News Digest — 5/16/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

On Nakba Day, Hamas And Islamic Jihad Vow To ‘Liberate Palestine’ – Khaled Abu Toameh

Marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba Day, Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Wednesday (15th) vowed to foil U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “deal of the century,” and pledged never to give up the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes in Israel.

Defiant Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders said that the Palestinian struggle against Israel will continue until the “liberation of all Palestine.”

Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas official, said in a speech during a rally attended by thousands of Palestinians near the border with Israel that he was confident that the Palestinians were headed towards “victory and uprooting the Zionist enemy from our land.”

Addressing Israeli leaders, Hammad said, “Go away, the day of your slaughter and elimination is nearing.  You have no place in Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa.”

Hammad said that the Palestinian protesters came to the border to voice their rejection of Trump’s peace plan and show support for the Palestinian “resistance” groups.  

Khalil al-Haya, another Hamas official who participated in the protests, said that Wednesday’s (15th) message to the world was that all schemes to eliminate the Palestinian cause are doomed to failure.

Referring to Trump’s unseen plan, al-Haya said: “WE say to all those who are trying to eliminate our cause, that Palestine will remain forever, as long as there’s a child or woman on this land.  Trump’s plan won’t pass, and we will work to thwart this failed scheme.”

He also stressed the “right of return” for all refugees and urged Arabs and Muslims to avoid making peace with Israel.

Senior Hamas official Ahmed Bahr also arrived at the scene at the protests near the border with Israel with similar messages.  “The weekly protests along the border with Israel,” he said, “become a strategy on the road to liberate Palestine.” Noting that the  weekly protests – which Palestinians call the Great March of Return – will continue – Bahr too appealed to both Arabs and Muslims to refrain from normalizing their relations with Israel.

Islamic Jihad said in a statement on the occasion of Nakba Day that it remains committed to the “liberation of all Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”  The group called on all Palestinians to rally behind “the option of jihad (holy war) and resistance” and continue the weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel border.

In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority officials also seized the opportunity to reaffirm their rejection of Trump’s “deal of the century” and emphasized the refugees’ right to return to their homes in Israel.

PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said during a rally in Ramallah that the Palestinians will not accept any U.S. proposal that does not call for “ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, as well as the right of return.”

Shtayyeh accused Israel of working to change history in Jerusalem by “Judaizing the city.”  “The Palestinians will continue to stick to the right of return and their national rights,” he added.

At the rally, Palestinians carried placards that read: “The children will not forget” and “We will thwart all conspiracies.”



PA Sues U.S. In Hague, Demands Removal Of U.S. Embassy From Jerusalem

Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad Malki submitted an indictment list Wednesday (15th) to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague for legal action against the United States for moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reports Wafa, the PA news agency.

In the indictment, the PA describes the transfer of the embassy as a “clear violation of international law and United Nations resolutions.”

The legal action was taken a year after President Donald Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018.

“One year after the Trump administration carried out its provocative and illegal action, the State of Palestine continues to seek justice and accountability through the tools and mechanisms available to law-abiding and respecting states within the international system,” Malki said in a statement according to Wafa.

“The State of Palestine will continue to employ all available legal and diplomatic tools to defend the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people against all illegal acts of aggression and shall not surrender to political bullying and extortion,” said the foreign minister.

This is not the first time the PA has acted in such a manner.  In September, it filed a case with the ICJ, asking the judges “to order the United States of America to withdraw the diplomatic mission from the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

In December 2017, U.S President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, declaring that “Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people established in ancient times,” and stating that “today, we finally acknowledged the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.  This is nothing more than a recognition of reality,” said the U.S. president.

He added, however, that his declaration did not change the U.S. position that the determination of the ultimate boundaries of the city would be subject to the outcome of negotiations.



Israelis And Palestinians Share Kosher Iftar Meal In West Bank – Tovah Lazaroff

Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank held a kosher Ramadan Iftar celebration in Hebron in a large, colorful tent Wednesday, (15th) set up outside the home of Hebron businessman Ashraf Jabari.  Israeli religious Jews shook hands and even hugged Palestinian and Israeli-Arab businessmen, just as if peace had already sprung.  Then everyone sat down to a kosher meal catered from the nearby town of Kiryat Arba.

The event was organized by the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a joint Israeli Palestinian group that wants to strengthen economic ties between Palestinians and Jews in the West Bank.  Jabari addressed the group in Arabic, saying, “We want to build a united front to create a breakthrough on the economic issue. We are issuing a clear call to separate between economics and politics…. Breaking the fast together, at a joint meal in the city of Hebron, clearly symbolizes our ability to bridge any type of Gaps.”



International Law Backs U.S. Golan Policy – Michael Pompeo and David Friedman

→President Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is entirely consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967.

→Resolution 242 calls on the parties to negotiate a just and lasting peace that recognizes the right of all countries, including Israel, to live “within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats and acts of force.”

→It provides that Israel would withdraw from some – but not necessarily all – territory captured in 1967 in keeping with that objective.

→Some of Israel’s former enemies pursued peace in good faith, and Israel has withdrawn from more than 88% of the territory it captured in 1967.

→Syria is a different story.  In word and deed, Damascus has for 52 years rejected the negotiating framework of resolution 242.  It has maintained a state of war with Israel since 1948. It is a client of Iran and one of the most brutal regimes on earth.

→By affirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the president has afforded Israel the only secured and recognized boundary that can exist under the circumstances – the objective of Resolution 242.

(Michael Pompeo is U.S. Secretary of State, and David Friedman is U.S. Ambassador to Israel)



Earthquake Shakes Jerusalem, Central Israel

On Wednesday evening (15th), Israelis in Jerusalem reportedly felt the ground shake during an earthquake that qualified as “minor” on the Richter scale, the metric used to measure the size and strength of earthquakes throughout the world.

The earthquake registered as a 4.5 magnitude, according to data collected by the Geophysical Institute of Israel.

Any seismic events with a magnitude greater than 4.5 is strong enough to be recorded by the sensors of a seismograph anywhere in the world.

According to the Geophysical Institute, the quake’s epicenter was in the ocean between Hadera and Haifa, several hundred miles from the Israeli coast.