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Abbas Faces More Fiascos After the UN Rejects His Unilateral Path to a Palestinian State

By DEBKAfile

The United Nations Security Council Tuesday night, December 30, rejected a Palestinian resolution demanding that Israel withdraw from disputed territories within three years. The motion fell one short of the minimum nine "yes" votes in the Security Council. The US and Australia voted against; Russia, China, France, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg voted in favor and the UK, Lithuania Nigeria, South Korea and Rwanda abstained.

The document called for Israel to fully withdraw from all "occupied Palestinian territories" by the end of 2017 and for a comprehensive peace deal to be reached within a year. It also called for new negotiations to take place based on territorial lines that existed prior to the 1967 war in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.. The resolution was submitted by Jordan after its endorsement by 22 Arab states and the Palestinian Authority.

After the vote, the Palestinian delegation claimed it had been surprised by Nigeria's abstention. However, that was just a pretense. Nigeria had been persuaded some time ago by the US and Israel not to endorse the resolution. Indeed, shortly before the vote, the Israeli prime minister talked by phone to the rulers of Nigeria and Rwanda.

The vote was also a setback to the politicians running against Likud for the March 17 general election. They maintain tirelessly that Netanyahu has dragged Israel into international isolation and lost the ability even to raise an American veto against a hostile Security Council resolution. His leading detractors on this score are the two Labor leaders Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, the Future leader Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, although he serves as foreign minister in the Netanyahu government.

In fact, it turned out well before Tuesday night that the United States was perfectly ready to slap down its veto if the Abbas motion managed to gain nine votes. US Ambassador Samantha Power strongly rebuked the Palestinians for their action "because … peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table," she said.

The Palestinians may fare no better if they submit their motion again to the Security Council after Jan. 2015 in the hope of a more favorable reception by its new lineup. They may be in for a surprise from India. DEBKAfile's diplomatic sources report that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is considering abstaining or even opposing Abbas' motion, seriously jolting the Palestinians who had always counted on India as a leading member of the nonaligned bloc of nations automatically acting as the backbone of their support in the world body.

India's turnaround would represent another diplomatic feat for the Netanyahu government and demonstrate Israel's real strength in Asia and the Middle East. The French vote for the Palestinian motion was not unexpected. Paris is spearheading Europe's anti-Israel stance in an attempt to boost its military ties with the Persian Gulf nations.

Straight after their fiasco in New York, the Palestinians announced their leaders would meet in Ramallah Wednesday and decide on their next step. Abbas proposed immediately applying to join the Rome Treaty to advance their bid for accredited statehood. One of his first actions would be to prosecute Israeli for war crimes at the International Court at the Hague.

American officials in Washington pointed out before the Council vote that the Palestinians are unlikely to get very far in their suit. The court's standing is ambiguous: it is not recognized by the US, Israel, Russia, India or China and has held no more than 21 trials in decades. The court has so far evaded cases against national leaders responsible for the most heinous crimes and causing hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, like Syria's Beshar Assad.

Even if the international court accepts the Palestinian case, they themselves will have opened the door to the prosecution of countless numbers of Palestinians responsible for decades of terrorism and other crimes against humanity.


China to Start Free Trade Talks with Israel in 2015

By Reuters and Israel Hayom

China will speed up free trade talks with six countries on the Arabian peninsula and begin trade negotiations with Israel this year, Chinese state media said as Beijing accelerated efforts to sign such agreements.

China and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- started free trade talks in 2004, and a deal will help China cut costs on energy imports from the region, the official China Daily said.

"GCC countries consider China as a major market for their petrochemical products, and this [a free trade agreement] will assist those nations in their industrial development," Zhang Shaogang, head of the Commerce Ministry's international trade and economic affairs department, was quoted as saying. Zhang said the ministry has finished a feasibility study on launching free trade talks with Israel, and hopes to sign a free trade agreement with it sometime in the next few years, the English-language newspaper said.


Auschwitz Anniversary is a Reminder of the Danger of Staying Silent

By Reuters and Israel Hayom

This month's 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp is a reminder, at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise again, of what happens when the world stays silent about persecution, the president of the World Jewish Congress said. At the Auschwitz camp in southern Poland, the Nazis killed an estimated 1.5 million people between 1940 and 1945, most of them Jews.

Ronald S. Lauder told Reuters in an interview anti-Semitism had reached levels not seen since World War II, driven by Islamist extremists using hatred of Jews as a way to attack Israel, and by far-right nationalists in Europe.

He said the commemorations on January 27 to mark the day Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz in 1945 would be the last major anniversary when survivors would be able to attend in numbers. The youngest are now in their 70s.

"I believe it is a good reminder to people of what happens when we remain silent, and the world was silent when Hitler was starting, the world was silent when Jews were taken away, the world was silent at Kristallnacht and in many ways, although many people knew what was happening in the concentration camps, it was not publicized," Lauder said.

"After World War II, into the '50s, '60s and '70s, the type of anti-Semitism we see today, nobody would ever have thought of happening. But as time has gone on and generations have passed, we see the rise of anti-Semitism."

"Hopefully this commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the freeing of Auschwitz, and the ceremonies that will take place, may remind the world what it is happens when anti-Semitism is allowed to run wild, so to speak."

Lauder, who has helped fund conservation efforts to preserve artifacts at Auschwitz including inmates' hair and shoes, said the World Jewish Congress would this year bring about 100 survivors and their families to Poland to take part in the commemorations. He said Hungary, where the far-right Jobbik party is now the second biggest political force, was one example of a European country where a political party was fanning anti-Semitism.

"The government will talk about 'there is no place for anti-Semitism in the world,' but that is not necessarily speeches being made inside Hungary," Lauder said. "There is a total disconnect between what they say for external consumption and internal consumption."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called anti-Semitism intolerable and says his government is a determined participant in the fight against it. Jobbik's leaders deny being anti-Semitic.

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