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Archive for Israel

Newsline: Abbas to ask Biden to move US embassy to Tel Aviv

Following President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the US elections, the Palestinian Authority is reportedly planning on asking him to immediately move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, i24 news reported, citing Israel Hayom. (https://www.jpost.com/us-elections/abbas-to-ask-biden-to-move-us-embassy-to-tel-aviv-report-648471) The reports cited a Palestinian Authority senior adviser named Nabil Shaath, who told the Hebrew-language newspaper that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been covertly communicating with the president-elect in an effort to go back on many of President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policies, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Newsline: Former U.S. Ambassador Warns Trump Might Ditch NATO, ‘Turning America’s Back’ on Israel

A second term for U.S. President Donald Trump would threaten the future of NATO, embolden Russia’s role in the Middle East and put Israel in a tough situation, says former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, ahead of the 2020 election. Shapiro told Haaretz that “NATO would be unlikely to survive a second Trump term,” noting that the 45th president has expressed interest in the past in withdrawing the United States from the influential alliance, which has served as a deterring force against Russia ever since the days of the Cold War. (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-ex-u-s-ambassador-warns-trump-might-ditch-nato-turning-america-s-back-on-israel-1.9275008) According to Shapiro, the impact of such a withdrawal would “embolden an aggressive Russia, and its appetite would not be limited to European targets, but would also extend deeper into the Middle East.” Two of Trump’s former senior advisers – his former chief of staff, retired General John Kelly, and his former National Security Adviser John Bolton – have stated that Trump expressed interest in pulling out of NATO.

Newsline: Polish Ambassador to Israel Fires Two Employees for Protesting Polish Abortion Ban

Poland’s ambassador to Israel fired two employees of the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv for protesting increased restrictions on abortions in Poland. (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-polish-ambassador-to-israel-fires-two-employees-for-protesting-polish-abortion-law-1.9278765) The two employees carried signs decrying the right-wing, conservative Polish ruling party, called Law and Justice (PiS), in response to a court ruling in Poland last week that abortion, even in cases of fetal defects, is illegal. The employees carried signs against the PiS ruling party, apparently crossing a line in their ‘misuse of religion and ethnicity’.

Newsline: Trump supporters rally at US embassy in Jerusalem

A convoy of cars decorated with American flags and Trump 2020 banners drove from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, holding a rally outside the US Embassy in support of the American president ahead of next week’s election. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-supporters-rally-at-us-embassy-in-jerusalem/) Some two dozen vehicles joined the procession, which was organized by Republicans Overseas Israel. While Jews in the United States are expected to vote overwhelmingly for Democrat Joe Biden, Donald Trump is a popular figure in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described him as the “greatest friend” Israel has ever had in the White House.

Newsline: Israel’s secret embassy in Bahrain

Israel has been conducting undercover diplomacy in Bahrain for more than a decade through a front company listed as a commercial consulting firm. The existence of the covert diplomatic mission in the Bahraini capital Manama shows the depth of a secret relationship that came out into the open with a White House ceremony last month. Negotiations over a potential secret diplomatic mission started in 2007-2008 through a series of secret meetings between Israel’s then-foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, and her Bahraini counterpart, Khaled Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa. Their close relationship, along with a decision by regional rival Qatar to shut down Israel’s diplomatic mission in Doha, convinced the Bahrainis to approve the opening of a secret Israeli mission in Manama, Israeli officials say. (https://www.axios.com/israel-secret-embassy-bahrain-d5cd012a-51a7-40bc-a7a3-6426ffa15dcf.html) On July 13, 2009, a company named “The Center for International Development” was registered in Bahrain. It was a front, providing cover for Israeli diplomacy. According to Bahraini public records, the company offered marketing, commercial promotion and investment services. The front company changed its name in 2013. And the front company was in fact hiring a very specific type of employee: Israeli diplomats with dual nationality. The Israeli diplomats all had cover stories, backed up by unconvincing LinkedIn profiles. A small group of Bahraini officials was aware of the secret mission. The secret mission really did promote hundreds of business deals struck by Israeli companies in Bahrain. It also served as a secret communications channel for the Israeli government. On Sunday in Manama, minutes after the signing of a joint communique on establishing diplomatic relations, an Israeli official handed the Bahraini Foreign Minister a note with a request to open a genuine embassy in Manama. The infrastructure is already largely in place thanks to the secret mission, Israeli officials say. “All we have to do is change the sign on the door,” one told Axios.

Newsline: Israel may halt its weapons sale to Azerbaijan, Armenian ambassador says

Israel may halt commercial weapon sales to Azerbaijan, Armenian Ambassador to Israel Armen Smbatyan told The Jerusalem Post, as fighting intensified for the ninth day between the two countries. “I believe that due to the appeal by the international organizations and many individual states for an immediate de-escalation, Israel may halt its arms sales to Azerbaijan,” Smbatyan said. (https://www.jpost.com/international/israel-may-halt-its-weapons-sale-to-azerbaijan-armenian-ambassador-says-644602) Last week, Armenia recalled Smbatyan for consultations to protest the sale of Israeli made weapons, including drones, to Azerbaijan, which have been used against its forces. The Foreign Ministry said it would not comment on Smbatyan’s words or on Jerusalem’s export policy with regard to defense matters. Renewed hostilities broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan on September 27, over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Newsline: Armenia recalls ambassador to Israel over arms sales to Azerbaijan

Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations over Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan. Protesting against the Israeli weapons exports, Armenian foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said “Israel’s workstyle is unacceptable. The ministry has to call back its ambassador in Israel.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-armenia-azerbaijan-israel/armenia-recalls-ambassador-to-israel-over-arms-sales-to-azerbaijan-idUSKBN26M76L) Azerbaijan has acknowledged using Israeli-made weapons in its fighting with ethnic Armenian forces around Nagorno-Karabakh, where heavy clashes this week have drawn international calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Newsline: Israel’s new ambassador to Egypt finally assumes post

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received the credentials of the new Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Amira Oron. Sisi received the credentials of 14 other new ambassadors the same day, including Mohamed Elias from neighboring Sudan. Oron is the first female ambassador of Israel to Egypt. The Israeli ambassadorship to Egypt is a significant position, as Egypt is one of only four Arab states to recognize Israel. (https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/09/israel-new-ambassador-egypt-amira-oron-sisi-president.html) Oron’s path to Cairo was a long one. The veteran diplomat was first selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the ambassadorship in 2018, but she was not approved until this past June. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then considered former parliamentarian Ayoob Kara for the position instead. Kara is a member of Israel’s Arabic-speaking Druze community and is known for his nationalist and right-wing views. Netanyahu proposing a new candidate to the important post after one had already been nominated lacked precedent and caused an outcry.

Newsline: Honduras to move embassy to Jerusalem by end of 2020

Honduras will move its embassy to Jerusalem this year, and Israel will open an embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement released early Monday. The two new embassies will open by the end of 2020, the statement said. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/honduras-to-move-embassy-to-jerusalem-by-end-of-2020-israel-says/#gs.g7wnl0) The announcement followed a Sunday conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. “With their flags flying in the capitals of the two countries, Israel and Honduras declare their intention to complete the action plan before the end of the current year, with a mutual opening and inauguration of their embassies in the national capitals, Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem,” the statement said. The statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said it was a joint announcement from the two countries, but Hernández issued a more tepid statement on Twitter, writing, “We hope to take this historic step before the end of the year, as long as the pandemic allows it.” The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

Newsline: U.S. ambassador’s luxury residence in Israel sold

The luxury residence used to house American ambassadors to Israel since the 1960s has been sold, the U.S. Embassy announced Tuesday. The embassy did not divulge how much the property was sold for, describing the mystery buyer merely as having submitted “the highest and best offer.” The announcement follows recent reports by Israeli media outlet Globes that Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP superdonor Sheldon Adelson was behind the sale of the villa, which boasts a coveted sea view and is on the country’s most expensive street in the exclusive neighborhood of Herzliya Pituach north of Tel Aviv. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/sold-us-ambassadors-luxury-residence-in-israel/2020/09/08/dd9c0afa-f1f2-11ea-8025 -5d3489768ac8_story.html) The embassy’s statement said the residence would be formally vacated in the spring of 2021 “to allow for an orderly transition period to remove and safeguard government property.” It is unclear whether U.S. Ambassador David Friedman will live in the house until then. A statement from the embassy in June said he had established an official residence in Jerusalem ever since President Trump moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, but Israeli media reports this week said he would continue to rent the Herzliya home.