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Blair: Circumstances are ready for peace

Former British PM says the Palestinian issue is the key to reaching Middle East peace.

 

Quartet Envoy Tony Blair

Quartet Envoy Tony Blair

Former British Prime Minister and Quartet Middle East Envoy Tony Blair on Wednesday said that the circumstances are ripe for a Middle East peace process, calling all sides to seize the opportunity.

“There exists today a new path to peace. It is based not only on conventional Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but on the potential for a new relationship between the Arab nations and Israel. It is an opportunity of unprecedented promise. We must grasp it with both hands,” Blair told the 2017 Herzliya Conference.

“The credibility of the ‘peace process’ has been profoundly damaged since the Oslo accords. Whatever the explanation, the outcome for the moment is that many Palestinians have concluded that Israel is not serious about negotiating a Palestinian state, and many Israelis have concluded that Palestinian politics is incapable of running one consistent with Israel’s security,” he continued.

“This has led to such a widespread depression about the prospects for peace, that it is possible to miss a movement of momentous historical significance which offers the opportunity to change the whole dynamic in a radical and positive way,” said Blair.

Referring to the situation across the region, Blair noted that “the wider region is undergoing dramatic change and opined, “A democratic State of Israel should be in alliance with the nations of the region, because Israel faces the same external threats and shares the same strategic interests.”

“A new relationship between Arabs and Israelis is definitely today possible; and tantalizingly close,” he added, and went on to stress, “But the key to a true relationship, where there is overt, public and strategic collaboration – remains the Palestinian question. It is possible – indeed I would argue necessary – to find a new way forward to manage and ultimately resolve that question; but it is not possible, in my view, to set it aside.”

Blair stressed the importance of a regional cooperation in any future peace process, saying, “The new way forward is to integrate the regional approach with a traditional negotiation. The engagement of the region provides the strength to help carry any peace process. What is necessary is not only Arab support for a traditional peace negotiation but active engagement with it. Of course the obstacles are also formidable. The legacy of past conflict and mistrust is still visible. The uncertainty persists as to whether what is desirable is achievable. Public opinion in the Arab world is changing but has a long way to go and the Palestinian issue must be on a genuine path to resolution.”

Referring to Gaza, the former British Prime Minister said, “I maintain that leaving it in its present condition – and for this moment let us not debate why this condition exists – threatens all we wish to achieve. I have discussed and put forward proposals, with various interested parties, as to how this situation can be eased particularly around electricity. I hope we find a way through. But I cannot over-state that any peace process which ignores Gaza is a process doomed to fail.”

Blair served as the envoy of the Middle East Quartet until he resigned in 2015, but has continued to act independently to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Reports last year said Blair was on a list of several international figures behind a failed move designed to legitimize the addition of the Zionist Union to the Israeli coalition, in an attempt to then restart peace talks.

Earlier this year, British media reported that Blair had contacts with U.S. President Donald Trump about the possibility of becoming his Middle East adviser. Blair denied the reports.

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Israel cuts electricity supply to Gaza for 3rd day

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Israel cuts electricity supply to Gaza for 3rd day

Israel cut the electricity it supplies to the Gaza Strip for the third day, honoring a request by PA leader Abbas.

 

Fuel tanker arrives at Gaza's power plant

Fuel tanker arrives at Gaza’s power plant

Reuters

Israel cut the electricity it supplies to the Gaza Strip for the third day, honoring a request by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The cuts to Gaza City and southern Gaza were made Wednesday, amounting to a 30 percent cut over the past three days.

Gaza residents are getting two to three hours of electricity per every 24 hours, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported Wednesday.

Israel’s security cabinet decided last week to agree to the Abbas request.

Also Wednesday, the Egyptian government began trucking in industrial-use diesel fuel via the Rafah border crossing to run the Gaza’s one power plant, which had been idle after electricity officials said they could not afford a PA-imposed tax on diesel that doubled the price of operating the plant, according to Maan.

Abbas said he would reduce the amount of money the PA pays Israel to supply the electricity by 40 percent, with a concurrent reduction in the amount of electricity delivered. He reportedly made the decision in order to put pressure on Hamas in Gaza.

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Kushner and Abbas hold ‘productive’ meeting

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Kushner and Abbas hold ‘productive’ meeting

Trump’s son-in-law, PA chairman and others discuss Trump’s efforts to achieve peace with Israel.

 

Kushner and Abbas

Kushner and Abbas

U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome, met on Wednesday night with Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, the White House described it as “productive”.

The sides “reaffirmed their commitment to advancing President Trump’s goal of a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians that enhances stability in the region,” said the statement.

Kushner, Greenblatt and Abbas discussed “priorities for the Palestinians and potential next steps, acknowledging the need for economic opportunities for Palestinians and major investments in the Palestinian economy.”

Kushner, who was in the region for one day to advance Trump’s peace plan, also met on Wednesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Following that meeting, the American side reported that it was “positive and fruitful” and that both sides reaffirmed their commitment to advancing the goal set by Trump to achieve a real and stable peace between Israel and the PA.

American officials stressed during the meeting that achieving peace will take time, and that it is important to do everything possible to create an atmosphere conducive to peacemaking.

While in Israel, Kushner and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman paid a condolence visit to the family of Hadas Malka, the Border Policewoman who was murdered in last Friday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem.

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Terrorist released from prison returns to terror

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Terrorist released from prison returns to terror

Police arrest a 21-year-old resident of eastern Jerusalem on suspicions of belonging to a terror organization. Indictment tomorrow.

 

Arrest

Arrest

A 21-year-old youth from eastern Jerusalem was arrested recently following a covert investigation against him over the course of the past month conducted by Israeli Police and the Shin Bet.

The youth is suspected of belonging to and supporting a terror organization, and of inciting to terror and violence.

The youth has already been convicted in the past of incitement and violence, terror and support for a terror organization, and even served an 8-month jail sentence from which he was released 9 months ago.

According to suspicions, after he was released from prison, he returned to supporting terror, and even joined an active terror organization in the Ramallah area, soon advancing in the group’s ranks to a senior position and taking advantage of his rank for incitement, terror, and violence.

The secret investigation was revealed last week after the youth’s arrest at his home in eastern Jerusalem by police.

The youth’s arrest was extended by the court, and tomorrow the prosecution is expected to submit an indictment against him for “activity and membership in a terror organization” and to request that his arrest be extended until the end of proceedings against him.

 

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Leftists sue to block construction of Amona replacement town

Just days after construction of Amichai began in Samaria, left-wing NGO goes to court to block new town’s establishment.

 

Work begins on Amichai

Work begins on Amichai

A far-left NGO has turned to the Israeli Supreme Court to block the construction of a new town in Samaria – Amichai – to replace Amona, following its evacuation and demolition in February.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on his Facebook page that work had finally begun on Amichai – half a year after the government agreed to build the replacement town for evacuated Amona residents.

“Today, work has begun on the ground, as I promised, for the establishment of a new town for the residents of Amona. I have the merit of being the Prime Minister to build the first new town in Judea and Samaria after decades [of no new towns being authorized].”

Amichai, which is being built in the Shiloh bloc in Samaria, will house the 42 families evacuated from Amona on February 1st.

Earlier this month, the Civil Administration authorized the new town, making Amichai the first new officially sanctioned Jewish town in Judea and Samaria in a quarter century, since the Rabin government imposed a freeze on new towns in 1992.

But on Thursday, the radical left-wing Yesh Din organization filed an urgent appeal with the Supreme Court, calling for work on Amichai to be suspended, NRG reported.

According to the Yesh Din appeal, the Civil Administration’s authorization of the new town must be nullified, since it allegedly includes a small area of privately-owned Arab land.

The town council of the Arab village of Jalud, located near the Shiloh bloc, is also listed in the appeal.

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‘All the embassies should move to Jerusalem’

‘All the embassies should move to Jerusalem’

Netanyahu says the natural location for all foreign embassies is Jerusalem, as it is Israel’s capital.

 

Binyamin Netanyahu

Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening attended a conference of Likud activists and expressed his full support for the moving of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people. It is the capital of the State of Israel. All the embassies, and especially the Embassy of our friend the United States, should move to Jerusalem. This is their natural place,” said Netanyahu.

Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) welcomed Netanyahu’s remarks and said, “I welcome the Prime Minister’s unequivocal demand in his speech that all embassies move to Jerusalem, first and foremost the American embassy.”

Netanyahu’s comments came amid reports that President Donald Trump has decided that the U.S. Embassy in Israel would remain in Tel Aviv and not move to Jerusalem.

The Hebrew-language 360 news website reported on Wednesday that Trump had made this decision and had already informed Netanyahu about it.

Later on Wednesday, however, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders told reporters that Trump had not made a decision on the embassy move and was still reviewing the possibility.

“I’m not going to get into the decision making process here. All I can tell you is that he’s reviewing it and as soon as he has a decision we’ll be happy to report back to you,” she said.

The last communication on the issue was received from Vice President Mike Pence, who said at a reception in honor of Israel’s Independence Day that the Trump administration was still considering the Embassy move.

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‘Israel and the United States have an unbreakable bond’

Shaked meets Sessions:

‘Israel and the United States have an unbreakable bond’

Israel’s Justice Minister meets Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington.

 

Jeff Sessions and Ayelet Shaked

Jeff Sessions and Ayelet Shaked

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) on Thursday met with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington.

“Today I had the honor of meeting with Attorney General Sessions, and I would like to thank him for his warm welcome,” she said.

“Israel and the United States have an unbreakable bond. We share common values – promoting democracy, upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights. In these difficult times, we also face common challenges – challenges like the rise of terrorism fueled by radical Islam, cyber threats and organized crime.”

“The United States Department of Justice and Israel’s Ministry of Justice collaborate closely on these and other issues, and we look forward to building upon the many ties that have been forged over the years,” continued Shaked.

“In the course of our meeting, I raised with Attorney General Sessions some topics of mutual interest. In our efforts to combat terrorism, I presented Israel’s new Anti-Terrorism Act, which provides more legal tools to law enforcement authorities to meet today’s challenges,” she said.

“In addition, cybercrime and online incitement are growing concerns in Israel, and I was happy to exchange views and ideas with Attorney General Sessions on these matters. The development of cybersecurity law, of course, is also an important topic we discussed.”

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to be working with Attorney General Sessions,” she concluded.

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