Tag Archives: european

J Street Fails To Win Over Key Committee for Presidents Conference Membership

Dovish Group ‘Grilled’ by Pro-Israel Hawks at Meeting

j street

Uphill Fight: J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami came under attack at a committee meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

Published April 11, 2014.

J Street, the dovish Israel lobby, has failed to win the endorsement of a crucial committee for membership in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations a development that makes it unlikely to win admission to the key umbrella group.

In an April 11 meeting described as a grilling by participants, members of the Presidents Conference closely questioned J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, who came to make the case for accepting his group into the conference.

The Manhattan meeting, held by the conferences membership committee in preparation for J Streets application being brought before the full conference on April 30, found that J Street fulfills the administrative and governance requirements in the conferences bylaws. But most of the discussion focused on J Streets views on Israel.

The gathering attracted a dozen representatives of Presidents Conference member organizations to attend personally while six other representatives joined in by phone. According to several sources present, many of the questions posed to Ben-Ami carried a critical tone.

One question was about the support J Streets political action committee gave to Democratic Congressman John Dingell of Michigan, who was described at the meeting as anti-Israel. Another questioned donations J Street had received from liberal billionaire George Soros. The hedge fund manager and philanthropist drew flack from Jewish leaders in 2003 for his comment that the policies of Israels then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and then-U.S. President George Bush towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza contributed to a resurgence in European anti-Semitism.

Participants at the meeting also claimed that J Street had supported the United Nations-sponsored Goldstone report, which found that Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas had committed numerous war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during their conflict in late 2008 and early 2009.

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Globalizing World Requires Transatlantic Partnership and Leadership

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Speaker: Wolfgang Schuble, Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Germany Presider: Robert M. Kimmitt, Chairman, American Council on Germany April 11, 2014 Council on Foreign Relations

KIMMITT: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Bob Kimmitt, and on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations, I would like to welcome you to this conversation with Dr. Wolfgang Schauble, the finance minister of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Herr Bundesminister, willkommen in Washington. Mr. Minister, welcome back to Washington and to the Council on Foreign Relations. Today’s exceptionally large turnout is a real compliment to you.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble has given a lifetime of service to his country, half — half to West Germany and half to united Germany. He was a central member of the historic group that — under the leadership of Helmut Kohl and supported strongly by the United States — moved Germany from division to unity in fewer than 11 months in 1989 and ’90.

After service over decades in the Bundestag, the federal chancellery, and the interior ministry, he became federal minister of finance in October 2009, just as the financial crisis was moving from the United States to Europe. In these last five years, Wolfgang Schauble has become the most consequential finance minister in Europe and a leading figure in the G-7 and the G-20. Throughout, he’s been a superb representative of Germany, a strong supporter of a more unified and effective European Union, and a committed transatlanticist.

It’s my pleasure and honor to introduce Wolfgang Schauble, the minister of finance of the Federal Republic of Germany. Mr. Minister, the floor is yours.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHAUBLE: Thank you, Ambassador Kimmitt.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honor and pleasure for me to be here again. And I will not waste my time, but I will start immediately in saying, above and beyond all of the irritations, that the three letters in Germany, NSA stand for, this fact remains true: Like no two other actors on the global stage, the United States and Europe — what we call the Western world — share common values, common strengths, and common interests when it comes to shaping the global order of the 21st century.

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Globalizing World Requires Transatlantic Partnership and Leadership

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'No Consensus' within NATO on Georgia MAP

The U.S. supports granting Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia at the NATO summit in Wales in September, but there is no consensus within the allies on the issue, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

Georgians are well aware that they do not have consensus in the Alliance and that they have work to do to convince, particularly some of our western European allies, of their worthiness for the Membership Action Plan, Victoria Nuland, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said.

“We have been supporting them as they make this case directly to individual allies, she said while speaking at a hearing of European subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 10.

Nuland also said that Georgia is on track of signing the Association Agreement with the EU, which will deepen its relations with many of these same countries, so we are hopeful that will have a positive impact on how they assess its [Georgias] worthiness for MAP.

Derek Chollet, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, told the same hearing that Georgia is a terrific partner, who fights in Afghanistan along with the U.S. troops without caveats. We are supportive of the Membership Action Plan, he said. But as you know very well this is an Alliances decision, thats not a decision the United States will make alone. We work close with our Georgian partners through this process and its something that clearly will be a subject of conversation in months ahead as we lead up to the Wales summit.

U.S. officials remarks followed a question from Senator Chris Murphy, who presided over the hearing and who said that although Georgia has yet to take some serious steps before it becomes a full candidate for admission to NATO, the Membership Action Plan would have lots of hoops to jump through and would represent a very strong signal to both Russia and our allies that we are serious about keeping the opening door policy.

Georgian Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania, said this week that Tbilisi has significantly intensified dialogue with some of the European states those whom he described as skeptics.

In the course of last one month Alasania traveled to Italy, Spain and Slovakia, where he met his counterparts and raised the issue of MAP, according to the Georgian Ministry of Defense. He met his French counterpart in Paris in November, 2013. The Dutch Defense Minister visited Tbilisi earlier this month.

Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, met his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on April 10.

Speaking at a news conference after the meeting Steinmeier spoke about possibility of increasing substantially cooperation between Georgia and NATO through number of measures. I think that would be a milestone, he said.

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'No Consensus' within NATO on Georgia MAP

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Springtime for Putin – Analyst Blog

16 April 2014 Investors may yet get another crack at the energy complex. Alternatively, for risk-averse investors, the U.S.

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Springtime for Putin – Analyst Blog

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Globalizing World Requires Transatlantic Partnership and Leadership

Home EU Globalizing World Requires Transatlantic Partnership and Leadership Follow Us On

Speaker: Dr. Wolfgang Schuble, Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Germany Presider: Robert M. Kimmitt, Chairman, American Council on Germany April 14, 2014

KIMMITT: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Bob Kimmitt, and on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations, I would like to welcome you to this conversation with Dr. Wolfgang Schauble, the finance minister of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Herr Bundesminister, willkommen in Washington. Mr. Minister, welcome back to Washington and to the Council on Foreign Relations. Today’s exceptionally large turnout is a real compliment to you.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble has given a lifetime of service to his country, half — half to West Germany and half to united Germany. He was a central member of the historic group that — under the leadership of Helmut Kohl and supported strongly by the United States — moved Germany from division to unity in fewer than 11 months in 1989 and ’90.

After service over decades in the Bundestag, the federal chancellery, and the interior ministry, he became federal minister of finance in October 2009, just as the financial crisis was moving from the United States to Europe. In these last five years, Wolfgang Schauble has become the most consequential finance minister in Europe and a leading figure in the G-7 and the G-20. Throughout, he’s been a superb representative of Germany, a strong supporter of a more unified and effective European Union, and a committed transatlanticist.

It’s my pleasure and honor to introduce Wolfgang Schauble, the minister of finance of the Federal Republic of Germany. Mr. Minister, the floor is yours.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHAUBLE: Thank you, Ambassador Kimmitt.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honor and pleasure for me to be here again. And I will not waste my time, but I will start immediately in saying, above and beyond all of the irritations, that the three letters in Germany, NSA stand for, this fact remains true: Like no two other actors on the global stage, the United States and Europe — what we call the Western world — share common values, common strengths, and common interests when it comes to shaping the global order of the 21st century.

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Globalizing World Requires Transatlantic Partnership and Leadership

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NATO chief wants more military cooperation with EU

LUXEMBOURG (AP) Due to the great uncertainty about what Russia may do next, NATO's secretary general on Tuesday said the U.S.-led alliance and the European Union must cooperate more in the military realm.

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Five Spanish regions top EU unemployment table

The arguments bandied about by the government that Spains economy is on its way to recovery are in stark contrast to the statistics that are regularly released by Brussels. Figures published on Tuesday by Eurostat, for example, reveal that the top-five regions in the European Union in terms of unemployment rate are all Spanish, an unprecedented result since the statistical series began.

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The dilemma of stable West Bank

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin is a member of Benjamin Netanyahus Likud party and his predominantly rightwing Cabinet. In a recent interview with The Economist, Elkin used the familiar tone of being conceited and oblivious to such notions as international or human rights and reaffirmed his rejection of a Palestinian state. Instead, Elkin wants Israel to annex a chunk of the West Bank. There is nothing new here; as such language is now official Israeli discourse. But one statement stood out, one that many Palestinians would find bewildering and exasperating. These days, said Elkin with a chuckle, the West Bank is the most stable part of the Middle East. The bewilderment would stem from the fact that the West Bank is an occupied Palestinian territory. Its population is held at gunpoint; they have no freedom and enjoy no rights. Their land is seized by force to make room for more settlements and illegal Jewish settlers, now numbering well passed the half million mark. Needless to say, the West Bank should not be stable. Instead, Palestinians should be leading their own revolution until they achieve their full rights and freedom. This is not a call for violence, but a natural human course. However, Palestinians are not rebelling. Many factors are holding them back, one of which is the very Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Its troops are in constant security coordination with Israel. The PAs mission apparently is not to liberate Palestine, but to ensure the subservience of the Palestinians while Israel carries on with a colonial project that has extended for decades. Elkin knows this. Netanyahu himself, along with every Israeli official, understands that the PA, despite Mahmoud Abbas occasional attempts at appearing defiant and rebellious, is no threat to Israel, nor will it ever be. This will be so even if the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a framework agreement between the Israeli government and the PA passes and even if Abbas took the seemingly daring step of signing the applications to join 15 international organizations. Abbas and his men understand that there are red lines, which they cannot cross under any circumstances. Abbas may be weak, but he is clever. He knew that Kerrys peacemaking efforts would not go anywhere and that Netanyahu would find a way to thwart the process. If Abbas were lucky, Kerry could even blame Israel for derailing the peace process, as he already has. Then, Abbas would do what many would find reasonable; seek further international recognition for the state of Palestine. This might frustrate the Americans a little, anger the Israelis a lot, but it would give his supporters reason to promote the 79-year-old leader as another Yasser Arafat, heroic and defiant to the very end. The Israelis still need Abbas. He is important in maintaining stability in the West Bank. This means the continuing of the security coordination that ensures the safety of the armed settlers, providing an extra layer of protection to Israeli soldiers as they kill at will, seize more land, demolish homes and trees, erect walls, dig trenches and level mountains. So what if some imaginary state existed on papers in the files of some international body in Geneva or Brussels. For Israel, the law is that of its military, and reality is what is taking place in Area C, not in some European capital. This is why Elkin is chuckling. He is at ease, in the same way the Israeli political establishment is. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, a deal was struck between Israel and what became a pervasive, controlling and corrupt Palestinian political class. Israel maintained its military occupation, carried on with its colonial project and continued to disfigure the occupied territories in any way that it found consistent with its security needs. Palestinian elites were granted economic privileges and access that is denied to the vast majority of the Palestinians. The PAs constant challenge is to maintain a level of legitimacy. True, it uses its monopoly on force, which is readily sanctioned by Israel, in order to arrest, torture and kill resisting Palestinians when necessary. It uses the logic of trickledown economics to hold the bulk of Palestinians hostage to winning their daily bread. But that is not enough. It needs a brand to market itself as the exclusive harbinger of freedom for Palestinians. It uses slogans, flags and kuffiyas to promote that brand through its control of the media. Many PA supporters dance to that tune and playact that Abbas and only Abbas is capable of exacting the coveting liberation of Palestine from the obstinate hands of the Israeli prime minister. Palestinian officials are proficiently inflating Abbas image to ensure that Palestinians dont question the wisdom of their aging leader, after the latest and predictable failure of the peace process, which was never truly meant to succeed anyway. A Palestinian official spoke of Abbas refusal to heed a call by US Secretary of State John Kerry to halt applications to join international treaties. He claimed that Kerry warned Abbas of a strong (Israeli) response to Palestinian action. Abbas replied: Israels threats scare no one. They can do what they like. The words were repeated in Palestinian media. The Abbas image is being overstated once more. There is no space for those who question the mans credibility, legitimacy or failed methods. More posters of the old man are now erected in the occupied Palestinian towns. His latest antics will help perpetuate the myth that the PA is a platform for resistance, not capitulation. As long as the West Bank is stable, and as long as Abbas, and those that follow him continue to sell Palestinians old illusions of revolutions that never took place, and heroes that only exist on colored posters hung around the streets of Ramallah, Elkin will continue to chuckle. And as long as the West Bank is stable, Palestinians will never achieve their freedom, for submission achieves no rights; only resistance does.

– Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist. Email: [emailprotected]

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The dilemma of stable West Bank

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Britain, Germany, France Urge De-Escalation in Ukraine

By Dow Jones Business News, April 14, 2014, 12:25:00 PM EDT LONDON–The leaders of Britain, Germany, and France agree that the occupation of government buildings in eastern Ukraine is illegal and have called on all parties, particularly Russia, to de-escalate the situation, the British government said Monday. Over the weekend, pro-Russia protests spread in eastern Ukraine as armed men, some in unmarked, military-style uniforms, moved to occupy more government buildings–a dramatic escalation that the Ukrainian government and Washington tied to Moscow.

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World Bank Approves to Launch Sanitation Improvement Projects in Gaza

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2014 Two projects in the Gaza Strip will respond to health and environmental threats and provide long-term solutions to the treatment of sewage and solid waste, according to a statement by the World Bank.

The US$13 million grants by the World Bank are focused on improving sanitation services in the Gaza Strip, a development priority in the densely populated area facing severe public health and water pollution threats.

Several residential areas have been recurrently flooded with raw sewage causing property damage, injuries and deaths. Illegal dumping and burning of waste are common practices across rural and urban areas causing soil, air and water pollution as well as health hazard, said Steen Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are entitled to live in a healthy and clean environment. Proper management of municipal waste is a priority that the World Bank is supporting to avoid negative health and environmental impacts on the well-being of Gaza citizens, she added.

The US$10 million grant for the Gaza Solid Waste Management Project, approved by the Bank on March 31, 2014, aims to improve the solid waste disposal in the Gaza governorates through the provision of an efficient, socially acceptable and environmentally friendly mechanism. It will promote citizen engagement towards more accountability through awareness campaigns and the use of social media including text messaging and interactive website.

The new landfill facility will be located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip and will serve about half of the population, in the Middle and Southern Governorates. The grant will compliment about US$25 million in financial contributions from the Palestinian Authority, participating municipalities and several donors including the European Union, the French Development Agency, Sweden, Japan and the Islamic Development Bank.

The rapid population growth in the Gaza Strip coupled with the deteriorating municipal financial and technical capacities to manage the generated waste in a sanitary manner have encouraged illegal dumping and burning of waste, said Ibrahim Dajani, World Bank Senior Operations Officer. The project will establish a solid waste management system and strengthen institutional capacity to manage the sector efficiently. It will also promote private sector partnerships and generate jobs for waste pickers and their families.

The US$3 million grant to the North Gaza Wastewater Treatment Project, approved by the Bank on April 10, 2014, is in line with the Banks commitment to provide a sustainable solution to managing wastewater in North Gaza.

Despite the significant challenges associated with a large scale infrastructure project in a conflict affected area, the World Bank is committed to the construction of a modern wastewater treatment plant and the development of a reuse program to irrigate surrounding fields with safely treated effluent.

With this new grant, the World Banks total contribution towards the project amounts to US$29.8 million in addition to US$7.5 million in supplemental co-financing, said the World Bank statement.

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World Bank Approves to Launch Sanitation Improvement Projects in Gaza

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