Friday, March 20, 2015

Israel-U.S.: 'Grave Scenarios For Diplomatic Rupture', EU Planning Sanctions On Israel For 'Polarizing Jerusalem'

"On that day, when all the nations are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves."

Zechariah 12:3

President Barack Obama’s supposed congratulatory call to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, two days after the Likud leader triumphed in Israel’s elections, was actually a bitter 30-minute conversation, Israel’s two main TV news stations reported Friday night.

Quoting unnamed Israeli sources, they said the president made clear he didn’t believe Netanyahu was genuinely supportive of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, and that he indicated that the US would no longer automatically support Israel at the United Nations.

According to a Channel 10 read out on the call, indeed, Obama left Netanyahu with “the impression that he intends to abandon Israel at the UN.”

The United States has actually been considering a reevaluation of ties with Israel, including its automatic support for the Jewish state at the United Nations Security Council, for at least four months, the Israeli sources also told Channel 2. Although the White House claims the reassessment was prompted by Netanyahu’s remarks on Monday in which rejected the establishment of a Palestinian state — and which he walked back Thursday — that is not the case, according to the officials.

The threat to reassess relations was reported widely this week and, according to the TV reports, was issued directly to Netanyahu on Thursday by Obama in the call.

During the 30-minute conversation, described as “difficult” by Channel 2, Obama made clear to the prime minister that the US was reconsidering its support for Israel at the UN as well as its approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace in light of Netanyahu’s pre-election comments rejecting the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The president’s skepticism and criticism were clearly evident during the Obama-Netanyahu conversation, according to Channel 2. Obama told Netanyahu the US was reconsidering its policies because Netanyahu had changed his position on Palestinian statehood. Netanyahu retorted that he hadn’t changing his position. Obama responded that his clarification was insufficient, according to Channel 2.

Earlier this week, spokespeople in the White House and State Department indicated the US would reevaluate its approach to the peace process and its support for Israel in the United Nations in the wake of Netanyahu’s comments.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and urged him to renew Israel's commitment to a "two-state solution" to the Middle East conflict.

"The secretary-general reiterated his view that the two-state solution was the only way forward and urged the prime minister to renew Israel's commitment to that goal," Ban's spokesman said, according to the AFPnews agency.

"The secretary-general also urged the prime minister to release the taxrevenue currently held by Israel but owed to the Palestinian Authority," the statement added.

Earlier this week, after Netanyahu won the elections in a landslide victory, Ban called on his new government to work towards the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying that he “firmly believes this is also the best and only way forward for Israel to remain a democratic state.”

Netanyahu declared in a series of interviews earlier in the week he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. He appeared to backtrack on Thursday, explaining in an interviewthat he wants “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution" but adding that his earlier comments were a reflection of changing conditions on the Palestinian side, where pointing to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas made a pact to form a unity government with Hamas.

A new European Union (EU) report says that Jerusalem is at a “boiling point” and recommends sanctions against Israel over the “polarization” in the capital.

The report, obtained by the British Guardian on Friday, says that Jerusalemhas reached a dangerous boiling point of “polarization and violence” not seen since the end of the second intifada in 2005.

The report calls for tougher European sanctions against Israel over its “continued settlement construction in the city”, which it claims is exacerbating recent conflict.

The leaked report describes the emergence of a “vicious cycle of violence … increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution”, which it says has been stoked by the continuation of “systematic” settlement building by Israel in “sensitive areas” of Jerusalem, according to the Guardian.

Among the recommendations in the report are:

Potential new restrictions against “known violent settlers and those calling for acts of violence as regards immigration regulations in EU member states”.

  • Further coordinated steps to ensure consumers in the EU are able to exercise their right to informed choice in respect of settlement products in line with existing EU rules.
  • New efforts to raise awareness among European businesses about the risks of working with settlements, and the advancement of voluntary guidelines for tourism operators to prevent support for settlement business.
  • Well-informed European sources told the Guardian that the report reflects a strong desire from European governments for additional measures against Israel over its “continued settlement-building”.

The leaked report comes after Israeli officials said in February that EU member states were readying themselves to enforce sanctions on Israel and will strike hours after the March 17 elections.

The EU has a long history of pressuring Israel over "illegal settlement activity" in Jewish-owned areas of Judea and Samaria, which was declared legal by international law in the 2012 Levy Report.

While it criticizes Israel, an explosive expose by watchdog groups recently revealed that the EU is funding illegal settlement in Judea and Samaria - by assisting the Palestinian Authority (PA) and pro-Palestinian groups in illegally grabbing land from Israel's area, Area C. 

No comments: