Palestine Slams US 'Blackmail,' Says Jerusalem Not 'For Sale'

The Palestinian Liberation Organization called President Trump’s threat to countries voting against his Jerusalem decision extortion and blackmail.

The Palestinian leadership responded Wednesday to the U.S. threat to cut aid to countries defying Washington’s decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital saying such tactics of “extortion” would only isolate the United States globally.

RELATED: Abbas Says 'Crazy' Seeing US as Mediator, Turns East in Quest for Statehood

"President Trump should know that there are things that are not for sale or subject to blackmail, particularly issues of principle, legality and morality,”  Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Executive Committee Member at the Palestinian Liberation Organization said in a statement posted on the group’s website.

“Extortion is the most effective way for the US to isolate itself even further and to weaken its influence and standing globally. We will not be deterred or intimidated.”

Ashrawi added that she was confident that most countries at the United Nations will honor their “legal and political obligations on Palestine" in the upcoming vote at the U.N. General Assembly.

https://imgs.openmultimedia.biz/640x480/clips/imagen-2017-12-19-160405424346-693816.png

On Monday the U.S. vetoed a draft resolution calling on Washington to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at the United Nations Security Council, while the 14 other members of the council voted in favor of the resolution.

Arab and Muslim countries, infuriated by President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, called for an emergency General Assembly meeting in order to vote on the draft resolution. The 193-country body agreed to hold the rare meeting and will be held on Thursday.

As a response to holding the special session U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, in a letter to dozens of U.N. states on Tuesday seen by Reuters, warned that Trump had asked her to "report back on those countries who voted against us." She bluntly echoed that call in a Twitter post: "The U.S. will be taking names."

RELATED: 70 Years of Broken Promises, The Untold Story of Israel's Partition Plan

Ashrawi’s statement came just hours after Trump doubled down Wednesday on the threat, telling reporters that his administration would cut aid to those countries that “voted against us.”

Last month the U.S. president ended decades of Washington’s policy stating that the status of the city of Jerusalem must be decided as part of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, a position that most of the international community continues to fully support.

In the 1967 war Israel took over the eastern part of the city as well as the West Bank from the Jordan. In 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and declared it as its capital, a move that was rejected by most countries in the world.

Palestinians and most of the international community consider East Jerusalem as occupied territory and the future capital of a sovereign Palestinian state.

  • Published in World

Cuba and the US, a Different Scene Three Years Later

Millions of people in Cuba and the United States saw with optimism the events of December 17, 2014, when both nations announced the beginning of a process of normalization of relations that today is slowed down.

On that day, Cuban President Raul Castro highlighted the willingness to hold a 'respectful dialogue with the US government, based on sovereign equality, to deal with the most diverse issues in a reciprocal manner, without detriment to national independence and self-determination of our peoples.'

Only two days ago the Caribbean nation showed a similar will, since the director general of the U.S. Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Josefina Vidal, said that her country continues interested in working in favor of better relations with the northern country.

However, Washington's disposition changed since President Donald Trump's arrival at the White House.

The United States is changing its relations with the people of Cuba and making the most significant changes in our policy in more than 50 years. We will end an antiquated approach that for decades has not been able to promote our interests, former President Barack Obama (2009-2017) said three years ago.

But his successor, under the influence of some Cuban-American members of Congress, decided to resume the path of that 'antiquated approach' criticized by Obama.

Until last January 20, the day of Trump's inauguration, Cuba and the United States reached 22 bilateral instruments in areas of common interest.

In addition, the embassies of the two countries in their respective capitals were reopened, exchanges increased in cultural, academic and scientific areas, and the number of American visitors to the island skyrocketed, despite the continuation of Washington restrictions that prevent tourism.

Those advances began to recede when on June 16, in a Florida theater, the Republican ruler pointed out that the direction of his administration with respect to the neighboring territory would be very different from that of the previous government.

'With immediate effect, I am canceling the completely unilateral treatment of the last administration, ' he said that day in the city of Miami before an unrepresentative group of Cubans whom the president addressed as if they embodied all those born on the island.

Although polls on the issue showed the majority support of the American people for normalization, Trump signed the National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States towards Cuba.

This document announced future restrictions on travel by the Americans to the Caribbean territory and further obstacles to economic, commercial, and financial transactions between the two countries.

These new limitations were finalized on November 9, when the State, Commerce and Treasury departments began to apply 'coordinated actions' to limit trade and travel to Cuba.

As of that date, persons subject to US jurisdiction are prohibited from conducting direct financial transactions with some 180 Cuban entities and sub-entities, including five business groups, 83 hotels, two travel agencies and five marinas.

The trips, in as much, are only allowed for the 12 existing categories from before, none with tourist aims, but the educative individual visits 'people-to-people' without academic character were also eliminated, and the stays must be backed by an American organization.

These measures were added to others previously adopted, which damaged the work in the respective embassies and of Cubans living in both countries.

Such chapter of the relations between the two territories has had tinges of sensationalism, mystery, and some came to call it science fiction when officials of the North American diplomatic legation in Cuba reported health problems of origin until now unknown.

After knowing that news in August, and without knowing the causes of the reported symptoms or details of what happened, several US media reported the theory that these people were victims of some kind of sonic attack.

Although at first, the State Department referred to the incident as health incidents, then it also began to use the term of attacks, and as a reaction, it reduced its personnel in Havana, stopped issuing visas there and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington DC.

All these events leave the relations between the two neighboring nations in conditions very different from those expected three years ago, and perhaps the most important thing of this moment is the persistence of many people in the United States interested in continuing the course initiated back then.

Several voices rose up against the new restrictions and condemned their political character, intended to please a group of members of Congress.

'No one wins with this terrible new policy, it is simply punitive. It damages Americans and Cubans equally,' Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee said in November, who, with that phrase, conveyed the same opinion that many US sectors have.

  • Published in Cuba

US sends 'dangerous message' by turning blind eye to Guantanamo tortures - UN

The US is in “clear violation” of the United Nations Convention against Torture over “gruesome” abuses committed by its agents in locations such as Guantanamo Bay, according to a UN official.

The UN's special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, noted in a Wednesday statement that "perpetrators and policymakers responsible for years of gruesome abuse have not been brought to justice, and the victims have received no compensation or rehabilitation," despite a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report acknowledging the use of torture in US custody.

The UN rapporteur also stated that torture reportedly continues at US sites, including Guantanamo, despite former President Barack Obama ending the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" in a 2009 executive order.

 
Britain's opposition Labour Party Deputy Leader Tom Watson © Toby Melville

Melzer accused the US of being in "clear violation" of the UN's Convention against Torture and of sending a "dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the US and around the world."
He stressed that his particular concern regards detainees who face "prolonged detention in almost complete isolation," according to a release on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Melzer noted the case of Guantanamo inmate Ammar al-Baluci, a Pakistani citizen and alleged 9/11 co-conspirator, who was named 153 times in the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report. Baluci is said to have suffered torture during more than three years at CIA "black sites" before eventually being moved to Guantanamo, where he reportedly endures further abuse.

“Mr al-Baluchi has been held in isolation at a severely restricted-access facility at Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade,” Melzer said, elaborating that "noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against him, resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention."

The special rapporteur made clear that the ban on torture and ill-treatment is "absolute and allowed for no exceptions whatsoever," according to the UN release. “This is one of the most fundamental norms of international law, and its violation is listed among the most serious international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Melzer said.

 
Omar Khadr © Todd Korol

"...I therefore now urge the US to live up to its legacy, to end its policy of impunity and to bring its own perpetrators to justice," Melzer added. He noted that a "society bruised by torture and abuse" can only heal when the "truth about secret policies and practices is fully disclosed to the public and when full reparation and rehabilitation is granted to victims."

Melzer also requested once again to be allowed an official visit to Guantanamo and to interview inmates. "I very much regret that, despite repeated requests, my predecessors and I have consistently been refused access to Guantanamo and other high security facilities, in accordance with the standard terms of reference of my UN mandate,” he said.

Guantanamo Bay, which turned 15 years old in January, has long been the subject of scrutiny from the US and abroad, particularly for its use of torture and for holding prisoners without charge. Although President Obama campaigned with a promise to shut it down, that vow was never fulfilled. Meanwhile, his successor Donald Trump has expressed his support for the facility.

"There should be no further releases from Gitmo," Trump tweeted in January, less than three weeks before his inauguration. "These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield."

@realDonaldTrump There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.

Around 800 prisoners have been detained there over the years, often subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques" including waterboarding. Some have reportedly been stripped naked and confined to dark cells for significant periods of time. Inmates went on a major hunger strike in 2013 to protest their detention and treatment at the facility, resulting in authorities force-feeding them.

  • Published in World

Trump loses his big bet on Alabama U.S. Senate race

  • Published in World

Trump’s Expected Surprise with Jerusalem

If there’s a feature that distinguishes the administration of the North American president, Donald Trump is the lack of a foreign policy platform, augmented by some sort of fatal obsession to dismantle what could be called the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama.

Without risking exaggeration it can be said that in that line of thoughts falls the recently publicized decision of the United States of transferring from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem the embassy of their country in Israel.

The acknowledgement of Jerusalem as eternal and indivisible capital of Israel, according to a resolution of the Parliament of that country not recognized by the international community has been a red line that neither far-right U.S. presidents have dared to cross, Ronald Reagan and his Santa Fe platform included.

The implications of the measure is great and the repercussions that will soon take place, deep both for the U.S. political credibility and the razorblade equilibrium of that volatile area which is the Middle East where Washington has key interests since, in essence, condones geographical expansion through territories under military occupation.

For the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the moving of the North American embassy is some sort of manna falling into his lap in an adverse international political landscape to his plans of territorial expansion since such behavior leads to the perpetuation of a conflict of seven decades.

It must be remembered that, after the acceptance by the UN General Assembly of Palestine as an Observer non-member State, the same status that The Vatican, several European countries decided to recognize it and establish diplomatic relationships.

Without overlooking that it violates the IV Geneva Convention, of compulsory execution for all members of the international community, which outlaws the annexation of occupied territories by military forces, as it’s the case of Gaza, Cisjordania and East Jerusalem.

Although in days previous to the North American announcement were abundant the talks on the topic, there was a tiny expectation for common sense to prevail and President Trump backed down or, at least, looked for a way of commitment that allowed him that impossible exercise of serving two masers at the same time.

But pessimists were right all along and the North American leader chose to bang his fist on the table, but that on the long run, it can be harmful for the interests of his country in those Muslim States, among which Washington has allies whose first reaction has been quick to appear.

Turkey, a NATO member summoned an urgency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; the Arab League called a meeting of chancellors to approach the topic and it’s expected, mainly, the reaction of Egypt and Jordan, the two only Arab countries that have diplomatic relationships with Israel.

In a wide perspective the announcement has domestic repercussions in the United States, since it pleases a large sector on both chambers of the Congress favorable to Israel that have not accepted Trump just yet as one of their own, and abroad whose magnitude is yet to determine, given their implications in a matter of worldwide interest for being controversial and due to its political consequences.

In its Prophecies the French theurgist of Jewish origin Michel of Nostradamus whom prophesied four centuries in advance the birth of Adolf Hitler and the catastrophe he caused, he predicted that the Third World War would begin in Jerusalem. It’s very unlikely that, for lack of a new Hitler, and for the contention impose by atomic arsenals, Trump’s decision can cause another war.

But it’s also true that opens a period of risks from which it can emerge, as paradoxical as it seems, a clearer vision of the need to fix the Palestinian drama.

  • Published in Specials

Donald Trump: His new risky setback

Miami Diario website informed on Tuesday that a federal judge decided to override President Trump’s order to deny funds for “sanctuary cities.”

The judge, William Orrick, of the San Francisco Courtroom in California, who temporarily blocked the executive order deemed as unconstitutional.

Orrick said the head of state cannot impose new conditions to funds previously approved by US Congress.

The Department of Justice of that country issued a communiqué, where it stated that “Orrick exceeded his authority” by blocking Trump’s order.

Therefore, it appealed the ruling before the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court headquartered in San Francisco, court below the Supreme Court.

That order was issued during Donald Trump’s first week in the White House geared at stopping the migratory flow.


What are “sanctuary cities”?

They are those cities that treat immigrants with fewer rigors, that is, cities that limit just how much local law enforcement officials comply with federal immigration authorities.

Those places are under the scrutiny of the government and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has dedicated substantial efforts to eliminate them.

Among the cities with those characteristics are for example: Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, administered by the Democratic Party.

It’s timely to recall that the said executive order establishes the reduction of the federal budget for those cities, in case they reject to pursue and arrest the immigrants.

Under it, Trump approves that local authorities act as immigration officers up to the maximum range allowed by the law.

In United States there are more than 300 sanctuary cities that somehow protect the illegal aliens who live there.

Then, as El País daily drew attention in its European edition last April, now it is the fourth time in which this executive order is blocked in the courts.

In other words, a huge setback for both President Donald Trump and his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Dangerous road that could lead the head of state to a juncture with an almost impossible exit.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

USA Announces New Restrictions on Travel and Trade with Cuba

The US government announced today greater restrictions for Americans interested in doing business with Cuba and traveling to the Caribbean island, in compliance with the presidential memorandum that reverses important aspects of the rapprochement between the two countries.

The State, Commerce and Treasury departments announced the adoption of 'coordinated actions' to implement the document signed by President Donald Trump on June 16 in Miami, Florida, which included vetoing Americans to make transactions with more than 180 entities of the Caribbean nation.

It also requires that all nonacademic 'people-to-people' educational trips be conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

  • Published in Cuba

Moon-Trump: Mistrust

It’s possible that when these lines come out, US President Donald Trump has already arrived in South Korea, as part of his Asian tour, which started in Japan and should end in China.

Perhaps one could figure out South Korea is on the paper the least disturbing country for the US head of state, but I do not think so, because President Moon Jae-in has been rebellious before his American counterpart, who has had to resort to his own military pressures and Seoul’s Main Staff to prevent the South Korean leader from carrying out his long-standing desire of talks with the authorities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Spanish acronym RPDC), confident, as he has said, it is the only way the peninsula is not destroyed by a nuclear annihilation.

Moon has been clear and sincere with Trump, but the latter downplays the consequent reasons of a head of state who was actually elected by a vast popular majority in the early elections summoned after the removal of the previous president, because of proven corruption cases and abuse of power.

Trump not only almost ignored Moon, when he visited Washington and said he was in favor of a dialogue with Pyongyang, but also made derogatory comments about his South Korean counterpart on a phone conversation with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, for his stance before the DPRK.

"Trump underestimated the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, calling him “beggar”, for insisting in his calls for dialogue with North Korea”, revealed Hankyoreh newspaper, which is edited in Tokyo.

Quoting Japanese television network Fuji TV, the newspaper explained the US president called his South Korean counterpart like that during a phone call with Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe, hours later that North Korea launched a missile that passed through Japanese airspace.

Moon “is acting like a beggar”, said Trump to Abe to state his dissatisfaction with Seoul, for its position before the nuclear weapons tests of Pyongyang, said the Japanese daily, besides highlighting that the US head of state asked his partner “not to tell anyone about the need for military pressure on North Korea.”

But such pressure, as one can assume when it is about Democratic Korea, made that country remark it would defend its nuclear development “in the face of the hostilities of U.S. and its puppets.”

Trump has said he’s “100% with Shinzo”, and highlighted that Tokyo should help Washington in case “it is attacked by Pyongyang”, and indirectly confirmed that Washington is pressing Seoul, geared at taking war actions against its northern neighbor; as many countries believe that keeping the pressures against North Korea would lead to a military catastrophe.

Shortly before the American head of state started his Asian tour, Moon has asserted that a war in the Korean Peninsula is something that will never happen again, and claimed that United States would not undertake any military action against the North without the consent of the South. In addition, he thinks that Trump’s statements sought to increase pressure on Pyongyang and did not indicate an imminent attack.

Of course, the South Korean authorities do not trust these statements, because of the controversial personality of Trump, and reiterated that their tests are based on their right for self-defense before the frequent joint military exercises of Washington and Seoul in the peninsula.

NOT ONLY WAR PRESSURE, BUT COMMERCIAL AS WELL

Tensions with Pyongyang promise to lead the first meeting between Trump and Moon in Seoul, where thousands of people rallied against the presence of the US magnate and demanded a peace policy toward the North. The protesters also rejected the insistence of the US president to renegotiate the trade deal with South Korea, partly due to his concerns about alleged imbalances in the steel and car exchange.

"We’re renegotiating a trade deal with South Korea right now, and hope it would be equitable. It will be a fair deal for both parties. It has been a tough deal for the United States”, Trump said.

The US president, who slammed during his electoral campaign the trade deal inked by his predecessor Barack Obama, first referred to its renegotiation and claimed he would seek a “new deal”.

Trump’s statement surprised members of the South Korean government and business leaders in Seoul, who did not expect the possibility of renegotiation to be on the table in the meeting, the Wall Street Journal said today.

Months earlier, in Washington, Moon had only talked about bilateral ties: “We will promote economic growth and job creation to ensure our peoples enjoy greater mutual benefits through the collective efforts we have committed to make.”

Standing by his side, Trump had just slammed the trade deal, popularly known as Korus FTA, by denouncing that since its entry into effect to 2016, the US trade deficit with South Korea had increased by over $11 billion”, nearing $28 billion.

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had previously stated that the main cause of the trade imbalance is “the car trade”, that is mainly carried out “based on South Korean standards”, and added there is another problem with the trade of “steel” products” from South Korea to the United States, because part of them come from China and are sold below their market price”.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials
Subscribe to this RSS feed