More work for President Trump

The declaration on Jerusalem and the plans to move the Embassy are wonderful, but two other crucial issues need the US president's public backing of Israel.

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Rochel Sylvetsky,

Rochel Sylvetsky
Rochel Sylvetsky
Rochel Sylvetsky

President Trump has courageously fulfilled a pre-election undertaking to recognize Israel’s capital city.  However, President Trump’s administration has yet to back Israel publicly and practically in two other crucial areas.

One such area is anti-Israel lawfare which is on the rise. Another area  is mounting United Nations persecution. 

We have faith in President Trump's ability and desire to stand up for what he feels is right. So here goes -

Israeli  vulnerability to lawfare

Lawfare against individual Israelis has become a modern form of warfare – against a country which is so small and geographically isolated that its citizens frequently travel abroad. Israel’s citizens almost always serve in Israel’s military at some age, due to the compulsory conscription that is a well-known hallmark of life in the beleaguered country.

This leaves countless Israeli citizens potentially vulnerable to arrests and other forms of legal persecution, due to the Palestinian Authority’s manipulations of international bodies like Interpol or the International Criminal Court.  Any one of Israel’s million or more former soldiers (or residents of Jerusalem or Israel’s Judea-Samaria) could find her or his freedom curtailed when visiting any of a host of states in which individual officials might choose to cooperate with Palestinian Authority lawfare moves.

This is the case thanks to the automatic majority that the Arab nations enjoy in international institutions such as the International Criminal Court or Interpol. While the chances of Israeli businessmen or tourists actually being jailed are slim, the Palestinian move is intended to create stress on Israeli citizens and to force Israel, and the United States, to waste precious political capital on protecting Israeli citizens’ good names, and securing their freedom of movement when they travel abroad

The Palestinian Authority’s  anti-Israel lawfare efforts have been ongoing since at least 2014 in which the Authority began “recognizing” jurisdiction on the part of the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for “war crimes.”

PA “communications” were submitted to the International Criminal Court from June 2015. Again in 2016 PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Authority seniors submitted files to the International Criminal Court and urged their “immediate investigation.” in September, the Palestinian Authority chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, told the United Nations General Assembly of his efforts to prosecute Israelis for “settlement activities and aggressions against our people.”

Bayefsky laments “the speed at which the Trump State Department backtracked

A well known American expert on Israel, former Columbia University Law School lecturer Anne Bayefsky, claims that the US State Department is not standing up to this anti-Israel lawfare. Congress, however, understood “this dangerous scam,” Bayevfsky explained in a recent email distributed to associates of her Human Rights Voice organization, and has legislated accordingly.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, most recently adopted in May 2017, states in its Rule 1 that if the Palestinians wage lawfare against Israelis at the ICC, the PLO offices can be closed after a 6 month deadline terminating in November.  The Act did however leave an optional loophole empowering any American president to keep the PLO’s offices opening merely by stating “that the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

Palestinians have been scoffing at  American law, lamented Bayevsky, and “the speed at which the State Department backtracked and failed to stand firm on the notice to vacate” the PLO offices was therefore surprising. 

Another crucial area waiting for Trump

In addition to the lawfare battle, there is still mounting United Nations persecution. 

The Trump administration has spoken, through its able representative Nikki Hailey, against UN prejudice, but it has so far not managed to curb continued United Nations persecution of its most beleaguered member state. Arutz Sheva and the Israeli conservative Hebrew weekly Makor Rishon recently exposed the anti-Israel contents of a UN document, UNDAF 2018-2022, based on information provided by Mattot Arim, an Israeli Zionist NGO.

UNDAF: One billion dollars for publicly criticizing or punishing Israel

The “UNDAF” (UN Development Assistance Framework) document calls for over a billion dollars of international funds to be spent to help Palestinian Arabs undermine Israel. The term used explicitly in the UNDAF document is “holding Israel to account,” a phrase whose dictionary meaning is  “to make someone explain publicly why they made a mistake or committed a crime, especially so that they can be criticized or punished for it, to criticize someone publicly: condemn, denounce.”

International funding is normally dedicated to humanitarian efforts or non-controversial goals, and there is no precedent to devoting international funding to the goal of denigrating a UN member-state – and only that state.

In contrast, a Frequently Asked Questions document published by the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) regarding the UNDAF document explicitly states that “Humanitarian assistance is not included in the UNDAF.”

Various public figures and non-governmental organizations picked up the UNDAF story and expressed shock and disgust at the anti-Israel bent of the document, including Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Dayan, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely as well as the Ministry’s spokesman,  UN-Watch, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), Human Rights Voices, Shurat haDin, Mattot Arim (as mentioned) and  Senator Tom Cruz.

JNS.org said that the sheer amount of funding that was being allocated by the U.N. by the UNDAF, “towards overtly anti-Israel initiatives,” was “unprecedented.”

Senator Cruz , focusing on the UNDAF’s openly stated goal of “holding Israel to account”, irately told The Weekly Standard, an American conservative magazine, that  the UNDAF was “yet another example of the U.N.’s shameful hostility towards Israel, which encourages more false attacks, accusations, and criticism of our close ally" and vowed that the UNDAF’s proposals would be opposed by Congress.

What is being done about UNDAF?

In response, a Trump Administration State Department official rushed to admit to the Standard, on 1 November, that “portions” of the UNDAF document were disconcerting because they emphasized efforts against Israel. The State Department was “deeply troubled,” the official said, adding vaguely that President Trump’s State Department had an intent to “raise concerns with appropriate U.N. offices.”

The official insisted that the anti-Israel UNDAF was a mere planning document that provides estimated budget figures rather than “funding obligations.” The official reassured that the UNDAF extended “over the next several years”.

President Trump’s State Department official did not comment on why the UNDAF document had not been flagged and made public as a matter of course by the State Department to begin with, rather than by an independent NGO. Also, no further word has been put out by the State Department in the past month, as to what progress if any has been made in resolving the State Department’s concerns about the UNDAF with its one billion dollar price-tag. And while the UNDAF is indeed expected to extend over a period of several years, from 2018 until 2022, the document is slated to come into effect less than a month from now – on Jan. 1, 2018.

Grateful as we are for your integrity in keeping the campaign promises on Jerusalem  and the US Embassy move, we have taken the liberty of writing this reminder.

President Trump, on the two crucial and game-changing fronts described here, we are counting on you.








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