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Abandoned at the UN, Pak Nuke Threat, Israeli Tech Saves Chileans


What UN Vote on Israeli Settlements Means -- and What’s Next

Jonathan Ferziger and Michael Arnold, Bloomberg, December 26th 2016

Recap:

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed resolution 2334 by a vote of 14-0, deeming Israeli settlement activity illegal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the vote a “shameless ambush” and assailed US President Barack Obama for abstaining from the vote and abandoning Israel. Since 1979, the US has consistently wielded its veto power on overtly anti-Israel bills at the United Nations (UN) [1]. Longstanding US policy dictates that peace be negotiated between Israelis & Palestinians and not through intermediaries like the UN.

The Context:

  • Israel captured the West Bank & East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967. Following the war, the UNSC passed Resolution 242 calling on Israel to withdraw to “secure” boundaries – a caveat that allows for possible land swaps and border adjustments between Israel and a future Palestinian state. There are close to 600,000 Jews living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem today [2].

  • Egypt put forth the original resolution last week but pulled the bill from consideration following pressure from US President-Elect Donald Trump. On Friday, the bill was reintroduced by other UNSC members and passed unanimously, followed by a round of applause. The bill’s passage could open the door to International Criminal Court prosecution of Israeli officials & soldiers.

  • Israeli officials accused the Obama administration of secretly coordinating the resolution, citing a meeting in early December between US, Egyptian and Palestinian officials. The New Zealand Herald also reported a late November meeting between United States Secretary of State John Kerry and New Zealand officials to discuss “the Israel-Palestine conflict [3].”

  • Following the vote, Israel immediately recalled its ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal, cut off $7.9 million in funding to the UN and summoned ambassadors from 10 countries on Christmas morning for a “clarification” on the vote. Activities involving the embassies of Britain, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, Spain, Senegal and New Zealand were suspended [4] as were meetings with the Ukrainian & British Prime Minister’s [5].

  • Ben Rhodes, the Obama administration’s Deputy National Security advisor, defended the abstention saying, “the true face of [our] support for Israel can be seen in [the administration’s] unprecedented military and security cooperation, life-saving support to Iron Dome and a $38 billion memorandum of understanding.” Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, called Rhodes a “master of fiction [6].”

  • Another UNSC resolution to impose terms for peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is supposedly in the works [7] and the Obama administration has not ruled out pushing through more initiatives prior to leaving office in January [8]. On Wednesday, Kerry reproached Israeli settlements as the obstruction to a “viable two state solution [9].”Within 2 hours Netanyahu snapped back saying, “Israeli’s do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders.”

  • The Obama administration, which mounted two failed efforts to broker Middle East peace, became increasingly irritated due to Israeli settlement expansion during its two terms in office [10]. The Obama-Netanyahu relationship can be described as rocky at best.

Conversation Points:

  • Is the West Bank and East Jerusalem occupied Palestinian land if it was actually captured from the Jordanians in 1967 (who themselves seized it illegally in 1948)?

  • Now that the UN deemed Israel’s presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal, will Israel lose the land as a bargaining tool during future negotiations?

  • Does Obama’s “true face” towards Israel manifest itself in the work done while in office or in his actions taken as a lame duck president?

  • Was it wise for the Obama Administration to embarrass Israel, a close ally and the Middle East’s only democracy, in a forum where it is already demonized?

  • Is the two-state solution “viable” in today’s political climate?

  • Would there be peace tomorrow if Israel dismantled all settlements in the West Bank?

  • Will there be international and domestic backlash to Netanyahu’s kneejerk reactions towards countries that voted in favor of the bill?

Pakistani Defense Minister threatens to nuke Israel

Arutz Sheva Staff, December 25th 2016

Recap:

Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif threatened to nuke Israel after reading a fake news report.

The Context:

  • The fake report claimed Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons on Pakistan if it sent troops into Syria. Pakistan's Defense Ministry tweeted "Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh (ISIS). Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too." The Israeli Defense Ministry immediately reassured Pakistan that the reports were false [11].

  • Israel’s nuclear program in Dimona serves as a deterrent to Israel’s enemies in the region, however, Israel has never publicly confirmed or denied possessing nuclear weapons, nor issued threats to use nuclear weapons before [12].

  • The propagation of fake news stories has become an increasingly serious problem. Earlier this month, a North Carolina man was arrested after firing a gun at a Washington pizza store in response to a fake news article that claimed the restaurant was the epicenter of a child sex slave ring linked to Hillary Clinton [13].

Conversation Points:

  • Do media outlets and public officials have a heightened responsibility to fact check before responding to comments made on social media?

  • Should public officials be permitted to communicate via social media outlets?

Israeli missile alert technology saves lives in Chile

Michael Zeff, Jerusalem Post, December 26th 2016

Recap:

Israeli technology saves thousands following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Chile. “eVigilo specializes in mass notification and has the ability to spread countless messages in seconds through any platform with a digital signal,” said eVigilo CEO Lior Shalev.

The Context:

  • eViglio’s platform receives real-time signals from its sensors and converts them into cellular notifications, sirens and television broadcasts to alert citizens of looming catastrophes.

  • Founded in 2009, eViglio was created to alert Israeli citizens of incoming rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The company’s software now powers the entire IDF Home Front Command.

  • In 2012, an eViglio system was installed in Chile after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake killed 560 people. Two years after the deployment of eVigilo’s system, an 8.3 magnitude earthquake claimed the lives of only five victims. The system is built to regionalize alerts that pinpoint risks and allow government’s to better allocate resources.

  • eViglio was selected by the European Union (EU) to co-develop a tsunami alert system in Europe.

Conversation Points:

  • Would the EU shun eViglio’s lifesaving technology if it were produced in the West Bank?

Notes:

  1. US envoy to Israel summoned over UN settlement vote, Al Jazeera, December 26th 2016

  2. Defying U.N., Israel Prepares to Build More Settlements, Peter Baker, New York Times, December 26th 2016

  3. Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, December 26th 2016

  4. Netanyahu said to curtail working ties with Security Council nations, Times of Israel, December 25th 2016

  5. UK ‘disappointed’ Netanyahu scotched planned meet with May, Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, December 26th 2016

  6. Top Obama aide ‘not surprised, but disappointed’ by Netanyahu’s reaction to UN vote, Raoul Wootliff, December 26th 2016

  7. Israel summons US ambassador as Netanyahu lashes out at Obama, Michael Schwartz, Oren Liebermann and James Masters, CNN, December 26th 2016

  8. Top Obama aide ‘not surprised, but disappointed’ by Netanyahu’s reaction to UN vote, Raoul Wootliff, December 26th 2016

  9. Israel Postponed Vote on New Housing Before Speech by John Kerry, Peter Baker, The New York Times, December 28th 2016

  10. Israel summons US ambassador as Netanyahu lashes out at Obama, Michael Schwartz, Oren Liebermann and James Masters, CNN, December 26th 2016

  11. Reading Fake News, Pakistani Minister Directs Nuclear Threat at Israel, Russell Gold, New York Times, December 24th 2016

  12. Pakistani officials chide defense minister for Israel nuclear threat, Times of Israel, December 27th 2016

  13. Reading Fake News, Pakistani Minister Directs Nuclear Threat at Israel, Russell Gold, New York Times, December 24th 2016