Netanyahu 'told New Zealand backing UN vote would be declaration of war'

Read more on The Guardian

Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told New Zealand’s foreign minister that support for a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement-building in the occupied territories would be viewed as a “declaration of war”.

According to reports in Israeli media, the Israeli PM called Murray McCully, the foreign minister of New Zealand, before Friday’s resolution, which was co-sponsored by Wellington.  Netanyahu told him: “This is a scandalous decision. I’m asking that you not support it and not promote it.

John Kerry to underline outgoing president’s support of two-state solution with speech setting out US vision of Israel-Palestine agreement

“If you continue to promote this resolution, from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences. We’ll recall our ambassador [from New Zealand] to Jerusalem.”

McCully, however, refused to back down, telling Netanyahu: “This resolution conforms to our policy and we will move it forward.”

A western diplomat confirmed that the call took place and described the conversation as “harsh”.

Read more: Netanyahu 'told New Zealand backing UN vote would be declaration of war'

In Historic Vote City of Portland Votes to Cease Investments in All Corporate Securities Including Occupation Profiteer Caterpillar and Prison Profiteer Wells Fargo


December 23, 2016

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In Historic Vote City of Portland Votes to Suspend Investments in All Corporate Securities Including Occupation Profiteer Caterpillar and Prison Profiteer Wells Fargo

In a unanimous vote on Wednesday 12/21/16, Portland’s City Council halted investments in all corporate securities including Caterpillar and Wells Fargo, two companies of particular concern for violations of multiple criteria of the City’s Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) policy. Occupation-Free Portland, a coalition of Palestinian human rights organizations and church groups, and the Portland Prison Divestment Coalition, convened by Enlace, and representing 25 leading racial and migrant justice groups, with support from the environmental group,, joined forces to urge the City Council to make the historic move to place Caterpillar and Wells Fargo on the City’s do-not-buy list.

The coalition of groups successfully urged the City Council to support the recommendations of the appointed Socially Responsible Investment Committee (SRIC) to divest from Caterpillar and Wells Fargo for violating criteria set forth in the city’s SRI policy.

As the hearing opened, Commissioner Steve Novick introduced an amendment to add Wells Fargo and Caterpillar to the City’s Do-Not-Buy list. Commissioner Amanda Fritz immediately added an additional amendment to stop all investments in corporate securities until the new City Council can return to this issue in 2017.

The City Council’s unanimous approval of Fritz's amendment means that not only Caterpillar and Wells Fargo but every corporation is now ineligible for Portland investments.

“After today’s decision, it will be important for Caterpillar and other corporations to have discussions in their board rooms about their corporate conduct, and decide to make the change to not sell products and services to human rights abusers,” noted Palestinian-American lawyer Hala Gores.

Weighing in on the Portland City Council decision, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, comprised of over 40 Rabbis and Rabbinical Students from across North America and Israel/Palestine, stated, “Many of us in the Jewish community deeply appreciate the solidarity of people of conscience in pursuing conscientious nonviolent strategies, such as socially responsible investing as a path towards building a more ethical and sustainable world. Thank you, members of the City Council, for your commitment to ethical investing and for setting an example for other cities of what socially responsible investing looks like.”

Occupation-Free Portland Steering Committee member Maxine Fookson added, “We applaud City Commissioner Steve Novick, who, in his opening statement, countered the accusations by opponents to placing Caterpillar on the do not buy list that Occupation-Free Portland is motivated by anti-Semitism and the reference to the Jews within OFP as being ‘fringe’.”

Novick said, “I share the desire of folks in Jewish Voice for Peace” (part of Occupation-Free Portland) “to make Israel a better country. Frankly I was disturbed a few weeks ago to hear them referred to as ‘fringe Jews’”.

In earlier hearings, and in written testimony, the broad coalition of groups and community members presented compelling evidence of Caterpillar’s and Wells Fargo’s violations of human rights, tax avoidance, unfair labor practices, environmental desecration and corrupt corporate governance.

Occupation-Free Portland (OFP) focused on the case of Caterpillar, a company that knowingly sells its militarized D9 bulldozers to the Israeli military for use in home demolitions, destruction of agricultural land and destruction of Palestinian city and village infrastructure.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights state that corporations are responsible for human rights violations – even those committed by their customers’ use of their products, if the corporation knew or should have known of such use by the customer. For over a decade Caterpillar has been informed of concerns with the use of its D9 bulldozer in the Israeli occupation.

Occupation-Free Portland Steering Committee member Curt Bell said, “The City's vote yesterday afternoon makes me proud to live in a city that refuses to invest hard-earned tax dollars in companies that not only violate human rights but also desecrate the earth.”







Group headed by Trump’s Israel envoy pick sued for war crimes

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for US ambassador to Israel is the head of an organization that is being sued by Palestinians for its role in the theft of their land for settlements and other Israeli war crimes.

Announcing the nomination, the Trump transition team said that David Friedman would serve from Jerusalem, “Israel’s eternal capital” – signaling that the new administration intends to move the US embassy to the city from its current location in Tel Aviv.

Friedman is being described as “more extreme” even than the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reports, Friedman has called President Barack Obama an “anti-Semite” and labeled supporters of the liberal Zionist lobby group J Street as “kapos” – a term used to describe Jews who collaborated with the Nazis in the death camps.

Friedman supports the outright annexation of the occupied West Bank and has argued that absorbing the Palestinian population would not threaten Israel’s status as a Jewish-ruled state because, allegedly, “Nobody really knows how many Palestinians live there.”

A bankruptcy lawyer, Friedman is president of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center, a nonprofit organization that raises about $2 million a year, mostly for the Beit El settlement, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Read more: Group headed by Trump’s Israel envoy pick sued for war crimes

Gaza Water Crisis Has Caused Irreversible Damage, World Bank Warns

In interview with Haaretz, bank's local specialist warns that without more water from Israel, Gaza will continue to move toward being uninhabitable by 2020.

Irreversible damage has already been done to parts of the Coastal Aquifer in the Gaza Strip as a result of overpumping and seawater seepage, according to a senior water-sanitation specialist at the World Bank.

The financial institution is one of many local and international organizations that have been warning against, and trying to prevent, such an occurrence over the past 20 years.

“Ecologically speaking, the damage to the aquifer is getting worse, and studies have been showing a steady increase in water salinity,” said Adnan Ghosheh. This brings the Gaza Strip closer to the situation the United Nations predicted in 2014: that it will be unfit for human habitation by 2020.
As a way of expressing once again the urgency needed to rectify the situation, the World Bank issued a press release earlier this month, following which Haaretz interviewed Ghosheh.

Most of the information in the press release is not new. It notes that while 90 percent of the inhabitants of the West Bank and 85 percent of the inhabitants of the Middle East and North Africa have access to a faucet for drinking water, only 10 percent of the 2 million or so inhabitants of Gaza can safely drink the water piped into their homes. The other 90 percent do not even associate drinking water with the simple act of turning on a tap: Their water is too saline because of seawater seepage, and too dangerous because of raw sewage or gray-water seeping into the aquifer.

read more on Haaretz

Is Trump steering Israel toward diplomatic disaster?

[Zaha is a co-founder of AUPHR!]

Zaha Hassan is a human rights attorney and Middle East Fellow at New America. During Palestine's bid for UN membership and Quartet-sponsored talks between 2010 and 2012, she was the coordinator and legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Anyone interested in a just and durable resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict should be disturbed watching the Donald Trump transition unfold. 

As Israel's military occupation over Palestinian land enters its 50th year, the President-elect has nominated David Friedman, a right-wing sponsor of Israel's illegal settlement enterprise, to serve as US ambassador to Israel. 
Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer with no relevant experience, is president of the US fundraising arm for Bet El, a settlement built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. His extremist record includes calling President Obama an anti-Semite and labeling American Jews who criticize Israel's military occupation "kapos," a term used for Nazi collaborators. At a time when bold US leadership is required to stop the Israelis from flying off a cliff, destroying any chance of peace, Friedman is the exact opposite of who we need in a diplomatic position. 

Both Trump and Friedman have promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the city. At best, in one fell swoop Friedman would serve to normalize the acquisition of territory by force. At worst, such reckless disregard for international law and the highly sensitive issues involved could egg on a diplomatic Armageddon.




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