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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Armenia announces it will open embassy in Israel

Armenia announced on Thursday that it intends to open an embassy in Tel Aviv, a move expected to bring the once cool ties between the two countries to a different level. “Israel is an important player in the Middle East,” Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan was quoted as saying in a cabinet meeting. “The opening of the embassy will contribute to the deepening of bilateral relations and protection of Armenia’s interests in the region.” (https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Armenia-to-open-embassy-in-Jerusalem-602257) According to the cabinet decision, the move will also strengthen the Armenian Apostolic Church’s presence in the country. The new embassy is expected to open by the beginning of next year. Mnatsakanyan said that Armenia would welcome a reciprocal move by Israel, and that “this is on the agenda of our dialogue.” Israel gave no indication, however, that it was considering opening an embassy in Yerevan.


Newsline: EU condemns ‘deplorable’ vandalism at embassy in Israel

The EU condemned as “deplorable” messages spray-painted in its embassy in Israel on Sunday, for which a right-wing, anti-immigration activist has claimed responsibility. A photo posted by Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret on Twitter shows one message spray-painted in red says “German money kill Jews,” while another says “EU get out.” Giaufret called the attack “deplorable” and “threatening.” (https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-condemns-deplorable-vandalism-at-israeli-embassy/) A far-right, anti-asylum seeker activist, Sheffi Paz, claimed responsibility and turned herself in to police, according to Haaretz. A video shared by Israeli journalists on Twitter shows Paz spray-painting one of the messages while another woman tapes a sign on the wall saying “STOP PAYING THE KILLERS OF OUR CHILDREN.” Paz also reads from a statement in the video, saying “stop subsidizing terrorists, stop financing illegal immigration or get out of Israel.” Israel is in full campaign mode ahead of a legislative election on Tuesday. Ayelet Shaked, chairwoman of the right-wing alliance Yamina, had previously announced a deal with Paz, agreeing to push for tougher legislation on migration, according to Haaretz. Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, announced in a tweet that the country’s police force is investigating the vandalism. “I am appalled by and condemn the disgraceful vandalism of the EU Mission in Israel. Israel is committed to maintaining the security of all diplomatic missions,” Katz wrote.

Newsline: Hungary draws up plans to upgrade diplomatic ties with Syria

Hungary is drawing up plans to upgrade diplomatic relations with Syria, a move that will anger influential EU members who have sought to keep their distance from the Damascus regime. Budapest has for months been working on a proposal to send a chargé d’affaires back to Syria, according to diplomats in Brussels and Beirut, which would be a precursor to reopening its closed embassy eventually. While a few European capitals kept up diplomatic ties during the seven-year conflict, this would be the first time an EU member state has moved towards reopening a shuttered embassy in Syria. (https://www.ft.com/content/837adb10-d3bb-11e9-a0bd-ab8ec6435630) Many EU members strongly oppose normalising relations with the Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime by dispatching envoys to Syria. One European diplomat in Beirut called Hungary’s proposed move “very annoying”.

Newsline: Russia’s Ambassador to Egypt Dies, Aged 68

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says that its ambassador to Egypt has died. He was 68. The ministry said Sergei Kirpichenko died suddenly Monday morning in a hospital in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. It did not name the cause of death. (https://www.voanews.com/europe/russias-ambassador-egypt-dies-aged-68) A career diplomat, Kirpichenko was Russia’s ambassador in Egypt since 2011 and also served as Russia’s envoy to the Arab League, which is based in Cairo. He was previously posted in the United Arab Emirates, Libya and Syria.

Newsline: Former U.S Ambassador to Israel Accused of Trying to ‘Destroy the Jewish State’

Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk engaged in a snarky game of one-upmanship on Twitter over the weekend, culminating in a charge by Netanyahu’s son that the former diplomat sought to “destroy the Jewish state.” (https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/yair-netanyahu-accuses-former-u-s-amb-of-trying-to-destroy-israel-1.7774386) The sniping began after Indyk posted a news story by Channel 13 (and former Haaretz) journalist Barak Ravid, reporting that Netanyahu had “frantically” called President Donald Trump trying to head off any initiative that could result in a meeting between the U.S. leader and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif. In 2016, Indyk claimed that during the funeral for Israel’s slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Netanyahu had expressed to him disappointment at the assassination, lamenting that the murder would turn Rabin into a national hero. “I remember Netanyahu saying to me: ‘Look, look at this. He’s a hero now, but if he had not been assassinated, I would have beaten him in the elections, and then he would have gone into history as a failed politician,” Indyk recalled in an interview to PBS. Netanyahu was the opposition leader at the time. His office denied Indyk’s account of the exchange, saying it “never happened.”

Newsline: Arab League warns Honduras that moving embassy to Jerusalem violates international law

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul-Gheit sent a letter to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Friday, warning him that moving the Honduran embassy to Jerusalem would breach international law. Hernandez is expected to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem on Sunday, according to a Wednesday statement from the Secretary of the Honduran Presidency, Ebal Diaz. (https://www.egyptindependent.com/arab-league-warns-honduras-that-moving-embassy-to-jerusalem-violates-international-law/) In the statement, Diaz explained that “The Honduran government decided to establish in Jerusalem a formal diplomatic mission office for political, cultural and trade cooperation, which is an extension of Honduras’ embassy in Tel Aviv, and recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” Abul-Gheit condemned Honduras’ position in his letter, which opposes international law and the stable international consensus on Jerusalem as an occupied territory in 1967.

Newsline: Jerusalem residents headed by former Israeli diplomat protest US Embassy wall construction

Residents of Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood have urged their new neighbors at the US Embassy to halt construction of a five-meter-high protective wall surrounding the facility. Residents complained that the wall will block impressive views of the Dead Sea from the neighborhood. Construction started earlier this week, and the families say it is progressing without consulting the local community. The residents’ campaign is led by Miryam Shomrat, a former Israeli diplomat. “We, the residents of Talpiot Arnona, are amazed to find that along our neighborhood’s Kfar Etzion St., a five-meter-high wall is about to completely block our access to the view which is part of our life in the area,” Shomrat wrote in a letter sent on Sunday to Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz. “The wall is being constructed under the pretext of ‘protecting’ the US Embassy building, while everyone is aware that the south side of the building is completely exposed to an Arab village, and yet we have to pay a heavy price in terms of our quality of life without rhyme or reason.” (https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Jerusalem-residents-protest-US-Embassy-wall-construction-599834) Demanding an immediate halt to construction work, Shomrat said the erection of the “savage” wall is “contrary to the good spirit that characterizes [the residents’] relationship with the consulate and embassy.”