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The Daily TIP: U.S. Withdraws from UNESCO, Citing Anti-Israel Bias

Posted by Tip Staff - October 12, 2017

U.S. Withdraws from UNESCO, Citing Anti-Israel Bias
Trump: “We Got Nothing” Out of Iran Nuclear Deal
Israel's Defense Minister: Hezbollah Controls Lebanese Army
Arab-Israeli Couple Invites General Public to Sukkah of Hope

U.S. Withdraws from UNESCO, Citing Anti-Israel Bias

The United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the U.S. State Department announced on Thursday, citing concerns over “continuing anti-Israel bias” at the institution.

“The Department of State notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO," government spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO," she added.

UNESCO has been suffering from funding shortfalls since it accepted the Palestinian Authority’s request for membership in 2011. The U.S. administration cut $80 million a year from its UNESCO budget in response to the organization's decision.

Over the past years, UNESCO has been making headlines due to their continuous anti-Israel bias. In October 2016, Israel suspended ties with the organization following a resolution that criticized Israel’s actions in and around Jerusalem’s holiest site and denied Jewish ties to the region’s holy sites.

Last summer, UNESCO declared the Old Town of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs as a Palestinian World Heritage Site. In May 2017, UNESCO passed a series of resolutions that denied Israeli claims to Jerusalem as Israel celebrated its 69th Independence Day.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, reacted to the U.S. decision by saying that UNESCO had become a forum for Israel-hatred and had betrayed its original mandate. It was now “paying the price” for the “shameful” decisions it has adopted against Israel, he said, citing “a new era” at UN-linked institutions in which “anti-Israel discrimination” has consequences.

UNESCO member states, meanwhile, are voting on a new director-general, in a process marked by intense diplomatic tensions. Qatar’s former culture minister, who has disseminated anti-Semitic material, both in the course of his official duties and personally, is a leading candidate to succeed Irina Bokova as head of UNESCO.

The U.S. withdrawal from UNESCO will take effect on December 31, 2018.

Trump: “We Got Nothing” Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

United States President Donald Trump again dismissed the nuclear accord with Iran as “the worst deal” for America, as he prepares to announce a key decision on whether to certify Iran's compliance with it.

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Trump said that “This is the worst deal. We got nothing.” The President said he believes “We did it out of weakness when actually, we have great strength” and vowed that “We will see what happens pretty soon.”

Every 90 days, the president must certify to Congress that Iran is keeping up its end of the agreement. If the president does not certify the accord, Congress has a statutory 60-day period to decide whether to reimpose sanctions.

Trump has twice previously---and grudgingly---been forced to certify that Iran is complying with its terms, but has said that the Islamic Republic is violating “the spirit” of the agreement.

One of the standards that the Corker-Cardin legislation sets out for the president to certify Iran’s compliance that “Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement.”

However, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last month that he was unable to confirm that the Islamic Republic is abiding by the terms set out in Section T of the nuclear accord.

The IAEA was unable to verify that Iran is implementing the nuclear deal because it does not have the means to ensure that Tehran has not engaged in activities that “could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

The next deadline is on Sunday and several U.S. officials have indicated that Trump might this time choose not certify the nuclear deal. The president's decision on the agreement reflects a shift in strategy with a broader focus on Iran’s non-nuclear activities, including the country’s missile program and its support for terrorism.

Israel's Defense Minister: Hezbollah Controls Lebanese Army

Israel's defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said on Tuesday that the Lebanese army has been fully integrated with Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah and follows Hezbollah’s orders.

Reuters quoted the minister saying that “We are no longer talking about Hezbollah alone. We are talking about Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, and to my regret this is the reality.”

Lieberman added that “The Lebanese army has turned into an integral part of Hezbollah’s command structure. The Lebanese army has lost its independence and become an inseparable part of the Hezbollah apparatus.”

Israeli officials have warned that any future attack by Hezbollah, which is part of Lebanon’s governing coalition, would be seen by Israel as an attack by the Lebanese state. Israel has also expressed concern over the growing presence of Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed forces in neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah fighters in Syria have been caught using American military vehicles and weapon systems originally given to the Lebanese army. Over the past decade, the U.S. has given the L.A.F. more than $1 billion in aid, viewing it as a tool against Islamist extremist groups and as a counterbalance to Hezbollah.

During his joint press conference with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri in July, Trump praised Lebanon for its resilience “on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hizballah.” The president also added that “Hizballah is a menace to the Lebanese state.”

However, Trump’s praise for the LAF as a counterforce to Hezbollah is misplaced because Hezbollah controls Lebanon. Hezbollah is not a menace to the Lebanese state; Hezbollah is the Lebanese state, a force in control of central state organs.

Hezbollah is making no secret of the fact that it is in complete military and political control of Lebanon. In an interview with Buzzfeed News in in July, a Hezbollah commander told the outlet: “We are winning. Look who’s running Lebanon. Look who’s controlling Sanaa and Baghdad.”

Arab-Israeli Couple Invites General Public to Sukkah of Hope

Dentists Khalil and Reem Bakly, a young Arab-Israeli couple in Upper Nazareth, built a 9-by-3-meter sukkah on their deck and invited the general public to come for kosher and Arab cuisine, prayer, live music and discussions on the three intermediate days of the Sukkot holiday, October 8-10.

Calling their unusual construction the Sukkah of Hope, the Baklys issued an invitation in Arabic and Hebrew. “We believe that respect is mutual, that listening and understanding are the basis for a shared existence,” they wrote.

The Baklys placed ads in local newspapers in Netanya and Upper Nazareth and asked Bakly’s Netanya office manager, an Orthodox Jew, to oversee the construction of the sukkah to assure it was built according to regulation. About two dozen Arab and Jewish friends and staff members volunteered to help. The Baklys also hired caterers, decorators and designers.

“We didn’t do a head count of guests,” Bakly tells ISRAEL21c, “but the chef who prepared the food estimated that we had between 1,200 and 1,500 over the course of the three days! Many were from Netanya and Upper Nazareth, and we had visitors from all over Israel — Jerusalem, Rishon LeZion, Rehovot, Ness Ziona, Haifa, Tivon – who heard me interviewed in the media and decided to come and see what we’re doing.”

Authors, actors, attorneys, physicians, journalists and educators were among the guests and discussion leaders. Upper Nazareth’s Jewish mayor, two Arab deputy mayors and other municipal officials of both faiths sat together in the sukkah on October 8.

“I have Christian and Jewish friends and we all respect one another. We should look at what each does to help his community, not his religion or where he comes from or the color of his skin,” Bakly said.

The Baklys plan to build their sukkah again next year.

(via Israel21C)

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