Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

International

08/11/2014

Divisive Erdogan to become Turkish president

Intl1

BRUSSELS - Outgoing Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will become the country’s first directly elected president after securing a decisive victory in Sunday’s (10 August) poll.

Recep Erdogan will become Turkey's first directly elected president after a comfortable win in Sunday's vote. (Photo: Wikipedia/Ekim Caglar)

With 99 percent of ballot boxes counted, state-run Anadolu news agency has said that Erdogan got 52 percent of the vote, with his main rivals Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a former diplomat, and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, taking 38 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

By claiming an absolute majority, Erdogan avoids a second run-off election against Ihsanoglu.

The results are to be formally confirmed on Monday.

In a victory speech to thousands of supporters outside his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) headquarters on Sunday night, Erdogan said: "I will not be the president of only those who voted for me, I will be the president of 77 million.”

He also promised to “build a new future, with an understanding of a societal reconciliation”.

The 60-year old Erdogan has been prime minister since 2003 and was barred from standing for a fourth term by internal party rules.

But despite being the country’s longest serving leader, Erdogan is seen by many as a divisive figure whose premiership has left Turkey increasingly isolated and set back its chances of progress in EU membership talks.

His critics say that his government and leadership style have become increasingly authoritarian, marked by crackdowns on press and judicial freedom as well as bans on the use of social media sites Twitter and YouTube.

Earlier this year, the US thinktank Freedom House downgraded Turkish press status from "partly free" to "not free" in its yearly report, putting the country in the same bracket as the likes of Zimbabwe and Somalia.

Meanwhile, a new internet law, denounced by EU officials, is set to give the AKP government the right to delete online content, block individual users and snoop on people’s emails.

Erdogan also faced international criticism after using police violence to break up pro-democracy protests in Istanbul last year.

However, despite this, his popularity among millions of Turks remained undimmed, with the AKP easily winning local elections in March just months after a government corruption scandal.

The Turkish presidency had previously been...


Erdogan wins Turkish presidential election, vows reconciliation

Victory in the presidential election for Recep Tayyip Erdogan has secured his place in history as Turkey’s first directly elected head of state.

The win moves the country one step closer to the presidential system Erdogan would like, something his opponents fear will lead to more authoritarian rule.

In an unusually conciliatory speech, he tried to reassure them.

To the thousands of supporters gathered in front of the AK party headquarters in the capital Ankara he said: “Let’s start a new social reconciliation period today and let’s leave the old discussions in the old Turkey.”

Erdogan replied to critics who have warned his roots in political Islam and intolerance of dissent mean Turkey is in danger of moving away from the secular ideals on which it was founded: “Those who call us dictators. Look at yourselves. Those who called us authoritarian. Look at yourselves.”

Erdogan’s core supporters, religious conservatives, see his victory as the crowning achievement of his drive to reshape Turkey and break the hold of a secular elite.

After his victory is officially confirmed, Erdogan will be sworn in as president for a five-year term on August 28.

By getting more than 50 percent of the vote he avoided the need for a second round runoff against his main challenger Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a former diplomat and academic.

Third place went to an ethnic Kurd candidate, lawyer Selahattin Demirtas, something unthinkable just a few years ago as Turkey battled a Kurdish rebellion.



07/22/2014

Poll: A Super Majority of Israelis Satisfied With Results So Far Of #ProtectiveEdge

Intl1

Support for Operation Protective Edge and its expansion among the Israeli Jewish public remains at all time high, despite the high number of casualties, a poll conducted by Israel Hayom and the New Wave Research firm shows.

80 percent support Israel’s ground operation in the Gaza Strip, while only 12 percent were opposed. A similar majority of 71% want Israel to expand its current ground operation.

An overwhelming 94 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the Israel Defense Forces’ performance thus far in the operation, with only 3 percent saying they were dissatisfied with how the army was handing the mission.

65 percent of Israelis think Israel should make toppling the Hamas regime in Gaza a goal of Operation Protective Edge. 22 percent were opposed to that idea and 13 percent had no opinion.

Most respondents were also opposed to a cease-fire. Over three-quarters (77 percent) of those polled said Israel should not agree to a cease-fire with the situation as it currently is, with 16 percent supporting a cease-fire in current conditions.

Israel was also perceived as more successful than Hamas, with 73 percent of respondents saying that Israel had gained more than the terrorist organization over the course of the operation, 19% saying neither side had gained more than the other.

The survey also indicated widespread public support for Israel’s top political and defense echelon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the support of a large majority of respondents, 73 percent of whom said they were satisfied with Netanyahu’s performance as prime minister during Operation Protective Edge. Another 16 percent said they were dissatisfied with the prime minister’s performance during the operation, and 11 percent were undecided.

An even larger percentage of the public was behind IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, with 88 percent of those polled saying they were satisfied with Gantz’s conduct of the operation. 71% were satisfied with the performance of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

When asked which politician was best suited to serve as prime minister now, nearly half (48 percent) chose Netanyahu. About 12 percent preferred Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi); 9 percent chose Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu); 5 percent chose Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog (Labor); 3 percent named Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnuah); and 1 percent named Finance...


Israeli Mood Turns Dark With Mounting Casualties

For almost two weeks, Israel practically bristled with confidence and pride: The Iron Dome air defense system was dependably zapping incoming Hamas rockets from the skies, the military was successfully repelling infiltration attempts on the ground and from the sea, and the conflict with Hamas was causing almost no casualties in Israel.

That has changed in what seems like a flash, after at least 25 soldiers were killed and scores injured — a predictable yet still stunning outcome of the fateful decision, announced late Thursday, to send troops and tanks by land into Hamas-ruled Gaza.

In a country where military service is mandatory for most citizens, and military losses are considered every bit as tragic as civilian ones, the reaction to the setbacks was electric. Newspapers and broadcasts have been dominated by images and tales of the fallen — mostly young faces barely out of high school — and interviews with parents concerned for offspring so clearly now imperiled.

Angst over the highest military toll since the 2006 Lebanon war now mixes with a cocktail of emotions: on one hand, a strong current of determination to press on with efforts to end the rocket fire from Gaza; on the other, the sinking feeling that a quagmire is at hand.

"It's ugly and it's no walk in the park," said Alon Geller, a 42-year-old legal intern from central Israel. "But we have to finish the operation. If we stop now before reaching our goals, the soldiers will have died in vain."

But the Haaretz newspaper warned against mission creep and the "wholesale killing" of Palestinian civilians. "The soft Gaza sand ... could turn into quicksand," it said in its editorial Monday. "There can be no victory here. ... Israel must limit its time in the Strip."

There was always near-consensus among Israelis for the airstrikes aimed at ending the rocket fire, which they considered unreasonable and outrageous. The Palestinian fatalities caused by the airstrikes — over 500 in two weeks, many of them civilians — are generally blamed here on Hamas, for locating launchers in civilian areas and for proving to be cynical and nihilistic, to Israeli eyes, at every turn.

But a ground invasion of Gaza is another story, and the government had clearly hesitated to take the risk. House-to-house fighting, tanks exposed in fields, the danger of a soldier being kidnapped, to be traded for thousands after years in captivity: It...



07/14/2014

Palestinian ambassador to Russia: Humanitarian crisis heightens in Gaza Strip

Intl1

MOSCOW, July 14. /ITAR-TASS/. The humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip has heightened, Palestine’s ambassador to Russia has said.

“Urgent humanitarian assistance should be provided to residents of the Gaza Strip. There are obstacles for delivering it,” Fayed Mustafa said on Monday.

“The situation has deteriorated as a result of recent events. The Gaza Strip has turned into a real prison,” he said.

“It is necessary to immediately provide humanitarian, medical and other assistance,” Mustafa said.

Furthermore, Fayed Mustafa has urged the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on the situation in the Gaza Strip.

“The statement for the press is insufficient. Israel does not comply with it,” Mustafa told a news conference on Monday.

“We hope that today the UN Security Council will adopt a resolution on the situation in the Gaza Strip. We call for condemning Israel’s aggression,” he said.

“The international community should take decisive measures that would stop Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people and continue searching for the fair resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Mustafa added.

Palestine calls on world community to condemn Israel’s aggression

The death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza has risen to 173, Fayed Mustafa noted.

“The Palestinian people have the right to protect themselves. It is necessary to use all means and chances to make resistance. We demand the international community condemn the aggression and interfere into the situation immediately in order to stop the slaughter,” he said.

Israel’s offensive began seven days ago. It is aimed at suppressing the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Fierce clashes have occurred near the city of Hebron on the West Bank. A 20-year-old Palestinian died during the clashes.

Palestine ready to resume talks with Israel

Palestine’s Ambassador to Russia Fayed Mustafa has said the country is ready to resume talks with Israel.

“We believe that it is necessary to resume talks and search for political settlement,” Mustafa noted.

“There is no military solution to the problem,” he said.

“In order to resume talks Israel should stop the settlement policy on the Palestinian territories, free the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners and undertake the commitment to resolving border issues,” he said.

At the same time, Mustafa...


McCain admires ‘Israeli’s restraint’ in killing Palestinians

Intl2

US hawkish senator John McCain (R-Arizona) says Israel is demonstrating “restraint” in its continuing airstrikes on the Gaza Strip that have killed over 170 people, adding such “restraint” is “admirable.”

According to the latest reports, the death toll from Israel’s attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip has risen to 175. Over 1,230 Palestinians have also been injured since the Tel Aviv regime began its deadly airstrikes on Gaza on Tuesday.

Reports also show Palestinian families are fleeing their homes in northern Gaza. According to the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, more than three quarters of the victims are civilians.

Meanwhile, Palestinian fighters have launched more rockets into Israel in retaliation for the bombardment of Gaza.

In an interview with CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday, McCain said the situation has become “more dangerous than any time in the past” as he blamed Palestinians for Israel’s atrocities against them.

“It's very important to understand: There's no moral equivalency here. Israel is being attacked by hundreds of rockets,” McCain, who is a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said.

“Picture the United States of America with a country contiguous to ours, that we're being subjected to rocket attacks. So the restraint of the Israelis, in my view, is admirable,” the Arizona Republican added.

McCain’s remarks came just two days after Jewish protesters in 15 US cities condemned the Tel Aviv regime for its atrocities against Palestinians.

On Friday, Jewish Voice for Peace organized anti-Israel protests in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, among other US cities.

Jewish Voice for Peace is allied with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement which campaigns for the boycott of Israeli goods.



07/04/2014

Israel does not want peace

Intl1

OPINION

Rejectionism is embedded in Israel's most primal beliefs. There, at the deepest level, lies the concept that this land is destined for the Jews alone.

Israel does not want peace. There is nothing I have ever written that I would be happier to be proved wrong about. But the evidence is piling up. In fact, it can be said that Israel has never wanted peace – a just peace, that is, one based on a just compromise for both sides. It’s true that the routine greeting in Hebrew is Shalom (peace) – shalom when one leaves and shalom when one arrives. And, at the drop of a hat, almost every Israeli will say he wants peace, of course he does. But he’s not referring to the kind of peace that will bring about the justice without which there is no peace and there will be no peace. Israelis want peace, not justice, certainly not anything based on universal values. Thus, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Not only is there no peace: In recent years, Israel has moved away from even the aspiration to make peace. It has despaired utterly of it. Peace has disappeared from the Israeli agenda, its place taken by the collective anxieties that are systematically implanted, and by personal, private matters that now take precedence over all else.

The Israeli longing for peace seemingly died about a decade ago, after the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000, the dissemination of the lie that there is no Palestinian partner for peace, and, of course, the horrific blood-soaked period of the second intifada. But the truth is that even before that, Israel never really wanted peace. Israel has never, not for a minute, treated the Palestinians as human beings with equal rights. It has never viewed their distress as understandable human and national distress.

The Israeli peace camp, too – if ever there was such a thing – also died a lingering death amid the harrowing scenes of the second intifada and the no-partner lie. All that remained were a handful of organizations that were as determined and devoted as they were ineffectual in the face of the delegitimization campaigns mounted against them. Israel, therefore, was left with its rejectionist stance.

The single most overwhelming item of evidence of Israel’s rejection of peace is, of course, the settlements project. From the dawn of its existence, there has never been a more reliable or more precise litmus test for Israel’s true intentions than this particular...


‘The Palestinians must be stopped’

OPINION

A satirist might ask what can be done to stop those pesky Palestinians, writes Sam Bahour

I have had enough of those Palestinians. I think the world in general is also fed up with the Palestinians. They have gone too far in demonising the Israelis and must be stopped. The international community must act now before it is too late and Israel is wiped off the map and a second tragedy of historic proportions falls on a significant part of the world’s Jewish population.

For starters, the Palestinians embarked by land, sea and air onto Israel and displaced more than half the Jewish population of Israel in 1948. Imagine, more than half of the population of Israel displaced, forced to live to this day, 66 years later, in squalid refugee camps only hours from their homes. Other than some faint attempts to fight their way back to their homes in Israel, the Israeli refugees have been “unreasonably reasonable” in accepting their fate, and they continue to wait patiently for word when they can return home to Israel. This man-made tragedy was perpetrated by the Palestinians, who continue to this day to strangle Jewish citizens of Israel by the use of brute force and economic suffocation in an attempt to have them emigrate elsewhere.

The Palestinians are a violent people. Every Palestinian high-school graduate is forced into mandatory conscription, three years for males and two years for females. During this military stint, every Palestinian citizen is trained in the use of weapons and combat methods. Many Palestinians brag about how they brutalise Jewish Israelis during their military service; some have even posted photos on their Facebook walls of their posing with Israeli corpses or a blindfolded Israeli who was taken prisoner.

The Palestinians are making Israeli livelihoods miserable. They have set up military checkpoints in and around major Israeli cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. Palestinian soldiers stop only Israeli cars, sometimes for hours on end, while letting Palestinian registered cars ride through their checkpoints unhindered. When an Israeli wants to leave Israel, s/he must get Palestinian permission beforehand. If any Israeli gets onto the Palestinian blacklist, his/her ability to leave Israel is impossible.

Imagine not being able to leave your own country or being allowed to leave but not to return. Even when Israelis want to travel from one Israeli city to another, the Palestinians have set up checkpoints, which resemble the...



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