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Israel steps up strikes on Hamas targets as 222 confirmed being held hostage in Gaza

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives in Israel on solidarity visit; Dutch and French leaders expected later in day; US said calling for delay in ground offensive

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Top US Lawmakers Slam Palestinian Push for Full UN Membership as Dangerous ‘Ploy’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia November 23, 2021. Photo: Sputnik/Evgeny Biyatov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Senior US lawmakers in leading positions to influence America foreign policy in Congress on Tuesday lambasted the latest Palestinian campaign to become a full member of the United Nations, making clear that any push from the Biden administration to entertain recognizing a Palestinian state would be met with fierce resistance in Washington.

“US law requires the United States to cut off all funding to the UN if the UN admits Palestine as a member state,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) — chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, respectively — said in a statement. “Anything other than staunch opposition to this ploy from the Biden administration is political pandering.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) last week formally asked the United Nations Security Council for renewed consideration of its 2011 application to become a full member of the world body. The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state at the UN, the same status as the Holy See.

Malta, which is president of the Security Council for April, on Monday referred the PA’s application to the committee on the admission of new members. Palestinian officials have said the aim is for the council to take up the issue at an April 18 ministerial meeting on the Middle East.

US officials have historically argued that Israel and the Palestinians must reach a two-state solution to resolve their conflict through direct negotiations, and that circumventing such a process by appealing to the UN would be counterproductive — a point echoed by McCaul and Risch.

“The PA’s request for full membership at the UN endangers international security,” the lawmakers said. “The PA has not made substantive reforms, continues to implement pay-for-slay, and there is no negotiated solution between the PA and Israel. This is a not a serious attempt to find a peaceful, lasting solution to the conflict; it is an opportunistic, politically-motivated move to bypass the peace process.”

Through its “pay for slay” program, the West Bank-based PA allocates significant sums of money to its “Martyrs’ Fund,” which makes official payments to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, the families of “martyrs” killed in attacks on Israelis, and injured Palestinian terrorists.

Meanwhile, PA officials have been regularly rationalizing the Hamas terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and in some cases even denying it took place or falsely claiming Israeli forces carried out the onslaught.

In such an environment, Israeli officials argued the recognition of a Palestinian state would undermine peace and create a dangerous precedent.

“Granting the Palestinian statehood is not only a blatant violation of the UN Charter, it also violates the fundamental principle that everyone can understand of reaching a solution, a lasting solution at the negotiating table,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told reporters on Monday. “The UN has been sabotaging peace in the Middle East for years. But today marks the beginning of the point of no return.”

However, some European countries, led by Spain, have begun aggressively pushing amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza to recognize a Palestinian state.

On Tuesday, the Spanish government said that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will meet several of his European Union counterparts over the next week to try to garner support for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

The announcement came after Spain, Ireland, Malta, and Slovenia said last month in a joint statement that they would jointly work toward recognition of a Palestinian state.

Israel’s foreign ministry warned the four EU member states that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would effectively amount to a “reward for terrorism.”

The post Top US Lawmakers Slam Palestinian Push for Full UN Membership as Dangerous ‘Ploy’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘AEPi Will Not Be Intimidated’: Jewish Fraternity Responds to Vandalism of House at University of Arizona

Graffiti sprayed on the perimeter wall of the Alpha Epsilon Pi house at the University of Arizona as seen on April 8, 2024. Photo: Screenshot via Alpha Epsilon Pi

The national office of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), the largest college Jewish fraternity in the US, has condemned recent vandalism of the house of one of its chapters at the University of Arizona, expressing resolve in the face of rising antisemitism across the country.

On Sunday, someone graffitied “What side of history will you be on?” on the perimeter wall of the AEPi house, an apparent allusion to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“Once again, an AEPi house has been vandalized with antisemitic graffiti in a transparent attempt to intimidate Jewish students,” AEPi chief executive officer Rob Derdiger said in a statement on Monday. “Administrators at the University of Arizona — and on campuses throughout North America — must commit to protecting its Jewish students by holding those groups responsible for these actions accountable by removing their recognition and expelling students from school who violate the university’s code of conduct.”

Antisemitism targeting AEPi at the University of Arizona is not new, according to numerous reports by local media. In 2014, a rival fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, broke into their house and proceeded to assault several AEPi members while shouting antisemitic epithets, according to school officials.

In recent months, two professors have been suspended for allegedly defending Hamas’ massacre of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 and, as reported by the Arizona Jewish Post, Jewish students have been spit on during vigils commemorating Israelis whom Hamas murdered.

In Monday’s statement, Derdiger said “AEPi will not be intimidated,” adding, “We will continue to work to advocate — lawfully and peacefully — for Israel.”

Founded at New York University in 1913, Alpha Epsilon Pi is the largest Jewish fraternity in the world, with over 150 chapters spread across four countries and 100,000 alumni. Every year, its chapters hold “Walks to Remember,” a march around campus that commemorates victims of the Holocaust. Last May, the national office named a new deputy director in Andrew Feuerstein, who will lead the organization’s efforts to raise funds and sustain relationships with alumni.

Incidents at other universities in Arizona have drawn the attention of state lawmakers, who voted in February to grant Jewish students the right to withhold student fees from groups, such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), that allegedly promote antisemitism. Just weeks after Oct. 7, Arizona State University’s (ASU) SJP chapter broke school rules to help bring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) to campus. At the time, the lawmaker had been widely criticized for uttering a wave of virulent comments attacking the Jewish state, including those in which she accused Israel of genocide and erroneously blamed the Jewish state for a rocket that exploded near Al Ahli hospital in Gaza.

The event would not have been the first time that ASU’s SJP chapter hosted a public figure accused of antisemitism. In 2021, it invited Mohammed El-Kurd to address students, using about $10,000 in student government funding to pay for the event. The Palestinian writer has trafficked in antisemitic tropes, demonized Zionism, and falsely accused Israelis of eating the organs of Palestinians, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

As The Algemeiner has previously reported, AEPi chapters have been targets of antisemitic hate crimes across the country, including several eggings of their off-campus houses at Rutgers University. Last August, the fraternity announced that it was teaming up with the ADL to launch the AEPi Antisemitism Response Center, a “centralized system for reporting and tracking antisemitic incidents on campuses.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post ‘AEPi Will Not Be Intimidated’: Jewish Fraternity Responds to Vandalism of House at University of Arizona first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Iran Says It Can Close Hormuz Strait, Views Israeli Presence in UAE as Threat

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, followed by the fast-combat support ship USNS Arctic and the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze, transit the Strait of Hormuz. Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado / US Navy.

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) navy said on Tuesday that Israel‘s presence in the United Arab Emirates was viewed as a threat by Tehran and it could close the Strait of Hormuz if deemed necessary.

Iran has threatened to retaliate for suspected Israeli airstrikes on its consulate in Syria’s capital on April 1 that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers including two senior commanders — stoking tensions between the arch enemies already heightened by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

“We do not get hit without striking back, but we are also not hasty in our retaliation,” Alireza Tangsiri said, according to Iran’s semi-official Student News Agency.

“We can close the Hormuz Strait but are not doing so. However, if the enemy comes to disrupt us, we will review our policy,” Tangsiri said.

About a fifth of the volume of the world’s total oil consumption passes through the strait on a daily basis. An average of 20.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, condensate, and oil products passed through Hormuz in January-September 2023, data from analytics firm Vortexa showed.

The UAE, situated across the Gulf from Iran, became the most prominent Arab nation to forge diplomatic ties with Israel in 30 years under the Abraham Accords, a US-brokered agreement in 2020, though Abu Dhabi also has normal diplomatic and commercial relations with Tehran.

“We know that the Zionists [Israel] were not brought to the UAE for economic purposes but rather for security and military work. This is a threat to us and should not happen,” Tangsiri added.

The US has designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

The post Iran Says It Can Close Hormuz Strait, Views Israeli Presence in UAE as Threat first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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