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Terrorism, climate change on Mukherjee’s agenda for talks with Israel

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Jerusalem: Terrorism and climate change will be among the prominent areas during President Pranab Mukherjee’s talks with the Israeli leadership on Wednesday, as the two sides seek to take their ties to a new level with collaborations in a host of subjects.

The president will meet his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day and also address the Knesset, the country’s parliament.

Ahead of the meetings, Mukherjee listed the growing menace of terrorism and extremism, climate change and reforms in global governance as areas where he was keen to discuss with President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“I will seek the assessment of the Israeli leadership about recent developments in the region which have caused concern all over the world and have direct implications for India,” Mukherjee said.

“We are disturbed at the recent violence. India condemns all forms of violence. We have always sought a peaceful resolution of disputes,” the president said.

The remarks, made soon after he was accorded a ceremonial welcome here on Wednesday morning, come against the backdrop of both Israel and Palestine blaming the other for the recent escalation in conflict, which is claiming lives of the nationals of both countries.

The remarks assume greater significance as the president arrived here after visiting Palestine on Tuesday evening, where the leaders wanted New Delhi to strongly take up the issue with the Israelis.

In fact, Mukherjee — during his various engagements in Palestine — had assured India’s full support for the country’s cause, including a separate statehood with East Jerusalem as the capital.

On more than one occasion, he said such support was initiated when India became independent in 1947 and continues even today.

But the Israeli side has been equally concerned that the Indian president did not raise the issue of violence with Palestine from their perspective.

Other areas Mukherjee listed for talks included cooperations in agriculture, defence, education, research, science and cyber security.

“We are also discovering and identifying new areas of complementarities where there is significant potential to be realised. We agree that there are tremendous opportunities for mutually-beneficial collaboration,” Mukherjee said.

(By Arvind Padmanabhan, IANS)

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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.

Donald Trump
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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Israeli Flag
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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There Are Much More Commonalities Between Jews and Hindus Than You Think, Read on to Know More!

Indian and Jewish people have had a very long and fruitful relationship

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jews and hindus
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the King David hotel in Jerusalem Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Israel and India have signed a series of agreements to cooperate in the fields of technology, water and agriculture. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) (VOA)

by Jai Nath Misra

New Delhi, September 18, 2017 : Although I had always wanted to visit Israel but for security reasons my wife and I decided against it but that was a few years ago.However after prime minister Modi’s highly successful visit to Israel I decided to follow suit and go to Israel. I asked my travel agent in Mumbai to arrange a tailor made itinerary for my trip to Israel and he did not let me down. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time in Israel.

Long Established Indo-Israel Relations

As you know that Jews and Hindus have had a very long and fruitful relationship. Baghdadi Jews came to India over a thousand years ago and settled happily in various cities and became a part of society. Antisemitism or dislike of Jews has existed in many parts of the world  and still does e.g in Arab countries and most of Europe but in India this word is unheard of and of course this fact is well known to all Israelis. 

jews and hindus
Misra infront of western wall ,a very sacred place for Jewish people

If you were to compare India and Israel then you will find there are some startling similarities between the two countries.Both countries are democracies,India being the largest democracy in the world , both became independent at the same time i.e in the year 1947. Israel is a Jewish state with a Muslim minority and India is a mainly Hindu country with a Muslim minority. These two countries have not broken  link with their past cultural traditions ,religious history etc. In other words these two countries have continued to follow the ancient customs and the way of life like their forefathers. But the course of events in the rest of the world has been very different and as a result of that we find that the population of the world today is just under half Christians and a similar proportion Islamic. 

Are Jews and Hindus At Risk From Dominant Religions?

My concern is that taking all the above factors that I have mentioned India and Israel have to work very closely together or else the Jews and Hindus run the risk of being squeezed out of existence by the two large group of countries i.e Christian and Islamic. Although it may sound rather a startling suggestion but the probability of such a situation occurring is worth bearing in mind.


The author is a London-based NRI and a political activist, most notably known for his efforts in support of the Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

 


 

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