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Archive for Israel

Newsline: Israel barring Malaysian ‘Embassy to Palestine’ because of antisemitism

Israel has refused to grant officials from Malaysia access to Ramallah in light of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s antisemitic statements, The Jerusalem Post has learned. (https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-barring-Malaysian-Embassy-to-Palestine-because-of-antisemitism-609646) As a result, Malaysia opened an “Embassy to Palestine” in Amman. Israel will not allow any Malaysian officials to visit Palestinian Authority offices in the West Bank, a break in policy toward other Muslim countries with which Israel does not have official relations. “Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has led an extremist anti-Israel and antisemitic policy, including prohibiting Israeli athletic delegations from entering his country, not allowing Malaysian citizens into Israel, and hostile declarations with an antisemitic tinge,” said the Foreign Ministry. “Such behavior does not allow for any possibility of a Malaysian foothold in Israeli territory.” Mohamad has called Jews “hook-nosed,” and said that “Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” “Jews do a lot of wrong things,” the 93-year-old Malaysian prime minister said in June at Cambridge University, adding that if he could, he would invade Israel. Mohamad has said he is “glad to be labeled antisemitic,” and in a September event at Columbia University in New York asked why people think it’s a problem for him to criticize Jews.

Newsline: Jordan recalls ambassador to Israel to protest detentions

Jordan announced it was recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations to protest Israel’s detention of a pair of Jordanians who have been held without charges for the past two months. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi wrote on Twitter that Jordan was taking the step because of Israel’s refusal “to heed our legitimate demands” to release the pair. “We hold Israeli government responsible for the lives of our citizens whose health conditions have severely deteriorated in illegal arbitrary detention,” he said. “We will take all necessary legal & diplomatic measures to ensure their safe return home.” (https://news.yahoo.com/jordan-recalls-ambassador-israel-protest-210647512.html) The case has further soured what already is a tense relationship between the two countries, which marked the 25-year anniversary of their landmark peace agreement over the weekend. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was checking the Jordanian announcement with authorities in Amman.

Newsline: Israeli Embassies and Consulates Close as Diplomats Strike for Higher Wages

Israeli embassies and consulates have shut down because of a strike by diplomats and military attaches over expense stipends, according to The Times of Israel. The closures happened after Israel’s Ministry of Finance said it would make envoys pay back money they had already been reimbursed for expenses. “Due to the decision of the Israeli Ministry of Finance to breach understandings that were agreed upon and signed by the Director General of the Ministry of Finance on July 21, 2019, and to apply a one-sided procedure that alters a protocol that has been in place for several decades, we are forced to close the diplomate mission,” read a statement. “No consular services will be provided and no one will be allowed to enter the Embassy/Consulate.” (https://www.newsweek.com/israeli-embassies-consulates-close-diplomats-strike-higher-wages-1468594) Union representatives came to an agreement with the Finance Ministry in 2014 to increase Israeli diplomats’ pay, but reports indicate the plan was never completely implemented. Currently, Israel has 69 embassies, 23 consulates and five special missions around the world, including a representative at the United Nations. But the Israeli government has cut the Foreign Ministry’s budget, leaving it at only approximately $367 million per year.

Newsline: Israeli embassies on alert citing Iran threat

Several Israeli embassies around the world have raised their alert level in light of increased tensions from Iran. (https://www.jpost.com/International/Israeli-embassies-on-alert-air-defenses-adjusted-in-face-of-Iran-threat-606159) According to reports in Hebrew-language media, a series of adjustments were made to IAF air defense systems in light of the fear that Iran might try to carry out an attack using cruise missiles or suicide drones similar to the October attack against Saudi Arabia. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have warned in recent days of the increased threat posed by the Islamic Republic, which they say is getting bolder and more willing to respond to Israeli attacks on Iranian and Iranian-backed militias and infrastructure.

Newsline: Surprise strike shutters Israel’s embassies abroad

The industrial action – taken in response to Finance Ministry reneging on their promise not to cancel customary allowances for overseas delegates – was suspended after a short-term solution was found to the dispute. The employees of foreign and defense ministries on Thursday declared a strike across all Israeli embassies around the world, halting all consular services abroad and domestically, just days before the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The industrial action, however, was suspended some hours later after an interim solution to a dispute with the Ministry of Finance, which led to the strike, was found. (https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5597555,00.html) The reason for the sudden strike appears to the decision by the Ministry of Finance to cancel the customary allowances for overseas delegates. The treasure decided not to cancel the allowances in the meantime in order to avoid a strike on the eve of a major holiday, which when many Israelis choose to spend abroad. The Foreign Ministry also claims the Treasury reneged on recent agreements on representation fees, and now demands retroactive refunds worth thousands of shekels from ambassadors who cannot provide receipts for their expenses.

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.