09/15/2011 (All day)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that he will address the UN General Assembly next week, ahead of an expected vote on the Palestinian statehood bid later this month. "I have decided to convey these twin messages of direct negotiations for peace and the quest for peace," Netanyahu told reporters. "I've decided to take this message to the UN General Assembly when I speak there next week." He also called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to change his plans to bring a request for recognition of Palestinian statehood to the UN and return to peace negotiations with Israel instead.
Iran singled out by US for religious persecution
The US State Department issued reports on religious freedom in several countries around the world on Tuesday, singling out Iran, where it says abuses are "egregious, ongoing, and systematic." The reports purpose is to "bear witness to those who are persecuted because of their faith and shine a light on governments and societies that promote or tolerate such abuses." In this year’s report, Iran is joined by Uzbekistan, China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia as "Countries of Particular Concern." The report also identifies Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as facing significant challenges in upholding religious freedoms. The report also cited an increase in anti-Semitic actions and accusations "on every continent in the last year."
To see the State Department’s report on religious freedom in Iran, click HERE (PDF)
Israel prominent as Republicans pick up NY 9th District
Israel was a prominent issue in the special election held on Tuesday to replace disgraced former US Congressman Anthony Weiner in the heavily Jewish 9th District in New York City, covering swaths of Brooklyn and Queens. When the ballots were counted up, retired TV executive Bob Turner became the first Republican ever to win the seat, sending what is widely believed to be a stern warning to democrats in general and President Barak Obama in particular that their policies on the economy and Israel are not what voters want.
Fogel family killer sentenced
Hakim Awad, the 18 year old Palestinian man who confessed to murdering Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their children in the West Bank community of Itamar in 2010, along with his cousin Amjad Awad, was sentenced on Tuesday to five consecutive life terms in prison, one for each of his victims. Amjad has yet to be sentenced. “I don’t regret what I did, and would do it again,” Amjad Awad told reporters in May.
“I’m proud of what I did and I’ll accept any punishment I get, even death, because I did it all for Palestine.”
PA threatens Christian man for criticism of health services
George Canawati, a member of one of the largest Christian families in Bethlehem and a journalist at Radio 2000, will have to appear in court sometime next month for the crime of criticizing the medical services in Bethlehem. One of Canawati’s complaints was aimed at a clinic run by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health, where he claimed that patients had to wait in line for too long. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate based in the West Bank criticized the PA for the legal harassment of Canawati.
Poster campaign urges end to US aid to Israel
An American advertisement company, Be On Our Side, recently launched a large anti-Israeli campaign in New York’s city subways, consisting of posters urging the US government to stop giving military aid to Israel. The organization behind the campaign claims that military aid is hindering peace in the region, and on their website they further state that “tens of billions of our tax dollars in military aid has not and will not bring peace because the conflict requires a political solution. America’s reputation and precious resources should be utilized to promote a positive outcome for both Israelis and Palestinians.” The campaign has already been launched in seven other cities around the US.
Israel’s embassy in Amman evacuated
On Wednesday, all staff based at the Israeli embassy in Jordan left the country after it was found that a new Facebook group called “No Zionist embassy on Jordanian territory” was launched. The aim of the group was to organize a march against the Israeli embassy in a similar manner as was done to Egypt over the weekend. The Jordanian government on Thursday promised to increase security measures around the embassy in Amman.
Erdogan making regional tour, blasts Israel
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is on a regional tour, including a speech before the Arab League in Cairo on Tuesday in which he blasted Israel and declared that “recognizing the Palestinian state is not an option, it is an obligation.” His rhetoric was met with a chilly reception by Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood however, which did not like Erdogan’s call for secularization in Egypt and warned him against trying to dominate the Middle East. In related news, increased diplomatic chilliness from Turkey, including a proposal to do away with visa free entry for Israelis into Turkey and reports that the Turkish military is making technical preparations for war with the IDF, has not been met in kind by the Jewish State, which has refused to respond to several provocative statements and moves by Erdogan’s government, which is reported to be very appreciated in Washington and European capitals. “Erdogan is taking advantage of the instability and ongoing upheaval in the Arab world to solidify Turkey’s standing and influence,” one Israeli official explained. Israel is also very concerned with reports that Turkey might deploy navy vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean, possibly even based in Egypt.