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University of Texas student government passes resolution in support of Jewish students

UT Austin

The University of Texas, Austin (Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — The student government at the University of Texas in Austin unanimously passed a resolution in support of Jewish students on campus.

The resolution passed on Tuesday came after a window was broken at the campus Hillel and following anti-Semitic posts on the UT 2020 Facebook page, the Daily Texan student newspaper reported.

“Several Jewish students that I know don’t even feel comfortable wearing their (Star of David) necklace out or small things like that just to express their religion,” Jonathan Dror, an author of the resolution, told the student newspaper.

Hillel said in a statement issued last week after the vandalism that it was “working to take specific actions to ensure the safety of the Jewish community on campus,” and would provide more details on those actions when they become available.

More than 3,000 Jewish students attend the university in Austin.

 

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US ‘Women’s Strike’ platform calls for ‘decolonization of Palestine’

(JTA) — The platform for a strike to support feminism and women’s rights drew criticism from some over its call “for the decolonization of Palestine.”

The statement on Palestine is included in a section on “Antiracist and Anti-imperialist Feminism” in the platform for the U.S. affiliate of the International Women’s Strike. The grassroots feminist movement organized events around the world on Wednesday.

It groups solidarity with Palestine with other causes, including Black Lives Matter, “the struggle against police brutality and mass incarceration,” and immigrant rights.

“We want to dismantle all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine,” the platform reads.

Critics of the platform included Emily Shire, the politics editor of the women’s news site Bustle. She wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Tuesday that as a Zionist she was “troubled” by the plank on Palestine.

“I find it troubling that embracing such a view is considered an essential part of an event that is supposed to unite feminists,” she wrote. “I am happy to debate Middle East politics or listen to critiques of Israeli policies. But why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?”

Shire also criticized the strike for the involvement of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian woman convicted and sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for two bombing attacks, including one in 1969 that killed two Israelis.

Odeh was among the eight authors of an op-ed article in The Guardian announcing the movement. She confessed to planting the bomb, though in recent years has claimed that the confession was given under torture, which is disputed by Israeli officials.

“While the fairness of Ms. Odeh’s conviction is debated, the fact that she was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was categorized as a terrorist organization by the State Department, is not,” Shire wrote.

The niece of one of the victims of the 1969 attack also criticized the strike over Odeh’s involvement.

“But, explain how my family is supposed to reconcile the reality that the woman who stripped my uncle of his life is now deemed a hero by many of my fellow Americans. What justification is there for Rasmea Odeh, a woman who killed two people (with the intention of killing more!) to lead a peaceful fight for human rights?” Terry Joffe Benaryeh wrote in an op-ed published last week on Huffington Post.

ARAB LEAGUE WARNS: US EMBASSY MOVE IS ‘SERIOUS THREAT TO WORLD PEACE’

 

One day after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with US Vice President Mike Pence, the Arab League on Wednesday voted unanimously in Cairo for a resolution blocking the proposed relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“The establishment of any diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, or transfer of one to the city, is an explicit assault on the rights of the Palestinian people and all Muslims and Christians, and a serious violation of international law,” the League said.

“It would constitute a serious threat to peace and security in the region, as well as contribute to an implosion of the two-state solution, and the promotion of extremism and violence.”

In January, Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian leader and Fatah official, warned that an embassy relocation is tantamount to “a declaration of war against Muslims.”

“If someone on your side thinks it won’t have ramifications, they’re wrong,” he said. “This is a dangerous move, which will not bring stability to the region.”

Nonetheless, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that the embassy relocation would be forthcoming, although he has recently implied the move may be postponed.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, perhaps the government’s most vocal advocate for a relocation, went so far as to initiate a national campaign to support Trump’s pledge to move the embassy to the capital.

“I congratulate President Trump and the historic message being sent by the White House by beginning hearings to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem,” the mayor said.

“Trump has proven that he is a true friend of the State of Israel, and keeps his promises, and the [relocation] sends a clear message to the world that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.”

SWISS LEGISLATURE (WHITE FREEMASONS) PASSES BILL TO STOP FUNDING FOR BOYCOTTS OF ISRAEL

 

Switzerland’s National Council – the lower chamber of the legislature – passed a bill on Wednesday to stop government funding of organizations that promote boycotts of Israel and spread antisemitism and racism.

The measure will be submitted in May to the Council of States, the upper chamber of the legislature, which will decide whether it becomes law.

Olga Deutsch, director of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor’s Europe Desk, told The Jerusalem Post: “Today’s positive developments in Switzerland mark a milestone in seriously countering BDS campaigns, antisemitism and hatred, by equating them in the motion. The motion sets an important precedent. NGO Monitor was instrumental in providing details to Swiss decision-makers regarding their government’s funding of organizations that oppose official Swiss foreign policy, such as NGOs that propagate anti-normalization, BDS, and one-state frameworks.”

She added, “This is a perfect opportunity for Israeli and European officials to capitalize on the Swiss example and work together on guidelines and evaluation mechanisms that contribute to positive change in addressing this serious issue.”

The measure was introduced by Christian Imark, a National Council deputy from the conservative Swiss People’s Party. It passed 111- 78.

Dominik Feusi, a senior editor with the Basler Zeitung newspaper, first announced the groundbreaking motion on Twitter, writing “Swiss parliament approves a Motion to end funding of NGOs who work for terror, hate, racism or antisemitism…”

Imark’s motion to slash funding for organizations that boycott Israel appears to the first national parliamentary act in Europe to blunt economic and political warfare targeting the Jewish state.

The head of the Federal Council, Didier Burkhalter from the FPD Liberal party, opposes the measure. According to an article in the Zurichbased Weltwoche weekly, Burkhalter, who oversees the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, blames only Israel for the collapse of the peace process.

Feusi published a series of eye-popping investigative reports over the past year on alleged financial misconduct in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The Swiss government provided funds in December to the US- and EU-designated terrorist organization Hamas for a conference in Geneva. Switzerland’s government funneled nearly $60 million to diverse projects in the Middle East, many of which are shrouded in secrecy.

Swiss government money flowed to the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, which advocates the boycott of the Jewish state. Switzerland – in contrast to the US, Canada and the EU – does not recognize Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.

Switzerland also funds the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which routinely calls for the arrest of Israeli politicians and compares Israel with the former apartheid regime in South Africa, and Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based legal center that engages in lawfare against the Jewish state.

According to NGO Monitor: “The Swiss government, directly through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (managed by the Institute of Law at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm in Sweden), provides core-funding to a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada and Israel.”

NGO Monitor continued: “From 2013 to 2016, the IHL Secretariat provided a total of $2.38m. to organizations directly affiliated with the PFLP, while the Swiss government’s contribution amounted to approximately one-quarter of the total secretariat budget. The IHL Secretariat distributes 56% of its budget to NGOs that advocate for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaigns against Israel.”

Silvia Müller, a spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, told the Post that “Switzerland decisively condemns calls for hate, violence, forms of racism and antisemitism.”

She said that “Switzerland works together with organizations that uphold democratic values and principles and work for human rights and humanitarian international law.”

BDS Switzerland slammed the anti-boycott motion because “its goal is to ban financial support for human rights organization in the context of Israel/Palestine.”

The group said the motion is an attack on the Palestinian population, freedom of speech and organizations that work for human rights.

ESTONIAN FM: SETTLEMENT ISSUE DELAYS EU MEETING ON ISRAEL

 

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Estonian-FM-Settlement-issue-delays-EU-meeting-on-Israel-483654

 

Israeli settlement activity is one of the reasons the European Union has not yet set a date with Israel to convene the EU-Israel Association Council, Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Further discussions need to be held on the issue of settlement activity before a date can be set, Mikser said after arriving late Tuesday night.

 

He represents a country that is seen as a strong friend of Israel at the United Nations, but which stands with the European Union in its zero-tolerance policy for settlement activity.

Disagreements between Israel and the EU on settlements has prevented a long-anticipated upgrade to their already strong bilateral ties.

An important step to that upgrade is the convening of the EU-Israel Association Council, which has not meet since July 2012.

Sven Mikser. Credit: Marc Israel SellemSven Mikser. Credit: Marc Israel Sellem

It had been expected that a date for that meeting would be set on Monday when the EU council of foreign ministers met in Brussels, but nothing was finalized then. After the meeting, EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini said, “We are proceeding with the preparation for the Association Council with Israel, as decided in the previous Foreign Affairs Council in February.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that Israel expects a date to be set soon.

Mikser, however, indicated that friction still exists on the issue of settlement activity.

“There were hopes that it would be possible to hold an Association Council [meeting with Israel]. It was in discussion earlier this year, but now in significant part, because of the ongoing settlement activity and the frustration [over this] in several European capitals, there was no decision taken in that regard,” Mikser said.

“We consider ourselves a friend of Israel and unconditionally recognize Israel’s right to exist, to defend itself and to take care of its security needs,” Mikser said regarding his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Estonia does not think the solution can be brought about by unilateral activity,” Mikser said, explaining that it is for this reason it has opposed both settlement activity and declarations of Palestinian statehood.

The two-day visit is Mikser’s first trip to Israel since becoming foreign minister last year, but he has traveled here, both as a parliamentarian and as a tourist. On Wednesday he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and on Thursday he will travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian officials, including Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

In 2012, Estonia abstained during the UN General Assembly vote that granted the Palestinians the status of non-member observer state. It was also one of six countries that voted against the resolution by UNESCO’s executive board that denied Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.

Pakistan’s Military Cooperation with Israel

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/pakistans-military-cooperation-with-israel/

 

Pakistan’s secret military cooperation with Israel raised serious questions about its circumventive policy towards the Arab world. During the last three decades, Israel and Pakistan had a constructive rapprochement to coordinate their stances on the Afghan issue and exchange military information. There was a turning point in the country’s foreign policy, when Pakistan worked closely with Israel in Afghanistan during the Soviet intervention in 1980s. After a successful operation against the Palestinians in 1970, General Zia-ul-Haq (From Pakistan) was awarded Jordan’s highest honour for the services rendered.

Gen Zia, who led the operation as Brigadier General deployed in Jordan at that time. It was said that in this war around 5,000 to 7,000 Palestinians were killed, although Yasser Arafat claimed the death toll was more like 25,000. The Operation was on the direct order of Jordanian King Hussein. Israeli General Moshe Dayan noted to King Hussein that:

“Hussein killed more Palestinians in eleven days than Israel could kill in twenty years.”

After the Operation Black September, Gen Zia became most favourite person to the state of Israel. At that time, Zia was the only figure in Pakistan Army whom Israel could trust and could make good political and military relations with his country. In Afghan war, Israel was one of the most important countries that assisted Pakistan in weapons and training to the Afghan Mujaheddin. Israel’s intelligence agency MOSSAD assisted Pakistan in training Afghans near the Pak-Afghan border.

The Russian weapons which captured from PLO in Lebanon by Israel Defence Force (IDF) were given to Pakistan and ISI supplied all weapons to the Mujaheddin against the USSR. Israel has accomplished many missions along with Pakistan because Pakistan and Israel are both good allies of the US. General Zia likewise, surprised many observers in March 1986, when he called on the PLO to recognize the Jewish state.

Operation Cyclone was the code name for the American CIA to arm and finance Afghan Mujaheddin prior to and during the Afghan/Soviet war. American CIA and Pakistani ISI worked shoulder to shoulder against the Soviet Regime. The USSR was the number one financier of Palestinian terrorist organisations such as the PLO. Pakistan’s ISI had established professional relations with Israel’s Mossad and had secretly passed on intelligence data to Mossad. ISI had intercepted information that Israeli civilians may be targeted in a terrorist attack in India during September and November 2008. It was reported by Wiki Leaks that Pakistan’s Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha was in direct contact with Mossad. In 2013, Britain’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that: “In 2011, Israel allegedly exported military equipment to Pakistan via Britain; this equipment apparently included electronic warfare systems and aircraft parts”. However, Pakistan & Israel, both denied these claims.

In 2001, Pakistani Government through the ISI, passed intelligence to Israel about the Gulf States and the nuclear ambitions of Iran and Libya, whose programs Pakistani scientists had helped to build. In 2010, according to unconfirmed “leaked”(Wiki Leaks) American diplomatic cables, from October 2009, head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha provided intelligence about potential terrorist attacks in India to Israel through Washington. According to the cable,

“Gen Pasha had been in direct touch with the Israelis on possible threats against Israeli targets in India.”

A few weeks before the cable was written, the Israeli Counter-Terror Bureau had issued a travel advisory warning of possible attacks against Israeli sites in India. In 2011, Israel was alleged to have exported British military technology to Pakistan.

In 2015, Israeli scientist attended the scientific conference sponsored by Pakistan Academy of Sciences held in Lahore, Pakistan. In August 1997, the Ex- Chief of army staff from1988-91, General Mirza Aslam Beg said:

“Pakistan has no direct differences with Israel, therefore, was a third party to the dispute… We have no conflict with Israel, therefore we should not hesitate in recognising Israel.”

Whenever Pakistan recognises and establishes relations with Israel, it will not be the first Islamic country to do so. Since it has no direct disputes with Israel, Pakistan is not under any compulsion to seek a “cold peace” with Israel, and therefore has several options to choose from.

These options according to a writer P. R. Kumaraswamy are the Turkish model, it means Pakistan can recognize Israel without establishing diplomatic relations immediately, like an Iranian model, it can follow the precedent set by the Shah of Iran and recognise the Jewish state, but maintain its relationship under wraps, however, in the Jordanian model, the country can imitate the Jordanians and maintain close political as well as military relations with the Jewish state without granting any official recognition, and finally, in the Chinese model, it can adopt the Chinese example and view military contacts as a means of promoting political relations.”

At least in the foreseeable future, the political status of the relationship is likely to be tentative. While maintaining and even intensifying political contacts in private, both Israel and Pakistan will probably be extremely reluctant to discuss the nature and intensity of their contacts and relationship in public. Israel’s Relations with Pakistan would help dilute Islam-based opposition toward Israel and Pakistan should move closer to Israel because there are no bilateral disputes or conflicts between them. In search of historical contacts between both Armies and Intelligence agencies; I have absolutely no doubt that both countries still collaborate in secretive operations and work together to achieve their military benefits in the region. Pakistanis are intelligent people who keep the country safe and strong through professional governance strategies and cooperation with other nations.

The Ex-Army Chief and Former President of Pakistan, Mr Pervez Musharraf once said in June 2003:

“What is our dispute [with Israel]? I have been saying: ‘Should we be more catholic than the pope or more pious than the pope or more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves? Is this the right attitude or should there be some change in it? There should be national consensus on it.”

Israel wanted Pervez Musharraf to stay in power; it was Israel’s national interest making Musharraf strong and in power.  Israel was concerned about Musharraf’s wellbeing and wanted him to remain on the seat with power in 2007. According to the Wiki Leaks cables from Tel Aviv’s American embassy:

“The Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan met US under-secretary Burns and said that he was concerned about how long then-Pakistani President Musharraf would survive, saying: “…he is facing a serious problem with the militants. Pakistan’s nuclear capability could end up in the hands of an Islamic regime.”

Gen Pervez Musharraf knew that Israel is a reality and it is not going away from the map of the world, he always insisted that making good relations with Israel, Pakistan will get political soft corner in the world. Relations with Israel could help Pakistan on the world’s political stage. In his first interview with Israeli Newspaper Haaretz, Pervez Musharraf stated that:

“Israel is a fait accompli”

He states. “A lot of the Muslim world has understood that and I know many Muslim countries have relations with Israel, whether above board or covertly. So this is the change in reality I am talking about. Pakistan has to keep demanding the resolution of the Palestinian dispute… [But] Pakistan also needs to keep readjusting it diplomatic stand toward Israel based on the mere fact that it exists and is not going away.”

To establish good relations with Jews and Israel is a tenet of Islam, Islam teaches Muslims to make good relations with other religions and Islam permits its followers to engage with people of other faiths. It is in the supreme national interest of Pakistan to recognise Israel and make diplomatic ties because recognition of Israel could solve the Israel Palestine conflict which was spoiled for centuries.

4 more bomb threats emailed to JCCs in US, Canada

Bomb threats were emailed to four Jewish community centers in the United States and Canada following a wave of threats that targeted 16 Jewish institutions on Tuesday.

JCCs in Colorado, Delaware, Connecticut and Vancouver, Canada, received bomb threats via email either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, according to local reports and Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security across Jewish organizations.

The emails, according to Goldenberg, appear to be the tail end of a wave of bomb threats Tuesday that targeted JCCs, Jewish day schools and several offices of the Anti-Defamation League. It was the sixth such wave since the beginning of the year. In total, more than 100 bomb threats have been made against Jewish sites since the beginning of the year, all of them hoaxes. Several Jewish cemeteries have also been vandalized.

The Boulder, Colorado, JCC sent an email to members shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday notifying them of the threat and saying that law enforcement had given the JCC permission to resume operations.

The Jewish Community Center in Boulder, Colorado. (Facebook via JTA)

The Jewish Community Center in Boulder, Colorado. (Facebook via JTA)

“We take the safety and security of our families, our community, and our staff as a top priority,” the email said, adding that “the continuation of these threats across the country to JCCs, other Jewish institutions, and the Boulder JCC is very disheartening.”

The JCC in Wilmington, Delaware, has received four threats, including one overnight Tuesday. Seth Katzen, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Delaware, which shares a building with the JCC, said he didn’t know why they’ve been targeted so many times.

The Birmingham, Alabama, JCC has also received four threats, and several other sites have received three.

“We haven’t seen that drop that other communities experienced,” Katzen told JTA Wednesday. “We’re a resilient and strong community. We don’t want to give in.”

But he added, “There is a wear and tear, no question.”

This is what a JCC bomb threat feels like: Voices http://usat.ly/2mBK0HO  via @usatoday

Photo published for This is what a JCC bomb threat feels like: Voices

This is what a JCC bomb threat feels like: Voices

I’m amazed how such love and compassion can coexist with cruelty.

usatoday.com

On Tuesday threats were reported at four offices of the Anti-Defamation league, Jewish institutions in Wisconsin, Maryland, Oregon, Florida, Alabama and at least two community centers in New York, according to the SCN. In addition, two threats were directed toward Canadian JCCs, in Toronto and London, Ontario.

Some threats were called in over the phone, others were emailed. Chicago5, NBC’s Chicago affiliate, reported a bomb threat at the Chicago Jewish Day School on the city’s North Side.

In addition, the JCC in Syracuse, New York, went on lockdown after a threat of violence was called in.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s threats, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the Trump administration condemns anti-Semitism “in the strongest terms.”

“We denounce these latest anti-Semitic and evil threats in the strongest terms,” Spicer said, speaking at the daily White House press briefing. “I share the president’s hopes that we don’t have to continue to share these disturbing reports with you,” he added.

Spicer said that as long as the threats continue, the administration will keep condemning them and look at ways to stop them.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a press briefing at the White House February 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a press briefing at the White House February 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

Meanwhile Tuesday, the entire US Senate signed an open letter to the Trump administration urging them to take action against the continued surge in anti-Semitic attacks throughout the US.

“These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states,” the senators said in the appeal.

On Friday the Federal Communications Commission granted Jewish Community Centers throughout the country a temporary waiver allowing them to receive caller information..

Federal officials have been investigating nearly 150 bomb threats called in to Jewish organizations in three dozen states since January 9 as well as a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, including in St. Louis, Missouri; Philadelphia; and Rochester, New York.

Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested on in St. Louis on Friday, suspected of being behind at least eight of the bomb threats, including calls to the ADL. However, those appeared to have been copycat crimes, which police said he carried out as part of a campaign to harass and cyberstalk an ex-girlfriend.

Senators seek evidence to support Trump’s wiretapping claim

WASHINGTON (AP) — The leaders of a congressional inquiry into Russia’s efforts to sway the US election called on the Justice Department Wednesday to produce any evidence that supports President Donald Trump’s explosive wiretapping allegation.

Declaring that Congress “must get to the bottom” of Trump’s claim, Sens. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), and Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-RI), asked Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente and FBI Director James Comey to produce the paper trail created when the Justice Department’s criminal division secures warrants for wiretaps.

Trump tweeted last weekend that former President Barack Obama had tapped his phones at Trump Tower during the election. But Trump offered no evidence to back up the accusation. Through a spokesman, Obama said neither he nor any White House official had ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said nothing matching Trump’s claims had taken place.

Following Trump’s tweet, FBI Director James Comey privately asked the Justice Department to dispute the president’s claim because he believed the allegations to be false.

Then president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose with then president-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Then president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose with then president-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As the chairman and top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary crime and terrorism subcommittee, Graham and Whitehouse said they would take very seriously “any abuse of wiretapping authorities for political reasons.”

But, they added, “We would be equally alarmed to learn that a court found enough evidence of criminal activity or contact with a foreign power to legally authorize a wiretap of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower.”

The senators are seeking warrant applications and court orders, which they said can be scrubbed to protect secret intelligence sources and methods.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told Iowa reporters in a Wednesday telephone call that he needs to be able to “sort fact from fiction” before making any decisions about Trump’s wiretapping allegation.

Grassley also said he’s waiting to receive a briefing from Comey, who told the senator earlier this week that he’s awaiting clearance from the Justice Department.

The House and Senate Intelligence committees, and the FBI, are investigating contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, as well as whether Moscow tried to influence the 2016 election. Trump demanded that they broaden the scope of their inquiries to include Obama’s potential abuse of executive powers.

Graham and Whitehouse acknowledged Trump’s desire for the intelligence committees to have purview, but they argued that their subcommittee has oversight of the Justice Department’s criminal division.

Graham has been a frequent critic of Trump’s push for closer ties with Moscow. After Trump’s victory in November, he pledged to use his position in the Republican majority to investigate what he called “Russia’s misadventures throughout the world.”

Egyptians protest over new bread subsidies system

CAIRO, Egypt — Dozens of Egyptians protested across the country on Tuesday because they were unable to get their share of subsidized bread, police said.

The protests followed a supply ministry decision to limit the number of subsidized loaves bakeries can sell to people who do not yet have digital cards that are being introduced under a new distribution system, Supply Minister Ali al-Meselhy said.

The new system, which the government launched in 2014, replaces paper documents, and is designed to allow stricter state control and oversight to ensure no subsidized flour is stolen by bakeries.

Protests were reported on Tuesday in the provinces of Alexandria, Kafr el-Sheikh, Minya and Assiut, with a small demonstration also taking place in Cairo, officials said, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

In Alexandria, angry protesters gathered outside the ministry’s offices.

An Egyptian man shows a paper documents as dozens of Egyptians take part in demonstration in front of a government office in downtown Alexandria on March 7, 2017, against the decision of the supply ministry to limit the distribution of subsidized bread to holders of a new system of digital cards issued by the ministry. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

An Egyptian man shows a paper documents as dozens of Egyptians take part in demonstration in front of a government office in downtown Alexandria on March 7, 2017, against the decision of the supply ministry to limit the distribution of subsidized bread to holders of a new system of digital cards issued by the ministry. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Meselhy said at a press conference later in the day that the ministry had limited to 500 the number of loaves that could be distributed by each accredited bakery to non-digital card holders.

He said data on people still using paper documents for their subsidized bread will be collected so they can be issued with digital cards within a week.

Until then, the minister promised citizens who did not get bread on Tuesday that the problem would be resolved within 48 hours.

Netanyahu heading to Moscow to warn of Iranian meddling

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to fly to Moscow on Thursday for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin where he will seek to further the “enduring relationship” between Israel and Russia, the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday.

In a statement released ahead of the one-day trip, the PMO said Netanyahu will address developments in Syria and how to combat Iran’s military presence in the war-torn country.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu will express Israel’s vehement opposition to allowing Iranian troops, or satellite groups, on our northern border… under any agreement,” the statement read.

Since its intervention in the Syrian civil war in 2015, Russia has worked closely with Iran in order to help prop up the regime of President Bashar Assad and preserve the two countries’ respective interests in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Syria President Bashar Assad arrive for a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Syria President Bashar Assad arrive for a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Netanyahu said Iran was seeking to exploit recent attempts to reach a political settlement in Syria in order to cement its military presence there.

“There is an attempt by Iran to entrench itself permanently in Syria, with a military ground and naval presence,” he said, adding that even without an agreement guaranteeing its long-term military presence in the country, Iran will seek to ensure it retains a foothold there.

“The prime minister intends to once again raise with Putin the fact that the Golan Heights will not be a part of any agreement,” Wednesday’s statement added.

Israeli officials have long accused the Iranian revolutionary guards of trying to build an anti-Israel front on the Syrian Golan, alongside Hezbollah forces and local Druze opposed to Israel.

Netanyahu has sought Russia’s help in seeking to thwart the attempts of Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah to use Syria as a base from which to attack Israel, telling Russian media outlets during a visit to Moscow last June that “Iran will not be allowed, using Hezbollah, to use Syrian territory to attack us and open up another terrorist front against us in the Golan.”

Last week, Chagai Tzuriel, the director-general of the Intelligence Ministry, told The Times of Israel that keeping Iran and Hezbollah from getting a foothold on the Golan was at the top of the agenda for Israel’s security apparatus.

A photo taken from the Golan Heights shows smoke rising from the Syrian village of Jubata al-Khashab. Israeli aircraft struck Syrian army positions after fire from its war-torn neighbor hit the Golan, September 10, 2016. (AFP/Jalaa Marey)

A photo taken from the Golan Heights shows smoke rising from the Syrian village of Jubata al-Khashab. Israeli aircraft struck Syrian army positions after fire from its war-torn neighbor hit the Golan, September 10, 2016. (AFP/Jalaa Marey)

Despite Russia’s alliance with Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, Israel has reportedly carried out a number of airstrikes against weapons convoys heading to Lebanon, vowing that it won’t let advanced missile systems or chemical weapons fall into Hezbollah’s hands.

“This is a very important meeting for Israel’s security,” Netanyahu was quoted in Wednesday’s statement as saying.

The prime minister will take off from Ben Gurion airport at 8.15 a.m Monday morning and return to Israel the same evening. He will be joined by Environmental Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin; acting national security adviser Jacob Nagel; the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Herzl Halevy; and Netanyahu’s military secretary, Eliezer Toledano.

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