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UNSC should act to freeze Israeli settlements in West Bank

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Israeli regime exists due mainly to its illegal operations as a part of its state policy of expansionism, backed by USA and its NATO allies. Palestinian authority has once again called on the United Nations Security Council to act against Israeli settlement building, in the wake of the latest Jerusalem Municipality’s decision, on instruction from Tel Aviv, to advance 770 new Jewish homes in its Gilo neighborhood, which is located over the Green Line.

“This is yet another opportunity for the international community to show its real commitment for the two-state solution, and to take all needed action in order to have Israel fully cease settlement construction in the occupied state of Palestine,” said PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat.

Erekat said that he has asked the State of Egypt and the leaders of Arab countries to call for an urgent meeting of the Arab Quartet, in order to submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council to halt settlement expansion.”

Discrimination based on religion, race and sex would be illegal in any other civilized country. But Israel argues its illegal settlement law is final and ultimate. It added that building for Jews is advanced everywhere in the capital based on Zionist “construction laws” and the city’s master zoning plan, and that such construction is important to ensure the city’s future by providing housing for young couples.

Terror state’s criminal settlements

Though Tel Aviv is its large capital as approved by all big powers, including USA and UK, Israel , in order to deny the Palestinians their right to make Jerusalem its capital, maintains that Jerusalem would remain its united capital in any final status agreement with the Palestinians for a two-state solution if the world wants. As such, it argues that it has a right to build Jewish houses for its criminal minded “residents” in all areas of the city. “We won’t lend a hand to a freeze of Jewish building in Israel’s capital,” said the Jerusalem municipality.

Israel uses its illegal settlements inside Palestine territories to get maximum concessions from Palestine and Quartet member states. The plan for what is known as Gilo’s southern slope was submitted on July 21 before the Jerusalem District and Planning Committee, which means that there is now a 60-day objection period. Initial approval for the project was given in 2012, as the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status by recognizing it as a non-member state, rather than an observer mission. The municipality said that depositing the plans was simply a technical action that followed from that initial 2012 approval.

According to the non-governmental group Ir Amim, the project if approved would help solidify Israel’s iron-terror hold on the southwest perimeter of the capital, which abuts both the Palestinian city of Bethlehem and the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank.

The municipality is already building 797 new homes on Gilo’s western slope, near the site slated for the new 770 unit project. Gilo is located near the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa, and the location of what will be the new Jewish neighborhood of Givat Hamatos. Palestinians have argued that an Israeli action in that end of the city is creating a wedge that is isolating Bethlehem from Israeli- Arab neighborhoods of the city and the surrounding Palestinian villages.

Israel-US terror twins fool world on two state solutions

Israel has been isolated on Palestine issue but it still calls all shots thanks to USA. Off and on Tel Aviv does talk about “two state solution” but only as a ploy to fool the world. Any wedge, real or artificial, the Palestinians have claimed, would make it difficult to enact a two-state solution that places east Jerusalem within the boundaries of a Palestinian state. “While Israeli ministers complain about a ‘building freeze,’ Israel continues its policy of one-sided actions that complicate and distance the possibility for a two-state solution,” said Ir Amim. “The past year makes it clear that the peace and security which Israelis deserve require a totally different policy.”

Erekat said that “Israeli settlement construction in general, and in and around Occupied East Jerusalem in particular, is part of Israel’s political decision to bury the two-state solution by consolidating its illegal occupation and apartheid regime over the Palestinian people.”

The UN condemned the Gilo project, and said it too was concerned by its impact on the diplomatic process. “I reiterate that settlements are illegal under international law, and urge the government of Israel to cease and reverse such decisions,” said Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator to the Middle East peace process. He noted that earlier this month the Quartet — composed of the United States, Russia, the UN and the European Union — had issued a report in which it called on Israel to stop such building. “Continuing on the current trajectory entrenches a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples,” he added.

Mladenov said he was also worried about reports that settlers were attempting to rebuild an outpost in the Kiryat Arba settlement, known as Mitzpe Avichai. The two projects, he said, “come against the backdrop of statements by some Israeli ministers that there should never be a Palestinian state or calls for the full annexation of the West Bank. Such moves raise legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions.”

PLO Secretary General, Dr. Saeb Erekat on Monday had strongly condemned the decision of the occupation authorities to advance plans to build 770 units in the illegal settlement of Gilo, built on lands of the Palestinian towns and villages of: Beit Jala, Beit Safafa and Wallajeh, between Bethlehem and Occupied East Jerusalem. “This approval comes as Israel continues the construction of its Annexation Wall in the same area (Cremisan), as part of Israel’s settlement enterprise in the Occupied State of Palestine,” Erekat said. In an official statement, Erekat said that such a decision further reflects the failure of the international community to stop Israel’s settlement expansion.

The decision comes as Israel receives more assurances that no action will be taken against its illegal policies of colonization and annexation of Occupied Territory, a war crime under International law. Israeli settlement construction in general, and in and around Occupied East Jerusalem in particular, is part of Israel’s political decision to bury the two-state solution by consolidating its illegal occupation and Apartheid regime over the Palestinian people.”

However, Erekat said that this is yet another opportunity for the international community to show its real commitment for the two-state solution and take all needed action in order to have Israel fully cease settlement construction in the Occupied State of Palestine. “We have asked the State of Egypt and the leaders of Arab countries during our recent visit to call for an urgent meeting of the Arab Quartet in order to submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council to halt settlement expansion.” Erekat added. He concluded that the PA will continue to exert all efforts to confront the Israeli illegal colonization projects with all possible tools towards ending the occupation and establishing our independent sovereign state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow considers the existing status quo on Palestine inadmissible and calls for relaunching the negotiation process. “We also intend to continue to provide all possible assistance in resolving the Palestinian problem acting through both the bilateral channels and within various multilateral formats,” the head of state said in his message of greetings to the heads of state and government of the Arab League member-countries. “We believe the existing status quo in unacceptable and favor creating the conditions for the speedy relaunching of the negotiation process that will be aimed at creating an independent, viable and integral Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem peacefully coexisting with its neighbors,” the president said.

Russia did propose to mediate between the two and find a amicable solution. USA disapproves of Russian role in any peace talks between Palestine and Israel.

The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict

While with its expansionist-holocaust agenda in Palestine, Israel remains the unavoidable obstacle to peace in West Asia- beyond Mideast- USA with its immoral backing to the illegal regime and its crimes against Palestinians makes developments worse for the besieged Palestinians.

In fact it is the support of USA and its imperialist allies that forces Israeli military and Mossad to keep attacking the Palestinians, killing even children so that they could achieve a total and complete holocaust of Palestinians and Israel could be the owners of all Palestinian lands. A full expansionism!

This immoral and illegal partnership extends back to the creation of the Jewish state when the United States recognized it. The history of this partnership has been described in many books, in the beginning, mostly favorable to Israel then gradually, over the years, becoming more and more hostile to it as the truth of Israel’s activities to establish itself as a nuke cum terror nation in Palestine at the expense of the indigenous population of the Palestinian peoples has come to light.

Israel has succeeded during its expansionist regime in Mideast upon its imposition on Palestine lands, in fully terrorizing the Palestinians and at same time naming them the so-called “terrorists”. USA and its fascist allies now call the victims in Palestine as theorists and aggressor Israel as the “affected” nation.

In fact, it is the Palestinians who face a real existential threat from US-Israeli terror twins – and not Israel as Madam Clinton keeps crying loud for the Jewish votes in the poll for the presidency. After all, Israel literally controls entire West Asia and entire third world which it sells terror goods, including India, a so-called terror victim a so-called terror victim.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has paid some attention to horrors of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years, that America, a staunch defender of Zionist crimes on UNSC by its veto, has been playing mischief by actively playing an effective partner in Israel’s continued effacement of Palestine from the map of the Middle East.

Of course, the hardcore fanatics Zionists who run Israel deny that there is hostility to its misrule, and the Zionists in the Jewish Diaspora in the US, UK, Europe and elsewhere fully support this line. However, more and more of those very people are beginning to wonder if Israel’s position in the world is as acceptable as it could be had it not turned from its original hopes for a peaceful home for the Jewish people into a war mongering nautilus attempting to divide the Middle East into a splintering of failed states. In this, the United States is perfectly complicit, if not actually the main cause.

Israel has used the US as its protector and supporter, while the US has used Israel as the raison d’être for its own bellicosity in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Jeremy Hammond has taken upon himself the task of explaining in great detail the relationship between Israel and the US, and how the US aids and abets the Jewish State to sustain a stranglehold on the Palestinians. In fact, is quite easy to explain the blood thirsty behavior of Israeli Jews and hatred of Global Jews for Islam. USA and Europe also have similar hate “feelings” toward Islam and Palestine.

Observation

For years, the world has been wondering why Israel and the Palestinians cannot sit down over a peace pipe and work out their differences. It would seem simple to end the killing and suffering of thousands of Palestinians and a few Jewish peoples. But Israel makes it difficult even for USA, Russia and France to create two independent and equal states side by side, and it opposes merger into one secular state with all citizens having equal rights.

The rise of Hamas and the Zionist aggression in the name of Operation Cast Lead, the first war on Gaza (more of a chicken-shoot slaughter than a war) show Israel controls the behavior of Palestinians in general and Hamas and others in Gaza in particular . The numerous attempts at a peace process were never planned to succeed and solve the crisis. The hypocrisy of Obama and his role in obstructing progress in making peace did not let the bogus peace talks to succeed.

A two-state solution alone can find an end to this crisis. Now, some experts believe that if a one-state solution is what is ultimately sought, then Palestine must have sovereignty through its own state before it can negotiate on equal terms for sharing one state. That sounds logical, but given Israel’s and America’s intransigence, there is no way a two solution could ever be attained.

Israel is adamant as the illegal occupier of Palestine. As Israel plays mischief and hides behind the Pentagon-CIA twins, peace talks, tried many times, and peace seems further away today than ever before.

In every instant of Israel’s crimes against humanity, the USA seconds Israel’s justifications. But then, given the US’ own crimes against humanity in its illegal wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc., why wouldn’t they?

American foreign policy has failed miserably and one of the major causes is Israel whose genocides it is bent upon defending. . .

Middle East

Saudi Arabia and Iran cold war

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After almost seven decades, the cold war has reached the middle east, turning into a religious war of words and diplomacy. As Winston Churchill says that “diplomacy is an art of telling someone to go to hell in such a way that they ask for the direction”. So, both the regional powers are trying to pursue a policy of subduing the adversary in a diplomatic manner. The root of the conflict lies in the 1979, Iranian revolution, which saw the toppling of the pro-western monarch shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi and replaced by the so-called supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. From a Yemini missile attack to the assassination of the supreme commander QassimSoleimani, the political, ideological and religious differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia are taking the path of confrontation. The perennial rivalry between the two dominant Shiite and Sunni power house ins an ideological and religious one rather than being geo strategic or geo political. Back to the time when Saudi Arabia supported Saddam Hussain against the united states of Americathe decline of Saddam and his authoritarian regime was made inevitable and with this, Iran and Saudi Arabia rosed as the powerful, strategic and dominant political forces in the middle east.it was from here that the quest for supremacy to be the prepotent and commanding political powercommenced. The tensions escalated or in other words almost tended to turn into scuffles when in 2016, the Iranians stormed the Saudi embassy as a demonstration of the killing of a Shia cleric. The diplomatic ties were broken and chaos and uncertainty prevailed.

This cold war also resembles the original one., because it is also fueled by a blend of ideological conviction and brute power politics but at the same time unlike the original cold war, the middle eastern cold war is multi-dimensional and is more likely to escalate .it is more volatile and thus more prone to transformation. This followed by several incidents with each trying to isolate the other in international relations. The Saudis and Iranians have been waging proxy wars for regional dominance for decades. Yemen and Syria are the two battlegrounds, fueling the Iran-Saudi tensions. Iran has been accused of providing military assistance to the rebel Houthis, which targets the Saudi territory. It is also accused of attacking the world naval ships in the strait of Hormoz, something Iran strongly denies.  This rivalry has dragged the region into chaos and ignited Shia-Sunni conflict across the middle east. The violence in the middle east due to this perennial hostility has also dire consequences for the economy of the war-torn nations. In the midst of the global pandemic, when all the economic activities are at halt, the tensions between the two arch rivals will prove hazardous and will yield catastrophic results. The blockade of the shipping and navigation in the Gulf, attacks on international ships, and the rising concerns of the western powers regarding this issue has left Iran as an isolated country with only Russia supporting her.

A direct military conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran will have dire consequences for the neighboringcountries. A direct military confrontation might not be a planned one, but it will be fueled due to the intervention of the other key partners, who seek to sought and serve their personal and national intrigues. Most importantly middle east cannot afford a conflict as it is a commercial hub for the world. The recent skirmishes in Iraq sparked fears of wider war when Iraq retaliated for killings of QassimSoleimani. If the US president had not extended an olive branch, the situation might have worsened. The OIC, which is a coalition of 57 Muslim countries has also failed in bringing measures to deescalate the growing tensions. The OIC, where the Saudi Arabia enjoys an authoritarian style of dominance has always tried to empower her own ideology while rising the catch cry of being a sacred country to all the Muslims. Taking in account, the high tensions and ideological and the quest for religious dominance, the international communities such as UN and neighboring countries should play a positiveand vital role in deescalating these tensions. Bilateral trade, communications between the two adversaries with a regional power playing the role of mediator and extending an olive branch to each other will yield better results and will prove fruitful in mitigating the conflict if not totally subverting it.

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First Aid: How Russia and the West Can Help Syrians in Idlib

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Authors: Andrey Kortunov and Julien Barnes-Dacey*

The next international showdown on Syria is quickly coming into view. After ten years of conflict, Bashar al-Assad may have won the war, but much is left to be done to win the peace. This is nowhere more so than in the province of Idlib, which is home to nearly 3 million people who now live under the control of extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) with external Turkish protection and humanitarian assistance from the United Nations.

The question of humanitarian access into Idlib is now emerging as a central focus of new international politicking. In so doing, this small province could be pivotal to the future of the larger stalemate that has left the United States, Europe, and Russia locked in an unwinnable status quo.

Russia has said that it plans to veto an extension of cross-border UN aid delivered from Turkey, authorised under UN Security Council resolution 2533, which is up for renewal in July, potentially depriving the population of a vital lifeline amid desperate conditions. Moscow says that all aid should be channelled from Damascus via three new government-controlled crossing points to the northern province. Western governments, to say nothing of the local population, are sceptical, given the Syrian government’s hostility towards the province’s inhabitants. For its part, the UN says that cross-lines aid cannot compensate for a closure of cross-border access.

As ever, the two dominant players—the US and Russia—are talking past each other and are focused on countering each other’s moves—to their mutual failure. It is evident that US condemnation and pressure on Russia will not deliver the necessary aid, and also evident that Russia will not get its wish for the international recognition of the legitimacy of the Syrian government by vetoing cross-border access. While these will only be diplomatic failures for the US and Russia, it is the Syrian people who will, as ever, pay the highest price.

But a mutually beneficial solution to Idlib is still possible. Russia and the US, backed by European states, should agree to a new formula whereby Moscow greenlights a final one-year extension of cross-border aid in exchange for a Western agreement to increase aid flows via Damascus, including through Russia’s proposed cross-lines channels into Idlib. This would meet the interests of both sides, allowing immediate humanitarian needs to be met on the ground as desired by the West, while also paving the way for a transition towards the Damascus-centred international aid operation sought by Moscow.

This imperfect but practical compromise would mean more than a positive change in the humanitarian situation in Idlib. It would demonstrate the ability of Russian and Western actors to work together to reach specific agreements in Syria even if their respective approaches to the wider conflict differ significantly. This could serve to reactivate the UN Security Council mechanism, which has been paralysed and absent from the Syrian track for too long.

To be sure the Syrian government will also need to be incentivised to comply. Western governments will need to be willing to increase humanitarian and early recovery support to other parts of government-controlled Syria even as they channel aid to Idlib. With the country now experiencing a dramatic economic implosion, this could serve as a welcome reprieve to Damascus. It would also meet Western interests in not seeing a full state collapse and worsening humanitarian tragedy.

The underlying condition for this increased aid will need to be transparency and access to ensure that assistance is actually delivered to those in need. The West and Russia will need to work on implementing a viable monitoring mechanism for aid flows channelled via Damascus. This will give Moscow an opportunity to push the Syrian regime harder on matters of corruption and mismanagement.

For its part, the West will need to work with Moscow to exercise pressure on Ankara to use its military presence in Idlib to more comprehensively confront radical Islamists and ensure that aid flows do not empower HTS. A ‘deradicalisation’ of Idlib will need to take the form of a detailed roadmap, including that HTS comply with specific behaviour related to humanitarian deliveries.

Ultimately this proposal will not be wholly satisfactory to either Moscow or the West. The West will not like that it is only a one-year extension and will not like the shift towards Damascus. Russia will not like that it is an extension at all. But for all sides the benefits should outweigh the downsides.

Russia will know that Western actors will respond to failure by unilaterally channelling non-UN legitimised aid into the country via Turkey. Russia will lose the opportunity to slowly move Idlib back into Damascus’s orbit and the country’s de facto partition will be entrenched. This outcome is also likely to lead to increased instability as aid flows decrease, with subsequent tensions between Moscow’s allies, Damascus and Ankara.

The West will need to acknowledge that this approach offers the best way of delivering ongoing aid into Idlib and securing greater transparency on wider support across Syria. The alternative—bilateral cross-border support—will not sufficiently meet needs on the ground, will place even greater responsibility on Turkey, and will increase the prospect of Western confrontation with Russia and the Syrian regime.

Importantly, this proposal could also create space for wider political talks on Idlib’s fate. It could lead to a renewed track between Russia, the US, Turkey and Europeans to address the province’s fate in a way that accounts for Syria’s territorial integrity and state sovereignty on the one hand and the needs and security of the local population on the other hand. After ten years of devastating conflict, a humanitarian compromise in Idlib will not represent a huge victory. But a limited agreement could still go a long way to positively changing the momentum in Syria and opening up a pathway for much-needed international cooperation.

* Julien Barnes-Dacey, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)

From our partner RIAC

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Middle East

Iran’s Impunity Will Grow if Evidence of Past Crimes is Fully Destroyed

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No reasonable person would deny the importance of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. But that issue must not be allowed to continue overshadowing Iran’s responsibility for terrorism and systematic human rights violations. These matters represent a much more imminent threat to human life, as well as longstanding denials of justice for those who have suffered from the Iranian regime’s actions in the past.

The Iranian people have risen multiple times in recent years to call for democratic change. In 2017, major uprisings broke out against the regime’s disastrous policies. Although the ruling clerics suppressed those protests, public unrest soon resumed in November 2019. That uprising was even broader in scope and intensity. The regime responded by opening fire on crowds, murdering at least 1,500. Amnesty International has reported on the torture that is still being meted out to participants in the uprising.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and human rights organizations have continued to repeat longstanding calls for increased attention to some of the worst crimes perpetrated by the regime in previous years.

Last year, Amnesty International praised a “momentous breakthrough” when seven UN human rights experts demanded an end to the ongoing cover-up of a massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988.

The killings were ordered by the regime’s previous supreme leader Khomeini, who declared that opponents of the theocracy were “enemies of God” and thus subject to summary executions. In response, prisons throughout Iran convened “death commissions” that were tasked with interrogating political prisoners over their views. Those who rejected the regime’s fundamentalist interpretation of Islam were hanged, often in groups, and their bodies were dumped mostly in mass graves, the locations of which were held secret.

In the end, at least 30,000 political prisoners were massacred. The regime has been trying hard to erase the record of its crimes, including the mass graves. Its cover-up has unfortunately been enabled to some degree by the persistent lack of a coordinated international response to the situation – a failure that was acknowledged in the UN experts’ letter.

The letter noted that although the systematic executions had been referenced in a 1988 UN resolution on Iran’s human rights record, none of the relevant entities within that international body followed up on the case, and the massacre went unpunished and underreported.

For nearly three decades, the regime enforced silence regarding any public discussion of the killings, before this was challenged in 2016 by the leak of an audio recording that featured contemporary officials discussing the 1988 massacre. Regime officials, like then-Minister of Justice Mostafa Pourmohammadi, told state media that they were proud of committing the killings.

Today, the main victims of that massacre, the principal opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), are still targets of terrorist plots on Western soil, instigated by the Iranian regime. The most significant of these in recent years was the plot to bomb a gathering organized near Paris in 2018 by the MEK’s parent coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The Free Iran rally was attended by tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates from throughout the world, as well as hundreds of political dignitaries, and if the attack had not been prevented by law enforcement, it would have no doubt been among the worst terrorist attacks in recent European history.

The mastermind of that attack was a high-ranking Iranian diplomat named Assadollah Assadi. He was convicted in a Belgian court alongside three co-conspirators in February. But serious critics of the Iranian regime have insisted that accountability must not stop here.

If Tehran believes it has gotten away with the 1988 massacre, one of the worst crimes against humanity from the late 20th century, it can also get away with threatening the West and killing protesters by the hundreds. The ongoing destruction of mass graves demonstrates the regime’s understanding that it has not truly gotten away with the massacre as long as evidence remains to be exposed.

The evidence of mass graves has been tentatively identified in at least 36 different cities, but a number of those sites have since been covered by pavement and large structures. There are also signs that this development has accelerated in recent years as awareness of the massacre has gradually expanded. Unfortunately, the destruction currently threatens to outpace the campaign for accountability, and it is up to the United Nations and its leading member states to accelerate that campaign and halt the regime’s destruction of evidence.

If this does not happen and the 1988 massacre is consigned to history before anyone has been brought to justice, it will be difficult to compel Tehran into taking its critics seriously about anything, be it more recent human rights violations, ongoing terrorist threats, or even the nuclear program that authorities have been advancing in spite of the Western conciliation that underlay 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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