75 U.S. Senators send letter urging administration to oppose PA ICC bid


In a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, a bipartisan majority of 75 senators pressed the administration to oppose the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) attempts to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). The senators declared that PA President Abbas’ “effort contravenes the spirit of earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and erodes the prospects for peace.” In an initiative led by Senators Marco Rubio (R-F.L.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the senators also pledged not to “support assistance” to the PA while the State Department conducts a review of the Palestinians’ request made to the ICC to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes committed in the last Gaza war. Current U.S. law prohibits economic aid “if the Palestinians initiate an ICC investigation of Israeli nationals or “actively support such an investigation.”   Earlier this month, the ICC announced its decision to open a preliminary examination to determine if war crimes were committed. The letter continues that the PA’s intention is to “directly challenge Israel’s legitimate right to defend its citizens and territory” and “that the only realistic and sustainable path to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Secretary Kerry, urging the State Department to revoke economic assistance to the PA in response to the decision to join the ICC. Former Ambassador Dennis Ross explained in a recent op-ed in The New York Times that the Palestinians’ attempts to use international organizations to gain legitimacy “puts pressure on Israel and requires nothing of the Palestinians.” Ross continued, “Palestinians care deeply about international support for their cause. If they knew they would be held accountable for being nonresponsive or rejecting a fair offer or resolution, it could well change their calculus.” This echoes the perspective of Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who often highlights Abbas’ tactic of sidestepping negotiations in favor of “diplomatic lawfare and unilateral maneuvers.”


Manot Cave in Western Galilee yields unexpected find, providing new insights into the migration of modern humans out of Africa. An international team of researchers has just revealed its discovery of a rare 55,000-year-old partial skull in a cave in northern Israel. Their report published on January 28 in the journal Nature under the title “Levantine cranium from Manot Cave (Israel) foreshadows the first European modern humans” suggests that this find provides new clues about the migration of modern humans out of Africa. The partial skull is the first fossil evidence from the critical period when genetic and archaeological models predict that African modern humans successfully migrated out of Africa and colonized Eurasia around 40,000-60,000 years ago. Due to the scarcity of human fossils from this period, these ancestors of all present-day non-African modern populations have largely remained a mystery. The skull also represents the first fossil evidence that during the late Middle Paleolithic era, the southern Levant was occupied by Neanderthals as well as modern humans who may have interbred. The skull’s distinctive “bun”-shaped occipital region at the back resembles modern African and European skulls, but differs from other anatomically modern humans from the Levant. This suggests that the Manot Cave people may have been closely related to the first modern humans who later colonized Europe. (via Israel21c)

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