Israel explains reluctance to arm Ukraine
RT.com, Mar 17 2023

Israel is not supplying Ukraine with weapons because it is bound by certain agreements with Russia over neighboring Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday. Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Netanyahu was asked whether Israel would continue to refrain from sending arms to Kiev. The prime minister admitted that when it comes to this issue, Israel had found itself “in a complex situation.” He said:

Israeli pilots and Russian pilots are flying within spitting distance of each other over the skies of Syria.

He explained that several years ago he had decided to stop Iran from creating a “third front” against the Jewish state on its northern border. Israel has repeatedly warned Syria against sheltering Hezbollah militia members. Syrian officials have on numerous occasions accused Israel of conducting deadly strikes on the nation’s territory. Netanyahu continued:

To prevent that, we used air power. To do that, we had an arrangement struck with the Russian government and with the Russian Air Force, and the Russian Army in Syria that we do not shoot down each other’s planes. No other European country supporting Ukraine has a similar circumstance in its relations with Moscow. We have that issue, I openly say it here. In other words, we have complex considerations, but within those limitations, we’re trying to offer humanitarian and defensive assistance to Ukraine.

He noted that Israel is helping Ukraine with cutting-edge early warning systems. He claimed that this equipment pinpoints the locations targeted by Russian strikes, allowing the areas where civilians are urged to seek shelter to be narrowed down. After Russia started its military operation against Ukraine in Feb 2022, Israel condemned its actions but never joined the Western sanctions against Moscow and has been reluctant to supply Kiev with arms. It has also rebuffed Ukraine’s requests for its Iron Dome air defense systems, arguing it does not “have a large enough production base” to meet Kiev’s needs. However on Wednesday Axios reported that Israel had approved export licenses for the possible sale of jamming anti-drone systems to Kiev. Israeli officials told the outlet that the move does not mark a shift in the nation’s policies over the conflict, because the equipment is defensive in nature and jams a UAV’s signal rather than targeting it with munitions, meaning it could not harm Russian soldiers.

US pushes to integrate LGBTI rights into UNSC
RT.com, Mar 17 2023

The US has called for an informal meeting of the UNSC to discuss the integration of the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex individuals (LGBTI) into the organization’s efforts to maintain “international peace and security.” According to a concept note released by the US Mission to the UN, the US, along with co-sponsors from Albania, Brazil, Cyprus, Czechia, France, Greece, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, and the UK, intend to hold the meeting on Mar 20. The talks will also be joined by the LGBTI Core Group to “consider how to better integrate consideration of the human rights of LGBTI persons into the UNSC’s work.” In the note, the US stated that the UNSC has improved its ability to tackle the root causes of conflict and mitigate the effects of war by recognizing how abuses against members of marginalized groups serve to destabilize fragile societies. The US brought up the issue of protecting LGBTI rights before the council in 2015 amid Islamic State’s crimes in Iraq and Syria. However, “despite this increased awareness,” the repression of individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics continues, the US said. Washington is calling on UNSC members to propose ways that the international body can “ensure better protection of LGBTI rights in situations of conflict” and “incorporate LGBTI perspectives in peacekeeping/peacebuilding.” The US says it hopes the meeting will result in “really specific steps” that the UNSC can take, such as considering “the special requirements of refugees who are transgender or gender non-conforming” and how the council should approach accountability for war crimes targeting LGBTI people. Washington says it will commit to ask questions of UN officials regarding rights violations and raise the issues of abuse and other concerns of the LGBTI community at UNSC meetings. “And, when appropriate, we’ll propose language in UNSCRs where there are egregious violations,” a senior administration official said in a background briefing on Thursday.

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