State Department: Congress to lead on aid cuts after Palestinians defy U.S. on ICC move


The State Department on Monday told reporters that Congress would take the lead in any decision on cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of a string of decisions - ranging from an effort to secure recognition from the United Nations Security Council to signing papers to ascend to the International Criminal Court (ICC) - that likely trigger U.S. aid conditions prohibiting such moves. Statements from lawmakers blasting the moves last week underscored a bipartisan consensus that Ramallah is likely to face repercussions for the gambits. The Palestinian moves have been criticized by Foggy Bottom in recent days – following a failed statehood bid last Monday, a State Department spokesperson blasted the resolution for “set[ting] arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank.” A statement released by the State Department days later warned that Palestinian moves at the ICC “will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.” The New York Times had last week quoted Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, noting that in the aftermath of the ICC move, "There is no question mark as to what are the consequences, that there will be immediate American and Israeli financial sanctions" and that "[t]hose sanctions will gradually become more and more crippling, and this could indeed be the beginning of the end of the P.A." The discussion revolves around some $400 million in aid in to Ramallah that congressional law conditions on the Palestinians not seeking to leverage ICC membership.


A sweep of arrests of Turkish police officers conducted Monday – Turkish news outlets reported the detained officers were arrested on charges of illegal wiretapping – is set to deepen concerns that Ankara is again cracking down on government workers it fears are aligned with U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. The arrests are the latest in a series of anti-judiciary purges being conducted by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) – in January 2014, approximately 800 police officers were fired or reassigned, just weeks after the purge of some 350 Ankara officers who had taken part in a critical December 17 anti-corruption operation. The AKP has for more than a year been locked in an open political war with police officers and prosecutors linked to Gulen, after Gulenists in December 2013 launched a series of graft probes that ensnared AKP elites, including now-President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was at the time the country’s prime minister, and members of his family. Last month Turkish police arrested dozens of journalists and media executives, including the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s most widely circulated newspaper. Turkish media had in December reported on American concerns over recent Turkish behaviors, noting that lawmakers on Capitol Hill had declined to include Ankara on a list of recipients of decommissioned U.S. warships. Today’s Zaman noted that “Members of Congress have been critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) policies such as limiting press freedoms, freedom of assembly and access to social media and increasing the executive branch of government's grip on the judiciary, as well as anti-Semitic rhetoric by Turkish officials.”


Quiet Therapeutics’ specially coated nanoparticles act like Trojan Horses entering cancer cells undetected and then killing them. An Israeli breakthrough in the treatment of cancer has the international medical community taking notice. Developed by Tel Aviv University Professors Rimona Margalit and Dan Peer, this novel drug-delivery platform involves the use of “GAGomers,” a new class of nanoparticles (coated with glycosaminoglycan, or GAGs, a polysugar) that specifically target tumors and blood cancers based on a biomarker expressed on malignant tissue. For their groundbreaking work, Margalit and Peer were granted the prestigious Untold News Award in New York City in November. But it was already back in 2010 that leading Israeli venture capital firm Pontifax established the bio-pharmaceutical company Quiet Therapeutics, to make Margalit’s and Peer’s innovative platform accessible and marketable to oncology patients and their doctors. Currently funded by Pontifax and Arkin Holdings, the biotech startup initially operated within the incubators program of the Office of the Chief Scientist, the arm of the Economy Ministry charged with fostering industrial research and development in Israel. Quiet Therapeutics General Manager and Chief Operations Officer Dr. Ron Lahav explains why GAGomers are what he calls “game-changers” in the field of cancer-treatment technology. “A hallmark of cancer is cell replication,” he tells ISRAEL21c at the company’s office in the Weizmann Science Park in Ness Ziona, south of Tel Aviv. “The aim of most chemotherapeutic drugs is to thwart the replication machinery in cancer cells. The problem is that these drugs are not targeted, and therefore are not delivered efficiently to the tumors. “Due to this inefficient delivery, and the accompanying unwanted side effects, oncologists face the problem of administering sufficient chemo to kill the cancer, while limiting its dose so as not to cause irrevocable harm to healthy tissues. Our drug-delivery system has the potential to greatly minimize that dilemma, since it transports the drugs directly and specifically to the cancer cell.” (via Israel21c)

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