Palestinians blast Trump’s aid cut as political blackmail

Aid being given out at a United Nations food distribution center in a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip this month. (photo: Mahmud Hams / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)
This is the second cut in humanitarian aid this year, now totalling almost $300 million for food, medicine, and schools.

By Isabel Kershner | The New York Times | Aug 25, 2018

“This administration is dismantling decades of US vision and engagement in Palestine. This is another confirmation of abandoning the two-state solution and fully embracing Netanyahu’s anti-peace agenda. Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work.”
— Husam Zomlot, the head of the PLO’s general delegation to the United States

“This decision represents a terrible decision by Trump’s team, which seems to think it will put pressure on the Palestinians to come to the table (it won’t).”
— Daniel Shapiro, former US ambassador to Israel

Palestinian officials denounced the Trump administration’s cancellation of more than $200 million in aid, accusing Washington of “weaponizing” humanitarian assistance by using it as a tool to coerce political concessions.

The aid cut, announced Friday, was the latest in a series of measures apparently aimed at forcing the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table with Israel while American officials work on a long-awaited peace proposal, the details of which remain opaque.

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After Trump’s controversial embassy move to Jerusalem, other embassies are also relocating

Ivanka Trump hosts the dedication ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As more countries move their embassies to Jerusalem, it comes with it the perception that more nations are recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, angering world powers who do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Holy City.

By Edward Leano | The Christian Post | Jul 10, 2018


  • Countries with embassies in Jerusalem: US, Guatemala and Paraguay
  • Countries considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem: Czech Republic, Romania, Honduras and Slovakia
  • Countries with embassies elsewhere in Israel: Albania, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Belize (consulate), Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Congo, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, European Union (delegation), Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, South, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Myanmar, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vatican, and Venezuela

The move by the US to relocate its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been hotly debated both before and after the dedication ceremonies, but several countries seem to have seen some merits in doing the same. Guatemala was the first to join the US embassy in Jerusalem earlier this May.

Slovakia is now among the latest of a group of countries mulling the idea of having an embassy in the Holy City, an idea that has become somewhat more accepted among other countries despite intense criticism from the United Nations, as Fox News reported.

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“Jesus wasn’t a refugee” — Trump’s spiritual adviser rewrites the Gospel

Televangelist Paula White during a National Day of Prayer ceremony in the White House, May 3, 2018. (photo: Bloomberg)

Paula White says Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year exile in Egypt did not make him a refugee because he had not “broken the law.”

By Haaretz | Jul 11, 2018


“Yes, He [Jesus] did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years. But it was not illegal. If He had broken the law then He would have been sinful and He would not have been our Messiah.”
— Paula White, televangelist and spiritual advisor to Donald Trump


Paula White, an American evangelical pastor and one of US President Donald Trump’s spiritual advisors, has voiced her support for zero tolerance regarding border laws and has stated that Jesus’ three-and-a-half year stay in Egypt did not qualify him as a refugee during an interview with CBN, published on July 9th.

White preaches the “prosperity gospel,” a subset of the Christian faith popular in the United States, which advocates that donations given to the Church will come back around and make the donor richer. White was a guest of Trump at the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem.

Professor Anthony Pinn, religious studies professor at Rice University, has described the prosperity gospel as “as a way to religiously rationalize material acquisition.”

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US close to releasing Mideast peace plan . . .

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks during the Saban Forum in Washington in Dec 2017. (photo: Jose Luis Magana / AP)

. . . that Palestinian leadership may immediately reject.

By Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Loveday Morris | The Washington Post | Jun 21, 2018


“There is no plan. Kushner and Greenblatt are trying to dictate the solution by making Jerusalem the capital of Israel, legitimizing the settlements and changing the conflict from a political one to a humanitarian one.”
— chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat


The Trump administration is close to releasing a long-awaited Middle East peace proposal that officials said would present US goals for a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, despite the Palestinian position that President Trump cannot be an honest broker.

The proposal is likely to be released within weeks, with the aim of beginning negotiations between the parties, perhaps as early as this summer, diplomats and other officials said. It has been delayed by a months-long Palestinian boycott in protest of Trump’s policy that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may reject the framework out of hand. . . .

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Our outpouring of compassion will vanquish moral bankruptcy

Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, AZ. (photo: Ross Franklin / AP Photo)

So many of us are deeply wounded by Trump’s immigration policies and what they reflect about our less welcoming, more calloused new national norm.

By Daniel Weiner | The Seattle Times | Jun 20, 2018


To deliberately subvert divinely inspired ideas to absolve the inhumanity of imprisoning children, or to glean political advantage to enact even more draconian measures against the most vulnerable, crosses some kind of unseen line . . . .


Many have marveled at the citing of sacred texts to support even the most heinous of thoughts and acts. Others still have struggled to understand the mind and heart that could do such damage to holy writ. And people of faith take unique exception to the mangling of words that bind them to God.

And so, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on rooting an immigration policy of family separation in the holy justification of biblical texts, faith communities across the ideological spectrum united in opposition to a perversion that defied even our most jaded expectations for this administration’s chutzpah.

The outrage goes beyond the gall of employing a text as cover for a policy that embodies the very inverse of its meaning, or omitting the myriad expressions of compassion and welcome that represent the fullness of the Bible.

Continue reading “Our outpouring of compassion will vanquish moral bankruptcy”

US quits UN Human Rights Council

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the Department of State in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.
(photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP / Getty Images)

Nikki Haley says council is “protector of human rights abusers” that targets Israel in particular and ignores atrocities elsewhere.

By Julian Borger | The Guardian | Jun 19, 2018


“The UN human rights council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”
— Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch


The US is withdrawing from the United Nations human rights council, the Trump administration announced on Tuesday, calling it a “cesspool of political bias” that targets Israel in particular while ignoring atrocities in other countries.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said she had traveled to the council’s headquarters in Geneva a year ago to call for reforms, to no avail.

“Regrettably it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Haley told reporters at the state department. “Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the council.”

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Donald Trump’s new world order

flags
(illustration: Javier Jaén / The New Yorker)

How the President, Israel, and the Gulf states plan to fight Iran — and leave the Palestinians behind.

By Adam Entous | The New Yorker | Jun 18, 2018


In response to the violence in Gaza, the Gulf states issued ritual denunciations and support for the Palestinians, but Israeli officials regarded the language as unmistakably bland, similar to their reactions to the Jerusalem decision. That their emphasis had shifted away from the Palestinians and to the specter of a confrontation with Iran was obvious.


On the afternoon of December 14, 2016, Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, rode from his Embassy to the White House to attend a Hanukkah party. The Obama Administration was in its final days, and among the guests were some of the President’s most ardent Jewish supporters, who were there to bid him farewell. But Dermer, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not share their sense of loss. For the Israeli leadership, the Trump Presidency could not come soon enough.

Netanyahu believed that Barack Obama had “no special feeling” for the Jewish state, as one of his aides once put it, and he resented Obama’s argument that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians was a violation of basic human rights and an obstacle to security, not least for Israel itself. He also believed that Obama’s attempt to foster a kind of balance of power between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East was naïve, and that it underestimated the depth of Iran’s malign intentions throughout the region.

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Jared Kushner “annoyed” with Kuwait’s Palestine resolution at UN

Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, at the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. (photo: Abir / Sultan / EPA-EFE)

Report says Kushner told Kuwait envoy initiative embarrassed him in front of American officials and allies.

By Al Jazeera | Jun 7, 2018


Last week, the US was alone in voting down the Kuwait-drafted UN Security Council resolution on protecting Palestinians from Israeli live fire. Ten countries, including Russia and France, voted in favor of the resolution.


Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser, met Kuwait’s ambassador to Washington and expressed his frustration with the Gulf nation’s position on Palestine at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), according to Kuwait-based daily Al Rai.

Citing an unnamed US diplomatic source, the newspaper said on Wednesday that Kushner conveyed the Trump administration’s “annoyance” over a recently drafted Kuwaiti resolution that called for the protection of Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Kuwait drafted the resolution after dozens of Palestinian demonstrators were killed by Israeli forces last month in Gaza.

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Paraguay opens embassy in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes during their meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, May 21, 2018. (photo: Sebastian Scheiner / Associated Press)

Paraguay is the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem after the US and Guatemala.

By Associated Press | The Washington Post | May 21, 2018


Eighty-three countries have embassies in Israel. Three are now in Jerusalem. The remaining 80 are in Tel Aviv or its suburbs.


Paraguay opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, following in the footsteps of the United States and Guatemala.

President Horacio Cartes dedicated the embassy, making Paraguay the third country to transfer its diplomatic mission in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras have said they are also considering doing the same.

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A grotesque spectacle in Jerusalem

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman sits next to White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner as he speaks during the dedication ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. (photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters0

Trump has empowered what’s worst in Israel, and as long as he is president, it may be that Israel can kill Palestinians, demolish their homes and appropriate their land with impunity. But some day, Trump will be gone.

By Michelle Goldberg | The New York Times | May 14, 2018


The juxtaposition of images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette tell us a lot about America’s relationship to Israel right now. It has never been closer, but within that closeness there are seeds of potential estrangement.


On Monday, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and other leading lights of the Trumpist right gathered in Israel to celebrate the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, a gesture widely seen as a slap in the face to Palestinians who envision East Jerusalem as their future capital.

The event was grotesque. It was a consummation of the cynical alliance between hawkish Jews and Zionist evangelicals who believe that the return of Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse and the return of Christ, after which Jews who don’t convert will burn forever.

Religions like “Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism” lead people “to an eternity of separation from God in Hell,” Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, once said. He was chosen to give the opening prayer at the embassy ceremony. John Hagee, one of America’s most prominent end-times preachers, once said that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral homeland. He gave the closing benediction.

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