Globe Briefs May 5
New Jersey university students vote down BDS resolution
The student government at Montclair State University reportedly voted down a resolution calling on the school to boycott Israel.
The measure was defeated Wednesday by a vote of 11-1, with six abstentions. An earlier survey aimed at gauging student support for the measure found that 64 percent of students at the New Jersey school were opposed.
The defeat of the resolution, which was initiated by the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, was commended by the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, which is active on college campuses.
Trump: ‘Ask me in a month’ about embassy
President Donald Trump deflected a question about whether he was preparing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital during his upcoming trip to the Jewish state.
“Ask me in a month on that,” Trump said in an April 27 interview with Reuters.
The comment came on the same day that Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) suggested Trump may announce the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv when he visits Israel in late May. DeSantis toured possible Jerusalem sites for the embassy during a visit in March as part of a congressional delegation.
“What better time could there be to announce the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem than when you are over here celebrating with our Israeli friends this very important 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem?” DeSantis said at the launch of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus, a new group of stridently pro-Israel Republicans.
“I think the announcement of that trip is a signal that it is more likely to happen than not, and will send a powerful signal to other countries around the world that America is back and will stand by our allies and will not let folks cower us into not doing the right thing,” added DeSantis, who is chairman of the House oversight national security subcommittee, which has oversight of American embassies abroad.
As a candidate, Trump promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, which was required by an act of Congress in 1995 but which successive administrations have delayed with a series of six-month waivers, citing national security concerns. The latest waiver, signed by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, will expire in June.
Trump reportedly is due to arrive in Israel on May 22 and spend one night in the country. Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the reunification of the city 50 years ago, will begin the evening of May 23.
Trump is expected to be accompanied on the trip by his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, in what will be his first trip abroad as president.
According to reports on Israeli television this week cited by The Times of Israel, Israel is planning to announce the building of 25,000 new homes in Jerusalem during Trump’s visit, including 15,000 units in eastern Jerusalem, which most of the world considers to be occupied territory. Trump has asked Israel to scale back its settlement building in the interests of achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians.
In the Reuters interview, Trump reiterated his desire to reach a peace deal.
“I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians,” he said. “There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians — none whatsoever.”
Senators to U.N.: Treatment of Israel ‘must change’
All 100 members of the U.S. Senate signed a letter to the leader of the United Nations urging a comprehensive effort to remedy the organization’s “anti-Israel agenda.”
The letter, which was sent last week to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, praised his recent decision to disavow an anti-Israel report from the U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and identified four specific areas where further action could be taken to rectify the “unacceptable” treatment of Israel at the world body.
The senators urged Guterres to eliminate or reform various standing committees focusing on issues relating to Israel, press members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to stop advancing measures targeting Israel, reform the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, and to seek change in the Human Rights Council — in particular the elimination of Agenda Item VII, the only country-specific item on the council’s agenda, which specifically targets Israel.
“Too often, the U.N. is exploited as a vehicle for targeting Israel rather than as a forum committed to advancing the lofty goals of its founders,” the senators wrote. “These actions have at times reinforced the broader scourge of anti-Semitism, and distracted certain U.N. entities from their original mission.”
The letter came just days after Guterres, in an address to the World Jewish Congress in New York, denounced anti-Semitism and said Israel deserves to be treated at the United Nations like any other country.
“As secretary-general of the United Nations, I can say that the State of Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules,” Guterres said.
In their letter, the senators issued no threats regarding funding to the United Nations, though they did note that the United States is the single largest contributor to the organization. Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it had canceled funding for the U.N.’s Population Fund, which provides family planning and contraception services to women in 155 countries.
“As duly elected representatives of the American people, we take seriously our responsibility to conduct rigorous oversight of U.S. engagement at the United Nations,” the letter said. “We are deeply committed to international leadership and to advancing respect for human rights.”