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A US-sponsored resolution condemning militant group Hamas for firing rockets into Israel has failed to pass at the UN General Assembly. The resolution won a majority of 87 to 57, with 33 abstentions, but did not reach the required two-thirds backing.

US envoy Nikki Haley had said adoption would right a "historic wrong" as the UN has not passed such a condemnation. A Hamas spokesman said the outcome was a "slap" to President Donald Trump's administration.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said that although the two-thirds was not achieved, this was the first time there was a "sweeping majority of countries " who had stood up against Hamas.

Who are Hamas?

Resolutions at the UN can carry political weight but are non-binding.  This resolution was the first condemning Hamas that the 193-nation assembly had considered. Hamas, or its military wing, is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, EU, and UK, as well as other powers.

Its supporters see it as a legitimate resistance movement which came to power through elections, last held in 2006.

Ahead of the vote, Ms Haley, who steps down at the end of the year, said she wanted to "ask my Arab brothers and sisters - is the hatred toward Israel so strong that you'll defend a terrorist organisation? One that is directly causing harm to the Palestinian people?"

A vote to require a two-thirds majority was narrowly backed by 75 to 72, with 26 abstentions.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said the resolution had been hijacked by this procedural decision.

Life in the Gaza Strip

Sami Abu Zahri, a spokesman for Hamas, the militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, wrote on Twitter after the vote: "The failure of the American venture at the United Nations represents a slap to the US administration and confirmation of the legitimacy of the resistance."

Iran's Deputy UN Ambassador Eshagh al-Habib said the US was trying to deflect attention away from the root causes of the conflict.


The World Jewish Congress (“WJC”) on Friday praised the Chilean government over its decision to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel, in response to complaints filed by the Chilean Jewish community, an affiliate of the WJC.
“The Chilean government has taken an important lead this week in standing up against the arbitrary anti-Israel bias and double standards taking hold across the international community, in ensuring that its municipalities do not subvert the standards of equal and fair treatment set forth by the federal government,” WJC CEO Robert Singer said.
“This is a victory not just for the Jewish community and the State of Israel, who have been awarded the protection they deserve, but for the very value of democratic law in Chile as a whole,” Singer said. “We applaud the Chilean Jewish Community, under the leadership of its President Shai Agosin, for spearheading this critical campaign in the name of justice and fairness, and we hope that it will serve as a clear guide for municipalities in other countries contending with the very same issue.”

The WJC is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.



The World Jewish Congress (“WJC”) welcomed the adoption of a declaration by the Council of the European Union on the fight against anti-semitism and the development of a common security approach to protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe.
The declaration, agreed by ministers of interior from the 28 EU Member States at today's meeting of the Council of the European Union, calls on EU Member States to take steps to ensure security for Jewish communities, institutions and citizens; to emphasize the importance of Holocaust commemoration and education; calls on all EU member states which have not already done so to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism in the fields of law enforcement, education and training; and calls on the European Commission and Europol to pay particular attention to online antisemitism and to content advocating antisemitic terrorist offenses.
The WJC has worked closely for many months with the Austrian government authorities and the European institutions, in close coordination with the Austrian Jewish Community and the European Jewish Congress, in developing the declaration’s content. WJC representatives also held over 100 meetings with representatives of EU member states and EU officials and also testified before the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council so as to emphasize and explain the critical importance of the declaration’s adoption.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said: “I strongly welcome the decision by the Council of the European Union to adopt this important declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the protection of Jewish communities. Just days after polling revealed that antisemitism continues to haunt Europe, and with the memory of the Holocaust fading, this declaration is a clear recognition by the governments of all EU Member States that serious action, both politically and practically, is needed to deal with the clear and specific challenges posed by this ancient hatred. We look forward to continuing to engage with both the EU institutions and the governments of the EUMember States to inform this serious work going forward.

                            2-8 Tevet, 5779                                                      Dec. 10-16, 2018 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  616th Web Ed.




Following the Menorah lighting ceremony at the Western Wall on the 5th night of Chanukah with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador David Friedman, Aish HaTorah hosted the Ambassador, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Yoav Horovitz, and Senior Advisor to Ambassador Friedman, Aryeh Lightstone, along with their families for a festive dinner. The ceremony at the Kotel marked one year since the US officially recognized Jerusalem as the Capitol of Israel.

At the dinner, Ambassador Friedman toasted the special partnership between the US and Israel.  The Ambassador also addressed 300 Aish HaTorah yeshiva students at the annual Chanukah party and reminded them to include in their prayers of thanksgiving during this auspicious time of gratitude and praise for the Almighty, the United States of America, "a moral country and a moral people" who has been "good to Israel and good to the Jewish people." He added that we all must pray for the United States, noting that everything that happens in this world is ordained by the Almighty.

Rabbi Steven Burg, CEO of Aish HaTorah said, “It was an honor for Aish HaTorah to once again host the US Ambassador, David Friedman, on this historic occasion of his lighting the Menorah at the Western Wall in the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem. Like the Maccabees of the Chanuka story, Ambassador Friedman has fought hard on behalf of the Jewish Nation and we are eternally grateful to him and to the United States of America.”


It is not known how many tunnels the Israeli military is targeting

Israel says it is blocking tunnels dug into its territory by the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon which were to be used to take Israeli citizens hostage. It said it was neutralizing the "terror tunnels" before they became operational and a threat to civilian communities.

It did not say how many tunnels there were, but said the operation would take place on Israel's side of the border.

Tensions are high between Israel and Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war in 2006.

More than 1,125 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and some 40 Israeli civilians, were killed in that conflict.

It began when Hezbollah militants launched a raid into Israel, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping two others, who also died.

Israel has warned that another war with the group is likely and has said it will use massive military force in any new fight.

Hezbollah, which possesses one of the most powerful militias in the region, has threatened to attack Israel with its vast rocket arsenal if war breaks out. The Iran-backed Shia group has not yet commented on Israel's actions.

What do we know about the operation?

Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said the activity was focusing on the border town of Metulla, with the area declared a closed zone.

He said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were concentrating on a tunnel which began in a Lebanese civilian home, was at least 200m (650ft) long, and ran 40m inside Israel.

The IDF announced the start of the operation, dubbed Northern Shield, on Twitter, with video footage showing heavy machinery boring in unidentified locations.

Col Conricus said the tunnels were part of a plan by Hezbollah to "conquer the Galilee" region of Israel in a future conflict.

He said the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls Gaza, had shared tunnel-digging knowledge with Hezbollah. In recent years, Israel has destroyed dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under their shared border.

The latest operation comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels, where he was reported to have been updated on the anti-tunnel action.

Why are Israel and Hezbollah enemies?

Hezbollah emerged with the help of Iran during Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon in the early 1980s. It sees itself as a resistance movement against Israel, but it is designated a terrorist organization by Western states, Israel, Gulf Arab countries and the Arab League.

Hezbollah does not recognize Israel's right to exist and has been accused of carrying out a string of bombings and plots against Jewish and Israeli targets around the world over decades. Israel has also reportedly carried out killings against Hezbollah figures.

There have been outbreaks of violence between Israel and Hezbollah across the Israel-Lebanon border, which is heavily fortified. Hezbollah has built up an extensive arsenal since the 2006 conflict, with Israeli intelligence suggesting it possesses up to 150,000 rockets.

Israel has said it will not allow Hezbollah to obtain advanced missiles, and frequently carries out air strikes on arms being transferred to the group through Syria. -- BBCi