Posts tagged Israel
What a week it has been for Jerusalem
The President of the United States arrived, transformed the King David Hotel into his (and his entourage’s) home away from home, and then began a series of meetings and visits – to the official residences of President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, to the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, to the Jerusalem Convention Center, to Mount Herzl, Yad Vashem, and to the grave of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. All of these sites are in Jerusalem. But are they in Israel?
According to the U.S. State Department they are not. The State Department refuses to recognize Jerusalem as being in Israel and says that the city’s status must be determined in future peace negotiations.
My father, Nathan Lewin, and I were in court this week – the day before President Obama arrived in the Middle East – on a case that concerns this very issue. The case is Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, and it involves the right of a Jerusalem-born American citizen to self-identify as born in “Israel” on his or her U.S. passport and birth certificate.
The general rule for American citizens born abroad is that their U.S. passports list their country of birth as their place of birth. So American citizens born in Paris, have “France” listed as their place of birth on their passports. Citizens born in Rome list “Italy.” Those born in Tel Aviv or Haifa list “Israel.” But because the U.S. does not recognize Jerusalem as being in Israel, the State Department lists the city – “Jerusalem” – instead of the country as the place of birth for Jerusalem-born American citizens.
Most people do not know that the State Department permits American citizens who wish to remove any reference to “Israel” from their passports to do so. For example, American citizens born in Tel Aviv or in Haifa may choose to list their place of birth as “Tel Aviv” or “Haifa” instead of “Israel” if they are offended by having “Israel” listed on their passports. The U.S. also permits “West Bank,” “Gaza Strip,” and “Palestine” (for those born before 1948) to be listed as “place of birth” on a U.S. passport. The State Department refuses to be equally accommodating to individual convictions, however, when it prohibits American citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Israel” as their place of birth.
In 2002, Congress passed a law that directed the Secretary of State to record the birthplace of American citizens born in Jerusalem as “Israel” on the U.S. passports and birth certificates of those who so request. Since the bill’s enactment, the Executive Branch has refused to enforce the law, claiming that to do so would infringe on the President’s authority to “recognize foreign sovereigns.”
Our client, Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, was born in October 2002 in Shaare Zedek hospital (just a few weeks after the law was enacted). His parents invoked the new statute and asked that his place of birth be listed as “Israel.” The State Department refused because it claimed that Congress’ law was unconstitutional, and it listed his place of birth as “Jerusalem.” Zivotofsky then became our firm’s youngest pro bono client when he (and his parents) sued in September 2003 to compel the State Department to comply with the law. Read the rest of the story at Brandeis Center
“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” Joel 3:2
RAMALLAH, West Bank (CBS/AP) — President Obama called for a free and independent Palestinian state while visiting the West Bank with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas Thursday.
“Palestinians deserve a state of their own,” Obama said during a joint news conferencewith Abbas in Ramallah.
Obama believes that a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians is possible.
“If we can get direct negotiations started again I believe that the shape of a potential deal is there,” Obama said.
Obama said he told Israeli officials that the White House does not consider settlement activity in the West Bank to be appropriate or constructive. He says Palestinians should not have to confront the daily indignities that come with occupation.
A new poll finds 36 percent of the 500 Israelis who were surveyed believe the president is more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel, The Jerusalem Post reports. By comparison, 26 percent said Obama was more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian.
Obama arrived in Israel Wednesday to kick-off his Mideast swing. The president will also visit Jordan before heading back to the White House. source – CBS News
TEL AVIV – The White House has released what it says is a map of Israel. The only problem is that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights are missing.
An Obama administration video highlighting the president’s plans for his Mideast trip depicts Jerusalem, the Golan and the West Bank – also known as Judea and Samaria – as non-Israeli territory.
The Washington Free Beacon, which first reported the discrepancies, noted the video shows the Golan Heights as part of Syria; Jerusalem is depicted as part of the West Bank; and northern Israel is shown as part of Lebanon. WND reported in August 2012 when the White House refused to name the capital of Israel – not once, but twice – as the two most senior White House correspondents cornered Obama’s press secretary, doggedly questioning him on whether the Obama administration considered Jerusalem or Tel Aviv to be the capital of the Jewish state.
The itinerary on the White House website further implies that Jerusalem is not Israel’s capital or even part of Israel, reported the Free Beacon. Obama’s schedule lists two stops in “Tel Aviv, Israel” and one in “Amman, Jordan,” while his trip to Israel’s capital city is identified as taking place only in “Jerusalem.”
The itinerary is consistent with information first released by WND disclosing Obama’s planned visit already has secured Israeli and Palestinian pledges to restart so-called land-for-peace talks that aim to see Israel relinquish the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, according to informed Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials.
The officials disclosed the Obama administration told both sides the talks would be aimed at creating a Palestinian state in what is known as the 1967 borders, meaning an Israeli retreat from some of the strategic West Bank and possibly some eastern sections of Jerusalem.
According to the informed officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed that once the talks begin, there will be a silent, undeclared freeze on all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem with the exception of what are known as main blocs – Maale Adumin, Ariel and Gush Etzion.
The officials said the White House was adamant that Israeli talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas begin regardless of the position of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Still, the U.S. is supporting Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey in back-door efforts to broker a national unity deal between Abbas and Hamas during the same time period that the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are set to take place, the officials said.
There is already close coordination between the White House and members of Netanyahu’s government coalition, who are known to be sympathetic to creating a Palestinian state, primarily former opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
Further, WND was told that Livni and former Minister Haim Ramon are currently coordinating the renewal of talks with the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat.
Regarding Jerusalem, the informed Israeli and Palestinian officials said the White House has been nonspecific other than to champion talks based on what is known as the Clinton parameters.
The formula, pushed by President Bill Clinton in the Camp David talks in 2000, called for Jewish areas of Jerusalem to remain Israeli while the Palestinians get sovereignty over neighborhoods that are largely Arab.
The informed officials, meanwhile, said the White House expects the issue of Jerusalem to be a key impediment to reaching a deal and is therefore discussing the formation of an international committee to help smooth the process.
Previous Israeli-Palestinian talks saw the U.S. naming an envoy meant to broker between the two sides. According to the officials speaking to WND, the White House has expressed interest in naming an envoy but has doubts about whether such a point man will be successful. source – WND
Major threat to Israel
For the first time in many years, voices in the US administration were criticizing the Israeli defense forces for under-reacting and, in this case, also underestimating the chemical weapons threat emanating from Syria and neglecting to pursue counter-measures. This is what visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak heard when he met US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon Tuesday, March 5, as the new defense secretary’s first foreign visitor.
Debkafile’s military and Washington sources disclose that Barak was berated for “inadequate and cursory” military preparations which failed to take into account that a chemical attack on Israel would make it necessary for the IDF to enter Syria – most likely for an offensive operation coordinated against the common threat with the Turkish and Jordanian armies.
Present at the meeting between Hagel and Barak were also Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Our sources add that the conversation ranged over the Syrian crisis with no reference to a nuclear Iran.
From the defense secretary, Barak heard intelligence estimates confirmed for the first time by an American official that Hizballah has been able to procure a quantity of chemical weapons from Syria – a development which Israel’s leaders have vowed to prevent.
The proliferation of chemical weapons to HIzballah and other armed bands on Israel’s borders was apparently in the mind of Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, UN Security Council president for March, when he cautioned Monday that trouble was building up between Israel and Syria. source – DEBKA
State of Palestine
Cyprus has given the “state of Palestine” an embassy, even though it still says that a “Palestinian state” needs to be established through negotiations with Israel. AFP reported Cyprus said on Friday it has upgraded its relations with the Palestinian Authority to full diplomatic mission status, one of just eight European Union countries to do so.
The decision was announced by the Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis during an official visit by the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.
“I informed my Palestinian counterpart of the decision of the government to upgrade the status of the Palestinian diplomatic representation in Cyprus from that of a Diplomatic Mission to that of an Embassy of the State of Palestine,” Marcoullis told reporters, according to AFP.
She said that this “important decision” was in line with the recognition of a Palestinian state in 1988 by Cyprus, and follows seven other EU members that have recognized a Palestinian State — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
A Cyprus Representation Office opened in Ramallah in 2009.
Malki said the decision sent a “very important message,” adding, “We hope this courageous step taken by Cyprus will be taken by others in the European Union.”
The PA’s ambassador to Nicosia, Walid Al-Hassan, told AFP, “Now we have diplomatic representation in Cyprus like any other country in the world. This applies to our legal situation and the immunity which accompanies diplomatic status.”
On November 29, Cyprus also voted in favor of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for upgraded UN General Assembly status.
“All official correspondence will now be done in the name of the State of Palestine. Cyprus is the first European state to upgrade Palestinian status since the UN vote,” Hassan told AFP.
Marcoullis said Cyprus expressed “full support” for resolving aspirations for Palestinian statehood and sovereignty and those of Israel for security, through a comprehensive negotiated peace based on a two-state solution.
Nicosia backs an enhanced EU role in efforts for renewed and substantial peace efforts in 2013.
In the months that have passed since the UN vote, Abbas has taken several steps to officially name the areas he controls “the State of Palestine”. He first ordered all of the PA’s institutions to stop using the term ”Palestinian National Authority” on official documents and replace it with the term ‘the State of Palestine’.
Abbas then issued new guidelines ordering the PA government to re-issue passports,identity cards, registration documents, vehicle licenses, driver’s licenses, stamps and postmarks.
Abbas’s new guidelines dictate that a new emblem which reads “the State of Palestine” be placed on all re-issued documents. The PA’s Minister of Communication said last month that the first stamp to carry the name “State of Palestine” will be issued for the benefit of PA diplomatic officesabroad. source – Israel National News
Iran is nuclear because Obama has allowed them to get there
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that while Iran is already a nuclear state, it has no intention of attacking Israel. Ahmadinejad was interviewed on the eve of his visit to Cairo, where he will attend the 12th Islamic Summit Conference, due to open there on Wednesday.
Before his trip, he gave a long interview to the editor-in-chief of Egypt‘s newspaper Al-Ahram. Although Al-Ahram ran the entire interview only in its print edition, excerpts appeared on Egyptian websites.
Ahmadinejad said the world must now treat Iran as a nuclear country. “They want Iran to go back to what it was in the past, but they won’t succeed. They assume we’ll give in to pressure; such thoughts are misguided. We’re already an industrial and nuclear country, a country that has conquered space. For years we have been thinking about sending a human being into space, and we will do that, with Allah’s help. We must ensure development and growth and bring them to pass, and the world must acknowledge our progress,” he said, adding that the best solution was cooperation with Iran.
Mentioning the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, Ahmadinejad said that while it might be easy to launch missiles or attack using fighter jets, Iran’s response and defense capability were important in this context.
He reiterated that the Zionists were trying to take over the foci of power and wealth throughout the world. “They want to attack Iran, but we’re not preparing any attack against them because the purpose of our program is defense.”
During the interview, Ahmadinejad condemned what he described as massacres committed by Israel. “For us, supporting the Palestinian people is a matter of human importance in every sense. The Palestinians must receive their rights, and the Zionists are moving closer and closer toward the edge.”
He added that his country was opposed to any outside military intervention in Syria, saying that the solution to the crisis there was dialogue between all the Syrian groups. source – Haaretz
The United Nations says Israel must withdraw all of its citizens from the regions of Judea and Samaria. The recommendation came in a report issued Thursday by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has a history of passing numerous biased resolutions condemning Israel for various alleged “crimes” each year.
“Israel must, in compliance with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” the report said in part. “It must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Israel”s Foreign Ministry responded in a fiery statement immediately to the report, which claimed that Jewish settlement activity only “hampers peace efforts.”
In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, “The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systemically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel.
“This latest report is yet another reminder of that,” he added.
At least half a million Israelis live in Judea, Samaria and areas of Jerusalem restored to the capital during the 1967 Six Day War. source – Arutz Sheva