Israel’s Security Cabinet approves first new settlement in Judea and Samaria in 2 decades

Settlement to be community for evicted Amona residents; Palestinian Authority and United Nations condemn settlement, claims it hinders peace

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Israel’s Security Cabinet unanimously voted to establish a new settlement in Judea and Samaria, the first new settlement to be created in over two decades

The vote was made on Thursday and approved the construction of the new settlement in the Shiloh Valley. The settlement is to be created for some 40 families that were former residents of Amona, a West Bank settlement evicted in February of this year.

The cabinet also announced that over 200 acres of West Bank territory would become state land and will be used for existing settlement’s growth and also approved the construction of 2,000 settlement homes.

Amona was a settlement created in the 1990’s and was deemed illegal by Israel’s High Court in 2006. In February, residents of Amona were evicted after Prime Minister Netanyahu promised a new settlement in December for the residents.

While the international community condemned the approval of the settlement, the Trump Administration has reportedly supported it as Prime Minister Netanyahu “made a commitment to the Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations, and has consistently indicated that he intended to move forward with this plan,” according to a White House official.

The White House also stated on Friday morning “While the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance peace.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the settlement, stating to reporters on Thursday “I had promised from the start that I would create a new settlement. It seems to me that I made that commitment in December and I will keep today.” His Office released the statement “Israel is taking into account President Trump’s position and will therefore take significant steps to scale back construction beyond the boundaries of existing communities and will exercise restraint.”

The Palestinian Authority claimed the settlement will hinder peace and contributes to Israel’s “apartheid regime”, a spokesman for the PA stating, “With these actions Israel has shown that it aims to reinforce the odious Israeli occupation.” It called on the international community to take action against the State of Israel.

The United Nations condemned the settlement, a spokesman for Secretary General Antonio Guterres stating Friday “The Secretary General has consistently stressed that there is no Plan B for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security. He condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution.”

 

 

United States Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, sworn into office

VP Pence swears Friedman into office; Friedman: I’m equally proud to say that this is the first time in American history that the U.S. Ambassador to Israel was the first ambassador approved by the Senate and given the Oath of Office.

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The United States Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was sworn into office by Vice President Pence in Washington D.C. Wednesday evening. He is the United States’ 20th ambassador to Israel.

Friedman’s appointment was approved by a Senate vote last week of 52-46.

Pence, speaking during the ceremony stated “One of the clearest signs of the President’s commitment to the state of Israel and to its people is in his choice of David Friedman as America’s Ambassador to Israel. This is a critical time for our two nations and our peoples. The challenges we face are many, but our resolve to overcome them has never been stronger… Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States will always be a faithful friend to the Jewish State of Israel.”

Friedman thanked President Trump, stating he was “humbled by the trust he has placed in me,” vowing to “to do everything I can to justify his faith and confidence in my abilities”.

He went on to state, “I’m very proud to say that my nomination represents the first time in American history that the US Ambassador to Israel was nominated by the President as early as the first day of his presidency,” Friedman nominated on Trump’s inauguration day. He then stayed “I’m equally proud to say that this is the first time in American history that the U.S. Ambassador to Israel was the first ambassador approved by the Senate and given the Oath of Office. Those facts speak volumes about how highly the Trump-Pence administration prioritizes our unbreakable bond with the State of Israel.”

Friedman stated he looks forward to working with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “to promote peace and stability in the Middle East”.

Upon selecting Friedman to be the United States envoy to Israel, Trump released the following statement: The bond between Israel and the United States runs deep, and I will ensure there is no daylight between us when I’m president. As the United States’ ambassador to Israel, David Friedman will maintain the special relationship between our two countries. He has been a long-time friend and trusted advisor to me. His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East. Nothing is more critical than protecting the security of our citizens at home and abroad.

 

Abbas: Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 with no amendments only option for peace

During Arab League Summit, PA does not deliver new peace initiative despite reports, insists on 2002 Arab Peace Initiative with no amendments; King Abdullah II of Jordan claims Israeli settlement growth ruining option for two-state solution

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Speaking at the 28th Arab League Summit in Amman Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the Arab Peace Initiative is the only resolution the Palestinian will accept for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Arab League Summit took place in Amman, Jordan and was attended by leaders and representatives from 21 Arab states. The Arab League announced last week that the Palestinian Authority would introduce a revised “peace plan” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last week, this not occurring.

Instead, Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority would not accept any suggested amendments to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was created in 2002, stating, “We [the Palestinians] want it to be implemented as it was in 2002, without amendments.” He also demanded Britain apologize for the Balfour Declaration and claimed Israeli settlement growth as leading to one state and an ongoing apartheid.

The Arab Peace Initiative was written in 2002 during the Arab League Summit in Beirut. Yasser Arafat governed the Palestinian Authority at the time. The plan offered a peace agreement with Israel if Israel withdraws to 1967 borders as well withdraw from the Golan Height, recognize a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a final solution under the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 for Palestinian refugees.

Abbas’s remarks come following his meeting with United States President Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt on Tuesday. Abbas stated following his meeting that the Palestinians are “ready and willing to cooperate with President Trump to achieve a just, sustainable peace based on the principles of the international community,” contrary to his actions at the Arab League Summit Wednesday.

Also during the Summit, Jordanian King Abdullah II claimed that Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank “undermines” any chance of peace, stating, “There can be no peace nor stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause- the core issue of the Middle East-based on the two-state solution.”

 

Hamas announces it has built advanced rockets

Hamas threatens Israel following assassination of Hamas terrorist Mazen Faqha; Announces it has developed advanced short-range rockets

A smoke trail is seen as a rocket is launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel

 

Hamas has developed a more advanced short-range rocket capable of reaching 10 kilometers with stronger explosion capabilities.

The terrorist organization boasted of its missiles while also threatening the State of Israel, promising retaliation for the assassination of a predominant Hamas terrorist, Mazen Faqha, who they claim was killed by the Mossad.

Faqha was one of the terrorists who orchestrated a suicide bombing in Safed in 2002 in which nine Israelis were killed. He was sentenced to nine-life terms incarceration in Israel. He was released as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.

Faqha was assassinated on Friday in the Gaza Strip, his funeral on Monday attended by thousands.

Israel refused to comment on the reports.

Hamas political head Khaled Mashaal, while speaking at the funeral live from Qatar, stated, “Israel decided to change the rules of the game. The criminal Zionist occupier took from us a great hero, who was released from Zionist prison. The struggle continues and we in the leadership accept the challenge… We are at war with this criminal enemy and if the enemy changes the equation- we accept that. We are one people and we are committed to our brothers in the Zionist enemy’s prisons. Gaza Strip and the West Bank are a show of the Palestinian people’s resilience.”

Reports claim that Faqha had been planning an attack on Israel in the past few weeks.

Hamas’s military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, warned that the assassination will damage any negotiations for a prisoner exchange with Israel, likely referring to possible talks for the return of the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two IDF soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge. Hamas refuses to return their bodies to their families.

Rouhani meets with Medvedev and Putin in Moscow, over a dozen agreements signed

Iranian President on two-day tour in Russia, meets with PM and Putin; Medvedev: Moscow is determined to deepen ties with Tehran in all fields.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Moscow on Monday for a two-day visit with Russian officials, the visit centered on boosting economic ties and bilateral relations.

Rouhani is accompanied by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh and a delegation of Iranian officials, both government and private sector.

On Monday, Rouhani met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ahead of a meeting with President Putin on Tuesday. He stated upon arrival that “I hope that a new turning-point in the development of our relations will be reached,” the Russian Prime Minister stating in response “Moscow is determined to deepen ties with Tehran in all fields. Currently, there are good relations between the two countries and there is no doubt that this visit will contribute a lot to deepening Tehran-Moscow relations.”

Rouhani’s meeting with Putin was centered on Syria, “resolutions to terrorism” and various agreements in cooperation trade, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The leaders reportedly signed 14 memorandums of understanding in the areas of economy, tourism, energy and more.

Putin stated ahead of their meeting, “Tehran and Moscow have hold partnership in all areas which entails international affairs as well as resolving extremely complicated issues in political and economic sectors.”

Russia and Iran continue to develop strong economic ties, specifically in the areas of arms sales and energy. Trade between the two counties has doubled in the past year, Russia the first country to resume trade with Iran, even before sanctions under the nuclear deal were relieved.

Netanyahu addresses AIPAC Policy Conference from Jerusalem

PM addresses US-Israel relations, ISIS, Iran, radical Islam, Israel as a light to the nations; Netanyahu: I am confident that the United States and Israel will stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to ensure that light triumphs over darkness and hope triumphs over despair.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington live from Jerusalem on Monday, addressing US-Israel relations, Iran, radical Islam and Israel’s achievements in technology, security and growing international relations worldwide.

The Prime Minister began by emphasizing the strong bond between Israel and the United States, then addressing Iran and radical Islam as a mutual threat. He stated, “Israel has no greater friend than America and America has no greater friend than Israel. For the security of both Israel and the United States, we must ensure that the forces of militant Islam are defeated. We won’t let them drag humanity away from the promise of a bright future to the misery of a dark past. I am confident that the United States and Israel will stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to ensure that light triumphs over darkness and hope triumphs over despair.”

Specifically addressing Iran and the Islamic State, he stated “That means preventing Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons. That is our policy; it will always be our policy. And our partnership means also confronting Iran’s aggression in the region and its terrorism around the world. It means utterly vanquishing ISIS – not partly – utterly vanquishing ISIS. It means building alliances with moderates in the region, those moderates who seek to build a better future and embrace modernity and peace. In this battle between modernity and medievalism, more and more countries in the region and outside the region, around the world, realize that Israel is on their side.”

Netanyahu spoke of the assistance the State of Israel has provided to foreign states in combatting terror, as well as its assistance globally in humanitarian efforts and disaster relief, stating, “Where terrorism threatens innocent people, Israel is there, with unmatched intelligence and counterterrorism capabilities. Where people are suffering from hunger and thirst, as in Africa, Israel is there with technologies that help feed the world’s hungry and literally create water out of thin air. Where hackers threaten the critical networks of our lives – our banks, our transportation and power plants – Israel is there, with incredible cyber capabilities to help protect all of us. Where natural disasters strike around the world, Israel is there too, with rescue and medical services second to none.”

He went on to state, “All of this is possible because of Israeli ingenuity and Israeli determination. It’s the same ingenuity and determination that has built our strong army, our robust economy, our resilient society. But we haven’t done it alone. Israel wouldn’t be the country it is today without the steadfast support of the United States of America. All of you should be proud of the work you’ve done to strengthen that friendship year after year, decade after decade.”

On US-Israel relations, specifically under the Trump Administration, Netanyahu spoke of the progress and action under the Administration stating “I am confident our alliance will grow even stronger in the years ahead. As you know, I had an exceptionally warm meeting with President Trump last month. I want to thank the President for his strong support for Israel. I want to thank Vice President Pence for his warm words for Israel last night. The administration is showing its commitment to Israel by turning those words into policies. You see that reflected, you see that expressed in Ambassador Haley’s standing up for what’s right for Israel and the truth at the United Nations. You see it in the budget request submitted by President Trump. It leaves military aid to Israel fully funded, even as the fiscal belt is pulled tighter. And we appreciate that.”

He thanked the United States for its continued support, stating that the “In Israel we are deeply grateful for the generous support of the President, the Congress and the American people. We know, as you do, that this support is an investment in our common security and in our common future. Because we confront the same enemies and we defend the same values. Our open societies, our respect for the rule of law and the many freedoms we rightly cherish – these are the things that bring Americans and Israelis together.”

He spoke of the Palestinian Authority and the dire need to end its corrupt education of Palestinian youth, specifically anti-Semitism and hate, emphasizing “It must stop teaching hatred to its children. It must stop paying terrorists. It must stop denying our legitimacy and our history. It must above all, once and for all, recognize the Jewish state.”

On the peace process, he stated that “Israel is committed to working with President Trump to advance peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors,” speaking about Israel’s growing relations with Arab states in its common fight against radical Islam and the Islamic State. He stated “I believe that the common dangers faced by Israel and many of our Arab neighbors now offer a rare opportunity to build bridges towards a better future – a future more prosperous, more secure, more peaceful. And to achieve that future, Israel will stand ever vigilant, never compromising our security, always ready to defend ourselves.”

He addressed Israel’s strength amidst the BDS movement, regional conflict and growing anti-Semitism, stating, “We will defend ourselves not only on the physical battlefield, but also on the moral battlefield. We will defend ourselves against slander and boycotts. We will speak clearly against anti-Semitism from any quarter.”

He also spoke of the need for the international community to do more to return the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, their remains held by Hamas. Netanyahu called on “our friends in America and around the world to demand that Hamas free Israeli hostages and enable the Goldin and Shaul families to bury their fallen sons.”

He thanked AIPAC for being a “critical partner in strengthening the alliance between our countries” as well as “building broad bipartisan support for Israel” to ensure that our alliance will stand the test of time. Your commitment to Israel makes you a part of the rebirth of the Jewish people, the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in our ancestral homeland.”

Pence: President Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel.

At AIPAC, VP speaks at length of strong US-Israel relations; Addresses Iran, ISIS, peace process; Pence: The United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

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United States Vice President Mike Pence delivered an address on US-Israel relations under the Trump Administration during the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, highlighting Israel-US relations under the Trump Administration.

Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Pence spoke of his upbringing and constant support of Israel, stating, “My Christian upbringing compels me to cherish Israel- the songs of the land and the people of Israel were the anthems of my youth,” adding “Let me say from my heart, as for me and my house, We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all who call her home. And I say with confidence: President Trump and I stand without apology for Israel and we always will!”

He spoke of the strong relations Israel has forged under the Trump Administration, addressing the actions already taken by the Trump Administration to improve relations with Israel following the Obama Administration. He spoke of President Trump’s appointment of Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations, stating that her appointment and the Trump Administration will make sure that “the United Nations will no longer be used as a forum for invective against Israel of the West.”

He also highlighted recently approved appointment of David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel, as well as Jason Greenblatt and his delegation which were in Israel and the Palestinian territories, working on what Pence referred to as the Trump Administration’s commitment to a “equitable and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… President Trump is committed to forging a lasting peace in the Middle East.” He emphasized and stated boldly that in negotiations for the peace process that “President Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel.”

Addressing the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, Pence reiterated “After decades of talking about it, the President is giving serious consideration to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

Speaking on the growing threat of radical Islam, he spoke of the United States commitment to Israel’s security and combatting ISIS, stating “Today, America’s support for Israel’s security is at a record level and President Trump has made it absolutely clear: Our commitment to Israel’s defense is not negotiable- not now, not ever…We will hunt down and destroy ISIS from its source, so it can no longer threaten our people, our allies or our most cherished ally- Israel.

Pence spoke at length on Iran and the threat of the Islamic Republic on Israel and the West, more so following the nuclear deal. He stated “This Administration has put Iran on notice. America will no longer tolerate Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region and jeopardize Israel’s security.”

He went on to speak about Iran’s ongoing efforts in supporting terror in the region, as well as its threat to destroy the State of Israel. He stated “The Ayatollahs in Tehran openly admit their desire to wipe Israel off the map and drive its people into the sea. For decades, Iran has funneled weapons into Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. They have gone to great lengths to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. And due to the disastrous end of nuclear related sanctions under the Iran deal, they now have additional resources to devote to sowing chaos and imperiling Israel.”

The Vice President emphasized “Let me be clear-under President Donald Trump, the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This is a solemn promise to you, to Israel and to the world.”