom Rosh Hashanah supplement and told diplomatic correspondent Ariel Kahana that he believed the Golan Heights could remain in Israel's hands forever and certainly wouldn't be returned to the current president of Syria, Assad's son Bashar.

I can't imagine a circumstance where the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria. I cannot imagine, frankly, a circumstance where the Golan Heights is not a part of Israel forever. There's not even an indigenous population in the Golan Heights seeking autonomy. … You'd put Israel at a great security disadvantage by giving up the high ground of the Golan Heights. … I can't think of a less deserving person to receive this kind of reward than Bashar Assad," Friedman said.

JPost Editorial: Recognize the Golan
‘After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability,” President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday evening, just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House.

Last week, Netanyahu went to the Golan with US Senator Lindsey Graham – who, despite an acrimonious Republican primary, has since become a Trump ally and trusted adviser on international relations – and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a key player in American policy towards Israel.

Graham said that he and Senator Ted Cruz would work towards US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Graham said that, “what is best for America and Americans is a safe, secure and prosperous Israel,” and that he and Cruz will “start an effort to recognize the Golan Heights as part of the State of Israel now and forever, because to give this territory up would be a strategic nightmare for the State of Israel.”

And anyway, Graham wondered, “who would you give it up to?”

Now, Trump has been brought on board to the idea – and it is about time. Hopefully, his tweet will be turned into actual American policy.

After the international community spent over five decades being in denial, Trump is changing the equation and recognizing what has long been clear to all: Israel is not giving up the Golan Heights, which is vital to our security.

Pompeo's Middle East Visit and the Golan Heights

Secretary of State Pompeo Visits Jerusalem's Western Wall

Pompeo says Trump may have been sent by God to save Jews from Iran
US Secretary of Stare Mike Pompeo suggested in an interview that President Donald Trump may have been sent by God to save the Jewish people, and said he was “confident that the Lord is at work here.”

In a sit-down with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Thursday, interviewer Chris Mitchell noted that Israel was celebrating the Purim holiday.

“Jews worldwide and here in Jerusalem are talking about the fact that Esther 2,500 years ago saved the Jewish people with God’s help from Haman,” he said, mentioning the Persian villain of the megillah.

“And now 2,500 years later there’s a new Haman here in the Middle East that wants to eradicate the Jewish people just like Haman did: the state of Iran,” Mitchell went on. “Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?”

Pompeo replied that “as a Christian I certainly believe that’s possible.” He then went on to describe his visit to the Western Wall earlier in the day, during which he toured the ancient Western Wall Tunnels.
Amb. Dore Gold: Testimony: Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan Heights
Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening today’s hearing. A discussion about the Golan Heights today may seem baffling. Increasingly, in recent years, many Israelis have expressed a huge sigh of relief that previous rounds of Israeli-Syrian negotiations did not go anywhere and the Golan remains under Israeli control. They imagine that had these earlier talks been concluded, then in 2011, with the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the forces of Jabhat al-Nusra, Da’ish (ISIS), not to mention Assad’s own ruthless forces, would have been be sitting along the coastline of the Sea of Galilee, with their weapons aimed at the city of Tiberius across the lake.

What has changed today is that with the imminent victory of the forces of President Bashar Assad in the sector of South Syria, new diplomatic initiatives by outside actors cannot be ruled out. Already in March 2016, the U.N.’s Special Envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, proposed a paper on “Essential Principles of a Political Solution in Syria.” The first point of his paper specifically called for “the restoration of the occupied Golan Heights” to Syria. This past February at the Valdai Conference in Moscow, Vitaly Naumkin, the leading Russian authority on Syria insisted that Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights could not be accepted. He raised doubts about its very legality.1

US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would constitute the fulfillment of a series of previous diplomatic assurances given to Israel by past administrations regarding the international status of Israel’s position on that strategic plateau. Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War, after years during which the Syrian armed forces positioned there bombarded Israel’s farms and towns, situated roughly 1,700 feet below, with artillery fire. Moreover, the Syrians seized parts of Israeli territory, in direct violation of their armistice obligations, at al-Hama, the Banias and the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee, claiming part of the lake as a result. They also sought to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River that flowed through the Golan Heights.

During the negotiations over what came to be known as the Sinai II Agreement between Egypt and Israel, the US provided assurances with respect to other Arab-Israeli fronts that could become part of future peace talks. In that context, President Gerald Ford wrote to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on September 1, 1975 the following with respect to the Syrian front: “The U.S. has not developed final position on the borders. Should it do so, it will give great weight to Israel’s position that any peace agreement be predicated on Israel’s remaining on the Golan Heights.”2
How the Syrians lost the Golan
Syria has twice lost the Golan Heights. The first time was in June 1967, when Hafez Assad, the father of Bashar, was defense minister and along with his cohort in the Syrian leadership irresponsibly pushed the region toward war – the Six-Day War. This led Syria to a humiliating military defeat, in which it lost the Golan to Israel.

The second time occurred in March 2019. The all-out war waged by Bashar against his people, with heavy support from Iran and Hezbollah, who became his patrons, spurred U.S. President Donald Trump to declare American recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights.

The majority of Israeli prime ministers since the early 1990s, when peace negotiations over peace with Syria began in the wake of the Madrid Conference of 1991, were willing to retreat from the Golan. Some were willing to implement a partial withdrawal while others were actually prepared to see the Syrians return to the banks of the Sea of Galilee. But Hafez Assad and later his son, Bashar, refused to meet the minimum requirement for a peace agreement – which they possibly never wanted to begin with. They assumed time was on their side and that the Golan would wait for them until Israel would accede to relinquishing it for nothing in return.
Seth Frantzman: Does the Middle East care about Trump's Golan announcement
US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights appears to have been initially greeted with more anger in Washington than in the capitals of the Middle East. That is because the region is recovering from years of conflict and instability, and Trump’s decision regarding the Golan is likely seen within the context of the rest of his unilateral action, from leaving the Iran Deal to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

After 52 years of Israeli rule on the Golan – more than twice as long as the independent Syrian government controlled the heights – Israeli rule is largely understood as a fact of life, even as regimes pay lip service to international legal concepts that would see the Golan returned to the Syrian regime.

One reason that the Golan issue does not echo in the Middle East is because the Syrian regime is not well-liked. Bashar Assad is a close ally of Hezbollah, Iran and pro-Iranian sections of Iraq. But even sites connected to this nexus of allies don’t seem to see the Golan announcement as some major new change in the region.

Al-Manar, which is linked to Hezbollah, didn’t have a tweet on it. Like most regional media, they were more focused on the tragic ferry disaster in Mosul in which 60 people were killed on Thursday. Al-Mayadeen, which supports the Syrian regime, quotes Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as warning of instability following the Trump announcement. Surprisingly, Iran’s Tasnim and other media seemed disinterested in the announcement, with Tasnim headlining a story about rain on the Persian new year and terrorist threats in Pakistan.

Al-Ghad in Jordan mentioned the Golan announcement, but placed it alongside stories about sports and corruption. Not exactly earth-shattering coverage. Kuwait’s Al-Jarida didn’t even cover the announcement on its main homepage, preferring instead stories about the F-35 not being delivered to Turkey and details of oil prices. An article about how much the US values Kuwait’s alliance was top of the page.
Muslim world condemns Trump's Golan Heights decision
Syria condemned on Friday U.S. President Donald Trump's abrupt declaration that Washington will recognize Israel's sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, calling the statement "irresponsible."

A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement said that Trump's comments confirm "the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist entity," referring to Israel.

It added that Trump's statement won't change "the fact that the Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian."

"The Syrian nation is more determined to liberate this precious piece of Syrian national land through all available means," the statement said.

Trump's announcement the day before was a major shift in American policy.

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday that Trump's decision was "unacceptable."

"This illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it belongs to Syria," spokesman Bahram Qasemi said.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Trump's announcement was "completely beyond international law," adding that "The Arab League stands fully behind the Syrian right to its occupied land."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoฤŸan said on Friday that Trump's declaration has brought the region to the edge of a new crisis.
Golan Heights Druze members reject Trump's support of Israeli sovereignty
Druze Arabs and Israeli settlers on opposite sides of the dispute over US President Donald Trump's support for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights agree on one thing - it won't change matters on the ground.

The fertile hillsides of the Israeli-occupied Golan are scattered with villages inhabited by 22,000 Druze, an Arab minority who practice an offshoot of Islam. Many still have relatives on the Syrian side of the fortified boundary.

In Majdal Shams, older residents remember being part of Syria before Israel captured most of the heights in the 1967 Middle East war, occupying and later annexing it in 1981.

That annexation was not recognized internationally, and although they have lived under Israeli rule for more than half a century and shopfronts bear signs in both Arabic and Hebrew, many Druze still regard themselves as Syrian.

"Trump can make his statements and say he wants to make the Golan part of Israel. But we know this will stay Syrian land," said Sheikh Mahmoud Nazeeh, 70.

Amal Safadi, 54, a librarian, said: "Our blood is Syrian. If you take a blood test for a child, it will read Syrian."

Israel has given Druze residents the option of citizenship, but most rejected it.
Erekat: Trump's move will cause bloodshed
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat on Thursday blasted US President Donald Trump over his call for the US to officially recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

In a tweet, Erekat claimed the move would result in regional “destabilization and bloodshed”.

“Yesterday president Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Today for regional stability he wants to make sure that the occupied Syrian Golan Heights be under Israel’s sovereignty. What shall tomorrow bring? Certain destabilization and bloodshed in our region,” he wrote.
Dem Rep. Brown: The Way Trump Made Golan Heights Announcement Is 'Highly Inappropriate'
On Thursday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Situation Room,” Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD) criticized President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights by stating that “the manner in which he did it, was highly inappropriate.”

Brown said, “First of all, the manner in which he did it, I don’t know if it’s just a tweet to support the re-election of Prime Minister Netanyahu, or whether he is actually establishing a new direction in American policy. I think it’s wrong. For decades, American policy, and also, UN resolution has been calling for the withdrawal of Israel from those lands that are occupied as a result of force. I’ve been to the Golan Heights. I understand the strategic importance of that high ground, which overlooks much of Israel, but that cannot be done by a tweet. It’s got to be a policy decision that involves our allies, that involves Congress. What I would rather see, in terms of ultimately what happens with the Golan Heights, is that is part of a larger conversation of negotiating Middle East peace. The way that the president did it, the manner in which he did it, was highly inappropriate.”
EU says it will not follow Trump in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Golan
The European Union will not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s declaration that Washington would do so, a spokesperson for the EU said Friday morning.

“The European Union, in accordance with international law, does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it occupied since July 1967, including the Golan Heights, and does not consider them as part of Israeli territory,” Maya Kosyanchich, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said in a statement carried by several news outlets.

Her comments came as Trump’s move was condemned strongly by Syria and its allies Russia and Iran, as well as by the president of Turkey.
After Trump Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan, Syria Vows to Recover Territory
The Syrian regime vowed to recover the Golan Heights as its allies and enemies alike condemned US President Donald Trump on Friday for moving to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

Trump’s statement on Thursday marked a dramatic shift in US policy on the status of a disputed area that Israel took control of from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981 — a move not recognized internationally.

Against this backdrop of hostility toward the US move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Beirut on Friday after visiting Israel. He is expected to raise pressure on the Lebanese government to curb the influence of the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

The Golan declaration followed the US recognition in December 2017 of Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital.
Syria, Russia and Iran condemn US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan
Syria and its allies Russia and Iran on Friday condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which the Jewish state captured from its northern neighbor in the 1967 Six Day War.

Quoting an unnamed foreign ministry official, Syria’s official SANA news agency slammed the decision as “irresponsible” and a violation of United Nations resolutions concerning the territory’s status.

“Syria strongly condemns the irresponsible declaration of the American president, which again proves the US’s blind tendency in favor of the Zionist entity and its unreserved support for its aggression,” the official said. “The Syrian people remain committed to the liberation of the Golan Heights by all means at its disposal.”

The source added that Trump’s statement won’t change “the fact that the Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian.”

The comments were Syria’s first reaction to Trump’s surprise Thursday announcement, which has been met with largely muted responses by the international community.
Reaction to Trump’s declaration on Golan
AIPAC responded on Twitter: “Given current political and security circumstances in Syria, we have said it was inconceivable to imagine Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. @realDonaldTrump’s statement marks a dramatic change in American policy, and we appreciate his leadership on this issue.”

The Israel Policy Forum, a non-partisan organization supporting a two-state solution, welcomed President Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights but questioned the motivation and the timing, raising concerns of politicizing the move. “Coming so close to Israel’s elections, this appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to bolster Prime Minister Netanyahu’s re-election efforts rather than a move whose timing is dictated by pure policy considerations,” the organization wrote in a statement.

J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami echoed this statement, saying that the announcement is a “cynical move by Trump” and a “political gift” to Netanyahu. “Once again, this administration is playing dangerous partisan games with US foreign policy and the US-Israel relationship,” he said in a statement.

Americans for Peace Now further condemned the President for pushing for a policy shift, saying it opens the door for the Israeli government to call for annexing of the West Bank. “The US should not in any way help pave the way for annexing the West Bank,” the group said in a statement. “Annexation of the West Bank – whether all or part of it – could very well mean the death knell to the two-state solution and therefore to Israel’s future as a national homeland for the Jewish people and a liberal democracy.”
Trump tweet does little for Golan, but much for Netanyahu, critics charge
US President Donald Trump’s tweet on Thursday calling for the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights left many in Washington scratching their heads.

Trump’s statement was not a surprise. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been pressuring the Trump administration over the last several weeks to make such a declaration, which would bolster his re-election campaign back home. But it’s unclear what, if anything, Trump wants to accomplish beyond boosting the Israeli premier, which he insists he was not doing.

“I wouldn’t even know about that,” Trump told Fox Business when asked about helping Netanyahu politically.

Trump’s tweet is not itself recognition, and even a formal declaration by the State Department or Congress would be little more than symbolic, which some critics say could end up making a dangerous corner of the world even more unstable.

What the statement does do is give Netanyahu another diplomatic trophy to show Israeli voters as he seeks a fifth term in office. Beset by corruption scandals and facing a formidable challenge from the centrist Blue and White party, Netanyahu has touted his diplomatic successes and close relationship with Trump.

Few doubt Trump, who will host Netanyahu at the White House next week, prefers the Israeli premier over Blue and White’s Benny Gantz, with whom he has no known relationship and who was not invited to meet the president.
Israel MFA: Israel’s response to UNHRC Commission of Inquiry report
An initial review of the report gives rise to serious concerns about the factual and legal analysis conducted by the Commission, its methodologies and the clear evidence of political bias against Israel.​​

​On 18 March 2019 the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry published its report into the Gaza border events. An initial review of the report gives rise to serious concerns about the factual and legal analysis conducted by the Commission, its methodologies and the clear evidence of political bias against Israel. Many of these deficiencies were already clear in the initial report in February 2019. While Israel is still conducting an in depth review of the report, the following refers to some observations which are readily apparent.

The Commission ignores key facts regarding the Gaza border events, most importantly the clear and documented involvement of Hamas in the events from their start; the nature and extent of the violence and armed attacks occurring in these events; and the very real threat to Israel's civilian population and to IDF forces as a result of these events.

The Commission also errs in its legal analysis, failing to properly comprehend and assess Israel's legal positions nor properly contend with the reasoned decision of Israel's Supreme Court following a petition concerning these events. The Commission makes unfounded declarations of the law, relying on non-binding sources and vague assessments of "the evolution" of the law to make these determinations.

The Commission's methodology is also severely lacking, and evidences a clear inability or lack of desire to abide by internationally accepted fact-finding practices. Thus, for example, the Commission seemingly accepts unquestioningly information provided by Hamas and fails to properly conduct its own analysis of different sources and the events themselves. At the same time, the Commission ignores pertinent information published by Israel throughout 2018. Likewise, the Commission fails to properly assess Israel's systems for investigation of allegations of misconduct, and simply parrots unfounded claims made by other entities. The Commission displays utter disrespect to the legal system of the State of Israel.
Denmark, Austria, UK, Australia to oppose anti-Israel resolutions at UNHRC
In a clear moral victory for Israel, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Australia are expected to oppose all five anti-Israel resolutions that the United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to approve on Friday as it ends its 40th session in Geneva.

Austria is expected to oppose the most egregious of the five, the “accountability” resolution, which calls for an ams embargo against Israel.

Denmark and the UK have never taken such a stand before. All five resolutions are expected to pass, but the three votes against Agenda Item 7 resolutions is the clearest signal Israel has received to date that it has made inroads in its push to abolish the item.

A UNHRC mandate insists that a debate on alleged Israeli human rights abuses must be held at every council session under Agenda Item 7. No such mandate has been leveled against any other country.

Israel is also the only country in this session to have five resolutions leveled against it. The UNHRC also issued seven reports against Israel, again more than any other country.

23 to 9, UN rights council adopts report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza
The United Nations Humans Rights Council voted Friday to adopt a report accusing Israel of crimes against humanity for its handling of violent protests on the border with Gaza Strip.

Twenty-three countries voted to in favor of the measure, with nine opposing it. Another 14 countries abstained, while one was absent.

The countries that voted against adopting the report were Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Hungary, Togo and Ukraine.

The decision was condemned by the Foreign Ministry, which claimed that a “moral majority” did not vote in favor of the measure.

“Dictatorships and hypocrites vote in favor of the singling out, absurd pro Hamas pro terror report,” ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon wrote on Twitter.

“We will not cooperate with this mockery and will keep protecting Israel and Israelis,” he added.

UNRHC voted 25-16 against Israel’s 'occupation' of the Golan Heights
The United Nations Human Rights Council voted 26-16 to condemns Israel’s “occupation” of the Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967.

The prescheduled vote, came just one day after the US President Donald Trump said the United States would recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan. Israel annexed the Golan in 1981. Trump’s comments make the United States the first country to recognize that annexation.

Outside of the context of the UNHRC, The European Union and France made comments against Trump’s statement on the Golan.

At the UNHRC in Geneva on Friday, however, the resolution’s passage by a slim majority of the council’s 47 members, was reflective of the larger debate over anti-Israel bias and had little to do with the the issue of Israel’s annexation of the Golan.

Speaking on behalf of EU, Bulgarian Ambassador Deyana Kostadinova, said that the “EU continues to oppose Israel's annexation of the Syrian Golan, which is a clear violation of international law.”

The EU has in past years suggested changes that could be made to the text to make it more balanced.

Japanese Ambassador Ken Okaniwa said that the Golan Heights was “occupied territory” and “its annexation by Israel is unacceptable.” Its vote against the resolution, Okaniwa said, was a statement against Agenda Item 7.

CENSORED: UNHRC Cuts Off Hillel Neuer For Naming Regimes in Anti-Israeli Debate
The ignominious UN Human Rights Council cut me off for daring to list the regimes who spoke in their anti-Israeli Item 7 debate. In 15 years @UN_HRC, this is the worst censorship I have ever experienced. Even for UNHRC, it's a new low.

Concerned Sale of American Warplanes to Turkey Could Boost Russian Intel Ops
The Pentagon is urging caution surrounding a contested military deal with Turkey that would see it purchase several American-made F-35 warplanes that U.S. officials fear could be exploited for intelligence purposes by Russia, which has parallel military deals with Turkey.

The transfer of American F-35 jets to Turkey has emerged in recent months as a key sticking point in the United States's military alliance with Ankara, which has been strained due to the Turkish government's efforts to grow closer to Iran and Russia.

U.S. defense officials, speaking to the Washington Free Beacon, expressed concern about the arms deal, warning that Turkey's Russian allies could exploit the F-35s advanced computer systems by hooking them into the Moscow-made S-400 missile defense systems, which Turkey also operates.

The competing military interests have complicated the arms deal and are prompting the U.S. defense establishment to put the breaks on the F-35 transfer as it works to pull Turkey away from regimes like Russia and Iran.

"The S-400 is at its core computer, and the F-35 is, on the base level, an advanced computer," Eric Pahon, a Defense Department spokesman, told the Free Beacon. "You don't hook your computer up to an adversary's computer."
German neo-Nazi politician meets Hezbollah, supports terror against Israel
A delegation of far-right extremist European politicians, including a German neo-Nazi leader, met with Hezbollah’s foreign affairs chief Ammar Al-Moussawi in Beirut to express support for the Lebanese terrorist organization’s fight against the Jewish state.

The Hezbollah-controlled television station Al-Manar broadcasted a report on March 16, according to an article on the website of The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Udo Voigt, a member of Germany’s neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) party, told Hezbollah, "We see that you are opposing the American approach, which strives to destroy societies in Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq, as well as in Syria. America's actions have caused millions to become refugees in Europe, in order to destroy our societies, as well, and I hope that we will remain united against this American model."

The right-wing extremist party, Alliance for Freedom and Peace, organized the delegation to Beirut that included members of German parliament and members of the European parliament from Britain, Italy, Belgium and Croatia.

MEMRI: Praise, Admiration In Palestinian Authority, Jordan For Palestinian Terrorist Who Killed Israelis In West Bank
Praise For Abu Laila In The Jordanian Press

The Jordanian press also featured praise for Abu Laila, along with articles describing his "unique heroism."

Writer In Jordanian Government Daily Al-Rai: The Palestinian Mother Suckled Her Son On Milk Mixed With Gunpowder And Martyrdom
On March 21, 2019, journalist 'Abd Al-Hadi Raji Al-Majali, who often writes in praise of terrorists,[12] wrote in the government daily Al-Rai in praise of Abu Laila's mother: "I would like to ask Omar Abu Laila's mother: Was he born like all children, or did he leave your womb with a knife in his hand? I want to ask you – On what did you suckle him? I do not think he suckled ordinary milk. It seems that the Palestinian breast mixes milk with gunpowder and martyrdom. I doubt that this martyr was suckled on milk. He suckled something else, that made him a lion, not ordinary...

"This child defeated Israel by himself; he waged a battle with an entire army and defeated it. Omar constituted an army on his own. I think that he was no ordinary child at all...

"Apparently, Palestinian mothers are different. Oh Umm Omar, what are your fingertips made of?... Tell the people that the mothers in Palestine do not [give just] milk and embraces – they also [give] rifles and steadfastness, and blood created to flow [out] generously on the land that is the purest and most supreme..."[13]

Al-Ghad Columnist: A "Legendary Young Man" Who, With His Heroism, Set An Arab Example
On March 20, 2019, the major Jordanian daily Al-Ghad posted on its website an article on Abu Laila's death titled "Omar Abu Laila in the Heart of the Jordanians – An Exceptional Hero Who Became a Martyr." The article reviewed expressions of admiration for Abu Laila by Jordanians on social media following his death.[14]

The following day, Majed Toba wrote in his column in Al-Ghad about the anniversary of the battle of Karama and linked the heroes of that battle to Abu Laila: "The legendary young man Omar Abu Laila, the most recent of Palestine's martyrs... was martyred after killing two members of the occupying gang in the West Bank and leaving others wounded, licking their wounds. With his heroism, he set an Arab example and fanned the longing of the Arabs – from the [Atlantic] Ocean to the [Persian] Gulf – for unity of blood and destiny... around their main issue [the Palestinian cause] and their wound glowing in its redness. There is nothing like Palestine to unify the ummah, and there is nothing like it to melt all the ideological, political, and regional disputes, schisms, and rantings... Like Omar [Abu Laila], the martyrs [of Karama too] were mythological heroes..."[15]

Thousands riot on Gaza border, fire balloon launched into Israeli kibbutz
Several thousand Palestinians were protesting along the Gaza Strip border on Friday, throwing explosive devices and rocks at soldiers who were responding with tear gas and occasional live fire. Palestinians said two people were killed.

Also Friday, a balloon carrying an incendiary device launched from Gaza set a blaze between homes in the nearby Israeli kibbutz of Nir Am. The fire was extinguished and there were no reports of injuries. Another blaze was started near Kibbutz Be’eri.

In riots along the barrier, Palestinians tried to destroy the border fence in several places, but were pushed back by the IDF. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said two Palestinians, an 18-year-old and a 29-year-old, were killed by live fire and 55 wounded.

On Thursday, an Israeli tank struck a Hamas military post in the southern Gaza Strip, hours after an airborne explosive device apparently launched from the Palestinian enclave exploded in Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces said the tank strike was in response to “exceptional” violent rioting by Palestinians along the border fence, as well as the launching of incendiary balloons and explosive devices toward Israel throughout the day.
As Economic Rallies Continue in Gaza, Poll Finds Decreased Support for Hamas Leader
According to a poll by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas would win a presidential race against Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh if votes were held today.

The survey, published on Tuesday, shows a drop in support for Haniyeh, who enjoyed 49 percent support in a December 2018 poll, as opposed to the 41 percent he received on Tuesday.

In that poll, 42 percent of those surveyed said they would support Abbas—9 percent less than the 51 percent who said they would vote for him in the most current survey.

The polls were taken after Hamas was reported to be violently suppressing protests in Gaza against the increased cost of living, high unemployment rates and economic distress.

The poll also found that 48 percent of Palestinians favor a two-state solution while 50 percent oppose. In the December poll, 55 percent said that they rejected a two-state solution.

The most recent poll was taken between March 13-16 in Gaza, Judea and Samaria at 127 locations, surveying 1,270 people.
Israel shells Hamas post after explosion of balloon-borne bomb from Gaza
Have Palestinians Had Enough of Hamas?

City Hall turns blind eye to hateful Al Quds Day rally
For the past two years, city of Toronto officials and the Toronto police have permitted an anti-Israel hatefest to take place right under their noses in a city park and along University Ave.

To make the absurdity of the city’s political foot-dragging worse, the Al Quds Day rally took place — for two years in a row — illegally in the park, located to the north of Queen’s Park.

After two years of excuses — in response to two requests from Cllr. James Pasternak — another report that says nothing and offers to do nothing has been placed on the agenda of Thursday’s executive committee.

It was penned by Omo Akintan, a lawyer and executive director of the city’s people, equity and human rights section who made $174,423.00 last year.

My goodness, City Hall’s highly-paid bureaucrats have no shame.
Iranian Convert Refused Asylum By UK Because Christianity Is Too Violent
An Iranian man applying for asylum to the U.K. had his application denied because he converted from Islam to Christianity.

According to a report from The Times, U.K. immigration officials wrote back to the man after he sent in his applications, explaining why they were discriminating against him. Immigration officials cited biblical passages from the books of Revelation and Leviticus.

The Times reports:
Immigration officials wrote to the man citing violent passages from the Bible to prove their point. They said that the Book of Revelation was “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence.”

According to the report, the immigration officials were condemned by the Church of England for their “lack of religious literacy.”

Iran is one of the most hostile countries in the world toward Christians. Last year, Iran arrested more than 100 Christians shortly before Christmas as the faithful were celebrating the birth of Jesus.

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