Friday, March 16, 2018

From Ian:

The New Palestinian Jihad to Obliterate Israel
Finally, the document exposes the Palestinian terror group's plan for "real peace" in the Middle East. This "real peace," according to the jihadi group, can be achieved by eliminating Israel after "liberating Palestine, from the river to the sea, and after the original owners of the land return to their homes."

This genocidal "peace" plan appears to be shared by other Palestinian terror groups, such as Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and even certain parts of Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction.

The peace they seek is one that would result in the total destruction of Israel and the expulsion of all Jews from the Middle East. As the remarks of Abbas and PIJ show, Palestinians see Israel only as an alien body that was imposed upon Arabs and Muslims by imperialist Westerners, and not as people who have lived on that land for more than 3,000 years.

The PIJ document, which serves as the group's "national charter," is a valuable text. Every word in the document reflects the true sentiments on the Arab and Islamic street, especially with regards to recognizing Jews' rights and history.

This is a document that is currently being taught in Islamic Jihad training bases, and schools and mosques. It is a document that will help raise another generation of Palestinians on the glorification of terrorism and anti-Semitism.

This is a document that deserves to be placed on the desks of all those Westerners who continue to tell us that peace is possible and that Israel just needs to make more concessions to achieve that goal.
MEMRI: Palestinian Authority President 'Abbas Meets With Released Prisoner Who Was Accomplice In Murder Of Israeli
On March 14, 2018, in the presidential office in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas met with Rajaei Haddad, a terrorist from East Jerusalem released from prison after serving a 20-year term for his 1998 conviction of complicity in the murder of an Israeli in Jerusalem's Old City. 'Abbas congratulated Haddad, noting that "the prisoners' issue holds a special place in the priorities of the Palestinian leadership, that works to free all the prisoners from the occupation's prisons."

Also at the meeting were Palestinian Presidency Secretary-General Al-Tayeb 'Abd Al-Rahim, PLO Executive Committee member Saleh Rafat, and Amjad Abu Asab, head of the committee of families of prisoners from East Jerusalem. 'Adnan Ghaith, head of Fatah Revolutionary Council's Jerusalem Committee, said: "The Fatah movement will remain faithful to our people's rights, and will support the steadfastness of the prisoners and their families, who for the sake of the homeland have sacrificed what is most precious to them."
Front page of official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, featuring 'Abbas-Haddad meeting (Source: Al-Haya.ps, March 15, 2018)

It should be noted that this is not the first time that 'Abbas has met with released prisoners. He has also met with terrorists who have themselves carried out attacks, and with families of "martyrs" killed in carrying out such attacks.
Haley: Vote With U.S. at U.N. or We'll Cut Your Aid
"U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is proposing a sweeping reassessment of U.S. foreign assistance with a view to punishing dozens of poor countries that vote against U.S. policies at the U.N., according to a confidential internal memo drafted by her staff...

'It is the opinion of the U.S. mission to the U.N. that all U.S. foreign assistance should be reevaluated to ensure that taxpayers dollars are spent to advance U.S. interests, not to fund foreign legacy programs that provide little or no return on investment,' according to the 53-page memo, which was reviewed by Foreign Policy...

The paper proposes subjecting to review nearly 40 countries that received a total of $100 million in U.S. assistance in 2016, but that vote against the United States 54 percent of the time...

Some conservatives have long bridled at the fact that countries that receive U.S. aid routinely vote against the United States in the U.N. General Assembly. 'I've been of the view that votes in the United Nations should cost people, cost countries that vote against us,' John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and rumored next national security advisor, recently told Fox News...

Haley, who has frequently sought Bolton's counsel on U.N. matters, agrees. 'For decades, the U.S. has been by far the world's single-largest provider of foreign assistance,' her staff writes in the memo. 'Numerous countries have taken advantage of this assistance while routinely opposing us in the U.N.'..."



UN Watchdog: Aid Cuts Should Be ‘Part of a Focused US Strategy to Reform and Ultimately Dismantle UNRWA’
The head of a prominent UN monitoring group expressed hope on Thursday that recent US cuts to the global body’s Palestinian refugee agency were “part of a focused US strategy to reform and ultimately dismantle UNRWA.”

Hillel Neuer — head of the Geneva-based NGO UN Watch — told The Algemeiner, “It’s high time for the international community to stop being complicit with the destructive practices of UNRWA, which harms Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

On Thursday, 90 countries met in Rome hoping to make up a $65 million shortfall created by US funding cuts to the organization. This amounts to 30 percent of the agency’s total budget.

UNRWA was established to provide temporary relief to refugees from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. However, it has developed into a permanent welfare system that now serves five million Palestinians.

It remains controversial for several reasons, among them the fact that it considers all descendents of the 1948 refugees to be refugees as well. This policy is unique in the world and applies to no other group of refugees.

Concerns have also been raised about UNRWA employees’ ties to terrorism, the use of its facilities for terrorist purposes, and anti-Israel incitement in its media and educational activities.

This year, the US chose to cut its donations to UNRWA in half. According to Foreign Policy, this was done in retaliation for the UN General Assembly’s condemnation of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, apparently at the urging of America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Why does the US continue to fund UNRWA schools?
When questioned for the last two months as to why the US continues to fund UNRWA schools with such a war inciting curriculum, the US embassy did not respond.

When we questioned the State Department about the textbook content in UNRWA schools, a State Department spokesperson responded on the record, saying they “take such reports seriously. We are in regular contact with UNRWA to ensure any allegation of inflammatory, biased, or inciteful content in education materials is thoroughly investigated and addressed.”

However, when asked if the Americans were monitoring textbook content, the spokesperson would only say “the U.S. government has supported UNRWA in the development and integration of educational materials that promote human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance.”

The UNRWA school books do not reflect that US State Department reassurance.

This is an American issue, because the US remains the most important funder of UNRWA, to the tune of $360 million a year out of a $1.2 billion UNRWA budget. UNRWA reports that 54% of the UNRWA budget goes to education.

Why does the US continue to fund such a curriculum?

Ask the US Congress, ask your congressman, and turn to the new US Secretary of State.
How Partisan Is the Issue of Israel?
The Pew Research Center doesn’t really do “shock polls,” but it released a doozy earlier this year. Reflecting on its telephone survey of American attitudes on Israel, Pew concluded that the “partisan divide in Middle East sympathies, for Israel, or the Palestinians, is now wider than at any point since 1978.”

Pew asked, “in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, who do you sympathize with more?” And although respondents chose Israel over the Palestinians by 46 percent to 16 percent, and Republican sympathy with Israel was sky high at 79 percent, just 27 percent of Democrats said they sympathized more with Israel compared with 25 percent who did not. The remaining Democrats volunteered either “both,” “neither,” or “don’t know.” This finding seemed to confirm a trend—a dramatic drop in sympathy for Israel among Democrats from what had previously been solid numbers. 27 percent is the lowest level of Democratic sympathy for Israel recorded in the 40 years Pew’s report considers. Along with many others, I wrote nervously that lovers of Israel should be “wary of hugging” Donald Trump “or the present incarnation of the Republican Party too hard.”

But, as was true last year, Gallup has come out with different results, even though it asks a similar question in its own telephone survey, “In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or the Palestinians?” Support for Israel was at 64 percent; a level reached just twice in the past three decades. But more interesting, since Pew’s findings don’t dispute that American opinion toward Israel is very favorable, is Gallup’s account of Democratic support. Although Gallup found Democratic support for Israel declining from 53 percent in 2016 to 47 percent in 2017, the 2018 survey shows support rising slightly to 49 percent. No implosion here. Gallup also showed that Israel’s favorability rating has surged to 74 percent, a 17-year high.

Though there is a considerable gap between Democrats (64 percent) and Republicans (83 percent) on this question, those numbers do not suggest the beginning of the end of bipartisan support for Israel.
JPost Editorial: Welcome, Mr. Pompeo
With Pompeo, Trump will have a more effective and coherent overseas advocate for strengthening restrictions on Iran.

In January, Trump waived sanctions against Iran as part of a periodic recertification of the deal in conjunction with Iran’s level of adherence. But he warned that he would not do so again in May unless co-signatories Britain, Germany and France agreed to additional restrictions on Iran that include holding inspections at all sites requested by international inspectors, preventing the expiration of “sunset” provisions limiting Iran’s nuclear program, and adding restrictions to the development of long-range missiles in addition to those on nuclear weapons.

Both Trump and Pompeo would also like to use the threat of renewed sanctions and the decertification of the nuclear deal to put pressure on Iran to stop its meddling in Syria, including its entrenchment on Israel’s northern border, its funding of Hezbollah (and of Hamas), and its destabilizing influence elsewhere in the region.

And this position on the Iran deal dovetails perfectly with the near-consensus position in Israel both in the government coalition and among most opposition parties.

Finally, while Tillerson was uninvolved and reticent when it came to Israel – he did not visit here when he passed through the region last month – Pompeo has been outspoken in his support for the Jewish state.

In November, Pompeo spoke at a gala dinner for a pro-Israel organization called Our Soldiers Speak, which brings officers from the Israeli army and other Israeli security agencies to the US. In his speech, he emphasized the Trump administration’s close cooperation with Israel and its support for Israel’s security.

After a visit to Israel in November 2015, when lonewolf knifings and car rammings by Palestinians were on the rise, Pompeo called to “stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace.”

He also said, “Ceasing to call for the destruction of Israel should have been a condition of the Iran deal – along with release of innocent American hostages.”

We welcome Pompeo as the secretary of state. His special relationship with the president will make his job easier as he promotes US interests abroad and takes action to fix a deeply flawed nuclear agreement with Iran.
Caroline Glick: Firing Rex Tillerson Removed an Obstacle to Middle East Peace
Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy to Jerusalem was the first time any American leader since Bill Clinton had dared to reject the Palestinian veto on US Middle East policy.

Tillerson supported maintaining the PA’s veto. As a result, he all but openly opposed Trump’s decision.

So too, last June, in a bid to protect U.S. funding to the PA — despite the fact that fully 7 percent of its donor-funded budget is used to pay salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons and their families — Tillerson falsely told the Senate Foreign Relations committee that the PA had agreed to end the payments. After the Palestinians themselves denied his statement, he only partially walked it back. The next day, he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the U.S. was in “active discussions” with the Palestinians regarding halting the payments.

In the event, the PA raised its payments to terrorists in 2017 to $403 million. In 2016, the PA spent $347 million to pay salaries to terrorist murderers and their families.

In other words, Tillerson is so committed to the view that there can be no peace without the PA, that he willingly misled U.S. lawmakers.

Trump administration officials keep insisting that they are almost ready to present their peace plan for the Palestinians and Israel. But whatever the plan may entail, the steps the White House has already taken – Tuesday’s summit, Trump’s move on Jerusalem, and his determination to sign the Taylor Force Act to end U.S. support for the PA if it maintains its payments to terrorists – have already advanced the cause of peace more than any American peace proposal ever has and likely ever will.

Those moves removed the principle blockage to all peace deals – namely, the Palestinian leadership from Fatah and Hamas alike. By bypassing the PA, the White House has focused its efforts on expanding the already burgeoning bilateral ties between Israel and the Arab states. It has encouraged the expansion of cooperation between these regional actors. That cooperation is the key to diminishing Iranian power in the region; defeating Sunni jihadists from the Muslim Brotherhood and its spinoffs; and to improving the lives and prospects for peace of Palestinians, Israelis and all the nations of the region.

Tillerson opposed all of these actions. Like the foreign policy establishment he represented, Tillerson refused to abandon the false belief that nothing can be done without PLO approval. By removing him from office, President Trump took yet another step towards advancing prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Palestinians call for ‘day of rage’ Friday to mark US Jerusalem recognition
Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza are urging mass protests Friday to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The so-called “day of rage” would be the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations, many of them violent, which have taken place since the December 6 announcement and subsequent moves for the US to move its embassy to the city. Many of the protests shrunk in size after the first few weeks.

Renewing the protests, Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip called Thursday for Palestinians to protest Trump’s decision by staging rallies after Friday prayers in the mosques. The protests are being held under the banner of “Friday rage for Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, a coalition consisting of various groups, called on Palestinians to confront IDF soldiers and settlers immediately after the Friday prayers.

Participation in the Friday protests will send a message to Israel that the Palestinians have not, and will not, forget the unjust decision against the Palestinians, the groups said in a statement.

The Palestinians, the groups added, “will continue to protest against this decision and the plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, as well as attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

The Palestinian factions also called on Palestinians to prepare for protests marking Land Day on March 30. Land Day refers to the Israeli government’s 1976 decision to expropriate land in the Galilee — a move that sparked widespread riots that resulted in the death of six Arab citizens.

The factions also urged the PA leadership to honor recent resolutions taken by Palestine Liberation Organization institutions to terminate all relations with Israel and revoke Palestinian recognition of Israel.
Melanie Phillips: The West pays the price for its decades of folly
What’s that deafening noise of squawking and screeching and flapping that we can now hear all around us? Why, it’s the West’s chickens finally coming home to roost.

In Britain, a retired Russian spy and his daughter, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, remain critically ill in hospital after being poisoned earlier this month in the quiet cathedral city of Salisbury by a rare, military- grade and deadly nerve agent.

Skripal was a double agent who had worked for British intelligence. The poison used against him reportedly could only have been produced by Russia. Although there’s no conclusive proof of Kremlin involvement, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament this week the attack was an “unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK.”

In 2006, another former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, died after being poisoned in a London hotel by a rare, highly radioactive isotope – a murder that a British public inquiry decided was likely ordered by President Vladimir Putin himself.

There has been a subsequent string of suspicious deaths in Britain of Russians and others who may have fallen foul of the Kremlin – mysterious suicides, heart attacks while jogging, falls from buildings.

Yet only now is Britain looking again at these bizarre coincidences.

It has been all too keen to host an influx of Russian oligarchs – some of them allies and some enemies of Putin – who moved to London, buying up British assets such as football clubs or newspapers, hosting fawning politicians on their yachts and bringing with them unimaginable wealth, including dirty money, on which the City of London has been happily floating.

So Britain allowed itself to become a kind of offshore island of the Russian mafia state. It was a case of never mind the gangsterism, just pocket the cash. Is it surprising, then, that Putin now curls his lip in contempt? The EU has said it will support Britain against Russia. Since the EU is hard-wired against confrontation, this is likely to cause Putin less discomfort than a pot of caviar past its sell-by date.
Craig Murray Goes Conspiracy Theory…Again!
Two days ago former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray posted a blog ‘Russian to Judgement’ (since gone viral) that Israel was more likely behind the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter (and about 100 other affected people) than Russia saying;

“Israel has the nerve agents. Israel has Mossad which is extremely skilled at foreign assassinations. Theresa May claimed Russian propensity to assassinate abroad as a specific reason to believe Russia did it. Well Mossad has an even greater propensity to assassinate abroad. And while I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grieviously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation so grieviously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia.”

Today Murray Tweeted:


Murray is an associate of Julian Assange. Naturally he is a member of the Palestine Live Facebook group:

UNRWA asks U.S. to reconsider cuts, as donations fall short
UNRWA called on the United States to help avert a summer shutdown after pledges at a donors’ meeting in Rome on Thursday for humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees fell short.

Some $100 million in pledges for 2018 were received from the dozens of countries that gathered for the morning conference to help fix a $446m. funding shortfall in the budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The crisis – billed as the worst in the agency’s 70-year history – was caused in large part by the Trump administration’s decision not to renew its annual pledge of $364m.

To date it has given UNRWA only $60m. for 2018, with US President Donald Trump threatening to not provide further funding until the Palestinians agree to negotiate with Israel.

The US has also said that other countries should pick up their “fair share” of the tab for the organization’s $1.2 billion budget.

Initially UNRWA had feared that 2018 funds would dry up in May, thereby forcing a halt in services to 3.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl said that it was now likely that services could be provided into the summer, but added that the agency still had to evaluate the impact of the pledges it had received that morning.

One reporter asked Krähenbühl, “Are you disappointed by the failure of many countries not to offer more funds?”
Krähenbühl said, “This is a continuous effort, today was a start,” adding, “We hope the US will come up with more money.
“All of us recognize the importance of the contributions the US has made in the past and emphasized the importance of the US continuing to make its contributions to the agency,” he said.
White House ‘deeply sympathizes’ with PLO terror victims, but opposes lawsuit
The Trump administration in a statement said it “sympathizes deeply” with the families whose lawsuit against the Palestine Liberation Organization may soon be considered by the Supreme Court, but continues to maintain that the lawsuit does not meet the standards for review by the court.

“The United States condemns acts of terror in the strongest terms and the Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting those who commit terrorist attacks against innocent human beings to the fullest extent that the law allows,” said a statement emailed this week to JTA by a Justice Department spokeswoman.

“The United States sympathizes deeply with the American families who, in 2004, sued the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization for acts of terrorism committed against their loved ones between 2002 and 2004,” the statement said. “The court of appeals decided, however, that the suit was not consistent with due process under the Constitution, and its decision does not meet the usual standards for Supreme Court review.”

The Supreme Court will say by March 29 whether it will consider the appeal by the litigants in the case known as Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization. The plaintiffs won $656 million in a 2015 federal jury verdict, but it was overturned a year later by an appellate court.

A filing by the solicitor general last month siding with the PLO drew angry rebukes from conservatives, including some of the Trump administration’s most steadfast Jewish community defenders.
TV report: Netanyahu tells cabinet Trump is likely to exit Iran deal by May
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of his cabinet this week that US President Donald Trump will likely walk away from the Iran nuclear deal this May, Channel 10 news reported Thursday.

Netanyahu reportedly made the remarks during the cabinet meeting on Sunday when he relayed the details of his meeting with Trump in Washington a week earlier.

According to the TV report, Netanyahu said his conversation with Trump about the 2015 nuclear deal was attended by Vice President Mike Pence, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

“I believe Trump is very close to canceling the nuclear agreement,” Netanyahu reportedly told his ministers. “The president spoke in the presence of his staff and senior government officials when he told me that if there is no significant change, he’ll pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.”

According to a report in the Axios news website, Trump told the prime minister that he was demanding “significant changes” to the 2015 accord and vowed to walk away from the Obama-era accord unless the European countries fixed it. However, Trump said that so far, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom have only offered “cosmetic changes,” the website said, quoting Israeli officials.
As relations with North Korea thaw, Iran poses a bigger threat
14 March 2018, from an article by Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council:

An edited version of this article appeared in The Age, and on the websites of the Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times.

Iran seems ever more confident it will achieve its hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East now it controls four capitals.

Comments made by US President Donald Trump ...highlighted the fact that while the threat to world peace posed by North Korea has dominated the headlines in recent months, Mr Trump is determinedly focussed at least as much on another rogue state, which probably poses an even greater threat in the longer term – Iran.

... while North Korea threatens violence, Iran is already instigating or provoking it on considerable scale – in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and, recently, by flying a drone into Israel from Syria, prompting Israeli reprisals. In fact, most of Israel’s top military analysts now say it is only matter of time before further violence, probably on a much larger scale, develops between Israel and Iran.

Iran appears ever more confident it will achieve its hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East now that it not only controls four capitals – Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and Sana’a – but is very close to completing its long-sought land corridor, across Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean, facilitating its threat to Israel.
Australian Labor Party at Odds with Voters
THE Labor Party may be set to endorse unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at its conference in July, but a new poll has revealed that only a fraction of its voters are in favour.

In the YouGov Galaxy poll conducted in February, commissioned by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), only 13 per cent of respondents favoured recognising a Palestinian state without a peace deal. Among Labor voters, the figure was 14 per cent.

Twenty-five per cent of Labor voters favoured recognition after the conclusion of a peace deal, while 14 per cent said recognition should only come after all Palestinian groups renounced violence.

Of all 1205 respondents polled, 35 per cent gave a response of “don’t know”, a figure that according to ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim, “reflects the fact that the Israel–Palestinian conflict is not front-of-mind for most Australians, and demonstrates a reluctance by many to express definitive views on issues which they recognise are complex”.

Wertheim added, “Those who simplistically advocate immediate and unconditional recognition of a Palestinian state are recklessly disregarding whether this would help end the conflict or make it worse.”

In the last few years, NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australian Labor have passed motions recognising Palestine or calling on Federal Labor to do so.
Israel Is the Star at a National Security Conference in Mississippi
A homeland security conference took place in a southern Mississippi town with an Air Force base and a shipbuilding yard.

Among those in attendance were the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; a general from India, the world’s second-largest country; and representatives from Taiwan and South Korea, a U.S. ally in a key trouble spot.

But Israel was the star.

The International Homeland Defense and Security Summit, organized by the state government, was held Tuesday in this Gulf Coast city far from any Jewish population center, in a state the local Israeli consul visits only twice a year. But representatives of 16 Israeli companies attended, along with a delegation from its Defense Ministry and arms industry. And speakers, especially Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, couldn’t stop talking about Israel.

Bryant credited a national security conference he spoke at in Israel in 2016 as the inspiration for this one. One of the first pictures he showed during his speech was of him grinning with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“If there’s anyone that knows about homeland security, it’s the Israelis,” he said at the start of his address opening the conference, whose organizers paid for JTA’s flight to Biloxi along with hotel costs. “They have a tough neighborhood they live in.”

The admiration went beyond the governor.
Caroline Glick: Netanyahu’s new mandate to lead
By any objective standard, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Washington last week was a stunning success. US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greeted the premier and his wife, Sara, as old friends. The substantive talks Netanyahu held with Trump on Iran and a host of other key issues were extraordinarily positive.

Then of course, there was the rock-star welcome Netanyahu received at the AIPAC conference.

If Israelis were astounded by the royal treatment Netanyahu received during his visit to India last year, his visit to Washington made clear that what happened in India was no fluke. He is quite clearly one of the most well-regarded statesmen in the world.

Then again, most Israelis could be excused for having little idea either that Netanyahu was treated like a king in India or that he was treated like a second coming of Winston Churchill in the US.

The Israeli media barely covered his trip to India. As for his trip to the US, the media presented everything Netanyahu said and did in the context of the police’s obsessive-compulsive criminal probes of Netanyahu.

The political crisis over the haredi draft law, which this week brought the Knesset to the brink of dissolution and Israel to a new general election, was entirely the result of the joint efforts of police investigators and the media to delegitimize Netanyahu as a leader and criminalize him as a person.
Two killed, 2 hurt in suspected car-ramming terror attack in West Bank
A Palestinian driver hit four Israeli men with his car Friday afternoon, killing two of them and seriously injuring the others, outside the Mevo Dotan settlement in the northern West Bank.

The military said it was investigating if the incident was a terror attack or an accident.

The driver was injured and arrested at the scene, according to the Israel Defense Forces. According to Hadashot news he is known to security forces and has in the past been incarcerated for terror-related activities, increasing the likelihood that the incident was a deliberate attack.

Palestinian groups had called for Friday to be a “day of rage,” in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

The suspected car-ramming occurred next to an army observation post along the 585 highway near the entrance to Mevo Dotan, approximately 10 kilometers southwest of Jenin.

Video from the scene showed Israeli and Palestinian medics treating the wounded. The area was also filled with representatives from the IDF, who inspected the wrecked car, which was tangled in barbed wire.
Palestinians call for ‘day of rage’ Friday to mark US Jerusalem recognition
Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza are urging mass protests Friday to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The so-called “day of rage” would be the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations, many of them violent, which have taken place since the December 6 announcement and subsequent moves for the US to move its embassy to the city. Many of the protests shrunk in size after the first few weeks.

Renewing the protests, Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip called Thursday for Palestinians to protest Trump’s decision by staging rallies after Friday prayers in the mosques. The protests are being held under the banner of “Friday rage for Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, a coalition consisting of various groups, called on Palestinians to confront IDF soldiers and settlers immediately after the Friday prayers.
PA officials living large at 5-star hotel: $14,250 bill, including champagne
With the US announcing cuts in aid money to the Palestinians, one might think the Palestinian Authority would try to cut expenses, but an invoice from a hotel stay by top Palestinian officials this month indicates the exact opposite.

The document, obtained by The Jerusalem Post, shows that PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and General Intelligence Service chief Majed Faraj, as well as two lower-level officials, stayed at the five-star Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, racking up a $14,250.20 bill, including room service and minibar purchases such as $42 on champagne, and a $4 Snickers bar.

The entire bill was covered by the PLO Delegation to the US.

The luxury hotel stay came not long after President Donald Trump said the US will no longer send aid money to Ramallah until the Palestinian leadership negotiates with Israel, and after the State Department cut $110 million of aid money to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The US is UNRWA’s largest donor. On Thursday, a dozen countries pledged a total of $100m. to UNRWA.

Among Faraj’s expenses was a $900 “miscellaneous charges” fee, plus several room service meals, including a $140.09 breakfast, and a late-night room service snack costing $91.31. He also raided the minibar, spending $32 on snacks in one day, including $8 each for some cashews and cookies, and racked up $120 in laundry charges.

Faraj, a close adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, underwent heart surgery during his stay in the US. At the same time, Abbas was reportedly receiving a routine checkup at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Something is rotten in the terrorist kingdom of Hamas
Once again an explosive device was detonated in the Gaza Strip. And once again it appears that Hamas was not responsible for the attempted terror attack. However, the spate of recent incidents in Gaza raises suspicions that something is particularly rotten in the kingdom of Hamas. At best, there are officials within the terror group who are not following the orders of the leadership; at worst, they may be receiving a quiet nod to work secretly against Israel.

Thursday was not the first time that a roadside bomb within the coastal enclave has targeted Israeli troops or that the IDF has discovered explosives put in place to do just that. This, in areas that are supposed to be under the full control of Hamas forces.

On Tuesday, the chaos had escalated in an unusually serious incident, when someone, at present unknown, attempted to murder Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA General Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj as they visited Gaza.

According to Hamas Deputy Interior Minister Tawfik Abu Naim, there were two 15-kilogram (33-pound) bombs placed 37 meters (120 feet) apart from each other. One bomb exploded but the second failed to detonate due to a technical problem. The devices were placed on the main north-south route through the Gaza Strip (Salah a-Din Street) only a few hundred meters away from the Erez border crossing to Israel — and under the nose of Hamas security forces.

“There is no chance that someone in Hamas didn’t know that these bombs were placed there,” a senior Palestinian Authority official told The Times of Israel later. “From a security point of view, someone there closed their eyes or gave it their blessing. It is impossible that everything was done there without anyone in Hamas knowing about it.”
Lebanon plans to boost army presence on Israel border
Lebanon plans to increase its military presence along its southern border with Israel, Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Thursday at a meeting in Rome, where he is seeking financial support for the armed forces.

Bolstering Lebanon's army and internal security forces is seen as a way for the international community to keep Hezbollah, which has helped sway the Syrian civil war in President Bashar Assad's favor, from broadening its clout in the Lebanese heartland.

Some 40 countries participated in the meeting, along with and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. While some financial aid was announced on Thursday, Hariri said that the goal of the meeting was not to gather pledges.

The Lebanese Armed Forces took no part in the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. Since then, it has received more than $1.5 billion in U.S. military assistance and, in the last seven years, training and support from U.S. special forces.

"We will be sending more LAF troops to the south, and we stress our intention to deploy another regiment," he said, adding that Israel "remains the primary threat to Lebanon."

"While we are thinking of ways to move from a state of cessation of hostilities to a state of permanent cease-fire, Israel continues to make plans to build walls on reservation areas along the blue line," Hariri said.
Kurdistan sacks Jewish community representative to appease Baghdad
After working for Iraqi Kurdistan’s Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs for two years, the region’s Jewish representative, Sherzad Mamsani, has been let go. The move is especially peculiar since Mamsani’s position was unpaid.

Mamsani said he was not forewarned about his dismissal, which occurred while he was on sick leave abroad.

Mariwan Nasqshbandy, the director of religious coexistence at the Endowment and Religious Affairs Ministry, hinted that the firing could be an effort by the Kurds to reconcile with Baghdad following shaky relations after an independence referendum in September of last year. In the referendum, 93 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted for secession and an autonomous state.

Nasqshbandy said that the move was likely political because the Religious Affairs ministry previously ignored his complaints that Mamsani was proving ineffective at mobilizing Kurdistan’s dormant Jewish community.
McMaster Condemns Syrian Regime ‘Atrocities’ in Speech at Holocaust Memorial Museum
National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster delivered a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. on Thursday where he compared atrocities carried out by the Assad regime in Syria to the Holocaust.

In addition to targeting the Syrian regime in his remarks, the national security advisor also called out Russia and Iran for assisting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for strikes on civilians, using chemical weapons, not complying with ceasefires, and not allowing aid reach civilians.

McMaster said the United States is documenting atrocities in Syria by the Assad regime for use in future prosecutions, fighting alongside partners such as the Syrian Democratic Forces to defeat ISIS, and providing aid to assist civilians.

"Following Assad's April 4, 2017 sarin attack on innocents, President Trump launched a powerful missile strike on the Syrian air base from which this attack originated, destroying over 20 percent of the Syrian Air Force," McMaster said. "Our actions sent an unmistakable message: using these horrific weapons is never acceptable and we will hold perpetrators accountable."

"Unfortunately, many of these life-saving efforts to resolve the conflict, to defeat ISIS, to deliver humanitarian aid, and to deter chemical weapons attacks are impeded by the Assad regime's sponsors in Tehran and in Moscow," McMaster said. "All civilized nations must hold Iran and Russia accountable for their role in enabling atrocities and perpetuating human suffering in Syria."


IDF’s mounted laser used to safely & remotely detonate roadside bombs
The IDF chose to make relatively rare use of a vehicle mounted Directed Energy Warfare (DEW) system called THOR—developed by the Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems—in order to destroy a large explosive device that was discovered on the border of the Gaza Strip last December.

In the incident, observers from the Gaza Division identified two terrorists who tried to exploit the IDF’s focus on dealing with disturbances near the security fence in the area of the Gaza neighborhood of Shuja’iyya, in order to plant an explosive device.

The forces were directed by observers, isolated the scene and, using the mounted laser system, detonated the bomb. The radius and fragments from its explosion led the army to conclude that, would it have been triggered near IDF troops, the results would have been fatal.

The laser system has been in use for a number of years by IDF forces, mainly in the security sectors on the northern and Gaza borders, and aims to remotely and safely neutralize threats such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), unexploded ordnance, mines and other explosive threats.




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