Tuesday, December 06, 2016

From Ian:

David Horovitz: Wrong from the start: Why John Kerry failed to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace
Watching John Kerry deliver his indictment of Israel’s settlement enterprise at the Saban Forum in Washington, DC, on Sunday, my strongest feeling was one of sorrow — sorrow for him, but mainly for us, at the wasted time and the wrongheaded approach that doomed the indefatigable, well-intentioned secretary of state’s approach to peacemaking.
Kerry calculated that he has spent 130 hours in formal discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his near four years as secretary of state, and visited Israel a staggering 40-plus times.
And yet for all that time and effort, as his valedictory jeremiad again made plain, he never internalized why he was unable to clear the obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. And in the one key area where Sunday’s presentation showed a belated appreciation of where he had gone wrong, clarity has arrived long after the damage was done.
The first, foundational mistake was to believe, like a long line of global statespeople before him, that he could succeed where others had failed in trying to strong-arm the two sides into an accord on a rapid timetable, when it is tragically and undeniably obvious that the deadline-based approach cannot work.
Many, perhaps most, Israelis recognize an imperative to separate from the Palestinians in order to maintain a state that is both Jewish and democratic. But In today’s treacherous Middle East, they need more persuasion than ever that relinquishing territory will bring guaranteed tranquility, rather than escalated terrorism and new efforts to paralyze, and ultimately destroy, the country.
Ruthie Blum: Good Riddance, John Kerry
He continued by lambasting settlements, while claiming he understands that they are not the root cause of the conflict, saying he “cannot accept the notion that they do not affect the peace process — that they aren’t a barrier to the capacity to have peace.”
And here was the clincher. He said he knows this, because “the Left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace and the Right that supports it, openly supports it, because they don’t want peace.”
And there you have it. Kerry’s utter gall. His accusation that most Israelis oppose peace. Not that we long to live without fear of being stabbed, car-rammed, torched, blown up by bombs and hit by rocket-fire by hate-filled terrorists bent on our annihilation. Not that we have relinquished most of the West Bank and all of Gaza to those killers. Not that every territorial withdrawal has been accompanied by an escalation in violence against us.
Netanyahu also addressed the Saban Forum, via video feed. His remarks were decidedly different from Kerry’s. He stressed the danger of the Iran nuclear deal; reminded everyone that the Palestinian Liberation Organization was created in 1964, three years before the Six-Day War, which led to Israel’s taking control of the territories it is accused of “illegally occupying.” He also pointed out that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about settlements or Palestinian statehood, but rather part of the “battle between modernity and medievalism.”
If Netanyahu is waiting with bated breath for Trump’s inauguration in January, it is with good reason – if only never to have to hear from the insufferable Kerry, who quipped that his wife complained over the years about his spending more time conversing with the Israeli prime minister than with her.
Kerry’s Bitter Alternative Reality
To Kerry, none of that matters because of the settlements. The secretary refuses to understand that building a few more houses in existing communities doesn’t mean that Israel wouldn’t or couldn’t give up territory if Abbas were ever to take yes for an answer. He ignores the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly refused to accept Israeli offers of statehood. The focus on settlements is a flimsy Palestinian excuse for not making peace–not the substantive obstacle Kerry falsely claims it to be.
Kerry was also right when he said the Arab states wouldn’t make formal peace with Israel without an agreement with the Palestinians. But Netanyahu’s assertion that the Arabs are far more worried about an Iran that has been empowered and appeased by Obama and Kerry than they are about the Palestinians is also correct. Formal relations may have to wait, but, despite Kerry’s warnings, Israel’s diplomatic position is not as weak as he claims.
From Obama’s first moments in office, his administration has been committed to the idea that more “daylight” between Israel and the United States would provide a path to peace. Eight years of ginned up fights with Netanyahu and tilting the diplomatic playing field in their direction has only encouraged the Palestinians to be more intransigent. More daylight has been an abysmal failure, and, in characteristic fashion, Kerry would rather double down on this disaster than admit he’s been wrong.
Stabbing Israel in the back at the UN won’t bring peace any closer either, but Kerry prefers to leave the State Department with a gesture that would damage Israel and hamstring his successor rather than simply go home. It can only be hoped that Obama will listen to the better angels of his nature and to those who tell him that acting in this manner will only provoke President-elect Trump to embrace Israel even more closely rather than Kerry’s bitter and foolish advice.



Kerry: Iran deal made Israel safer
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry argued on Monday that the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers last year had made the world – including Israel – safer.
Kerry rejected President-elect Donald Trump's references to the agreement as a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated".
"The region is safer, Germany and the United States are safer, Europe is safer, Israel is safer and the world is safer... It depends on all of us to keep this alive," he said at an event at which he was awarded the German Order of Merit, according to Reuters.
The Secretary of State added that President Barack Obama had already approached Trump about the matter.
During the election campaign, Trump publicly spoke out against the Iran deal, calling it “disastrous” and vowing to “rip it up” as president.
After he won the election, Trump’s senior foreign policy adviser, Walid Phares, hinted that while Trump might not actually rip up the agreement, he would act to change it.
Kerry’s remarks on Monday are not the first time that he and Obama have argued that Israel is safer by the deal and that even the Jewish state agrees with this notion.
More bad advice from Dennis Ross
For nearly thirty years, Dennis Ross has been advising presidents of the United States to pursue more pro-Palestinian policies. This week, he was at it again, offering President-elect Trump some unsolicited "tips" on the Mideast on the op-ed page of the Washington Post. Hopefully the new president will pay less attention to Ross's bad advice than his predecessors did.
Ross first came to wide public attention in 1989, when the New York Times revealed that he was one of the State Department officials responsible for convincing outgoing President Ronald Reagan and incoming President George H.W. Bush to recognize the PLO. Ross insisted that Yasir Arafat had genuinely given up terrorism. That blew up in Bush's face the following year, when PLO-affiliated terrorists tried to attack Tel Aviv beachgoers and the U.S. embassy nearby. Bush broke off the PLO ties that Ross had so carefully cultivated.
During the years following the 1993 Oslo accords, Ross was one of the architects of the Clinton administration's close relationship with Arafat. Once again, Ross claimed Arafat had become moderate. That myth was shattered (again!) when Israel intercepted the Karine A, a Palestinian ship full of weapons that Arafat tried to smuggle into the Palestinian Authority's territories in January 2002. The ship contained 50 tons of weapons and 700,000 rounds of ammunition.
But Ross soon did it again. From 2009 to 2011, he served as a senior aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and as Middle East director on the National Security Council. Those were the years when Hamas was starting to build tunnels to enable its terrorists to reach Israel from Gaza, and the Israelis began restricting the importation to Gaza of building materials that could be used for the tunnels. So the Obama administration sent Ross to the region--to pressure Israel.
Ross later admitted what he did: "I argued with Israeli leaders and security officials, telling them they needed to allow more construction materials, including cement, into Gaza so that housing, schools and basic infrastructure could be built. They countered that Hamas would misuse it, and they were right.”
Jared Kushner’s parents donated tens of thousands to settlement groups
The charitable foundation of the parents of Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to West Bank groups and institutions, an Israeli newspaper reported.
The Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation has given a few million dollars a year to charitable causes, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported, citing the foundation’s tax forms for 2010-14, with an average donation of between $5,000 and $10,000.
Jared Kushner and his three siblings sit on the foundation board.
Among the West Bank organizations and institutions that receive funding are the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, with a $20,000 donation in 2013; the Etzion Foundation, which supports Yeshivat Har Etzion, Kibbutz Migdal Oz and the Herzog College teachers’ training institution, all located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, with two donations totaling $15,000; and Ohr Torah Stone, headquartered in the Efrat settlement, with $5,000.
The foundation has also donated to other Israeli institutions. In 2014, it pledged $18 million to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, in addition to $2 million it had committed to earlier. The foundation also pledged $315,000 over the course of three years to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and Jared Kushner sits on the group’s board.
Caroline Glick: Michael Flynn and what he means for Trump’s foreign policy
In Flynn’s view, while Russia is Iran’s primary partner in its war for global domination, it should not be the primary focus of US efforts. Iran should be the focus.
In his words, the best place to unravel the enemy alliance is at its “weakest point,” which, he argues, is Iran.
Flynn explains that the basic and endemic weakness of the Iranian regime owes to the fact that the Iranian people hate it. To defeat the regime, Flynn recommends a strategy of political war and subversion that empowers the Iranian people to overthrow the regime as they sought to do in the 2009 Green Revolution. Flynn makes the case that the Green Revolution failed in large part because the Obama administration refused to stand with the Iranian people.
Flynn is both an experienced commander and an innovative, critical, strategic thinker. As his book makes clear, while flamboyant and blunt he is not at all erratic. He is far-sighted and determined, and locked on his target: Iran.
Whoever Trump selects as secretary of state, his appointment of Mattis on the one hand and Flynn on the other exposes his hand. Trump is interested in ending the war that the forces of radical Islam started with the US not on September 11, 2001, but on November 4, 1979, with the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran.
With Mattis and Flynn at his side, Trump intends to bring down the Iranian regime as a first step toward securing an unconditional victory in the war against radical Islam.
How Obama Engendered Amona
Had Obama quietly acquiesced in building in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs and given Netanyahu public credit for his restraint, Netanyahu would have had a solid case to make to his party’s angry young activists. It’s true we aren’t building everywhere, he could have said, but at least we’re building in some places that are important to us. Restraint in other areas is worth it for the sake of good relations with Washington.
But in the face of Obama’s actual policy, Netanyahu has no case at all. You aren’t building anywhere, the young activists justly retort, and if you’re going to generate just as much international outrage by building in Jerusalem as by building in Amona, why not build everywhere?
Netanyahu has striven desperately to find some sort of compromise over Amona, and he may succeed. But the young activists’ anger isn’t going to go away, so at some point, he’ll have to choose: start building and risk the international community’s displeasure, or continue his restraint and risk losing his own base. And when politicians in democratic countries are forced to choose between their voters and foreign leaders, the latter usually lose.
Thus, if the international community wants to ensure that settlement building won’t undermine a two-state solution, it needs to stop opposing construction in areas where construction does no such thing, like Jerusalem and the settlement blocs, and start giving Netanyahu credit for his restraint. Otherwise, he’ll have no ammunition with which to fight his base’s angry young activists. And if he can’t beat them, he’ll almost certainly join them.
New poll finds high support for Trump among Israelis
The poll found that 48% of Israelis believe there is no chance that Trump’s election will lead to a peace deal with the Palestinians, while another 47% said there is a “possible chance.”
On Trump’s promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, only 22% said they believe that there is a high probability he will make the move, while 49% said there is a “possible chance” and another 26% said there is no chance.
Most Israelis polled also said they were not overly concerned with fears of a rise in anti-Semitism in the US in the wake of Trump’s victory, which has emboldened some racist and anti-Semitic groups, part of the so-called “alt-right.”
While 32% of Israelis polled said there was concern, another 32% reported only slight concern and 20% said there was no concern. Only 16% said they were very concerned.
“Israelis are optimistic that President-elect Trump will be a friend of Israel while at the same time they are concerned about the growing incidents of anti Semitism in the United States and its impact on the American Jewish community,” Ruderman Foundation head Jay Ruderman said in a statement.
In regards to the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump said during the campaign he would tear up, calling it one of the worst agreements in history, 42% of Israelis believe there is no chance he will scrap the nuclear accord, with only 13% saying there is a high chance he will tear up the deal.
Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot: Avoiding Mistakes in Middle East Peacemaking
As the Trump administration takes shape, it would do well to avoid the mistakes of the outgoing administration that doomed its attempt at Middle East peacemaking. Rather than encouraging practical steps to improve the security and livelihood of the people it supposedly endeavored to help, President Obama heavily focused on Israeli settlements. But eight years of intensive diplomacy led to little or no results.
The administration immediately demanded an absolute freeze on Israeli housing construction not only in the entire West Bank, including in the major blocs that Israel will obviously keep in any peace agreement, but also in Israel's capital of Jerusalem. Developments that have had massive influence on Israeli public opinion, like the deteriorating prospects for peace in Gaza despite the removal of all Israeli settlements there, were viewed from the White House and State Department as irrelevant.
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, outside the five major bloc townships, a total of 6,818 housing units were approved for construction in West Bank settlements between 2009 and 2016. A separate analysis shows an increase of approximately 20,000 residents in the 70 settlements that are outside the major blocs. Israeli population in the settlements is growing, but at a rate that reflects mostly births in families already there, and not in-migration of new settlers.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian population is also growing, so that in comparative terms, the demographic balance between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank has changed very little since Obama took office. Considering all the data, the working assumptions guiding Obama's policy were simply wrong. Settlement expansion is not speedily gobbling up the West Bank, nor has it killed off chances for peace.
Erdogan's Gritted-Teeth Peace with Israel
Equates IDF with Hitler
In Istanbul, where a majority of Turkey's 17,000 Jews live, unknown people recently started hanging posters in a posh district. The posters call on Muslims "not to be fooled by the missionary activities of Jew-servant Jehovah's Witnesses." They say: "These people are trying to destroy the religion of Islam." Signed: Sons of Ottomans.
Erdogan's ideological hostility to the Jewish state and his ideological love affair with Hamas have not disappeared.
Erdogan thinks that Israel's military action in response to Hamas's rockets indiscriminately targeting Israeli citizens is no different than the murder of six million Jews by a lunatic. "There is no point in comparing and asking who is more barbaric," Erdogan concluded. In other words, Erdogan thinks that Hitler and the Israel Defense Forces are "equally barbaric."
Yes, blessed are the peacemakers. Nevertheless, the Turkish-Israeli "peace" may not be easy to sustain.
Top Republican senator pushing to suspend aid to Palestinian Authority, Egypt
Whether Israel likes it or not, the United States Senate will aggressively promote legislation next month aimed at cutting funding to two key allies of the Jewish state – the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, Sen. Lindsey Graham told The Jerusalem Post.
A longtime and vocal supporter of Israel, former US presidential candidate Graham told the Post that as chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Operations Subcommittee, he will work to cut US aid to the PA for continuing to pay stipends to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and to Egypt for its recent legislative crackdown on NGOs.
Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, expects Israel to oppose both moves but says he will move forward regardless. He revealed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had personally asked him during Israel’s negotiations with the White House over a memorandum of understanding for a new military aid package to suspend his efforts in the Senate to get Israel more money than initially agreed upon. According to Graham, he was offended by Netanyahu’s request.
Graham said the first piece of legislation is called the “Taylor Force Act,” named for the US military veteran who was killed in a Palestinian terrorist stabbing in Tel Aviv earlier this year. Force’s parents live in South Carolina.
Knesset advances controversial West Bank outpost bill
The Knesset plenum on Monday approved a new draft of a bill to recognize West Bank settlement outposts, a controversial measure castigated by its opponents as an illegal land grab that paves the way for Israel to recognize some 4,000 settler homes built on private Palestinian land.
After a raucous plenary session that saw opposition lawmakers screaming and ripping up copies of the proposed legislation, the revised so-called Regulation Bill — which received ministerial approval just hours before — sailed through Israel’s parliament, clearing its first legislative hurdle by a count of 60 MKs for and 49 against.
The Knesset discussion on the bill began stormily with a speech by Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich that descended into chaos, as opposition lawmakers attempted to shout him down and drown him out by banging on tables.
Following the vote, the legislation was sent to committee and could be brought to a first reading in the plenum as soon as Tuesday.
Barring intervention from government leaders, the bill is expected to speed through the Knesset after gaining coalition support in an emergency meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation Monday night. If passed, it would then inevitably be challenged before the Israeli High Court.
Palestinians slam outpost bill, demand US recognize Palestine
The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called on the US administration to officially recognize the state of Palestine and support a UN resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in response to Israel’s preliminary approval Monday night of a bill that would legalize outposts.
The so-called Regulation Bill, which was slammed by Israeli opponents as a “land grab” and has been harshly criticized by the US, EU and UN as a breach of international law, sailed through the Knesset in a preliminary reading, clearing its first legislative hurdle by a count of 60 MKs to 49. Israel’s attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, has warned that the bill breaches local and international law.
The Palestinians said in a statement they “welcomed” recent international criticism of Israeli settlements, “especially” by US Secretary of State John Kerry, before the preliminary approval of the Regulation Bill.
Kerry on Sunday harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing the Israeli leader of not taking the required risks to reach a two-state solution, and calling the settlements “an obstacle to peace.”
“The ministry asserts that this statement [from Kerry], although belated, and in the last quarter-hour of the life of the Obama administration, clearly places full responsibility on the Israeli government for thwarting the negotiations and destroying the chances for peace,” the statement said.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Trump Offers To Have Mexico Also Pay For Israeli Separation Barrier (satire)
President-elect Donald Trump continued to insist today his administration will construct a wall along the US-Mexico border and that Mexico will foot the bill for the multi-billion-dollar project – and the incoming chief executive also offered to include in the invoice any work Israel still needs done to complete its separation barrier from Palestinian-controlled areas.
In a phone conversation this morning with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Trump expressed understanding for Israel’s sensitive security predicament, and praised the premier for his uncompromising stance on terrorism. “We need to see more over here of what you’ve done over there, and when we get this Mexico wall done and Mexico pays for it, I’ll make sure they also pay for whatever remains to be done on your wall,” he told Netanyahu. The prime minister praised the incoming US administration this afternoon at a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset.
Israel’s security barrier, begun more than fifteen years ago to stop Palestinian suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks, has yet to be completed along its entire planned length of about 440 miles, mostly as a result of technical or bureaucratic obstacles. While often called a wall, in fact more than 90% of the barrier consists of fences and ditches, with a concrete wall mainly in use near urban areas to protect against sniper fire. Trump’s offer, if accepted and made good, will eliminate any funding problems standing in the way of completion.
After five frosty years, Israeli ambassador returns to Turkey
Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey on Monday handed his letter of credence to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, hailing a “new phase” in bilateral ties.
Eitan Na’eh is Israel’s first ambassador in Ankara in half a decade. Before he was greeted by Erdoğan in the Presidential Palace for a short ceremony, a military band played Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva.
Erdoğan also shook hands with Na’eh’s wife, Cheryl, and their 19-year-old son.
Taking to Twitter moments after the ceremony concluded, Na’eh said, in English and Turkish, that he was “very pleased” to present his credentials to Erdoğan and “to start a new phase in our relationship in between two countries.”
Na’eh, who had been stationed in Ankara in the 1990s, arrived in Turkey on Thursday.
“I am very happy to be back in Turkey as ambassador. We have a lot of work to do,” he told reporters at the airport. “I want to thank Turkey for the support, the aid it sent Israel fighting fires last week. We have a history of helping each other.”
Artist's statue of Netanyahu causes a stir outside Tel Aviv city hall
Tel Aviv artist Itay Zalait, 37, caused a stir on Tuesday after placing a golden statue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of the Tel Aviv Municipality building.
Overlooking Rabin Square, the four-meter (13-foot) tall structure twinkled as the morning sunlight hit the glossy, golden paint. Onlookers squeezed past to take pictures in front of the statue and debated freedom of expression in public space.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Zalait said he was hoping to provoke public debate. "The most important thing is to make people think and to not take things for granted. To imagine - without saying its good or bad - how does it feel to live in a country where a statue of the leader is in the center of the town?” said Zaliet, “Right now this feels like provocation but it could become reality.”
Zalait, standing triumphantly near his statue, which took three months to make, was accosted by supporters and detractors, one man shouted, “he is seeking to destroy the country!” others yelled, “well done! well done!”
Soldiers nab would-be Molotov cocktail thrower
Israeli combat intelligence soldiers arrested a would-be Molotov cocktail thrower early Tuesday morning as he approached a West Bank highway, but two others escaped, the army said.
The Palestinian suspect and his two accomplices had been spotted by a soldier monitoring a surveillance camera near al-Khader, outside Bethlehem.
A video of the incident showed two of the suspects approaching the Route 60 highway, while a third remained behind.
As they got close to the wall that protects the highway, a group of four soldiers from the Nitzan Battalion of the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps, who had been positioned nearby to thwart such attacks, arrived at the scene.
The soldiers captured one of the suspects and handed him over to police, but the other two fled, the army said.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, IDF troops uncovered weapons caches and confiscated “thousands of shekels” that the army said was to be used to fund terrorist activities.


Terrorists on motorcycles: IDF simulates cross-border attacks in Gaza Division drill
Hundreds of IDF troops conducted a large-scale exercise on the Gaza border Tuesday, testing the army’s preparedness against terror attacks emanating from the coastal enclave, including the possibility of gunmen on motorcycles, a military official said.
The drill, led by the IDF’s Gaza Division, included the evacuation of a school in the Eshkol region, as well as a test of how the army would respond to infiltrations into Israeli communities and to attacks on troops and military outposts near Gaza.
“It simulates a number of scenarios where the division would have to go from ‘routine’ to ’emergency,'” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
One such scenario was derived from a real-life incident from the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operative Protective Edge, in which motorbikes were discovered in a cross-border attack tunnel.
According to the IDF, those motorbikes were meant to be used to help terrorists kidnap Israeli civilians or security forces.
In the exercise, Israeli soldiers pretending to be Hamas terrorists used the vehicles to simulate an attack on an IDF base near Gaza, the army said.
PMW: Fatah: “Slice open the enemy’s chest - slice it!”
PA TV chose to honor Fatah during the Seventh Fatah Conference, held from Nov. 29 - Dec. 4, by broadcasting 11 times in six days a song celebrating Fatah’s terror and murder of Israelis. The Fatah movement is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who is also chairman of the Palestinian Authority.
The Fatah song emphasizes that Fatah’s “oath” is to destroy Israel, saying “free the state from the hands of the Zionists,” and that this will be done through violence, terror and killing:
“Slice open the enemy’s chest, slice it”
“Shoot the Dashka (machine gun) and the cannon”
“The Fatah man... fires the mortar and the machine gun”
“Strike, mortar, strike!”
The song applauds that it was Fatah who committed what it considers to be the first Palestinian terror attack against Israel - the attempted bombing of Israel’s main water carrier in 1965.
“Eilabun [in 1965] was the first shot [at Israel] and Fatah was responsible”
Love of violence is likewise celebrated by Fatah:
Fatah song: “Slice ‎open the enemy’s chest… I have no ‎love other than the love of the rifle”‎


Netanyahu blasts Fatah for electing Barghouti to senior post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday lashed out at the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party, Fatah, for electing a jailed terrorist to a senior role within the movement.
A Palestinian popular leader jailed for life by Israel for orchestrating a string of murders during the Second Intifada, Marwan Barghouti emerged victorious in Fatah’s Central Committee leadership vote, held in the West Bank and Gaza last week.
“This is the leader of a terrorist organization who encouraged and led terror attacks that killed and wounded dozens of innocent Israelis,” Netanyahu said in a statement Monday. “The election of Barghouti in the Fatah movement radicalizes the culture of incitement and terrorism.”
Netanyahu, who has long accused Palestinian leadership of inciting and glorifying violence against Israel, further said Barghouti’s election amplified “the culture of hate and only serves to alienate prospects of peace.”
“As if it weren’t enough that they continue to incite by naming streets, schools and squares after murderers, now they’re in top leadership roles,” he said.
Over the weekend, Fatah held its first congress in seven years. Delegates voted on key leadership roles within the party, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sought to quell dissent in the face of internal rivalries.
In Gaza, 2 wounded as Hamas clashes with hardliners
A police officer and a youth were hospitalized on Tuesday after Hamas forces clashed with hard-line Islamists in the Gaza Strip, a medical source and witnesses said.
Both men suffered bullet wounds during an attempt by Gaza security forces to arrest two men from a Salafist group, followers of an ultra-conservative form of Islam, a witness said.
The young man, believed to be a Salafist, was in serious condition, while the policeman’s condition was not life-threatening, the medical source said.
The witness said a grenade was thrown at security forces raiding a house in Al-Fukhari in the southern Gaza Strip, sparking clashes.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, is an Islamist party avowedly committed to destroying Israel but is frequently criticized by more conservative Islamists, including hardliners who sympathize with the Islamic State group.
The hardliners sporadically fire rockets at Israel, prompting retaliation against Hamas targets.
Russia and China block Syria truce in UN vote
Russia and China used their veto power in the UN Security Council to block a draft resolution on Monday calling for a seven-day humanitarian truce in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, leading the US representative to accuse them of issuing a “death sentence” for innocent Syrians.
It was Russia’s sixth veto and China’s fifth of resolutions on the civil war in Syria, now in its sixth year.
The resolution, sponsored by New Zealand, Egypt and Spain, sought to allow for the removal of the sick and wounded and to provide humanitarian aid workers enough time to get food aid and medicine into the besieged city.
The resolution had 11 votes in favor, three against with one abstention but because Russia and China as permanent members of the 15-seat council have veto power the resolution did not pass. Venezuela, a non-permanent member, cast the other “No” vote and Angola abstained.
US Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison called the vetoes “a death sentence for innocent men, women and children.”
“Let me tell you what Russia and China have vetoed today in blocking this resolution and allowing the bombardment of eastern Aleppo to continue. They have vetoed the delivery of basic medicine to people who will die without it. They have vetoed the evacuation of sick and dying people who have no chance of surviving in the bombed out hospitals and clinics of eastern Aleppo. They vetoed the delivery of food to civilians who could starve to death,” Sison said. “They have vetoed the lives of innocent Syrians.”
Trump May Release Documents with Secret Details of Iran Deal
Documents containing previously-unpublished details of the nuclear deal with Iran could be released after Donald Trump is inaugurated as president next month, The Daily Beast reported Monday.
Members of the incoming administration, including Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s pick to be national security advisor, and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kans.), his pick for CIA director, are pushing for release of the documents.
The documents, which the Obama administration has refused to release publicly, are stored in special rooms in the Capitol complex called Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facilities (SCIFs) that are normally used for storing top-secret information. However, the Iran documents are not officially designated as classified, and therefore could be released by the Trump administration relatively easily.
The documents include projections of how Iran’s nuclear program is expected to progress under the terms of the deal, communications about the deal between Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers, and exemptions given to Iran by the commission that was created to oversee the deal’s implementation. Also included are a set of documents signed by State Department official Brett McGurk that outline the terms of the U.S. Treasury Department’s release of $1.7 billion to Iran in exchange for four American hostages.
Despite the fact that the documents are not classified, “a confidential clearance was required to see the McGurk documents and a secret classification was required to view the joint commission documents in the Congressional SCIFs,” The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak wrote.
Is Iran Plotting a Kenya Attack?
Whether the men are lawyers or not is irrelevant. After all, Iranian charities, journalists, and government officials have previously been culpable in espionage and terrorism operations. When Iranian agents previously targeted diplomats in Thailand, Thai authorities quietly released them in order to avoid Iranian retaliation. In India, too, a terrorist working for Iran received bail despite his attempt to kill Israeli diplomats.
The Kenya incident suggests that the Iranian government has not changed its behavior despite its change in administration. Either Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani are on the same page ideologically, or they are simply unable to rein in the Iranian terror apparatus and therefore should not be trusted to deliver in any negotiation. Only one thing is clear: Until the Iranian government as a whole is held accountable for targeting diplomats, its behavior will not change. Iranian authorities are no more respectful of the sanctity and norms of diplomacy now than they were in 1979.




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Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

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