No dent in US ties over Jerusalem – Arab parliament seeks to thwart Israel’s UNSC membership

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Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud meets First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 28, (Agencies): Kuwaiti-US relations have not been jeopardized by the Kuwaiti opposition to the US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah has affirmed. Relations between the two countries are strategic and extend to partnership on various realms, Al-Jarallah told reporters Wednesday on the sidelines of a symposium at Saud Al-Nasser Al-Sabah Diplomatic Institute.

Kuwait has clarified its stance and conveyed its concerns to the American side, he noted. On Dec 6, US President Donald Trump recognized the occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and decided to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On the same day, the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry expressed profound regret to the US decision.

The Arab Parliament has approved a plan to move strongly to prevent an Israeli bid to have a non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council (UNSC). The step was taken during a parliament session held in Cairo today (Thursday) under the rubric: “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine”.

Under the fresh plan, full support should be extended to all Palestinian efforts to address a recent US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Divisions and splits among different Palestinian factions and groups should be resolved, and Egypt needs to continue its significant role in inter-Palestinian reconciliation, according to the plan.

All Arab parliaments should seek to put the issue of Jerusalem, especially its historical and legal status, on the agenda of the next session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) due in Geneva on March 24-28, 2018.

Propaganda war
Ahed Tamimi is only a teenager, but has repeatedly been at the centre of the seemingly endless propaganda war between Israelis and Palestinians, with a video of her slapping soldiers the latest example. Tamimi, 16, and recognisable by her shock of blonde hair, has been held up by Palestinians and other supporters as a brave opponent of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. A years-old photograph of her raising her fist at a soldier was widely published and led to her being received by then Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2012. She was also photographed while wearing a Tweety Bird shirt and biting the hand of an Israeli soldier in 2015 to try to stop the arrest of a brother.

But for Israeli officials, she is being made to star in staged provocations by her family, prominent activists who have been at the forefront of protests in their village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah. The latest incident led to her arrest on Dec 19 along with that of her mother and cousin. She has been detained since and was due to appear in military court again later Thursday. The three appeared in a video that went viral after it was recorded on Dec 15 in Nabi Saleh. It showed Tamimi and her cousin approaching two Israeli soldiers before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them. They then move backwards after Tamimi’s mother Nariman becomes involved. Tamimi’s father argues that her blonde hair and Western dress have contributed to the attention she has received. “If she was veiled and dark-skinned, would she have got the same attention?” Bassem Tamimi told AFP. “The Zionist propaganda machine always depicts the Palestinian as dark-skinned and ugly, attacking the blonde victim, but now she is blonde.”

Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and currently a deputy minister for diplomacy, accused the Tamimis of using children as pawns, however. “The Tamimi family — which may not be a real family — dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke (Israeli) troops on camera,” he wrote on Twitter. “This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organisations must investigate!”

Since her arrest early on Dec 19, responses from either side could not be further apart. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has called her father and commended the family’s resistance against Israel’s occupation, official news agency WAFA reported. Supporters have accused Israeli authorities of arresting a teenager who was only standing up for the rights of her fellow Palestinians. The incident occurred during a day of clashes across the West Bank against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Violence since Trump’s decision has left 12 Palestinians dead, with most killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

The Tamimi family says a relative was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during protests on Dec 15. Israelis were divided over the viral video, with some praising the soldiers’ restraint and others saying it showed weakness and merited a tougher response. Bassem Tamimi describes his daughter as “shy”, but “someone who is mature enough to reject the occupation responsibly”. She had in the past wanted to become a professional football player, but has since decided to study law to defend her family and village against an Israeli occupation that has lasted more than 50 years, he said.

Regarding criticism of his family, Bassem Tamimi said “we don’t have to respond or defend ourselves”, calling it an attempt to distract from their cause. But he said he fears his daughter will be imprisoned over the latest incident, particularly because it has become “a case of public opinion” in Israel.

Controversial law
Israel’s parliament passed a controversial law Thursday limiting the police’s ability to recommend charges following their investigations after criticism that lawmakers were seeking to protect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The law will not apply to current investigations, however, meaning that graft probes involving Netanyahu will not be affected — a change made after widespread criticism and large protests against corruption. Members of parliament gave final approval to the bill by a vote of 59- 54 early Thursday after a marathon debate lasting nearly two days. Under the law, police will no longer be able to recommend to the attorney general whether or not to charge suspects at the conclusion of an investigation. The new law requires the attorne general to ask for police input.

Netanyahu called for changes to the legislation in early December after his opponents said it was designed to help him survive ongoing corruption investigations. The premier said it should be made clear that it “will not involve current investigations against me”. His call came after thousands of people protested against corruption. Proponents of the law say it will prevent the public smearing of those being investigated before the attorney general decides how to proceed with a case.

Critics point out that it was proposed by Netanyahu supporters and argue it was initially designed to protect him as he awaits the completion of police enquiries

No US pressure
The United States did not pressure Guatemala into announcing it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Central American state’s foreign minister said Wednesday. “There wasn’t any pressure. There wasn’t any overture from the United States to make this happen. This was a decision by the government, the state and the foreign policy of Guatemala,” the minister, Sandra Jovel, told a news conference in Guatemala City.

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