Archive for January 9th, 2017

Calls for UK to expel Israeli official

January 8, 2017

The UK government should immediately remove Israeli Embassy official Shia Masot from the country after he was filmed discussing how to “take down” a senior government minister, the Scottish National Party said today.

Shai Masot was caught on camera talking to Tory MP Robert Halfon’s former chief of staff Maria Strizzolo at a restaurant in Kensington in October. Masot can be seen saying deputy foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan is causing “a lot of problems” and describes foreign secretary Boris Johnson as “an idiot”.

Following an apology from the Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev the UK Government said it considered the matter closed which Alex Salmond has described as “completely unacceptable”.

However, SNP Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alex Salmond said: “It is completely unacceptable for the UK government to declare the matter closed – Shai Masot must go and go immediately before the end of his tenure at the Israeli Embassy.”

“Boris Johnson must right now revoke Mr Masot’s diplomatic status and remove him from the country as would most certainly have happened had the circumstances been reversed. Perhaps then the Israeli Government representatives will regard the foreign secretary as less of a fool.”

“I would expect the UK government to fully investigate this matter so that we can be confident our elected officials are free to carry out their jobs to the best of their ability and without fear of having their reputation smeared by Embassy officials who do not agree with their views.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170108-calls-for-uk-to-expel-israeli-official/.

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Israeli arrested for threatening convicted soldier’s judges

January 05, 2017

JERUSALEM (AP) — Police have arrested an Israeli man for inciting against military judges who convicted a soldier for manslaughter over the fatal shooting of a badly wounded Palestinian attacker. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri says Thursday the arrest came after a threatening Facebook post. She says police will act against those inciting to violence against public officials.

The rare conviction of a soldier for operational conduct has deeply divided Israel and led to an unprecedented campaign in support of Sgt. Elor Azaria and against the military establishment, long the country’s most admired body.

In protests outside the courtroom, demonstrators chanted veiled death threats against military chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who supported charging the soldier. The trial’s three military judges and the lead prosecutor have also faced threats and have been assigned bodyguards.

Russia downsizing Syria military deployment

2017-01-06

MOSCOW – Russia’s military on Friday said it has begun scaling down its deployment to Syria, with Moscow’s sole aircraft carrier set to be the first to quit the conflict zone.

“In accordance with the decision of the supreme commander of the Russian armed forces Vladimir Putin, the Russian defense ministry is beginning the reduction of the armed deployment to Syria,” Russian news agencies quoted military chief Valery Gerasimov as saying.

Gerasimov said that a naval group headed by aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov would be the first to leave the area.

“The tasks set for the aircraft carrier group during its military mission have been fulfilled,” added Russia’s main commander in Syria Andrei Kartapolov, agencies reported.

Kartapolov said that Russia still had sufficient air defense capabilities in Syria thanks to its S-300 and S-400 systems deployed in the war-torn country.

Since September 2015, Russia had boosted its firepower on land in Syria and off the coast in the Mediterranean in support of regime forces targeting the second city of Aleppo.

Troops loyal to Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad finally ousted rebels from the city last month in their biggest victory in more than five years of fighting, paving the way for the Kremlin to launch a fresh push for a political solution to the conflict.

Russian President Putin ordered a reduction in his forces in Syria on December 29, as he announced a ceasefire between government and rebel forces that has since dampened down the fighting.

Russia, along with Turkey and Iran, are currently pushing for peace talks to be held later this month in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.

Moscow launched its bombing campaign in Syria in September 2015, helping to turn the tide in favor of Assad’s ailing forces.

Putin already announced a partial withdrawal of Russian forces in March 2016, but Moscow later had to ramp up its presence again as fighting increased.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=80696.

Facebook closes accounts of Palestine activists

January 7, 2017

Facebook has closed the accounts of a number of Palestinian activists after using a hashtag lamenting a Palestinian assassinated by Israel 20 years ago, Quds Press reported yesterday.

Former female prisoner Ghofran Zamel, fiancée of Hassan Salameh who is spending several life sentences in Israeli jails, said that she was surprised to find her Facebook account was shut down yesterday.

Zamel said that when she wanted to open her accounts, a message appeared telling her that the accounts were closed but without giving any reasons. She said she sent messages to Facebook to complain.

Meanwhile, several activists reported their accounts were closed in addition to accounts managed by Hamas activists after using a hashtag which praised a Hamas fighter.

On 3 January, a bill authorising Israeli courts to block or delete social media content under the pretext of incitement passed its first hurdles in the Knesset.

Israeli TV Channel 7 said that this bill, if passed into law, would give the Israeli courts the power to shut down websites inciting against Israel and close Facebook or Twitter accounts that are considered as inciting to violence or that are provocative.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170107-facebook-closes-accounts-of-palestine-activists/.

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