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For Israel and Palestine one choice stands above all: Whether to choose peace or death, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Addressing the Security Council over the situation in Middle East, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon on Tuesday said that the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict issue lies in the peace talks.

“For both sides in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one choice stands above all: Whether to choose peace or death,” Ban Ki moon said in New York.

Too many lives have been lost, too many families have been destroyed, too many livelihoods have been shattered, and too much distrust has been sown, added Ban Ki moon.

Expressing his concern over the conflict, the Secretary-General said, “Over the years, we have seen determined efforts to achieve a comprehensive, negotiated peace based on a two-state solution.  Instead of peace, however, there have been decades of missed opportunities and failures that have come at an enormous human cost.  The prospect of a two-state solution continues to recede, with potentially explosive consequences,”

Ban Ki moon urged the new Israeli government to reaffirm Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution and take credible steps to foster an environment conducive to a return to meaningful negotiations.

“Seven months since my last visit to Gaza, I continue to be concerned by the fragile security situation, the lack of progress on intra-Palestinian reconciliation and the pace of reconstruction, ” the Secretary-General said, and added, ” The impact of the conflict and of extreme poverty on Palestinians in Gaza has been severe.  I urge the international community to support a second humanitarian payment to Palestinian civil servants in Gaza as an integral part of the necessary and agreed crucial reforms.”

The international community must do more to promote a return to negotiations that will end nearly half a century of occupation and allow two states, Israel and Palestine, to live side-by-side in security and peace, he said.

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Trump to Announce US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital, Move Embassy

President Trump in a historic move can soon announce U.S recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

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Jerusalem to be named Israeli capital
Palestinian protesters burn pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump at the manger square in Bethlehem, Dec. 5, 2017. Trump told Mideast leaders in phone calls that he would announce U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital (VOA)

President Donald Trump plans to announce Wednesday that the United States is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The decision is likely to cause an uproar throughout the Arab world. But the White House says Trump is merely recognizing what it calls a historic and modern reality.

To soften what could be a hard blow, Trump telephoned five Middle East leaders Tuesday to brief them on his decision — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

A White House statement gave few details of the conversations except to say, “The leaders also discussed potential decisions regarding Jerusalem.” It added that Trump reaffirmed his commitment to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

White House officials said late Tuesday that Trump recognized Jerusalem is not only the historic capital of the Jewish people, it has been the seat of the Israeli government since the founding of modern Israel in 1948.

The officials said the president would order the State Department to start making plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv. They said it would take years to find a site, secure funding and construct a new building. Until then, Trump will sign the usual waiver postponing the relocation.

Under a law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the embassy must be relocated to Jerusalem unless the president signs a waiver every six months stating that moving the embassy would threaten U.S. national security. Every president since Clinton has signed the waiver, including Trump.

Dennis Ross was U.S. point man on the Middle East peace process under three presidents and worked with Israelis and Palestinians to reach the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1995. He said Tuesday that Trump appeared to be leaving a lot of room for both Israelis and Arabs to maneuver in the new environment.

“It’s very important for the president to create a lot of ‘handles’ or ‘hooks’ for our friends to say, fundamentally, this does not change the ability of Palestinians, the Arabs who tend to see Jerusalem not just (as) a Palestinian issue but a regional issue, that their position, their concern, their claim still has to be part of the negotiation process and that hasn’t been pre-empted,” Ross said in a briefing for reporters. “That seems to me to be the key to this.”

Some officials in Washington expressed concern about the potential for a violent backlash against Israel and American interests in the region as a result of Trump’s announcement.

Input from Tillerson

When asked whether Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “on board” with a decision that could put U.S. citizens and troops in the Middle East at risk, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the secretary “has made his positions clear to the White House. I think the Department of Defense has as well. But it is ultimately the president’s decision to make. He is in charge.”

In a security message released Tuesday, the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, noting widespread calls for demonstrations this week, barred personal travel by American government workers and their families in Jerusalem’s Old City and West Bank, including Bethlehem and Jericho, until further notice.

U.S. embassies worldwide also were ordered to increase security.

White House officials said that in recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Trump would be fulfilling a major campaign promise. They said the physical location of the U.S. Embassy was no impediment toward negotiating a final peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

Jerusalem Old city
A framed photo of Jerusalem’s Old City hangs in a juice stand, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Dec. 5, 2017. The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem on Dec. 5 barred personal travel by American government workers and their families in Jerusalem’s Old City and West Bank, including Bethlehem and Jericho, until further notice.(VOA)

The officials said by moving the embassy, the president is not making a decision on any boundaries or sovereignty in Jerusalem. Those are matters to be negotiated as part of a two-state solution — something the officials say Trump believes is within reach.

The officials said Trump was encouraged by the progress made my his Middle East peace team, even if whatever progress has been made may not be apparent.

Seized in 1967

Israel seized control over Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed East Jerusalem. Israel has always said an undivided Jerusalem is its eternal capital. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Jerusalem is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest place in Islam. For Jews, it is the Temple Mount, the holiest site of all.

Arab and Muslim states have warned that any decision to move the U.S. Embassy could inflame tensions in the region and destroy U.S. efforts to reach an Arab-Israeli peace agreement.

Jerusalem as Israel Capital
Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, Jerusalem (VOA)

Senior Palestinian leader Nabil Shaath said Trump would no longer be seen as a credible mediator. “The Palestinian Authority does not condone violence, but it may not be able to control the street and prevent a third Palestinian uprising,” he said, speaking in Arabic.

Gerald Feierstein, director for Gulf affairs and government relations at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said the level of anger the announcement might provoke depends greatly on how Trump presents the issue.

“If the president just says, ‘We recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,’ without trying to define it further and without actually beginning the process of moving the embassy, then it’s a big nothingburger,” he told VOA.

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FILE – President Donald Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Jan. 28, 2017.(VOA)

Feierstein, who served as U.S. ambassador to Yemen, and later as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs under former President Barack Obama, said if Trump went any further, it could trigger a backlash and deal a crushing blow to peace efforts.

“If what he says is perceived as, or is in fact, a recognition of all of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and he is no longer maintaining the international position that Jerusalem is to be divided and that East Jerusalem is to become the capital of the Palestinian state once there is an agreement, then that is going to have a very negative effect on the peace process,” Feierstein said.

“So the devil is in the details about how significant this is going to be,” he said.

VOA’s Cindy Saine at the State Department contributed to this report.(VOA)

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Iraqi Parliament puts a Ban on Display of Israeli Flag and ‘Zionist’ Symbols Across the Country

Speaker of the Iraqi parliament announced the raising of Israeli flag in the country as a punishable offence that would be dealt with criminal prosecution

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An Israeli Flag Flies on a hill near Bethlehem. VOA.

Erbil, November 1: Following the display of Israeli flag in pro-independence Kurdish rallies, the Iraqi parliament, known as the Council of Representatives, voted Tuesday to ban the Israeli flag, describing it as a Zionist symbol.

“A dangerous phenomenon, representing the hoisting of the Zionist entity flag during public rallies in front of the media, has recently appeared that breaks the basic constitutional principles of Iraq,” Salim al-Jabouri, Speaker of the Iraqi parliament, said while announcing the law that vows criminal prosecution against those who raise the Israeli flag in the country.

“This is an exercise that damages the reputation of Iraq and its nation and the law punishes it by the maximum penalties,” the speaker added.

The law was introduced by the parliamentary bloc of the Shiite Supreme Islamic Council and was unanimously approved by other members of the Iraqi parliament. It ordered law enforcement to pursue criminal charges against “those who promote Zionist symbols in public rallies in any form, including the hoisting of the Zionist flag.”

Israeli flags were appearing frequently during Kurdish rallies in the run up to the Kurdish referendum vote that was held Sept. 25, with 92 percent voting in favor of secession from the central government in Baghdad.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has said their hoisting at the gatherings was “spontaneous” and did not reflect the position of the government, which cannot formally establish relations with Israel due to the policy of the government in Baghdad that does not recognize Israel as a state.

Israeli Flag
Salim al-Jabouri, Speaker of the Iraqi parliament announced the display of Israeli flag as a criminal offence. VOA.

‘A second Israel’

Some officials of the central government in Baghdad and elements in the neighboring Turkey and Iran have accused Kurdish leaders of secret ties with what they termed “Zionists” and have described the Kurdish bid for independence an orchestrated plan to establish “the second Israel in Middle East.”

Israel is denying any involvement in the controversial referendum, but it is the only country that has openly supported the Kurdish aspirations for independence.

“The Kurds demonstrate national maturity and international maturity,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month. “We have very great sympathy for their desires and the world needs to concern itself with their safety and with their future.”

Other countries — including the United States and EU members which consider the Kurdistan Regional Government a reliable ally, particularly in the current fight against IS — have publicly opposed the Kurdish referendum, arguing that the move diverts attention from the more crucial fight against the Islamic State in the region.

U.S. officials say the cooperation between the Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga and the Iraqi army played a critical role in removing the Islamic State fighters from Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul. They say the Kurdish vote for independence has disrupted that cooperation and resulted in clashes between the region and the central government, particularly on the fate of territories disputed between both sides. (VOA)

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Manhattan attack proves all you need is a vehicle, a crowd and a will to kill to be a Terrorist ; Here is how Twitter reacted

Various American news channels have since run chilling NYPD audio that was recorded as the entire scene unfolded. In one of the recordings, an officer can be heard reporting multiple casualties and calling it a “mass-casualty situation”.

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A Home Depot truck which struck down multiple people on a bike path, killing several and injuring numerous others is seen as New York City first responders are at the crime scene in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, Oct. 31, 2017.VOA

New York, November 1, 2017 : A man in a Home Depot rental truck sped for nearly a mile along the Hudson river in lower Manhattan, injuring more than a dozen people, and then shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

The man held responsible for the Manhattan attack, identified as Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old immigrant from Uzebkistan drove a rental truck into a pedestrian and bike path in New York City and went on until the truck rammed into a school bus.

According to a report by the New York Post, Saipov was shot and wounded by the New York Police after he got out of his car with realistic-looking guns, all while screaming “Allahu Akbar” – Arabic which means God is Good.

The Manhattan attack, which unfolded at a close proximity to the World Trade Center has killed eight people and injured at least 11 civilians, which includes three children, who were immediately rushed to local hospitals.

According to briefing by the New York police, six of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene while two victims perished at the hospital.

ALSO READ New York terror attack: 8 dead, suspect in custody (Third Lead)

Various American news channels have since run chilling NYPD audio that was recorded as the entire scene unfolded.

In one of the tapes obtained by CBS, a police officer can be heard saying, “There’s multiple people on the ground, Central. We need buses all the way up to Houston [Street], Central.’’

In another recording, an officer can be heard reporting multiple casualties and calling it a “mass-casualty situation”.

Twitter was quick to react to the slaughter-attack as the hashtags #ManhattanAttack and #NewYork continue to trend. Here is what Twitterati has to say,

While at one end, some Twitter users maintain that an attack by an individual must not fetch backlash for an entire community, some social activists believe otherwise.

The Manhattan attack has also been condemned by India as various news portals and individuals tweeted about the same, expressing grief and concern. ‘India stands by United States’, read a tweet by Indian President, Ram Nath Kovind.

Security is of prime importance; this concern was reflected in multiple tweets from people around the world.

 

Twitter users were quick to point out differences between the Manhattan attack and the Las Vegas shooting.

Such actions are intended to break the spirit of a city, but New Yorkers are strong and resilient. However, that does not mean the attack should be overlooked or dealt with leniently.

US President Donald Trump strongly condemned the attack and took to Twitter to voice his stand – he announced that such acts will not be tolerated in the US and Homeland security will look into it.

The method of the Manhattan attack mimics other ISIS-directed and inspired attacks that have previously occurred in different countries like the attacks in Nice, London and France.

These attacks are difficult to prevent as it is difficult for authorities to know if an individual will ram a vehicle into a crowd of innocent civilians.

However, due to the ease of its execution, these types of attacks are being increasingly carried out in recent years. After all, all you need is a truck, a car or a van, a crowd of people and a will to kill.