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Analysis: What can be done about Europe’s listless pursuit of Hezbollah terrorists? Solomon Bali (B'nai B'rith Bulgaria) talks to the Jerusalem Post

Note: The following Jerusalem Post article refers to the terrorist attack, bus bombing, that was carried out by a suicide bomber on a passenger bus transporting Israeli tourists at the Burgas Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria on 18 July 2012. The bus was carrying forty-two Israelis, mainly youths, from the airport to their hotels, after arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv. The explosion killed the Bulgarian bus driver and five Israelis and injured thirty-two Israelis, resulting in international condemnation of the bombing.




Analysis: What can be done about Europe's listless pursuit of Hezbollah terrorists?
Source: Jerusalem Post,Benjamin Weinthal fellow of the Foundation of Defense of Democracies.


After murdering five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver in 2012, two Hezbollah operatives who were put on trial in absentia on Thursday at a Sofia court remain secure in Lebanon. The lethargy surrounding the efforts to capture the two mirrors the glacial-like pace of the trial.


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Procedural difficulties in serving legal notification to all of the Israeli victims, including 32 wounded in the terrorist attack in Burgas, caused a second postponement until December 12.

"Iran and Hezbollah were behind the Burgas bombing, just as they were responsible for the atrocities in Argentina. But in Europe, the fear of confronting both are daunting, as they have been for many years," Prof. Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO Monitor and lecturer in political science at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

The former head of Bulgaria's counter-terrorism unit and the US government believe both suspects – Lebanese-Canadian Hassan el-Hajj Hassan and Lebanese-Australian Meliad Farah – are in Lebanon. In a sign of waning enthusiasm, there has been no significant action to compel the Lebanese government to extradite the Hezbollah operatives.

Bulgaria asked the Lebanese to cooperate in 2013, but was swiftly rebuffed. Bulgarian officials have been tight-lipped about their plan to arrest the men.

Bulgaria has not publicly summoned the Iranian and Lebanese ambassadors to demand that their countries aggressively pursue the capture of the terrorists. Bulgaria has not replicated diplomatic action like that of the Netherlands in 2011, following the execution of Zahra Bahrami, a dual Iranian-Dutch national.

She was most likely executed for her participation in the pro-democracy Green movement in 2009 against Iran's clerical regime.

As a result of the execution, the Netherlands suspended diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Netherlands labels Hezbollah's entire organization as a terrorist militia.

Why hasn't Bulgaria cut diplomatic relations with Lebanon over the harboring of suspects who murdered Mustafa Kyosev, a 36-year-old Bulgarian Muslim whose widow and daughter are struggling to survive.

In sharp contrast to the vigorous pursuit of jihadists who executed scores of people in Paris and Bremen, political inertia, wittingly or unwittingly, has taken over Europe's desire to capture the Hezbollah operatives believed to be responsible for Burgas.

Solomon Bali, who serves as a mentor for the B'nai B'rith lodge in Sofia, told the Post, "Unfortunately, when it comes to terrorist acts in poor countries, these attacks are easily forgotten.

The international attention to them is limited. The case in Burgas had a very important impact on the international treatment of Hezbollah." He cited the EU's decision to designate Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist organization in 2013.

"They [Bulgaria and EU authorities] should do more, but I am skeptical of their willingness and their capacity to do so," said Bali, adding they can "use the decision [2013 EU terrorist listing] as a reason to act. If someone wants to make the life of terrorists difficult, they can."

Bali said the distinction of Hezbollah into political and military wings is bogus. Steinberg, on a similar note, said, "Instead of isolating Hezbollah, the EU maintains the fiction of a 'military wing,' which is classified as a terrorist organization, and a separate 'political wing,' which continues to raise funds and build terrorist infrastructure. This is absurd.

"And regarding the Iranian regime, European hopes for lucrative business contracts take precedence over the 'moral principles' that ostensibly guide foreign policy. Until these fictions are confronted, the victims of terrorism and their families, including from the Burgas attack, will not see justice done," added Steinberg.

The US Senate and Congress have passed resolutions this year calling on Europe to outlaw all of Hezbollah. In a March speech at AIPA C's policy conference, Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton said, "And we must work closely with Israel and other partners to cut off the flow of money and arms from Iran to Hezbollah. If the Arab League can designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, surely it is time for our friends in Europe and the rest of the international community to do so as well and to do that now."

US President-elect Donald Trump recognized the role of the troika of Islamic terrorism: Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran. In an early November statement from Jason Dov Greenblatt and David Friedman, co-chairmen of the Israel Advisory Committee to Donald J. Trump, wrote: "Despite the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, the US State Department recently designated Iran, yet again, as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, putting the Middle East particularly, but the whole world at risk by financing, arming, and training terrorist groups operating around the world, including Hamas, Hezbollah."

To judge by the 2013 classification of Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist entity – and the role of the US government in twisting the EU's arm – the Trump administration will be the decisive factor in pushing the EU to outlaw all of the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Lebanese militia within its territory.


Carmel lodge receives US ambassador to Bulgaria

On October 30, Sofia lodge Carmel had the pleasure to welcome the ambassador of USA to Bulgaria - H.E. Eric Rubin.

He gave a remarkable speech praising the B'nai B'rith legacy in promoting charity and tolerance, not only in the American society but also around the world.
Mr Rubin pointed out how important B'nai B'rith is with its leading role in the fight against the global Anti-Semitism and its new emerging forms.

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After his speech Mr. Rubin answered the questions and comments raised by the audience.

Being himself raised in a family deep connected with B'nai B'rith ambassador Rubin expressed his willingness to deepen the cooperation between the embassy and the lodge for bringing more tolerance in the Bulgarian society.
The meeting was special also due to the fact that it was joint meeting of a Carmel lodge and sisters and brothers from the neighboring countries. The success of the meeting inspired many ideas for future cooperation between the lodges on the Balkan peninsula.

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PRESS REVIEW N°494 BY GILBERTTE JACARET

PRESS REVIEW N°494

By Gilberte JACARET



This week we enter the centenary year of the Balfour Declaration. This document, signed on November 2, 1917 by the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, was the first recognition by one of the world's great powers -- in fact at the time the greatest power in the world -- of the right of the Jewish people to their national homeland in Palestine.


Clinton Versus TrumpThe Script of a Real-Life Tragedy

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Trump versus Clinton will go down in American history as the dirtiest campaign of all time. It seemed at times as though script writers had let their imaginations run wild. But the consequences for democracy in the United States will be long lasting. By SPIEGEL Staff


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Kotel Tensions Demonstrate Need to Ensure Right of Every Jew to Pray in His Or Her Own Way, ADL Says

New York, NY, November 2, 2016

Reacting to tensions today at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called for the implementation of the January 2016 agreement by the Israeli cabinet to establish a permanent and official space for mixed gender prayer at Judaism's holiest site.
"The tension demonstrates yet again the urgent need to establish the egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, to which the Israeli government is committed," said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, and Carole Nuriel, Director of ADL's Israel Office. "The cabinet's decision earlier this year was an important milestone in ensuring that every Jews has a place to pray in his or her own way."
The leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements from around the world and Israel, along with the Women of the Wall and others, marched on the first day (Rosh Chodesh) of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, to the Kotel carrying Torah scrolls, in protest against the failure to implement the government decision to allocate a special space for egalitarian prayer.
For the first time, the groups entered the area with the Torah scrolls without being arrested by the police. During the march and prayer, clashes took place between this group and members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community.


French Protestants slam UNESCO decision on Jerusalem

The National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF) has strongly condemned the recent UNESCO decisions denying the Jewish history of Jerusalem.
"What could be regarded as a regrettable error appears in fact to be a repeated wish of UNESCO to rewrite history," the group said in a statement last week.

The CNEF cited the words of the Chief Rabbi of Brussels, Albert Guigui, who wrote: "This vote denies and wipes out the ethnic, religious, historic and geographic character of the Jewish people and of Judaism towards the city of Jerusalem. If the world accepts that there is no link between the Jews and the Temple Mount, then Jesus is nothing but an invented legend."

Concluding its statement, the CNEF reaffirmed its "support and affection for the Jewish people, once again attacked at the heart of its faith and its history."

EU declares Israel boycott protected as free speech

Palestinians hail Federica Mogherini's statement, but she stresses that the union 'rejects the BDS campaign's attempts to isolate Israel'

BY RAPHAEL AHREN October 31, 2016

The European Union's foreign policy chief recently affirmed the right of EU citizens to boycott Israel, citing freedom of expression and rebuffing claims by Jerusalem that such measures amount to banned anti-Semitic activity.
While upholding the right of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement to blacklist the Jewish state, Federica Mogherini also noted that the EU itself opposes efforts to boycott Israel.
"The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU Member States' territory, including with regard to BDS actions carried out on this territory," Mogherini said in a written reply to a query by an Irish member of the European Parliament last month.

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European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmud Abbas (L) address the media after a meeting at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 22, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER)

"Freedom of expression, as underlined by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, is also applicable to information or ideas 'that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population,'" Mogherini said.

She continued: "The EU rejects the BDS campaign's attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel."

Despite the EU's outspoken rejection of BDS, the Palestinians celebrated Mogherini's statement.

"We welcome the EU's belated defense of the right of European and other citizens to stand in solidarity with Palestinian rights, including through BDS tactics," said Riya Hassan, a senior member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, which bills itself as the the "largest coalition in Palestinian civil society" promoting the anti-Israel boycott movement.

Hassan went on to state that the Palestinians expect the EU to take steps against Israel, including, "at the very least, imposing a military embargo on Israel, banning products of companies that do business in Israel's illegal colonies."

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem declined to comment on Mogherini's statement, which came on September 15 but was only published recently.

The statement came in response to a parliamentary question posed on June 24 by Sinn Fein politician Martina Anderson.

Anderson, a longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause and strident critic of Israel, had asked the European Commission whether it would "commit to defending BDS activists' right to exercise their democratic freedom of expression."

In her query, Anderson — who heads the European Parliament's "Delegation for relations with Palestine" — also asked the EU Commission to comment on a speech made in March by Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, in which he called for "pinpoint civil eliminations" against the heads of the BDS movement. (The phrase he used, sikul ezrahi memukad, has also been translated as "targeted civic prevention effort," though sikul usually means assassination.)

Mogherini replied by saying that the EU "firmly condemns threats and violence against human rights defenders under all circumstances." The union regularly discusses with Jerusalem questions regarding the the "protection of human rights and human rights defenders," she added. The EU "calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to refrain from provocation and to resolutely fight incitement and hate speech."
Israel's relationship with the EU has been fraught over the last few years, due to what Jerusalem perceives as a persistent pro-Palestinian bias in the union's statements and policies.

Last week, for instance, Jerusalem was displeased over a group of senior EU diplomats visiting Palestinian villages in the West Bank that face demolition at the hands of Israeli authorities.

The EU delegation to the Palestinian Authority said the trip's objective was to learn about "the coercive environment these communities find themselves in, to be informed of recent developments, to demonstrate concern at the humanitarian impact of any demolitions and forced transfer of population, and to express the EU's commitment to a sustainable future for the Palestinian communities in Area C."

Area C is the part of the West Bank in which Israel exercises administrative and military control, and in which the Israeli settlements are located.

Israel, which argues that the structures slated for demolition were built illegally, reacted "with irritation to the initiative and the statement," a senior official in Jerusalem told The Times of Israel.
"We can only wish that the EU would show the same amount of empathy and interest toward the Israeli victims of Palestinian violence and incitement. The root cause of the conflict is the persistent refusal of the Palestinian leadership to recognize the legitimacy of our existence as the state of the Jewish people."

Despite ongoing tension over Israel's repeated destruction of illegal structures, many of which were funded by the union, a senior EU official dealing with the Middle East last week hailed overall stable bilateral ties.

"Yes, there is a difference of views on issues concerning the Palestinians but at the same time there is no other country in the region the EU has a stronger relationship with than Israel," said Christian Berger, the outgoing director of the EU foreign ministry's Middle East and Northern Africa department.
Berger, who over the years has been blamed by Israeli officials for many of the EU's perceived pro-Palestinian policies, made the comment in a statement he provided to Israel's diplomatic mission in Brussels on the occasion of his leaving the post.
"I wish the country well," said Berger. "Israel will continue to prosper but I also hope she will find peace in a troubled region during troubled times. And, I hope Israel will remain a strong friend and partner of Europe."



Red tape, blunders keep Balfour Declaration away from the homeland it promised

Years after prime minister announced seminal Zionist document, issued 99 years ago today, would be displayed in Tel Aviv, dream of bringing it to Israel mired in renovations and bureaucratic snafus

By RAPHAEL AHREN


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Netanyahu: Abbas won't recognize Jewish state 'in any borders'


PM tells Italian president Israel was 'gravely disappointed' by Rome's abstention in UNESCO vote on Jerusalem, pleased by pledge it won't happen again.

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USA

Names Campaigning for Hillary Clinton Underscore Donald Trump's Isolation

New York Times. By ALEXANDER BURNS and GARDINER HARRISNOV. 4, 2016

Hillary Clinton campaigned Friday in the company of friends and celebrities, first flanked by the billionaire businessman Mark Cuban in Pittsburgh and Detroit, and then at a concert in Cleveland with Jay Z and Beyoncé. High-wattage political leaders fanned out for her around the country: Her husband, Bill, stumped in Colorado, as President Obama rallied voters in North Carolina.

By comparison, Donald J. Trump was a lonely figure.

In the final days of the presidential race, Mr. Trump's political isolation has made for an unusual spectacle on the campaign trail — and perhaps a limiting factor in his dogged comeback bid.
When it comes to bolstering Mr. Trump, the Republican Party is not sending its best: As party leaders have disavowed him or declined to back his candidacy, Mr. Trump has been left instead with an eclectic group of backup players to aid him in his last dash for votes. Though polls show Mr. Trump drawing closer to Mrs. Clinton, the most prominent Republicans in key swing states still fear that his unpopularity may taint them by association.
Mr. Trump acknowledged the relative bareness of his events at a rally on Friday night: In defiant language, Mr. Trump hailed the size of the crowd packed into an arena in Hershey, Pa.

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Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Friday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times


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The Mundane Origins of Germany's Huge Turkish Population

by Daniel Pipes
Oct 30, 2016

Cross-posted from National Review Online
In 1961, the German post-war "economic miracle" (Wirtschaftswunder) was in full bloom, with a seemingly insatiable thirst for unskilled workers. After signing government-to-government bilateral agreements with Italy (in 1955), Greece (1960), and Spain (1960), Bonn turned to Ankara and on this day, Oct. 30, in 1961 signed a "Recruitment Agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and Turkey" (Anwerbeabkommen zwischen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Türkei). Little did either side realize the implications of this seemingly minor accord.

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Turkish Labor Minister Ali Naili Erdem visited Turkish "guest workers" (Gastarbeitern) in Germany in 1966.

The German government set up a liaison office in Istanbul to urge unmarried male candidates to apply, which they enthusiastically did in large numbers. The agreement permitted Turks to go to work in Germany for two years, then return home. But German industry lobbied for longer residencies – the constant training to replace workers every two years took its toll – so this limitation was lifted already in 1964. Still, no one expected the Turks to stay long and their jobs did not require them to learn German, so the overwhelmingly male population lived in its own dormitories, quite isolated from the larger society. Of the 750,000 Turks who arrived under this program, about half did return to Turkey, half did not.
The boom years ended with the oil crisis of 1973-74, which closed down guest worker recruitment. Ironically, this change led to an increase in the Turkish population as workers imported wives, moved to apartments, families burgeoned, and today's heavily Turkish districts throughout (former West) Germany came into being.

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A blend of the German and Turkish flags that symbolizes what has too rarely occurred.

Fifty-five years later, with unskilled laborers hardly needed and the cultural isolation proving a deep problem, the Turkish population numbers an estimated 4-5 million, making up more than 5 percent of the country's total population and by far the largest immigrant group. The 1961 agreement seems from another age entirely, yet its legacy lives on and grows unceasingly. (October 30, 2016)


The Attack on Mosul

The Spiegel ,Nov.4th 2016-11-04

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On the Ground in Mosul A Precarious Alliance Takes on Islamic State

The battle for Mosul, a key city for Islamic State, has begun. On one side, a fragile alliance with conflicting political goals, and on the other, a ruthless enemy who might go to extreme lengths to defend the Iraqi metropolis -- incluing chemical weapons.

PRESS REVIEW N°490 BY GILBERTE JACARET

PRESS REVIEW N°490
By Gilberte JACARET

ISRAEL

Two killed in shooting attack by Palestinian in Jerusalem

Written by EJP

Sunday, 09 October 2016 10:29

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Israel's Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan:''We have said the whole time that because the increase in the amount of incitement many will plan lone-wolf attacks.''

JERUSALEM (EJP)---A police officer and a 60-year-old woman were killed and five injured Sunday morning in a shooting attack by a Palestinian terrorist near a police station next to the Ammunition Hill light rail station in Jerusalem. According to a police report released shortly after the incident, the terrorist opened fire from within his vehicle on people standing by the station situated opposite police headquarters.

The terrorist—identified as 39-year-old Mousabah Abu Sabih from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and a full Israeli citizen—then fled the scene, continuing his rampage as he shot two people sitting in their car. He then proceeded in the direction of Tomb of Simeon the Just in Sheikh Jarrah where he stopped his vehicle and began shooting at riot police pursuing him on motorbikes. One of the officers was critically injured during the shootout and died from his wounds shortly thereafter. Another policeman was also lightly wounded in the fire exchange. Israel Border Police spotted the terrorist before shooting him dead.

Israel's Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan, who arrived at the scene, told the press that there was no forewarning for this attack. "But we have said the whole time that because of the increase in the amount of incitement many will plan lone-wolf attacks," he added. He attributed responsibility for the attack to Facebook. "In my opinion, Facebook and other social media sites bear direct responsibility. It was two or three weeks ago that Facebook reopened Hamas's pages following Palestinian public pressure. In my eyes, it's scandalous."  "I don't necessarily draw a connection between this and the current attack," the minister clarified.
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 October 2016 10:58

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Security arrive at the scene of the attack (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

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Paramedics treat victims at the scene

Among the victims was a 60-year-old woman, who was immediately evacuated to Hadassah Medical Center
in critical condition and eventually succumbed to her wounds having been shot in her upper body.

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Security stand by following shooting attack (Photo: AFP)

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan arrived at the scene and spoke with the press, telling them there was no forewarning for this attack. "But we have said the whole time that because of the increase in the amount of incitement many will plan lone-wolf attacks," he added. Erdan then went on to attribute responsibility for the attack to Facebook. "In my opinion, Facebook and other social media sites bear direct responsibility. It was two or three weeks ago that Facebook reopened Hamas's pages following Palestinian public pressure. In my eyes, it's scandalous."

"I don't necessarily draw a connection between this and the current attack," the minister clarified.

It is not the first time that Erdan has espoused his vociferous opposition to the paucity of effective measures to counter rife online incitement. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum stated the attack was "a natural reaction to the continued crimes of the occupation against Palestinians and the al-Aqsa Mosque." His organization did not take responsibility for the attack, however.
First published: 09.10.16,


On Rosh Hashanah eve, Israel's population hits 8.58 million

Country now has 6.4 million Jews, 1.8 million Arabs — an overall increase of 2% over the previous
year

BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF September 27, 2016, 4:42 pm 2

On the eve of the Jewish New Year, the State of Israel has a population of 8.585 million, 172,000 more than the same time last year. Israel experienced a population growth rate of almost 2 percent over the past Jewish year, consistent with previous years, according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday. Jews make up close to three-quarters of the population at 6.4 million residents, while Israel's almost 1.8 million Arabs make up one-fifth of the population. Those of other backgrounds, including non-Arab Christians and those not categorized as members of a religious group by the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, make up less than 5% of the population, at 380,000 people. The country's birthrate was more than four times that of the death rate, with 189,000 babies being born during the past Jewish year and 46,000 people dying.

In the past year 30,000 people came to live in Israel, of whom 25,000 were new immigrants. By religion, the Jewish population of Israel increased by 1.9%, the Muslim population by 2.4%, the Christian by 1.5% and the Druze by 1.4%. Overall, the Arab population grew by 2.2%. Fifty thousand, seven hundred and ninety-seven couples wed in the past year, of whom almost three-quarters were Jewish, and 44,412 of the grooms and 45,547 of the brides were marrying for the first time. The average age of first-time husbands was 27.6; it was 25 for first-time wives. The report did not include foreign migrants and workers, who numbered 183,000 people at the end of 2015.

South American Israelis celebrate Colombian president's Nobel Peace Prize

Latin American Jews living in Israel added their voices to the chorus of congratulations sent to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on winning the Nobel Peace Prize.  Santos, who on Friday won the distinction for his efforts to end Colombia's five-decades-long civil war, "is highly worthy of the prize not only for promoting peace with rebel militants but also for advancing his country and its society and for strengthening international alliances, including with Israel,"

Leon Amiras, chairman of the Association of Olim from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, told JTA.

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SYRIA


US suspends contacts with Russia on Syria, as Russia suspends plutonium treaty

Faced with a truce in Syria that never truly took hold, the US suspends talks with Russia regarding the deal; Russia also decides to air out its grievances against the US, suspending their plutonium disarmament treaty over disputes regarding Syria and Ukraine.

Associated Press and Reuters|Published: 03.10.16 , 21:22

The US State Department said on Monday that the US is suspending bilateral contacts with Russia over Syria. Russia, for its part, also came out with a statement on Monday, saying that it is suspending a plutonium disarmament deal wth the US.
The US announcement came after last week's threat by Secretary of State John Kerry to suspend contacts amid new attacks on the city of Aleppo. The department said in its statement that Russia had not lived up to the terms of an agreement last month to restore the cease-fire and ensure sustained deliveries of humanitarian aid to besieged cities.

As part of the suspension, the US will be withdrawing personnel that it had dispatched to take part in the creation of a joint US-Russia center. That center was to have coordinated military cooperation and intelligence if the cease-fire had taken hold. The suspension will not affect communications between the two countries aimed at de-conflicting counter-terrorism operations in Syria.

An end to the Russia-US plutonium treaty

The US State Department's announcement came as Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended a treaty, as well, regarding the Kremlin's agreement with Washington to clean up weapons-grade plutonium, thus signaling that he is willing to use nuclear disarmament as a new bargaining chip in disputes with the United States over Ukraine and Syria.Starting in the last years of the Cold War, Russia and the United States signed a series of accords to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals, agreements that have so far survived intact despite a souring of US-Russian relations under Putin.

But on Monday, Putin issued a decree suspending an agreement, concluded in 2000, which bound the two sides to dispose of surplus plutonium originally intended for use in nuclear weapons. The Kremlin said it was taking that action in response to unfriendly acts by Washington.The plutonium accord is not the cornerstone of post Cold War US-Russia disarmament, and the practical implications from the suspension will be limited. But the suspension, and the linkage to disagreements on other issues, carries powerful symbolism. "Putin's decree could signal that other nuclear disarmament cooperation deals between the United States and Russia are at risk of being undermined," Stratfor, a US-based consultancy, said in a commentary.

"The decision is likely an attempt to convey to Washington the price of cutting off dialogue on Syria and other issues."

US Secretary of State John Kerry last week warned that Washington could halt diplomacy with Russia over the conflict in Syria unless Russia took immediate steps to stop the violence there. Western diplomats say an end to the Syria talks would leave Moscow without a way to disentangle itself from its military operation in Syria. The operation was intended to last a few months but has now just entered its second year.

A list of grievances

As well as issuing the decree ordering the suspension of the plutonium cleanup deal, Putin submitted a draft law on the suspension to parliament. That draft linked the suspension to a laundry list of Russian grievances toward the United States. It said conditions for resuming work under the plutonium deal included Washington lifting sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict, paying compensation to Moscow for the sanctions and reducing the US military presence in eastern Europe to the levels they were 16 years ago. Any of those steps would involve a complete U-turn in long-standing US policy.

"The Obama administration has done everything in its power to destroy the atmosphere of trust which could have encouraged cooperation," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on the treaty's suspension. "The step Russia has been forced to take is not intended to worsen relations with the United States. We want Washington to understand that you cannot, with one hand, introduce sanctions against us where it can be done fairly painlessly for the Americans, and with the other hand continue selective cooperation in areas where it suits them."

The 2010 agreement, signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called on each side to dispose of 34 tonnes of plutonium by burning it in nuclear reactors. Clinton said at the time that there was enough of the material to make almost 17,000 nuclear weapons. Both sides back then viewed the deal as a sign of increased cooperation between the two former Cold War adversaries. Russian officials alleged on Monday that Washington had failed to honor its side of the agreement. The Kremlin decree stated that, despite the suspension, Russia's surplus weapons-grade plutonium would not be put to military use.


Germany: US-Russia tensions 'more dangerous' than Cold War

Foreign Minister Steinmeier sounds alarm after Washington accuses Moscow of staging 'war crimes' in Syria

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By AFP


Ethiopian immigration to Israel resuming after 3-year freeze

Amid civil unrest in Ethiopia, first group of Jews since 2013 set to arrive in Israel on Sunday; 9,000 still waiting in Ethiopia

THE TIMES OF ISRAEL BY MELANIE LIDMAN October 5, 2016, 10:56 pm 8

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Ethiopian immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport in December 2011. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The first group of Ethiopian Jews to move to Israel after waiting for three years will arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport on Sunday evening, almost a year after the government approved the immigration of 9,000 Jews still left in Ethiopia.The 78 immigrants who will be on the flight were first approved by the Interior Ministry in 2013 but never came due to lack of budget for their absorption, which includes housing allowances for at least two years and apartment grants.

"The tickets are bought, the absorption centers are ready, and we're going to welcome them with open arms on Sunday," said Nimrod Sabbah, a spokesman for Likud MK David Amsalem. "The people waiting for them at the airport, you'll see, are soldiers and people who have served Israel, they have been waiting for years and years for their families," he said. "It pains me to say this, but if they were blond with blue eyes they would have been here ages ago. But they're black, and the government of Israel is behaving with deep racism towards them."

The move comes as Ethiopia is dealing with widespread violent anti-government protests, the most significant civil unrest in decades, centered in the Oromo and Amhara regions. Gondar, which is home to approximately 6,000 of the 9,000 Jews still left in Ethiopia, is located in the Amhara region.

According to Amnesty International, at least 100 people have been killed in protests this summer, and Ethiopian authorities have arrested human rights activists and journalists, both local and international. The government has shut down internet access for all or part of the country in an effort to hinder protest organizers ability to amass large crowds.

Times of Israel blogger Micha Oddenheimer witnessed some of the protests first-hand while in Ethiopia in August.
Sabbah said that the unstable political situation complicated the logistics for bringing the new immigrants. Originally, the first group was supposed to arrive in late August or early September.
One person approved to come to Israel on Sunday's flight confirmed via phone that a group was awaiting flights in Addis Ababa but declined to speak to The Times of Israel due to fears over his personal security.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will pay for the first group of flights for Ethiopian Jews. Last month, the ICEJ contributed $500,000 to the Jewish Agency via Keren Hayesod to cover the flights of the first wave of 523 Ethiopian Jews, as well as to sponsor flights for another 104 Jewish immigrants coming soon from France and the Ukraine, according to ICEJ spokesman David Parsons. Parsons added that the ICEJ is also fundraising to assist with absorption costs for Ethiopian Jews.

In the 2017-2018 budget, the Finance Ministry allocated a budget that would enable 1,300 Ethiopians to move to Israel, to be divided among a number of entities, including the Interior Ministry, the Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency, among others, according to Sabbah. Last November, the government approved the absorption of the 9,000 Ethiopian immigrants, but the plan faltered because there was no budget allocated for it.

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Members of the Falash Mura Jewish Ethiopian community wait for prayer service before attending the Passover seder meal, in the synagogue in Gondar, Ethiopia, April 22, 2016 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Two Likud MKs, Amsalem and Avraham Neguise, refused to vote with the coalition until the government funded the decision to bring the Ethiopian Jews to Israel, which it finally did in April. But the process has been stalled, and no plans had been made to resume the aliyah. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to meet members of the Jewish community while on a state visit to Ethiopia in July.

Ethiopian immigrants are expected to arrive in Israel at the rate of about 100 per month starting in November.

B'nai B'rith Europe Mourns the Loss of Shimon Peres


Shimon Peres and BBE

B’nai B’rith mourns the loss of Israeli elder statesman Shimon Peres, who died on Sept. 27 at the age of 93.

The history of the State of Israel cannot be written without including Peres and his myriad accomplishments during a nearly 70-year career in public service.

Though he retired as president in 2014, he continued to remain a vibrant face of the Jewish state, hosting conferences and meeting with world leaders.

From his early political days as Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense in 1952, to his time as the nation’s prime minister (a post he held three times), Peres was a central figure in Israel's political life over a period of nearly seven decades. He was widely respected and well received on the global stage.

His accomplishments include winning the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize when he was Foreign Minister for peace talks that resulted in the Oslo Accords.

In 2014, Shimon Peres received B'nai B'rith Europe Lifetime Achievment Award of Merit, conferred upon outstanding individuals who have dedicated at least 40 years of service to the wellbeing of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

We join the people of Israel in mourning his loss. May his memory be a blessing.

PRESS REVIEW N°486 by Gilberte Jacaret

PRESS REVIEW N°486
By Gilberte JACARET

Ben Gourion called the United Nations an "oom shmoon" meaning that it had no importance whatsoever and that one cannot rely on it.

-Germany's normalisation of relations with Iran are tied to Tehran's recognition of Israel, according to a letter released on Tuesday.

The letter, written in the name of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration said: "There cannot be normalised, complete relations with Iran so long as Iran does not recognize Israel's right to exist."

The comments, released on Tuesday, were submitted to the head of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, Volker Beck, in response to a July 6 parliamentary question.
The statement continued, "At the same time, the federal government has an interest in dialogue with Iran's government over critical topics."


ANTI-SEMITISM
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Polish soccer fans torch 'Jewish' effigies, fly banner calling for burning of Jews

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Ahead of town rivalry game in Polish city of Łódź, ruffians reportedly held rally against team that is often derided as "Jewish."


Argentinian pupils in Nazi uniforms attack Jews

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Children from a German school in Buenos Aires wearing swastika armbands and fake Hitler moustaches attacked pupils from a Jewish school in a resort where several Nazi war criminals lived for decades...


UCLA campus leader leaves over 'hostile, unsafe' climate for pro-Israel students

Milan Chatterjee says school administration failed to address bullying from students and groups supportive of BDS

By JTASeptember 2, 2016, 4:06 am

The former president of the UCLA Graduate Students Association has left the university's law school over what he calls a "hostile and unsafe campus climate."
Milan Chatterjee will complete his third year of law school at New York University School of Law, the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal reported.

ISRAEL

'It felt like an earthquake'

At least 2 killed, 7 missing as Tel Aviv parking garage collapses on workers

Multiple-story underground structure under construction caves in, reportedly after tractor drives across roof; 24 injured

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ANTI-CRIMINALS :

Troops raze home of Palestinian who took part in rabbi's slaying

IDF destroys Hebron-area house belonging to Mohammed Omaireh, who confessed to driving the car from which Miki Mark was shot dead in July
BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND JUDAH ARI GROSS August 30, 2016,


Israeli soldiers destroyed the West Bank home of a Palestinian accused of taking part in a July shooting attack near Hebron that left a rabbi dead, the army said.

In an operation early Tuesday, troops razed the Hebron-area home of Mohammed Omaireh, accused of driving the car from which Muhammad al-Fakih shot at a passing vehicle, killing Rabbi Miki Mark and wounding his wife and two of his children.

Light clashes broke out outside the home in the West Bank town of Dura during the operation, the army said.

"During the [demolition], a number of violent riots erupted. Rioters rolled burning tires, and hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at the forces," a military spokesperson said.

"In order to prevent the escalation of violence, forces responded with riot dispersal means, including stun grenades, 0.22 caliber rounds and rubber-coated bullets," the army said.

According to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, some demonstrators were also detained, though this was not immediately confirmed by the IDF.

The army said IDF troops together with border police officers and Civil Administration personnel took part in the home demolition "in compliance with instructions from the political leadership."

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An Israeli car hit in a drive-by shooting near Hebron that killed Miki Mark on July 1, 2016 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Israel's government has recently ramped up a program of home demolitions against Palestinian terrorists and terror suspects, touting the controversial measure as a key deterrent against future attacks.
Human rights groups and some Israeli security officials argue that it is a form of collective punishment, or that it is not an effective deterrent.

Omaireh was arrested on July 4, three days after the Hebron area attack that killed Mark, the director of the Otniel Yeshiva, as he was driving in the southern West Bank with his family.

Mark's wife Chava was seriously injured as her husband lost control of the vehicle and drove off the road, and two of his teen children were lightly and moderately hurt in the incident.

Omaireh — a member of the Palestinian Preventive Security Services — told Shin Bet officials during questioning that that it was he who drove the car on the night of the attack, but that it was Fakih who had actually fired the shots, according to the security agency.

Fakih was killed by anti-tank fire in a shootout with IDF troops in the West Bank village of Surif, north of Hebron, after a several-week manhunt. Two other members of the cell, all Hamas terrorists according to Israel, were also arrested: Fakih's brother, Sahir and their cousin Muaz Fakih.

After bulldozing the house where Fakih was hiding out, troops said they found a weapons belt with an improvised hand grenade, a Kalashnikov rifle, and magazines of bullets beside his body.

Forces also stormed adjacent buildings and arrested others suspected of helping to conceal Fakih.


Supreme Court orders outpost demolished, Justice Minister tries to bypass it.


Supreme Court President Miriam Naor decreed Thursday that the structures in the Way of the Patriarchs outpost, set up on private Palestinian land, be torn down by March 2018; amid much criticism from the right, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked promises to work with the Ministry of Defense to stop the houses' demolition.
Ynet, Telem Yahav, Moran Azulay and Tova Tzimuki|Published: 03.09.16 , 10:41

EU expresses 'serious concern' over Israel's decision to approve construction of 465 new housing units in the West Bank
Written by EJP Friday, 02 September 2016

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The Civil Administration's High Planning Committee has approved the construction of the new housing units in Elkana, Ofarim, Beit Aryeh, Givat Ze'ev and Har Gilo.

BRUSSELS (EJP)---The European Union has expressed 'serious concern' over Israel's decision to approve 465 new housing units in the West Bank and to retroactively approve 179 existing units.
The Civil Administration's High Planning Committee, Israel's governing body in the West Bank, which had been convened at the insistence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, approved the construction of the new housing units in Elkana, Ofarim, Beit Aryeh, Givat Ze'ev and Har Gilo.
The largest single bloc, in the settlement of Elkana, east of Tel Aviv, entails the construction of 234 housing units.
In a statement, an EU spokesperson reiterated the EU's ''strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and all actions taken in this context.''
It said that ''since January 2016, Israeli authorities have promoted or retroactively legalised 2,706 units in West Bank settlements.''
The EU referred to the Quartet report published last July which, it said, ''identified such action as undermining the prospects for peace and steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution.''
''The report recommended that any expansion of settlements be frozen,'' the EU added.
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the "significant expansion of the settlement activity" a "serious and growing threat to the viability of a two state solution."
He said the US was "particularly troubled by the policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts and unauthorized settlements."
"As the Quartet report highlights, we are concerned about a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations," he said.
Last Updated on Friday, 02 September 2016 13:44

The "Other" Palestinians
by Khaled Abu Toameh • August 31, 2016 at 5:00 am

Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since 2011. But because these Palestinians were killed by Arabs, and not Israelis, this fact is not news in the mainstream media or of interest to "human rights" forums.
  • How many Western journalists have cared to inquire about the thirsty Palestinians of Yarmouk refugee camp, in Syria? Does anyone know that this camp has been without water supply for more than 720 days, and without electricity for the past three years? In June 2002, 112,000 Palestinians lived in Yarmouk. By the end of 2014, the population was down to less than 20,000.
  • Nor is the alarm bell struck concerning the more than 12,000 Palestinians languishing in Syrian prisons, including 765 children and 543 women. According to Palestinian sources, some 503 Palestinian prisoners have died under torture in recent years, and some female prisoners have been raped by interrogators and guards.
  • When Western journalists lavish time on Palestinians delayed at Israeli checkpoints, and ignore bombs dropped by the Syrian military on residential areas, one might start to wonder they are really about.

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Palestinians flee Yarmouk refugee camp, near Damascus, after fierce fighting in September 2015. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

It seems as though the international community has forgotten that Palestinians can be found far beyond the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These "other" Palestinians live in Arab countries such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, and their many serious grievances are evidently of no interest to the international community. It is only Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that garner international attention. Why? Because it is precisely these individuals that the international community wield as a weapon against Israel.


UN pays tens of millions to Assad regime under Syria aid programme

Exclusive: Guardian analysis shows series of contracts awarded to government and charities linked to president's family
The UN says it must work with the Syrian regime, led by Bashar al-Assad, to reach vulnerable civilians.

Nick Hopkins and Emma Beals Monday 29 August 2016 17.00 BST Last modified on Tuesday 30 August 2016 00.50

The UN has awarded contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to people closely associated with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, as part of an aid programme that critics fear is increasingly at the whim of the government in Damascus, a Guardian investigation has found.

Businessmen whose companies are under US and EU sanctions have been paid substantial sums by the UN mission, as have government departments and charities – including one set up by the president's wife, Asma al-Assad, and another by his closest associate, Rami Makhlouf.

The UN says it can only work with a small number of partners approved by President Assad and that it does all it can to ensure the money is spent properly.

"Of paramount importance is reaching as many vulnerable civilians as possible," a spokesman said. "Our choices in Syria are limited by a highly insecure context where finding companies and partners who operate in besieged and hard to reach areas is extremely challenging."

Analysis How Assad regime controls UN aid intended for Syria's children

Guardian investigation identifies dozens of deals that raise new questions about the UN's role in Syria, and its impartiality
However, critics believe the UN mission is in danger of being compromised.
They believe aid is being prioritized in government-held areas and argue UN money is effectively helping to prop up a regime responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its own citizens.
UN insiders admit the relief mission in Syria is the most expensive, challenging and complex it has ever undertaken.
But the contentious decisions it has had to make are now exposed for the first time by a Guardian analysis of hundreds of contracts it has awarded since the operation began in 2011.
This shows that:
• The UN has paid more than $13m to the Syrian government to boost farming and agriculture, yet the EU has banned trade with the departments in question for fear of how the money will be used.
• The UN has paid at least $4m to the state-owned fuel supplier, which is also on the EU sanctions list.
• The World Health Organisation has spent more than $5m to support Syria's national blood bank – but this is being controlled by Assad's defence department. Documents seen by the Guardian show funds spent on blood supplies came directly from donors who have economic sanctions against the Syrian government, including the UK. They also show the WHO had "concrete concerns" about whether blood supplies would reach those in need, or be directed to the military first.
• Two UN agencies have partnered with the Syria Trust charity, an organisation started and chaired by President Assad's wife, Asma, spending a total of $8.5m. The first lady is under both US and EU sanctions.
• Unicef has paid $267,933 to the Al-Bustan Association, owned and run by Rami Makhlouf, Syria's wealthiest man. He is a friend and cousin of Assad, and his charity has been linked to several pro-regime militia groups.
• Makhlouf runs the mobile phone network Syriatel, which the UN has also paid at least $700,000 in recent years. Makhlouf is on the EU sanctions list and was described in US diplomatic cables as the country's "poster boy for corruption".
• Contracts have been awarded across UN departments with companies run by or linked to individuals under sanctions.
These contracts show how the United Nations operation has quietly secured deals with individuals and companies that have been designated off-limits by Europe and the US.
On top of this, analysis of the United Nations own procurement documents show its agencies have done business with at least another 258 Syrian companies, paying sums as high as $54m and £36m, down to $30,000. Many are likely to have links to Assad, or those close to him.
The UN says that its relief work has already saved millions of lives and argues it has to work with the regime if it wants to operate in Syria.
It highlights the money it has spent putting up staff at the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus as a case in point.
UN agencies paid $9,296,325.59 to the hotel in 2014-15 – which is understood to still be one-third owned by Syria's ministry of tourism, a department outlawed under EU sanctions.
The hotel is deemed the safest place for UN personnel to stay in the Syrian capital.
"Operating in Syria, with the conflict now entering its sixth year, forces humanitarians to make difficult choices," a UN spokesman said.
"When faced with having to decide whether to procure goods or services from businesses that may be affiliated with the government or let civilians go without life-saving assistance, the choice is clear: our duty is to the civilians in need."
The UN also points out it does not have to abide by EU or US sanctions. It only needs to abide by UN sanctions.
But one serving UN official told the Guardian there was unease within some of its agencies about the grip Assad's government has on the relief effort.
The official, who has worked extensively inside Syria, said that while operating inside the country was challenging, the UN's position was disappointing. Another said that all conflicts presented difficult working conditions but the "situation in Syria just doesn't happen anywhere else".
Another UN official who worked in Damascus early in the conflict told the Guardian: "The UN country team knew from the early days of the conflict that neither the government nor its authorised list of local associations for partnership with the UN could be considered as befitting the humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality.
"This important consideration was stepped aside by the UN to satisfy the government's leadership demand for the humanitarian response. This set the tone for UN entanglement with entities closely associated with the government."
Sources also describe a worrying "culture of silence" about the internal workings of the UN's Damascus operation.
Dr Reinoud Leenders, an expert in war studies based at King's College in London, said the UN needed to rethink its strategy because it had become too close to the regime.
"UN officials argue that given the complex and often dangerous realities in which they are expected to provide aid, some concessions and accommodation of the government's demands are inevitable. Yet ... the UN's alleged pragmatism has long given way to troubling proximity to the regime."
Leenders said UN agencies had paid "lucrative procurement contracts to Syrian regime cronies who are known to bankroll the very repression and brutality that caused much of the country's humanitarian needs".


UN's $4bn aid effort in Syria is morally bankrupt Reinoud Leenders

It is perverse that agencies intent on helping the most vulnerable in the civil war can throw a lifeline to such a brutal regime.

The academic has interviewed many independent aid workers for a study on Syria. They told him some UN officials were displaying signs of "clear-cut Stockholm syndrome".

A senior member of the humanitarian community who leaked information to the Guardian said: "There are obviously questions over some of these UN procurements."

But at least the UN publishes the names of their suppliers. Many of the international NGOs won't even do that. Very limited transparency is a problem that affects the whole aid effort in Syria. Given that the aid industry has been talking [about] the need for more transparency for decades, it's high time we had proper independent scrutiny of where this money is going and how it is being spent."

In June, the Syria Campaign accused the UN of breaching its principles in the conflict by effectively letting the government control aid deliveries.

More than 50 humanitarian, human rights and civil society groups back a report which said the UN had given in to demands not to help rebel-held areas, contributing to the death of thousands of civilians.
The report said the Assad government controlled aid by threatening to remove the UN's permission to operate within Syria.

"The Syrian government has used this threat consistently since then to manipulate where, how and to whom the UN has been able to deliver humanitarian aid," it adds.


Israeli scientists are reportedly participating with colleagues from Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and Jordan on a $100 million project to develop the Middle East's new particle accelerator — the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications, or Sesame.

Construction of the site, which is due to be formally inaugurated next spring in the hillside town of al-Balqa, northwest of Amman, is underway and the first experiments are expected to take place this autumn, The Guardian reported.

Sesame's members are Iran, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Bahrain — a group among which diplomatic discomfort is rife: Iran and Pakistan don't recognize Israel, for example, nor does Turkey recognize Cyprus.

Iran's participation continued even after two of its scientists, who were involved in the project, quantum physicist Masoud Alimohammadi and nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, were assassinated in operations blamed on Israel's Mossad, The Guardian said.

"We're cooperating very well together," said Giorgio Paolucci, the scientific director of Sesame told The Guardian. "That's the dream."

"I don't know how many places there are where all these governments have representatives who have the opportunity to come and talk to each other," he added.

Progress on the accelerator is made through government officials meeting, discussing technicalities and coming to agreements, unaffected by the enmity they may feel outside the conference halls, the report said.

The aim of Sesame is to "foster scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighboring countries" and prevent or reverse regional brain drain "by enabling world-class scientific research in subjects ranging from biology, archaeology and medical sciences through basic properties of materials science, physics, chemistry, and life sciences," Sesame says on its website.

It also aims to build "scientific and cultural bridges between diverse societies, and contribute to a culture of peace through international cooperation in science."

At 130 meters in diameter, Sesame's particle accelerator is smaller than the Large Hadron Collider, the structure in Switzerland that last year detected the "God particle" also known as the Higgs boson, an elementary particle that gives other fundamental particles their mass, the Guardian said.
Even so, the project is sophisticated enough to have many applications and offer research opportunities, the report said.
Sesame is a synchrotron — a large device that accelerates electrons around a circular tube, guided by magnets and other equipment, close to the speed of light. This creates radiation that is filtered and flows down long pipes in which instruments are placed, to gather the radiation and undertake experiments.


Technion (Israel) : Water From Thin Air, The New Way Israel Is Harvesting Water

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An innovative atmospheric moisture harvesting system is proposed, where water vapor is separated from the air prior to cooling and condensation. The system was studied using a model that simulates its three interconnected cycles (air, desiccant, and water) over a range of ambient conditions, and optimal configurations are reported for different operation conditions. Model results were compared to specifications of commercial atmospheric moisture harvesting systems and found to represent saving of 5–65% of the electrical energy requirements due to the vapor separation process. We show that the liquid desiccant separation stage that is integrated into atmospheric moisture harvesting systems can work under a wide range of environmental conditions using low grade or solar heating as a supplementary energy source, and that the performance of the combined system is superior.

On September, 04 2016 by Israël Science Info desk

Scientists at Technion have proposed an innovative system for harvesting safe drinking water from air. Capturing atmospheric moisture is not a new invention in itself because atmospheric water generators for commercial and domestic use already exist. But the new device requires less energy to produce high-quality water from air compared to existing systems.

Atmosphere contains water vapour in amounts comparable to all the surface and underground water on the planet. But current machines that collect water from the atmospheric reservoir have major limitations. They use electrical refrigeration to cool the air and condense the vapour and that consumes a lot of energy.

The new system designed by Israeli scientists uses a liquid desiccant to first separate the water vapour from air and then cool only the vapour. Their calculations show that this approach would result in 20 to 65 per cent energy savings over the standard system.

"We show that the liquid desiccant separation (LDS) stage that is integrated into atmospheric moisture harvesting (AMH) systems can work under a wide range of environmental conditions using low grade or solar heating as a supplementary energy source, and that the performance of the combined system is superior," the report says.

Desalination of seawater by reverse osmosis is also a potential source of fresh water, but it is not applicable in countries that do not have access to the sea. Besides, desalination requires large capital investments in piping and pumping infrastructure and in its operation and maintenance. "Atmospheric moisture is accessible essentially everywhere," says the report.

The atmosphere contains about 13,000 cubic kilometres of freshwater, 98 per cent of it in the form of water vapour, says the report. The vapour must be condensed to liquid water. The existing atmospheric moisture harvesting (AMH) systems, where standard electrical compression-expansion refrigeration unit is used, can save significant energy by first separating the vapour from the bulk air before it enters the condenser, such that only the vapour is cooled rather than the entire air bulk.

In the new design, separation of water vapour from the air is achieved by using a liquid desiccant. The water vapour absorbed by the desiccant can be liberated using low-grade or solar heat. The liquid-desiccant vapour separation (LDS) subsystem was designed to operate continuously in a closed-cycle, says the report. "The product of this subsystem is pure water vapour, which is then condensed by a standard refrigeration system without the burden of cooling the air."

In general, the combined LDS-AMH system is expected to save up to 65 per cent of the energy expenses of water production relative to off-the-shelf direct-cooling AMH systems, the scientists claim. "Scaling up the LDS system to produce larger amounts of freshwater is possible simply by installing additional absorbing units around a single desorber-condenser core."
Another important advantage, according to the report, is that the water coming out of the LDS-AMH system will be free of airborne bacteria since "the coil of the condenser does not come into contact with the ambient air but only with pure vapour that has been liberated from the desiccant solution."

Publication in Environmental Science & Technology, July 20th 2016.

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