December 21, 2017 – Middle East, so what’s next? Part Two
On Monday December 18, 2017, the 15 Member UN Security Council voted 14-1 to condemn the US decision “to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital”. As expected, the USA exercised its veto. This then was followed by a vote in an UN General Assembly Emergency Session on Thursday December 21st.
The United States UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted,
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the @UN General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation…America will put our embassy in Jerusalem…This vote will be remembered”.
Haley’s statement and President Trump’s threat to cut off US funding to nations backing the measure encountered strong backlash. And DW TV’s correspondent said that it would not it be seen as a smart move but would further America’s isolation from the rest of the world.
Before the vote, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu said settlement building will continue and emphatically stated in a video clip on DW TV that,
“Foreign embassies, led by the United States, will move to Jerusalem. Write down what I said; because it will happen.”
The measure to condemn the US plan to move her embassy passed by 128 to 9 with 35 nations abstaining and 21 nations not attending.
The Russian Federation, the UK, most of the rest of Europe, Asia, and Africa joined the Middle East in supporting the resolution. Guatemala and Togo and were among the few who voted with the US and Israel to oppose the measure. Australia, Canada and Mexico were 3 of the 35 who abstained along with Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania.
The UN vote was symbolic and non-binding.
Related Story: December 13, 2017 – The Middle East, so what’s next?
Photo credits: UN General Assembly courtesy of EU Council President, License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
December 18, 2017 – Austria and Her Neighbors
It is International Migrants Day. And December 18, 2017 is also the day Austria’s Prime Minister, Sebastian Kurz, officially became the EU’s youngest leader.
Just last week, as Prime Minister Elect, he formed Austria’s current governing coalition. International newspapers ran a December 15, 2017 Reuters story about it titled, “Austrian conservatives bring far right into government”. Its authors wrote that,
“Austria is set to become the only western European country with a far-right party in government after the anti-immigration Freedom Party and Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives struck a coalition deal to share power almost equally.”
At least one thing the Freedom Party’s leader said seemingly conflicts with the views of a past Freedom Party star, Nazi sympathizer Jörg Haider, as well as many others today. The Times of Israel newspaper December 11, 2017 article, “Austrian far-right leader sympathetic to Israel on Jerusalem recognition”, informed readers that,
“The leader of Austria’s far-right party … expressed sympathy for Israel’s desire to have all embassies in Jerusalem. Yet at the same time, Hans-Christian Strache, the head of the controversial Freedom Party, said that his country is bound to European consensus and cannot act alone in such matters.”
Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party, and their coalition partner, the populist Freedom Party, attracted numerous votes because their anti-migration stance resonated so well with the voters. That also was a defining issue in other recent European elections.
Some advocate a cautious “let’s wait and see” attitude toward the new government. Not surprisingly, others feel that what happened is especially alarming. They fear that the coalition could further energize extreme right elements in Austria, in parts of Germany, and across the rest of Europe.
An ultra-conservative political bloc of several nations continues to set the pace for other conservative groups in Europe. These countries are located in the region immediately east of Austria and Germany.
Deutsche Welle thinks Austria will likely side with the bloc in an ongoing disagreement with Brussels. In a December 13, 2017 article, “EU reignites dispute over refugee quotas ahead of Brussels summit”, DW News explained,
“At the heart of the dispute — and topping the meeting’s agenda — is an EU quota system to distribute tens of thousands of refugees across EU member nations. …”
Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic fiercely opposed the plan from the start and have repeatedly refused to accept asylum seekers.”
One key difference exists between Austria and the bloc; Austria’s Prime Minister likes the idea of a United States of Europe.
Austria’s post-communist neighbors, though, well remember what it was like to be ruled from Russia. The bloc is highly supportive of a common EU defense program (see our related ITN article: ” September 14, 2016 – Push for Militarized EU “) but, otherwise, currently hates the thought of someone in Brussels getting more power to tell them what to do. That too can change.
Watch closely this part of Europe. It might be an initial peek at where the continent is heading.
Photo Credits: Vienna Landmark by Xiquinho Silva, License: CC BY 2.0; Austrian Prime Minster Kurz courtesy of the Federal Ministry of Europe, License: CC BY-SA 2.0.
December 13, 2017 – The Middle East, so what’s next?
This week momentous events continue to unfold for the territory squeezed between the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the country of Jordan to the east.
President Trump, on Wednesday December 6, 2017, officially recognized Jerusalem as modern Israel’s capital with its future boundaries, he said, to be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with leaders in Europe in an effort to convince the EU member nations to also formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That happened on Monday December 11, 2017. But, so far, no other nation has followed suit.
On Wednesday December 13, 2017, the members of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) convened an emergency summit, according to DW TV, to declare East Jerusalem officially the capital of Palestine. Over 50 Muslim nations from around the world were represented.
At the Summit the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, called on the United Nations to replace the USA as the broker for peace in the area, DW News said.
DW News also reported that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who was not at the summit, told his Saudi Consultative Council,
“The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
And the leader of his arch enemy, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, tweeted,
“The recent decision by the US admin made it clear that the US is only seeking to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians. The US has never been an honest mediator and will never be.”
The OIC Secretary General, Dr Yousef Al-Othaimeen of Saudi Arabia, said,
“The OIC calls again on those states that have not as yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so promptly.”
December 13th on the Roman calendar also completes the first full day of the Jewish eight-day celebration known as Hanukkah — in English the Festival of Dedication or the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah, which began at sunset on the 12th, commemorates the time, almost 2200 years ago, when Judah wrestled control of the Jerusalem temple from a foreign power and rededicated it. In 70 CE that temple was destroyed by the Romans. The events surrounding that destruction were covered in our September 1, 2017 article, “A Sad Day for Judah ”.
The Palestinians, supported by many other Muslims, have never wavered in their goal to prevent the construction of a temple to replace the one Judah lost.
OIC member states were also encouraged to “impose political and economic sanctions” on anyone “recognizing the Israeli annexation of Al-Quds Al-Sharif” (Jerusalem), as well as on anyone that they consider to be “perpetuating Israeli colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories”.
Considering everything the OIC and others have stated, at this time America and its president would seem to be on an extremely short list.
Photo Credits: Jerusalem by Ted Swedenburg, License: CC BY-NC 2.0.