A 3,000-year-old sculpture has proven to be a mystery for researchers who have no idea whose face it depicts.
The 5cm figurine was discovered in 2017 in a site called Abel Beth Maacah, which sits just south of Israel’s border with Lebanon.
Apart from a missing beard and chipped nose, the Old Testament-era sculpture is in excellent condition. However, archaeologists are unsure about who it is supposed to represent.
Due to the crow,n researchers assume the man is some member of royalty, but are unsure who he is or even what kingdom he would have ruled over.
“This location is very important because it suggests that the site may have shifted hands between these politics, more likely between Aram-Damascus and Israel,” Hebrew University archaeologist Naama Yahalom-Mack told The Guardian, adding that the sculpture has a “very interesting hairdo”, which is similar to the way ancient Egyptians depicted Near Eastern peoples in their art.
After being found by a volunteer digging at the site, curators at the Israel Museum made the uncommon move to put the piece on display almost immediately.
Eran Arie, the museum’s curator of iron age and Persian archaeology, said of the discovery: “In the iron age, if there’s any figurative art, and there largely isn’t, it’s of very low quality. And this is of exquisite quality.”
Ms Yahalom-Mack made some educated guesses as to who the man is, suggesting it could be either Ahab or Jehu of Israel, Ithobaal or Hazael of Damascus, or even Ben Hadad.
However, she was quick to point out that “we’re only guessing here”.
As the sculpture is only a head, archaeologists now plan to continue digging in the site to see if it was part of a larger piece.
The archaeology community made another incredible discovery this week when researchers in China found the oldest footprints on Earth in the Yangtze Gorges which they believe are 550 million years old.
Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, has become an Israeli citizen just a month after the UK delayed renewal of his British visa amid diplomatic tension between London and Moscow.
Mr Abramovich, who is Jewish, exercised his right under Israel’s Law of Return, which states that Jews from anywhere in the world can become Israeli citizens.
The Russian oligarch, who is worth an estimated £8.6 billion, instantly became Israel’s wealthiest person after receiving his citizenship on Monday.
The 51-year-old had been travelling in and out of the UK for years on a Tier-1 investor visa, designed for wealthy foreigners who invest at least £2 million in Britain. He applied to renew the visa in April but did not immediately receive approval from the Home Office.
It is not clear if the UK decided to reject his application permanently but a source familiar with the matter told the Daily Telegraph that the renewal process was taking an unusually long time.
Mr Abramovich is believed to have returned to Russia after his visa expired and he did not attend Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup on May 20.
The UK government has suggested it would take a harder line on Russian oligarchs in Britain following the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. The government has accused Russia of being behind the attack.
It is not clear if there is a direct link between the UK’s moves on Russian oligarchs and Mr Abramovich’s visa.
Mr Abramovich’s private G650 jet touched down in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on Monday and he was immediately granted Israeli citizenship.
A spokesman for the Israeli interior ministry said he applied at the Israeli embassy in Moscow and was found eligible for citizenship after proving his Jewish heritage.
“He filed a request to receive an immigration permit, his documents were checked according to the Law of Return, and he was indeed found eligible,” the spokesman told Israel’s Channel 10 news.
Mr Abramovich previously purchased a £17.1 mansion in Tel Aviv’s upmarket Neve Tzedek neighbourhood. The house was a former hotel and Mr Abramovich bought it from the husband of Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress who starred in Wonderwoman. (The Telegraph)
Pope Francis used his Christmas message on Monday to call for a negotiated two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after U.S. President Donald Trump stoked regional tensions with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Francis spoke of the Middle East conflict and other world flashpoints in his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) address, four days after more than 120 countries backed a U.N. resolution urging the United States to reverse its decision on Jerusalem.
“Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders,” he said, referring to the Israelis and Palestinians.
“We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said in his address, delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people.
It was the second time that the pope has spoken out publicly about Jerusalem since Trump’s decision on Dec. 6. On that day, Francis called for the city’s “status quo” to be respected, lest new tensions in the Middle East further inflame world conflicts.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its “united and eternal” capital.
Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, urged people to see the defenseless baby Jesus in the children who suffer the most from war, migration and natural calamities caused by man today.
“Today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world … Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, ‘there is no place in the inn,’” he said.
Francis, celebrating the fifth Christmas of his pontificate, said he had seen Jesus in the children he met during his recent trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, and he called for adequate protection of the dignity of minority groups in that region.
More than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya people have fled mainly Buddhist Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent months. The pope had to tread a delicate diplomatic line during his visit, avoiding the word “Rohingya” while in Myanmar, which does not recognize them as a minority group, though he used the term when in Bangladesh.
“Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one’s head. May our hearts not be closed as they were in the homes of Bethlehem,” he said.
He also urged the world to see Jesus in the innocent children suffering from wars in Syria and Iraq and also in Yemen, complaining that its people had been “largely forgotten, with serious humanitarian implications for its people, who suffer from hunger and the spread of diseases”. (The Sun)
In this photo provided by the United Nations, members of the United Nations Security council vote at the United Nations headquarters on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in favor of condemning Israel for its practice of establishing settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. In a striking rupture with past practice, the U.S. allowed the vote, not exercising its veto. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)
The United Nations said on Wednesday that the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts would “simply make it impossible” for the global organization to maintain essential operations.
The statement, by a United Nations spokesman, added to the growing criticism of a budget submission for the 2018 fiscal year that would reduce funding of the State Department by roughly a third and cut foreign assistance by about 29 percent.
The spending proposal, which was released on Tuesday, would reduce American financial support for the United Nations, including for its peacekeeping operations and international aid programs. The United States is the organization’s biggest single donor.
“The figures presented would simply make it impossible for the U.N. to continue all of its essential work advancing peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance,” Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Secretary General António Guterres, said in response to queries about the budget proposal.
Republicans and Democrats have criticized the proposed budget’s cuts to foreign assistance, saying that such reductions would undercut national security and send the wrong message about American generosity as humanitarian crises are escalating in the Middle East and Africa.
The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, has said the United States wants the United Nations to use American taxpayer money more efficiently.
But she has also expressed opposition to what she has called a slash-and-burn approach to budget reductions and has suggested that final allocations will not be as austere as what has been proposed.
“I was a governor; I had to do an executive budget,” Ms. Haley said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal during a visit to the Middle East this week. “What an executive budget is is the start of a conversation.”
Mr. Dujarric acknowledged that the “budgetary process in the U.S. is complex and lengthy, and it needs to be completed.”
He also said, “We are indeed very grateful for the support the United States has given to the United Nations over the years as the organization’s largest financial contributor.”
The United States contributes 22 percent of the United Nations’ core operating budget of $5.4 billion. That share is set by an international agreement and is based on the size of the American economy. The United States has also been a leading provider of aid to United Nations organizations that rely on voluntary contributions.
Twenty-eight percent of the United Nations’ peacekeeping budget of nearly $8 billion has been paid by the United States. The Trump administration’s budget proposal would reduce the American portion to about 25 percent. (New York Times)
Just a few hours before the UN General Assembly vote against the USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital “regardless of whether the UN recognizes it or not”.
Turkey and Yemen requested the meeting after an Egyptian draft resolution against the recognition was presented to the Security Council and was vetoed by the United States, although the 14 other members of the council voted for it.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor of a draft. “Jerusalem is our capital, we will continue to build there and additional embassies will move to Jerusalem“.
Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there.
“The State of Israel rejects this vote out of hand even before it was approved”, he added.
In the run-up to Thursday’s vote, Israeli diplomats stationed overseas made strenuous efforts to get as many countries as possible to oppose or abstain on the resolution.
“The attitude to Israel of many nations in the world, in all the continents, is changing outside of the UN walls, and will eventually filter into the UN as well – the house of lies”, he said.
The prime minister, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1984 to 1988, has long argued that Israel’s diplomatic relations are flourishing due to the Jewish state’s technological and security prowess.
Netanyahu’s remarks, particularly his “house of lies” line, were met with instant ridicule on social media, with users pointed out the absurdity of a state founded thanks to a United Nations mandate slamming the worldwide body. “It won’t be forgotten”, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said after the vote.
“Ultimately, the truth will prevail”, he declared, speaking in English.
Unlike the UN’s 15-member Security Council, the US does not have veto power in the General Assembly. “Well, we’re watching those votes”.
With time ticking until the beginning of a UN General Assembly vote on a proposal to urge Washington to scrap its Jerusalem declaration, Tel Aviv has stepped up its rhetoric. (234VibesNews)
The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday to denounce President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, largely ignoring Trump’s threats to cut off aid to any country that went against him.
The nonbinding resolution declaring U.S. action on Jerusalem “null and void” was approved 128-9 — a victory for the Palestinians, but not as big as they predicted. Amid Washington’s threats, 35 of the 193 U.N. member nations abstained and 21 were absent.
The resolution reaffirmed what has been the United Nations’ stand on the divided holy city since 1967: that Jerusalem’s final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Trump administration made it clear the vote would have no effect on its plan to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said afterward that he completely rejects the “preposterous” resolution.
Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour called the vote a victory not only for the Palestinians but for the United Nations and international law, saying U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley “failed miserably” in persuading only seven countries aside from the U.S. and Israel to vote against the resolution.
“And they used unprecedented tactics, unheard of in the diplomatic work at the U.N., including blackmail and extortion,” he said.
The United States and Israel had waged an intensive lobbying campaign against the measure, with Haley sending letters to over 180 countries warning that Washington would be taking names of those who voted against the U.S. Trump went further, threatening a funding cutoff: “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
But in the end, major U.S. aid recipients including Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa supported the resolution. Egypt received roughly $1.4 billion in U.S. aid this year, and Jordan about $1.3 billion.
The nine countries voting “no” were the U.S., Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, the Marshall Islands and Togo. Among the abstentions were Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Mexico.
The absent countries included Kenya, which was the fifth-largest recipient of U.S. aid last year, Georgia and Ukraine, all of which have close U.S. ties.
The U.S. is scheduled to dispense $25.8 billion in foreign aid for 2018. Whether Trump follows through with his threat against those who voted “yes” remains to be seen.
After the vote, Haley tweeted a photo naming the 65 nations that voted no, abstained or were absent, and said: “We appreciate these countries for not falling to the irresponsible ways of the UN.”
But within hours, the Trump administration appeared to be backing away from its funding threats. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said cuts to countries that opposed the U.S. are not a foregone conclusion.
“The president’s foreign policy team has been empowered to explore various options going forward with other nations,” Nauert said. “However, no decisions have been made.”
During the debate, Arab, Islamic and non-aligned nations urged a “yes” vote on the resolution, which was sponsored by Yemen and Turkey.
Yemeni Ambassador Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany warned that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem undermines any chance for peace in the Mideast and “serves to fan the fires of violence and extremism.”
He called Trump’s action “a blatant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nations, and all Muslims and Christians of the world,” and “a dangerous violation and breach of international law.”
On Wednesday, Trump complained that Americans are tired of being taken advantage of by countries that take billions of dollars and then vote against the U.S. Haley echoed his words in her speech to the packed assembly chamber, threatening not only member states with funding cuts, but the United Nations itself.
Haley said the vote will make no difference in U.S. plans to move the American Embassy, but it “will make a difference on how Americans look at the U.N., and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the U.N.”
“And this vote will be remembered,” she warned.
Trump’s pressure tactics had raised the stakes at Thursday’s emergency meeting and triggered accusations from the Muslim world of U.S. bullying and blackmail.
“It is unethical to think that the votes and dignity of member states are for sale,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “We will not be intimidated! You can be strong but this does not make you right!”
The Palestinians and their supporters sought the General Assembly vote after the U.S. on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other U.N. Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem.
The resolution adopted by the assembly has language similar to the defeated measure.
It “affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”
Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Joe Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Christmas tree lights were switched off in protest outside the Church of the Nativity, seen by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus.
Protesters also took to the streets in Amman, the capital of neighbouring Jordan, where Palestinian refugees in the Baqqa refugee camp denounced Mr Trump’s actions. Similar displays were seen in Egypt’s capital Cairo.
Meanwhile, Palestinian factions agreed to a general strike and midday rallies on Thursday.
The Palestinian education ministry declared a day off and urged teachers as well as high school and university students to take part in the planned rallies in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Palestinian areas in Jerusalem.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out in praise of Mr Trump’s speech, but no other world government lent its support.
Protesters react to Trump’s Jerusalem decision
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US shift is a boost for extremist groups that want religious war and signals American withdrawal from being a peace mediator.
Theresa May she disagreed with the move and described Mr Trump’s actions as “unhelpful”.
She said: “Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.”
Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a reckless threat to peace.
“The British Government must condemn this dangerous act and work for a just and viable settlement of the conflict.” (Evening Standard)
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Monday called for a summit of Muslim nations if the United States takes the controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
President Donald Trump faces a key decision this week over Jerusalem’s status, potentially reversing years of US policy and prompting a furious response from the Palestinians and the Arab world.
The 57-member OIC sought to amplify concern over the possible move in an emergency meeting on Monday in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.
“If the United States takes the step of recognising Jerusalem as the so-called capital of Israel, we unanimously recommend holding a meeting at the level of council of foreign ministers, followed by an Islamic summit as soon as possible,” the pan-Islamic body said in a statement.
The OIC also warned that recognising Jerusalem or establishing any diplomatic mission in the disputed city would be seen as a “blatant attack on the Arab and Islamic nations.”
The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Most of the international community, including the United States, does not formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved through final-status negotiations.
Central to the issue of recognition is the question of whether Trump decides to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
All foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv with consular representation in Jerusalem.
Israelis and Palestinians are eagerly watching to see whether he again renews a waiver delaying the move, as his predecessors have done.
There are suggestions that Trump will sign the waiver and decline to move the embassy for now, but later this week declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel, which seized the largely Arab eastern sector of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, claims both halves of the city as its “eternal and undivided capital”.
But the Palestinians want the eastern sector as capital of their promised state and fiercely oppose any Israeli attempt to extend sovereignty there.
Several peace plans have come unstuck over debates on whether, and how, to divide sovereignty or oversee the city’s sites holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims. (AFP)
…..Says Nigeria may lose out in $1bn solar power deal
President Muhammadu Buhari’s support for an independent Palestinian State forced Israel to formally recognize the agitation by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for the creation of an independent State of Biafra, an Arab diplomat has disclosed.
The diplomat told The AUTHORITY at the weekend that Muhammadu Buhari who has vowed not to allow the Independent of Biafra from Nigeria, had at the time pledge to help the Palestine” attain independence from Israel. Buhari who is doing everything possible to destroy the Biafra agitation is also doing everything to support a similar agitation elsewhere by supporting the Palestinian free state and that action has greatly angered the Israeli government.
Buhari had in a visit last year to Qatar, promised the Emir (Head of State) Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, that “we will stand side by side with you until our brothers and sisters in Palestine achieve their desired objectives (independence).”
According to the diplomat, “Buhari’s meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis was largely unnecessary”. The envoy pointed out that “while Buhari keeps addressing Palestinians as ‘our brothers and sisters,’ majority of Muslim countries like Senegal have since soft-pedalled on their support for Palestinians.”
He continued: “It was not for nothing that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to recognize Biafra at a very important ceremony like the Holocaust memorial, last April.”
“At the memorial, Netanyahu chided the world for keeping quiet and standing aside and did not prevent genocide or mass murder in Biafra, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan and also in Syria.”
He observed, “Netanyahu is the first Head of State of a First World country to describe the 1967-1970 war against Biafra as genocide.”
“The Israeli PM’s presence at the 51st ECOWAS summit in Liberia, the first by any Israeli leader to Africa, and the first by any non-African Head of State, coupled with the promise of a $1 billion solar power project for the region, was tailored to teach Nigeria a bitter lesson,” stressed the envoy.
The Envoy noted that Nigeria’s absence at the “very important” regional summit may have been orchestrated to avoid the embarrassment the very large Israeli delegation would have caused the country.
The envoy said: “ECOWAS countries have a combined population of about 350 million, of which Nigeria, which suffers tremendous power deficit, has about 180 million or more than half of the total population. Clearly, one would have expected such solar power plant to be sited in Nigeria, but Israel chose Liberia apparently to snub Nigeria.”
He added that Israel’s bid for reinstatement as an observer in the African Union (AU) would further injure Nigeria’s interests.
“Perhaps Nigeria should pay greater attention to Netanyahu’s forecast at the ECOWAS summit that ‘Israel is coming to Africa and Africa is coming to Israel”, advised the envoy.
He expressed fears that with Nigeria’s decision to withhold funding of the ECOWAS may have come to a whittling down of the country’s dominance in the sub-region.
“Nigeria’s influence in ECOWAS is at its lowest ebb. The country used to be the biggest financier of ECOWAS but stopped funding the body the moment Buhari came into power. Nigeria’s indebtedness now hovers around $700,000. What did you expect? The other member countries are now forced to look elsewhere, and don’t be surprised if none-African countries like Israel come in handy,” opined the diplomat.
He cited the recent decision of Morocco, a northern African country, to join ECOWAS as a pointer to the belief that certain countries can’t wait to take over Nigeria’s leadership role in West Africa.
“I fear that like Israel, Morocco may have a diplomatic axe to grind with Nigeria after your president (Buhari) openly declared support for the independence of Western Sahara just a few months after hosting King Mohammed VI in Abuja”.
”I don’t know the shape of your country’s foreign policy. Your president goes about canvassing support for people who seek self-determination in Israel and Morocco, yet rolls out the tanks on Nigerians who express the same sentiments.