News Digest — 6/25/20

Palestinian Given 4 Life Sentences For Deadly 2018 Terror Attacks

A Palestinian man was sentenced Wednesday (24th) by a military court to four life sentences over two December 2018 terror attacks in which two soldiers and an unborn baby were killed.

The Ofer Military Court also ordered Asem Barghouti to pay millions of shekels in compensation to the injured and the families of those killed.

Barghouti was convicted in November by the court on three counts of murder for his role in the shootings.  He was also convicted of 12 counts of attempted murder, obstruction of justice and belonging to a banned organization.

Following his arrest last January, Barghouti was accused of carrying out a shooting attack on a bus stop near the Givat Assaf outpost and of helping his brother Salih in a shooting at a bus stop outside the Ofra settlement, days earlier.

Two soldiers, Sgt. Yosef Cohen and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, were killed in the Givat Assaf attack.  Another soldier was seriously wounded as was a woman.

The subsequent shooting at Ofra left seven people injured, among them a woman who was seven months pregnant.  Doctors delivered her baby in an emergency operation, but he died days later despite efforts to save him.

Barghouti was arrested following a nearly month-long manhunt, while his brother Salih was killed by Israeli troops during an attempted arrest in December 2018.



Israeli Ambassador To The UN Danny Danon: ‘PA Propaganda Won’t Change Our Connection To Our Homeland’

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, on Wednesday (24th) addressed the issue of sovereignty:

“There is a strong and undeniable connection between the Jewish people and our historic homeland of Judea and Samaria.  This has been true for over three millennia and no Palestinian propaganda can change that,” Danon emphasized.

He further attacked the international community for encouraging the Palestinian Authority.

“Some in the international community choose to reward the Palestinians’ rejectionism and ignore reality.  Instead of confronting the Palestinian leadership, they have tried to appease them by buying every rotten bill of goods the Palestinians were selling.  This approach of blindly accepting the Palestinian narrative and demands has not and will not lead to a lasting and sustainable end to the conflict.”

Danon spoke as the United Nations Security Council convened for its regular discussion on the Situation in the Middle East focused on Israel’s intent to apply sovereignty.  The discussion was uniquely opened by the UN Secretary-General and attended by foreign ministers from China, Indonesia, South Africa and Tunisia.  In addition, PA “Foreign Minister” Riyad al-Maliki and Arab League Secretary General Ahmad Aboul Gheit attended the discussion.

In his remarks, Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres stressed that “leaders on both sides must exercise caution.  Annexation would be a most serious violation of international law.”  

“I call on the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans.  The UN believes in and will help to advance the vision of both nations,” he added.



Don’t Buy The “Annexation” Hype – Prof. Eugene Kontorovich

→ Applying Israeli civilian law to the West Bank settlements wouldn’t preclude peace or violate Palestinian rights.  It is widely described as an Israeli “annexation.”  But annexation has a precise meaning in international law: the forcible incorporation by one state of the territory of another state.

→ The land to which Israel seeks to apply its laws isn’t legally the territory of any other state.  Neither the U.S. nor the European Union recognizes the existence of a Palestinian state, and Israel’s sovereign claim to the territory is superior to any other country’s.

→ Over the past 53 years, Jews have returned to Judea and Samaria, territories from which they had ethnically been cleansed by the Jordanians in 1949.  After five decades of Palestinian rejectionism, it is hard to argue that the legal regulation of these communities must remain in limbo until a far-off peace deal is signed.

→ Past peace deals have been based on the morally repugnant and impractical assumption that the creation of a Palestinian state must be preceded by the expulsion of all Jews from its territory.

→ The application of Israeli law wouldn’t affect the treatment of Palestinians.  In the West Bank they would continue to be governed by the Palestinian Authority.

→ The Israeli move may help bring the Palestinians to the table, as it would show Palestinian leaders that turning down negotiations weakens their hand.

The writer is director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Scalia Law School



Kosovo Designates Hezbollah As A Terrorist Entity

The Republic of Kosovo officially designated both Hezbollah’s military and political wings as a terrorist group, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Meliza Haradinaj announced on Twitter Tuesday (22nd).

A year ago, Kosovo designated Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group, but following a proposal by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the parliament decided to designate the political wing as a terrorist entity as well.

“After [Foreign Affairs Ministry’s] proposal, #Kosovo Government decided to declare both the political & and military wings of #Hezbollah, a terrorist organization in the territory of the Republic of Kosovo,” Haradinaj said in her Tuesday tweet.  “This decision contributes to protect & advance national, regional & global security interests.”

The American Jewish Congress (AJC) lauded the move.

“Hezbollah’s activities are a direct threat to peace and security, and Kosovo’s decision is an important step in the global fight against terrorism,” the AJC said in a statement.  “The artificial differentiation between Hezbollah’s political and military wings has created openings for Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran, to continue engaging in its malignant activities in many countries around the world.”

“We urge other countries to follow Kosovo’s example in treating the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist entity and banning all its activities,” the AJC concluded.

Kosovo joins the list of more than a dozen countries – including Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Arab League and the European Union – that have designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.



Poll: Two-Thirds Of Americans Think It’s Okay To Question US-Israeli Ties

WASHINGTON – Some two-thirds of Americans believe it is acceptable to question the US-Israel relationship, a new Washington Post poll has found.  The poll was conducted online by Prof. Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, among 2,395 participants.

According to the poll, 43% of participants believe that “it is acceptable for a member of the US Congress to question the US-Israel relationship,” (42% of Republicans, 46% of Democrats, and 39% of Independents).  An additional 24% said that “it is the duty” of a member of the House to question the relationship between the two countries.

Notably, Republican and Democrat voters were split on whether it is the duty of Congress to defend the relationship between the US and Israel or to question it.  A third (32%) of Republican participants said that a House member must defend the support for Israel.  In comparison, only 9% of Democrat voters agreed.

On the contrary, 35% of those who identify as Democrats said it is a duty of Congress people to question the relationship between the countries, with only 11% of Republican voters agreeing with that statement. 

Participants were asked how important an issue the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for US interests.  Almost half (47%), said it is among the top five issues, while more than a third (35%) said it is not among the top five.  Only 17% thought that the conflict is at least among the top three, or is even the most significant issue for US interests.