Tuesday, February 07, 2017

From Ian:

Eugene Kontorovich: Israel’s Settlement Regulations Bill and International Law
Israel’s proposed “Regulations Bill” has attracted broad international criticism, including from the U.S. State Department and the European Union, as well as from opposition Israeli politicians and some government lawyers. The bill seeks to solve a situation in which, over several decades, over one thousand Israeli homes in West Bank settlements have been built in open areas to which Palestinians subsequently asserted property claims, typically based on broad give-aways of state land by the King of Jordan during the Hashemite occupation (1949-67). The homes are in communities built with some level of government involvement. Thus the bill provides the government would compensate the landowners 125% of the value of the land, in order to allow the communities that have been built there to remain.
The plots are generally open, uncultivated fields. The frequently used characterization of “private Palestinian lands” is misleading. In the overwhelming majority of cases, no individual Palestinians have come forward to claim the lands. Indeed, in most cases, no property claimants asserted their interests for decades after houses were built, a situation that in common law would certainly warrant the application of adverse possession doctrines, under which long-term possession of property unprotested by owners can change legal title, exactly to prevent these kinds of conflict between long-term users and owners who slept on their rights . Under Jordanian law, rules of prescription, which would turn the land over to its existing inhabitants, would apply. In cases like the community of Amona, which inspired but are not covered by the law, the Court made its determination without any fact-finding, and the lands claimed by the Palestinian petitioners only slightly overlap with those on which the Israeli homes stand.
Thus the law regulates situations where property claims, often difficult to verify, are being belatedly brought against areas that have seen significant improvement and home-building. Moreover, in the background are two legal doctrines that make the property impasse particularly costly. On one hand, the Israeli Supreme Court exercises broad remedial powers. Instead of merely awarding title to Palestinian claimants, it affirmatively requires the government to destroy all structures whose plots may overlap even in part with the claimed lands. On the other hand, bargaining in the shadow of obscure Jordanian land allotments is made close to impossible by a Palestinian Authority law criminalizing the sale of land to Jews. While Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has recently issued an executive order reducing the traditional death penalty to life at hard labor, there are reports that the old punishment may still be enforced de facto.

Caroline Glick: The evolving threat of jihad in the West
ISIS’s mode of operation is a natural progression from the September 11 attacks. Along the way, Anwar al-Awlaki, the commander of al-Qaida forces in Yemen killed in a US drone strike in 2011, was the pioneer of moving the direction of Western jihadists from the physical world to the virtual one. For more than a decade, Awlaki indoctrinated and directed numerous jihadists in the US and the UK. In the beginning Awlaki directed their actions by meeting with them and preaching to them in shared physical space. Later, he decamped to Yemen where he continued his efforts. He preached to them through cassette tapes, through satellite broadcasts and Internet chat rooms. He indoctrinated them through online essays. And he directed their terrorist attacks by email.
An interesting incident in Awlaki’s career came in 1996. At that time, Awlaki was working as a preacher at the Denver Islamic Society. According to a New York Times report from 2010, Awlaki left the mosque, and moved to San Diego shortly after an elder of the mosque upbraided him for telling a mosque member to travel to Chechnya to join the jihad against Russia.
The most revealing aspect of the story is that the elder who criticized Awlaki asked the New York Times not to publish his identity. By 2010, Awlaki had already been publicly implicated in directing scores of Western jihadists to commit attacks in the US and the UK. He was considered the commander of al-Qaida forces in Yemen. And yet, the mosque elder in Denver didn’t feel comfortable openly condemning him.
His aversion indicated where the balance of power in the American Muslim community lies.
Whether or not President Donald Trump is able to reinstitute his executive order mandating a 90-day ban on entry of nationals from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, the fact is that such a move will be insufficient to diminish the terrorist threat in America. As Callimacci’s article made brutally clear, so long as the intellectual shackles of political correctness block the US and other Western governments from taking concerted action against the creed of Islamic supremacism and its adherents inside their own borders, the virtual terrorism command ISIS now controls will last until it morphs into an even more deadly threat in the months and years to come.

In historic first, Israel legalizes West Bank outposts with sweeping new legislation
Following months of coalition wrangling, damning criticism from internal and international opposition, and bleak warnings from legal experts, Israel on Monday legalized all West Bank outposts with sweeping legislation that aims to prevent future demolitions of settler homes built on private Palestinian land.
In a late-night session, the Knesset passed the final readings of the controversial so-called Regulation Bill, which paves the way for Israel to recognize some 4,000 illegally built settler homes.
The legislation could still be thwarted by Israel’s judges. “The chance that it will be struck down by the Supreme Court is 100 percent,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said last week.
After a day of back-and-forth on whether the vote would take place at all, the bill went before lawmakers at 10.30 p.m., receiving 60 votes in favor to just 52 against. All opposition MKs present voted against the bill — with veteran Likud lawmaker Benny Begin standing out as the only coalition member to oppose the measure. Eight MKs were not present in the plenary for the vote.
Speaking for the government in defense of the measure before the vote, Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said the vote was not just over this specific law, but rather about the right of the Jewish people to live in Israel. “This whole debate is based on one question: Who does this land belong to?” he told the plenary.
Condemned by the Barack Obama administration, the European Union, the United Nations and Israel’s attorney general, the law was hailed by the settler movement as a turning point in the 50-year settlement project. Now, supporters say, the era of evacuating Jewish settlements such as the one carried out against the illegal Amona outpost last week, is over.
Netanyahu backs contentious outpost bill after alerting White House
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he informed the administration of US President Donald Trump about a controversial bill on legalizing West Bank outposts Monday and backs the bill going up for a vote.
The legislation, which would allow Israel to retroactively claim private Palestinian land where Israeli settlers live in exchange for compensation, is expected to be voted on late Monday after a Knesset debate, which began in the afternoon.
Netanyahu had reportedly sought to delay the vote until after he could speak with Trump when the two meet in Washington next week, but the Jewish Home coalition party pushed it forward for its final readings in the Knesset over his objections.
Speaking to reporters from London, where he is on a state visit, Netanyahu said keeping the US abreast before the vote was simply what friends do.
“I never said I want to push it off,” he said from the UK Foreign Office, where he later met with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. “I act according to the national interests. In my view, you don’t surprise friends. Friends don’t surprise each other. Friends update each other. That’s what I did.”
US keeps mum on Israeli law legalizing West Bank outposts
The United States on Monday refused to comment directly on a controversial bill passed in the Israeli Knesset that retroactively legalizes thousands of settler homes, a number of them built on private Palestinian land, indicating that the Trump administration needed to “have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward.”
The White House’s immediate response to the so-called Regulation Law was to refer to its statement last week that said the construction of new settlements “may not be helpful” in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace.
The vote on the bill passed 60-52 in a late-night session in the Knesset following a raucous debate in which opposition lawmakers shouted from their seats at governing coalition lawmakers speaking in favor of the vote from the dais. Some legislators supportive of the law took pictures of the plenum during the vote while some spectators in visitors’ seats raised black cloth in apparent protest.
The law has been condemned by the previous US administration of Barack Obama, the European Union, the United Nations and Israel’s own attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, who has warned that it marks the first time Israeli legislation explicitly affirms government support for the settlements, and would openly curtail property rights of Palestinians in the West Bank in a way that contravenes the protections granted to occupied populations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Hours after Netanyahu visit, UK slams Regulation Law
Hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left London, the UK government on Tuesday denounced Israel for passing into law a measure allowing the country to hold onto private Palestinian land, arguing that it alienates Israel from its allies.
The condemnation came a day after Netanyahu concluded his first visit with British Prime Minister Theresa May, during which Netanyahu declined to fully back the UK leader’s recognition of the two-state solution as the best pathway to peace.
“As a longstanding friend of Israel, I condemn the passing of the Land Regularisation Bill by the Knesset, which damages Israel’s standing with its international partners,” Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said in a statement. “It is of great concern that the bill paves the way for significant growth in settlements deep in the West Bank, threatening the viability of the two-state solution.”
Ellwood concluded his statement by reiterating Britain’s support for a two-state solution “leading to a secure Israel that is safe from terrorism, and a contiguous, viable and sovereign Palestinian state.”
Palestinians say Regulation Law aims to ‘legalize theft of Palestinian land’
The Palestinians excoriated on Monday night the passing of the controversial Regulation Law in the Knesset earlier with a vote of 60 to 52, accusing the Israeli parliament of approving a law that “legalize[s] theft of Palestinian land.”
Veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement that The Regulation Law — which legalizes housing units built by settlers on private Palestinian land in the West Bank in cases where settlers did not know that the land they were building on was privately owned by Palestinians, and where they received some kind of assistance from the state — was “another affirmation by the Israeli government for the Israeli settlers and occupation forces to continue their attacks against the land and people of Palestine.”
“The Israeli parliament has just approved a law to legalize theft of Palestinian land… All Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine are illegal and a war crime regardless of any law passed by the Israeli parliament or any decision taken by any Israeli judge,” he said, calling for the international community to take “concrete measures” and “hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of international law, in defiance of the collective international will to act for peace.”
Muslim world slams ‘provocative,’ ‘unacceptable’ outpost law
The Arab League accused Israel on Tuesday of “stealing the land” of Palestinians after the Knesset passed a contentious law legalizing dozens of Jewish outposts in the West Bank, joining Turkey, Jordan and others in strongly condemning the legislation.
“The law in question is only a cover for stealing the land and appropriating the property of Palestinians,” said the head of the Cairo-based League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
The Regulation Law, passed by a vote of 60 to 52 in a late-night Monday session, retroactively legalizes West Bank outposts that were unknowingly built on private Palestinian land. It paves the way for Israel to recognize some 4,000 illegally built settler homes. Palestinian owners will be compensated financially or with other land. The law will be challenged before Israel’s High Court.
High Court orders demolition of 17 outpost homes, leaves others
The High Court ordered Tuesday that 17 homes in an illegal Israel outpost in the West Bank be razed, less than a day after lawmakers passed a controversial law intended to circumvent court rulings based on Palestinian claims of land ownership.
The court ruled that Israeli authorities have until June 2018 to evacuate and raze 17 homes in the outpost of West Tapuah, south of Nablus. However, another 18 homes were allowed to remain for now, with the court seemingly giving the government the go-ahead to retroactively legalize them.
The case was bought by the Yesh Din organization against the residents of West Tapuah on behalf of 15 residents of the nearby Palestinian village of Yasuf who claim to be the owners of the land. The court found that some 17 buildings were built intentionally in an area known to be privately owned.
Yesh Din said in response it was dismayed by the ruling, insisting it did not go far enough.
PM: Invite to Balfour centenary ‘speaks volumes’ about Israel-UK ties
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday during an official visit to the UK that an invitation he received from British Prime Minister Theresa May to attend November’s centenary celebrations of the Balfour Declaration in London “speaks volumes” about Jerusalem’s relationship with Downing Street.
“While the Palestinians want to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration, the British prime minister is inviting the Israeli prime minister to an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the declaration. That speaks volumes,” Netanyahu said.
In July, the Palestinian Authority announced its plan to file a lawsuit against the British government over the 1917 document that paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel.
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said at the time that London was responsible for all “Israeli crimes” committed since the end of the British mandate in 1948.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Labor Split On Question Of Renaming To ‘Whatever The EU Wants’ Party (satire)
Senior figures within Israel’s Labor Party found themselves in sharp disagreement about the future of the party this week after several suggested that Labor be renamed the Whatever the EU Wants Party, in keeping with Labor’s political and rhetorical trends over the last two decades.
A meeting of MKs at the Knesset yesterday in advance of the vote on the Regulation Bill nearly came to blows, as party Chairman and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog had to stand between MKs Hilik Bar and Stav Shaffir to prevent further escalation. MK Merav Michaeli had to come to Herzog’s aid, report witnesses, as the chairman lacks the presence, physical or otherwise, to separate the opposing lawmakers.
Bar, Shelly Yachimovich, and Nahman Shai urged adoption of the Whatever the EU Wants name, arguing that the Israeli electorate would respond well to the honesty of the party’s messaging after years of distortion and propaganda from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud. “We’ve been unable to tap into the disillusion with Bibi, his corruption, and his prioritizing political survival over implementing any consistent policy,” argued Yachimovich. “Now is the time to make a sharp break with his politics-as-usual approach, and saying exactly what this party is about every time its name is mentioned will go a long way to accomplishing that.”
Shai seconded Yachimovich’s contention. “We’ve been trying to straddle the fence between right and left, and that bespeaks lack of confidence in our so-called convictions,” he explained. “Taking this firm ideological stance – which is also a practical one – will convey our gravitas as an alternative to the failures of the current government.”
Renewing the “Jordanian Option” for the West Bank
While Amman has for some time endorsed Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, thus implicitly relinquishing its claims to the territory, Hillel Frisch and Yitzḥak Sokoloff argue that the Hashemite monarchy might still be willing to play a role in creating some alternative resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The first step would be American and Arab investment in making the kingdom strong and prosperous:
The gravitational force of a prosperous Jordan would expand the functional links that have always existed between the cities of the West Bank and Amman. It would encourage Palestinians in the West Bank to look to ties with Jordan as the best guarantee of their political and economic future. Because of this, Jordan has the potential (once again) to become a major stabilizing influence on Palestinian politics, which would serve the interests of Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian people.
The reemergence of a Jordanian role in the disposition of the West Bank is much preferable to the current international fixation on the concept of an independent, contiguous Palestinian state with borders based on the 1967 lines. Such a state would be no less of a long-term strategic threat today than it was before the Oslo Accords. So, too, is Palestinian irredentism a threat to Jordan’s security. . . .
A strong and stable Jordan could provide an alternative to the model of a two-state solution that depends on the Palestinian Authority. Such a vision will not only attenuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, [but] will [also] bolster Jordan, whose importance to regional stability has never been so crucial. . . .
The ultimate alternate Israel-Palestine solution
To date Israel has been reluctant to claim sovereignty over these lands as the Arabs living there would then demand citizenship resulting in a binational state. This is unacceptable to most Israelis. They also reject the two-state solution.
So what is the alternative?
Consider for a moment, that if Jordan agrees to grant citizenship to all Palestinians, as their law currently provides, and invites the return of all of them to live and work in Jordan, the conflict would soon be ended. While King Abdullah isn’t about to do so, the Jordan Opposition Coalition (JOC) would. This coalition represents all opposition groups in Jordan that back a secular state. The JOC since its creation six years ago has supported good relations with Israel. It does not include groups that support terrorism. This alliance has agreed to work together in order to form the government of Jordan should King Abdullah abdicate. Although at least 75% of Jordanians are Palestinians, the King has disenfranchised them to a great extent in favor of the ethnic Hashemites and Bedouins.
The JOC has produced a detailed plan, Operation “Jordan in Palestine,” which clearly identifies their goals and the operational steps needed to implement their plan. Copies are available upon request.
All that is necessary for this to come to pass is for the U.S. to instruct the king, who currently spends most of his time outside Jordan, to not return home. Then it would arrange for the Jordanian army, which it controls, to support the next popular Palestinian uprising, and to designate who among them would form the interim government.
Dr. Josef Olmert: Scrap UNRWA And Establish The UN Arab Relief Agency
The UN is the most likely organization which is mandated to deal with these issues, at least if it was to do its job properly, and live up to its charter, both in letter and in spirit. In fact, there are two agencies which are supposed to do exactly that. One is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency For Palestine Refugees In The Near East (UNRWA), of course nothing about the LARGER number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, who were absorbed in Israel without the UN], the other is United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees. Let us dwell a little about UNRWA-an agency of the UN, which has become a hotbed of hatred towards Israel, an agency which constantly inflates the number of people under its care, whose many installations in Gaza , for example, serves in times of hostilities with Israel as a military outpost of Hamas, an agency whose entire mandate is bogus. It deals with “refugees,” from 70 years back, and in actual terms, it perpetuates the problem,rather than removes it. The idea is to perpetuate its own existence, and thus provide the Palestinians with another propaganda weapon against Israel. Here is a practical suggestion to people of goodwill in the international community. Scrap the outdated UNRWA, amalgamate it with UNHCR, arrange a world refugees relief fund of 50-100 BN dollars, and invest the money in resettlement in the affected countries of the Middle East, in other Arab countries of the Middle East, as well as in countries where there already are sizable communities of Middle Easterners, mainly Syrians, such as in South America, and first and foremost, stop immediately the ethnic cleansing in Syria. That means an international force of substantial size to be stationed in Syria. The genuine needs of those Palestinians who still use the services of UNRWA can be taken care of by the new united UN refugees agency.
Here is a challenge to the international community — start dealing with the REAL refugees problems of the Middle East with a view to terminate them, rather than to perpetuate them.
Hillel Neuer in U.S. Congress: How to Hold UNRWA Accountable for its Racist Teachers
House Foreign Affairs Committee Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Israel, the Palestinians, and the United Nations: Challenges for the New Administration Feb. 2, 2017

Debate on Palestinian "Refugees" at U.S. Congress Hearing
House Foreign Affairs Committee Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Israel, the Palestinians, and the United Nations: Challenges for the New Administration

Hillel Neuer and Robert Wexler Debate Secretary-General Comments on Temple in Jerusalem
House Foreign Affairs Committee Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Israel, the Palestinians, and the United Nations: Challenges for the New Administration Feb. 2, 2017

UN "Expert" on Human Rights in "Occupied Palestinian Territories" Calls for UN to Increase Pressure on Israel While Ignoring Palestinian Terror
On February 3, 2017, UN special rapporteur on "human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories" Michael Lynk issued a press release calling for the UN to exert additional pressure on Israel for building Jewish homes, while ignoring Palestinian terrorism and incitement. His lop-sided job description, which dates back more than 20 years, is to condemn Israel and not to investigate Palestinians.
Indeed, although three Israelis were injured in a Palestinian car ramming attack that same day, Lynk's press release did not mention Palestinian terror attacks even once. Instead, Lynk called for the UN to take additional measures to force Israel to submit to the biased December 23, 2016 Security Council resolution 2334, which decreed that Israel is "occupying" the historic holiest sites of Judaism in Jerusalem.
In the words of the press release:
"United Nations Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk has called on the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly to explore effective diplomatic and political measures to ensure Israeli compliance with Security Council resolution 2334, which affirms that all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory constitute a flagrant violation of international law...
Listing terror attacks, why doesn’t White House want to report on Israel?
Terror in Israel is nowhere to be found on a list of dozens of attacks distributed Monday by the White House to support US President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that the media deliberately downplays jihadist atrocities.
Trump earlier Monday had accused the media of downplaying the terror threat that his administration cites to justify its controversial travel ban, saying it purposefully ignored jihadist atrocities.
The new commander in chief did not immediately offer evidence to support his claims of a media conspiracy, made during his first visit to the headquarters for US Central Command.
But the White House, attempting to back up his allegation, compiled a list of 78 attacks it said were “executed or inspired by” the Islamic State group since September 2014, saying most failed to receive adequate media coverage.
Bercow Welcomed Emir of Kuwait Despite Travel Ban and Dire Human Rights Record
John Bercow has blocked “racist, sexist” Donald Trump from addressing parliament despite welcoming leaders of countries with dire records on equality and human rights. In November 2012 Bercow allowed the Emir of Kuwait His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to address parliament. The Speaker told the Emir:
“Your Highness it is my privilege to welcome you here to our Parliament for this important stage of your state visit. Your presence here today is a welcome reminder of the many intimate ties that exist between our nations and our peoples”
According to Human Rights Watch Kuwait has a poor record on women’s rights:
“Women continue to face discrimination in many aspects of their lives, and large legal gaps remain in protections for women. Kuwait has no laws prohibiting domestic violence, sexual harassment, or marital rape.”
It is also illegal to be gay in Kuwait and according to the International Air Transport Association the country also bans Israeli passport holders from travelling there.
J Street-backed lawmakers demand Bannon's removal
Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives spearheaded a letter by 50 House Democrats to President Donald Trump demanding the removal of Stephen Bannon from the National Security Council.
The letter sent Friday and initiated by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., decries the removal of the chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence from the council, and their replacement with Bannon, Trump’s chief political strategist, and Reince Priebus, his chief of staff. Both Nadler and Deutch are backed by the J Street organization, which advocates on behalf of Palestinian statehood.
The letter takes special issue with Bannon and his senior role on the NSC, however, noting his background prior to joining Trump’s campaign last summer helming Breitbart News. Bannon once described Breitbart News as a platform for the “alt-right,” a loose assemblage of anti-establishment groups that includes anti-Semites as well as strident defenders of Israel.
One unifying thrust of the alt-right has been its hostility to Islam, and the letter writers say that Bannon is an especially inappropriate choice as the United States confronts the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Exclusive — Rand Paul to Oppose Elliott Abrams for State Department Slot
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will oppose Elliott Abrams if President Donald Trump nominates him to serve as the Deputy Secretary of State, a senior aide to Paul confirmed to Breitbart News late Monday night.
Paul’s decision to come out against Abrams strikes a damaging blow against his chances of ever receiving Senate confirmation should he be nominated, outside of bipartisan support that he’s unlikely to receive or a full-court press by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
With 21 members—11 Republicans and 10 Democrats—if the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hold strong against Abrams should Trump select him, Paul’s vote would be the deciding vote and he would fail in Committee. His decision to oppose Abrams per a senior aide puts the kibosh on Abrams’ chances once and for all, unless a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee comes out for him–or unless McConnell and Corker try to bring him up straight on the Senate floor despite failing in Committee, something a senior Senate aide tells Breitbart News is not usually done.
Given how difficult Paul’s decision here would make it to get Abrams through the Senate to confirmation should he be nominated, it’s unclear if Trump and his White House would want to go to such lengths to fight for someone who disagrees with the president on so many core policy visions. Abrams does not believe in an “America First” foreign policy vision, is from a wing of the GOP that Trump regularly criticizes, and has significant disagreements with Trump’s stated vision on core matters like the Middle East and the Arab Spring.
Trump won’t leak Israeli intel to Russia, but Mossad might tread lightly
Days before Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, an Israeli journalist reported that US intelligence officials had issued a warning to their Israeli counterparts: Be wary of sharing intelligence with the incoming administration, for it is unclear what ties the new president may have with the Russian Federation and if that information might even find its way to Iran.
Similar reports came out shortly after about potential problems with England, Australia and other countries sharing intelligence with the US, and their numbers have only increased since Trump’s heated telephone call Thursday with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Might Trump leak Israeli and other allied intelligence to Russia in light of his continued unusually pro-Russia attitude? Might this concern have allies like Israel hold back from sharing intelligence with the US that they would have shared when it was business as usual? The Jerusalem Post surveyed a number of officials on both sides of the Atlantic on the issue.
It was difficult to get Israeli officials to directly address the issue due to the sensitivity of the US-Israeli relationship.
The Prime Minister’s Office, which is the only public point of reference for the Mossad, and which has no spokesperson, refused to comment.
One top former Israeli official who was willing to talk was former national security adviser Uzi Arad.
He said, “It is ridiculous to say that Trump would” purposely share Israeli secrets with Russia, and “Anyone who says that is politicized.”
US envoy Haley looks to slash UN peacekeeping
Washington’s new UN envoy Nikki Haley is putting in motion a far-reaching review of UN peacekeeping that is likely to lead to closures and downsizing of missions, according to diplomats.
Haley took up her post with a vow to overhaul the United Nations and “do away” with what she termed “obsolete” activities amid fresh clamor in Washington over US funding for the world body.
During one-on-one meetings with Security Council ambassadors this week, the new US envoy raised peacekeeping as a priority for cuts, zeroing in on the UN’s flagship enterprise, according to three diplomats with knowledge of the discussions.
Haley is setting up a mission-by-mission review of all 16 peace operations and is “relatively skeptical” of the value and efficiency of many of the blue-helmet deployments, said the diplomat, who spoke on background.
While the United States has few soldiers serving as peacekeepers, it is by far the biggest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, providing nearly 29 percent of the $7.9 billion budget for this year.
Israeli Justice Minister: Efforts to Remove Terrorism-Incitement From Social Media Platforms Bearing Fruit
Israel’s justice minister said on Monday that the Jewish state’s efforts to combat incitement on social media were finally bearing fruit, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.
Addressing an international cyber conference in Tel Aviv — attended by more than 70 ambassadors and attaches from around the world — Ayelet Shaked said that more than 1,400 requests to remove pages and posts containing content aimed at inciting terrorism have been partially or fully accepted as valid by internet companies.
Shaked told the gathering about the inter-ministerial task force, led by the cyber department of the State’s Attorney’s Office, established last year to locate online incitement and submit legal requests for its removal. She said that since it began operating, the task force has had a 78 percent success rate.
The justice minister also referred to the dialogue that Israel has been conducting with major web platforms, such as Google and Facebook, to come to an understanding of the shared interest of not promoting violence. She said that though there was still a “long road ahead” in the endeavor to cause the providers to increase the level of their involvement in what is going on in their platforms, “We are beginning to reap the fruits of our labor, and are finding the large internet providers attentive.”
Fourth IDF attack on Hamas positions
The IDF today (Monday) attacked Hamas positions and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in four separate strikes.
The last air strike was carried out in the evening, with three Hamas installations in the northern and southern Gaza Strip confirmed hits.
The IDF spokesman said that "the attacks were carried out in light of events that have been occurring over the last month. The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip and will not tolerate any attempt to harm the security of Israel and its citizens, and will work to preserve quiet for both sides."
This afternoon a southern Gaza Hamas position was engaged and destroyed by an IDF tank. The attack was in response to rocket fire a short time earlier against an IDF force working near the southern Gaza security fence.
Earlier, three northern Gaza Hamas positions were attacked by the Air Force.
Even earlier in the day, the IDF attacked another northern Gaza Hamas position with a tank. This attack came in response to rocket fire at the western Negev area. The rocket landed in an open area causing no injuries or damage.
Report: At least 13,000 hanged in Syrian prison since 2011
Syrian authorities have killed at least 13,000 people since the start of the 2011 uprising in mass hangings at a prison north of Damascus known to detainees as “the slaughterhouse,” Amnesty International said in a report Tuesday.
It covers the period from 2011 to 2015, when Amnesty said 20-50 people were hanged each week at Saydnaya Prison in killings authorized by senior Syrian officials, including deputies of President Bashar Assad, and carried out by military police.
The report referred to the killings as a “calculated campaign of extrajudicial execution.”
Amnesty has recorded at least 35 different methods of torture in Syria since the late 1980s, practices that only increased since 2011, said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty’s regional office in Beirut.
Other rights groups have found evidence of massive torture leading to death in Syrian detention facilities. In a report last year, Amnesty found that more than 17,000 people have died of torture and ill-treatment in custody across Syria since 2011, an average rate of more than 300 deaths a month.
Those figures are comparable to battlefield deaths in Aleppo, one of the fiercest war zones in Syria, where 21,000 were killed in the province since 2011.
Putin disagrees with Trump Iran not a terrorist state
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman told reporters on Monday that the Kremlin did not agree with comments by US President Donald Trump that Iran was a terrorist state.
But differences between Russia and the United States should not stop the two countries from building a mutually beneficial relationship, said Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman.
"It's not a secret that Moscow and Washington's views on many international issues are diametrically opposed," Peskov said.
Trump told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that he thought the deal with Iran was the "worst deal I've ever seen negotiated," adding that "I think it was a deal that never should have been done."
Poll: Most Americans support renewing sanctions on Iran
Most Americans support President Donald Trump's decision to impose new economic sanctions on Iran following its recent ballistic missile test, a new poll found on Monday.
Iran held a ballistic missile test last week, in defiance of the U.N. Security Council. The test was Iran's first since Trump took office on Jan. 20, and brought a harsh American response.
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said the Trump administration was "putting Iran on notice," and that the U.S. "will no longer tolerate Iran's provocations that threaten our interests. The days of turning a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over."
On Friday, the U.S. imposed new financial sanctions on 25 Iranian individuals and entities.
The move met with a brazen Iranian response: a large military exercise in the Persian Gulf on Saturday, in which Iran reportedly tested home-made missile systems, radars, command and control systems and cyberwarfare systems.
A Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday found that most Americans support renewing sanctions on Iran, and 49% said they consider Iran an enemy of the United States.
A storm in a tea cup
The Lebanese sure do love their tea and coffee, both domestic and foreign made. But if there is one thing they do not like, it is buying products from their neighbor Israel.
Lebanese media reported that a supermarket in the city of Sidon was selling a box of tea made by the world-famous brand Lipton. Based on photos uploaded to social media, the box had the price of NIS 10 printed on its side in Arabic.
News site Sidon Online published the pictures as well, and asked the supermarket owner about the matter. The owner claimed that he did not notice the label, and that the box was removed as soon as it was brought to his attention.
An attempt to figure out how the item arrived on a Lebanese shelf in the first place found that it was originally shipped from Egypt, and that the price in shekels was intended for the Arab Israeli market. The site called on "department stores in Sidon and the area to beware of products of this kind, so as not to become the victims of the mafias of the enemy's normalization." The site also called on Lebanese security and law forces to find out how such products manage to enter Lebanon.

Report: Hezbollah Leader Undergoes Breast Reduction Surgery
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah, is reportedly recovering from radical breast reduction surgery in a secret bunker in the country’s Beqaa Valley.
The reduction mammoplasty was performed by Swiss cosmetic surgeons clandestinely flown in to conduct the operation, according to a disgruntled member of Hezbollah’s leadership, who spoke with The Mideast Beast on condition of anonymity.
Over 30 kilograms of breast tissue were excised from his tits during the four-hour surgery, which was then fed to Nasrallah’s pet Rottweiler, Satan’s Little Helper.
The Hezbollah leader is reportedly recovering well, aided by a compression garment to accelerate the healing process and minimize swelling. Any scarring will be concealed once Nasrallah’s dense chest hair grows back after a vigorous pre-op shaving.

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