Wednesday, March 07, 2018

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Trump's Urgent Lebanon Problem
Since visiting Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon late last month, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been sounding the alarm about the growing danger of a devastating war between Israel and Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

Ahead of his meeting Monday with President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Iran and its rapidly expanding regional power, as well as its nuclear program, would be the major focus of their discussions.

Speaking Sunday on Fox News, Graham warned that the U.S. has no policy to push back Iran’s gains in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Specifically regarding Lebanon, Graham warned, “Southern Lebanon is a nightmare. It makes Gaza look stable. The IDF, the Israel Defense Force, says there are over a hundred thousand rockets and missiles in the hands of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.”

Graham continued, “Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon years ago, the United Nations was supposed to police the area. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL] has sat on the sidelines and watched Hezbollah dominate southern Lebanon with missile technology that now threatens every part of Israel. So it’s a matter of time until Israel strikes southern Lebanon.”

Last month, officers in UNIFIL — the 10,300-strong multinational force charged with preventing Hezbollah from deploying in southern Lebanon — told a French newspaper that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) blocks UNIFIL from fulfilling its mission. The officers explained that in undermining UNIFIL’s operations, the LAF is acting as Hezbollah’s agent.

As the Jerusalem Post reported, speaking to the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, a warrant officer from UNIFIL’s French contingent said, “In the evening we never leave the barracks because the Lebanese forces are not friendly.”

“We are caught in the aggressor’s grip. Doing the bare minimum has become a political choice,” he added.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: The Arabs Do Not Care about Us
The PA leadership is not happy about the interference of Qatar and UAE in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. It is also not happy with the way Egypt seems to have endorsed Dahlan, an arch-enemy of Abbas. The PA sees Arab meddling in Palestinian affairs as harmful and counterproductive. It has yet to recover from the days when each Arab country had endorsed its own Palestinian faction.

The Palestinians are once again being forced to face the unpleasant truth that their Arab brothers are more interested in their own survival than in the Palestinian issue.

This Arab apathy towards the Palestinians is the result of a long-standing belief in the Arab world that the Palestinians are an ungrateful people who do not hesitate to bite the hand that feeds them. Palestinian support for Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait -- a country that used to provide the Palestinians with millions of dollars annually -- was the turning point in relations between the Arab countries and the Palestinians. Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and EU funding.

When Trump finally does announce his Middle East peace plan, the Palestinians will discover that they are alone in threatening to thwart it. The Palestinians have good reason to believe that the Arab countries are about to leave them to their own devices. And, after half a century of failed and corrupt leadership, the Palestinian devices leave much to be desired.

In historic first, Air India cleared for Israel flights over Saudi Arabia
Air India confirmed plans for a direct route between Tel Aviv and Delhi Wednesday, with the flight being given permission to fly over Saudi airspace, a first.

The ability to fly the route over Saudi Arabia is expected to cut the flight time by nearly two hours, and marks a significant achievement in Israel’s campaign to upgrade its ties with the Gulf.

An Air India spokesman confirmed that the new seven-hour service will begin on March 22 and will see three flights a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Tickets went on sale Wednesday.

The announcement comes days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Monday that the Saudis had given the go-ahead to Air India to fly through its airspace to and from Tel Aviv.

The permission marks a historic turn by the Gulf state, which has not previously allowed flights to or from Israel over its airspace, like many other Middle Eastern countries that do not have relations with Israel.

Israel does not have diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, but it has been a known secret that the two nations have been working covertly on their shared security concerns regarding Iran in the wake of the 2015 nuclear accord, which both governments’ strongly opposed.

MEMRI: On Social Media, Criticism Of Muslim World League Secretary-General's Condemnation Of Holocaust – But In Saudi Press, Support For It
On January 22, 2018, close to International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27, 2018), Dr. Mohammad Al-'Issa, secretary-general of the Saudi-based Muslim World League (MWL), sent a letter to Sara Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., in which he condemned the Holocaust in extremely harsh terms, describing it as "an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person." He added that "This Human tragedy perpetrated by evil Nazism won't be forgotten by history, or meet the approval of anyone, except criminal Nazis or their genre."[1]

Al-'Issa has garnered publicity lately for his activities to ease tensions between Muslims and the West and his support for religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue. In May 2017, he urged Muslims living in the West to respect local laws banning the veil, if the country in which they live has such a law, or else move to some other country in which they can wear the veil freely.[2] In November 2017, he met with the Chief Rabbi of France and the head of the Great Synagogue in Paris, and visited the synagogue, becoming the first senior Saudi cleric to do so.[3] In a February 2018 speech at the Alliance of Virtue for the Common Good conference in Washington, organized by the Parliament of the World's Religions, Al-'Issa called to respect the plurality of ideas, and warned against the activity of new Nazi supporters who encourage barbarity, and against the support that religious leaders provide them, sometimes unwittingly.[4] Recently, he also visited the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican,[5] and met with Douglas Padgett, Senior Advisor for Combating Violent Extremism at the U.S. State Department.[6]

Al-'Issa's statements in his letter condemning the Holocaust, which are unusual for a member of the Saudi religious establishment, sparked harsh criticism on social media accusing him and MWL of ignoring the crimes perpetrated against Arabs, especially against the Palestinians. Conversely, articles in the local and international Saudi press defended Al-'Issa, saying that he certainly recognizes the injustices perpetrated against Arabs and Palestinians in the past and the present. Some of the articles also called on the Arab world to endorse the statements he made in his letter and follow his example.

The following is a sampling of the critical reactions to his letter on social media, and excerpts from some of the Saudi press articles that defended him.
David Horovitz: With inspiring performance at AIPAC, Netanyahu seeks to show he’s indispensable
In a little more than half an hour at the AIPAC policy conference here on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrated all his formidable public speaking skills in a bravura performance that underlined he has no remote competitor when extolling Israel’s virtues. Underlining his stellar display was his desire, too, to assert his indispensability in steering Israel to ever-greater economic growth, global diplomatic acceptance, and long-term security.

Needless to say, there was no hint of a mention of the legal troubles awaiting him back home. Neither, in a crowd of 18,000 passionately pro-Israel activists, was there any expectation of such references.

The prime minister left nobody in any doubt that he intends to be helming Israel for a long time to come. “I will not let that happen,” Netanyahu promised when discussing Iran’s ongoing efforts to establish a permanent presence in Syria and Lebanon from which to target Israel — a personal commitment.

And the whoops, cheers, and applause that met his every confident, uplifting announcement of Israeli prowess confirmed that, for most of this crowd, the words “Benjamin Netanyahu” and “prime minister of Israel” are and should remain synonymous.

“We love you Bibi,” a female voice in the crowd assured him at one point, in case there was any question. “That’s very kind of you. I love you too,” Netanyahu responded — much like the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had replied to similar sentiments the previous evening. Except that Netanyahu had the disarming presence of mind to ask lightly: “Who planted her?!”
Benjamin Netanyahu's full AIPAC speech (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Netanyahu to Trump: Let Pollard go
During his meeting with the US president this week,.Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked Donald Trump to remove the restrictive parole conditions placed on convicted, but finally released, spy Jonathan Pollard and to allow Pollard to immigrate to Israel.

According to the report in Yisrael Hayom, this was the second time Netanyahu had raised the issue of Pollard's freedom with President Trump.

Netanyahu reportedly told Trump that allowing Pollard to move to israel would be an appropriate gesture in honor of Israel's 70th anniversary.

Trump did not respond to Netanyahu's request, but reportedly instructed senior government officials to examine the matter in depth.

Pollard was convicted for spying for Israel in 1987 and given a life sentence. He was granted parole after serving 30 years in prison, more than anyone convicted of comparable offenses, in 2015 during which he was not allowed to attend his father's funeral. Once on parole, he was placed under restrictive conditions, including a curfew from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM. He is forced to wear an electronic monitoring device. Any computer he uses is monitored. The restrictions have prevented Pollard from finding employment, and even from attending Shabbat services at a synagogue on Friday nights.

Pollard is also not allowed to leave the country under the parole restrictions.
Peace ‘requires compromise,’ Pence says at AIPAC
A comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will require compromise from both sides, US Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday night.

Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference— which he called the most “influential” Israel lobby in Washington— Pence said that administration officials were working to prepare Trump's peace plan.

"As we gather here, our team– Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and our great ambassador [David Friedman]– are hard at work crafting our administration’s vision for peace," Pence continued. "And while any peace will undoubtedly require compromise, know this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel."

He said that the Trump administration still considers Middle East peace a high priority, despite the struggle ahead, and that it would support a two-state solution if both sides agree to it.

"Under President Trump, the United States remains fully committed to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians," Pence said. "In announcing his decision on Jerusalem, the president also called, in his words, 'on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s Holy Sites.' And he made it clear that we were not taking any position on final status issues, or specific boundaries, or the resolution of contested borders. And as the president reaffirmed, if both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution."

Israeli officials declined again on Monday to expressly endorse a two-state solution that doesn’t include fundamental security guarantees for the Jewish state, such as a permanent military presence in the Jordan Valley.

And yet a true peace also requires “truth-telling,” Pence said, touting President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The U.S. Embassy Belongs in Israel’s Capital, and Always Has
In 1995, Douglas Feith helped Senators Bob Dole and Jon Kyl draft a bill requiring the federal government to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Twenty-three years after the bill was passed—with overwhelming bipartisan majorities—the Trump administration has put plans in place to comply with the law. The arguments made by Feith in 1995 remain no less pertinent today:

Inasmuch as the essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict is legitimacy, the essence of the legitimacy issue is Israel’s right to sovereignty in Jerusalem. If Israelis do not have the right to sovereignty there, they can hardly justify sovereignty anywhere.

Jerusalem has been central to Jewish nationhood for 3,000 years. The Jews’ national movement, after all, is Zionism, Zion being Jerusalem. The Arabs understand this, too, which is why the importance of Jerusalem in Arab politics, diplomacy, philosophy, and literature increased as the struggle against Zionism intensified.

By relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, we would end our anomalous policy of refusing to recognize Israel’s sovereignty in its own capital. We would proclaim that Israel’s legitimacy in Zion is not an open question for us. This would signal that we expect all parties to the conflict—not just Israel—to pursue peace on the basis of realism.
Schumer Slams BDS Movement Against Israel: ‘There’s Only One Word for It: Anti-Semitism’
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) slammed the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement during his remarks before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference on Monday night, calling it unquestionable anti-Semitism.

Better known as BDS, the movement seeks to delegitimize and economically isolate the Jewish state. The Anti-Defamation League has called the campaign "rampant with misinformation and distortion."

"We must continue to stand firm against the profoundly biased campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel through [BDS]," Schumer said. "While Iran publicly executes its citizens, Turkey jails its journalists, scores of Arab nations punish homosexuality with imprisonment and torture, why does BDS single Israel out alone for condemnation?"

"When there is such a double standard, when the world treats everybody one way and the Jew or the Jewish state another way, there's only one word for it: anti-Semitism! Let us all call out the BDS movement for what it is," Schumer said. "Let us delegitimize the delegitimizers by letting the world know when there is a double standard. Whether they know it or not, they are actively participating in an anti-Semitic movement."

Schumer's party is not fully on board with his position, however. The California Democratic Party adopted a resolution at its convention last month in opposition to a federal anti-BDS bill. The party also did not endorse Jewish Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) in her reelection bid.

Schumer also called for passage of The Taylor Force Act, named for an American who was killed by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016. The law would cease payments from the U.S. to the Palestinian Authority until the PA ceases paying bounties to the families of terrorists.

Jew who inspired PLO declaration of independence now wants to take down AIPAC
Thirty years ago, Jerome Segal made headlines in Israel and the United States with an odd pedigree: He was the committed Jew who wrote the Palestinian declaration of independence.

That was never quite accurate — the University of Maryland professor of philosophy wrote an op-ed for a Palestinian newspaper from which the Palestine Liberation Organization appears to have cadged a good portion of its 1988 declaration — but it didn’t keep the Israeli media from calling him “The Palestinians’ Jewish Herzl.”

Now he has cast himself in another unlikely role: A Bernie Sanders-style contender for the US Senate seat in Maryland currently held by Ben Cardin. Segal believes that if he tops Cardin in the Democratic primary, he can show that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is not as all-powerful as some believe.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, Segal was making his case this week at AIPAC’s annual policy conference, having paid the $599 entry fee.

During an interview Sunday in the halls of the Washington Convention Center, Segal recalled his 15 minutes of fame following his role in the Palestinian declaration of independence, which per his recommendation included recognition of Israel. In its wake, he launched the Jewish Peace Lobby as a counter to AIPAC.

Time for Oslo to exit the stage
In recent years, a number of fundamental problems have cast the Oslo two-state solution paradigm into serious doubt.

The first of these is the fact that Israel does not deal with a single, unified Palestinian system which takes centralized decisions vis-à-vis Israel. Rather, a Hamas state has risen in Gaza, which has its own policies and decision-making, and which is not subordinate in any way to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria.

The PA, for its part, runs an autonomy and has separate decision-making policies. It does not represent roughly the half of the Palestinian nation that is located in the Gaza Strip. Even in Judea and Samaria itself, there are many Palestinian elements who do not view themselves as subordinate to the PA, but rather, they are affiliated with groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or with other hardline Islamist entities.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency to utterly ignore this reality, and to try and negotiate with the PA in a way that fails to take into account the fact that it does not represent all of the Palestinians.

All of this means that the Israeli desire to receive guarantees of security and peace in exchange for concessions cannot be met. There is no one on the Palestinian side who can supply the goods.

Throughout the last ten years, and particularly now, following the election of US President Donald Trump, what is being offered to the Palestinians is substantially less than anything resembling a state. And the offers keep shrinking.
Federal Investigation Into Al Jazeera Gains Steam After Qatar-Funded Spy Op on U.S. Jews
Congress is pushing forward with an effort to spark a federal investigation into the Al Jazeera, the Qatari-funded propaganda network that recently conducted a secret, months-long spy operation on American Jews in Washington, D.C., according to lawmakers and sources familiar with the effort.

A bipartisan team of lawmakers including Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and leading House members such as Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, petitioned the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Al Jazeera to determine if it should have to register as a foreign-controlled agent under U.S. law.

The Washington Free Beacon was first to report on this growing effort last month, when a bipartisan team of lawmakers and congressional officials began calling for an investigation after revelations Al Jazeera conducted a spy operation targeting American Jews on U.S. soil.

The congressional call for an investigation appears to be the result of Al Jazeera's effort to secretly record American Jews and Israel supporters as part of a documentary purporting to show Jewish influence in politics, according to sources familiar with the letter, which was formally sent on Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

As part of the upcoming documentary, a mole paid by Al Jazeera recorded pro-Israel advocates discussing efforts to combat anti-Semitism and boycotts of Israel.

Cruz, who has criticized the Middle Eastern news outlet in the past, said Al Jazeera is publishing state-funded propaganda without regulation, similar to the Kremlin-controlled outlet RT, which was recently forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
Congress is overdue to pass the Taylor Force Act
It is a simple, uncontroversial principle: U.S. taxpayer dollars should never go to terrorists who attack U.S. citizens, interests, or allies. Yet, that is exactly what happens with U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. Congress needs advance American values and interests in peace by clearly stopping this practice.

Two years ago, Taylor Force, a heroic American, a West Point graduate and veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, was murdered by a Palestinian while touring Israel as a civilian. Israeli police killed the terrorist, Basha Masalha. In contrast, Palestinians danced in the street celebrating his “martyrdom” and the Palestinian Authority (PA) rewarded his family with a sizable monthly stipend.

This wasn’t an isolated event. The Palestinian Authority runs an extensive ‘pay to slay’ program.

PA laws describe those who attack Israel as “an integral part of the weave of Arab Palestinian society,” and any Palestinian jailed for such terrorism, or their families if they are killed, is legally entitled to government support.

As soon as a terrorist is arrested, the PA provides them a salary and, for some, a guaranteed government job upon release. The bloodier the crime and longer the sentence, the greater the reward. Those jailed for less than three years receive a $368 monthly salary; those in jail for three to five years, $570 a month; and those serving at least 30 years get $3,400 every month. This in a society with 20 percent unemployment and an average monthly salary of under $300.
Israel and Australia counter-terrorism - looking out for your mates
Israel plays a pivotal role in Middle East intelligence. We have good information on Islamist extremist groups in Asia that Israel would find of interest. It’s reasonable to assume that Australia and Israel security agencies have been working hard to build trust after the events of eight years ago. At that time, we expelled an Israeli intelligence officer in response to Israel forging Australian passports that were used in the assassination of a Hamas leader.

Last February we had the first visit of a sitting Israeli prime minister to Australia. And last October Malcolm Turnbull made the first visit of a sitting Australian prime minister to Israel since 2000. As a result, we’ve pursued closer ties to Israel through a memorandum of understanding on defence industry cooperation. Our respective defence officials will hold annual discussions on strategic and security priorities.

Consideration might be given in the near future to having a regular defence ministerial-level dialogue and undertaking a small-scale joint Australia–Israel military exercise in an area of mutual interest.

At a time when the cyber threat is growing, this year Australia and Israel will develop closer cooperation in cybersecurity by convening a bilateral cyber dialogue. We can learn lessons from the Israeli cybersecurity success story, particularly in start-ups and skills development. Last year, for example, Israel and the US formed a bilateral cyber security working group.

The intelligence cooperation we received from Israel in rolling up last year’s complex Sydney bomb plot continues a tradition of looking out for your mates, highlighted at last year’s centenary commemorations of the Light Horse’s military campaign in Palestine in Be’er Sheva and ASPI’s own strategic dialogue with Israel’s Begin-Sadat Centre.
UN Complains About Trump Aid Cuts to Palestinians, but Ignores the Real Problem
The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) complained this week that US President Donald Trump's decision to cut funding had left the organization crippled.

While there are numerous refugee situations in the world, UNRWA exists solely to aid the Palestinians and perpetuate their status as "refugees."

Trump slashed aid to the group after learning that it routinely finds itself involved in anti-Israeli incitement and Palestinian terrorist activity, and in response to ongoing Palestinian refusal to negotiate with Israel.

UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl moaned that the result was that "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."

His remarks ignored two very inconvenient facts:

1. US aid makes up about one-third of UNRWA's total budget. And Trump only cut some of that funding. If losing a small fraction of its overall funding caused UNRWA to shut down all its most critical programs, then there's some serious mismanagement, or corruption, or both.

2. The Palestinians themselves have had decades to build a functioning society and government. And they've been provided the money to make that happen. One study revealed that per capita, the Palestinians have received more than did the Europeans under the Marshall Plan following World War II. In all that time, and with all that money, the Palestinians have failed to establish for themselves even the most basic public services. That doesn't sound like a very firm foundation for statehood.
Deputy FM to diplomats: Israel not responsible for situation in Gaza
More than 70 foreign diplomats visited Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, taking part in a tour organized by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud).

The purpose of the tour was to show the diplomats, who are stationed in Israel, the security reality along Israel's southern border.

On their first stop, the diplomats were shown a Hamas terror tunnel discovered by Israel in January under the Kerem Shalom border crossing – the only goods crossing into the coastal enclave.

Hotovely told the diplomats that the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza "is due to the internal Palestinian crisis, Israel is not responsible for it."

Discussing possible formulas for a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Hotovely said, "The two-state solution is no longer relevant."

Gaza Division Deputy Commander Col. Guy Bitton was on hand to brief the diplomats as well.

On Monday, Hotovely joined a chorus of criticism from right-wing politicians, leveled at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for endorsing the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"U.S. Jewry should, in many senses, change the record about a lot of its basic assumptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," she said.
Former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner Facing Potential Trials Over Both Iranian AMIA Bombing Cover-Up and Murder of Investigator Alberto Nisman
Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is facing a potential double trial, as the latest twist in the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires left the legal immunity that she is now entitled to as a member of the Senate looking more vulnerable.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio ruled on Monday that Kirchner, ex-foreign minister Héctor Timerman, and ten other close aides will face trial over a 2013 pact with Iran that whitewashed Tehran’s responsibility for the AMIA bombing — one of the worst-ever terrorist atrocities in Latin America, in which 85 people died and hundreds more were wounded.

The AMIA case has yet to produce a single conviction, despite an intervening history of more than twenty years that witnessed a corrupted first trial, a murdered federal prosecutor, and alleged collusion with Iran at the highest levels of the Argentine government.

Bonadio’s 26-page ruling noted that during the Kirchner administration, “secret and official negotiations” were held between senior Argentine and Iranian representatives “that culminated in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding” — the 2013 pact that was voided following current President Maurico Macri’s election victory in 2015. Bonadio stated Kirchner and her colleagues had agreed to end the pursuit — via Interpol, the international law enforcement agency — of the six Iranians wanted in connection with the AMIA bombing, “to the detriment of justice, the victims and punishment of the accused.”
Support for coexistence plunging among Jewish and Arab Israelis
Tensions between Jews and Arabs are intensifying, with both populations becoming more skeptical about prospects for living in coexistence, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

Arab Israelis’ recognition of the state and of its Jewish character has significantly declined between 2015 and 2017, alongside a parallel decrease in Jews’ acceptance of Arabs as equal citizens, the poll, conducted by Haifa University sociologist Sammy Smooha, found.

However, the survey also found most Israeli Arabs think Israel is a good place to live and wouldn’t want to relocate to a future Palestinian state. In his conclusions, Smooha said that despite the widening rift, there is a “continued strong basis for Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel.”

The extensive survey, called the 2017 Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel, found that last year 58.7 percent of Israeli Arabs recognized Israel’s right to exist, significantly down from 65.8% in 2015. The percentage of Arabs recognizing the state as Jewish and democratic decreased during that time from 53.6% to 49.1%, while the share of those recognizing it as a Zionist state went down from 42.7% in 2015 to 36.2% in 2017.
PMW: PMW in Knesset says government should arrest PA leaders who incited murder
Yesterday Palestinian Media Watch made a presentation at the Knesset, at the invitation of the "Lobby for Promoting Recognition of Israel's Victory."

PMW's director Itamar Marcus presented an overview of Palestinian terror from 1996 until today, documenting the direct connection between terror incitement by Palestinian leaders and the repeated Palestinian terror campaigns that have left nearly 1500 Israelis murdered since 1994. PMW's Head of Legal Strategies Maurice Hirsch explained that Israeli law permits the arrest of Palestinian leaders on charges of incitement. Short statements were also made by 7 members of Knesset, as well as by 5 family members of Israelis who had been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the 2015-2016 terror wave.

Marcus' presentation showed that while Israel did its utmost to arrest the terrorists who prepared and committed terror attacks, it gave immunity to the PA leaders who were directly responsible for the terror campaigns. Even when PA leaders' explicit incitement to murder was captured by PMW on PA TV, none of those leaders were ever arrested.

Marcus ended by focusing on Jibril Rajoub, the Palestinian leader who was the worst terror inciter during the 2015-2016 terror campaign, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 44 people. Rajoub appeared on official PA TV numerous times to declare the murderers Palestinian heroes - "crowns on the heads of Palestinians" - and to "bless and encourage" the terrorists to continue. He recently again called for violence in response to the US plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Marcus told the Knesset members that legal measures must be taken immediately against Rajoub for terror incitement, so the PA leadership understands that Israel will no longer grant immunity to those leaders who promote terror, before a new terror wave begins:
Hamas members in East Jerusalem could lose residency under new law
The Knesset on Wednesday enacted a law permitting the interior minister to revoke the permanent residency status of East Jerusalem residents who are found to have committed actions constituting a “breach of trust” to the State of Israel.

A government bill, and a similar proposal by Likud MK Amir Ohana, sailed through the plenum in second and third readings with 48 in favor, 16 opposed, and six abstentions.

The new law will give Interior Minister Aryeh Deri the authority to strip the residency of Palestinians with ties to terrorist groups, convicted terrorists, would-be attackers, or those convicted of treason, according to the proposed legal definition of “breach of trust.”

It would also likely apply to East Jerusalem Palestinians who have attacked IDF soldiers, which Israeli law defines as a terror offense.

The proposal came after the High Court of Justice in September ruled the Interior Ministry did not have the right to revoke the permanent residency status of four Palestinian parliamentarians with ties to the Hamas terror group, which it had done 10 years earlier for “breach of trust.” In its decision, the court also stalled the implementation of its ruling for six months, in order to give the Knesset the opportunity to pass legislation that would grant the ministry the authority to revoke residency status.
IDF: Egyptian cyber warfare causing cell disruptions in south Israel
The Egyptian army's use of cyber warfare against Islamic State militants in northern Sinai has caused cellular blackouts across southern Israel, the IDF confirmed Wednesday.

While the disruptions, which have ensued for two weeks, will likely continue, the defense establishment “is dealing with the issue with their Egyptian counterparts," according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. "We have a dialogue with them on the issue.”

An IDF spokesman told The Jerusalem Post the army is "not surprised" by the electronic warfare component of the large-scale operation, but stressed the disruptions caused by the Egyptians are "happening on Egyptian soil."

Nevertheless, the IDF has been coordinating with the Egyptian military on the issue.

In an interview with Army Radio's "Good Morning Israel" program, Israel’s Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara said that "in the past few days, we've been discussing ways to solve the issue.”

“After the very important meeting across the border yesterday, we've managed to reach agreements that will end the disruptions," Kara said. "I suggest waiting two or three days."
JCPA: The “After Abbas” Issue Intensifies Tensions among Fatah Top Brass
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated at a March 2, 2018, meeting of the Fatah movement’s leadership that, “It’s possible this will be the last meeting that I will be attending,” according to sources in attendance. These remarks have aroused a lot of emotions. Those present at the meeting understood that Abbas is essentially hinting that he is either sick or tired and is intending to resign. Abbas noticed this interpretation, and at another meeting with Fatah’s cadres from east Jerusalem, he calmed those present by saying he is in good health and the tiredness that he showed during his UN speech was caused by jetlag.

Soon afterward, senior Fatah personality Jibril Rajoub surprised everyone when he attacked the “wealthy refugees, the billionaires, who abandoned their homeland, unlike us, who have never left and are defending it.”

What is the connection between both of these two statements? Rajoub was sending a strong threat to the old leadership from the Tunis PLO headquarters not to dare to put forward any candidates to succeed Abbas. From Rajoub’s point of view, a successor should come from the ranks of the local leadership born in the West Bank, meaning the Tanzim. For Fatah’s military wing, the deciding criterion determining who should rule is service for the homeland, meaning a spell of incarceration in an Israeli jail.

According to sources in Ramallah, the Fatah leadership is extremely confused and unprepared for a battle for the succession, especially when it is not clear whether Abbas actually intends to quit. We can surmise that his state of health is not that good, but it is also not critical. So what’s the problem? The organization has not agreed to a procedure to choose a successor, and Abbas is not prepared to appoint one. So far, he has only appointed a temporary stand-in, Mahmoud al-Aloul, as a precaution.

The question of a genuine successor increasingly depends upon and increases the tensions among the Fatah leadership.
Who is Mahmoud al-Aloul, touted as Abbas’s possible heir?
Born in Nablus in 1950, Aloul, who is better known as Abu Jihad, holds a B.A degree in Geography from the Beirut Arab University in Lebanon.

Aloul was first arrested by the IDF in 1967 because of his membership in Fatah and involvement in terrorism. After spending three years in Israeli prison, he was deported to Jordan, where he joined Fatah forces that were operating in the kingdom.

Within a short period, Aloul was appointed as a senior official with the Amman-based Western Sector Department, a PLO institution that oversaw terror attacks against Israel and provided funding to Palestinian individuals and institutions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The Western Sector Department was at the time headed by Khalil al Wazir (also known as Abu Jihad), a co-founder of Fatah who was assassinated by Israel in Tunis in 1988. For many years, Wazir served as Yasser Arafat’s second-in-command and was personally responsible for several terror attacks against Israel.

After the PLO moved to Lebanon in the early 70s, Aloul reportedly took part in several battles against the IDF, especially during the 1982 Lebanon War. His resume claims that he played a role in the capture of eight IDF soldiers in northern Lebanon in the early 80s.

After the PLO was expelled from Lebanon to Tunisia, Aloul continued to work closely with Wazir until the latter’s assassination. Aloul’s duties included, among other things, setting up training bases for Fatah fighters in several Arab countries.

After Wazir’s departure from the scene, Aloul was appointed head of the Occupied Territories Committee, which was tasked with providing financial and military aid to the Palestinians during the First Intifada, which erupted in 1987.
The Abbas Mythology
A recent article in The Atlantic about “The Tragedy of Mahmoud Abbas” noted: “In him, the world saw a reformist, a leader who could get the Palestinians to the table and possibly clear the hurdle of the two-state solution.”

This was the mythical Abbas. who never really existed. But this myth allowed the Palestinian Authority president to become the world’s favorite Palestinian.

Only now, according to the same article, has the world woken up to the realization that Abas has “morphed into a bureaucratic tyrant at home, hostile to America and downright incendiary towards Israel.”

The truth is that Abbas was never a moderate, never recognized as a leader of the Palestinians and never willing or able to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

Today, polls show that most Palestinians want Abbas to resign. He has failed to achieve anything to improve the lives of his people, and he has proven a corrupt megalomaniac, who repeatedly cancelled elections to effectively make himself president for life. Little publicity is given to the fact that he has been so unpopular that he can hardly travel outside Ramallah. I don’t believe he has ever been to Gaza, at least not since Hamas took over, even though roughly 40% of his constituents live there.

He also appears to have become unhinged with age and frustration. As The Atlantic noted, he gave a speech last month that, “deployed antisemitic tropes, undercut the Jewish connection to Israel, and blamed everyone from Oliver Cromwell to Napoleon to Winston Churchill for Israel’s creation.”
At Hezbollah event, Fatah official urges dialogue with Iran
A senior Fatah official told a Hezbollah gathering in Lebanon on Monday the Arabs should engage in dialogue with Iran because of the threat the Islamic Republic poses to Israel.

Abbas Zaki, a veteran member of the Palestinians’ ruling Fatah faction and former Palestinian Authority ambassador to Lebanon, made his comments during a Beirut event commemorating Iranian diplomat Mohammed Saleh al Husseini, who was killed in an ambush in the Lebanese capital in the early 1980s.

Lebanese security sources said at the time they believed the Iranian official was killed by Iraqi agents.

Zaki, whose views do not always dovetail with those held by the Fatah leadership. was the top Palestinian representative at the Hezbollah event. He appeared at the event sitting next to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem.

The Lebanon-based terrorist group is supported by Iran and sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Fatah leaders have in the past accused Iran of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians by providing financial and military aid to rival party Hamas.

In his address, Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee, called for an Arab-Iran dialogue “on the basis of good neighboring.”

Iran, he noted approvingly, has become a key threat to Israel.
Hamas warns against ‘normalization’ amid reports of Israel’s upped regional ties
Hamas on Tuesday issued a warning to Palestinians and Arabs who continue to meet with Israelis, and praised the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) for its anti-Israel activities.

“Normalization with the Zionist entity is an unforgivable crime,” the terror group said in a statement issued in the Gaza Strip. “It is also a desperate attempt to deceive the conscience of the people.”

The Hamas warning came in response to recent meetings between Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials. It was also believed to be linked to unconfirmed reports concerning secret meetings between Israelis and government officials in some Arab countries.

Last month, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah met in his Ramallah office with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major-General Yoav Mordechai.

The meeting came days after the PA and Israeli ministers of economy met in Paris.
Less than a fifth of Palestinian women participate in work force
Less than a fifth of Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip participate in the workforce, according to a Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics report.

The PCBS published the finding as part of a special report it issued on Wednesday ahead of International Women’s Day.

Nineteen percent of women in the West Bank and Gaza have either part- or full-time jobs, whereas 71.2% of men have some form of employment.

In Israel, 59% of women participate in the labor force, according to the World Bank.

Louay Shehada, a PCBS official, said in a phone call that anyone who is 15 or older and works at least 15 hours weekly is counted in the workforce.

The PCBS report also found that the average wage of Palestinian women is 29% lower than that of their male counterparts. It indicates that women’s and men’s mean salaries respectively stand at NIS 85 and NIS 120 daily.
Iran's missile production has increased 3-fold, general says
Iran has increased its missile production three-fold, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said Wednesday, according to Iran's Fars news service.

Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division, did not explain over what time period the production increase had occurred.

"In the past, we had to do a lot of explaining to various bodies for our actions, but it’s not like that anymore," Hajizadeh said. "Our production [of missiles] has increased three-fold compared to the past."

He said the Iranian government and parliament, together with other Iranian officials, had agreed on the need for ground-to-ground missiles.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Iran on Monday on a delicate mission to reaffirm Europe's support for the 2015 nuclear deal that opened Iran’s economy, while echoing U.S. concerns about Iran's missile program and role in regional conflicts.

His visit reflected French efforts to safeguard the 2015 accord Iran signed with six major powers.
Report: Saudi crown prince meets senior Israeli officials in Egypt
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with senior Israeli officials during his visit to Egypt this week, the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on Wednesday.

The report said the meeting focused on the normalization of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and included Saudi Arabia's commitment to the "deal of the century," the Middle East peace plan being devised by U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration.

Within that framework, Israel would take part in the unprecedented real estate venture being sponsored by the Saudis in the Gulf of Aqaba. Crown Prince Mohammed first announced plans for the 26,500-square-kilometer (10,230-square-mile) zone at an international investment conference in Riyadh last October. Officials say public and private investment in the area is expected to reach $500 billion. The mega-city would be built on Saudi territory on the eastern shore of the Red Sea near the border with Jordan , and connect to Egypt across the gulf via a bridge running through the island of Tiran.

Known as Neom – from the Greek prefix "neo" (new) and the first letter of the Arabic word "mostaqbal" (future) – the mega-city is being billed as "the world's most ambitious project" and is intended to become a transnational city and economic zone. The crown prince's stated objective for the project is to wean Saudi Arabia, the world's top crude exporter, off oil revenues.

The source who leaked the information about the prince's meeting with the Israelis said that in light of the shared sea border between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, it is necessary to establish an international framework to include Israel in the Saudi project.

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