Sunday, August 27, 2017

Israeli Envoy Says UN Must Address Hezbollah 'Weapons Buildup', Israel Will 'No Longer Tolerate Anti-Israel Bias'

Israeli envoy says UN must address Hezbollah 'weapons buildup'

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Saturday called on the Security Council to address the Hezbollah terror group’s “weapons buildup’ in southern Lebanon, echoing comments made by the United States envoy to the UN.

“US Ambassador Haley is correct. UNIFIL cannot continue to remain blind to the weapons buildup in southern Lebanon and they must put an end to Hezbollah’s Security Council violations to ensure calm in our region,” Danny Danon said, referring to the UN force tasked with keeping the peace on Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.

“I call on the Security Council to adopt a more robust UNFIL mandate that will address the serious security threats posed by Hezbollah,” he added.

Dannon’s comments mirrored those made Nikki Haley on Friday, in which she accused the commander of UNIFIL of of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.

Haley said the 10,500-strong UNIFIL force was “not doing its job effectively” and singled out its Irish leader, Major General Michael Beary.

“What I find totally baffling is the view of the UNIFIL commander General Beary,” Haley told reporters, accusing him of ignoring Hezbollah’s arms dumps. “General Beary says there are no Hezbollah weapons.”
“He seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind. That’s an embarrassing lack of understanding on what’s going on around him,” she said.
Israel alleges that Hezbollah is restocking its arms dumps and missile batteries in southern Lebanon, under the eyes of Blue Helmet peacekeepers.
“Since 2006 there has been a massive flow of illegal weapons to Hezbollah, mostly smuggled in by Iran,” Haley alleged.

“They openly threaten Israel. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that is very destabilizing to the region.”

The United States blasted the commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon on Friday, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.

US ambassador Nikki Haley said the 10,500-strong UNIFIL force was “not doing its job effectively” and singled out its Irish leader, Major General Michael Beary.

“What I find totally baffling is the view of the UNIFIL commander General Beary,” Haley told reporters, accusing him of ignoring Hezbollah’s arms dumps. “General Beary says there are no Hezbollah weapons.”

“He seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind. That’s an embarrassing lack of understanding on what’s going on around him,” she said.

Washington wants the UN force to take a tougher line on Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite armed movement that is represented in Lebanon’s government.

Israel is to tell UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during his first visit to the country this week it will “no longer tolerate anti-Israel bias” at the international body, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Sunday.

Guterres is set to land in Israel Sunday night for a three-day visit that will include meetings with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Palestinian officials in the West Bank, as well as a stop in the Gaza Strip, where the United Nations runs a major Palestinian aid program. The visit will be his first to the region since taking the helm at the UN in January.

Briefing journalists ahead of the trip, Hotovely said two key issues would be addressed during the visit: ending “anti-Israel bias” at the 193-nation organization, and changing the UNIFIL mandate for UN activities on Israel’s northern border.

“We are seeking a dramatic change in the way the UN treats Israel. It’s time to place the issue squarely on the table and address it head-on,” Hotovely said, threatening funding cuts for the body if changes were not implemented.

Pointing to recent comments by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Hotovely said that “if the UN does not drastically change its behavior it will lose both support and funding” from Israel and other countries.
“It’s no longer just us threatening this.” she said. “The US position has changed. Led by Nikki Haley, they have made clear that they will not tolerate bias against us and will no longer be giving an open check.”

In April Israel announced it would reduce its annual membership payment to the United Nations by $2 million following recent “anti-Israel” votes in the organization’s bodies.

The Foreign Ministry said at the time the decision was made following votes critical of Israel at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, and condemned the “obsessive discrimination against Israel on the part of the United Nations and its agencies.”
Responding to the votes, Haley said that the UN Human Rights Council’s “relentless, pathological campaign” against a state with a strong human rights record “makes a mockery not of Israel, but of the Council itself.”
Haley, who has pledged to tackle hostility toward the Jewish state at a UN, said that if the Human Rights Council failed to make the required changes, the US would consider quitting the body and looking for ways to promote human rights in different frameworks.

Earlier this month, video and photographic evidence surfaced online that shows China moving trainloads of HQ-16 and HQ-17 missiles to Tibet as the standoff with India at Doklam continues.
The HQ-16 is a third-generation medium-range air defense missile system. Inspired by the Russian Buk, the HQ-16 has a 40 km maximum range of fire. Cold-launched vertically, it takes 13 minutes for a moving HQ-16 to load and fire missiles armed with 70kg warheads.
The HQ-16 can lock-on eight targets and engage four simultaneously. Its missile has a claimed maximum flight speed of Mach 2.8, with a single-hit probability rate of between 70% and 98%. In 2016, an upgraded version known as the HQ-16B was unveiled with a greater range of fire at 70 km.

The HQ-17, however, is highly mobile. Sitting on an all-terrain tracked chassis, the HQ-17 usually accompanies fast-moving armored units. An improved version of the Russian Tor-M1, the HQ-17 has a 12 km range of fire.

The transporting of HQ missiles to Tibet shows the PLA is reinforcing its layered air defense arrangement in anticipation of Indian air power. The systems’ suitability for operating on the high plateau was confirmed at an exercise, in May, in Tibet’s Tanggula Mountains.

Last year, India deployed supersonic BrahMos missiles to Arunachal Pradesh near Tibet. In June, the Indian army announced its plans to send a squadron of HAL Dhruv helicopters to the Chinese border. More recently, the Indian defense ministry approved a deal to purchase six US-made AH-64 Apache attack helicopters for the army aviation corps and announced that it is looking to procure 234 naval helicopters, at a cost of US$5 billion. On August 24, the Indian air force added six C-130J Super Hercules strategic aircraft to its Arjan Singh base in Panagarh, 470 km from Doklam.
The Chinese high command understands India’s assumption of achieving air supremacy in the next war. However the PLA is quietly putting together a neat little surprise for India’s flyboys.

Hidden in plain sight is an intimidating Chinese weapon that allows it to hold a quarter of the world’s population hostage without firing a single shot. While much attention has been given to the nation’s fearsome new military hardware, a formidable component in its arsenal has largely escaped notice: dams.
With more than 87,000 dams and control of the Tibetan plateau, the source of ten major rivers which 2 billion people depend on, China possesses a weapon of mass destruction. With the flip of a switch, the Middle Kingdom can release hundreds of millions of gallons of water from its mega dams, causing catastrophic floods that would reshape entire ecosystems in countries downstream.
China knows first-hand the destructive power of water. In an attempt to halt advancing Japanese troops during World War II, Chang Kai-Shek, commander of the Chinese Nationalist Army, destroyed a dike along the Yellow River flooding thousands of miles of farmland, killing an estimated 800,000 Chinese, and displacing nearly 4 million.
It is highly unlikely that China would ever deliberately unleash such a destructive act upon its neighbors, but the fact remains that it wields enormous leverage as an upstream nation by its ability to control life’s most essential resource.

High in the Himalayan Mountains are what has been dubbed the “Water Towers of Asia.” Seven of the continent’s greatest rivers start life here including the Mekong, Ganges, Yangtze, Indus and Irrawaddy. What begins as dribble from snow melt in the Tibetan plateau builds into mighty rivers that flow across China’s borders before eventually reaching South Asia.
To satisfy its insatiable demand for electricity and as part of its shift away from coal, China has gone on a dam building spree. In 1949, China had less than forty small hydroelectric dams, but now it has more dams than the United States, Brazil and Canada combined.
On the upper Mekong alone, China has erected seven mega dams with plans to build an additional twenty-one. Just one of its latest dams is capable of producing more hydropower than all of Vietnam and Thailand’s dams on the Mekong.
This dramatic increase in dam building activity has had an outsized environmental impact and stoked fears in downstream nations.
“Beside having environmental issues those dams in Tibet can be disastrous for [India]. They can unleash their fury during earthquake, accidents or by intentional destruction can easily be used against India during war,” saidMilap Chandra Sharma, a glaciologist at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
China’s southern neighbors are not worried without reason. In the past, India has blamed sudden discharges from Chinese dams for several flash floods including one that caused an estimated $30 million in damage and left 50,000 homeless in northeast India.

Each year, during China’s rainy season, downstream nations are on high alert as Chinese dams release water to ease pressure with little warning.
“A discharge by a dam will have a domino effect on the whole system, which can cause huge damages,”explained Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Research Institute for Climate Change in Vietnam.
In addition to floods, Chinese dams are also believed to be responsible for worsening droughts. Last year, Vietnampleaded with China to release water from the Yunnan dam on the Mekong River to ease severe water shortages downstream. China agreed and waters flowed into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
These two extremes not only highlight the environmental impact of Chinese dams, but also serve as a stark reminder of China’s influence over its southern neighbors. These rivers are foundational to life in South Asia, providing drinking water, irrigation for farming, habitats for fisheries and transportation for commerce.
By controlling the flow of the lifeblood of the region, China has gained enormous power, which has led to accusations of abuse.

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