US to oppose UN Golan resolution, wins Israeli praise

John Bolton, US national security adviser.
Updated 17 November 2018
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US to oppose UN Golan resolution, wins Israeli praise

  • “The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights,” she said in a statement on Thursday

JERUSALEM: The US said it would oppose for the first time an annual resolution at the UN calling on Israel to rescind its authority in the occupied Golan Heights, drawing praise from Israeli officials.
The Golan Heights form a buffer between Israel and Syria of about 1,200 square km. Israel captured most of it from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
It annexed the territory in 1981, a move not recognized internationally.
The US has abstained in previous years on the annual “Occupied Syrian Golan” resolution, which declares Israel’s decision to impose its jurisdiction in the area “null and void,” but Washington’s UN envoy Nikki Haley said it would vote against the resolution in Friday’s vote.
“The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights,” she said in a statement on Thursday.
“The resolution is plainly biased against Israel. Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone.”
Her comments came after the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said in September that he expected Israel to keep the Golan Heights in perpetuity, in an apparent nod toward its claim of sovereignty over the territory.
Since early in Donald Trump’s presidency, Israel has lobbied for formal US endorsement of its control of the Golan.
Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with other world powers, though his national security adviser John Bolton told Reuters in August a similar Golan move was not under discussion.
In the past two years, Trump has twice ordered US-led airstrikes against targets in Syria in response to what Washington called the use of chemical weapons against civilians by President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Israeli officials praised the US move.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called it “extremely important,” saying on Twitter that “no sane person can believe that it (the Golan) should be given to Assad & Iran.”
Tehran has supported Assad during the civil war and Israel has been warning against Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.
Israel has closely monitored the fighting in Syria, where just across the Golan frontier battles have raged in clear view.


Egypt court sentences two monks to death over bishop killing

Updated 6 min 24 sec ago
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Egypt court sentences two monks to death over bishop killing

  • Authorities blamed the killing on unspecified ‘differences’ between the two monks and the bishop
  • Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 100 million
CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced two monks to death over the murder of a bishop, a judicial source said, in a case that shocked the Middle East’s largest Christian community.
Coptic Bishop Epiphanius was found dead with a head wound in July at the Saint Macarius monastery in the plains of Wadi Al-Natrun, northwest of Cairo.
Prosecutors said one of the monks Isaiah confessed to striking the abbot with a metal bar as the second monk Philotheos kept watch.
The authorities blamed the killing on unspecified “differences” between the two monks, one of whom was later defrocked, and the bishop.
The sentence against the two monks was referred to Egypt’s Grand Mufti.
The country’s top theological authority is required by law to give its legally non-binding opinion in cases of capital punishment.
The defendants can appeal the verdict after the Mufti gives an opinion and the ruling is officially issued on April 24.
In the wake of the bishop’s killing, Egypt’s Coptic Church placed a one-year moratorium on accepting new monks.
It also banned monks from social media, tightened financial controls and refocused attention on spiritual life.
Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 100 million.
The country’s vast desert is home to some of Christianity’s most ancient monasteries.