Friday, January 24, 2014

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Mabrouk to Abbas on Tenth Year of His Four Year Term!
The only way to find out what Palestinians really want is by allowing them to head to the ballot boxes. Palestinians representing all groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, should be allowed to run in such an election.
A victory for the radicals would mean that a majority of Palestinians do not want peace and continue to dream about the destruction of Israel. If Abbas and his political allies win, that would be great news for the peace process and Kerry's efforts to achieve a two-state solution.
Yet Kerry does not seem to care whether Abbas is a "rightful" president or not. He is so desperate for a diplomatic achievement that he is prepared to ignore fundamental facts.
How can Kerry expect Abbas to sign any document declaring the end of the conflict with Israel when many Palestinians are already pointing out that their president does not even have a mandate to act or speak on their behalf?
Sarah Honig: Patent-medicine Messiah
In truth, though, we Israelis are capable like no other to take care of ourselves if would-be messiahs like Kerry – be he a credulous dupe or a grandstanding megalomaniac – would only let us be.
However, we’re often wary of using the force at our disposal. We’re deterred by our reputation as the universal killjoy who provokes global displeasure. When the world courted Saddam, we destroyed his nuclear reactor and were roundly condemned for our good deed. Invariably, the international community delights in restraining us and rescuing villains.
Those who genuinely wish to secure peace need only abstain from coercing Israel to appease aggressors – not to beguile us with promises of foreign troops and messianic tidings.
Our unwavering message to the wannabe messiah must be that we have had our fill of officious earthly redeemers. The hardly beneficent blessings he seeks to force on us are unwelcome and unwanted here. His unsolicited magnanimity would render us helpless. We’d rather not be in his debt and retain the ability to help ourselves.
Lebanese TV invited to Israel Air Force base to film a message to Hezbollah
In unique use of public media, IAF allows Lebanese TV network to film inside secure base and interview Air Force commander in bid to send Hezbollah a clear, direct threat.
The air force unit commander – who like all IAF pilots and commanders must remain unnamed and masked – said in the rare interview that “We are closely following attempts to smuggle arms from Syria to Lebanon and attempting to prevent it from reaching Hezbollah.” (h/t MtTB)



Netanyahu: We can’t have a ‘Palestine’ run by Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday laid out the dilemma facing his administration when it comes to the Palestinian conflict — the imperative to avoid a binational state encompassing Israel and the Palestinians, but also to prevent a future Palestinian state from becoming an Iranian proxy. “Half of Palestinian society is dominated by Iran’s proxy,” he said in an apparent reference to the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.
During a question-and-answer session after his speech, the prime minister portrayed the Iranian nuclear program as a shared concern for both Israel and Arab states, along with the spread of Islamist movements.
“Central Arab governments are preoccupied with the Iranian nuclear weapons and the Muslim brotherhood,” he said. “The nations do not see Israel as an enemy but as a potential ally to combat these threats. They are not assured by the words spoke earlier by the president of Iran. They get it. We all wish there was a real change in Iran.”
Prosor: Israel’s Relations at the U.N. Improving ‘Under the Radar’
While tactics have changed, Prosor said the biggest impact on the Israeli delegation in the future will be from the changing dynamic in the Middle East, with Iran’s emergence leading delegations from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to think higher of their Israeli colleagues for standing up against the Iranian nuclear threat.
In the corridors of power at the UN, while other diplomats, always off the record, may be glad to see Israel standing taller at the institution “under the radar,” one accredited representative of an NGO at the UN said, for publication, that it was great news.
‘Protecting the security fence is a daily fight,’ says commander of Tavor Battalion
Molotov cocktails, burning tires with exploding gas tanks hidden inside, slingshots that can break bones, shootings – these are the daily security challenges that the Home Front Command’s Tavor Battalion has faced for the past five months, as it defended the West Bank security barrier.
The battalion was deployed in a sector west of Ramallah, covering areas such as the Maccabim checkpoint, Budrus, Bil’in, Ni’lin and Kibya.
State Dept. Designates Ziyad al-Nakhalah as a Global Terrorist
The State Department has designated Ziyad al-Nakhalah as a specially designated global terrorist.
Ziyad al-Nakhalah is the Deputy Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a group that was designated by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. PIJ’s openly stated goal is the destruction of Israel. Since its inception, PIJ has carried out numerous attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets. PIJ attacks have also killed Americans abroad. PIJ receives financial assistance and training primarily from Iran.
The Department of State strongly condemned the December 22, 2013 Tel Aviv bus bombing conducted by PIJ as a “deplorable violent act targeting civilians.”
Former PLO negotiator calls on PA to endorse 'resistance' against Israel
The peace talks between the PLO and Israel are headed toward failure, Muhammad Shtayyeh, a former member of the Palestinian negotiating team, said.
He called on the Palestinian Authority to endorse “resistance” against Israel instead of providing services to Palestinians.
Shtayyeh, who recently resigned from the team in protest against lack of progress in the talks, said they would not be extended past the nine-month timeline, which expires in April.
Abbas calls for larger Russian role in peace talks
Russia supports “our struggle and our efforts to put an end to the occupation and to form an independent Palestinian state,” Abbas said.
The two leaders also discussed several economic initiatives, including a $1 billion plan that would allow joint Palestinian-Russian exploitation of gas fields off the Gaza coast, which Abbas and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were expected to sign during Abbas’s visit.
Hamas placing rockets near water reservoirs, digging dozens of ‘terror tunnels’
Gaza’s Islamist rulers have been placing rocket launching pads next to water reservoirs, and attaching reconnaissance cameras to mosque minarets and water towers, The Times of Israel was told, in a bid to avoid IAF airstrikes during an upcoming round of confrontation.
The IDF has noticed a recent shift in Hamas’s strategy: While actively preventing rocket launches toward Israel by rogue groups in the Gaza Strip, the Islamist organization — which violently took control of the territory in 2007 and has ruled it ever since — is investing its limited resources digging tunnels leading into Israel for the purposes of a large-scale terror attack or a kidnapping modeled after that of Gilad Shalit in June 2006. At the same time, Hamas still maintains a large number of locally manufactured M-75 rockets, which can reach Tel Aviv and beyond.
Hamas may be fighting a losing battle to stop Gaza rocket fire
The next figure may surprise some senior political figures in Israel. According to the IDF, since Pillar of Defense ended 14 months ago, Hamas has not fired a single rocket at Israel.
Then how to explain the partial escalation in recent days? This probably isn’t what Hamas would like to hear, but the organization may be turning into a sort of Palestinian Authority II in Gaza, for better or worse. The reasons for the recent launches are reminiscent of the PA’s bad days in Gaza before it was violently thrown out by Hamas in 2007, when it tried repeatedly to stop rocket attacks on Israel, but Hamas and Islamic Jihad defied it. This has become Hamas’s reality these days: It is trying to preserve the quiet, but is not entirely able to do so.
Hamas armed wing’s Twitter account shelved
The account of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, @AlqassamBrigade, appeared to have been suspended several times over the past week, and was still inaccessible with a “suspended” notice on Thursday.
A spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, accused Twitter of suppressing freedom of speech and of pandering to the political agenda of Hamas’s sworn enemy Israel.
Female Palestinian cartoonist threatened after critique of Islamic Jihad, Hamas
Palestinian cartoonist has come under fire because she published a cartoon that enraged Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The controversial cartoon refers to Hamas efforts to rein in Islamic Jihad’s military wing, Al-Quds Battalions, whose members are believed to have been behind recent rocket and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip.
The cartoon by Majedah Shaheen depicts Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh asking his dog to “calm down.” The dog represents the Al-Quds Battalions. (h/t NormanF)
Hook, line, and sinker
Then earlier this month, the pro-Hezbollah newspaper As-Safir quoted another unnamed US official making that point more explicitly. "If the obligatory gateway to forming a new government in Lebanon is partnership with Hezbollah, then the US does not object, especially since the reality and composition of Lebanon attest without a doubt that there is no possibility to form a government without Hezbollah."
It's tempting to dismiss these quotes as the pro-Hezbollah media's self-serving propaganda, even if the US embassy has not yet publicly denied them. At the same time, however, they reveal how US policy in the region is allowing Iran and its assets to leverage Washington's posture to press their advantage. The US considers Sunni Islamist groups to be the principal threat to stability in the region. The White House approach is to work with functioning governments to prevent extremists from emerging or growing. Accordingly, Tehran and its allies from Baghdad to Beirut have zeroed in on a single message, which they understand resonates well in Washington: fighting terrorism. Iran's regional assets understand that this brings the US onside to undercut their domestic, Sunni, adversaries. (h/t MtTB)
Cairo rocked by blasts on eve of protest annniversary
Three bombings hit high-profile areas around Cairo on Friday, including a suicide car bomber who struck the city’s police headquarters, killing five people in the first major attack on the Egyptian capital as insurgents step up a campaign of violence following the ouster of the Islamist president.
An al-Qaeda-inspired group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, claimed responsibility for the first attack on its Twitter page. The attacks bore the hallmarks of the Islamic extremist group that has increasingly targeted police and the military since the July 3 coup against Mohammed Morsi and a fierce crackdown on his supporters led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Amnesty: 1,400 dead in Egypt since Morsi’s ouster
Most of those deaths were the result of excessive force used by security forces, the human rights watchdog said. It noted that at least 95 security personnel had also been killed in violent attacks since the summer’s military coup.
Egyptian Journalist: We Should Teach Hamas a Lesson
Egypt should take a page from Israel’s book and “teach Hamas a lesson,” an Egyptian journalist recently said.
The comments by journalist Muhammad Hassan Al-Alfi were made in a January 9 interview on Faraeen TV. The comments were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Al-Alfi said in the interview that Egypt “should discipline [Hamas] just as Israel did... We must strike them so they learn to respect the Egyptian shoe."
"Only then will they kiss that shoe and learn what Egypt is worth," he declared. (h/t Bob Knot)
JPost: Rouhani in Davos
There is a tendency among moderates, particularly of the Western variety, to believe fundamentalist political leaders such as Rouhani when they say they want peace. The reason for this is simple: Moderates believe that everyone sees the world the same way they do. For moderates it is self-evident that at the most human level people yearn for peace. This, however, is not true for those motivated by an extremist ideology – in the case of Iran, by an apocalyptic and reactionary reading of Islam in which redemption is achieved through religious dominance and the spreading of God’s word – by force if necessary – to non-believers.
The inability to understand such an irrational message is particularly pronounced at a venue such as Davos’s World Economic Forum. Businessmen, entrepreneurs and technocrats tend to be a decidedly optimistic, rational, constructive and moderate bunch that believes people are, like themselves, interested in bettering the world through education and economic development. They are liable to be susceptible to Rouhani’s charm defensive.
We hope they will have the sense to heed the warnings of Netanyahu and Peres.
Informal Obama adviser Fareed Zakaria: Iran deal ‘a train wreck’
Zakaria, an author President Obama reportedly reads and consults with, made the comment during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday to promote his blockbuster interview.
“This strikes me as a train wreck,” Zakaria said. “This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program and you can have as much monitoring and inspections as you want. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges.”
Turk parliamentary squabble gets violent
The scuffles erupted Thursday as parliament prepared to resume debate on a much-criticized draft bill that would tighten the government’s control over the judiciary as it fights the corruption probe, which has become one of the most serious threats to its decade in power.
The opposition says the measure would allow Erdogan to quash corruption inquiries.
Hani And His Pet Rock Named Palistone (Updated With Video)
The article goes on about how he tended his fields in Qusin, and found a rock in the form of “historic Palestine” (that only ever existed for two years in the 40′s, between the Jordanian independence and the Israeli independence). Hani said he intends to keep it so that his grandchildren consolidate their love for Palestine.
I just hope noone from Hamas takes hold of it, as they will break off the Gaza Strip, and proceed to throw it on someone’s windshield.


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