Today’s Top Stories
1. The US boycotted a session of the UN Human Rights Council discussing Israel and the Palestinians. AP explains:
State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a statement took aim at a recurring agenda item at the council, which focuses on Israel and the Palestinian territories — the only one of its kind to focus on a single country at every HRC session. It was taking place Monday.
Toner also said the United States would vote against every resolution that might be put forward under the agenda item.
The US State Department has said the fact the UNHRC has a permanent Agenda item to discuss Israel shows its bias. #mayhaveapointthere
— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) March 20, 2017
2. Israel reportedly hit Syria with more air strikes. According to unconfirmed Arab media reports, in one of the attacks, Israel hit a Hezbollah arms convoy, Syrian military sites and other unspecified targets along the Syrian-Lebanese border.
A separate Israeli air strike on Sunday killed Yasser Hussein Asayeed, who was identified in various reports as either a civilian, a member of an Iranian-backed militia, or a Syrian air defense commander. Israeli officials refused to confirm or deny the reports.
Tensions between Israel and Syria have risen since Thursday night, when Israel struck a Hezbollah weapons convoy near Palmyra. Syria fired several surface-to-air missiles; one SAM was intercepted by an Arrow-3 missile. No Israeli jets were hit in the strike, which Israel did confirm.
3. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s advisors are flying to Washington for talks regarding settlements. According to Ynet:
The importance of the mission is evident due to the fact that the two consultants did not join Netanyahu on his trip to China . . .
Israel is seeking approval to build in the area of municipal jurisdiction which consists of 8 to 10 percent of the West Bank. The Americans oppose this notion, though agree to construction within already existing residential areas. They are also emphasizing the need to form a collaborative mechanism regarding Israeli announcements on the settlements so as to avoid embarrassment to the Trump administration.
4. Palestinian Media: Fake News, Real Harm. But Why?: Chewing gum that causes sterility, fake raids on the Al Aqsa mosque, flooding from dams that never even existed: why is there so much Palestinian fake news? In this case it’s not just wrong: it costs lives.
Israel and the Palestinians
• The PA gave its highest award to Rima Khalaf, the Jordanian UN official who resigned over her agency’s shelved report accusing Israel of apartheid. The Associated Press picked up on the story.
• Visiting Beijing, Netanyahu met with political and business leaders. Rounding up today’s business, the Times of Israel reports the two countries signed three bilateral agreements — one of which will provide for 20,000 Chinese laborers to work on Israeli construction sites. Other agreements involve a free trade zone, direct flights between Tel Aviv and Shanghai, and economic, scientific and technological cooperation.
• Jerusalem Post: Israel is already preparing for the end of a UN ban on Iranian missile activity.
Around the World
• Lebanese TV reporter took to Twitter to urge Israel to take out Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. The Jerusalem Post picked up on Maria Maalouf’s two tweets that had Lebanon buzzing.
“If Israel really wants peace, then it should prove it and sign on agreements with Hezbollah. Because, to this day we have not gotten rid of Hassan Nasrallah, who is deluding us in his fight against Israel,” Maalouf wrote in her first tweet.
Shortly after, Maalouf tweeted again, this time taunting Israel and claiming that it could not really deter its enemies if it didn’t take more extreme measures. “If Israel sees Hassan Nasrallah as its enemy, why doesn’t it carry out an air strike that would rid us of him, thus gaining our faith and protecting itself?”
• Posters comparing Gaza to Auschwitz continue to spread on Illinois campus.
• Anti-Semitic messages were found spray painted on historic Barbados synagogue. The Nidhe Israel Synagogue — Bridgetown’s only synagogue — is a designated UNESCO-protected property within the World Heritage Site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison area. More at Barbados’ Nation News and the JTA.
• Baltimore Jews spoke out after a swastika was found painted on sign outside Baltimore’s historic Lloyd Street Synagogue. As one of the oldest synagogues in the US, the synagogue also doubles as a museum of Maryland Jewish life.
• Hundreds of clients withdraw from Google’s advertising network after anti-Semitism sting.
• Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .
– Amos Harel: Israel’s growing tensions with Syria, Lebanon and Hamas leave little room for maneuvering
– Khald Abu Toameh: Abbas’s empty promises
– Nahum Barnea: All Trump wants is an Israeli-Palestinian deal
– Emanuele Dalla Torre: Italian academics reject anti-Israel boycotts
– Sary Zananiri and Idan Ben-Barak: Palestinians under occupation reduced to a spectacle
– Lara Prendergast: Israel’s now the land of ‘Trumpportunity’ — but who for?
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