Netanyahu in hot water amid claims he canceled Russia visit to pull ‘racists’ into his coalition

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for postponing a visit to Russia, saying that he is “working tirelessly” to incorporate far-right groups into his coalition instead.

Scheduled for Thursday, Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow was meant to focus on Syria and bilateral security issues, but the Kremlin had to postpone the meeting due to the Israeli PM’s “domestic political affairs,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said Netanyahu put off the Russia negotiations to hold talks with far-right groups to strengthen his coalition ahead of the April 9 Knesset election.

“The prime minister is tirelessly working to ensure the participation of a group of racists in his coalition.” 

The harsh accusations target Netanyahu’s Wednesday agreement with two fringe religious-nationalist parties, one of which, the Otzma Yehudit movement, is led by former disciples of the infamous ultra-nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was banned from taking part in the 1988 Knesset election over racist comments.

Also on rt.com ‘Jack of all trades’ Netanyahu quits as foreign minister, retains 3 other posts...

Thursday is the deadline for the submission of party slates ahead of the parliamentary election. With less than two months before the election, Netanyahu faces increasing pressure from his opponents. In early February, he had to step down as foreign minister after a petition questioning his ability to hold multiple ministerial posts was filed to the High Court. Netanyahu, however, retained his posts of defense minister and healthcare head.

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‘They threatened us’: Award-winning ‘Gaza’ filmmakers faced censorship from Jewish groups

The director of a Goya Award-winning documentary ‘Gaza: A look into the eyes of barbarism’ says members of the Jewish community repeatedly used threats to get screenings scrapped in a bid to suppress the film.

“Israel uses its Jewish organizations which tried to censor our film… they tried to do it at various festivals and sometimes they succeeded, even when the film was already on the shortlist. We received many threats,” director Julio Perez told RT.

“We started planning to make this film after the last Israeli army invasion when lots of people in Gaza were killed.”

The film faced adversity from the beginning and the production crew had to beguile Israeli authorities just to gain access, under the pretense that they were conducting research into Gaza’s agricultural industry.

“That’s how we got there, but that wasn’t easy at all,” Perez explained. “The thing is, there’s a total legitimization of Israel’s actions and Israeli apartheid.”

Also on rt.com IDF chief turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad...

The initial proposal to screen the documentary film came from a local BDS group (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) which promotes non-violent resistance towards the state of Israel on behalf of Palestinians.

The film discusses, “The violation of human rights that they [the people of Gaza] suffer daily and the reality of the postwar blockade through which the population of the Gaza Strip attempts to survive” according to the blurb on Spain’s Goya Awards nominations page.

A recent episode saw a screening scheduled to take place in Madrid this Friday shelved following pressure from Jewish groups.

“They gave us serious motivation not to [screen it],” local priest Javier Baeza, of the San Carlos Borromeo community, told La Sexta. “They warned me very seriously: If I didn’t do it, they told me I would face the relevant canonical punishment.”

 

View image on Twitter View image on Twitter

San Carlos Borromeo @EntreBorromeos
Con tristeza os comunicamos la suspension por orden de @archimadrid de la proyección del documental "Gaza: una
mirada a los ojos de la barbarie"
"El fruto de la Justicia será la Paz" Isaias 32,17.

He added that “people from the Academy of Cinema” had told him that the film is “quite objective, not remotely vengeful.”

“It seems unlikely to us that the Academy would nominate something histrionic in nature.”

The local BDS chapter managed to find a secular alternative which couldn’t be pressured out of screening the film on Wednesday evening.

 

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Iran ready to ‘eliminate Israel from Earth,’ air force commander warns

The head of Iran’s air force has warned that Tehran is ready to “confront” and “eliminate” Israel. His fighting words come after Israel launched air raids on alleged Iranian targets inside Syria, killing 4 Syrian soldiers.

Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh, the commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF), issued the provocative statement to the Young Journalist Club news agency, according Iranian media.

Also on rt.com Israel launches new barrage against 'Iranian' targets in Syria, warns against retaliation...

“The young people in the air force are fully ready and impatient to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth,” he said. “Our future generations are learning required know-how for the promised day to destroy Israel,” he added.

He stressed that Iran’s high level of military preparedness has deterred the country’s enemies from attacking the Islamic Republic.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his nation’s decision to strike targets inside Syria on Monday, describing the air raid as retribution against those who wish to destroy Israel.

“We are operating both against Iran and against the Syrian forces that are abetting the Iranian aggression,” Netanyahu said in a speech. “We will strike at anyone who tried to harm us. Whoever threatens to eliminate us, bears full responsibility.”

Also on rt.com Israeli airstrikes killed 4 Syrian servicemen, left 6 wounded – Russian MoD...

Israel is believed to have fired dozens of missiles and guided bombs at targets inside Syria over the last 48 hours, purportedly targeting Iranian forces stationed in the country.

The strikes have killed four Syrian soldiers and left six others injured, the Russian Defense Ministry has said, as well as causing damage to Damascus International Airport. The ministry claims that Syrian forces have intercepted 30 Israeli missiles over the past 48 hours.

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Palestine to Apply For Full Membership at UN, Says Minister

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister will apply for Palestine's status as a full member of the United Nations. 

Palestinian Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Riyad Malki announced Wednesday that the occupied country would initiate an application to gain full membership at the United Nations.

RELATED: UN: Palestinians Must Have Control Over Natural Resources

Malki said that he would initiate an application seeking to upgrade Palestine’s status from an observer state to a full member state.

He will submit the application to the U.N. Security Council during an upcoming visit to New York in January.

Malki is scheduled to make his visit to take on the role of Palestine’s position as chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and China for 2019.

To obtain a full member position, Palestine needs the votes of 15 member countries of the U.N. Security Council. But if one of the permanent members of the Security Council, namely, the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and China use their veto power, then the application will be rejected. The veto power can be used by the strongly pro-Israel U.S. administration which moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem earlier this year.

Malki will also highlight the increase in illegal expansion of Israel in the occupied West Bank where violent episodes have led to the deaths of four Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers.

Malki will demand that the U.N. Security Council implement Resolution 2334 and ask the International Criminal Court to start an investigation into Israel’s illegal settlement expansion.

The resolution says that the U.N. Secretary-General has to present a progress report on Israeli settlement activities every three months to the Security Council.

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UN set to leave half of Gaza and West Bank hungry, as food programme feels a lack of US money

The UN’s World Food Programme is cutting food aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, putting some 190,000 impoverished people at risk. The lack of US funding, stopped in September, is being acutely felt by aid workers.

Come January, 27,000 people in the West Bank will have their food assistance cut off, and 165,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza will have their food aid cut by 20 percent.

“WFP has been forced, unfortunately, to make drastic cuts to the number of people that we support across Palestine, both in Gaza and the West Bank,” Stephen Kearney, WFP country director in the Palestinian Territories, told Reuters.

US cuts to UN refugee agency are an ‘attack on Palestinians & intl law’ – Palestinian FM

Humanitarian groups working with Palestinians have seen record low funding levels this year, largely as a result of the US’s decision to end its $300 million support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian (UNRWA) in September.

UN’s Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Jamie McGoldrick, this week issued an appeal for $350 million to help the people in Palestine, particularly in Gaza which has experienced “serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation,” as a result of an “enormous rise” in casualties at the March of Return protests, outbreaks of violence and an economy that is in “freefall.” 

 Also on rt.com ‘Force, intimidation & tear gas’: IDF raids Palestinian news agency to ‘grab CCTV footage’

“Our plan for 2019 prioritizes assistance for people assessed as being most in need of protection, food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation,” McGoldrick said on Monday. “It enables us to maximize limited funding. But much more is needed, and we stand ready to do more, if funding and operational space are improved.”

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Israeli Defence Minister Lieberman Resigns, Hamas Responds

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation early Wednesday after a disagreement over the Gaza ceasefire deal, reports AP. 

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced early Wednesday that he was resigning from the conservative coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a disagreement over the Gaza ceasefire deal, reports AP.

RELATED: Israel and Hamas Agree to Ceasefire in the Besieged Gaza Strip

Announcing his decision, which takes effect 48 hours after he puts it in writing, Lieberman deemed Tuesday’s Egyptian-mediated deal with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas “a capitulation to terror.”

In a statement, Lieberman said, "I didn't look for reasons to quit. I tried to remain a loyal government member, in the cabinet, keep differences internal even at an electoral cost."

The two turning points, he said, were the millions of dollars in cash delivered from Qatar to Gaza, and the cease-fire Israel reached with Hamas on Tuesday, reports Israeil news agency Haaretz.

In a press release sent out immediately after Lieberman's decision, Hamas celebrated, saying they rejoice at Lieberman's resignation, "This is a political victory for Gaza, which has succeeded in causing a political earthquake for the occupation."

Elhanan Miller @ElhananMiller

Hamas rejoices at Lieberman resignation: "This is a political victory for , which has succeeded in causing a political earthquake for the occupation."

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Israeli fighter jets striking Gaza after massive mortar fire from the strip - IDF

Israeli fighter jets have pounded the Gaza strip, after mortar fire from inside the Palestinian-controlled strip hit a bus in the Israeli side of the border, the Israel Defense Forces have said.

The airstrikes are the latest escalation in several days of reciprocal attacks between Israel and the Palestinian territories. Earlier on Monday, a barrage of mortar fire from Gaza hit an Israeli bus, wounding at least one person, Reuters reported.

Video from the scene showed Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepting some of the incoming projectiles.

@AmichaiStein1 : IDF: 80 launches in 40 minutes; Hamae claims over a 100 https://twitter.com/AmichaiStein1/status/1062000239207428102 

@AmichaiStein1 : More then 20 morters launched from Gaza towards Israel; Direct hit at an Israeli bus (Credit: Rotternik network)

That attack was itself a response to an Israeli special forces raid in the Gaza strip on Sunday night that saw at least two Hamas commanders and four other Palestinians killed. One Israeli soldier was also killed, and another wounded. Israeli warplanes reportedly lobbed missiles at the area after the raid, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut his visit to Paris short to return, in light of the “security incidents.”

The IDF claims 80 mortars were fired into Israel in less than 40 minutes on Monday, while Hamas claims to have launched 100. Sirens wailed across southern Israel as the Iron Dome struggled to intercept the incoming firestorm.

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Top Palestinian body suspends Israel recognition until it recognizes Palestine

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s decision-making body has ruled to suspend its recognition of the state of Israel until Tel Aviv formally recognizes a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Noting Israel’s continued disregard of signed international agreements, the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) on Monday has decided to “suspend recognition of the State of Israel until its recognition of the State of Palestine on the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Following a two day meeting in Ramallah, the PCC also agreed to “end security coordination in all its forms” with Israel, and “disengage economically” from its neighbor, WAFA news agency reports, citing the final communiqué.

 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 14, 2018 © Mohamad Torokman

Furthermore, the decision-making body established the PLO to be the sole “legitimate representative” of all the Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, slamming Hamas for failing to implement the agreements it signed with Fatah over the last decade, ever since the Sunni organization assumed control of Gaza in 2007.

Urging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to implement the Council's non-binding decisions, the PCC stressed that it continues to remain opposed to Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” aimed at solving the decades-old animosity between the neighboring nations. In wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the Council called on the Arab states to “sever all diplomatic relations” with the US and any state that follows its example.

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a controversial issue, as Palestinians continue to claim East Jerusalem as their capital. Abbas repeatedly vowed to oppose any purported peace initiatives by Trump, whose relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognition of the city as Israel’s capital marked the first time the president of the US has departed from established policy, which saw the issue of Jerusalem kept off the table.

Speaking to PCC delegates on Sunday, the 82-year-old leader reiterated that Palestine and Jerusalem are “not for sale or bargaining.”

READ MORE: Paraguay cancels embassy move to Jerusalem, Israel responds by closing its embassy in Paraguay

“East Jerusalem is the capital of our state. We will not accept a capital in Jerusalem or the capital of two states because they are fooling us,” Abbas said on Sunday. “Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967, is our capital, every meter and centimeter of it.”

 

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