Wednesday, March 28, 2018

From Ian:

PMW: PMW Exclusive: PA publishes new budget; continues to defy US and Europe by rewarding terror
- 7.47% of the PA's operational budget is for salaries to terrorist prisoners, released terrorists, and payments to families of "Martyrs" and wounded

- The PA has 2 budget categories rewarding terror; together they equal 44% of anticipated foreign aid

- New in 2018 Budget: For the first time since 2014, the PA is directly paying the Commission of Prisoners, which pays the salaries to terrorist prisoners; as a result, the PA now fits Israel's criteria to be declared a terror organization

Total PA 2018 operational budget: 16.559 billion shekels ($4.76 billion)
Salaries to terrorist prisoners: 550 million shekels ($158 million)
Payments to families of "Martyrs" and wounded: 687 million shekels ($197 million)
Total expenditure in budget categories rewarding terror = 1.237 billion shekels ($355 million)
For comparison: PA Ministry of Health which serves the entire population of 5 million has a budget of 1.787 billion shekels, a mere 44% more than 1.237 billion shekels serving the recipients in the two budget categories rewarding terror

In the same week that the United States passed the Taylor Force Act, which cuts off nearly all US aid to the Palestinian Authority if it continues paying salaries to terrorist prisoners and allowances to families of terrorist "Martyrs," the PA publicized the main parts of its 2018 budget. In open defiance of the US, other donor countries, and Israel, the PA's new budget shows it is continuing to reward terror. The amount the PA has budgeted to spend on the two categories that reward terror (salaries to prisoners and allowances to families of "Martyrs" and wounded) is 7.47% of the total operational budget. The amount equals 44% of the funding the PA hopes to receive in foreign aid in 2018, which is 2.79 billion shekels according to the budget.
Murder of 11 at Savoy hotel in 1975 was “greatest and most wonderful quality operation,” says Fatah


Congress threatens to cut UN funding for voting against Israel
United Nations agencies that single out Israel may soon be on the hook to lose a certain portion of US funding.

According to a little-noticed provision in the massive government spending bill that President Donald Trump signed into law last week, UN agencies and entities that act against the United States or its allies, including Israel, could lose 5% of their US contribution.

The new law requires the secretary of state to consult with the US ambassador to the UN to determine if an “agency or entity has taken an official action that is against the national security interest of the United States or an ally of the United States, including Israel.” Israel is the only US ally that is explicitly named in both the bill’s text and its accompanying report language.

In an effort to sway UN policy, the law stipulates that the UN agency must take steps to change the policy in question before receiving the withheld funds. Otherwise, the funds are subject to reprogramming for other international organizations.

Josh Reubner, the policy director for the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a coalition of groups supporting Palestinian statehood, denounced the new law as “yet another example of how the United States bends over backward to shield Israel from valid criticism at the UN.”

“It also shows how the Republican-led Congress is closely coordinating with the Trump administration to make good on its threat to punish the UN for criticizing Israel’s separate-and-unequal policies toward Palestinians,” added Reubner.

But US lawmakers and successive US administrations have long held that the UN singles Israel out for unfairly harsh treatment relative to other countries. Nonetheless, the Trump administration is considering options to make the UN more favorable to Israel.
'There's a tendency in Israel to demonize Sweden' (not satire)
Sweden’s ambassador to Israel on Tuesday claimed there was a tendency in Israel to “demonize” his country and in particular foreign minister Margot Wallstrom.

In an interview with i24news, the ambassador, Magnus Hellgren, also insisted he doesn’t see the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic.

Relations between Israel and Sweden have been tense in recent years. Wallstrom in particular has come under fire for her harsh anti-Israel comments.

In 2014, then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman denounced Sweden’s decision to recognize the Palestinian Authority (PA) as "the State of Palestine", saying that “relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA”.

Wallstrom later replied and said she would be “happy” to send Liberman some IKEA furniture “and he will also see that what you need to put that together is, first of all, a partner.”

Following that incident, Wallstrom accused Israel of being “extremely aggressive” and accused the Jewish state of “irritating its allies”.

In December of 2015, she attacked Israel again, claiming during a debate in parliament that Israel was “executing” without trial terrorists who carried out stabbing attacks in Israel.



JPost Editorial: The Enemy of My Enemy
Both Israel and the Saudis want to see US President Donald Trump toughen the 2015 nuclear arms deal with Iran, not just to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons but also to deter it from its expansionism in places such as Yemen and Lebanon. By replacing Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and by appointing John Bolton as his national security adviser, Trump seems to be signaling that the US will insist on adding sanctions against Iran in an attempt to deter it from its aggressions in the region.

The Saudis and Israel find themselves firmly on the same side as the US on this issue.

So while Israel and the US might not share with the Saudis and other Sunni states in the region values on issues such as human rights, democracy and freedom, there is a dovetailing of interests vis-a-vis Iran. And both Saudi Arabia and Israel have experienced first-hand Iran’s expansionist aggression.

This anti-Iran coalition has far-reaching implications for future cooperation between Israel and Sunni states. Saudis along with additional Sunni countries now realize that cooperation with Israel is too important to allow the unresolved tensions between Israelis and Palestinians to get in the way. A more pragmatic approach to solving the latter conflict might now be adopted.

The shared interests of Israel and the Saudi-led coalition will also help crystallize US foreign policy. America’s job of formulating foreign policy in the Middle East is made easier when its allies are in agreement about the need to rein-in Iran.

The Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia that resulted in the death of an Egyptian citizen is yet another incident that brings together Israel and the Saudis by demonstrating they have a shared enemy.
BESA: The Palestinian Way of War: The March of Return in Gaza
The immediate objective of the prospective fence-stormers is not so much to kill Israelis (though if that can be achieved, even better), but to get killed themselves. Their hope is that Israel will resort to force to maintain the border (as would any sovereign state) and thereby create the graphics and funerals that delegitimize Israel.

The long-term objective of the event is, in fact, to kill and maim Israelis and damage their property. Hamas and other factions are hoping this will lead to mass waves of violent protest and self-initiated suicide terrorist acts in the West Bank and among Israel’s Arab citizens. Ideally, from the perspective of the Palestinian organizations, it will yield a full-scale intifada.

Even in the best of times, one cannot predict what will happen. The questions of why and how to rebel are studied closely by status quo powers, by rebels and terrorists, and of course by many academics. After a hundred years of study, the triggers of sustained mass waves of violence remain largely a mystery. They do not fit into the neat formulas that characterize the exact sciences.

Israel wants to maintain the status quo in which people go about their lives peacefully. The Palestinian terrorist organizations want to change the status quo. Gaza, after eleven years of Hamas rule, is meant to become another Ghouta, another bloody Baghdad, or even another full-fledged failed Palestinian state.

This project is fraught with difficulty because the Palestinians are divided, even more so after the attempted assassination of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza. So divided are they that the major actors – the PA and Fatah on the one hand and Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the other – can’t even agree on the date on which the fence-storming should take place.

Fatah supporters want it to be held on May 14, the date in 1948 on which Ben-Gurion declared the state of Israel and five Arab states invaded it. The Palestinians have appropriated that date for commemoration of the Nakba – the failure of the Palestinians to destroy the state of Israel – and the plight of the refugees, though the exit of Palestinian refugees had little to do with that particular date. Hamas wants to stage the event on March 30, on which many Israeli Arabs commemorate Land Day.

There is a good chance that marches will take place on both dates, and Israel and the Palestinians are preparing assiduously. The Israeli army will do everything it can to thwart the protestors in ways that avoid bloodshed. The Palestinian organizations, from the PLO and the PA downward, want blood to be shed.

Hopefully, Israeli intentions will prevail.
Caroline Glick: Egypt’s President Sisi Is Irreplaceable
This week, Egyptian voters are going to the polls, either to vote to reelect President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi or to vote for the other guy.

Noting that most significant presidential contenders were either arrested, or were intimidated out of running, many media organizations have argued that Egypt’s elections this week are a farce.

Although there accounts disputing those claims, it is true that government bodies placed obstacles to running before several candidates. So it is hard to argue that this week’s election is an open one.

But there is a deeper issue at stake in Egypt than popular elections.

That issue is whether Egypt – a country with 90 million citizens – will become a threat to itself and to the world, or whether Egypt will somehow beat the odds, and survive by liberalizing. Sisi is betting on survival through liberalization. If he fails, no amount of open and free and unfettered elections will save Egypt from destruction.

Seven years ago, the same bipartisan elite in Washington that is attacking this week’s elections united in support for overthrowing a longtime U.S. ally, then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, because he wasn’t democratic enough to satisfy that elite’s members on both sides of the partisan divide.

Mubarak was an unapologetic authoritarian who ruled Egypt for 29 years. But he was also the anchor of America’s alliance structure in the Sunni Arab world.

When photogenic protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square staged what the credulous Western media reported as the Facebook Revolution, the elites gushed with excitement. Mubarak’s long service as a U.S. ally made no difference in Washington. Neoliberals in the Obama administration joined together with neoconservatives from the George W. Bush administration to support his overthrow. The fact that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood engineered the protests and was the only faction in Egypt with the power to replace Mubarak didn’t bother the wise men and women of Washington.
David Singer: Trump’s Bolton Appointment Signals Curtains for Abbas and PLO
Enter Trump-appointee John Bolton into this Israel-PLO standoff – as President Trump ponders how to fill this negotiating void.

Bolton has an answer – provided with amazing prescience on 5 January 2009 in his Washington Post article headlined “The Three-State Solution”:
“Let's start by recognizing that trying to create a Palestinian Authority from the old PLO has failed and that any two-state solution based on the PA is stillborn. Hamas has killed the idea, and even the Holy Land is good for only one resurrection. Instead, we should look to a "three-state" approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. Among many anomalies, today's conflict lies within the boundaries of three states nominally at peace. Having the two Arab states re-extend their prior political authority is an authentic way to extend the zone of peace and, more important, build on governments that are providing peace and stability in their own countries. "International observers" or the like cannot come close to what is necessary; we need real states with real security forces.”

Bolton still retains these views – telling Eric Shawn on 21 January 2018:
“I hope at some point the Administration recognizes and perhaps it is already quietly – that the two-state solution isn’t going anywhere. If anything I would say to King Abdullah of Jordan – “Be prepared to reassert Jordanian sovereignty over part of the West Bank – negotiate with Israel”. I think that’s a far better outcome than the continued pursuit of a mythical – I believe – unattainable viable Palestinian state”

Saudi Arabia’s backing can be anticipated.

Bolton’s appointment is shaping up as yet another Trump-inspired circuit breaker.

Trump’s decision to accept Bolton’s advice would spell curtains for Abbas and the PLO and give Trump the momentum he needs to get meaningful Israel-Arab negotiations started.
State Department Praises Passage of Taylor Force Act
The State Department praised the passage of the Taylor Force Act on Tuesday, which will cut American funds to the Palestinian Authority due to its bounty payments to terrorists and their families.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert praised its passage, which was included in the omnibus spending bill President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday.

"The Trump administration has strongly supported, it also has bipartisan, strong bipartisan support, for the Taylor Force Act," Nauert said.

"The legislation passed Congress not long ago, it put out a clear expectation to the Palestinian Authority and also the Palestinian Liberation Organization that the policy where they would give so-called ‘martyr payments.' Those payments to terrorists and their families have to stop. The United States has been clear about that," Nauert said. "Those kinds of compensation schemes incentivize violence against Israeli, but also American citizens as well. We as an administration, and Republicans and Democrats, find that simply unacceptable."
Nauert also said certain details of how the law would be enforced by the United States Government remains to be determined.


60 UN ambassadors attend Danon's pre-Passover Seder
Israel's Ambassador Danny Danon hosted ambassadors and senior diplomats from over sixty countries for a "model Seder" in the United Nations. The participants partook in the rituals of the Passover holiday, including reading from the Hagaddah and tasting the traditional foods served at the meal.

The Seder, which was organized by Israel’s Mission to the UN in cooperation with the European Coalition for Israel, was attended by ambassadors from four continents, including the representatives of the United Kingdom, Turkey, Argentina and Rwanda.

"While we are preparing to celebrate the Festival of Freedom and the struggle of the ancient Jews against bondage and slavery, the Iranian regime continues to threaten Israel and to spread terror throughout the Middle East,” Ambassador Danon said to the ambassadors. “These are fateful days. Now is the time for the countries of the world to join us in standing up to Iran and put an end to their attempts to destabilize the entire region,” the Ambassador continued.

Tomas Sandell, the Founding Director of the European Coalition for Israel, added that "The Passover Seder helps explain, among many other things, the long and unbroken connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. In a day and age when UN organizations, such as UNESCO, have tried to put into question the Jewish claim to Jerusalem, it is important to know that the history of the Jewish people in the Promised land dates back, not seventy years, but closer to 3,500 years.”
German Defense Minister Seeks ‘Reconciliation’ with Taliban
Ahead of the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has called for ‘reconciliation’ with the Islamist terror militia Taliban. The German Defense Minister made those statements while visiting German troops stationed in Afghanistan over the weekend.

The call for reconciliation comes after a series of deadly terror attacks carried out by the Taliban in Afghanistan. In late January, the Taliban suicide bombers detonated an ambulance packed with explosives into a crowded Kabul street, killing more than 100 people.

The German olive branch also comes at a time when the Trump administration is intensifying the military pressure on the Taliban. Last month, U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress dropped a ‘record number’ of bombs on Taliban bases. The U.S. Forces carried out a 96-hour air strikes hitting terrorist training facilities and Taliban revenue sources such as drug trafficking.

“Von der Leyen called for reconciliation with the Taliban,” reported the Berlin-based newspaper Tagesspiegel on Monday:
German Government's Aid Workers Spread Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Propaganda on Facebook
NGO Monitor has identified a number of virulently antisemitic statements made by officials of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ)- a German government-owned agency that implements Germany’s humanitarian and development aid around the world. GIZ has funded Israeli and Palestinian NGOs (non-governmental organizations).These statements include comparisons between Israel and the Nazis, blaming the downfall of Arab leaders on a “Hebrew spring” and depicting Israel as a two-headed monster. GIZ members also posted messages to Facebook that justify Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and endorse BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) efforts.

Some of the antisemitic content was promoted by GIZ officials responsible for directing German funding to Palestinian NGOs, as well as by other colleagues at the agency. Among these Palestinian groups are those that have glorified violence and terrorism. According to its website, “GIZ currently employs a staff of 145 in the Palestinian Territories.”

GIZ Employees

Luke McBain
In January 2016, Luke McBain, head of GIZ’s “Civil Society Programme Palestine” and of the program for “Strengthening Women in Decision-Making in the Middle East,” described Zionism as a “settler-colonialist movement,” claiming that this “explains everything,” including the “endless occupation.”

Referring to the 2014 Gaza war, McBain accused the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of adhering to an “illegal military doctrine,” and claimed that “Responding to violence originating from a territory which you occupy is not self-defense.”
Mohammed Al-Mutawakel

Mohammed Al-Mutawakel is currently a project manager at GIZ headquarters in Germany and was previously a project manager in Jordan. He has used social media to compare Israel to the Nazis and to threaten Israel’s destruction.
EXCLUSIVE: German company fires employee in Jordan for defending Israel
The German Corporation for International Cooperation in Amman fired an employee for her pro-Israel comments on a Facebook page in December.

The former employee, who asked not to be named, told The Jerusalem Post this month that her contract was not extended because she posted a personal Facebook post stating if the Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi slapped a Jordanian soldier, “she would have been immediately shot.”

Tamimi, 17, reached a plea deal last week for slapping two IDF soldiers and will serve eight months in prison.

The former employee told the Post that “it is not fair that we can’t talk about it [the Tamimi case].

She faced a wave criticism on Facebook, including wild conspiracy theories that she is a “spy.” She worked for the German Corporation for International Cooperation for seven years without any complaints.

When asked about the employee’s alleged discharge for defending Israel, Michaela Baur, the head of the corporation’s office in Amman, said that she “was not fired, her contract expired.”

When asked about anti-Israel, including alleged antisemitic, posts, on Facebook by corporation employees, Baur declined to answer.
In video, IDF urges Gazans to buck against Hamas exploitation
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit on Tuesday posted two videos on its official Facebook page in Arabic in an effort to dissuade the residents of the Gaza Strip from participating in a mass march on the Israel-Gaza border on Friday.

Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, has called for a series of "peaceful protests" beginning March 30, when the Palestinians mark Land Day. Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to take part in the so-called "March of Return." Hamas urged Palestinians in the West Bank to clash with Israeli security forces and settlers in solidarity.

Under the headline "Not a Return – Anarchy," the IDF urged Gazans to open their eyes to the fact that Hamas is using the march to divert their attention from the internal problems facing the residents of the coastal enclave.

"A protest march? Popular demonstrations? It's a provocation," IDF Spokesman in Arabic Maj. Avichay Adraee says in one of the videos.

"Hamas is organizing a march and calling on the people of Gaza to head toward the border with Israel, to deflect their attention from the water, unemployment, filth, sewage, electricity. Would it not be better to take care of all these problems before calling on the people to risk their lives?" he asks.
IDF imposes general closure on West Bank, Gaza for Passover
A week-long closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will commence on Thursday, ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover, the IDF announced on Wednesday.

Following an assessment of the current situation, all crossings to the West Bank and Gaza will be closed to Palestinians beginning Thursday at midnight until Saturday April 7 at midnight with the exception of humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases approved by the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the territories (COGAT), the IDF said.

Security forces regularly step up their preparedness prior to the holidays, imposing closures on the West Bank as there is often an uptick in tensions and violence.

Israel’s defense establishment is also gearing up for Land Day which commemorates the Israeli government’s expropriation of Arab-owned land in the Galilee on March 30 1976. Six unarmed Arab citizens were killed and hundreds wounded and arrested in the ensuing riots and confrontations with the IDF and police.

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians are expected to converge on the Gaza border, setting up tent cities as a form of peaceful protest. The demonstration is set to continue until May 15, when Palestinians mark Nakba Day or "Day of Catastrophe," which is observed annually to commemorate the events following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
IDF nabs Gazan in third infiltration incident in under a week
Israeli soldiers arrested an unarmed Palestinian man who broke through the Gaza security fence on Wednesday, in the third such infiltration in under a week, the army said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the man was arrested moments after he crossed from the northern Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, near the community of Zikim.

He did not have a weapon in his possession, the army said.

The suspect was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.

The infiltration came hours after two Palestinian men set fire to a wooden platform inside Gaza next to the security fence. In response, an IDF tank shelled two Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip. The army stressed that the two suspects did not get through the security fence and enter Israeli territory.

On Tuesday, a group of three armed Palestinian men infiltrated into Israeli territory from Gaza, walking more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the country over the course of several hours before they were arrested outside the Tzeelim army base. They were found to be in possession of grenades and knives.
Palestinians start fire near Gaza fence; IDF strikes Hamas posts
Tensions along the Israel-Gaza border continued to escalate Wednesday as IDF tanks targeted two Hamas positions after two Palestinians set fire to a wooden platform near the security fence.

The incident took place in the abandoned Karni Crossing, in northern Gaza.

"The IDF takes any attempt to harm or vandalize the security fence and defense infrastructure very seriously," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement.

The statement confirmed that two Hamas posts in northern Gaza were shelled; stressing that at no time did the two suspects cross the border fence.

The incident came a day after three terrorists, armed with knives and grenades, breached the Gaza border. They were apprehended several hours later near the Tze'elim army base and handed over to the Shin Bet security agency for interrogation.

Also on Wednesday, the IDF announced that a weeklong closure will be imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip will begin on Thursday, ahead of the Passover holiday.
El Al sues Israeli government over new Air India route
El Al on Wednesday said it filed an urgent petition to the High Court of Justice against Air India’s new route connecting New Delhi and Tel Aviv, which for the first time ever crosses over Saudi airspace.

At a press conference in Tel Aviv, the airline’s president and CEO Gonen Usishkin and chairman Eli Defes argued that by allowing Air India to fly over a country that does not grant El Al the same rights, the government of Israel is violating its commitments to Israel’s national air carrier.

El Al has taken legal action against the Israeli government, its Civil Aviation Administration, Transportation Minister Israel Katz, and Air India, the airline’s spokesperson, Ran Rahav, said Wednesday.

Last Thursday, Air India inaugurated its new Tel Aviv-New Delhi route amid great fanfare. Flight AI 139, which took off in India at 2:30 p.m., was the first plane leaving from or headed toward Israel that flew over Saudi Arabia and Oman, two Arab states that have no diplomatic relations with Israel.

“This is a historic evening. The Israeli skies are connecting with the Saudi Arabian skies in one direct flight,” Katz said on Thursday, minutes after Air India’s Boeing 787 touched down at Ben Gurion Airport.


During Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the new Air India route as “historic.” The new service, which is significantly shorter — and thus cheaper — than all previous flights connecting Israel with India, “is significant economically, technologically, diplomatically and for tourism — significance of the highest order,” he said.

But El Al argues that allowing Air India to cross over airspace that is closed to Israeli-owned airlines violated articles 9 and 11 of the 1944 ​Convention on International Civil Aviation, as well as various Israeli government decisions.
Speculation over nuclear deal sends Iran’s currency to record lows
Iran’s currency broke a psychological barrier this week when it began trading at 50,000 rials to the US dollar – a sign of the country’s growing concern over the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s Central Bank and police forces are blaming speculators at exchange offices, claiming they are driving fears that the nuclear deal will lead to a currency collapse.

Authorities arrested 100 money changers, froze the accounts of speculators, raised interest rates and shuttered 10 exchange offices last month after a “month of surveillance,” Gen. Hossein Rahimi, the police chief, told the state-run Fars News Agency at the time.

But the rial had already lost a fifth of its value against the dollar this past year, and financial institutions based in Iran report that signs of economic anxiety have been growing brighter for some time.

The nation’s leading business publication, Donya-e-Eqtesad, reported recently that real estate prices were up 21% over the prior year as people seek to sock away their savings.

Some of it has been engineered by the Central Bank, which has sought a gradual depreciation of the rial to compensate for Iran’s high inflation and to help make exports more competitive. The official Central Bank rate remains around 37,686 rials to the dollar.

But officials are warning that some small Iranian banks are now running out of cash as locals sit apprehensively on their money.




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