News Digest — 6/15/20

Pompeo: The US Will Always Support Israel’s Right To Defend Itself

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday (14th) addressed the opening plenary of the 2020 AJC Global Forum, where he reaffirmed the strong US-Israel relationship, condemned rising worldwide anti-Semitism, and cautioned Iran against threatening Israel and pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

AJC’s signature annual event, which was originally scheduled to take place this week in Berlin, Germany, was changed to an online meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic.  As a result, Pompeo’s remarks reached an audience of many thousands in the US and around the world.

“Since 1948, Israel has proven time and again that it’s up to any challenge to the Jewish people’s right to govern themselves in their ancestral homeland,” he said.  “The United States will always support Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Pompeo noted that he has visited Israel four times as Secretary of State, adding, “As a Christian, being in Israel is deeply moving, a very moving experience for me.”

“The United States and Israel are blessed nations and we share a very special bond,” said Pompeo.  “Our bilateral partnership is all the more vital given the rise in anti-Semitism around the world.”

Pompeo praised the AJC for its leadership in combating anti-Semitism everywhere.

“I truly admire the crucial work AJC is doing to fight back,” said the Secretary of State.  “With special envoy Elan Carr, you pushed for the adoption and implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.  You are confronting the vile BDS movement and textbooks that teach innocent Palestinian children to hate Jews, making peace that much harder.”

Pompeo also stressed that “anti-Zionism is indeed anti-Semitism.”

US support for Israel is clearest, he said, when looking at how the Administration has “handled the number one supporter of anti-Semitism, the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“We will continue to squeeze the regime until Iran starts behaving as a normal nation and stops threatening its own people and its neighbors.  The mullahs must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Pompeo stressed.

In conclusion, Secretary Pompeo declared that “with the AJC’s help, the US and Israel will proudly honor our shared foundation of freedom and democracy, and confront the challenges of the day.”



Arab Ministers Making History At Jewish Conference

In what might be another sign of warming relations between Israel and moderate Arab states, a United Arab Emirates government official is slated to address the annual American Jewish Committee Global Forum 2020, Israel Hayom  has learned.

Lebanese news channel Al Mayadeen, which is identified with Hezbollah, reported that UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash “will speak at an AJC conference.”

Another high-ranking Arab official – Sheikh Muhammed Al-Issa, secretary general of the Muslim World League – spoke at the conference, which began Sunday, (14th) held online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Al-Issa participated in the opening session of the conference at 7 p.m. Sunday (14th) along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Secretary General of the World Council of Religious Leaders Bawa Jain.

At 7 p.m. Monday (15th), Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is slated to participate in a discussion about the challenges and opportunities Israel is currently facing.  At 10 p.m. Monday, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dr. Dore Gold and MK Meirav Michaeli are scheduled to debate the future of the West Bank.



Palestinian Authority Starts Printing Passports Independent Of Israel

The Palestinian Interior Ministry says it has started printing its own passports and working with international entities to enable the registration of its people without first registering them in Israel, as is the case currently.

“We are seeking to build a new civil registration framework and system regardless of occupation,” the Palestinian Authority (PA) said in a statement released Friday (12th).

The passports issued by the PA bear the name “Palestinian Authority” and not “State of Palestine”  The registration information is then transmitted to Israel for validation and to allow PA residents to travel abroad.

“The move was carried out in accordance with a clear directive from Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh who told us not to work with the Israeli side anymore,” said PA Interior Minister Rassam Namer.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas announced his intention to cut ties with Israel in an emergency meeting on May 19 in Ramallah and declared all agreements with Israel and the U.S. are null and void.  

These moves followed Israel’s announced up-coming annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria.

However, the PA may find it difficult to disconnect from Israel given its economic dependence on the Jewish state.

“Since the mid-1990s, Israel has been an almost exclusive destination for Palestinian exports, taking on average more than 90 percent of total Palestinian exports of goods, including unregistered exports,” according to a 2018 article on the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change website.

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Fatah Accuses Hamas Of Political Arrests On Anniversary Of Bloody Coup

Hamas is marking the anniversary of the bloody military coup that brought it to power in Gaza by arresting supporters of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization, the Palestinian Authority official news agency WAFA reported Sunday (14th).

“The campaign of arrests by the Hamas forces coincides with the thirteenth anniversary of its bloody coup in mid-June 2007 on national legitimacy and its control by force of arms over the Gaza Strip,” WAFA reported.  The Fatah detainees were taken to Hamas “torture centers and to the prisons of the so-called internal security … which were involved in the torture and killing of our people after the black coup.”

WAFA published the names of “415 martyrs treacherously shot by Hamas militias in 2007,” saying a total of 490 Fatah supporters were killed by Hamas when it seized power in the short civil war.

Israel had pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, removing residents from all 21 Israeli communities there, closing down the IDF bases, and transferring everything to the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas.  However, after Fatah lost the 2006 Palestinian election to Hamas and refused to hand over power, the Iranian-backed Hamas terror group staged a military coup in 2007.

“Hamas militias, executed in their black coup in 2007, hundreds of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement Fatah, in cold blood,” the agency said.

The brutality of the Hamas takeover was documented in a 2010 TIME magazine report on Fatah members from Gaza whose legs were shot off by Hamas as a visible message to Gazans of the consequences of trying to cross the new rulers.

Ironically, the Palestinian Authority sent the Fatah men who survived to Israeli hospitals to get artificial legs and learn to walk again.

In an editorial Sunday (14th), WAFA  director Bilal Kiswani slammed Hamas for rejecting any reconciliation with Fatah, blaming the Iran-backed terror group for holding the Palestinians back from independence.

One of the conditions of full membership in the United Nations is that any new country must show a single, central government that exerts control over its territory.  With Fatah based in Ramallah and Hamas entrenched in Gaza, the Palestinians remain split with two separate governments.  At times Fatah has shown willingness to negotiate with Israel, but Hamas rejects Israel’s existence.

Fatah political bureau member Walid Al-Awad said the Hamas coup d’etat “led to the deterioration of the Palestinian cause in the world, the deterioration of the economic situation of our people, and provided an opportunity for the occupying state and the US to launch more projects that culminated in the deal of the century.”   



Israeli Scientists Produce Energy From Plants

Israeli scientists said this week they have succeeded in producing hydrogen from plants in a development that they hope could eventually lead to using vegetation to produce electricity.

The discovery was made by using microscopic algae, an aquatic plant, in research carried out at a Tel Aviv University laboratory.

“To link a device to electricity, you just have to connect to a powerpoint.  In the case of a plant, we didn’t know where to connect,” said Iftach Yacoby, who heads the university’s renewable energy laboratory.

Researchers planted an enzyme into samples of the algae and observed it producing hydrogen, a source of energy already used to fuel some engines.

“We didn’t know if this would work, but we believed that it had potential,” said Yacoby during a laboratory visit.

Findings of the study, a collaborative project with Kevin Redding at the University of Arizona, were published in April in the Energy & Environmental Science Journal.

“From the moment we found how to use plants to produce a source of energy, the options were open,” said Yacoby.

“The nascent research shows that plants have the potential to produce electricity, with the help of the sun,” he said, while cautioning that “it will take up to 20 years for the world to benefit from the findings.”  

“There are lots of things that we can consider doing thanks to the results of the research.  The future will tell us what will come of it,” he said.