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Netanyahu Pledges to Annex West Bank Settlements

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11 Sep 2019
Netanyahu Pledges to Annex West Bank Settlements
IDF forces in the south were on high alert Wednesday morning following an overnight barrage of rockets from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip which disrupted a political campaign event by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and prompted 15 retaliatory strikes by IDF aircraft. Netanyahu was just beginning a speech at a campaign event in Ashdod when the siren began, alerting residents to an incoming rocket. He was rushed from the stage by security personnel, leaving journalists to wonder if his speech would have built on an announcement earlier in the day about a pledge he made to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected later this month.

The event in Ashdod came hours after a speech Netanyahu gave at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Maccabiah Hotel, where he told supporters that the “Deal of Century” would likely be rolled out by the Trump Administration in the US shortly after the elections on 17 September and that he was prepared to annex all Israeli settlement communities in the West Bank shortly thereafter.

“I will not do anything without getting a clear mandate from the public, and so the citizens of Israel, I ask you for a clear mandate to do this,” Netanyahu said. “There is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something with broad consensus and bring safe permanent borders to the State of Israel. This will ensure that Judea and Samaria do not become Gaza, and that Kfar Saba, Netanya and Tel Aviv will not become like communities along the border of Gaza. Over the past few months I led a diplomatic effort, and over the past few days the diplomatic conditions have become ready.”

Reactions to the speech were swift, including from the Trump Administration which was briefed on the speech before Netanyahu made it, according to Israeli officials.

“There is no change in the United States policy at this time,” the White House said in a statement responding to the speech. “We will release our vision for peace after the Israeli election, and work to determine the best path forward to bring long-sought security, opportunity and stability to the region.”

“Netanyahu is the chief destroyer of the peace process, and any foolish move he makes will leave negative consequences on him locally and internationally,” said PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. “Palestine is not part of Netanyahu’s election campaign, and if he believes that annexing settlement blocs will bring him more votes in the short term, then he and Israel will be the losers in the long term.” Other Palestinians Authority officials issued similar statements while the Hamas terror militia which rules the Gaza Strip, along with other terror groups, angrily condemned the speech.

The Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of Jewish settlement municipal councils in the West Bank, issued a statement warmly praising and welcoming the speech and it’s” historic position, which places the settlements as integral parts of the State of Israel.” However, some of Netanyahu’s political rivals on the Right pointed out that a promise made during a political campaign would not always be kept after an election.

Elsewhere, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General’s office, issued a statement regarding the speech, saying that “The Secretary General position has always been clear and consistent: unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process. Our position today is unchanged and is reflected in relevant UN resolutions. Any Israeli decision to impose its law jurisdiction and legislation in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect.” Dujarric added that the prospect of the annexation “would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution.”

Criticism also came from the Arab League, which issued a formulaic statement following a meeting in Cairo that it "considers (the speech) a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law…the league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations."

Pompeo Calls Out Iran Over Nuclear Violations
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tweeted on Tuesday that Iran’s refusal to answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about traces of uranium it found at a site the clerical regime in Teheran said was in no way related to its renegade nuclear program "raises questions about possible undeclared nuclear material or activities." Adding that this fit a longstanding pattern of deceit from the regime he further Tweeted that "The world won't fall for it. We will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon."

However, Pompeo added in remarks to the press shortly thereafter that President Donald Trump is open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, keeping line with the softer tone towards Iran from the Administration in recent days.

In related news, the NGO “Human Rights Watch” issued a statement on Tuesday harshly critical of Iran. "Again and again, Iranian revolutionary court judges have been ensuring that anyone who dares challenge the authorities will pay a draconian price," Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said. "When activists who raise issues that concern many Iranians are crushed with such harsh sentences, the judiciary's promise of combating wrongdoing becomes a mockery of justice."

Here is a video giving some analysis of the standoff with Iran

Hebrew University to Establish a New Branch in China
In yet another defeat for efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, officials of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem signed a memorandum of understanding with officials from the city of Guangzhou, China to establish a new brain science innovation center there. "The Hebrew University and the government of Guangzhou understand the importance of investing in science and technology for the benefit of neuroscience," said Prof. Hagai Bergman of Hebrew University. "The purpose of the collaboration is to create high-level clinical research centers in the field of neuromodulation, together with industry leaders such as Alpha Omega and and local hospitals in Guangzhou and Jerusalem, in order to improve neuromodulation therapy for a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders."

Israel Blesses the World
Dr. Yonatan Stelzer , a member of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Molecular Cell Biology Department recently published an article in the medical journal Molecular Cell, explaining his research into the behavior of the building blocks of the cells which form the human body, starting at inception. The research holds great promise for treating a variety of congenital health conditions including cancer.

Today’s video shows an opportunity to study in English at Tel Aviv University

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