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Antony Blinken tells AIPAC Israel-Saudi ties are a priority while 2-state solution ‘can feel remote’



WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Biden administration is fully invested in Israel-Saudi normalization, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC on Monday. He also said he does not see a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peace happening anytime soon.

“The United States has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Blinken said Monday to applause at a policy summit of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

He said it was critical not to escalate the Israel-Palestinian conflict but also made it clear that the Biden administration would not push for a revival of peace talks in the near term. “It’s no secret that today the prospects for a two-state solution can feel remote,” he said. “But we are committed to working with partners and with the parties to at least maintain a horizon of hope.”

The emphasis on regional normalization over pushing Israel into reengagement with the Palestinians will be welcomed in Jerusalem, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading the most right-wing government in Israeli history, and has intensified Israeli claims to disputed territory.

Netanyahu additionally has said his foreign policy priority is a deal with Saudi Arabia. The Biden administration last year helped broker the launch of Israeli overflights of Saudi air space.

Blinken formally announced that the Biden administration would name a senior official to manage the Abraham Accords, the 2020 normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab nations that was a signature foreign policy achievement of the Trump administration, and one of the few Trump policies embraced by Biden.

“We will soon create a new position to further our diplomacy and engagement with governments and private sector, non-governmental organizations, all working toward a more peaceful and a more connected region,” he said. “We’ve already achieved historic progress to deepen and broaden the Abraham Accords, building on the work of the Trump administration.”

Biden has already decided chosen former ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro for the role, Axios reported last month. Shapiro is already leading an Abraham Accords expansion initiative at the influential Atlantic Council think tank.

Among the agenda items for the 500 AIPAC activists when they visit most of the offices in Congress on Tuesday is lobbying for the passage of bills that would advance the Abraham Accords, through diplomacy and cooperative projects.

Blinken emphasized continuing Biden administration unhappiness with some Israeli practices that have intensified under the. new Israeli government, including the demolition of Palestinian homes and settlement expansion.

He also emphatically condemned the Palestinian Authority’s policies of subsidizing the families of terrorists who were imprisoned or killed in the course of their actions.

“We have to continue to reject unequivocally actions taken by any party that undermine the process toward a two state solution processes use a solution that includes acts of terrorism, payments to terrorists in prison, violence against civilians,” he said. Israeli and pro-Israel officials have long complained that pressure on Israel not to escalate is not matched with similar pressure on the Palestinians.

Blinken also alluded to Biden administration concerns about plans by Netanyahu’s government — suspended for the time being — to radically overhaul the courts system.

“We’ll continue to work with the Israeli government to advance our shared values will continue to express our support for core democratic principles, including the separation of powers, checks and balances and the equal administration of justice for all citizens of Israel,” he said.

Opponents of the proposed changes, who have been staging massive weekly protests in Israel and smaller demonstrations around the world, say the overhaul would sap the courts of their independence and remove a bulwark that protects democracy and vulnerable populations, including women, Arabs, the LGBTQ community and non-Orthodox Jews. The courts overhaul is one reason Biden has yet to invite Netanyahu to the White House.

AIPAC’s agenda also includes bills that would further isolate Iran, which Israel regards as its most dangerous enemy. At the outside of his term, Biden sought to revive the deal with Iran that exchanged its agreement to roll back its nuclear development in exchange for sanctions relief; Trump had pulled out of the deal.

More recently, U.S. officials have said Iranian actions, including advanced nuclear activity and its backing for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, have put a freeze on those plans. Blinken said diplomacy remains the preferred way to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but he said pressure was the preferred method for now. Deterrence, he said to applause, “includes strengthening Israel’s military capabilities.”

The post Antony Blinken tells AIPAC Israel-Saudi ties are a priority while 2-state solution ‘can feel remote’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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