Wednesday, October 28, 2015



What has not already been said about the holiest city in the world, the city that has been united, the eternal city first built thousands of years ago, whose history can be heard in the whispering of the wind along the walls, where every stone tells a wondrous story of a city that has drawn millions of faithful pilgrims for thousands of years. Such is Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, the only city in the world that has 70 names of love and yearning, the city that in old maps appears at the center of the world and is still adored like a young bride.

Jerusalem is a city of overwhelming emotions, a city that promises a religious and spiritual experience, excitement and pleasure, interesting tours and entertaining adventures. Here, alongside Jerusalem’s fascinating historic and archeological sites, there are amazingly modern tourist attractions for all lovers of culture, the arts, theater and music, architecture and gastronomic delights.

At Jerusalem’s heart is the Old City, which is surrounded by a wall and divided into four quarters - Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Muslim. Inside the walls are the important holy sites of the three major religions: the Western Wall, which is holy to the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. The Western Wall plaza is visited by millions of worshipers. Here, at the base of the massive wall that is a remnant of the Holy Temple, prayers are offered and notes containing heartfelt wishes are wedged between the crevices.

Surrounding the Western Wall are other important Jewish sites - the Western Wall Tunnels, the unique Davidson Center, the Jewish quarter with its magnificent Cardo and David’s Citadel, towering proudly in its beauty. South of the Old City is the City of David, from which the ancient Can’anite and Israelite Jerusalem grew. This is a fascinating site with amazing findings that provide an unforgettable experience.

Jerusalem is also very important to Christianity, as Jesus Christ lived and died here. The Christian quarter alone houses some 40 religious buildings (churches, monasteries and pilgrims’ hostels). One of the most prominent and important sites in the Christian quarter is the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Sorrows,” Jesus’ final path, which according to Christian tradition led from the courthouse to Golgotha Hill, where he was crucified and buried. Many pilgrims come to Jerusalem to follow Jesus’ footsteps along a route that starts in the Muslim Quarter, at Lions’ Gate, and passes the 14 stations of the cross, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Several of the most important Christian relics are housed in this church, including the anointing stone (on which Jesus’ body was laid before his burial) and Jesus’ grave. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a pilgrimage site for millions of Christians from all over the world.

Southwest of the Old City is Mt. Zion, where the Dormition Abbey was built on the site Christian tradition believes Mary spent her last night. The abbey was built about 100 years ago and in the basement there is a statue of the sleeping Mary. Beside the abbey is the Room of the Last Supper, where Jesus ate his last meal.

East of the Old City is the Mount of Olives, where there are other important Christian sites, and several churches: The Ascension, Pater Noster, Dominus Flevit, Mary Magdalene, Gethsemane, Lazarus and Abraham’s Monastery. According to Christian tradition, Mary’s tomb is in the Kidron Valley, below the Mt. of Olives.

Apart from the holy places throughout the Old City, there are several charming sites that are well worth visiting. There is the wonderful market, which is one big sensual celebration. Here you can buy Armenian-style decorated ceramics, beautiful strings of beads, authentic clothing, embroidered cushions, colorful wool carpets, candles and amazing glassware, and countless different souvenirs. From the promenade along the tops of the Old City walls you can look out over the Old City and the New City. Tours along the walls are a wonderful night-time activity, too, when the city’s lights sparkle making the sights even more unforgettable. The Armenian Quarter has its own unique charm and is well worth visiting.

The construction of the new city’s Jewish neighborhoods began in the late 19th century. Some of the neighborhoods have retained their original picturesque charm, and wandering among the houses is a real pleasure. Some of these neighborhoods are Even Yisrael, the German Colony, Yemin Moshe, Me’a She’arim, Makhane Yisra’el, Nakhla’ot, Nakhalat Shiv’a, Ein Karem, Komemi’ut, Rekhavia, the Bukharian Quarter and the Ethiopian Quarter. There are many other interesting and unique sites from different periods throughout the city, such as Armon HaNatsiv and the Promenade, Ammunition Hill, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the Monastery of the Cross, Elias Monastery and the YMCA building. Among the more modern sites are the Supreme Court, the Israel Museum, the Biblical Zoo, the Knesset, Mt. Herzl, Makhane Yehuda market, with its unparalleled variety of exciting sounds, colors, flavors and aromas.

Young people who like to go out in the evenings will love Jerusalem’s main night life regions: the German Colony, the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, Nakhalat Shiv’a, Shlomtsiyon HaMalka Street, and the Russian Compound.

Museum lovers will be delighted to discover that Jerusalem is dotted with dozens of museums full of rich exhibits, such as the Israel Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Bloomfield Science Museum, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Rockefeller Museum, the Bible Lands Museum, the Islamic Art Museum, the Old Yishuv Court Museum, the Armenian Museum and the Museum of Italian Jewish Art.

Children will enjoy the Time Elevator (an interactive, three-dimensional presentation on the history of Jerusalem), the spacious Biblical Zoo, Ein Ya’el - which offers workshops in Biblical arts and crafts, the Armon HaNatsiv tunnels, the beautiful botanical gardens and the hands-on interactive exhibits at the Bloomfield Science Museum.

Since Jerusalem is a city that has become home to people from many different faiths, traditions and ethnic groups, the city’s culinary culture offers something for everyone. Alongside Bohemian gourmet restaurants you will find eateries where the food is cooked slowly over ancient stoves, coffee shops with style, ethnic restaurants, fast food stands and bars that come to life in the evening hours. In addition to an abundant variety of dining opportunities, Jerusalem also has many different types of tourist accommodations, from luxury hotels to inexpensive youth hostels.

If you are wondering how Jerusalem became such a center of religions and spirituality and a pilgrimage site for millions of tourists from around the world, the answer begins thousands of years ago. Jerusalem’s history is one of wars and struggles. Its strategic location attracted many nations that wanted to capture the city, and some of them did rule over it for various periods. This city has known war and peace, love and hate, riches and poverty, destruction and renewal, happiness and pain.

According to Jewish tradition, the creation of the world began (5766 years ago) with the foundation stone on Mount Moriah (under the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount). This is where an important royal Can’anite city was built (about 4,000 years ago), and which was conquered from the Jebusites by King David in 1004 BCE and became the capital of his kingdom and a holy city. David’s son Solomon built the First Temple and his descendents (Hezekiah, Zedekiah and the Judean Kings) continued to enlarge and fortify the city’s boundaries, and to build a water supply system (Hezekiah’s tunnel). These efforts paid off, and when King Sennacherib of Assyria besieged Jerusalem he could not subdue the city and withdrew. Only in 586 BCE did Nebuchadnezzar conquer the Jewish capital. The city was destroyed and most of its inhabitants exiled to Babylon. In 538 BCE Xerxes, the King of Persia, who has conquered Babylon, permitted the exiled Jews to return to Judea and Jerusalem, where they rebuilt the city and built the Second Temple. For 370 years Judea was an autonomous district, first under the Persians and then under the Greeks. After the Hasmonean Revolt in 168 BCE, Jerusalem again became the capital of a Kingdom, that later became under the rule of the Roman Empire. King Herod the Great further expanded the Temple in the years 73-4 BCE.

At the end of the Second Temple period Jerusalem was a city of great social and religious tension. It was during this period that Jesus was preaching in Nazareth. In 66 CE the Jews rebelled against the Roman Empire and took over Jerusalem. The suppression of this revolt ended in 70 CE, and the Romans, led by Titus, conquered the capital, destroyed the Temple completely and exiled the city’s inhabitants. For the next 60 years Jerusalem was desolate, until the Bar Kokhba Revolt, when the Jews returned for a short while. In 135 CE, the Romans rebuilt and renamed the city Aelia Capitolina and barred the Jews from living there.

After the Roman Empire accepted Christianity in 324 (and later became the Byzantine Empire), Jerusalem again became an important city. The site’s connected with Jesus’ life and death were located and declared holy, and many magnificent churches were built, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (the Church of the Resurrection) and the “Mother of all the Churches,” on Mt. Zion.

In 638 the Muslims conquered Jerusalem and built the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque over the next few centuries. Following the Muslim conquest the Jews returned to Jerusalem, and around the 10th century this city again became the spiritual capital for the Jews of the Land of Israel.

The Crusaders also wanted to rule Jerusalem. They conquered the city in 1099, massacred the Jewish and Muslim residents and made Jerusalem their own capital. Less than 100 years later, in 1187, the Crusaders were defeated by Saladin a battle at Khitin. At that time the Jews returned to Jerusalem and have been here ever since.

In 1250 the Mamluk dynasty rose to power in Egypt and its rulers conquered this region and became the new lords of Jerusalem. In 1517 the Ottoman Empire spread to Jerusalem and for 400 years was under Turkish rule. During the first 100 years the city flourished and its walls were rebuilt. In the second half of the 16th century, as the Ottoman Empire began to decline, so did Jerusalem’s fortunes.

By the beginning of the 19th century Jerusalem was a small neglected city inside its walls, and only toward the end of the century (from 1860 onward), did the New City begin to grow, thanks to the generosity of British philanthropist Moshe Montifiore, who financed the construction of Mishkenot Sha'ananim. The success of this new neighborhood led to more neighborhoods being built outside the walls. More Jews began moving to Jerusalem, becoming a majority of the population in 1873.

In 1917, with the start of the British Mandate period, Jerusalem retained its status as the capital of the land. When Israel was established in 1948, Jerusalem was declared the state capital, and all the major government institutions were built here. These including the Knesset (Israel’s parliament building), the Supreme Court and the various government offices.

During the War of Independence, following bloody battles and ceasefire agreements, Jerusalem was left divided between Israel and Jordan, until the capital’s liberation in the Six Day War in 1967, when the two parts of the city were united and Jerusalem became Israel’s largest city.

From the very beginning, Jerusalem has been the one and only, a unique city second to none in the whole world.

by Go Israel

Israel - December 2009 - 12/09 PROFILE

Israel - December 2009 - 12/09


Israel Flag

State of Israel

Area: 20,330 sq. km.1 (7,850 sq. mi.); about the size of New Jersey.
Cities: Capital--Jerusalem.2 Other cities--Tel Aviv, Haifa.
Terrain: Plains, mountains, desert, and coast.
Climate: Temperate, except in desert areas.

Population (2009 est.): 7.23 million.
Annual population growth rate (2009 est.): 1.7%.
Ethnic groups: Jews 76.2%; Arabs 19.5%; other 4.3%.
Religions: Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Druze.
Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic (official), English, Russian.
Education: Years compulsory--11. Literacy--96.9% (female 95.6%; male 98.3%).
Health: Infant mortality rate (2009 est.)--4.22/1,000 births. Life expectancy at birth--80.73 years; female 82.95 years, male 78.62 years.
Work force (2.68 million; Central Bureau for Statistics, 2004): Agriculture--2.1%; manufacturing--16.2%; electricity and water supply--0.8%; construction--5.4%; trade and repair of motor vehicles--3.6%; accommodation services and restaurants--4.3%; transport, storage, and communication--6.5%; banking, insurance, and finance--3.3%; business activities--13.4%; public administration--4.7%; education--12.7%; health, welfare, and social services--10.7%; community, social, and personal services--4.6%; services for households by domestic personnel--1.6%.

Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Independence: May 14, 1948.
Constitution: None; however, the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament (the Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law fill many of the functions of a constitution.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state); prime minister (head of government). Legislative--unicameral Knesset. Judicial--Supreme Court.
Political parties: Labor, Likud, Kadima, and various other secular and religious parties, including some wholly or predominantly supported by Israel's Arab citizens. A total of 12 parties are represented in the 18th Knesset, elected February 2009.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

GDP (2008 est.): $203.4 billion.
Annual growth rate (2008): 4.2%.
Per capita GDP (2008): $28,600.
Currency: Shekel (3.82shekels = 1 U.S. dollar; 2009 est.).
Natural resources: Copper, phosphate, bromide, potash, clay, sand, sulfur, bitumen, manganese.
Agriculture: Products--citrus and other fruits, vegetables, beef, dairy, and poultry products.
Industry: Types--high-technology projects (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, plastics, chemical products, diamond cutting and polishing, metal products, textiles, and footwear.
Trade: Exports (2008 est.)--$57.16 billion. Exports include polished diamonds, electronic communication, medical and scientific equipment, chemicals and chemical products, electronic components and computers, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, rubber, plastics, and textiles. Imports (excluding defense imports, 2008 est.)--$64.4 billion: raw materials, diamonds, energy ships and airplanes, machinery, equipment, land transportation equipment for investment, and consumer goods. Major partners--U.S., U.K., Germany; exports--U.S., Belgium, Hong Kong; imports--U.S., Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, U.K.

1Including Jerusalem
2Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950. The United States, like nearly all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

Of the approximately 7.23 million Israelis in 2009, about 76% were counted as Jewish, though some of those are not considered Jewish under Orthodox Jewish law. Since 1989, nearly a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union have arrived in Israel, making this the largest wave of immigration since independence. In addition, an estimated 105,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish community have immigrated to Israel, 14,000 of them during the dramatic May 1991 Operation Solomon airlift. 32.9% of Israelis were born outside of Israel.

The three broad Jewish groupings are the Ashkenazim, or Jews who trace their ancestry to western, central, and eastern Europe; the Sephardim, who trace their origin to Spain, Portugal, southern Europe, and North Africa; and Eastern or Oriental Jews, who descend from ancient communities in Islamic lands. Of the non-Jewish population, about 68% are Muslims, about 9% are Christian, and about 7% are Druze.

Education is compulsory from age 6 to 16 and is free up to age 18. The school system is organized into kindergartens, 6-year primary schools, 3-year junior secondary schools, and 3-year senior secondary schools, after which a comprehensive examination is offered for university admissions. There are seven university-level institutions in Israel, a number of regional colleges, and an Open University program.

With a population drawn from more than 100 countries on 5 continents, Israeli society is rich in cultural diversity and artistic creativity. The arts are actively encouraged and supported by the government. The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performs throughout the country and frequently tours abroad. The Jerusalem Symphony and the New Israel Opera also tour frequently, as do other musical ensembles. Almost every municipality has a chamber orchestra or ensemble, many boasting the talents of gifted performers from the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Israel has several professional ballet and modern dance companies, and folk dancing, which draws upon the cultural heritage of many immigrant groups, continues to be very popular. There is great public interest in the theater; the repertoire covers the entire range of classical and contemporary drama in translation as well as plays by Israeli authors. Of the three major repertory companies, the most famous, Habimah, was founded in 1917.

Active artist colonies thrive in Safed, Jaffa, and Ein Hod, and Israeli painters and sculptors exhibit works worldwide. Israel boasts more than 120 museums, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls along with an extensive collection of regional archaeological artifacts, art, and Jewish religious and folk exhibits. Israelis are avid newspaper readers, with more than 90% of Israeli adults reading a newspaper at least once a week. Major daily papers are in Hebrew; others are in Arabic, English, French, Polish, Yiddish, Russian, Hungarian, and German.

The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 was preceded by more than 50 years of efforts to establish a sovereign state as a homeland for Jews. These efforts were initiated by Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, and were given added impetus by the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which asserted the British Government's support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

In the years following World War I, Palestine became a British Mandate and Jewish immigration steadily increased, as did violence between Palestine's Jewish and Arab communities. Mounting British efforts to restrict this immigration were countered by international support for Jewish national aspirations following the near-extermination of European Jewry by the Nazis during World War II. This support led to the 1947 UN partition plan, which would have divided Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem under UN administration.

On May 14, 1948, soon after the British quit Palestine, the State of Israel was proclaimed and was immediately invaded by armies from neighboring Arab states, which rejected the UN partition plan. This conflict, Israel's War of Independence, was concluded by armistice agreements between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria in 1949 and resulted in a 50% increase in Israeli territory.

In 1956, French, British, and Israeli forces engaged Egypt in response to its nationalization of the Suez Canal and blockade of the Straits of Tiran. Israeli forces withdrew in March 1957, after the United Nations established the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Gaza Strip and Sinai. This war resulted in no territorial shifts and was followed by several years of terrorist incidents and retaliatory acts across Israel's borders.

In June 1967, Israeli forces struck targets in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in response to Egyptian President Nasser's ordered withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from the Sinai Peninsula and the buildup of Arab armies along Israel's borders. After 6 days, all parties agreed to a cease-fire, under which Israel retained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the formerly Jordanian-controlled West Bank of the Jordan River, and East Jerusalem. On November 22, 1967, the Security Council adopted Resolution 242, the "land for peace" formula, which called for the establishment of a just and lasting peace based on Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 in return for the end of all states of belligerency, respect for the sovereignty of all states in the area, and the right to live in peace within secure, recognized boundaries.

The following years were marked by continuing violence across the Suez Canal, punctuated by the 1969-70 war of attrition. On October 6, 1973--Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement), the armies of Syria and Egypt launched an attack against Israel. Although the Egyptians and Syrians initially made significant advances, Israel was able to push the invading armies back beyond the 1967 cease-fire lines by the time the United States and the Soviet Union helped bring an end to the fighting. In the UN Security Council, the United States supported Resolution 338, which reaffirmed Resolution 242 as the framework for peace and called for peace negotiations between the parties.

In the years that followed, sporadic clashes continued along the cease-fire lines but guided by the U.S., Egypt, and Israel continued negotiations. In November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made a historic visit to Jerusalem, which opened the door for the 1978 Israeli-Egyptian peace summit convened at Camp David by President Carter. These negotiations led to a 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, pursuant to which Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982, signed by President Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menahem Begin of Israel.

In the years following the 1948 war, Israel's border with Lebanon was quiet relative to its borders with other neighbors. After the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from Jordan in 1970 and their influx into southern Lebanon, however, hostilities along Israel's northern border increased and Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon. After passage of Security Council Resolution 425, calling for Israeli withdrawal and the creation of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon peacekeeping force (UNIFIL), Israel withdrew its troops.

In June 1982, following a series of cross-border terrorist attacks and the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador to the U.K., Israel invaded Lebanon to fight the forces of Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO withdrew its forces from Lebanon in August 1982. Israel, having failed to finalize an agreement with Lebanon, withdrew most of its troops in June 1985 save for a residual force which remained in southern Lebanon to act as a buffer against attacks on northern Israel. These remaining forces were completely withdrawn in May 2000 behind a UN-brokered delineation of the Israel-Lebanon border (the Blue Line). Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon continued to attack Israeli positions south of the Blue Line in the Sheba Farms/Har Dov area of the Golan Heights.

The victory of the U.S.-led coalition in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 opened new possibilities for regional peace. In October 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union convened the Madrid Conference, in which Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian leaders laid the foundations for ongoing negotiations designed to bring peace and economic development to the region. Within this framework, Israel and the PLO signed a Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993, which established an ambitious set of objectives relating to a transfer of authority from Israel to an interim Palestinian authority. Israel and the PLO subsequently signed the Gaza-Jericho Agreement on May 4, 1994, and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities on August 29, 1994, which began the process of transferring authority from Israel to the Palestinians.

On October 26, 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a historic peace treaty, witnessed by President Clinton. This was followed by Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and PLO Chairman Arafat's signing of the historic Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on September 28, 1995. This accord, which incorporated and superseded previous agreements, broadened Palestinian self-government and provided for cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians in several areas.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995, by a right-wing Jewish radical, bringing the increasingly bitter national debate over the peace process to a climax. Subsequent Israeli governments continued to negotiate with the PLO resulting in additional agreements, including the Wye River and the Sharm el-Sheikh memoranda. However, a summit hosted by President Clinton at Camp David in July 2000 to address permanent status issues--including the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, final security arrangements, borders, and relations and cooperation with neighboring states--failed to produce an agreement.

Following the failed talks, widespread violence broke out in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza in September 2000. In April 2001 the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact Finding Committee, commissioned by the October 2000 Middle East Peace Summit and chaired by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, submitted its report, which recommended an immediate end to the violence followed by confidence-building measures and a resumption of security cooperation and peace negotiations. Building on the Mitchell report, in April 2003, the Quartet (the U.S., UN, European Union (EU), and the Russian Federation) announced the "roadmap," a performance-based plan to bring about two states, Israel and a democratic, viable Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

Despite the promising developments of spring 2003, violence continued and in September 2003 the first Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), resigned after failing to win true authority to restore law and order, fight terror, and reform Palestinian institutions. In response to the deadlock, in the winter of 2003-2004 Prime Minister Sharon put forward his Gaza disengagement initiative, proposing the withdrawal of Israeli settlements from Gaza as well as parts of the northern West Bank. President Bush endorsed this initiative in an exchange of letters with Prime Minister Sharon on April 14, 2004, viewing Gaza disengagement as an opportunity to move towards implementation of the two-state vision and begin the development of Palestinian institutions. In a meeting in May 2004 the Quartet endorsed the initiative, which was approved by the Knesset in October 2004.

The run-up to disengagement saw a flurry of diplomatic activity, including the February 2005 announcement of Lieutenant General William Ward and subsequently Lieutenant General Keith Dayton as U.S. Security Coordinator; the March 2005 Sharon-Abbas summit in Sharm el-Sheikh; the return of Egyptian and Jordanian ambassadors to Israel; and the May 2005 appointment of former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn as Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement to work for a revitalization of the Palestinian economy after disengagement.

On August 15, 2005, Israel began implementing its disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli Defense Forces completed their withdrawal, including the dismantling of 17 settlements, on September 12. After broad recognition for Prime Minister Sharon's accomplishment at that fall's UN General Assembly, international attention quickly turned to efforts to strengthen Palestinian governance and the economy in Gaza. The United States brokered a landmark Agreement on Movement and Access between the parties in November 2005 to facilitate further progress on Palestinian economic issues. However, the terrorist organization Hamas--building on popular support for its "resistance" to Israeli occupation and a commitment to clean up the notorious corruption of the Palestinian Authority (PA)--took a majority in the January 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections, with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya as Prime Minister. The Israeli leadership pledged not to work with a Palestinian government in which Hamas had a role.

Shortly following Hamas' PLC victory, the Quartet--comprised of the United States, European Union, United Nations. and Russia--outlined three basic principles the Hamas-led PA must meet in order for the U.S. and the international community to reengage with the PA: renounce violence and terror, recognize Israel, and respect previous agreements, including the roadmap. The Hamas-led PA government rejected these principles, resulting in a Quartet statement of "grave concern" on March 30, 2006 and the suspension of U.S. assistance to the PA, complete prohibition on U.S. Government contacts with the PA, and prohibition of unlicensed transactions with the PA government. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under the leadership of PLO Chairman and PA President Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen), by contrast, remained consistently committed to the Quartet principles.

Despite several negotiated cease-fires between Hamas and Fatah, violent clashes in the Gaza Strip--and to a lesser extent in the West Bank--were commonplace between December 2006 and February 2007 and resulted in dozens of deaths and injuries. In an attempt to end the intra-Palestinian violence, the King of Saudi Arabia invited Palestinian rivals to Mecca, and on February 9, 2007, Abbas and Hamas leader Haniya agreed to the formation of a Palestinian national unity government and a cessation of violence. Hamas' rejectionist policies and violent behavior continued despite the formation of the national unity government.

In June 2007, Hamas effectively orchestrated a violent coup in Gaza. Hamas also launched scores of Qassam rockets into southern Israel in an attempt to involve Israel in the Hamas-Fatah conflict. On June 14, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas exercised his lawful authority by declaring a state of emergency, dissolving the national unity government, and replacing it with a new government with Salam Fayyad as Prime Minister.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) government under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad has no elements controlled by Hamas. The government is dedicated to pursuing a negotiated solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Quartet principles. As a result, the PA has been supported politically and financially by the international community, and engaged by Israel. The U.S. reinstated its assistance to the PA in 2007 and provides budget and development assistance as well as support for the PA’s efforts to reform and improve security and rule of law in the West Bank.

In November 2007, Israeli and Palestinian leaders participated in an international conference in Annapolis, at which they committed to launch bilateral negotiations towards the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and the realization of Israeli-Palestinian peace. During the year that followed, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Abbas and other members of their governments engaged in regular bilateral negotiations on final status issues. Although the two sides reportedly narrowed their differences on some issues, the negotiations were suspended in December 2008 when conflict broke out between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

On December 27, 2008, in response to a sharp increase in the number and frequency of rocket attacks into Israel shortly prior to and following the formal expiration of a six-month "calm" between Israel and Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Cast Lead, targeting Hamas security installations, personnel, and other facilities in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military operation continued until January 18, 2009, when Israel and Hamas each declared a unilateral cease-fire.

On January 22, 2009, President Obama named Senator Mitchell his and Secretary Clinton’s special envoy for Middle East peace. Special Envoy Mitchell immediately travelled to the region and has subsequently returned on a nearly monthly basis in an effort to help create the conditions that would support a two-state solution as part and to re-launch credible and productive negotiations. The President has visited Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and hosted Prime Minister Netanyahu and numerous Arab heads of state in Washington. On September 22, he hosted a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, and he has written to over a dozen Arab heads of state asking for their assistance in ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Secretary has met many leaders from the region and has traveled to the Middle East multiple times since her appointment to promote a Middle East peace settlement.

Israel is a parliamentary democracy. Its governmental system is based on several basic laws enacted by its unicameral parliament, the Knesset. The president (chief of state) is elected by the Knesset for a 5-year term.

The prime minister (head of government) exercises executive power and has in the past been selected by the president as the party leader most able to form a government. Between May 1996 and March 2001, Israelis voted for the prime minister directly. (The legislation, which required the direct election of the prime minister, was rescinded by the Knesset in March 2001.) The members of the cabinet must be collectively approved by the Knesset.

The Knesset's 120 members are elected by secret ballot to 4-year terms, although the prime minister may decide to call for new elections before the end of the 4-year term. Voting is for party lists rather than for individual candidates, and the total number of seats assigned each party reflects that party's percentage of the vote. Successful Knesset candidates are drawn from the lists in order of party-assigned rank. Under the present electoral system, all members of the Knesset are elected at large.

The independent judicial system includes secular and religious courts. The courts' right of judicial review of the Knesset's legislation is limited. Judicial interpretation is restricted to problems of execution of laws and validity of subsidiary legislation. The highest court in Israel is the Supreme Court, whose judges are approved by the President.

Israel is divided into six districts, administration of which is coordinated by the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for the administration of the occupied territories.

Principal Government Officials
President--Shimon Peres
Prime Minister--Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud)
Foreign Minister--Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitanu)
Ambassador to the United States--Michael Oren
Ambassador to the United Nations--Gabriela Shalev

Israel maintains an embassy in the United States at 3514 International Drive NW, Washington DC, 20008 (tel. 202-364-5500). There also are consulates general in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

From the founding of Israel in 1948 until the election of May 1977, Israel was ruled by successive coalition governments led by the Labor alignment or its constituent parties. From 1967-70, the coalition government included all of Israel's parties except the communist party. After the 1977 election, the Likud bloc, then composed of Herut, the Liberals, and the smaller La'am Party, came to power forming a coalition with the National Religious Party, Agudat Israel, and others. As head of Likud, Menachem Begin became Prime Minister. The Likud retained power in the succeeding election in June 1981, and Begin remained Prime Minister. In the summer of 1983, Begin resigned and was succeeded by his Foreign Minister, Yitzhak Shamir.

After Prime Minister Shamir lost a Knesset vote of confidence early in 1984, new elections in July provided no clear winner, with both Labor and Likud considerably short of a Knesset majority and unable to form even narrow coalitions. After several weeks of difficult negotiations, they agreed on a government of national unity, including the rotation of the office of Prime Minister and the combined office of Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister midway through the government's 50-month term.

During the first 25 months of unity government rule, Labor's Shimon Peres served as Prime Minister, while Likud's Shamir held the posts of Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, until they switched positions in October 1986. In November 1988 elections, Likud edged Labor out by one seat but was unable to form a coalition, producing another national unity government in January 1989. Yitzhak Shamir became Prime Minister, and Shimon Peres became Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister. This government fell in March 1990, however, in a vote of no confidence precipitated by disagreement over the government's response to U.S. Secretary of State Baker's initiative in the peace process. Labor Party leader Peres was unable to attract sufficient support among the religious parties to form a government. Yitzhak Shamir then formed a Likud-led coalition government, including members from religious and right-wing parties.

Shamir's government took office in June 1990, and held power for 2 years. In the June 1992 national elections, the Labor Party reversed its electoral fortunes, taking 44 seats. Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin formed a coalition with Meretz (a group of three leftist parties) and Shas (an ultra-Orthodox religious party). The coalition included the support of two Arab-majority parties. Rabin became Prime Minister in July 1992, presiding over the signing of the Oslo accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization. However, Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Jewish radical on November 4, 1995. Peres, then Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, once again became Prime Minister and immediately proceeded to carry forward the peace policies of the Rabin government and to implement Israel's Oslo commitments, including military redeployment in the West Bank and the holding of historic Palestinian elections on January 20, 1996.

Enjoying broad public support and anxious to secure his own mandate, Peres called for early elections after just 3 months in office. (They would have otherwise been held by the end of October 1996.) In late February and early March, a series of suicide bombing attacks by Palestinian terrorists took some 60 Israeli lives, seriously eroding public support for Peres and raising concerns about the peace process. Increased fighting in southern Lebanon, which also brought Katyusha rocket attacks against northern Israel, also raised tensions and weakened the government politically a month before the May 29 elections.

In those elections--the first direct election of a Prime Minister in Israeli history--Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu won by a narrow margin, having sharply criticized the government's peace policies for failing to protect Israeli security. Netanyahu subsequently formed a right-wing coalition government publicly committed to pursuing the peace process, but with an emphasis on security and reciprocity. In 1999, with a shrunken coalition and facing increasing difficulty passing legislation and defeating no-confidence motions, Netanyahu dissolved parliament and called for new elections. This time, the Labor candidate--Ehud Barak--was victorious. Barak formed a mixed coalition government of secular and religious parties, with Likud in the opposition. In May 2000, Barak fulfilled one of his major campaign promises by withdrawing Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon. However, by mid-autumn, with the breakdown of the Camp David talks and the worsening security situation caused by the new intifada, Barak's coalition was in jeopardy. In December, he resigned as Prime Minister, precipitating a new prime ministerial election.

In a special election on February 6, 2001, after a campaign stressing security and the maintenance of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, Likud leader Ariel Sharon defeated Barak by over 20 percentage points. As he had promised in his campaign, Sharon formed a broad unity government that included the Labor and Likud parties, the far-right parties, some smaller secular parties, and several religious parties. The unity government collapsed in late 2002, and new elections were held in January 2003. Sharon again won, and formed a new government consisting of his own Likud party, the right-wing National Religious Party and National Union party, and centrist Shinui.

The summer of 2004 saw renewed instability in the government, as disagreement over the Gaza disengagement plan resulted in Sharon's firing two ministers of the National Union Party and accepting the resignation of a third from the National Religious Party in order to secure cabinet approval of the plan (it was endorsed on June 6, 2004). Continuing divisions within the Likud on next steps then prompted Ariel Sharon to leave the party in November 2005 to form the Kadima ("Forward") party and call new elections for March 2006. However, Sharon was unexpectedly incapacitated in January 2006 due to a severe stroke and leadership of Kadima shifted to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert led the Kadima party to its first electoral victory on March 28, and was able to form a coalition with Labor and several smaller parties. The new government was sworn in on May 4, 2006.

Following the attorney general opening a series of corruption investigations, Olmert resigned in September 2008. In October, President Peres asked deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni to form a new government. When Livni was unable to secure a governing majority, President Peres called for new elections to occur in February 2009. Even though Kadima, led by Tzippi Livni won more seats than any other single party, right-of-center parties, both religious and secular, had the largest overall gains in the new Knesset. Subsequently, President Peres asked Likud-leader Netanyahu to form a government. Netanyahu was sworn in as Prime Minister for the second time on March 31, 2009.

Israel has a diversified, technologically advanced economy with substantial but decreasing government ownership and a strong high-tech sector. The major industrial sectors include high-technology electronic and biomedical equipment, metal products, processed foods, chemicals, and transport equipment. Israel possesses a substantial service sector and is one of the world's centers for diamond cutting and polishing. It also is a world leader in software development and, prior to the violence that began in September 2000, was a major tourist destination.

Israel's strong commitment to economic development and its talented work force led to economic growth rates during the nation's first two decades that frequently exceeded 10% annually. The years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War were a lost decade economically, as growth stalled and inflation reached triple-digit levels. The successful economic stabilization plan implemented in 1985 and the subsequent introduction of market-oriented structural reforms reinvigorated the economy and paved the way for rapid growth in the 1990s.

A wave of Jewish immigration beginning in 1989, predominantly from the countries of the former U.S.S.R., brought nearly a million new citizens to Israel. These new immigrants, many of them highly educated, now constitute some 13% of Israel's 7.2 million inhabitants. Their successful absorption into Israeli society and its labor force forms a remarkable chapter in Israeli history. The skills brought by the new immigrants and their added demand as consumers gave the Israeli economy a strong upward push and in the 1990s, they played a key role in the ongoing development of Israel's high-tech sector.

During the 1990s, progress in the Middle East peace process, beginning with the Madrid Conference of 1991, helped to reduce Israel's economic isolation from its neighbors and opened up new markets to Israeli exporters farther afield. The peace process stimulated an unprecedented inflow of foreign investment in Israel, and provided a substantial boost to economic growth in the region over the last decade. The onset of the intifada beginning at the end of September of 2000, the downturn in the high-tech sector and Nasdaq crisis, and the slowdown of the global economy have all significantly affected the Israeli economy. However, despite the conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon, the Israeli economy grew during 2006.

Israeli companies, particularly in the high-tech area, have in the past enjoyed considerable success raising money on Wall Street and other world financial markets; Israel has approximately the same number of companies listed on NASDAQ as the next three countries (Canada, Japan, and Ireland) combined. Israel's tech market is very developed, and in spite of the pause in the industry's growth, the high-tech sector is likely to be the major driver of the Israeli economy. Almost 45 % of Israel's exports are high tech. Most leading players, including Intel, Motorola, IBM, and Cisco have a presence in Israel.

After growing by an exceptional 9.2% in 2000, growth was negative in 2001 and 2002, as a result of the security situation, global recession and high-tech downturn. Growth returned in 2003, and as a result of the improvement in the security situation and the economic recovery plan undertaken by the Government of Israel, the Israeli economy grew by an average of more than 5% a year from 2004 to 2007. This was followed by growth of 4% in 2008. With the onset of the global financial crisis, the slowdown in the Israeli economy only began in the third quarter of 2008, followed by negative growth of 1.6% in the fourth quarter of 2008 and -3.2% in the first quarter of 2009. Unemployment reached a high of 10.7% in 2003, a level not seen in 20 years, and declined consistently each year until 2008, when it reached 6.1%, the lowest level since 1995.

Trade of goods and services in Israel grew by 6%, 9.3%, and 5.2%, respectively in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Exports declined by a sharp 35.6% in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 28.6% in the first quarter of 2009. Diamond exports alone declined by more than 36% in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with the same quarter the previous year. Agricultural exports, which increased by 44% in 2007, declined by almost 12% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The GDP of the business sector grew by more than 6% from 2004 to 2006. In 2007 and 2008 GDP of the business sector increased, although at more moderate levels of 5.6% in 2007 and 4.5% in 2008. The finance and business services sector grew by 25% in both 2007 and 2008. The manufacturing sector grew by more than 14% in both 2007 and 2008 and commerce, restaurants and hotels grew by more than 11% in both 2007 and 2008.

The general consensus among economists is that Israel entered the global economic crisis in relatively good shape. Because the GOI maintained conservative policies during the crisis and avoided ambitious fiscal spending packages, the Israeli economy is expected to quickly emerge from a shallow recession and return to a path of growth, even if not at levels that were seen prior to the crisis.

The United States is Israel's largest single trading partner. In 2008, bilateral trade totaled $28 billion, an increase of almost 5% over 2007, even in light of the slowdown in global trade. The U.S. trade deficit with Israel was $11.9 billion in 2008, including diamonds. Excluding diamonds, the trade deficit was $4.5 billion in 2008. Israel is our 20th largest export market for goods. The principal goods exported from the U.S. include civilian aircraft parts, telecommunications equipment, semiconductors, civilian aircraft, electrical apparatus, and computer accessories. Israel's chief exports to the U.S. include diamonds, pharmaceutical preparations, telecommunications equipment, medicinal equipment, electrical apparatus, and cotton apparel. The two countries signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in 1985 that progressively eliminated tariffs on most goods traded between the two countries over the following 10 years. An agricultural trade accord signed in November 1996 addressed the remaining goods not covered in the FTA but has not entirely erased barriers to trade in the agricultural sector. Israel also has trade and cooperation agreements in place with the European Union, Canada, Mexico, and other countries.

Best prospect industry sectors in Israel for U.S. exporters are energy; defense; security and safety; health care; industrial chemicals; information and telecommunications; electronics; building and construction; travel and tourism; and education.

In addition to seeking an end to hostilities with Arab forces, against which it has fought five wars since 1948, Israel has given high priority to gaining wide acceptance as a sovereign state with an important international role.

Before 1967, Israel had established diplomatic relations with a majority of the world's nations, except for the Arab states and most other Muslim countries. UN Security Council resolutions provided the basis for cease-fire and disengagement agreements concerning the Sinai and the Golan Heights between Israel, Egypt, and Syria and for promoting the Camp David accords and the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty. The Soviet Union and the communist states of Eastern Europe (except Romania) broke diplomatic relations with Israel during the 1967 war, but those relations were restored by 1991.

The landmark October 1991 Madrid conference recognized the importance of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 in resolving regional disputes, and brought together for the first time Israel, the Palestinians, and the neighboring Arab countries, launching a series of direct bilateral and multilateral negotiations. These talks were designed to finally resolve outstanding security, border, and other issues between the parties while providing a basis for mutual cooperation on issues of general concern, including the status of refugees, arms control and regional security, water and environmental concerns, and economic development.

Today, Israel has diplomatic relations with 163 states. Following the signing of the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993, Israel established or renewed diplomatic relations with 36 countries. Israel has full diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan. In addition, on October 1, 1994, the Gulf States publicly announced their support for a review of the Arab boycott, in effect abolishing the secondary and tertiary boycotts against Israel.

Israel has diplomatic relations with nine non-Arab Muslim states and with 32 of the 43 Sub-Saharan states that are not members of the Arab League. Israel established relations with China and India in 1992 and with the Holy See in 1993.

Israel's ground, air, and naval forces, known as the Israel Defense Force (IDF), fall under the command of a single general staff. Conscription is universal for Jewish men and women over the age of 18, although exemptions may be made on religious grounds. Druze, members of a small Islamic offshoot living in Israel's mountains, also serve in the IDF. Israeli Arabs, with the exception of some Bedouins, do not serve. During 1950-66, Israel spent an average of 9% of GDP on defense. Real defense expenditures increased dramatically after both the 1967 and 1973 wars. The defense budget in 2009 totals USD 12 billion, representing 6.2% of GDP, and accounting for 16.3% of government expenditures. US military aid to Israel in 2009 totals USD 2.55 billion. This will increase to USD 3 billion in 2012, and will total USD 3.15 billion a year from 2013 to 2018.

In 1983, the United States and Israel established the Joint Political Military Group, which meets twice a year. Both the U.S. and Israel participate in joint military planning and combined exercises, and have collaborated on military research and weapons development.

Commitment to Israel's security and well being has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Middle East since Israel's founding in 1948, in which the United States played a key supporting role. Israel and the United States are bound closely by historic and cultural ties as well as by mutual interests. Continuing U.S. economic and security assistance to Israel acknowledges these ties and signals U.S. commitment. The broad issues of Arab-Israeli peace have been a major focus in the U.S.-Israeli relationship. U.S. efforts to reach a Middle East peace settlement are based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and have been based on the premise that as Israel takes calculated risks for peace the United States will help minimize those risks.

On a bilateral level, relations between the United States and Israel are continually strengthening in every field. In addition to the Joint Political-Military Group described above, there are: bilateral science and technology efforts (including the Binational Science Foundation and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation); the U.S.-Israeli Education Foundation, which sponsors educational and cultural programs; the Joint Economic Development Group, which maintains a high-level dialogue on economic issues; the Joint Counterterrorism Group, designed to enhance cooperation in fighting terrorism; and a high-level Strategic Dialogue.

Principal U.S. Officials:
U.S. Embassy
Ambassador--James Cunningham
Deputy Chief of Mission--Luis Moreno
Political Affairs--Marc Sievers
Economic Affairs--David Burnett
Management-- Elizabeth Moore, Acting
Consular Affairs--Andrew Parker
Public Affairs--Bonnie Gutman, Acting
Commercial Affairs--Jonathan Heimer
Science Attaché--Paul Rohrlich
Defense Attaché-- Col. Richard Burgess
Legal Attaché-- Jeff Walker

The U.S. Embassy in Israel is located at 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv (tel. 03-519-7575).

U.S. Consulate General
Consul General--Daniel Rubinstein
Deputy Principal Officer--Gregory Marchese

The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem has offices at 18 Agron Road (tel. 02-622-7230) and on Nablus Road (tel. 02-622-7230). The Consulate General in Jerusalem is an independent U.S. mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign government.

U.S. Consular Agent
The U.S. Consular Agent in Haifa is located at 26 Ben Gurion Boulevard (tel. 972-4-853-1470), and reports to the Embassy in Tel Aviv. The Consular Agent can provide routine and emergency services in the north.
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Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

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The United Nations Wasn't the UN created to promote peace and human rights?

The United Nations

Wasn't the UN created to promote peace and human rights?

"...the United Nations was promote peace. [But] It consists of a welter of sovereign states whose ambassadors use the devious language of peace as a fig-leaf for national self-aggrandizement. How any human organization can promote genuine peace or prevent war when egoism is the basic motive of mankind [strikes me] as ludicrous".

- Prof. Paul Eidelberg is the Co-founder and President of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy in the Middle East -

Even though the UN has clearly failed in most conflict situations to promote peace and security -- its primary function -- at one task it is really unmatched. It excels at legitimizing or delegitimizing targets chosen for political reason by a coalition of dictators who dominate the world body and whose tainted authority the UN launders.

- Dr. Harris O. Schoenberg , President of the Center for UN Reform Education, author of A Mandate for Terror -

Arab slave trade continues. U.N. condemns Israel. World thirsty for Oil.

Nur Muhammad al-Hasan emerges from the Sudanese bush. His loose, once-bright white jalabiya flutters as he strides towards me. I in turn step through the long, dry grass towards him, stooping slightly as I walk under the weight of a U.S. army kit bag full of grimy Sudanese bank notes. It is April 1999 and the midday sun is oppressive. Nur and I greet each other with a handshake and "Salam 'alaykum." We slip under the shade of an enormous mango tree where we have some important business to discuss: The liberation of slaves, mainly women and children.

Our enterprise is not to everyone's liking. Last spring, Sudan's government, the radical Islamist regime of the National Islamic Front (NIF) headed by Hasan at-Turabi and Gen. 'Umar al-Bashir, protested to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights about our work. The regime claims that my organization, Christian Solidarity International (CSI), is the main source of the abduction and kidnapping of children in southern Sudan. In April, the Khartoum regime also initiated proceedings to deny CSI its consultative status at the United Nations (U.N.), alleging that we act contrary to the purposes and principles of the U.N. charter.

About the same time, the world's richest and most influential child welfare organization, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), ended its long silence on the enslavement of Sudanese woman and children. Instead of condemning the slavers, UNICEF-whose mandate requires it to work in partnership with the government of Sudan-echoed Khartoum by calling our liberation of slaves "absolutely intolerable," and by accusing us of violating the Slavery Convention. Others, with agendas of their own, perhaps working with the Sudanese regime or trying to salvage their own tarnished reputations, have spread rumors of fraud about these activities.

Then in late October, the U.N. Economic and Social Council voted by a tally of 26 to 14 (with 12 abstentions) to withdraw our consultative status, thus effectively excluding CSI from the U.N. system. Yet if anything is "absolutely intolerable," it is that the international community has allowed slavery and other crimes against humanity to be institutionalized by a member state of the United Nations.

All of this campaigning has had some effect, making the "out of sight, out of mind" attitude less tenable. In February 1999, soon after Dan Rather of CBS News highlighted the plight of Sudanese slaves and CSI's role in freeing them, UNICEF broke its silence and admitted: "Slavery in Sudan exists." Even as it said this, however, UNICEF appeased the Khartoum regime by condemning the redemption of slaves as "absolutely intolerable."

...UNICEF's executive director Carol Bellamy made a series of widely publicized press statements attacking CSI's antislavery campaign, claiming that Dinka efforts to retrieve their enslaved women and children contravenes the Slavery Convention and is not in their own best interests.

...The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has also kept mum on the issue, despite her own staff and independent U.N. special rapporteurs confirming the existence of slavery in Sudan and the government's key role in abetting the slave trade-in particular, the reports submitted by the former Special Rapporteur on Sudan Gaspar Biro and his successor Leonardo Franco. The 1999 Sudan Resolution of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights failed even to mention the word "slavery." The U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan, has also never publicly condemned the revival of slavery in Sudan.

And the U.S. government? It too is reluctant. In 1999, for the first time in six years, Washington declined to serve as the main sponsor of the Commission on Human Rights' Sudan resolution, leaving this responsibility to the lukewarm European Union; and the Clinton administration assented to the commission's "slavery-free" resolution. Why the change? Because in return, the Sudanese were prepared not to press hard for a condemnation of the United States for the rocket attack on Khartoum's Ash-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in August 1998. However, with an eye on the abolitionist movement at home, the State Department tried to maintain the moral high ground by condemning the (U.S.-supported) Sudan resolution as "deeply flawed" for failing to "confront fully the practice of slavery." This did not convince; just four days later, the Clinton administration announced a weakening of sanctions on Sudan (by allowing the sale of agricultural goods and pharmaceuticals).

...The sad truth must be acknowledged: Sudanese slaves and other victims of the NIF's genocidal jihad count for little in a world preoccupied with other matters. Millions of lives have been lost and disrupted while the world has largely turned a blind eye toward gross violations of human rights in Sudan.

Whatever may be the future of the international abolitionist movement, the Dinkas are right not to wait for help from the U.N. or any state but to find their own ways to liberate their people from bondage. Still, they can count on my colleagues and me, as well as a growing number of abolitionists for support until the last slave is free.

- John Eibner, historian and human rights specialist, assistant to the international president of Christian Solidarity International. He has led over twenty fact-finding visits to Sudan and neighboring countries and has pioneered CSI's antislavery program. Source: The Middle East Quarterly -

Has the UN displayed a double standard against Israel?

Since Israel is the only nation in the world that is denied the right to hold a seat on the U.N. Security Council on a rotating basis, the Jewish State is uniquely reliant upon the influence -- and, if necessary, the veto -- of the United States to prevent its security and vital equities from being compromised by that body.
- Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C, 17 March 1994

...Meanwhile, Israel, in deference to World Opinion, is using rubber bullets to hold back the mob. In Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya or Sudan the mob would have been shot to pieces; the riots ended; and the World would have kept its collective mouth shut. The World, what a disgusting gaggle of hypocritical corrupt nations who kill when it suits them. Now, like maggots feeding on a corpse, they congregate in the United Nations, caressing each other in a pit that can only be described as the Sodom of New York. Even as 500,000 Africans are butchered without a single conference of the General Assembly, these sluggards found the time to convene at least three General Assemblies just to castigate Israel for building houses on land that the Jews own and which is part of their capital Jerusalem.

- Emanuel A. Winston - Middle East Analyst & Commentator -

Fifty years ago enlightened mankind through UN resolution 181 grudgingly agreed to allow the re-creation of the Jewish State. The dream came true, the Jews were again to become free people in a free country. Blinded by the happiness, they did not notice that the UN was already regretting its move. During the first cease-fire, after the Arab attack on the newborn Jewish state, UN mediator Count Bernadotte, on June 27, 1948, in the suggestion to resolve the crisis omitted all reference to resolution 181. As one of the Hebrew newspapers wrote at that time, he was planing to squeeze Israel into boundaries "the size of a coffin" (Avi Shlaim, The Politics of Partition). His proposal was reminiscent of what the Peel Commission had recommended in 1937, when it "generously" allocated 4% of Mandated Palestine for the re-establishment of the Jewish state.

Efforts to delegitimize Israel have also been part of the record of the specialized agencies, especially UNESCO, the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In the 1970s, the Arabs in UNESCO raised questions about archaeological excavations in Jerusalem. Director-General A.M. M'Bow sent a specialist, Belgian Professor Raymond Le Maire, to investigate. Le Maire found the digs were carried out in accord with established international standards. Muslim holy places were protected, and archaeological relics from all periods of antiquity were preserved. Le Maire's report was suppressed by M'Bow, and UNESCO voted sanctions against Israel and refused to admit it to a regional group.

Similar to experiences in UNESCO have been developments in WHO, the World Health Organization. A positive report by an expert, Dr. A. Bellerive, on health conditions in the Israeli-held territories was rejected by the WHO Assembly in 1973, and a "special committee" was created to replace him. The following year Israel was condemned for refusing to admit the biased special committee. By 1976 Ambassador William Scranton declared that "the absence of balance, the lack of perspective and the introduction by the WHO of political issues irrelevant to the responsibilities of the WHO do no credit to the United Nations. Indeed, this is precisely the sort of politicized action which decreases respect for the United Nations system." Twenty years have passed, there is a new Director- General, and the only population in the whole world whose health conditions were debated this May at the annual WHO Assembly was the Palestinian Arabs.

...In April 1983 the PLO claimed that Israel had undertaken a campaign of genocide against the Palestinian Arabs. Complaints submitted at the same time by Arab states accused Israel of responsibility for "mass poisoning" based on an outbreak of headaches, dizziness, and nausea, particularly among Arab school girls on the West Bank. Although the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United States Centers for Disease Control both confirmed the findings of Israeli doctors that there was no mass poisoning, the Security Council demanded an inquiry and the Assembly of the World Health Organization condemned Israel in connection with the "mass poisonings." In a totally unprecedented move, it called for direct WHO control over health programs in the Israel held territories.

- Dr. Harris O. Schoenberg , President of the Center for UN Reform Education, author of A Mandate for Terror -

"This international masquerade, if we look closely, marks a definite decline into earlier, barbarous standards. Playing up the problems of Israel helps to distract attention from the excesses of savage dictatorial regimes".

- Jacques Givet, in The Anti-Zionist Complex -

In short, "anti-Israeli" sentiment at the UN is often a surrogate for two other predilections: anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.

- John R. Bolton, Senior Vice President, American Enterprise Institute, July 14, 1999 -

[the UN's PLO observer] "can almost always get the majority to support ... [his] accusations, justified or not."
- Jane Rosen, Manchester Guardian correspondent, in the The New York Times Magazine, September 16, 1984

"It is the tool of those who would make Israel the archetypal human rights violator in the world today. It is a breeding ground for anti-Semitism. It is a sanctuary for moral relativists. In short, it is a scandal."

- Professor Anne Bayefsky of York University, Canada, writing of the UN Human Rights system -

Does UN resolution 242 require Israel to withdraw its forces back to the June 4, 1967 lines?

That Resolution, the bedrock legal reference contained in the 1993 Declaration of Principles, is said by the Palestinians to require Israel to leave the entire West Bank. Palestinian commentator Gassan Khatib, for example, said in a July 11 segment of ABC's Nightline "for the Palestinians, we're talking about implementing Security Council Resolution 242, which calls for ending the illegal occupation of Israel over the Palestinian occupied territories."

Is Israel legally compelled to exit from all the land it has controlled since the conclusion of a war that was launched to destroy it? The language of 242 was hammered out with great precision to take account of Israel's vulnerable pre-1967 borders and to avert future aggression. Britain's UN ambassador in 1967, Lord Caradon, an author of the Resolution, argued that: "It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial."

The American UN ambassador at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, said 242 omitted reference to Israel's withdrawing from "the" or "all" territories in order to enable "less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel's prior frontiers had proved to be notably insecure."

- from EYE ON THE MEDIA: Stumbling on Resolution 242, by Andrea Levin -

"The former British Ambassador to the UN, Lord Caradon [the chief-author of 242], tabled a polished draft resolution in the Security Council and steadfastly resisted all suggestions for change...Kuznetsov of the USSR asked Caradon to specify 'all' before the word ' territories' and to drop the word 'recognized.' When Caradon refused, the USSR tabled its own draft resolution [calling for a withdrawal to the 1967 Lines] but it was not a viable alternative to the UK text...Members [of the UN Security Council] voted and adopted the [UK drafted] resolution unanimously..."

- from UN Security Council Resolution 242, The Washington Institute For Near East Policy, 1993, pp 27-28 -

Arthur J. Goldberg, an author of U.N. Resolution 242, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1965-1967):
"It calls for respect and acknowledgment of the sovereignty of every state in the area. Since Israel never denied the sovereignty of its neighbouring countries, this language obviously requires those countries to acknowledge Israel's sovereignty."

"The notable omissions in regard to withdrawal are the word 'the' or 'all' and 'the June 5, 1967 lines' the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories, without defining the extent of withdrawal....There is lacking a declaration requiring Israel to withdraw from all of the territories occupied by it on, and after, June 5, 1967... On certain aspects, the Resolution is less ambiguous than its withdrawal language. Resolution 242 specifically calls for termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty of every State in the area. The Resolution also specifically endorses free passage through international waterways...The efforts of the Arab States, strongly supported by the USSR, for a condemnation of Israel as the aggressor and for its withdrawal to the June 5, 1967 lines, failed to command the requisite support..."

- Columbia Journal of International Law, Vol 12 no 2, 1973 -

"The Meaning of 242" - June 10, 1977

Lord Caradon, an author of U.N. Resolution 242, U.K. Ambassador to the United Nations (1964-1970):
"We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67 line; we did not put the 'the' in, we did not say all the territories, deliberately.. We all knew - that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier... We did not say that the '67 boundaries must be forever."
MacNeil/Lehrer Report - March 30, 1978

Prof. Eugene V. Rostow, an author of U.N. Resolution 242, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (1966-1969):

"Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338... rest on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to 'secure and recognized borders', which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949." > "The Truth About 242" - November 5, 1990

"UN SC 242 calls on Israel to withdraw only from territories occupied in the course of the Six Day War - that is, not from 'all' the territories or even from 'the' territories...Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawal from 'all' the territory were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly one after another. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the 'fragile and vulnerable' [1949/1967] Armistice Demarcation Lines..."

- UNSC Resolution 242, 1993, p. 17 [The USSR and the Arabs supported a draft demanding a withdrawal to the 1967 Lines. The US, Canada and most of West Europe and Latin America supported the draft, which was eventually approved by the UN Security Council. - the American Society of International Law, 1970] -

"...The Egyptian model fits neither the Jordanian nor the Syrian case...Former Secretary of Defense McNamara has said that if he were the Israel's Minister of Defense, he would never agree to giving up the Golan Heights...UNSC 242 authorizes the parties to make whatever territorial changes the situation requires - it does not require the Israelis to transfer to the Arabs all, most, or indeed any of the occupied territories. The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty awards [to the Arabs] more than 90 percent of the territory Israel captured in the Six Day War... permits a transfer [of all the territories] if the parties accept it, but it does not require it..."

- UNSC Resolution 242, 1993, pp 18-19, notes that the evacuation of the Sinai does not imply a requirement to do the same in former Syrian or Jordanian occupied territory. -

Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. President (1963-1968):
"We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of June 4, 1967 will not bring peace." September 10, 1968

U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 - A set of guidelines for Peace & Security:

What does it say?
* "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency "
* "respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political
independence of every State in the area "
* "[every State's] right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats
or acts of force."
* "Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories in the recent conflict."
What does it mean?
* The Arab states must end the state of war initiated and maintained by them since 1948.
* The Arab states must recognize Israel's right to exist.
* Israel is entitled to clearly defensible borders. This is not a privilege, but rather a right
guaranteed by international law.
* Israel should withdraw from some, not all, of the territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
* Israel's indefensible pre-1967 borders provided no security.
* The Arab states should sit down with Israel, without preconditions, to negotiate peace.

- Canadian Friends, International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem -

What are the obligations of the Arabs under UN resolution 242? What about the Palestinian Arabs in particular?

A nearly forgotten article of UN Resolution 242 requires of the Arabs, "termination of all claims and states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

The Palestinians were not recognized as a "State in the area" by Resolution 242, but if they aspire to that status, it is incumbent upon their leadership to assume the same obligations toward Israel that every Arab country has. And since obligations are generally honored in the breech, an appropriate role for the United States would be to insist that the Arab states, and the Palestinian leadership, change both their behavior and their propaganda as a prerequisite to changes to the borders of Israel.

- Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, March 20, 2000 -

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