Thursday, April 06, 2017

From Ian:

Senior Fatah member hit with lawsuit upon arrival at JFK
A senior member of the Palestinian Authority was served with a $250 million civil lawsuit on Wednesday, upon his arrival at a New York airport, over his alleged involvement in the torture and killing of a Palestinian-American man.
Jibril Rajoub, who is a senior Fatah member and heads the PA Olympic committee, was handed the writ for $250 million and a court summons as he descended from the plane at JFK airport, Ynet news reported.
The suit accuses Rajoub of involvement in the alleged torture and killing of Azzam Rahim by the Palestinian Authority security forces in 1995.
The suit was filed by Rahim’s family on Tuesday in their home state of Texas against Rajoub, who at the time of the alleged killing served as head of Palestinian security in the West Bank. According to the writ, Rahim was detained by the PA on September 29, 1995, and tortured to death.
The claimants accused Rajoub of playing a major role in the arrest, torture and death of their relative. The family testified that Rahim was visiting his home town of Ein Yabrud, near Ramallah, over 20 years ago, when plainclothes security forces detained him while he was playing backgammon in a local coffee house and took him to prison in Jericho. Two days later an ambulance delivered his dead body back to the town.
Moscow surprisingly says west Jerusalem is Israel's capital
Russia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated in a surprise announcement on Thursday, obtained exclusively by The Jerusalem Post.
The announcement comes as US President Donald Trump's administration is agonizing over whether to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would constitute recognizing west Jerusalem as the country's capital. No other country in the world recognizes any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry reads, “We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
This is a sharp shift in Russian policy, which until now has formally held that Jerusalem should eventually be under a permanent international regime. The statement appears in English on the Russian Foreign Ministry's Russian web site.
While officials in Jerusalem interpreted this to mean that recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will only come once east Jerusalem becomes the capital of a Palestinian state, The Jerusalem Post has learned that Moscow intends this recognition to go into effect immediately.
UNESCO Chief: ‘Jerusalem is the Capital of King David’
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has rebuffed attempts by the UN cultural body to deny a historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
“In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant,” Bokova said last week at the policy conference of the European Coalition for Israel, a grassroots Christian initiative.
“To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justifies its inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List,” she added.
Bokova’s comments represent a sharp contrast to previous statements and resolutions issued by the UN agency. In October 2016, UNESCO passed two controversial resolutions condemning Israeli actions at Jerusalem’s holy sites and ignoring Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
Yet in a meeting last month with World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reaffirmed his recognition of Judaism’s historic ties to Jerusalem. Before March’s remarks, the UN chief had said on Israeli radio, “It is completely clear the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”

ISIS Borrows a Tactic from Hamas
Now, ISIS has proven his point: It has chosen to deliberately sacrifice civilians rather than employing the more obvious tactic of using them as human shields. Granted, the organization enjoys killing, but based on its track record, it’s also far from stupid. So if it has concluded that dead civilians are more useful than living human shields, it’s because, like Hamas, it considers this a win-win strategy. At worst, America’s reputation will be tarnished, since many people worldwide will blame it for the civilian casualties rather than putting the blame on ISIS, where it belongs. And at best, negative public opinion will force America to abandon the airstrikes altogether.
Nor is the latter hope as far-fetched as it may seem at first glance. It’s true the “dead baby strategy” never persuaded Israel to stop airstrikes against Hamas, but there’s a fundamental difference between the two cases: Israel’s citizens were under direct attack by Hamas rockets and tunnels, and in a choice between sacrificing its citizens’ lives and suffering global opprobrium, any self-respecting country would choose the latter. But ISIS isn’t launching rockets at America from Mosul; the threat it poses is far less immediate. Consequently, the incentive for America to simply back away from the fight if the civilian death toll climbs too high is much greater.
In short, by blaming Israel for civilian casualties that were actually deliberately caused by Hamas’s actions, the world ensured that other terrorist organizations would adopt a similar strategy. Or to put it more bluntly, it ensured that many more civilians would die, because terrorist groups would see a profit in their deaths.
ISIS obviously bears primary blame for all civilian deaths in Mosul. But a portion of that blame is shared by every journalist, “human rights” activist, politician and demonstrator who blamed Israel rather than Hamas for civilian deaths in Gaza–because they are the ones who persuaded ISIS that deliberately sacrificing civilians is an effective way to fight a war.
Soldier killed as Palestinian rams car into West Bank bus stop
An Israeli soldier was killed and another lightly wounded in an car-ramming attack in the central West Bank on Thursday morning, officials said.
The Palestinian driver of the car was captured by the Israel Defense Forces, an army spokesperson said.
The victim was named as Sgt. Elhai Teharlev, 20, from the settlement of Talmon. The other victim was also a soldier, also listed as in his 20s.
The two victims were standing on the sidewalk near a bus stop when the silver Audi struck them at the Ofra junction on the Route 60 highway, northeast of Ramallah, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.
One was reportedly critically wounded when the car struck him. He received medical treatment, but was pronounced dead on the scene, MDA said.
The second was lightly hurt with injuries to his legs. He was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, a hospital spokesperson said.
IDF freezes work permits of family of fatal West Bank ramming terrorist
The IDF on Thursday afternoon froze the work permits of the family of the Palestinian terrorist who killed IDF Sgt. Elchai Taharlev, 20, as he stood guard at the bus stop on Route 60, just outside of the Ofra settlement.
On Thursday morning, Malik Hamad, 22, from the nearby Palestinian village of Silwad, rammed his car into Taharlev, killing him almost instantly and lightly injuring a 19-year old soldier who stood with him.
Security forces interrogated his family in the afternoon.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen Yoav Mordechai rescinded the work orders after Ofra residents called for Hamid’s home to be demolished and for action to be taken against his village.
The Ofra residents said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman must “instruct the security forces to use an iron fist against the hostile village [Silwad] that educates hatred and murder of Jews and who has produced a long line of Jewish murderers over the years.”
Hamas hails 'heroic' ramming attack that killed Israeli in West Bank
Hamas praised a vehicular ramming attack that killed one Israeli and wounded another in the Binyamin region of the West Bank on Thursday.
“We bless this heroic ramming attack at the Ofra intersection near Ramallah, which is a response to the continued crimes of the Zionist occupation at the expense of our people,” said Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanou.
The motorist suspected of intentionally plowing into the victims was detained by Israeli authorities at the scene.
Soon after the assault, another Hamas spokesperson, Hazem Qassim, said that terror attacks against Jewish targets would continue, declaring that the use of violence "will only end with freedom."
"Once again, the Jerusalem Intifada proves that it isn't a passing event, but rather a Palestinian decision to continue the struggle until freedom from occupation."
"There is no safety for the occupation army or settlers as long as they deny our rights, occupy our land, and attack our people and its holy sites," he added.
Report: New chemical attack in Syria leaves numerous casualties
Allegations of a second chemical attack launched by Syrian Army forces surfaced on Thursday after various sources on the ground reported the incident, according to Arab media.
Helicopters belonging to President Bashar Assad's forces were seen dropping barrel bombs allegedly containing chlorine gas in the village of Al-Lataminah, located in northern part of the country near Hama.
Footage capturing the alleged attack showed yellow smoke rising above the city. Local media claimed that the assault left numerous civilian casualties and dozens wounded.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it was too early to accuse the Syrian government of being responsible for a deadly poison gas attack just days before in Idlib Province and said a proper investigation was needed, the RIA news agency reported.
Trump condemns Syria chemical attack as 'affront to humanity'
Decrying an "affront to humanity," U.S. President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that a chemical weapons attack in Syria "cannot be tolerated" but did not say what the U.S. might do in response. He blamed the attack squarely on Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Trump, speaking alongside Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House, offered no details on what steps the U.S. might take in response, even as his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, was promising a strong and perhaps even unilateral response. But Trump said the attack was "so horrific" and noted that it had killed "innocent people, small children and even beautiful little babies."
"These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated," Trump said.
He said the U.S. stood with its global allies "to condemn this horrific attack."
The United States and Russia were trading conflicting assertions Wednesday about who launched a chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed 72 people, as world leaders grasped for a response to the latest atrocity in Syria's intractable civil war.
As Trump stood by his charge that Assad's forces were responsible, Russia disagreed. The staunch Assad ally insisted that the chemicals were dispersed when Syrian warplanes bombed a facility where rebels were building chemical weapons.
At the United Nations, Trump's envoy threatened unilateral U.S. action if the world body failed to act.
Trump: Assad regime ‘crossed many lines’ with chemical attack
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday denounced the Syrian regime’s latest alleged chemical weapons attack as an “affront to humanity” and warned it would not be tolerated.
Speaking alongside Jordan’s King Abdullah II at a White House news conference, Trump did not lay out in any detail as to how the United States would respond to the killings.
While continuing to fault predecessor Barack Obama for much of the current situation in Syria, he acknowledged that dealing with the crisis is now his own responsibility and vowed to “carry it very proudly.”
Only days earlier multiple members of Trump’s administration had said Assad’s ouster was no longer a US priority, drawing outrage from Assad critics in the US and abroad. But Trump said Tuesday’s attack “had a big impact on me — big impact.”
“My attitude towards Syria and Assad has changed very much,” he said.
Trump said of this week’s attack that “it crossed a lot of lines for me. “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines.” US officials said the gas was likely chlorine, with traces of a nerve agent like sarin.
Samantha Power Blames Trump For Assad Gassing. She Was 'Red-Line' Obama’s Anti-Genocide Expert During The Height Of The Genocide In Syria.
Former President Obama’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is shameless. Samantha Power, who literally wrote the book on the heavy moral costs of American inaction in the face of genocide, is now blaming the Trump administration for the Assad regime’s latest sarin gas attack on Syrian civilians.
This the same woman who stood by and watched as her boss, Saint Obama, refused to act on a self-imposed “red-line” following Assad’s first deployment of chemical weapons against the people of Syria.
Since 2011, Assad has been butchering his own people, and the Obama administration did nothing to take his bloody hands away from the levers of power. This failure to act wasn’t just moral cowardice but strategic idiocy.
Not only did ISIS begin as an offshoot of al-Qaida in Syria, but it flourished in the wake of Assad’s extermination of a fragmented and under-armed Syrian opposition.
History will be a cruel judge of Ambassador Power and her feckless boss Barack Obama.
UN Security Council to meet urgently on Syria gas attack
The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss a suspected chemical attack in Syria that has left dozens dead and fanned global outrage over the six-year war.
Britain and France called for the urgent meeting following reports of the strike on a rebel-held town in northwestern Idlib province early Tuesday that they blamed on President Bashar Assad’s forces.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who holds the council presidency this month, announced the meeting at 10 am (1400 GMT) Wednesday to discuss the “terrible chemical weapons attack in Syria.”
The council will hear a briefing and “we are hoping to get as much information on the Syrian attack as we can,” Haley said.
The attack on the town of Khan Sheikhun killed at least 58 civilians and left dozens more suffering from respiratory problems and symptoms including vomiting, fainting and foaming at the mouth, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
UN-induced paralysis in Syria
Veto power saves Assad and other suspects in his regime from standing trial at the International Criminal Court at The Hague for serious war crimes. Any investigation against individuals, who are citizens of countries without ICC membership, requires approval from the Security Council. The Russian interest, therefore, provides Assad and his regime protection in this regard.
Although the U.S. and NATO have acted without the Security Council's approval (the U.S. in Iraq in 2003; NATO in Yugoslavia in 1999), justification for such action, from an international law standpoint, is dubious. Legal justification in such cases is offered as humanitarian intervention, meaning that countries can forcefully enter other countries to prevent severe human rights abuses. However, the vague nature of legitimate interventionism, in which humanitarianism can potentially be used as cover for action on behalf of political or economic interests, undermines its validity from an international law perspective.
It appears, therefore, that the legal system established by the international community, via the United Nations and ICC, has in fact done more to paralyze the world than to make it apathetic. Inaction is not just a moral issue; it is also a legal one. Legitimate interventionist action in Syria is not possible without radically changing the international legal framework.
With that, changing the aforementioned legal framework and annulling the veto system requires dismantling the United Nations, because countries with veto power also have power to veto changes to the U.N. Charter. Such change is not to be expected in the foreseeable future.
Israelis who raised $550,000 for Syrian kids urge government to step up
A grassroots Israeli campaign that has raised close to $550,000 for aid to children in Syria is pressuring the government to get involved as well.
Since ‘Just Beyond Our Border‘ began to crowdfund in October, over 8,000 Israelis have donated money to the campaign, which sends aid specifically to children, including clothing, food and medicine.
According to Shivi Froman, one of the leaders of the campaign, two large deliveries have been sent to the war-torn country, in which an estimated 500,000 people have reportedly been killed since the start of the conflict six years ago.
The aid is brought to refugee camps in southern Syria through the help of Israel Flying Aid, a nonprofit that, according to its website, “specializes in bringing life-saving aid to communities affected by natural disasters and human conflict, especially where local regimes prevent entry from formal international humanitarian organizations.”
Six months ago, the campaign also organized 14 different prayer groups around Israel for the people of Syria.
Turkey: Syria autopsies show chemical weapons used in attack
Turkey said Thursday that autopsies of Syrian victims from this week’s assault in Syria’s Idlib province show they were subjected to chemical weapons as France’s foreign minister called for the prosecution of President Bashar Assad’s government amid growing international outrage over the assault that activists say killed 86 people.
Damascus maintains it didn’t use chemical weapons, instead blaming the rebels for stockpiling the deadly substance.
“I stress, once again, that the Syrian Arab Army did and will not use such weapons even against the terrorists who are targeting our people,” Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Damascus.
In Turkey, state-run Anadolu and the private DHA news agencies quoted Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag as saying that “it was determined after the autopsy that a chemical weapon was used.”
Assad’s Chemical-Weapons Attacks Are Meant to Humiliate the West
On Tuesday, Syrian forces slaughtered civilians in the Idlib province with sarin nerve gas and thereafter they (or their allies) launched rockets at the clinics where the wounded were being treated. According to the Syria Report, the atrocity was timed to send a message to the U.S. and its allies:
The attack occurred the day the European Union hosted in Brussels a large international-funding conference for Syria—which was initially supposed to focus on reconstruction but was scaled down—and as the U.S. administration was sending mixed signals with regard to its policy toward Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
[W]hile the regime is sensing a gradual shift toward a restoration of ties, it knows the West is not there yet. Thus, rather than making concessions or political gestures, the regime is further raising the stakes and the political cost for the West of not cooperating. . . . By committing large-scale massacres, the regime shows the West’s impotence and weakness to the world, delegitimizing all the political values it claims to stand for. [Assad is, in effect, saying], “You don’t want to restore ties? I will kill more civilians and show the world how impotent and cowardly you are.”
Putin: Syria chemical weapons attacks 'unfounded accusations'
Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the global criticism of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over a chemical weapons attack which left roughly 100 people dead in the northwestern province of Idlib dead on Tuesday.
Putin said that the reports of attacks on civilians with chemical weapons are "unfounded accusations" during a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
"Mr. Putin in particular underlined the unacceptability of making unfounded accusations against anyone before a thorough and impartial international investigation is carried out," the Kremlin said in a statement following the conversation.
According to the Prime Minister's Office, Netanyahu had called Putin to express his condolences over the terrorist bombing in which 14 people were killed on a subway train in St. Petersburg this week.
Syria: Israel ‘main beneficiary’ of gas attack allegations
Israel is the “main beneficiary” of allegations that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad was behind the deadly chemical weapons attack, Syria’s foreign minister said Thursday.
Walid Muallem said that Syria’s armed forces “did not and will not” use chemical weapons, even against jihadist groups.
“I stress to you once again: the Syrian army has not, did not and will not use this kind of weapons — not just against our own people, but even against the terrorists that attack our civilians with their mortar rounds,” he said.
Muallem spoke at a press conference in Damascus two days after a suspected chemical attack left at least 86 people dead in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in northwestern Syria.
Assad accuses Israel of waging war against Syria via rebels
Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel of supporting “terrorists” fighting against the Syrian regime as part of an ongoing war between the two countries.
In an interview with a Croatian newspaper published in English Thursday by Syria’s official news agency SANA, Assad said that while the Israeli and Syrian armies may not be fighting each other directly, what he called Israel’s support for groups battling his regime amounts to a war between them.
“Concern about a war is unrealistic, because the reality is that we are living this war. But as for calling it a Syrian-Israeli war, you can assume in any case that these terrorists are fighting for Israel,” he said.
“It is a war that has taken a new form and uses new instruments,” he said. “Even if they are not a regular Israeli army, they are still fighting for Israel,” he added.
Do Palestinians Want a Two-State Solution?
There are, in any event, three more fundamental reasons why most Palestinians assert their support for a state from the river to the sea. One of them is the belief that Israel has no historical or moral claim to any of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. In response, Western leaders must insist, and insist again, on the irrefutable facts concerning the Jewish people’s deep historical connection to the land of Israel—and demand the removal of canards on this subject from the speeches and statements made by the leaders of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and Palestinian Authority, and from official Palestinian media.
The second widespread belief is that the sheer existence of the state of Israel inevitably means that there cannot ever be a Palestinian state. This idea has been fueled in large part by the Palestinian political and religious leadership, which trumpets libelous claims to the effect that Israel aims to replace the mosques on the Temple Mount with a Jewish synagogue or carry out wholesale ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Arab population. Policymakers in the U.S. and elsewhere must protest and demand a halt to this kind of incitement as well.
The third belief is that time is on the side of the Palestinians. Would-be Western peacemakers, with their warnings of a shrinking window of opportunity in which to create a two-state solution and dire predictions of what will happen in its absence, have been instrumental in fostering this belief. By giving Palestinians the sense that Israel’s support from abroad is rocky and its long-term prospects bleak, they encourage the Palestinians’ conviction that time is on their side and that they need not act decisively to make the concessions needed to reach an agreement with Israel. Paradoxically, but predictably, these same leaders are making it that much harder to achieve the two-state solution they embrace.
Despite the magnitude of the challenges laid out here, the findings in this essay are no reason to despair and do not justify abandoning a two-state solution on the grounds that it cannot secure popular Palestinian support. To the contrary: by ceasing to deny reality, Western peacemakers could encourage Palestinian nationalists to begin seeing their contest with Israel not as a zero-sum battle in which a monopoly of right belongs to one side, but as a conflict in which two legitimate claims have been pitted against each other and must be resolved.
Trump says he's working 'very hard' on Israeli-Palestinian peace
At the end of a round of meetings with Middle East leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and King Abdullah of Jordan, U.S. President Donald Trump is feeling optimistic about the chances of brokering a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of April.
At a joint press conference with King Abdullah at the White House on Wednesday, Trump said, "I hope to be successful, I can tell you that."
"I'm working very, very hard on trying to finally create peace between the Palestinians and Israel, and I think we'll be successful," the president said, adding that King Abdullah has been a "tireless advocate" for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"He's going to help me with that and help me at the highest level," Trump said.
Israeli-Palestinian conflict 'core' regional issue, Abdullah ​tells Trump
US President Donald Trump is "working very hard" to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he told King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House on Wednesday, amid a flurry of diplomatic activity on the matter coordinated by the Trump administration.
"I think we'll be successful— I hope we'll be successful, I'll tell you that,"​ Trump told the press, after topping their meetings with a discussion on the conflict.
Abdullah, who is in Washington for several days, praised Trump for engaging the parties​​ so early in his presidency. ​He characterized the Israeli-Palestinian struggle as "essentially the core conflict"​ in the region.​
The two leaders held a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in between their meetings, attended by Queen Rania and First Lady Melania Trump.
Trump's energetic efforts have reinvigorated the Arab Peace Initiative— a regional approach to the conflict that would create a sovereign state of Palestine while "accepting [Israel] in the neighborhood​,​"​ the king said.​
Abbas Adviser: No negotiations without settlement freeze, limited release of prisoners
There will be no peace talks without a complete settlement freeze in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and a limited release of prisoners, a senior adviser of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published on Wednesday.
“The leadership’s position is clear: There will be no return to the negotiations’ table until there is a complete settlement freeze in the Palestinian territories which were occupied in 1967,” Abbas’s adviser for international affairs Nabil Sha’ath told the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi.
Sha’ath’s comments come against the background of meetings between US President Donald Trump and Arab leaders this week and before an expected meeting between the American leader and Abbas in the next month.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordanian King Abdullah and Abbas are sending a unified message on the peace process to the American president, according to Palestinian officials.
David Singer: European Union Declares Diplomatic War on Israel
Ambassadors to Israel representing 28 European Union States (EU) behaved most undiplomatically in ambushing the recently appointed Director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador to Australia – Yuval Rotem – at a meet and greet function Rotem had organised at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv last week.
Instead of the pleasant banter over drinks and canapes usually associated with such events on the diplomatic cocktail circuit the function erupted into an explosive EU protest against Israel’s plans to evict Arab squatters from 42 structures that had been illegally erected between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem at the strategically narrowest point in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) known as E1.
Lars Faarburg-Andersen – the EU Ambassador to Israel – took the opportunity to read out to Rotem the following one-page document which had been approved by the EU political-security committee – in which all 28 member states are represented.
This gauche and uncivilised behaviour was certainly uncalled for and not conduct that one would ever expect to come from refined and cultured Europeans.
Israel Deserves a Place on the Security Council
Every member of the UN belongs to one of five regional organizations that are responsible for distributing committee chairmanships as well as the rotating seats on the Security Council. Until 2004—when it was admitted to the Western European group—Israel was the one nation not included in a regional body, and was thus excluded from such positions. Now, writes the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon, Israel hopes to build on its admission to win a chance to sit on the Security Council:
It was only last year, in 2016, that I was elected to chair the Sixth (Legal) Committee, becoming the first Israeli to chair a UN permanent committee. What is usually a position confirmed by consensus [was obtained by] a protracted and complicated campaign in which we had to cajole and convince 109 countries to cast their ballot for an Israeli.
[Now] Israel has set the ambitious goal of obtaining one of the three non-permanent seats on the Security Council in 2019 [reserved for members of the Western Europe group]. To do so we must convince two-thirds of General Assembly members of the worthiness of this cause.
Make no mistake about it, we are as deserving as any other nation of this leadership role: Israel funds a higher percentage of the UN budget than do the other 65 countries yet to serve on the Security Council combined. Moreover, few countries have Israel’s firsthand experience of the failures of the UN—and its acute awareness of the possibilities were this organization to be set on the right path.
Arab List head draws rebukes for comparing Gaza to Syria
Joint Arab List Chairman Ayman Odeh drew condemnation in the Knesset Wednesday when he likened the plight of the children of Gaza to that of the children murdered in Syria, where a chemical attack killed dozens on Tuesday.
"My heart aches for the children murdered in Syria in the same way that it feels shame for the children murdered in Yemen and in Gaza too," Odeh said in a speech Wednesday. "We need to take a moral stand against harm to civilians. All civilians, but especially children. No matter what color, faith or nationality they are -- a child is a child wherever they may be."
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) said in response that "there is no limit to the depths the Joint Arab List MKs can sink to. Instead of condemning the indiscriminate and brutal murder of children in Syria, they squirm."
MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu) rebuked Odeh, saying he had "crossed every line."
JCC bomb hoaxer made millions selling forged docs online — report
The Israeli-American teenager behind hundreds of hoax bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the US reportedly earned millions of shekels’ worth of digital currency by selling counterfeit documents over the internet.
Police suspect the 18-year-old — whose name is sealed under gag order in Israel — sold forged identity cards, passports and driver’s licenses over both the internet and the dark net in exchange for bitcoins, a cryptocurrency often used in illicit transactions online, according to a Channel 2 report Thursday.
The dark net is a term used to denote uncatalogued areas of the internet used to foster illicit trade and other illegal activity.
Investigators are said to have have learned of his counterfeiting activity online after discovering millions of shekels’ worth of the digital currency in his bitcoin account, and are currently working to determine who purchased the forged documents, Channel 2 reported.
Israeli, American naval commandos train together
Elite soldiers from the Israel Navy joined forces with US Navy SEALS last week in the latest in an ongoing series of joint exercises involving the two countries’ armed forces.
The Shayetet 13 Naval Commandos, Sa’ar 5 missile ships, Naval Special Warfare vessels and other Israeli Navy sea craft took part in the drills.
The forces trained for situations such as parachuting into the sea, boarding and overtaking enemy vessels.
Israel’s Head of Naval Operation, Brigadier General Ido Ben Moshe, said, “The cooperation between the two navies is reflected in annual joint exercises, visits and the mutual transfer of operational knowledge. During these joint exercises, professional relations are forged that benefit both sides on a strategic level.”
Joint Israeli Navy and U.S. Navy Seals Exercise

PMW: PA TV to men: When beating your wife, "carefully read the Quranic" guidelines
What might be considered a bad April Fool's Day joke in other parts of the world, was taught in earnest on official Palestinian Authority TV on April 1. A female PA TV reporter instructed those of PA TV's viewers "who use beatings and violence to solve their marital problems" to "carefully read" and "obey" the Quran's "religious rules for beatings":
Official PA TV reporter:"To those who use beatings and violence to solve their marital problems: Carefully read the Quranic verse again [Sura 4:34]. There are solutions before giving beatings. If you have to, there are religious rules for beatings that must be obeyed. Guys, the goal of the beatings is rebuke in a way that does not cause injury. You can even go ask someone about it." [Official PA TV, Talk of the Land, April 1, 2017]
Although the reporter did remind viewers that "there are solutions before giving beatings," she didn't categorically reject violence against women. That this green light for violence was given in earnest, and did not constitute an April Fool's Day's prank, is clear from other similar instructions disseminated by religious authorities on PA TV that Palestinian Media Watch has exposed.
PA TV: Viewers who use "beatings to solve marital problems" should obey Quran's "rules for beatings"

Hamas hangs 3 in Gaza for ‘collaborating with Israel’
The Hamas terror group hanged to death three men accused of “collaborating” with Israeli military intelligence in Gaza Thursday, the Hamas-controlled Gaza interior and national security ministry said in a statement.
The executions come amid a hunt by Hamas, the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, for “collaborators” with Israel after the recent assassination of one of its terror chiefs, Mazen Faqha, which it blames on the Jewish state.
However, according to the ministry, none of the three men killed was involved in Fuqha’s death.
The three were all charged with handing over information about the whereabouts of Hamas men and military sites over the past three decades, which led to the death of Hamas fighters.
One man, 32-year-old A.S., according to the statement, began providing Israeli intelligence with information in 2010, and his “very accurate information” led to the killing of Hamas leaders.
The other two were identified as a 42-year-old and a 55-year-old.
MEMRI: It is True That Allah Turned Some of the Israelites into Apes and Pigs: Egyptian Cleric
Egyptian cleric Dr. Essam Elruby, speaking on Al-Hayat 2 TV, responded to a viewer's question by saying that the story that Allah transformed some of the Israelites into apes and pigs is true and not a myth. According to Elruby, "when they acted unjustly, tyrannically, sinfully, and heretically, defying the path of Allah, and rejecting and killing His prophets, Allah said: 'Be apes, despised!" The program aired on February 24.

Explosions heard at Hezbollah compound near Damascus — report
A series of explosions were heard at a military compound belonging to Lebanese terror group Hezbollah near the Syrian capital of Damascus, local media reported in the early morning hours of Thursday.
According to local media, an “unidentified attack” was also reported against Hezbollah forces and Syrian government troops in a suburb of Daraa in southern Syria, in the Syrian Golan Heights. Reports in the Hebrew-language media said the attack was a battle between rebel fighters and Syrian and Hezbollah forces.
The incidents were first reported by Sky News Arabic.
The explosions near the Syrian capital, according to the reports, took place in the mountainous Qalamoun area.
The incidents come two days after what is believed to have been a chemical attack by Syrian forces on Syrian civilians in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, where at least 70 people were killed, including over 20 children.
Woman Claiming To Be Lover of Late Hezbollah Terror Leader Claims Assassination Was Inside Job
Ynetnews reports: A video of a woman has surfaced on an anonymous YouTube channel claiming not only to be the lover of former Hezbollah military leader Mustafa Badreddine, but also that the terrorist leader was murdered by his own terror organization.
The explosive claims ostensibly lend credibility to the Israeli position that it had no part in the assassination. However, the revelation also brings up awkward questions for Hezbollah, chief of which being whether or not Badreddine’s killing was really an Israeli plot or an act of internal house cleaning.
The video purports to show a statement by a former lover of Badreddine, who was reported to be womanizer. In the statement, the unidentified woman claimed that Badreddine “knew that Hezbollah leadership wanted to kill him.”
Australia warns of Anzac Day terror threat in Turkey
Australia Thursday warned terrorists could target Anzac Day commemorations on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey this month, and urged travelers to avoid Ankara and Istanbul.
The emotive event on April 25 remembers the heroism and sacrifice of Australians and New Zealanders during World War I and their campaign against the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
Canberra said intelligence suggested it could be a target this year by extremists.
“There is information to suggest that terrorists may seek to target Anzac Day commemorations on the Gallipoli peninsula,” said Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan, adding that Turkey was aware and stepping up security.
“The Turkish authorities are taking this extremely seriously. The celebrations on Gallipoli are as important to the Turkish authorities and Turkish people as they are to the Australians.
“They are taking it seriously, in terms of the security envelope for the sake of everybody on the peninsula.”
While Canberra’s advice to travelers had not changed from “exercise a high degree of caution” in Gallipoli and Turkey overall, it said they should “reconsider their need to travel to Ankara and Istanbul.”

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