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January 26, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 26, 2018

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 26, 2018 PAGE 2.A. ajor anlz; 9 6 ,9 By Rafael Medoff JNS Leaders of several major American Jewish organiza- tions have told JNS that they are supporting the Israeli gov- ernment's decision to prevent the entry of foreign citizens who promote boycotts of Israel. Israel's Ministry of Strate- gic Affairs on Jan. 7 released a preliminary list of 20 foreign organizations whose "central figures" will not be permitted to enter Israel because they have undertaken "significant, ongoing and consistent harm to Israel through advocat- ing boycotts." There are six American groups on the list, including the American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Pales- tine, Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Students for Justice in Palestine and the U.S. Campaign for Palestin- ian Rights. JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson told JNS that until now, she has been traveling to Israel "ap- proximately once a year, and those trips are usually a mix of personal visits and JVPwork." Vilkomerson said the Israeli government "has not been in touch with us in terms of how they define JVP leadership," so it is not clear if the ban will apply only to JVP's senior staff or also to its other arms, such as its Academic Advisory Council. Vilkomerson said there are "over 900 people on the [council]," but she declined to provide a list of their names. In the past, JVP press releases that mentioned the council stated that "the full list is available upon request." A spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy told JNS that the determina- tion regarding exactly who will be prevented from enter- ing will be based on whether an individual engages in "ongoing, consistent, and sig- nificant action to promote the boycott, with each case being judge on its own merits." The spokesperson said an inter- ministerial team is still in the process of "formulating the criteria for implementation of the legislation," with a final list of banned organizations likely to be released in March. JVP's Vilkomerson de- scribed the Israeli ban as "bullying." That character- ization was challenged by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Orga- nizations, who told JNS, "For JVP to complain about'bully- ing' is the height of hypocrisy given their tactics." He was referring to incidents in which JVP activists reportedly have harassed pro-Israel speakers. According to a memo is- sued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), JVP members at last year's Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City con- fronted a group of pro-Israel LGBTQ marchers, "cutting their microphones and block- ing them from marching." The ADL also said JVP supported the expulsion of pro-lsrael participants from last year's Chicago Dyke March on the grounds that their rainbow flags resembled Israeli flags, which JVP said represented "racism and violence." Also, according to the ADL, "JVP members have shouted down and interrupted campus speeches by guests whom they consider too Zionist." A number of leading Jewish organizations have expressed support or understanding for the Israeli government's Jan. 7 decision. AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman told JNS that while Protesters compare President Donald Trump's proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall to Israel's West Bank security fence at a Jewish Voice for Peace demonstration in New York City last September. his organization does not take public positions on the Israeli government's internal policy decisions, "Every state has a right to determine who enters its borders, and the govern- ment of Israel has explained that its bar is limited to those who plan 'material action' against the Jewish state." "Israel is under no obliga- tion to hold the door open for anyone, or any organization that attempts to harm the state," B'nai B'rith Interna- tional said in a statement to JNS. "The threatposedby BDS supporters goes well beyond mere policy criticism." Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress in North America, said, "The groups on Israel's list of BDS promoters totally undermine any prospect for peace by fostering hatred, bigotry, and anti-Semitism, which leads to violence and the endangerment of Israeli citizens." When the Knesset last year Ban on page 15A AP/Majdi Mohammed Palestinian leader MahmoudAbbas addresses the Palestin- ian Central Council. By Aryeh Savir World Israel News The Palestinians have an- nounced an escalation of their diplomatic actions against Israel through the annulment of the Oslo peace accords and withdrawal of their recogni- tion of Israel. The Palestinian Central Council on Monday declared that the transitional period stipulated in the peace agree- ments signed in 1993 in Oslo, Cairo andWashington, and its obligations "no longer stand." The PCC held a two-day conference this week to discuss the ramifications of the US recognition of Jerusa- lem as Israel's capital and new Palestinian strategy. In its final statement, the PCC, a decision-making body, called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions in order "to end the Israeli occupation and enable the State of Palestine to achieve its independence and to exercise its full sovereignty over its territory, including in East Jerusalem as its capital and on the borders of June 4, 1967." The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization was assigned to revoke recognition of Israel until it "recognizes the State of Palestine on the 1967 bor- ders" and reverses the decision to "annex East Jerusalem and expand settlements." The PCC also renewed its decision to stop security coordination with the IDF in all its forms. The PCC made a similar announcement three years ago, but that resolution was never acted upon. Suspending security coor- dination with the IDF could endanger the Palestinian regime, which relies on the IDF to maintain security and fend off attempts by rival Palestinian factions to overthrow it. The PCC also demanded that the Palestinian Authority end its economic dependence on Israel as stipulated in the Paris Economic Agreement in order to "achieve the in- dependence of the national economy." Under the PEA, a mecha- nism was set up through which Israel collects taxes-- value-added tax and customs fees--on behalf of the PA to the tune of an about $100 million per month. Israel then transfers the money to the PA. The PCC further affirmed its "rejection and condemna- tion of the Israeli apartheid, which Israel is trying to enforce as an alternative to the establishment of an in- dependent Palestinian state." Incitement to terror In conclusion, the PCC essentially called for terror- ism against Israel when it affirmed "the determination of the Palestinian people to resist by all means possible to bring the Israeli occupa- tion and apartheid regime down" and rejected any suggestions for interim solu- tions including a state with temporary borders as well as the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. These resolutions were voted on, with a vast majority of 72 PCC members support- ing the motions, two voting against and 12 abstaining. While these statements are inflammatory and combative, it is unclear how they will translate into action and af- fect the day-to-day life of the average Palestinian. On the first day of the conference, Palestinianleader Mahmoud Abbas delivered a hate-filled speech in which he denied Israel's right to exist and wished President Donald Trump that his "house should be destroyed." Abbas on Sunday rejected Israel as a Western "colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism." $ In a letter, the State Depart- ment notified the U.N. Relief and Works Agency that the U.S. is withholding $65 mil- lion of a planned $125 million funding installment to the body. The letter also makes clear that additional U.S. donations will be contingent on major changes by UNRWA, which has been heavily criti- cized by Israel. "We would like to see some reforms be made," said State Department spokes- woman Heather Nauert, adding that changes are needed both to the way the agency operates and is funded. "This is not aimed at punishing anyone." The State Department said it was releasing the rest of the installment--S60 mil- lion-to prevent the agency from running out of cash by the end of the month and closing down. The U.S. is UNWRA's larg- est donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of its budget. Danon: 'Time for this absurdity to end' Israel's ambassador to the U.N Danny Danon, praised the move, arguing that UNRWA misuses hu- manitarian aid to support propaganda against the Jew- ish state and perpetuate the Palestinians' plight. "It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose: the welfare of refugees," Danon said in a statement. The U.S. donated $355 million to UNWRA in 2016 and was set to make a similar contribution in this year; the first installment was to have been sent this month. But after a highly critical Jan. 2 tweet from Trump on aid to the Palestinians, the State Department opted to wait for a formal policy deci- sion before sending its first installment. Trump's tweet expressed frustration over the lack of progress in his attempts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and he pointed the finger at the Pal- estinians. "We pay the Pales- tinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect," he said. "But with the Palestin- ians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?" Israelis accuse the U.N. agency of contributing to Palestinian militancy and al- lowing its facilities to be used by militants. They also com- plain that some of UNRWA's staff are biased against Israel. US demands more 'burden-sharing' Nauert said the United States believes there needs to be more "burden-sharing," a regular Trump complaint about multilateral organiza- tions dependent on significant contributions of U.S. cash. "We don't believe that tak- ing care of other nations and other people have to be solely the United States' responsibil- ity," she said. The U.S. plan to withhold some, but not all, of the money was backed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and De- fense Secretary James Mattis, who offered it as a compromise to demands for more drastic measures by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, officials said. Haley wanted a complete cutoff in U.S. money until the Palestinians resumed peace talks with Israel that have been frozen for years. But Tillerson, Mattis and others argued that ending all assistance would exacerbate instability in the Mideast, notably in Jordan, a host to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and a crucial U.S. strategic partner. Eliminating or sharply re- ducing the U.S. contribution could hamstring the agency and severely curtail its work, putting great pressure on Jordan and Lebanon as well as the Palestinian Authority. Gaza would be particularly hard hit. Some officials, in- cluding Israelis, warn that it might push people closer to the militant Hamas move- ment, which controls Gaza.