Pence to arrive in Israel on Sunday night

Vice president to travel from Jordan to Israel Sunday; Pence scheduled to meet with Netanyahu and Rivlin, as well as speak before Knesset and visit to Kotel and Yad Vashem; PA bans communication with Pence.

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United States Vice President Mike Pence will arrive in Israel Sunday as part of his Middle East Tour.

Pence began his Middle East tour in Egypt, meeting with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Saturday, their meeting centered on bilateral ties, regional developments and combatting terrorism, Pence affirming that the United States “stand shoulder to shoulder with you in Egypt in the fight against terrorism.”

Following his time in Egypt, Pence traveled to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah in Amman.

The vice president is expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday night for three days. He will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday, followed by a speech before Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Pence is scheduled to then visit Yad VaShem, Israel’s national Holocaust museum, followed by visiting the Kotel (Western Wall).

Pence will meet with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin before returning to the United States.

The Palestinian Authority refuses to meet with Pence following President Trump’s recognition of Israel. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has banned Palestinian officials from communication with the Trump Administration as they are “no longer a mediator in the peace process”.

The Palestinians continue their efforts at international organizations, mainly the UN, in delegitimizing the State of Israel while gaining support from the global community for statehood. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate on Jerusalem, call for the return to 1967 borders and halt of all settlement growth. The Palestinian Authority is also searching for a new mediator for the peace process, holding meetings with Russian and Chinese parties in the past month.

 

 

 

Photo: VP Pence, Wikimedia Commons, 2017

Trump Administration considering embassy move to Jerusalem in 2019

US State Department reports Trump Administration considering use of consular building in Jerusalem to expedite embassy move; Netanyahu’s office: the prime minister believes that the US is considering interim measures that could result in an embassy opening much faster.

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The Trump Administration intends to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2019.

According to a senior official at the State Department, the United States is considering using an existing consular building in West Jerusalem in order to expedite the move to 2019. The reports claim the building would be used as an interim embassy while a new embassy is built.

The consular building has been in use by the United States since 1948 and is located in Arnona, West Jerusalem.

US Ambassador David Friedman will also reportedly move his office to the building to work from Jerusalem while the new embassy is constructed.

Media reports on the timeframe for the embassy surfaced after Prime Minister Netanyahu stated midweek that the embassy move might happen in the “span of year”. Addressing reporters in India, the prime minister stated, “My estimation is that the U.S. embassy move will happen faster than we think, within a year from now. That’s my educated guess.”

President Trump responded to questions from reports following Netanyahu’s remarks, announcing that the embassy move would not move by the end of the year, and that the United States was looking at other options. He stated, “By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios. I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no.”

He also addressed the significant costs of constructing a new embassy, criticizing the recent costs of the new US embassy in London.

Following his remarks, reports surfaced that the United States was considering a possible interim embassy in Jerusalem, the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu releasing the statement “the construction of a new embassy is something that takes years, but the prime minister believes that the US is considering interim measures that could result in an embassy opening much faster.”

President Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken a different stance on the embassy move’s timeline, claiming that the embassy move would happen closer to the end of President Trump’s term. He recently stated that the embassy would be relocated “Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious.”

 

 

Photo: Jerusalem, Wikimedia Commons, 2017

Netanyahu: I want young Indians to know that Israel wants to form partnerships with you.

PM continues India tour, holding bilateral meetings; Numerous agreements signed in agriculture, security, trade and innovation; Netanyahu: Together, you will get there a lot quicker and also get a lot further.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu is midway through his India tour, holding numerous meetings with Indian businesspeople and political officials, signing agreements and memorandums of understanding in the fields of security, cyber security, agriculture, education, trade, innovation and much more.

The prime minister has referred to Israeli-India bilateral cooperation and cooperation as “match made in heaven”, bilateral trade between India and Israel increasing to over $5 billion last year, with numerous developments and progress underway.

Speaking at the iCreate Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology, the prime minister highlighted the promising future between Israel and India, specifically in the areas of cooperation and trade. He stated that both Prime Minister Modi to Israel this past summer, and his current visit to India as the “mark a new era of Israel-India cooperation,” highlighting cooperation in technology and innovation.

Netanyahu then spoke of innovation funds and programs created since Modi’s visit to Israel and during his tour, stating “Half a year ago we launched the Israel-India innovation dream. The idea was simple: unite brilliant young Indians and brilliant young Israelis to help solve pressing global problems.” He reported that over 600 companies for the incubator, and that “Several dozen were chosen, but this is just a small sample of the scope of our cooperation.”

Addressing younger Indians and Israelis, and the bright future of bilateral ties and increased business and cooperation, the prime minister emphasized “I want young Indians to know that Israel wants to form partnerships with you in technology, in water, in agriculture, in cyber, in drones, in health, in life sciences, in every field we are your partners. I want young Israelis to come to India not just with a backpack, but with a laptop. This is a century of boundless potential and that’s why I’ve come here, to encourage young innovators from our two countries to work together.”

Earlier this week, both Netanyahu and Modi signed agreements in energy, cinema coproduction, aviation, cyber security and a mutual investment fund of $40 million. Reports claim that both countries are seeking a direct flight route from Israel to India, reports claiming that Saudi Arabia may consider allowing Israeli aircrafts to fly over its region, allowing for shorter flights.

Netanyahu underlined India and Israel’s capabilities to innovate together when addressing Indian business leaders midweek, stating, “The future belongs to those who innovate. We in Israel are seizing the future. You in India are seizing the future. Together, you will get there a lot quicker and also get a lot further. Innovation doesn’t happen by itself. Some of it does. But it can be nurtured, it can encouraged. It also can be discouraged. The job of governments like that of Prime Minister Modi and my own government is to facilitate your competitive advantages and ability to innovate.”

 

 

Photo: PM Netanyahu, Wikimedia Commons, 2017.

United States withholds $65 million in funds for UNWRA

US State Department confirms it will withhold more than half of funds for 2018; US calls on other countries to “burden share”; PLO: Act is Trump Administration complicity with the Israeli occupation.

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The United States confirmed it is withholding $65 million in aid to the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) for 2018.

The US State Department confirmed it would withhold half of its designated $125 million for 2018, calling on other nations to contribute more to the organization.

Spokeswoman for the State Department, Heather Nauert, addressed the development during a press briefing on Tuesday, confirming “We committed a voluntary contribution of $60 million for 2018 so far. This will be divided into tranches. Sixty million is what we have indicated as the first available tranche.” She explained that the funds would be used “to sustain schools and health services to ensure that teachers and also health care providers can be paid their salaries,” as well as in order to assure programs would not be shut down given lack of funds.

She confirmed that the $65 million “will be held for future consideration,” clarifying that “It’s money that’s being frozen at this time. It’s not being canceled. It’s just being held for future consideration.”

Nauert confirmed that the United States will be closely monitoring the UNRWA, emphasizing that the Trump Administration wants to “see some revisions made in how UNRWA operates,” and to assure “that the money is best spent and best spent so that people can get the services, whether it’s school or the health care services, that they need.”

She reiterated President Trump and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that withholding of funds is “not aimed at punishing anyone. The United States Government and the Trump Administration believe that there should be more so-called burden sharing to go around.”

The United States gave the UNRWA a total of $368,429,712 in 2016, President Trump promising to cut American foreign aid to countries that “vote against us” at the UN General Assembly special emergency session in December.

He announced at the time “They [UN] take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. People are tired of the United States- people that live here, our great citizens that love this country- they’re tired of this country being taken advantage of, and we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”

A senior member of the PLO, Hanan Ashrawi, accused the Trump Administration of again proving its “complicity with the Israeli occupation,” accusing the US government of “targeting the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people and depriving refugees of the right to education, health, shelter and a dignified life.”

 

 

 

Photo: UN, Wikimedia, 2017

PLO votes to suspend its recognition of Israel

Following Abbas’s call to “revise all the agreements signed between the PLO and Israel”,PLO council votes to suspend recognition of Israel; Demands Israel halt settlements, cancel annexation of Jerusalem and return to 1967 borders.

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The Palestinian Central Council voted to suspend recognition of Israel as the Palestinians continue their efforts against the Israel and the United States.

The council of the PLO announced on Monday from Ramallah that it would not only suspend its recognition of Israel, but would cut ties until Israel halts all settlement activity, returns to 1967 borders, cancels its “annexation of east Jerusalem” and recognizes the “State of Palestine”.

The PLO first recognized Israel in 1993 in the “Letter of Mutual Recognition” between then Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and PLO head Yasser Arafat. The PLO’s vote Monday suspends that recognition, yet calls on Israel to recognize a Palestinian state.

The announcement is part of consistent efforts and action by the Palestinians to delegitimize the State of Israel and “reclaim” Jerusalem following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of last year.

The PLO’s actions follow a speech by Abbas over the weekend, when the Palestinian Authority head called on Arabs and Muslims to focus on Jerusalem, which he claimed was “was taken off the table by a tweet from Mr. Trump”, emphasizing that “there is nothing more important than Jerusalem.” He called to “revise all the agreements signed between the PLO and Israel because Israel has brought these agreements to a dead end.”

Abbas claimed in his speech over the weekend that “Politically, Jerusalem is our capital; in our religion, it is our capital; geographically, it is our capital… We’re done. Here we stay. We will not make the mistakes of the past, of 1948 and 1967, again. Jerusalem and al-Aqsa, of which Mohammad spoke, are one of the holiest sites after Mecca and Medina.”

 

Photo: Abbas, Wikimedia, 2017

Netanyahu to Modi: Thank you for believing in Israel the way we believe in India.

PM’s attend business and economic events, announce $40 million development fund; In address, Netanyahu highlights Indian-Israeli relations and the promising future in trade and cooperation.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu finished his first day of his India tour, meeting with Prime Minister Modi, giving a speech at the India-Israel Business Summit attended by hundreds of business people from both Israel and India.

During his address at the summit, praising Modi for “catapulting” India and for having “revolutionized the relationship between Israel and India”. Modi was India’s first sitting head of state to visit Israel in the summer of 2017.

On Israel-India relations, Netanyahu stated during his address “We are ushering today a new era in our relations. We’ve had diplomatic relations for 25 years, but something different is happening now because of your leadership and because of our partnership. There are three things that bind our countries together: The first is that we have an ancient past. The second is that we have a vibrant present. And the third is that we are seizing together a promising future.”

On the similarities between Indian and Jewish/Israel culture, he stated, “We are proud of our past, our rich histories, our peoples’ contributions to human civilization in language, in literature, in mathematics and medicine, in philosophy and faith. The greatest texts that human beings produced are in Sanskrit and in Hebrew. None greater and none more enduring and we never forget this.”

Netanyahu, who had attended a ceremony dedicated to Indian soldiers who fell liberating Haifa during World War I upon arriving in New Delhi Sunday, addressed the gesture, saying “just a century ago, brave Indian soldiers played a vital role in the liberation of the State of Israel and the land of Israel. This led to our independence. And yesterday I was again deeply moved as we paid tribute to these brave Indian fighters and commanders who gave their lives in that historic fight. We honor their memory as you mark today Indian Army Day. We are proud of our present, of our resilient democracies.”

The prime minister then spoke of Israel’s capabilities and innovation, speaking on the Jewish state’s ability to “achieve more with less”, in relation to India’s creativity, ingenuity and talent, Netanyahu reiterating “I think that when we join our respective talents together we can achieve tremendous things for our people.”

Netanyahu referred to Modi’s trip to Israel where they “walked shoeless along the Mediterranean shore, we drank sea water that was purified before our eyes using technology that will save untold lives.” He added “India and Israel are working together to provide clean water, to increase crop yields, to keep our people safe from terrorism and other challenges to the future we both seek.”

He then addressed cooperation and trade, speaking about agreements, both current and future, stating “We’re talking about cooperation in science and technology in every field and we’re talking about cooperation in defense so that our people are always safe and always secure.”

Following the summit, Modi and Netanyahu attended an economic event, both leaders announcing a $40 million Israeli-Indian development fund, the fund to “leverage both countries’ opportunities for joint projects the products of which will be marketed both locally and globally.”

 

 

 

Photo: Netanyahu in India Monday, screenshot, 2018