December 27th, 2016
Simply put, the essential problem with Obama and the UN's agenda for narrowing Israel's borders by establishing a Palestinian state, is the narrow waistline that Israel would be forced to defend, which would be effectively impossible from virtually any strategic viewpoint, resulting in high Israeli casualties in the event of any future attacks....
~ Refocus Notes
By Michael Snyder
Multiple media outlets are reporting that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is finalizing a document that the Obama administration hopes will form the basis for a UN Security Council resolution that officially recognizes a Palestinian state before the end of Barack Obama’s term on January 20th.
This comes on the heels of the UN Security Council’s adoption of resolution 2334 on December 23rd.
That resolution declared that all Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal, it stated that the Security Council recognizes the 1967 ceasefire lines as the border between Israel and “Palestine”, and it officially gave East Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
But it stopped short of formally recognizing a Palestinian state. Resolution 2334 speaks of a Palestinian state in the future tense, but this new resolution that John Kerry is reportedly working on would give immediate and permanent UN Security Council recognition to a Palestinian state.
If there is a UN Security Council resolution that officially establishes a Palestinian state prior to January 20th, there will be no question that it will represent “the dividing of the land of Israel” at the United Nations that so many of us have been watching for.
According to the Times of Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is anticipating precisely this kind of move at the UN, and he is reaching out to Donald Trump for assistance…
Amid escalating fallout from the UN Security Council vote Friday that condemned Israel’s settlement activities, a furious Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reported on Sunday night to be attempting to “recruit” the incoming Trump administration and the US Congress to block a feared bid by the outgoing Obama administration to have the Security Council approve principles for a Palestinian state.
It is being widely reported that John Kerry will deliver a speech within the next few days that will set out a specific plan for a “two-state solution”. That same article from the Times of Israel says that Netanyahu is deeply concerned that Obama “will seek to have a resolution enshrining those parameters adopted by the UN Security Council” before the end of his term on January 20th…
Netanyahu’s fear is that Secretary of State John Kerry will set out principles or parameters for a Palestinian state in a speech that he has said he will deliver in the next few days on his Middle East vision. The prime minister fears that, in its final days, the Obama administration will seek to have a resolution enshrining those parameters adopted by the UN Security Council, the report said.
France is to hold a conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on January 15, and Netanyahu expects that Kerry will attend, that the Middle East Quartet — the US, UN, Russia and EU — will coordinate their positions at that summit, and that they will then turn to the Security Council in the very last days of the Obama presidency, a Channel 10 report further suggested.
If John Kerry simply were to get up and give a speech about what he thinks the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be, that would be rather meaningless. In fact, there would be little point in doing that unless action was going to be taken at the UN Security Council before the end of Obama’s term...
December 25th, 2016
December 25th, 2016
Christmas, at its very essence, could be seen as a loving reenactment--being that which constitutes the most sincere form of adulation- a creator who gave us the greatest gift ever bestowed and through the greatest story ever told, a son who was born to save humanity, a gift of immeasurable magnitude and grace, from a loving Father.
And so, at Christmas, we do the best we can to shower our loved ones with gifts in that same spirit, in loving emulation towards the birth of man's salvation, a gift that warms our souls while delighting the beloved in our lives....
Merry Christmas from Conservative Refocus.
When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar....
By Vermont Royster
December 24th, 2016
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Thousands of pilgrims and tourists from around the world together with local Christians gathered in the biblical town of Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas Eve in the traditional birthplace of Jesus, with spirits lifted by a slowdown in recent violence and cool, clear weather.
Security was tight in Bethlehem after recent deadly attacks on Christian targets in neighboring Egypt and Jordan by Islamic extremists.
Yet the faithful braved the chilly weather outside the town's Manger Square as traditional Christmas songs like "Jingle Bells" played in Arabic over loudspeakers and scout groups paraded with bagpipes and sang carols. Elated tourists and local Christians alike wandered around the square illuminated by festive red and golden lights and a large Christmas tree, visiting souvenir shops and restaurants.
Adding to the holiday spirit for the Palestinians, locals celebrated a key diplomatic victory at the United Nations the day before, where the Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Sharolyn Knight, a 28-year-old teacher from Georgia, said she was in Bethlehem for the first time and experiencing mixed emotions. "It's been sobering and humbling because it's a place with a lot of heavy stuff, religious and historical. At the same time, disillusioning because there is so much strife in the place where Jesus was born."
She said she would come back again, maybe next time with her kids.
"It's very unique, I've never seen anything like it," said Rodrigo Reis, 23, who came from Louisville, Kentucky, "It's very meaningful, its Christmas time, where everything started."
Christian clergymen welcomed the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land inside the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, as Christians worldwide begin to prepare to celebrate Christmas this year.
The Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, is the temporary chief clergyman to the local Catholic population. He traveled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Saturday in a traditional procession. Later, he was to celebrate Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, built at the grotto revered as Jesus' birthplace.
"I wish this joyous atmosphere of Christmas will continue in the year and not just for a few days and I hope the coming year will bring a little more serenity and peaceful relations in our country. We need it," he said.
"I am happy that the war, at least the military war, in Aleppo is finished and that for the first time in Aleppo the Christians can celebrate without fear the Christmas season. I wish that they can now reconstruct, rebuild the city, not only the infrastructure but also the common relations that were a tradition over there," he told The Associated Press.
The Syrian government assumed full control of Aleppo earlier this month when rebels, including some Islamic militants, agreed to withdraw from their last remaining enclave after more than four years of heavy fighting over the country's largest city.
Related At CRN:
Christmas festivities brought a boost of holiday cheer to Christians in the Holy Land, who make up just a small percentage of the population. The region has which has experienced a wave of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed that erupted over a year ago. The violence has tapered off in recent months but has not halted completely.
Rula Maaya, the Palestinian minister of tourism, said all the hotels in Bethlehem were fully booked.
"Bethlehem is celebrating today, we are receiving tourists from all over the world," Maaya said. "All people over the world are looking at Bethlehem so we hope more and more tourists will come during the year and that next year we will celebrate Christmas without occupation."
Maaya spoke a day after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Julie Suhain, 20, from Ramallah said she was delighted with the UNSC resolution.
"It's like getting a Christmas gift," she said. "We've been waiting for this for a long time."
Despite the Christmas cheer, Mideast politics loom large in the background - the concrete barrier that surrounds parts of Bethlehem is just one hulking reminder. It was built by Israel last decade during the second Intifada, or uprising, when Palestinian suicide bombers attacked buses and cafes.
Israeli says the barrier is meant to keep out Palestinian attackers, but because it dips inside the West Bank, Palestinians see it as a land grab that also stunts their economy.
Security was tight in Bethlehem after recent attacks on Christian targets in Egypt and elsewhere in the region by Islamic extremists.
Related from AP
December 22nd, 2016
The Islamic State published the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States and called on its adherents to attack them during the holiday season, according to a message posted late-night Wednesday in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group.
A user going by the name of “Abu Marya al-Iraqi” posted an Arabic-language message calling “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to utilize its network of lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.”
The series of messages appeared in a pro-ISIS group on Telegram, which also provides manuals for the use and preparations of weapons and explosives for aspiring assailants. The information, distributed in a number of posts, was all previously available online and includes a public directory of churches across all 50 states. (Vocativ does not publish specific information found in lists like these.)
In another group post, a member summoned “the sons of Islam” to target “churches, well-known hotels, crowded coffee shops, streets, markets and public places,” and shared a list of addresses in the United States, as well as in Canada, France and the Netherlands.
ISIS claimed responsibility for this week’s Christmas market attack in Berlin that killed 12 and injured 48. The group said that the assailant was a “soldier of the Islamic State,” who followed organizational orders “to target coalition countries.” The suspect was identified as Anis Amri, a Tunisian man in his 20s who reportedly had Salafi and jihadi connections in Tunisia and Germany. He is still the object of a massive manhunt in Germany.
The Islamic State has published such lists before — in June, Vocativ reported on a “kill list” that included more than 8,000 names and addresses, including that of police officers in the United States.