Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Weekly roundup of world briefs


August 28, 2020

US rejects Russia’s offer for virtual summit on Iran

(JNS) — The United States has rejected Russia’s offer for a virtual summit outside of the United Nations regarding Iran.

“The United States believes strongly that the Security Council is the best place to have discussions related to extending the U.N. arms embargo, and we have the benefit of 13 years of Security Council precedent on our side,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told U.S. News & World Report.

The Russian effort comes as the U.N. Security Council rejected on Friday a U.S.-led resolution to indefinitely extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire on Oct. 18 in accordance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. America withdrew from the deal in May 2018, and has since reimposed sanctions lifted under it and added new ones.

As expected, China and Russia, who, like the United States, have a permanent veto on the U.N. Security Council, vetoed the extension.

On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump insisted that the United States would enact snapback sanctions under the Iran nuclear accord that would include continuing the arms embargo indefinitely.

Erdan presents evidence to UN Security Council on Hezbollah infiltration

(JNS) — Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan presented evidence to the U.N Security Council that Hezbollah terrorists infiltrated Israel in late July.

In an official letter of complaint to the members of the council, Erdan provided an intelligence photo that shows evidence of the terrorist cell’s route from Lebanon to the Mount Dov area in Israel via the Blue Line, contrary to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s false claims that no such infiltration took place.

In that July 27 attack, the Israel Defense Forces successfully thwarted the Hezbollah infiltration attempt.

The IDF first identified them and opened fire once they crossed the international border, saying the Hezbollah cell fled back into Lebanon. A few days later, another Iranian-backed cell attempted to plant an IED near an IDF installation in the Golan Heights. Both incidents came during a time of heightened tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah’s terrorist operations, which violate Security Council resolutions, could lead to disaster and wreak havoc on Lebanon. The role of the UNIFIL force is to prevent these operations and to prevent Hezbollah from turning southern Lebanon into its own terrorist base. If UNIFIL is unable to fulfill this mission, then its existence should be in doubt,” said Erdan.

Erdan’s request comes as the Security Council continues discussions on the continuation of UNIFIL’s mandate, which expires at the end of this month. In parallel discussions, Israel and the United States are leading a joint diplomatic effort to change the UNIFIL mandate so that it functions as an effective force, including broadening access and oversight capabilities in areas where Hezbollah operates.

McCollum introduces bill prohibiting US recognition of Israeli annexation

(JNS) — Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) introduced a bill on Friday that would prohibit the United States from recognizing Israel’s application of sovereignty over, or what she has clearly stated as annexation of, the West Bank.

The Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act would also prohibit U.S. assistance to areas where Israel has applied sovereignty.

It is co-sponsored by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.).

“I want Palestinians and Israelis to have their human rights respected, their right to self-determination realized, and a future with peace, security, equality and justice,” said McCollum in a statement.

“Annexation is antithetical to these goals and will fuel instability, injustice and an abhorrent system of apartheid. This is an intolerable outcome for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans,” she said. “I reject Israeli annexation. I condemn annexation. And I will work to ensure the U.S. does not support, defend or legitimize any plan to illegally annex Palestinian lands.”

As part of a historic U.S.-brokered peace agreement last week to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the former agreed to temporarily suspend applying sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria.

McCollum said that the Israel-UAE agreement “changes nothing. [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump have taken nothing off the table. Their promises and commitments are worthless because they have both proven, time and time again, that they cannot be trusted.”

US, Israel close to signing deal on excluding China in 5G networks

(JNS) — Israel and the United States are reportedly close to signing a memorandum of understanding that would have the former not use Chinese equipment in building its 5G network.

The Jerusalem Post first reported this development on Friday.

“We’re optimistic that Israel will take a clean approach to 5G and choose to only allow trusted vendors in its 5G networks,” a U.S. source told the outlet. “Being a clean country benefits Israel’s national security, its citizens’ privacy and its businesses’ hard-earned intellectual property. We’re close to an understanding on this issue.”

In signing the MOU, Israel would join the U.S. State Department’s “Clean Network,” an initiative U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Aug. 5 to protect “the nation’s assets including citizens’ privacy and companies’ most sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party,” according to the State Department’s website.

“We see eye-to-eye with the Americans on our shared values and interests,” Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said last month. “We are in direct discussions with representatives of the American government about all of our shared interests, including communications infrastructure.”

“We will do what is good for Israel,” he added, “and it is good for Israel to be in full cooperation with our greatest ally in the world, the United States.”

Bahrain likely to become next Gulf state to solidify relations with Israel

(JNS) — Bahrain could become the second Gulf nation to establish formal relations with Israel, the Hebrew news reported on Saturday night, in the aftermath of the announcement on Thursday about the historic treaty signed between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates.

According to Israel’s Channel 12 News, discussions held between Mossad Director Yossi Cohen and Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa over the weekend appear to be a sign that a deal is in the works.

Bahrain’s official news agency revealed on Saturday that Al Khalifa had traveled abroad for a “private visit,” leading to speculation that the trip could be linked to relations with Israel.

Bahrain was one of the first nations to congratulate the UAE, with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa phoning Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, to marvel at the agreement.

In an official statement, the Kingdom of Bahrain referred to the element of the treaty that puts on hold the Israeli government’s intention to extend sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria — In accordance with U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” deal — ”expressed its sincere congratulations to the United Arab Emirates and its wise leadership for announcing with the United States of America and Israel an agreement halting the annexation of the Palestinian territories, as step towards the achievement of peace in the Middle East.”

Oman, a nation which has openly hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also welcomed the agreement, calling it “historic.”

During his press conference on Thursday to announce the deal with the UAE, Netanyahu said that he had “reason to be very optimistic that [it would] be followed by more Arab nations joining our region’s circle of peace.”

Telephone service opens between Israel and the UAE

(JNS) — The United Arab Emirates and Israel opened up telephone service on Sunday as part of the normalization deal between the two countries brokered by the Trump administration.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan called his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, and Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Handel issued a statement “congratulating the United Arab Emirates on removing the blocks,” according to the AP.

Israeli news websites that had previously been blocked by the UAE government could also be accessed from the Gulf state, the report said.

Separately, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Army Radio that more normalization deals were in the works.

“Additional agreements will be reached with Gulf countries, like Bahrain and Oman,” said Cohen, adding that in the coming year, there is a chance for additional agreements in Africa, especially with Sudan and Morroco.

Stabbed Israeli border guard shoots to death his Palestinian attacker in Jerusalem

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli Border Police officer stabbed in the chest in Jerusalem shot and killed his Palestinian assailant.

The 19-year-old officer, who finished his training about a month ago, underwent surgery on Monday night, Israel’s Channel 12 reported. A female bystander, 60, was injured in the gunfire, the Israel Police said.

The incident near the Lion’s Gate in the Old City was the first stabbing attack in Jerusalem in three months.

The attacker was a 30-year-old man from eastern Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers overnight Monday entered his village and arrested his mother and two brothers. Police also closed off the area, including the Temple Mount.

College students start Jewish political action committee in support of Biden

(JNS) — A political action committee was launched on Sunday in support of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The Jewish Unity PAC seeks to mobilize Jewish voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and other key swing states and will focus on attracting younger constituents through expertise in millennial and Gen-Z engagement.

In addition to Israel and anti-Semitism, JUPAC will focus on key Democratic issues including gun control, racial equality and climate change.

The PAC, which will also educate and help young voters submit absentee and mail-in ballots, was founded by Isabel Baer and Ethan Wolf.

Baer, 21, is a University of Michigan alumna who worked on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.

Wolf, 20, is a rising junior at Ohio State University who interned for Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), as well as founded and chaired Jews 4 Joe.

“Jews have the potential to have an outsized impact on this election and many elections to come,” said Wolf in a statement. “If we are unified, we can help return competency, character and decency to the White House.”

Gaza’s only power plant closes amid ongoing cross-border attacks on Israel

(JNS) — The only power plant in the Gaza Strip was forced to shut down after Israel stopped fuel shipments as a result of cross-border terrorist attacks.

“The power feed may now decline to only four hours [per day],” said Mohammad Thabet, an official at the main energy-distribution company, reported Reuters.

According to the report, many Gaza residents rely on private generators for electricity due to frequent power cuts.

The attacks that caused Israel to stop the fuel shipments have been continuing for several days with dozens of incendiary balloons being launched into the Jewish state. Two rockets were also launched at Israel from Gaza on Sunday morning.

In response to the ongoing arson attacks, Israeli fighter jets struck Hamas targets in Gaza on Tuesday morning.

Egyptian mediators who entered Gaza on Monday to try to calm the situation failed to secure a ceasefire agreement.

El Al extends ban on passenger flights until end of September

(JNS) — El Al airlines has announced that it is extending the ban on passenger flights until Sept. 30 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The company is extending the unpaid leave of most of the airline’s 6,080 employees, Israeli business daily Globes reported on Tuesday.

The airline said that the reason for the extension was because of “continued restrictions regarding mandatory isolation for travelers entering Israel (except from a very small number of countries) and the ban on foreign tourists from entering Israel,” according to the report.

“There is still a significant way to go until the restart of scheduled flights. In order to see people resuming flying we need both countries of origin of a journey and destinations to remove isolation requirements, shorter checking procedures, and no less important high public confidence in flights,” said CEO Gonen Usishkin.

El Al is continuing to operate a limited number of cargo flights.

Israeli Health Ministry Associate Director-General Itamar Grotto said on Monday that Israel is planning to allow the entry of tourists into the country as of next month.

Israel partially reopened its skies on Sunday, following months of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a plan unveiled by the Israeli government last week, those entering from “green countries” will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival.

Sarsour featured at Muslim delegates assembly at DNC

(JNS) — Former Women’s March leader and Bernie Sanders surrogate Linda Sarsour was featured on Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention’s Muslim Delegates Assembly, despite her history of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and other bigotry.

American Republican political strategist Boris Epshteyn called her presence “nuts.”

“This is nuts. The @DNC allowed the hateful anti - Semite Linda Sarsour to speak at their convention. This is who today’s Democrats are - the party of Anti — Semitism,” said Epshteyn on Twitter.

In her address, Sarsour said “the Democratic Party is not perfect, but it is absolutely our party in this moment.”

A Democratic official told JNS that “the caucus and council chairs come up with their own programming and select their own speakers.”

Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, told CNN, “Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform. She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”

US enacts Iran-related sanctions on UAE-based firms

By Jackson Richman

(JNS) — The United States imposed sanctions on two United Arab Emirates-based firms and an individual for allegedly supporting Iranian airline Mahan Air.

UAE-based Parthia Cargo and Delta Parts Supply FZC are accused of providing material support to the Iranian airline, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Mahan Air was sanctioned by the United States in 2011 for allegedly providing support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force.

The airline has also been accused of providing support to Venezuela in defiance of U.S. sanctions.

Amin Mahdavi was also sanctioned for owning or controlling Parthia Cargo, according to the Treasury Department.

“The Iranian regime uses Mahan Air as a tool to spread its destabilizing agenda around the world, including to the corrupt regimes in Syria and Venezuela, as well as terrorist groups throughout the Middle East,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The United States will continue to take action against those supporting this airline.”

The development exemplified the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign since the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions under it and enacting new penalties against the regime.

The sanctions come despite the historic U.S.-brokered agreement last week to normalize relations between Israel and the UAE.

“Israel has diplomatic relations with many countries involved in Iran sanctions-busting,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz told JNS. “But Abu Dhabi needs to crack down on Dubai’s continued contravention of U.S. sanctions law.”


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