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The Daily TIP: Trip to Latin America Provides Netanyahu with Opportunity to Address Hezbollah, Iran Threats

Posted by Tip Staff - September 13, 2017

Trip to Latin America Provides Netanyahu with Opportunity to Address Hezbollah, Iran Threats
Following U.S. Pressure, PA Withdraws Bid to Join UN Body
Experts: To Fight Terror, Palestinian Authority Must Define It
Israeli Volunteers Treat Hundreds at Eye Clinic in Kenya

Trip to Latin America Provides Netanyahu with Opportunity to Address Hezbollah, Iran Threats

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to several Latin American countries this week could serve as a platform to promote regional cooperation against Iran’s involvement in global terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities in the region, Emanuele Ottolenghi and Michaela Frai wrote in The Jerusalem Post.

Latin America’s permissive environment for radical Islamic groups to establish its networks has been notorious, specifically, Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, continues to operate in Latin America. Netanyahu should address this “inconvenient truth” during his trip this week and seek cooperation to counter Iran’s and Hezbollah’s activities in the region, the authors, respectively a senior fellow and research associate at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recommended.

Hezbollah has used Latin America as a base for its terror-financing network for years, taking advantage of lax law enforcement, fragile institutions, and corruption. According to a 2016 report by The Washington Institute, Iran and Hezbollah continue to be “hyperactive” in the region.

On Monday, during his visit to Argentina, Netanyahu spoke at the site of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires which was destroyed in the 1992 terrorist attack after a car bomb exploded outside the building, as well as the AMIA Jewish community center, which was rebuilt after the terrorist attack in 1994. In his speech, Netanyahu praised Argentine President Mauricio Macri for reversing the course taken by his predecessor, Cristina Kirchner, as he reopened the investigation into Iran’s involvement in the attacks and voided the memorandum of understanding with Tehran.

Following U.S. Pressure, PA Withdraws Bid to Join UN Body

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) withdrew its attempt to gain full membership in the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) due to American pressure.

The chairman of the UN's tourism body announced during a meeting in Chengdu that UNTWO will postpone a vote on accepting the PA as a member until its next plenary session, which takes place in two years, Haaretz reported.

The PA submitted its request for membership of “Palestine” in UNTWO in September 2016. Had the application gone through, the organization would have been the second UN body, after UNESCO, to grant them the same status accorded to fully recognized states.

A spokesman said that Israel's position is that the “State of Palestine” does not exist, which makes it impossible for the PA to apply for full membership in the UN or affiliated institutions.

“Israel has taken all diplomatic measures to block the request,” a spokesperson stated ahead of the announcement. “We are not expecting any negative impact on Israel or its continued activity in the organization - the expected damage will be to the organization itself,” he added.

In its effort to block the Palestinian application, Israel got the Trump administration involved, which warned that the decision to grant them UNTWO membership could have negative consequences for the relationship between the PA and the United States.

According to Haaretz, a senior Israeli official confirmed that the Palestinians pulled their application following intense pressure from the Trump administration.

When White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his team met PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah last month, the U.S. delegation reportedly urged the PA to refrain from unilateral action in the international fora over the next months to give peace negotiations a chance.

Experts: To Fight Terror, Palestinian Authority Must Define It

Faced with the loss of funds if the Taylor Force Act becomes law, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must clearly outlaw terrorism to show that the PA is seriously working to fight terror, two experts wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal.

Jonathan Schanzer and Grant Rumley, both of whom have written books about Abbas and the PA, argued that it would be correct for Congress to reject the PA's excuses for continuing to pay stipends to families of terrorists and that United States lawmakers should continue to work towards the passage of the Taylor Force Act.

The State Department, Schanzer and Rumley noted, determined that while the PA has acted against terror, it has no laws on the books “specifically tailored to counterterrorism.”

Part of the Taylor Force Act, which is on track to be passed before the end of the year, requires the Secretary of State to certify twice a year that the PA is “taking credible and verifiable steps to end acts of violence against Israeli citizens and United States citizens.”

"If Palestinian leaders continued to condemn American lawmakers for considering cuts to aid, and if the PA kept paying prisoners convicted of terrorism, then the exercise would mean little. Congress would have every right to withhold funds, and the Taylor Force Act could be merely the beginning," Schanzer and Rumley wrote in their conclusion, "but if Mr. Abbas truly wants to take an alternative path, defining terrorism would be a start."

Israeli Volunteers Treat Hundreds at Eye Clinic in Kenya

During the week of August 15-23, 2017, volunteers with Israel’s Eye from Zion humanitarian organization held an “eye camp” in Chuka, Kenya. They received 723 patients in three locations, from infants to senior citizens, performing free treatments and surgeries – 85 percent of the surgeries to remove cataracts and 10% to correct astigmatism.

Medical personnel volunteering for this mission came from Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Bnai Zion Medical Center, Ma’ayan Clinic and Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa and Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

Two Kenyan medical officers were trained to use the equipment, the hospital’s technical staff learned how to maintain the machinery and three nurses received training in surgical assistance. Additional equipment will be brought on a future visit.

“The local medical staff does not include an ophthalmologist or anyone with surgical skills,” said Eye from Zion founder Nati Marcus. “We met a young doctor, currently a resident in ophthalmology in Nairobi and due to arrive at Chuka hospital in 2019. We suggested that she come to Chuka next year to work with our future missions so when she will start her position she will have more experience in surgeries.”

Mission sponsors included David Solomon of Texas, Google, the Nuttman family and several medical supply companies. The Israel Foreign Ministry, its MASHAV Agency for International Development Cooperation, and the Israeli Embassy in Nairobi helped with the transfer and storage of the supplies.

(via Israel21c)

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