Wednesday, February 01, 2017

From Ian:

PMW: Terror poems for kids on PA TV
Twice this month Palestinian Authority TV’s children’s program The Best Home had young children recite poems encouraging violence. One poem called for murder of Israelis “as we slaughtered them in your streets, Beirut.” The poem also urged Palestinians to seek death, emphasizing that if you are a member of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’ party, your “blood is food for the revolution”:
Boy: “Today, O our West Bank, our Gaza, raise your voice
O our land, the time has still not passed
As we expelled them from Gaza and Sderot
As we slaughtered them in your streets, Beirut
For you, Yasser Arafat, for you we shall die
After the night comes the light of day, and the fig leave will be removed...
Tomorrow we will take our vengeance, and their leader will be carried in a coffin
We, Fatah, are a storm, and our blood is food for the revolution...”
PA TV host: “Bravo, Muhammad, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
[Official PA TV, The Best Home, Jan. 6, 2017]
What's Holding the Arab World Back?
What's holding the Arab world back? Why, by nearly every measure, are Muslim nations so far behind the West economically, culturally and scientifically? Bret Stephens, Global View columnist for the Wall Street Journal, explains.

Nikki Haley Pledges to Block Anti-Israel Actions by United Nations
Nikki Haley, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, phoned her Israeli counterpart on Monday to reinforce America's "ironclad support" for the Jewish state.
Haley pledged to Ambassador Danny Danon that she would block anti-Israel actions taken by the U.N., citing the security council's decision last month to condemn Israel for erecting settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
During her confirmation hearing before the Senate earlier this month, Haley vowed a pivot in U.S. policy toward Israel. The former South Carolina governor criticized the Obama administration's decision to abstain from the U.N. vote, calling the resolution a "terrible mistake."
"I will not go to New York and abstain when the U.N. seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel," Haley said on Jan. 18. "I will never abstain when the United Nations takes any action that comes in direct conflict with the interests and values of the United States."

US should use French ruling to combat UN Israel bias
The Versailles Court rejected the various Palestinian arguments. Israel had not violated the 1907 Fourth Hague Conventions. The light rail construction had not resulted in the deportation of the Palestinian population nor the destruction of Palestinian buildings and homes. Israel had not violated the law relating to the protection of cultural property.
The Court held that Israel was entitled to ensure peace and order in the region and the light rail helped do this. The occupying power can use all activities generally exercised by state authorities. The political demands of the PLO do not override the well-being of the inhabitants of the area. The law cannot be based solely on the PLO’s assessment of a political or social situation.
The decision of the Versailles Appeals Court has no direct affect on international law but it is and ought to be considered a guide to the objective , unbiased, discussion of the disputed territories and of the behavior and role of Israel. Certainly Ambassador Haley should heed the verdict , and make plain at the UN at least two points.
One is that a corporation or organization cannot be faulted for participating in an Israeli project that partly takes part in the disputed territory, and that boycotts are unjustified.
The other point is that the Geneva and Hague conventions so often quoted are often misused and are not an excuse for the Palestinians to avoid entering into peaceful negotiations.
Ex-US envoy voices support for ‘carefully’ moving embassy to Jerusalem
After consistently defending the Obama administration’s opposition to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro now appears sympathetic to the idea.
In an article offering advice to the new US administration, he argues that the embassy’s relocation could take place even before a final Palestinian-Israeli peace deal is reached.
The move might also have positive practical implications for American diplomats stationed in Israel, who would no longer need to travel from Tel Aviv to to Jerusalem to meet government officials, he wrote.
“I supported all three presidents’ use of their national security waiver authority to delay the move in the interest of pursuing Middle East peace. But I have never believed that arguments for moving the embassy were groundless, or that it must await a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement,” Shapiro wrote in Foreign Policy Magazine
David Singer: Netanyahu Needs Trump Answer on Bush-Congress Commitments to Israel
Those 2004 commitments to Israel had been made by President Bush in a letter to Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004 (“the Bush Commitments”).
Obama never obliged Netanyahu by reaffirming those Bush Commitments.
Neither did Netanyahu press Obama to do so – though he had opportunities during
* Remarks by Obama and Netanyahu After their Bilateral Meeting
* An address by Netanyahu to AIPAC on 23 May 2011
* An emotion-charged speech Netanyahu gave to a joint sitting of the Congress on 24 May 2011
Netanyahu’s failure to mention the Bush Commitments in his Congress speech was a grievous error of judgement – since those commitments to Israel had been endorsed in the House – 407 votes to 9 – and in the Senate – 95 votes to 3.
Rivlin says sorry, but Mexico says ties ‘hurt’ by PM’s support of Trump wall
President Reuven Rivlin apologized Tuesday to his Mexican counterpart over any hurt caused by a tweet sent out by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that seemed to express support for a wall on the US border, seeking to smooth out a diplomatic rift sparked by the 140-character missive.
In a phone call between the two heads of state, Mexican President Enrique Peňa Nieto said bilateral ties between Mexico and Israel had been “hurt” by the Twitter comment, rebuffing claims by Netanyahu that relations with Mexico remained strong.
Officials in Jerusalem have been on the defensive since Mexico reacted furiously to the Saturday night tweet by Netanyahu. The prime minister tweeted that US president Donald Trump’s wall proposal was “great” citing Israel’s own success with a wall on the Egyptian border that stemmed illegal immigration.
On Monday, Netanyahu said he never mentioned Mexico in the tweet and that he believes Israel-Mexico “ties are much stronger than any passing disagreement or misunderstanding.”
Rivlin told Nieto that the diplomatic tiff was caused by a “misunderstanding” and expressed hopes the two countries could continue to have a positive relationship.
Israel’s Top Diplomat to Visit Turkey for First Talks Since Reconciliation
The Director General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry will arrive in Turkey on Tuesday for the first direct, bilateral talks between the two countries since a reconciliation agreement was signed last year, ending a six-year hiatus in diplomatic relations.
Yuval Rotem will head the three-day Israeli delegation to Turkey, where they will meet with Turkish officials across government agencies, Israeli embassy staff, and Jewish community representatives.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry said that “the political dialogue sends a positive message on the commitment of both sides to deepen the relationship between the two countries,” and added that the talks will “allow for comprehensive discussion, after six years of … challenges, on the drastic changes in the region.”
Samoan Parliament Member Says His Country Must Always Back Israel, ‘Whatever Happens’
A member of the Samoan Parliament has called on his country to unequivocally back Israel “in the face of growing hostility against God’s people from other countries in the world,” the Samoa Observer reported on Tuesday.
“I strongly urge our government that whatever happens to Israel, we should always support that government,” MP Alaiasa Sepulona Moananu — who represents Anoama’a East — said. “We have to.”
“The God upon whom Samoa is founded is the God of the Bible,” Alaiasa went on to say. “If we go back to theology, he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and from them comes Jesus Christ whom we believe.”
The Samoan legislator made the remarks during a debate about a proposed constitutional amendment to declare the tiny Pacific island nation to be a Christian state. Alaiasa was speaking in support of the amendment.
Prosecution asks for 3-5 years in jail for Hebron soldier
Military prosecutors on Tuesday sought a prison sentence of three-to-five years for an Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter in the killing of a disarmed and wounded Palestinian assailant.
“We believe the appropriate sentence for the accused should not be less than three years and not more than five years,” the prosecutor, Nadav Weisman, said during a court hearing at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Sergeant Elor Azaria, 20, was convicted by the Jaffa Military court earlier this month for killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016, in a case that has deeply divided the country.
The shooting in the West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video and spread widely online.
Several injured in clashes as Israeli forces begin Amona evacuation
Several hundred Israeli security forces have begun the operation to evacuate 40 Jewish families from the Amona outpost in the West Bank on Wednesday morning following hours of delay, police said.
Activists hurled rocks at reportedly unarmed security forces as they inched toward Amona. More than 15 people were arrested as clashes broke out between activists and security forces, a police said.
More than 15 security forces were wounded during clashes and a police source said least some of the officers sustained injuries from a chemical substance thrown at them by protesters.
A spokesman from Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem, three police officers were being treated for their wounds, including two with moderately wounded from liquid thrown at their eyes.
Ahead of the long-awaited eviction of the illegal outpost, settlers poured oil on the main road leading to Amona to make it difficult for security forces to reach them. About 200 activists, the majority of which were youth and teenagers, were protesting at the entrance to Amona. About 10 buses were in the vicinity slated to take away the Amona families before the outpost is demolished per an order by the High Court of Justice.
Bennett: Amona evacuation will lead to West Bank annexation
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett on Wednesday hailed the residents of Amona as “heroes” whose campaign to stay in their homes will lead to the annexation of the West Bank and avert future evacuations in the settlements.
The leader of the right-wing party spoke as hundreds of police and bulldozers entered the West Bank outpost to demolish it per a 2014 court order which ruled it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.
Several lawmakers from the Jewish Home party were at the outpost in a show of solidarity with the Amona residents.
“From this legal defeat we will establish a new legal regime in Judea and Samaria that will regulate the entirety of settlements, and from the painful loss of this foothold in this mountain will emerge the State of Israel’s application of sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria,” said the education minister in the Knesset plenum.
Bennett maintained the government “turned over every stone” to salvage the outpost, lamenting that “unfortunately, the struggle for Amona was unsuccessful.” The residents of Amona are “heroes” and “pioneers,” he said.
Israel okays another 3,000 new settlement homes
With the evacuation of the Amona outpost looming, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday approved the construction of around 3,000 new homes in the West Bank, some of them outside settlement blocs Israel hopes to keep in a future peace deal with the Palestinians.
The decision came a week after Israel approved the construction of 566 housing units in East Jerusalem and 2,500 homes in the West Bank.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said the new construction “comes as part of a return to normal life in Judea and Samaria, as well as conduct which provides real solutions to housing and living needs.”
The new homes will include 700 homes in Alfei Menashe, 650 in Beitar Illit, 650 in Beit Arye, 200 in Nofim, 150 in Nokdim (Liberman’s home settlement), 100 in Shilo, 100 in Karnei Shomron and 100 in Metsudot Yehuda.
The announcement appeared to be an attempt by the government to calm settler anger over the court-ordered removal of Amona.
Knesset revokes ban on MKs visiting the Temple Mount
In a move that could re-ignite tensions on the Temple Mount, the Knesset Ethics Committee decided on Tuesday to allow Knesset members to visit the sensitive holy site. The committee made the decision in response to pressure from both right-wing factions and the Joint Arab List.
Israel Hayom has learned that Jerusalem District Police Commander Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevy took part in the committee meeting on Tuesday. The committee decided to place certain restrictions on MKs' visits to the Temple Mount, including a prohibition on television coverage of the visits and a requirement to coordinate visits with the police in advance and to obtain mandatory permits from the Israel police commander in charge of the Temple Mount.
Several of the committee members admitted they had made the decision with heavy hearts, and expressed concern that MKs visiting the site would cause provocations that would lead to renewed rioting, in a repeat of events on the Temple Mount two years ago.
The committee also wondered why it had been charged with handling such a volatile issue.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Kool-Aid Man Joins IDF House Demolition Squad (Satire)
Ministry of Defense officials announced a new contract today with Kool-Aid Man, an expert in breaking through walls who will help the IDF demolish Palestinian homes more efficiently.
Tarkiz Petel, a spokesman for the ministry, told reporters that among a series of outside contractors newly engaged to perform support roles is the celebrity mascot for Kool-Aid, a six-foot(183-cm)-tall glass pitcher filled with the refreshing eponymous beverage. The new contractor’s role will involve bursting through walls that might otherwise pose engineering challenges.
“We are please to announce we have reached an agreement with Mr. Kool-Aid Man to assist us in demolishing illegally-built structures in the areas under IDF control, and destroying the houses of terrorists,” said Petel. “His services will add punch to our enforcement and deterrence efforts.”
Petel explained that the logistics involved in demolishing a building, even a small one, in a hostile environment are complex enough without the additional concerns regarding the transportation of the necessary heavy equipment and personnel, and that Kool-Aid Man would enable the IDF to reduce expenditures and depletion of resources. “We just need to get him in there, suggest there’s thirst behind the wall, and point him in the right direction. It’s much more efficient than having to drag a team of engineers and equipment, possibly under fire, to conduct the operation.” Instead, he explained, a single truck carrying the contractor would have to accompany the escorting troops, and described the deal as a “breakthrough.”
Hamas military capabilities said restored to pre-2014 war strength
The military capabilities of Hamas in Gaza have reportedly been restored to their strength pre-2014, when the Islamist terror group fought a war with Israel that depleted much of its arsenal and battered much of its military infrastructure.
Senior military and defense officials said Hamas’s network of cross-border tunnels and its missile arsenal have been fully restored, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.
The report caps two years in which Hamas, the de facto ruling power in Gaza, sought to rebuild its military capabilities, including thousands of missiles, small arms, and a network of tunnels, many of which crossed into Israel.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008. Gaza is subject to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade in an effort to prevent Hamas, which avowedly seeks Israel’s destruction, from importing weaponry and restoring its military infrastructure.
Erekat: ICC is the place for 'Israeli war criminals'
Saeb Erekat, the Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), on Tuesday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to open an immediate investigation into “the crimes of the occupation", particularly the “crimes of the colonial settlement of the occupied Palestinian land, including East al-Quds."
"The time has come to move to the next stage and investigate the crimes of the settlement, two years since the initial study of the files that Palestine transferred [to the court] regarding the colonial settlement regime, the military actions against Palestine, the aggression against Gaza and the issue of the prisoners," Erekat said in an official statement.
He said the delay in opening an investigation will give Israel immunity and more time to implement its “settlement plans” at the expense of “the land of the state of Palestine”.
"The court is the only place for Israeli war criminals, and given the absence of accountability in the international community for the crimes of the occupation and defiance of the Israeli government against the decisions of international institutions, it is necessary to use all available means to prevent Israel from continuing its theft of lands and systematically violating International law,” added Erekat.
‘God help us’ if Trump keeps on like this, says top PA official
A senior Palestinian official said the Trump administration has failed to respond to Palestinian overtures to initiate contact.
Speaking to Newsweek in a telephone interview, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who serves as secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the new American administration worried Palestinians.
If US President Donald Trump’s first week in office is the shape of things to come, he added, then “God help us, God help the whole world.”
Erekat noted that Trump has not criticized Israel’s recent announcement of plans to build some 3,000 homes in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem. The previous Obama administration, which opposed settlement construction, always spoke out against such announcements, he recalled.
“We Palestinians are so worried. [Trump] does not comment. Trump is Trump and it’s up to him what he will do with the settlement policies. At the end of the day, peace is made between Palestinians and Israelis.”
Palestinian Jihadi: Shooting at Canada Mosque 'Proves' Muslims Are Victims of Global Crusade
“Attacks on mosques are nothing new,” Almaqdesi claimed. “Every day, the planes of the United States-led coalition bomb mosques and kill Muslim worshipers as well as Muslim homes, all under the pretext of fighting against terror.” He offered no proof for his allegations.
The mosque attack proves that the West “and predominantly America are the leaders of global terror and we need to unite against it because it kills Muslims in Syria, Iraq and Yemen on a daily basis.”
“Muslims are fending off a daily war of annihilation that is led by Crusader ideology,” he said before ranting about another conspiracy theory: “In addition to this systematic terror, there is a campaign seeking to sensationalize the killing of Crusaders by Muslims in acts of self-defense, as opposed to radio silence in the media when Muslims are killed by Crusaders. If terror exists, it’s the Christian terror that kills innocent people every day.”
The Canada mosque attack also featured heavily on Arab social media.
“Six Muslims were killed and eight were injured in a mosque in Canada,” Nadia tweeted. “Will anyone call for a war on Christian terror?”
JCPA: The Egyptian President’s Payment to Hamas
In a couple of days, a Hamas security delegation is expected to arrive in Egypt to meet with Egyptian senior intelligence officials on issues concerning Gaza border security. Egyptian officials are demanding the extradition of 20 fugitives tied to terror activities in Egypt and organizations like ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas has agreed, in principle, to hand over wanted persons to Egypt if it is proven that they hurt Egyptian national security.
Egypt, for its part, agreed to measures significantly easing the Gaza blockade, led by the opening of the Rafah crossing.
This visit of a high-level Hamas delegation to Egypt is a direct consequence of opening a new page in relations between Hamas and Egypt for the first time since Mohammed Morsi was ousted in July 2013.
It is now clear that the new Egyptian security deal with Hamas is intended to help Egypt battle with ISIS in northern Sinai. This direct contact is a result of reshuffling of the Egyptian intelligence.
US says it 'will not stand by' as Iran tests ballistic missiles
The U.S. delegation to the United Nations has called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council following Iran's medium-range ballistic missile test earlier this week.
According to U.S. defense sources, the missile launched on Sunday reached a distance of around 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) before exploding mid-air.
At the emergency session Tuesday night, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called the missile test unacceptable.
"The United States is not naive. We are not going to stand by. You will see us call them out as we said we would, and you are also going to see us act accordingly," Haley said.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon called on the U.N. Security Council to take immediate action.
"Iran has again violated Security Council resolutions and again revealed its true intentions. The international community must not bury its head in the sand and ignore the Iranian aggression," Danon said.
US raises alarm at UN over Iran missile test
The United States on Tuesday raised alarm at the United Nations over Iran’s test-firing of a medium range missile, calling it “absolutely unacceptable,” after Tehran warned the United States against fueling tensions.
New US Ambassador Nikki Haley had requested the urgent consultations at the UN Security Council — the first action taken by the envoy just days into her mandate.
The row comes against a backdrop of already strained relations between Washington and the Islamic republic over US President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries.
“We have confirmed that Iran did have a medium-size missile launch testing on January 29, on Sunday. This is absolutely unacceptable,” Haley told reporters following a closed-door council meeting.
Iran confirms missile test, denies breach of nuclear deal
Iran confirmed on Wednesday that it had tested a ballistic missile, but denied that was a breach of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“The action was in line with boosting Iran’s defense power and is not in contradiction with the JCPOA (the nuclear deal) or Resolution 2231,” Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said.
He was referring to a UN Security Council resolution that bans Iran from developing missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. Iranian officials have previously claimed the country cannot violate the resolution, as it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons.
“This test was in line with our ongoing program,” the ISNA news agency quoted Dehghan as saying.
“We have previously announced that we will execute the programs we have planned in production of defense items meant for our national interests and objectives. Nobody can influence our decision.”
Tehran-Paris Trade Tripled Since Nuclear Deal Went Into Effect, Top Regime Official Says as French FM Visits Iranian Capital
The volume of trade between France and the Islamic Republic has tripled since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) went into effect last year, a top Iranian official said on Tuesday, according to the regime-aligned Tasnim news agency.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comment during a joint press conference with French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, who was in the midst of a two-day visit to Tehran.
“After Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to France [in January 2016], a road map to the promotion of relations was developed,” Zarif said. “Today, the implementation of the road map has had positive effects on various fields.”
The semi-official Mehr state news agency reported that Ayrault was joined on his trip to Iran by representatives of 60 French companies.
On Monday, the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) advocacy group warned Ayrault about the perils of doing business with Iran.
UN NGO Committee Does Turkey's Bidding and Cracks Down on Civil Society
On January 30, 2017, member states of the UN's Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations ("NGO Committee") voted to recommend the withdrawal of UN accreditation from three organizations based in Turkey, including a free speech organization registered with 501c3 status in the United States. The UN NGO Committee is responsible for reviewing the applications of NGOs and recommending them for UN accreditation - a status that gives them the ability to participate in various UN events. The NGO Committee is well-known for holding up or denying accreditation of NGOs for political reasons. Members include China, Iran, Russia, Sudan, and Venezuela - countries which have little respect for freedom of speech or association and hinder the operation of independent NGOs.
Moreover, Turkey, which has engaged in a purge of thousands of journalists, teachers, and other civil society members following the the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016, was chosen as a Vice-Chair of the UN NGO Committee at the January 30, 2017 meeting.
Following its appointment, Turkey requested that three organizations have their UN accreditation withdrawn because they had "ties to terrorists."
The United States objected to Turkey's request to withdraw immediately UN accreditation from the organizations and asked that the organizations be granted time to respond to the allegations. The United States pointed out that one of the organizations, the Journalist and Writers Foundation, relocated to the United States, is based in New York, and is a registered 501c3 non-profit.
Missile fired at Saudi frigate by Houthi rebels cursing Israel
The Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia admitted Monday that a Saudi frigate in the Red Sea near the port of Al Hudaydah in western Yemen was attacked and damaged by Houthi rebels who recorded the incident and shouted, "Death to America! Death to Israel!"
According to the coalition, three suicide vessels attacked the frigate, while a video published by the rebels seems to show the Saudi vessel being struck by an anti-ship missile.
Sources affiliated with the Shiite rebels told Hezbollah-affiliated "Al Mayadeen" that no less than 176 Saudi troops were on the frigate, including a military helicopter. In a coalition statement, the Saudis claimed two were killed and three wounded.
"The Saudi ship acted in response to the vessels, however, one of them crashed into the back of the ship causing an explosion and a fire, which was later extinguished," said the coalition. According to the Saudis, the ship was on patrol in the Red Sea near the port of Al Hudaydah.

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