Monday, December 04, 2017

From Ian:

MEMRI: Emirati Writer Al-Habtoor: Now Is The Time To Make Peace With Israel, In Order To Resolve Palestinian Issue And Join Forces In Fighting Iran
In an article in the English-language Saudi daily Arab News titled "A Window Has Opened for Middle East Peace — Let’s Grab the Chance," prominent Emirati businessman and writer Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor states that the Arabs and Israel currently have a vested interest in settling their differences and making peace, in order to join forces in fighting their common enemies: Iran and its allies. He stresses, however, that such cooperation between Israel and the Arabs will be difficult without making progress towards the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. To this end, he advises both the Palestinians and Israelis to put aside their grievances and unrealistic expectations, and work together to find a pragmatic and feasible solution to the conflict. Addressing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, he urges him to turn to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, in whom he will find true allies for advancing peace with the Palestinians and also for fighting Israel's and the Arab's common enemies.

The following are excerpts from his column:
"The human race [has been]... successful in resolving the bitterest of conflicts. Who could have imagined that Germany and Japan would become two of the closest US allies, or that the Berlin Wall would fall and free Soviet satellite nations from communism? Humanity always finds a way forward on the path to peace, with one exception — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has dragged on painfully in one form or another since the birth of the Israeli state, condemning millions to misery.

"This untenable situation has resulted in serial wars between Israelis and Arabs, and the failure to reach an accord is not for the want of trying on the part of mediators. In 2000, a Palestinian state was close to being a reality but was thwarted by leadership changes in Israel and the US, where voters delivered hawks.
Any efforts in that direction since then have been nothing more than token. Palestinian hopes have been dimmed and most fear they have been abandoned by the community of nations and by a Palestinian-fatigued media.
Palestinians: More Missed Opportunities
The PFLP, like Hamas and other Palestinian groups, makes no secret of its goal to "liberate Palestine, from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea." All should be commended for their honesty. If anyone has any doubts, their plan means the total destruction of Israel. Thus, as chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas cannot say that he represents the entire organization. He has no leverage with the PFLP, DFLP and the remaining terror groups operating under the umbrella of his PLO.

And now we come to the million dollar question: Does Abbas really represent all of Fatah? The answer is simple and clear: No. Over the past few decades, Fatah has witnessed sharp divisions and disputes, resulting in a number of splinter groups that broke away and are now openly challenging Abbas's leadership and policies.

While Abbas is making noises about a peace process, his own Fatah faction is inciting violence and calling for the destruction of Israel. While Abbas is talking about his interest in achieving a two-state solution, his partners in the PLO, including the PFLP and DFLP, are openly calling for the destruction of Israel and advocating an armed struggle. While Abbas is claiming that he is the legitimate president of the Palestinians, many Palestinians, including senior officials in his Fatah faction, are legitimately stating he has no mandate from his people to sign any agreement with Israel.
The method to Trump’s madness on Jerusalem may make sense
In the end, perhaps only a president so completely divorced from diplomatic reality and utterly indifferent to international opinion could do it. Despite the difficulties and the manifest dangers involved with keeping America’s promise—enshrined in U.S. law passed by Congress—to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, President Donald Trump may actually do it sometime in the next week.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the State Department had informed U.S. embassies around the world about a plan to make the move and to begin planning for how to deal with the protests that would inevitably follow.

For U.S. diplomats living abroad—especially those in the Middle East or working in any Muslim-majority country—this is no joke. If Trump makes good on the pledge, the response from the Arab street will likely be nasty and might rival or even exceed the destruction, violence and even murder that resulted when a Danish newspaper published a few satirical cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed. Egged on by Iran and other radical Islamists, protests will be massive and will carry a hefty price tag.

This is why most observers, including those sympathetic to Israel, have been skeptical about talk of an embassy move. Few thought even a president as unconventional as Trump would do something that virtually everyone in the foreign policy establishment as well as moderate Arab nations thinks would not only create a crisis, but also preclude any progress toward a two-state solution or peace.

Why then is Trump contemplating something the smart people are convinced is foolish? The answer from his critics—whose numbers increase every time he lets loose with an ill-considered tweet or statement—is that he is an ignorant fool. Yet, as with those obnoxious tweets, which distract his foes from policy issues and amuse his fans, there may be a method to the madness. It’s entirely possible that Trump is either being guided to or is stumbling along a path that could be saner than the supposedly safer course steered by his predecessors on Jerusalem.

David Singer: Trump Should Adopt Bush Strategy to Encourage Israel to Negotiate
President Bush’s strategy to secure Israel’s agreement to negotiate under the Bush Roadmap should be given serious consideration by President Trump as he puts together his eagerly-anticipated “ultimate deal” to end the Arab-Jewish conflict.

Bush’s strategy involved him firstly stating his “vision” before actually announcing the Bush Roadmap to turn that vision into reality.

Israel was required to make concrete territorial withdrawals from Judea and Samaria (West Bank) – possibly compromising Israel’s security in the process. Publicly confronting Israel with the Bush Roadmap first up could have seen its outright rejection by Israel before the ink was even dry.

President Reagan had succeeded in doing just that when announcing his peace plan on 1 September 1982. Reagan’s plan was unanimously rejected out of hand by Israel’s cabinet the very next day – whilst America pleaded with Jordan to accept it over the next twelve months as a means of putting pressure on Israel to cave in and negotiate. King Hussein of Jordan did not take the bait. The Reagan plan was dead in the water.

Bush was savvy enough to not repeat Reagan’s mistake.

Bush first enunciated his “vision” in a speech on 24 June 2002:
· Two states, living side by side in peace and security.
· The Palestinian people electing new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror, building a practising democracy, based on tolerance and liberty.
PM predicts open Israeli-Arab relations in '50 or 100 years'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted Sunday that Israel will be able to engage in open diplomatic relations with Arab states in 50 to 100 years.

In a videotaped message played at the Saban Forum, an annual Middle East policy conference in Washington, Netanyahu said, "When I look forward 50 or 100 years, I believe Israel will be openly embraced by its Arab neighbors, rather than in secret, in the way it's done today."

"I see Israel as a world power that continues to provide cutting-edge technology and innovation to help people around the world. … I see, in short, a glorious future of prosperity and peace for Israel," Netanyahu said.

Touching on the topic of Iran, Netanyahu said, "One day the Iranian regime will fall. Iranian mothers and fathers will rejoice in the street. Israel will be the first in line to restore relations and rebuild our great partnership."

Citing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who recently called Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the "new Hitler," Netanyahu said, "Obviously there are some important differences between Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran, but both regimes do have two important things in common: one, a ruthless commitment to impose tyranny and terror, and second, a ruthless commitment to murder Jews."

"When tyrants call for the destruction of my people," he added, "I believe them. I don't have the luxury of discounting their genocidal threats."
Inside the Trump administration debate over declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital
Some of President Trump’s senior national security aides convened at the White House on Monday for what was expected to be an uncomfortable but straightforward discussion.

On the table was how the administration would handle an upcoming deadline to say whether it would again defer its promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The expectation of many participants going into the session, according to officials and others familiar with the discussion, was that the White House would once again put off the move but issue a statement that Trump is keeping his campaign promise because the embassy move was a question of when, not if — a familiar talking point from the administration.

Then Trump showed up.

Over a discussion that lasted nearly an hour, Trump, who stayed longer than expected, became agitated and exasperated at what he saw as overly cautious bureaucratic hand-wringing, two people familiar with the discussion said. Focused on his campaign promise to make the move, Trump seemed frustrated with pushback about the potential backlash among Palestinians and their supporters, the people said. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House has not yet said what it will do about the waiver.

The result of the meeting was a proposal, still under discussion, to issue a waiver but make a formal declaration that the United States considers Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, officials said.

That would have little immediate practical effect but would shift the decades-old U.S. position that Jerusalem is disputed ground and its status should be resolved through negotiations. While this policy change would not meet Trump’s campaign promise, it gets him closer and allows him to show his supporters that he is breaking with how past administrations have handled this aspect of tensions in the Middle East.

Trump is expected to outline his view on the embassy issue and the peace effort in a speech next week, one adviser said. A White House official would not discuss details of the discussion ahead of an announcement.

“The president has always said it is a matter of when, not if,” a White House spokesman said. “The president is still considering options and we have nothing to announce.”
Kushner: Trump has yet to decide on Jerusalem embassy issue
U.S. President Donald Trump has not yet made a decision on whether to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital or relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said Sunday.

"He's still looking at a lot of different facts, and then when he makes his decision, he'll be the one to want to tell you, not me," Kushner said at the Saban Forum in Washington, the annual policymaking conference hosted by the Brookings Institution and attended by a host of senior Israeli and American officials. Kushner was interviewed by Haim Saban, the chairman of the forum.

Over the past few days, officials have leaked to the various news agencies that the president was expected to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. According to one report, the president was planning to make the announcement in a major policy speech on Wednesday, in an effort to offset the signing of another six-month waiver on the legal requirement to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Successive U.S. presidents have refused to recognize Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem, saying the final status of the city should be determined only in a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump pledged to deviate from that policy during his campaign but has so far refused to put his promise into action.

Under the Jerusalem Embassy Act from 1995, the U.S. must relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but successive presidents, including Trump himself, have waived this requirement on national security grounds. The current six-month waiver expires Monday.
Mr. President, this is our land
The is no such thing as a free lunch. If the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which some reports say is imminent, this will be of major historic significance. It will represent a welcome about-face in Washington's decades-old policy regarding the status of Jerusalem.

But no one seems to be talking about the quid pro quo that the U.S. will demand: abiding by the existing restrictions and limitations on the scope of construction in Judea and Samaria, in Greater Jerusalem and in Jerusalem, itself.

President Donald Trump's administration has been described at the most pro-Israel president in U.S history. He may see eye-to-eye with Israel when it comes to Iran and other vital security concerns, and he may have stood by the Jewish state at the U.N. and has made important statements showing his solidarity with us, but when it comes to settlement construction, the president's policies have barely deviated from those of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

While Trump has sung a different tune, he hasn't changed the substance. Moreover, the notion that nothing new should be built in Judea and Samaria without an American green light is now more entrenched then ever.

The Trump administration calls this "restraint." That is why U.S. officials heavily scrutinize any zoning plan in Judea and Samaria, however small.
Arab states will likely cave if US declares Jerusalem Israel's capital
If the Palestinians are counting on a strong response from Arab states if the Trump administration recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, they are likely to be disappointed.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh Malki called Sunday for an emergency meeting of the Arab League amid US media reports that US President Donald Trump is going to deliver a speech on Wednesday in which he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Malki said the meeting would discuss “necessary steps regarding this irresponsible American measure.”

But the bitter reality for the Palestinians is that key Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Jordan with its Palestinian majority and role as custodian of Jerusalem holy sites – are simply too dependent on US goodwill to get into a real row with the Trump administration. This is a case where each of their national interests trumps Arab solidarity. A United Jerusalem Celebrates its Diversity (YouTube/ Israel's Foreign Affairs Min.)

Unless domestic reaction becomes unexpectedly explosive, Riyadh, Cairo and Amman can be expected to confine their responses to verbal missives that will soon subside.

“They will at least pretend to be objecting vociferously. But as long as he doesn’t move the embassy, they will put up with it after a few days of protesting,” said Gabriel Ben-Dor, a Middle East specialist at the University of Haifa. “The moderate Arab states will understand this is a compromise for Trump between his commitments and the practical realities. They’ll protest vocally, but that’s all.”
Defense minister unmoved by threats of violence over Jerusalem recognition
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Monday urged US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv.

Speaking at the weekly Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting, the defense minister brushed off the threats of violence by Palestinians and the wider Arab world, saying Israel will “know how to deal with all the ramifications” of any US recognition.

Trump faces a key decision this week on whether to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, prompting a flood of warnings from the Arab world that it could ignite tensions and sink hopes for peace.

Liberman said he “completely supports” Jerusalem recognition, hailing it as the “right step” and a measure that would be “very, very important to all Jewish people.”

The Palestinians, Jordan, and the Arab League have all objected to the move, with the Hamas terrorist group threatening a renewed “intifada” should it go ahead.
The Jerusalem Embassy Minefield
United States President Donald Trump will decide Monday whether to sign a waiver to delay relocating the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While Candidate Trump pledged to make the move during the 2016 election campaign, reports suggest that he might put off doing so for the moment— to not torpedo his prospective peace plan— and instead this week formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In either eventuality, however, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has threatened to derail any negotiating process with Israel. A PA delegation in Washington, including former chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, reportedly told Jared Kushner— Trump’s point man on the conflict—that any such steps would “kill any potential” for talks and effectively end America's longstanding role as "honest broker." A close associate of PA President Mahmoud Abbas further warned that “the world will pay the price” for any changes to Jerusalem’s status.

“Jerusalem does not exclusively belong to Israel," Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC), asserted to The Media Line. "This is very provocative, not only to Palestinians but to all Arab nations. There is no international recognition of Jerusalem as part of Israel."

She warned that moving the US embassy would threaten the security of the region by fostering violence and extremism. “I hope the American administration is not so irresponsible as to drag the region into severe circumstances," Ashrawi said.
Report: US Quietly Taking Major Steps Toward Moving Israeli Embassy
With the world poised for President Donald Trump’s expected statement on Wednesday that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, American officials are quietly taking major steps toward moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, a leading Israeli publication reported.

According to Israel’s Channel 2, sources have revealed that a site for the embassy has been chosen and preliminary steps toward construction are already underway.

The report cites anonymous sources saying the site chosen for the new embassy is the Diplomat Hotel in the neighborhood of Arnona. Furthermore, a well-known Israeli architect has been hired and is collaborating with Trump’s representatives as well as the municipal planning board.

There is documented evidence that the preparations are being made, according to Channel 2. They apparently include major changes to the interior of the hotel in order to satisfy the needs of an embassy, such as providing new entrances and exits, security rooms, bomb shelters, and underground facilities. Security measures will also be introduced on the exterior of the building, such as fences, guardhouses, and electronic surveillance.

An anonymous source described as a high-level official in the Jerusalem municipality was quoted as saying, “The Americans have already submitted preliminary sketches and our understanding is essentially that they plan to do an entire remodeling of the place from inside. An American architect who builds American embassies all over the world has come to check the site.”
IsraellyCool: What Exactly Is US Government Policy On Jerusalem As Capital Of Israel
That is the law as passed by the United State of America’s government in 1995. What Congress actually said is that the State Department would lose 50% of its buildings abroad funding IF the embassy doesn’t open in Jerusalem.

However, there is a clause (7) allowing the President to defer this withdrawal of funding in the event the Embassy doesn’t open in Jerusalem and if he determines deferral “is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States”. Every President, every 6 months, since June 1999 has done that. Trump did it on May 31st 2017. So he’s due to sign this waiver any day now.

On Wednesday President Trump is set to give a speech. Anyone who says publicly that they know whats in that speech and tells you, probably doesn’t know and is speculating. If you want the best clues around, I would look back to Pence’s speech last week as I mentioned at the top of this post.

The smart money (and mine) is on a recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel but without any concrete steps to move the embassy. Russia recognised Jerusalem back in April and the world didn’t come to an end.
Israeli Arabs 'won't sit passively' if US names Jerusalem Israel's capital
If the Trump administration recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the move will be met with protests among the Arab citizens of Israel, the deputy head of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement said Monday.

Sheikh Safwat Farig, from the moderate branch of the movement, told The Jerusalem Post that he fears there will be bloodshed in the West Bank and Jerusalem if such recognition is accorded. "We inside Israel will protest in the legal ways, in the legitimate ways, but it's clear it won't be business as usual and we won't sit passively. We will protest opposite the US embassy and make demonstrations inside Israel. That's the minimum we must do." Asked if there would be violence, Farig said, "I hope there won't be inside Israel but I am concerned that in Jerusalem and the West Bank it will spread into unnecessary bloodshed."

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh Malki called Sunday for an emergency meeting of the Arab League amid reports in the US media that Trump is going to deliver a speech on Wednesday in which he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"What Trump declares is one thing, but there is a Palestinian people on the ground unwilling to accept it," Farig said. "We always thought the US was an unfair mediator. Now we think not only this, but that the US is a party in this conflict. And that is dangerous."

"The biggest enemy is despair," he added. "Some of the Palestinian groups have despaired for a while but the majority give peace a chance." But now, Farig warned, even the "level-headed" Palestinians may be driven to despair. "A desperate person with nothing to lose is the most dangerous to be around and that's what we don't want," he said.
Palestinians Threaten Violence if US Recognizes Jerusalem as Israeli Capital
The Gaza-ruling Palestinian terror group Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) both made threats ahead of the Trump administration’s possible recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week.

The Palestinian threats came after US officials were quoted as stating that President Donald Trump will make an announcement on Dec. 6 regarding US recognition of Jerusalem.

Hamas on Saturday called to “renew the Jerusalem intifada” in order to prevent the change in US policy.

“We call on the Palestinian people to stand as an impenetrable floodgate and a tall wall against this decision and renew the Jerusalem intifada,” the terror group stated.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser, Mahmoud Habash, threatened Saturday that US recognition of the Israeli capital would cause the “complete destruction of the peace process,” adding that “the world will pay a price.” Other high-ranking PA officials issued similar statements.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that US recognition of Jerusalem would “fuel extremism” and make Palestinians “resort to violence.”
Turkey says recognizing Jerusalem as capital would cause catastrophe
A formal US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would cause catastrophe and lead to new conflict in the Middle East, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Bozdag, who is also the government spokesman, said Jerusalem's status had been determined by international agreements and that preserving it was important for the peace of the region.

"The status of Jerusalem and Temple Mount have been determined by international agreements. It is important to preserve Jerusalem's status for the sake of protecting peace in the region," Bozdag said.

"If another step is taken and this step is lifted, this will be a major catastrophe."

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. It later annexed it, declaring the whole of the city as its capital -- a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Kushner: Israeli-Palestinian peace needed for wider Middle East stability
In rare public remarks, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on Sunday that solving the Israeli-Palestinian was crucial to achieving wider Middle East stability.

“I think that if we’re going to try to create more stability in the region as a whole, then you have to solve this issue,” he told a conference here in a public interview with the Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban, a longtime Democratic donor and supporter of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 rival.

The 36-year-old Kushner, who has been tasked with leading the administration’s efforts to broker a Middle East peace accord, also said that his boss has not yet made his mind on moving the US embassy to Jerusalem or recognizing the city as Israel’s capital.

“The president is going to make his decision,” Kushner told the audience at the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum. “He’s still looking at a lot of different facts.”
Aaron Klein: Six Reasons Jared Kushner is Dangerously Delusional on the Middle East
Earlier today, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, made a rare public appearance to discuss his efforts to secure an Israeli-Palestinian deal and forge a wider Middle East peace.

While Kushner’s remarks were short on specifics, his 30-minute Q&A at the Saban Forum in Washington revealed dangerously delusional thinking when it comes to issues of U.S. national security, the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, and the larger Middle East.

Here, in no particular order, are six major problems with Kushner’s remarks today:

1 – Kushner would create a Palestinian state despite the current Palestinian “unity government” with Hamas terrorists.
Kushner and the Trump administration are plowing forward with a plan to create a Palestinian state even after the Palestinian Authority (PA) inked a landmark unity agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, which is committed to Israel’s destruction. This means that any Palestinian state will ostensibly be governed on some level by the new Palestinian National Consensus Government, which includes Hamas as a main power.

Hamas has made clear it will not disarm under the unit deal, and has boasted it will bring its “weapons of the resistance” to the West Bank, where PA President Mahmoud Abbas already has a tenuous and flailing grip on power. In forming a unity government with Hamas, Abbas and the PA made clear where they stand when it comes to moderation and peace with Israel.
Netanyahu urges Washington ‘policy community’ to advocate on behalf of revised Iran deal
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged the “policy community” in Washington to persuade decision makers in the US and European capitals to “fix” the Iranian nuclear deal.

Netanyahu’s appeal came in a taped message that dealt primarily with Iran to the Brookings Institute – Saban Forum meeting in Washington.

The prime minister said that US President Donald Trump, who in October decertified the Iranian nuclear deal, “has created an opportunity to fix the great flaws” of the nuclear deal. “I urge you, in the policy community, to help decision makers in the capitals of Europe and Capitol Hill, to take advantage of this opportunity.”

He reiterated Israel’s policy on Iran: “We will not allow a regime hell-bent on the annihilation of the Jewish state to acquire nuclear weapons. We will not allow that regime to entrench itself militarily in Syria, as it seeks to do, for the express purpose of eradicating our state.”

These comments came a day after reports that Israel attacked an Iranian military installation outside of Damascus. The prime minister did not address those reports in his brief comments.
Netanyahu says Iran forcing its wrestlers to lose sums up Tehran’s hostility
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said Iran forcing a wrestler to lose a bout in order to avoid competing against an Israeli perfectly summed up the regime’s hostility to the Jewish state.

“Close your eyes and think about Alireza for a moment. He trained countless hours; he dreamed of becoming a world champion. But the Iranian regime would rather see its athletes lose than compete against Israelis,” Netanyahu said in a video released on the prime minister’s Facebook page.

Last week wrestler Alireza Karimi-Mashiani was forced by his coach to throw his bout at a tournament because Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov would have been his second-round opponent.

Netanyahu called on the Iranian people to use social media to foster coexistence.
“I want you to film yourself playing a sport against someone of a different nationality, a different faith or different color. I want you to compete like hell – we’re all for competition,” Netanyahu said. “Then I want you to shake hands, go out for a drink together, and then upload this to the social media. I want you to show Iran’s regime that hating others will never make you a champion. It only makes you a pathetic and insecure loser.”
Zambian president: ‘We will host Africa-Israel summit’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Zambia to host an Africa-Israel summit that was originally scheduled for Togo in September, Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu said Friday night.

Zambia’s Lusaka Times website reported that Lungu, who met Netanyahu last week at the re-inauguration ceremonies for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, told the Zambian state-owned television station, “For whatever reason, we have been given the mandate to host this summit which will bring its own benefits to Zambia.”

He said that one of the reasons he went to Kenyatta’s swearing-in ceremony was because Netanyahu wanted to meet him, and – according to the Lusaka Times – “it was during his bilateral engagement with Netanyahu that the Israeli PM revealed his desire to see Zambia host the summit instead of Togo as it was earlier planned.” PM Netanyahu Meets President of Zambia Edgar Chagwa Lungu, February 28, 2017. (YouTube/IsraeliPM)

A long-planned summit in Togo last September that was expected to draw leaders from between 20 to 25 African states to meet with Netanyahu was scuttled at the last minute because of domestic problems in that West African state.

In the meantime, there were discussions in Jerusalem about holding a similar summit here instead.
Israel joins 'Power Africa' initiative
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday morning attended the signing ceremony for Israel's accession to the USAID Power Africa initiative.

The agreement, made between the Prime Minister's Office and the US Government, was also attended by Economy Minister Eli Cohen (Kulanu), US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Prime Minister's Office Director General Eli Groner, Power Africa Coordinator Andrew M. Herscowitz, African ambassadors to Israel, US administration representatives in Israel, Power Africa representatives and leading Israeli energy companies.

Under the agreement, Israeli companies will be able to take part in the Power Africa initiative and will receive various tools to advance projects for generating electricity and connecting consumers on the continent. To these ends, companies will have increased access to government officials and receive monetary grants, ties with financial elements will be advanced, professional and legal advice will be made available and feasibility studies will be conducted.

"It’s a pleasure to be with all of you this morning, in this great partnership between Israel, the United States and Africa," Netanyahu said. "This is an initiative that will electrify Africa – well, literally and figuratively. This is bringing light, and every time that an African mother will turn on the light or turn on a heater for some water for her children, part of Israel will be there. It’s a great, great development."
PreOccupiedTerritory: Barak Sticking To Prediction Assad Will Fall In 2012 (satire)
Former Prime Minister and Former Minister of Defense Ehud Barak continued his latest attempt at a political comeback this week by giving a series of interviews in which he stuck to his prediction that embattled Syrian President Basher Assad will not last more than a month into 2012.

Barak, 75, last held political office in 2012 in a unity government with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has won reelection twice since then. Barak, however, was forced out of the Labor Party leadership and has since embarked on an effort to unseat Netanyahu, a feat he managed to achieve only once, in 1999. The former premier and minister holds the honor of Israel’s most decorated soldier, and relies on the military gravitas that provides will lend credibility to his prediction that the Syrian leader will fall almost six years ago.

“It is only a matter of time, given how weak his position has become,” intoned Barak, whose premiership saw the outbreak of the Second Intifada, in which more than a thousand Israelis were killed. “What has become clear to me and to anyone else with a head on his shoulders is that Israel should position itself to take advantage of this eminently foreseeable development, or at least to protect its interests. Unfortunately, the current leadership has demonstrated it is only interested in holding on to power, and the small matter of knowing what’s actually going on in the region and doing something about it lies beyond its area of awareness and competence.”
CIA Director Pompeo: Saudis working with Israel to fight terror
Saudi Arabia is working directly with Israel and other Sunni Arab nations to fight terror, US CIA Director Mike Pompeo said.

“We’ve seen them work with the Israelis to push back against terrorism throughout the Middle East, to the extent we can continue to develop those relationships and work alongside them – the Gulf states and broader Middle East will likely be more secure,” said Pompeo at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California on Saturday.

Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta then called on the moderate Sunni Arab states to form a coalition with Israel, the US and Turkey and even to run a joint military operations center.

“It is incredibly important that in the Middle East, where we have failed states, where you have ISIS, where you have Iran, that we have got to develop a stronger coalition of countries that are willing to work together to confront these challenges,” he said.

He continued, “The US can’t do it on our own, obviously the Saudis can’t do it on their own, these other countries can’t do it on their own. But together in some kind of coalition of countries – of Arab countries working with the US, working with Israel, working with Turkey, to build a strong coalition that can operate – frankly I think with a joint military headquarters that can... target the terrorists in that region, that can basically work together to try to provide stability where is necessary in these countries,” he said.
Foreign Terrorists Should Not be Tried in the American Civilian Justice System
After an eight-week trial in federal court, a jury acquitted Ahmed Abu Khatallah on fourteen counts for his role in the 2012 attack on the American embassy in the Libyan city of Benghazi, but found him guilty of four additional and mostly peripheral charges. This odd outcome, argues Andrew McCarthy, is a product of a flawed system for trying terrorists like Abu Khatalla, where the only alternative to an inadequate civilian court system are the equally inadequate military courts:

Progressives fantasize that all national-security challenges can be resolved by lawsuits and diplomatic gambits—fallaciously reasoning that, because a conflict may not have a military solution, the solution should not have a military component. They insist that the civilian justice system “works” for terrorism because the comparatively few terrorists who are tried get convicted of at least something. . . . But apologists for civilian due process ignore that most terrorists cannot even be apprehended, much less tried in our judicial system. Most terrorist planning and attacks occur in dangerous territories where our investigative agencies do not operate and the writ of our courts does not run. . . .

[T]he main challenge [is that] it is impossible to try terrorists under civilian due-process protocols without providing them generous discovery from the government’s intelligence files.
This means we are telling the enemy what we know about the enemy while the enemy is still plotting to attack Americans and American interests. That’s nuts.

The patent downsides of treating international terrorism as a law-enforcement issue are why critics, myself included, were hopeful that a shift to military prosecution of enemy combatants would improve matters—more protection of intelligence, and due process limited by the laws and customs of war.
Father of murdered soldier: You were killed by lowlifes
Hundreds of Israeli mourners attended a funeral service on Sunday for an Israeli soldier who was killed in southern Israel earlier this week.

The funeral for Nahal Brigade Sgt. Ron Yitzhak Kokia, 19, was held in Tel Aviv three days after he was stabbed to death in the southern Israeli city of Arad in what police said was "most probably a terrorist attack."

"The investigation is continuing and police units are searching for the suspect who fled the scene," said a police spokesman.

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended condolences to Kokia's family and pledged to apprehend those responsible and bring them to trial.

Kokia's mother, Levana, teared up as she eulogized her son as a "charming, gentle, sensitive boy, a warm and loving boy and a strong man who always wanted a hug and another one from mom, a prince, a king. Your gentle face, your smiling eyes, thin and impressive, captivating and beloved, an angel among human beings, who navigated your gentle path, as if you had taken a mission upon yourself.

"You always demanded and got a hug and then another one from mom, and today I kissed you and hugged you over and over, and tried to warm your body, and leaned over you. Go on your way, my son, angels will welcome you, and carpets of flowers will be laid out before you. Go on your way, my son, safe in the arms of your God. Thank you to those who are working to find the cursed attackers. My son, my boy, my chick, may your memory be a blessing," Levana Kokia said.
2 Bedouin Israelis suspected of killing soldier in terror attack
Two Bedouin Israelis were arrested on Friday on suspicion that they had stabbed a soldier to death in southern Israel last week, the Shin Bet security service announced on Monday.

On Thursday night, Sgt. Ron Kokia was stabbed to death at a bus stop in the city of Arad in what the Shin Bet said was a terror attack.

The assailants stole the soldier’s gun and fled the scene, prompting a widespread manhunt across southern Israel.

Two suspects from southern Israel were arrested a day later, but the information was not immediately cleared for publication. On Monday, that gag order was partially removed.

According to the Shin Bet, one of the suspects admitted during an interrogation to murdering Kokia.

“He even led Shin Bet investigators to retrieve the soldier’s gun,” the service said in a statement.
PA official: France wants to recognize 'Palestine'
France has expressed a desire to recognize “Palestine”, the Palestinian Authority (PA) envoy to France claimed on Sunday.

The envoy, Salman Al-Harfi, told the official PA news agency Wafa that France wants the move to take place with other European countries, because it will safeguard the peace process.

“The Palestinian leadership aspires for France to recognize a state of Palestine, assume its role in the Middle East and form the backbone of the supportive European position,” he added.

Several European countries have in recent years recognized the state of “Palestine”, but these were symbolic moves that have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.

Among the countries to have recognized “Palestine” are Spain, Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Greece and Portugal. In addition, the PA inaugurated an embassy in the Vatican last January.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Training Jackals To ‘Prey The Gay Away’ (satire)
Efforts by the ruling Islamist party in this coastal territory to cleanse the area of homosexuality took a step up today with the introduction of a K-9 unit of sorts tasked with eliminating the moral scourge by preying.

Hamas announced the formation today of a the Jackal Company, a group of 150 trainers, caregivers, and animals that includes actual jackals to locate homosexuals in Gaza and prey accordingly. A spokesman for the organization told reporters that the initial focus of Jackal Company will be the ranks of the movement itself, and only after a successful pilot program within the militia will the unit be authorized to prey the gay away in wider Gazan society.

Yusuf Ibn Awaa made the announcement during a press conference Sunday morning in the lobby of Shifa Hospital, not far from Hamas’s command center in the facility’s basement. “In a formal sense Jackal Company is a division of the military police,” he stated. “But it will have an independent command structure and oversight mechanism, given the sensitivity of the subject and the critical role it plays in the continued moral paradise that Gaza will become under continued stewardship of the Islamic Resistance.”
Egyptian lawyer jailed, fined for saying women in ripped jeans deserve rape
Egyptian lawyer Nabih al-Wahsh was sentenced to three years in prison this week for saying that women wearing ripped jeans deserved to be raped.

Al Wahsh made the comments on a televised panel about draft legislation on prostitution in the country, according to the BBC.

"Are you happy when you see a girl walking down the street with half of her behind showing?" he asked. "I say that when a girl walks about like that, it is a patriotic duty to sexually harass her and a national duty to rape her."

“Girls must respect themselves so others respect them,'' he said, adding that women who wear revealing clothing are ''inviting men to harass them.''

In addition to his prison sentence, Al Wahsh was handed a fine of $1,130.

Al Wahsh has made similarly controversial statements before. A self-described 'proud antisemite' he has denied the Holocaust and called for violence against Israelis. In 2016, he insinuated that the EgyptAir Flight 804 crash, in which 66 people died while en route to Cairo from Paris, was orchestrated by Israel.

ISIS and Archaeologists Equally Delighted over Newly Discovered Ruins in Jordan (satire)

Archaeologists have used satellite imaging to discover an ancient structure buried near the historic city of Petra in Jordan, you know, the site in Indiana jones and the Last Crusade.

“This find is incredible!” exclaimed archaeologist Dr. Lucy Peatbog. “This discovery gives us a better sense of how civilizations in this area lived thousands of years ago. What’s next? We discover Atlantis, Xanadu, maybe those Clinton emails? With this tech, I’d believe it.”

But ancient history fans aren’t the only people thrilled by the find. ISIS has now expressed interest in a visit to Petra to see the new excavations.

“What a great find for ISIS,” exclaimed leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “We love ancient sites. Well, more accurately, we love to destroy them. Churches, Assyrian statues, cultural heritage sites, bits of painted Styrofoam left over from the filming of Stargate, you name it! Blowing up historical ruins is our second favorite activity, just behind removing people’s melons. Sometimes we do a combo, like the time we filmed ourselves beheading that old guy in Palmyra, he just wouldn’t shut up about how important it all was. Honestly, we expected nothing less when the media focused on what we blew up rather than on what we did to the professor. That was a great marketing boost for us.”

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