Tuesday, March 06, 2018

From Ian:

Netanyahu at AIPAC: We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was welcomed with a resounding ovation Tuesday morning at AIPAC, where he gave a 30 minute speech on the “good, bad and beautiful” in Israel and the region.

Netanyahu steered completely clear of his legal woes piling up at home.

The prime minister, showing no outward signs of the impact of his domestic situation, strolled away from the podium and used slides broadcast on large screens to talk about Israel’s contributions in the spheres of agriculture, water preservation and security, as well as its growing diplomatic standing in the world.

Pointing to the slide which was painted in blue representing all the countries with whom Israel has diplomatic ties, Netanyahu said to a resounding ovation, “There are those who talk about boycotting Israel, we will boycott them.”

While the good news coming out of Israel – regarding its technology and security expertise – is very good and getting better, the bad news, he said, “is that bad things are getting worse and are very bad.”

The overwhelmingly bad thing, he said, is Iran. “We have to deal with this challenge,” he said. “If I have a message today it is simple: We must stop Iran.”
Netanyahu in the Oval Office: U.S.-Israel Alliance Has Never Been Stronger
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday during an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump that the U.S.-Israeli relationship has never been stronger.

"Mr. President, I've been here for nearly four decades seeking to build the American-Israel alliance. Under your leadership, it's never been stronger," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu praised Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"It's always a pleasure to see you both, but this is the first time we meet in Washington, America's capital, after you declared, Mr. President, Jerusalem as Israel's capital. And this was a historic proclamation followed by your bold decision to move the embassy by our upcoming national independence day," Netanyahu said.

He continued his praise of Trump by saying the Jewish people have long memories and they won't forget Trump's decision.

"We remember the proclamation of the great King, Cyrus the Great, 2,500 years ago. He proclaimed that the Jewish exiles in Babylon can come back and rebuild our temple in Jerusalem. We remember 100 years ago Lord Balfour, who issued the Balfour proclamation that recognized the rights of the Jewish people in our an ancestral homeland," he said.

"We remember 70 years ago, President Harry S. Truman was the first leader to recognize the Jewish state. And we remember how a few weeks ago that President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Mr. President, this will be remembered by our people throughout ages. Others talked about it. You did it. I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Israel," Netanyahu said.


US Ambassador to Israel Friedman decries J Street’s motto as ‘blasphemous’
The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, decried the phrase “pro-Israel, pro-peace” — a motto closely associated with J Street — as “blasphemous.”

“Pro-Israel and pro-peace sounds like a completely reasonable position,” Friedman said Tuesday addressing the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “My friends, it is not. Using that praise plainly implies that there are people who are pro-Israel and anti-peace.”

Friedman, formerly a lawyer for President Donald Trump, came under fire during his nomination process for having attacked liberal Jews, including his claim that J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby, was “worse than kapos.” He apologized during his testimony, although he ignored J Street requests for a personal apology.

“If you support Israel, then you must by definition support peace with its neighbors,” Friedman said. “It is no less than blasphemous to suggest that any Jew or any Christian is against peace.”

If a state of war persists, Friedman said, “I strongly suggest that we blame someone other than Israel for this predicament.”

J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said in response that commitments to peace involved taking action.

“Contra David Friedman, it’s not blasphemous to suggest that the settlement movement and its allies in the Netanyahu and Trump governments are not committed to peace. They have spent years helping to expand and entrench the occupation — undermining the two-state solution and endangering Israel’s future,” Ben-Ami said.

“If Ambassador Friedman wants to defend settlements, demonize Palestinians, oppose the two state-solution and still claim to support peace, that’s his right,” he said. “Meanwhile, the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement will oppose his policies and continue to work to actually promote peace and secure Israel’s future.”

The bulk of Friedman’s speech was devoted to attacking those who use the phrase, which was notable considering how substantially Trump has moved U.S. policy to be more aligned with the policies of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.



The Price for Trump’s Peace Plan Is Too High
A Palestinian state in Israel’s backyard, international control over Jerusalem’s Old City and the mass expulsion of tens of thousands of Jews from Judea and Samaria: Is this the “price” that President Donald Trump recently hinted Israel would have to pay?

According to Arab diplomats cited by the London newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, the Trump plan for the Middle East, soon to be unveiled, includes “US recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital”; the imposition of “international protection” over Jerusalem’s Old City; and the expulsion of many Jews from the territories. Plus, the Palestinian Authority would be given another $40 billion in aid.

The Palestinian state would not be precisely along the 1967 lines, but it would be close enough — much too close for comfort. Palestinian terrorists would be within easy striking range of Ben-Gurion Airport and downtown Jerusalem. Israel would be dangerously narrow at its midsection.

Jewish residents of the territories near the old 1967 lines would be allowed to stay, according to the plan. But tens of thousands of others would be forcibly expelled. Apparently, it’s a given that the “State of Palestine” could not bear to have any Jews on its soil.

There would be no “Palestinian right of return” under Trump’s plan. But that’s not some big concession to Israel; obviously, the Israelis never would have accepted the idea of millions of Arabs flooding into the Jewish state. Giving up on something you never would have gotten anyway is not giving up on anything.
Netanyahu says he told Trump Israel doesn’t want to rule over the Palestinians
Less than one-fourth of his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Monday was devoted to the Palestinian issue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters hours after the leaders sat down at the White House.

“The issue of the Palestinians came up in the terms I described — the security question,” Netanyahu said. “Not more than quarter of the time [we discussed] the Palestinians.”

The Israeli premier added that the Trump administration has not showed him its much-anticipated peace plan, which officials have said they are finalizing and plan to unveil in the near future. They have given no specific timetable.

Netanyahu, for his part, would not say whether he supported the emergence of a Palestinian state as part of that plan.

“I haven’t named it, but I’ve defined it: The Palestinians should have the power of government, except the power to threaten us,” he said.

Asked by The Times of Israel if he told Trump that he supported, at least in principle, the establishment of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu merely said he told the president didn’t want Israel to rule over Palestinians.
Trump says he could come to Jerusalem in May for embassy opening
US President Donald Trump said on Monday he could return to Jerusalem in May, when the US opens its new embassy in the city to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

Sitting across from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office, the American president was asked if he would travel to Israel to cut the ribbon on the new facility, almost a year after his first visit to Jerusalem as president.

“I may. I may,” he said. “We’re looking at coming, if I can, I will.”

He went on, “We’re going to have it built very quickly and very inexpensively. They put an order in front of my desk last week for a billion dollars. I said, ‘A billion? What’s that for?…We’re not going to spend a billion dollars. We’re actually doing it for about $250,000. So check that out. Now it’s temporary, but it will be very nice.”

Trump in December bucked decades of US foreign policy by formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and setting in motion plans to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. Earlier this month, the US said the move would take place to coincide with Israel’s 70th birthday.

Asked when he would unveil his secretive plan for Israel-Palestinian peace, Trump would not disclose a date, but said his administration was preparing for its release.

“We’re going to see. We’re working on it very hard. I think we have a very good chance,” he said. “The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table. If they don’t, you won’t have peace.”
Haley to AIPAC: Israel Will Never Be Disrespected at the UN ‘on My Watch’
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke at AIPAC Monday evening about the U.S.'s friendship with Israel, saying the Jewish state would not be disrespected at the U.N. "on my watch."

"You know I won't be a wallflower or talking head. I have to be able to say what I think," Haley told President Donald Trump as she was being considered for a role in the Trump administration.

Without hesitation, Trump said, "Nikki, that's exactly why I want you to do this."

Haley told the audience that on her first day on the job she reached out to ambassadors to four countries, including the British and French ambassadors because they're the U.S.'s closest allies on the UN Security Council.

Haley also said she reached out to Ukraine to reassure that America won't waver against standing up for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

"And my fourth call on that first day was to Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador," Haley said, motioning to someone in the front to applause.

Haley brought up UN Resolution 2334 from President Barack Obama's lame duck period in December 2016, which condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The U.S. allowed it to pass by abstaining.

"On my first day, I assured the Israeli ambassador that on my watch, that would never happen again," she said to applause.

Haley got some of the bigger standing ovations of her speech by mentioning the decision to move the U.S.'s embassy to Jerusalem.

"Like most Americans, I knew what the capital of Israel was. To be more clear, I knew that Jerusalem was, is, and will always be Israel's capital," Haley said.


Cotton: U.S., Europe Should Publicize ‘Severe’ Punishments for Iran if It Exploits, Violates Nuclear Deal
Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) on Monday called for the U.S. to work with its European allies to define and publicize "severe" punishments for Iran if the Islamic Republic takes steps to violate or exploit flaws in the nuclear deal that it struck in 2015.

Cotton, a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal, explained how he would strengthen the agreement during an interview at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference in Washington, D.C.

ABC News senior national correspondent Claire Shipman asked Cotton whether the nuclear accord can be "fixed" and how the U.S. should go about it.

Cotton said the idea of renegotiating the deal with Iran is impractical, opting instead for a separate agreement between the U.S. and its European allies to punish Tehran if it takes certain actions.

"Well, I don't think that we can sit down with the ayatollahs and try to renegotiate a new deal," Cotton said. "That's not going to be successful."

"What we can do is, [the] United States and in concert with Europe, is say, ‘These are the flaws with the deal that the last administration negotiated, and this what we're going to do if Iran ever goes beyond, say, the number and the kinds of centrifuges it's spinning or the missiles that it's testing, so on and so forth,'" Cotton continued. "That doesn't require us to go back to Iran to negotiate a deal. It just says if Iran takes these actions, which unfortunately they are in many cases allowed to do under the nuclear deal, we will take these very severe punitive actions as well."


Shmuley Boteach: Why Isn’t AIPAC Lobbying for Taylor Force Act?
Eighteen thousand people are here in the nation’s capitol to advocate for Israel. On Tuesday, they will fill the halls of Congress to lobby for important pro-Israel legislation, including legislation on BDS, which would punish countries and corporations who boycott Israel. That’s all highly admirable. But why did AIPAC, which supports the Taylor Force Act, choose not to lobby for Senate and Congressional passage of the act?

On March 8, my organization will posthumously award the Elie Wiesel Prize — chosen and presented by Marion and Elisha Wiesel — to Yoni Netanyahu and Taylor Force, two heroes who defended liberty and were murdered by terrorists.

Taylor Force was a West Point graduate and Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was murdered in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist on March 8th, 2016. As it stands, Congress is considering legislation named after him — the Taylor Force Act — to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority for paying large stipends to individuals who commit acts of terrorism, and to the families of deceased terrorists.

Taylor Force was on a study trip with his fellow MBA students from Vanderbilt University when he was stabbed, along with 11 other people.

This horrific crime was celebrated by the Palestinian government, which offers incentives to murder Jews and rewards to those who are imprisoned or “martyred.” Under this “pay-to-slay” policy, the Palestinian Authority — which has repeatedly pledged to end terrorism — provides generous monthly stipends to terrorists and their families for attacks against Israelis.
Palestinians increase payments to terrorists to $403 million
The Palestinian Authority increased its payments to terrorists and their families in 2018 by nearly $56 million, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) said overnight Monday, when a bill to discourage the practice passed a first reading.

Dichter pointed out that President Mahmoud Abbas authorized the 2018 PA budget on Sunday, and that there is a PA law that says 7% of each budget must go to paying terrorists, or to their families, if they’re killed in the act.

The increase “means that the PA will employ more terrorists as PA workers,” Dichter said. “Except that the terrorists who work for the PA have a special quality – they are employed both as dead and living terrorists.

“Murderers like the ones who killed the Fogel family” – two Palestinians killed five out of eight members of the family in Itamar, including a three-month-old, in 2011 – “are heroes to the PA. This is not a whim. It’s in the PA’s constitution,” Dichter added.

The PA paid terrorists and their families more than $347m. in 2017. Terrorists who have been sentenced to three to five years in Israeli prisons receive the average income of a Palestinian, about $580 per month. The families of those who committed more severe crimes and were involved in killing Israelis receive five times that each month for the rest of their lives.

Terrorists receive more from the PA if they are married, for each child they have, if they live in Jerusalem or if they’re an Israeli citizen.
History in Washington, hysteria at home
What drama. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and going so far as to draw historical comparisons between Trump's declaration and decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem to the Edict of Cyrus, the Balfour Declaration, and former President Harry Truman's immediate recognition of Israel after we declared independence – Israel is learning about another state's witness, this time Nir Hefetz, who might possibly supply the police with the golden piece of evidence it's looking for. It's very doubtful that will happen. Hefetz could open up a Pandora's box that isn't necessarily related to the prime minister.

From the oozing Israeli swamp, back to Washington. At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, which has changed from a pro-Israel Jewish lobby to a general conference of American Jews, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales gave a speech and announced to loud applause that he, too, would be moving his country's embassy to Jerusalem. (I was surprised at the scattered applause for the speaker who preceded him, Labor party chairman Avi Gabbay.)

Israeli diplomacy is securing unprecedented achievements, only to tumble from new heights to the murky depths of police investigations and the Israeli media's Jobian predictions.

This duality is insufferable. There are two separate universes, and the citizens of Israel are shaken by a massive attack on their consciousness.
Trump pushing Palestinians like cows led to slaughter, top PA official says
US President Donald Trump’s hardline approach to the Palestinians is similar to herding cows to slaughter, a top Palestinian official said Tuesday.

The comments came a day after the US leader welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington and ahead of the expected launch of Trump’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“Today what is happening with us is what you call in the United States a cattle chute trap,” Muhammad Shtayeh, a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“They bring the cattle in a yard with one single exit, with a man on a horse and a whip. And they keep pushing the cows into the trap. By the time every single cow gets through, it is shot in the head with an electric gun, then it goes in a belt to the slaughtering house, then we eat it as hamburger,” he said.

“With the Palestinians, what is happening is exactly the same.”

Shtayeh objected to Trump’s assertion that the Palestinians have walked away from peace negotiations, claiming that the administration has pushed the Palestinians away from any peace process by taking a series of steps in favor of Israel.
Saudi Arabia wants to develop nuclear weapons, minister warns
Education Minister and Diplomatic-Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennett warned against a possible arms race in the Middle East at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference in Washington, Monday.

Asked about the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Bennett said that "Saudi Arabia is already trying to achieve uranium enrichment capabilities. Today it is a convenient regime for the West, but in the Middle East and the Arab countries, there is a structural instability. … Iran, Saudi Arabia, or any other country must not have nuclear capability."

Asked about the threat posed by Iran, he said, "You have to change something in your consciousness – it's time to fight the Iranian octopus at the root, not only in its tentacles in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza."

Addressing the roughly 3,000 people in attendance, Bennett called for the targeting of Iran's operational capabilities. He also thanked AIPAC members for promoting legislation against Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

"The head of the octopus is sitting in Tehran, and the tentacles are sent to make us miserable until we give up. Let it clear: We will not give in. We have been here for thousands of years, and we will continue to be here."
Air India denies getting approval for flights to Israel over Saudi Arabia
India’s flagship airline said Tuesday it had not received approval for direct flights to Israel over Saudi airspace, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters an agreement for such a route had been reached.

“We have not received any confirmation. We have only submitted our request for a flight. We have yet to receive anything from authorities,” Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar told The Times of Israel.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Monday, Netanyahu told reporters that Saudi Arabia has given Air India approval to fly through its airspace on flights between Israel and India.

The agreement would shorten the flight path by some two hours and mark a significant achievement as Jerusalem attempts to upgrade its relationship with Riyadh.
Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Narendra Modi get ready to hug in New Delhi, on January 14, 2018. Avi Ohayon/GPO)

“Air India signed an agreement today to fly to Israel over Saudi Arabia,” the Israeli premier said during a briefing at the Blair House in Washington, DC, emphasizing that the flight to and from India would take the same length of time as flights between London and Tel Aviv, some five and a half hours.

Saudi Arabia has not commented on the report.
Trump is right on UN refugee aid
Proponents of United Nation’s Palestinian refugee aid have recently called for a halt in funding reductions, claiming potential for catastrophic consequences. The United States, a major volunteer funder of this aid, recently withheld millions in aid. While President Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump should reaffirm his commitment to halting funding for the UN project that is no longer serving it’s stated purpose.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) began operations in 1950 funded by individual UN member states to provide education, health care and social services to the Palestinian refugee population “until a just and lasting solution” could be found. Perversely, by allowing the descendants of refugees, many of whom are themselves citizens of other countries, to register on its list, the agency makes the likelihood of resolving the refugee issue near impossible, as the numbers of eligible and unaccounted for refugees are condemned to rise year on year.

The fact that the UNRWA is the only refugee agency in the world that counts a second generation as refugees intentionally perpetuates the Palestinian humanitarian crisis for political gain and this must be challenged.

The recent announcement by the State Department that it would be taking a closer “look at UNRWA” and making sure that its money, of which the U.S. is the largest single donor is “best spent so that people can get the services” was met with near-universal outrage by the international community.
UN Official: UNRWA facing 'most severe crisis' after Trump's aid cut
Humanitarian agencies are facing "unprecedented financial crisis" after the US recently cut its foreign aid, a United Nations representative said.

Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said since US President Donald Trump dramatically reduced contributions to Palestinians by $300 million, the agency has been dealing with "the most severe crisis" ever faced. With the remaining funds that will cover Palestinian refugees until May, Krähenbühl said the need for global mobilization and action in search for a solution is now more crucial than ever.

"If 525,000 students no longer have access to education, three million patients don't have access to healthcare and 1.7 million don't receive emergency assistance, we will see catastrophic rise in insecurity," he said during his speech at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition.

"Not having UNRWA students in schools violates fundamental right and becomes a matter of national security." Earlier in January, Trump had threatened to cut millions in contributions to force Palestinian national authorities into coming to the negotiating table to discuss a peace deal with Israel.

The US has been the largest donor - responsible for nearly a third of the budget - to UNRWA, which works to help Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, providing food, health-related, and education aid.
UN Establishes an Agency for Refugees of the Conquest of Canaan (satire)
Following the recommendation of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the General Assembly of the UN has voted to establish and fund another worthless agency – UNARCO – the United Nations Agency for Refugees of Canaanite Oppression. The agency will provide welfare, education and political support to members of the Kenite, Kenizzite, Kadmonite, Hittite, Perizzite, Rephaim, Amorite, Edomite, Girgashite, and Jebusite tribes who were victims of Zionist oppression during the conquest of Cannan by Joshua thousands of years ago.

“We are set up and ready to go,” declared inaugural UNARCO chairman Niels Toefelssen, “we used the $700 million in funding provided by the US and EU to buy 5 million gallons of snappy light-blue paint, 2 million school text-books of very questionable objectivity and used the remains to pay the salaries of intrepid UNARCO agents who are risking life and limb to protect the most persecuted ethnic groups in the world.”

When asked about the ethnic groups themselves, Niels reiterated his confidence: “While it’s true that there isn’t a single known Jebusite on the planet, it is undoubtedly the result of Zionist intimidation. Our only source of information on most of the tribes is from the Old Testament itself, which just shows the depth of Jewish cunning and their determination to marginalize and persecute the Canaanites. It would undoubtedly take a serious effort to find and remind enough people that they are descendants of Canaanite tribes who were wronged by Israelites. We are going to commence that important mission as soon as my request for additional funding comes through.”
Stand With Us: LIVE Q&A with Col. Richard Kemp




Carlos the Jackal in court for last time
In what will be his last chance in court, on Monday the terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as "Carlos the Jackal," was to appeal the life sentence he received last year for a 1974 Paris bombing.

Francis Vuillemin, Sanchez's longtime lawyer along with Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who is now his partner, said Sanchez would be asking for an acquittal.

The Venezuela-born Sanchez, 68, has denied responsibility for the attack at the Publicis Drugstore at Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris' Left Bank, which left two dead and 34 injured when a grenade was thrown from the mezzanine restaurant into the crowded gallery below.

The sentence was Sanchez's third life term. He is already serving two life sentences for his role in attacks that left 11 people dead in 1982-83.

He became one of the world's most notorious fugitives in the 1970s and '80s, after he carried out a number of pro-Palestinian attacks.
General: Gaza conditions won’t improve until Hamas returns captive Israelis
Improving the bleak living conditions in the Gaza Strip is contingent upon the return of two Israeli civilians, and the remains of two slain IDF soldiers, being held captive in the coastal enclave, the head of the army’s Southern Command said Monday.

“We have the utmost responsibility to bring back the captives and the IDF soldiers — the improvement of Gaza Strip residents’ situation is dependent upon this as well,” Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir told a conference in the southern town of Sderot.

During the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas terrorists captured the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. In the following year, two apparently mentally ill Israeli civilians, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, entered the Gaza Strip of their own volition and were taken captive by Hamas.

Israel has called for the civilians and slain soldiers to be returned, but Hamas has insisted that Israel release many convicted terrorists from prison before negotiations can even begin, something that Israel refuses to do.

With his remarks on Monday, the Southern Command chief also joined a chorus of senior Israeli defense officials who have made similar statements blaming the living conditions for Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, which enjoys only a few hours of electricity per day, on the Hamas terrorist group.
Palestinian women’s groups organizing march to protest Trump
Several Palestinian women’s groups and leaders are organizing a march to the Kalandiya checkpoint to protest US President Donald Trump’s recent changes to American policy on Jerusalem, Dalal Salama, the sole female Fatah Central Committee member, said on Tuesday.

The march – which was organized by the General Union of Palestinian Women, Palestinian women’s rights groups and notable Palestinian women – is scheduled for Wednesday, one day before International Women’s Day.

“The main message of the march is that Palestinian women consider the American president’s decisions about Jerusalem unacceptable,” Salama told The Jerusalem Post in a phone call.

In early December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the city, breaking with decades of American policy and infuriating many Palestinians.

While the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership hopes east Jerusalem will become the capital of a Palestinian state, Israel considers all of the city to be part of its sovereign territory.

Salama also said the march “aims to highlight restrictions on the movement of Palestinian women wishing to go to Jerusalem.”


Shell gives up on Gaza's offshore gas field - Palestinians
Royal Dutch Shell is giving up its stake in an undeveloped natural gas field off the Gaza Strip, sending the Palestinians looking for a new foreign group to replace it, Palestinian officials said on Monday.

Cabinet ministers from the Palestinian Authority said in a statement they had been informed that the energy giant was pulling out of the project and were now in the process of “trying to attract a global company” to take its place.

Shell had been struggling to find a buyer for its 55 percent stake in the Gaza Marine field, which it took over during its acquisition of BG Group in 2016.

A Shell spokesman said: “We confirm we have been in discussions with various parties about the future of the Gaza Marine project. As of now, Shell continues to holds its equity in the Gaza Marine asset.”

Gaza Marine, located about 30 km (20 miles) off the Gaza coast, has long been seen as a golden opportunity for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority to join the Mediterranean gas bonanza, providing a major source of income to reduce its reliance on foreign aid.

Plans to develop the field - estimated to hold over 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the equivalent of Spain’s consumption in 2016 - were put off several times over the past decade.

The delays were due to internal Palestinian rivalry and conflict with Israel, as well as economic reasons.
JCPA: Whither Egypt’s Democracy?
What Lies Ahead for Egypt?

In less than four years since taking office and due to his merciless battle fought against Islamic radicals seeking to topple his regime, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has transformed Egypt’s political landscape into a repressive regime with zero tolerance for its critics and even less to its opponents. Criticizing the regime is almost tantamount to an open challenge of el-Sisi’s authority and is punishable by jail, harassment, and persecution. The glamour and magic touch that characterized el-Sisi’s rise have long vanished, and while refraining from expressing open criticism at home, the satellite channels, as well as the Arab press outside Egypt, have become the safe haven of politicians, comedians, actors, journalists, and people who have a say against what is going on in Egypt today.

There is no doubt that el-Sisi will be elected president for a second, and most probably a third, term if he wants to and if he survives potential attacks on his life. The big question remains: Where is Egypt drifting, and what sort of Egypt will we meet at the end of el-Sisi’s second term?
Friday Sermon in Egypt - Wage Jihad in Infidel Lands until Islam Rules the World
In a Friday sermon delivered in El Bagour, Egypt, Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qadi called to wage Jihad against the infidels in their own lands. Stressing that he was not talking only about defensive Jihad, he said: "I am talking about seeking out the infidels on their own turf," and, if they refuse to convert to Islam, imposing the jizya poll tax on them or fighting them "until the word of Allah reigns supreme." "Islam alone should rule the world," said Al-Qadi. The sermon, delivered in the Ubad Al-Rahman Mosque in El Bagour, was posted on December 17, 2017 on a YouTube channel dedicated to the mosque's sermons.




Norway ex-PM: ‘Double standard’ on Israel, others cripples nuclear talks
At a conference on tolerance in Europe, a former leader of Norway said that Israel was part of the problem undermining efforts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Kjell Magne Bondevik, whose last term as Norwegian prime minister ended in 2005, singled out Pakistan, India and the Jewish state in a speech Tuesday in Monaco’s Cafe de Paris during a conference on tolerance by the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation — a think tank headed by European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“We have used wars and occupation of Muslim countries,” Bondevik, a Lutheran pastor and founder of the Oslo Center, said in prefacing his comments about nuclear proliferation. “Of course this does not excuse terrorism but we need to be more consistent. The same can be said about nuclear proliferation, but how to approach countries like Pakistan, India and Israel? It this a double standard? We have to question ourselves and we have to be aware that many in the Muslim world may use this as an excuse and talk of double standard in this regard.”

Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress and of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, said that Bondevik’s observation is part of “endless talk” on this subject, which he said does not help find practical solutions.

“This attitude in which everything is seen as connected, if we continue we will never come to see the realization of our goal: Practical, on-the-ground recommendations for civil society,” Kantor said at the conference in Monaco, titled “Tackling Extremism and Intolerance in a Diverse Society.”



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The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

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