News Digest — 1/28/20

Trump To Unveil Mideast Peace Plan But Odds Of Success Appear Long

US President Donald Trump is set to unveil his administration’s much-anticipated Mideast peace plan in the latest American venture to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Odds of it taking shape, though, appear long, given the Palestinians’ preemptive rejection of the plan.  Trump is expected to present the proposal alongside PM Benjamin Netanyahu, at noon Tuesday (28th).

The proposal is expected to be very favorable to Israel, and Netanyahu has hailed it as a “chance to make history” and define Israel’s final borders. 

Trump insists it has a chance, despite skepticism.

“It’s been worked on by everybody, and we will see whether or not it catches hold.  If it does, that would be great, and if it doesn’t, we can live with that too. But I think it might have a chance,” he said Monday (27th) alongside Netanyahu.

A key element will be whether the proposal includes an American approval to any Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria.

In a run-up to Israel’s March 2 election, Netanyahu has called for annexing parts of Judea and Samaria and imposing Israeli sovereignty on all its settlements there.  Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Jordan Valley in particular is a vital security asset.

However, the Palestinians refuse to even speak to Trump, calling him biased in favor of Israel, and are calling for Arab representatives to reject the Tuesday (28th) event at the White House.  The Palestinian leadership has also encouraged protests in Judea and Samaria, raising fears that the announcement in Washington could spark a new round of violence.



Holocaust Was A ‘Crime Against God And Humanity,’ Says Trump

The Holocaust was a crime “against God and humanity,” which must never be allowed to happen again, US President Donald Trump said on Monday (27th) in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Americans must resolve to combat evil and oppressive regimes worldwide with “democracy, justice and the compassionate spirit that is found in the hearts of all Americans,” Trump said, invoking the memories both of those who died in the Holocaust and those who sacrificed their lives to defeat the evil of Nazism and ensure that freedom prevailed.

Acknowledging the anti-Semitism still suffered by Jews, the president highlighted his executive order, issued in December, to help combat anti-Semitic discrimination.  “Anti-Semitism will never be tolerated, and this action bolsters my administration’s efforts to create a culture of respect that deeply values the dignity in every human life,” he said.  “As we come together as one nation on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we ask God to grant strength to those who survived the depravity of the Nazi regime, and comfort to the families of the victims whose lives were cut short,” he continued.  “We ask that the world reflect on this day and seek to ensure that we stand united against intolerance and oppression of people of every race, religion or ethnicity. And in order to ensure that these horrific crimes against God and humanity never happen again, we must resolve to combat evil and oppressive regimes with democracy, justice, and the compassionate spirit that is in American hearts,”he added.

On Friday (24th), the president issued an official proclamation declaring January 27, 2020, the National Day of Remembrance of the Liberation of Auschwitz, and called upon Americans to “observe the day with programs, ceremonies, prayers and commemorations to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution, and also acknowledge the sacrifices of the men and women who helped liberate the victims of the atrocity.”

The date marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army following a “systematic and methodical plan to exterminate the Jewish people and others deemed undesirable,” which had resulted in two out of three Jews in Europe and millions of others being murdered.” 



PLO Official Warns Of Declaration Of Palestinian Statehood In Response To Trump Plan

Wassel Abu Yusuf, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, said Sunday (27th) in an interview with Arab media that the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership is considering unilaterally declaring the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and ending the transition period of the Oslo Accords as a response to an announcement on the details of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

Disclosure of the details of the plan are expected Tuesday (28th).

Abu Yusuf, a member of a special PLO committee that has made recommendations on what actions to take ahead of the unveiling of Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century,’ said that a declaration of independence, which involves severing relations with Israel, would be a necessary step even if it were to bring about the collapse of the PA.

Speaking about the upcoming US announcement, Abu Yusuf said that the Palestinians will appeal to the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek international protection for their claims while commencing with “popular protest activities,” a reference to violence and riots.

Abu Yusuf added that a Palestinian declaration of a status as a “state under occupation” is also possible, with Eastern Jerusalem as the capital.

Palestine National Council members are now demanding that Arab and Islamic countries adhere to previous decisions that guarantee the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and independence.



Britain Should Support The US Peace Plan – Col. Richard Kemp

→ At a cost of 168,000 casualties, British Empire forces freed the land of Palestine from the malignant rule of the Ottoman Empire in a defensive campaign from 1915-1918.  Had our troops not secured victory, the Turks would have maintained dominion over that land and there could never have been a Jewish state.

→ Yet the British government published a White Paper in May 1939 slamming the door on Jewish immigration into Palestine.  Liberal Party MP James Rothschild observed at the time, “For the majority of the Jews who go to Palestine, it is a question of migration or of physical extinction.”

→ We don’t know how many Jews perished in the Holocaust who might have escaped to Palestine but it certainly runs in to the hundreds of thousands.  It is to Britain’s eternal shame that our nation played a role in sending Jews to the Nazi ovens.

→ At the same time, had the British Army under General Montgomery not succeeded in halting Rommel at El-Alamein in 1942, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, would have achieved his desire to see Jews herded into gas chambers in Palestine and across the Arab world.

→ A serving British general led the illegal Jordanian invasion of the newly declared State of Israel in 1948.  Britain armed the Arab aggressors and denied munitions to Israel, even continuing to hold fighting-age Jews in Cyprus long after British forces had withdrawn from Palestine.

→ On Tuesday (28th), President Trump will announce his proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  Predictably, Al-Husseini’s successors in the Palestinian leadership have rejected it even before it’s been published.  Britain, which played such an important part in the re-creation of the Jewish state, yet also made too many disastrous missteps, should get behind the president’s proposals, which represent the only realistic hope for long-term peace and stability between the two people.

The writer is a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan.



Dutch Prime Minister Apologizes For Treatment Of Jews During The Holocaust

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for how his kingdom’s wartime government failed its Jews, a first by a sitting prime minister.

Rutte, on Sunday (26th) during a Holocaust commemoration, offered “apologies for the government of those days, while the last survivors are still with us.”  That government, he said “failed in its responsibility as provider of justice and security for Dutch Jews.”

Rutte, in power since 2010, has resisted calls for issuing such an apology, including by Dutch Chief Rabbi Benjamin Jacobs in 2015 and by the Party for Freedom in 2012.

Some 75% of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands before the Holocaust were murdered by German Nazis and their local collaborators.

The Dutch police under Nazi occupation and the National Railway Company were widely complicit in hunting down Jews and transporting them to death camps.  At the same time, the Netherlands had a strong resistance movement and has the second-largest number of Righteous Among the Nations – the designation reserved for non-Jews who were recognized by Israel for risking their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust – behind Poland.  

France, Belgium and Luxembourg have officially apologized for their leaders’ roles in the systematic annihilation of Jews, in written statements.

“It is of great historical importance,” Emile Schriver, director of Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Center, which includes The National Holocaust Museum, said of Rutte’s apology in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.  

“Dutch Jews have long-sought full recognition of their unusual suffering by the indifferent and unhelpful government apparatus,” said Schriver.