Thursday, April 12, 2018

From Ian:

PMW: The PA’s Nazi sympathies
Over the years, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has documented numerous expressions of Nazi sympathies by PA and Fatah leaders. Admiration of Hitler is one part of the Palestinian Holocaust denial and distortion.

Some expressions of sympathy are blatant, while others are more subliminal. The following are some examples:
Senior Fatah official: "Hitler was not ‎morally corrupt. He was daring"‎
Senior Fatah official Fatah Central Committee Member Tawfik Tirawi argued that Hitler was not morally corrupt, but rather “daring,” in a TV interview. Tirawi’s approach even offended the Palestinian interviewer who chose to quickly change the topic:

Tirawi: "Let us talk logically. Hitler was not ‎morally corrupt. He was daring." (Emphasis added -Ed.‎)
Ma'an host: "Is that the way to talk? I say: Let's drink some tea and take a break. It ‎would be a pity to be put in jail because of this interview. We will drink tea and take a ‎break. Let's leave Hitler."‎
[Ma’an (independent Palestinian news agency), Jan. 19, 2016]

PA schools named after Nazi collaborators

Alongside the 31 PA schools PMW has documented that are named after terrorists including murderers such as Dalal Mughrabi, the PA also named three schools after Nazi collaborators. One school was a result named after Nazi collaborator and war criminal Amin Al-Husseini and two others named after Nazi collaborator Hassan Salameh.

Obviously, schools are named after people who the PA Ministry of Education sees as role models and aspires for the students to emulate.

Abbas: Palestinians and Jordanians are One People in Two States – Jordan and Palestine.
Addressing the ninth annual Islamic Beit al-Maqdes (the term is borrowed directly from the Hebrew Beit HaMikdash – the Temple) International Conference, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that his people have been the victims of a conspiracy that started 100 years ago, “since the infamous Balfour Declaration,” and suggested the latest episode in this conspiracy is President Donald Trump’s “sinful declaration in which he alleged that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, defying with this the feelings and beliefs of hundreds of millions of Muslims and Christians and violating international law and resolutions on this matter.”

But it was journalist Khaled Abu Toameh that caught the most important line of Abbas’s speech when he admitted, “Palestinians and Jordanians are one people in two states – Jordan and Palestine. We won’t accept the idea of the transformation of Jordan into a Palestinian homeland.”

Self-identified “Palestinians” make up 85% of Jordan’s population, which makes one wonder, how many more states do the “Palestinians” need?
Palestinians: License to Kill Americans
The ruthless rhetoric the Palestinians are using against the US suggests that they have decided to put the Americans on an equal footing with Israel. They miss the days when the State Department sometimes seemed to be more pro-Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves.

We are talking about the same Palestinian Authority (PA) that continues to receive millions of dollars in US aid annually. The same PA whose security forces are trained and equipped by Americans and Europeans. The same PA that has a "diplomatic mission" in Washington that is actively taking part in the campaign of incitement against the US and its leader.

The anti-US campaign paves the way for terrorists to kill Americans. It feeds into the ideology of the Islamic State terror group, Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, which considers the US the "Great Satan."

Congress Demands State Department Release ‘Game Changer’ Report on Myth of Palestinian Refugees
Congress is pressuring the State Department to release a long classified report on Palestinian refugees that insiders say could change the calculus on how the United States approaches the situation and allocates millions in taxpayer funds to a key United Nations agency, according to sources and a congressional letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Dozens of members of Congress have already signed on to an effort to force the release of this State Department publication, which sources say was originally classified by the Obama administration in order to keep the findings secret from the American public and lawmakers.

The Free Beacon first reported on the existence of this report in January, when national security insiders first began pressuring the Trump administration to uphold a U.S. law mandating the report be released in public. The report is said to have been marked classified in order to prevent public disclosure that the number of Palestinian refugees is far smaller than the United Nations claims.

Now, months later, the report still remains classified, prompting the large delegation of congressmen to order the State Department to uphold the law and make the report public, according to a draft letter circulating on Capitol Hill and viewed by the Free Beacon.

The report was described to the Free Beacon as a potential tipping point in the debate over the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and its mission, which has come under increased criticism in Congress for what many claim is the agency's anti-Israel bias and routine promotion of pro-terrorism doctrines. The United States decided recently to cut taxpayer funding to UNRWA, the chief Palestinian refugee aid organization, as a result of the group's longstanding anti-Israel bias.
Hamas’s Chosen Weapon Against Muslim Moderates Is Holocaust Denial, New Report Shows
The spectacle of the Nazi swastika flying alongside Palestinian flags at violent demonstrations on the Israel-Gaza border over the last fortnight has been widely interpreted in Israel as one more example of the “genocidal message” that Hamas is sending to the Jewish state.

Significantly, a new briefing from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) issued on Wednesday suggests that at the same time as expressing admiration for Nazi antisemitism, Hamas nonetheless remains committed to denying Nazi crimes against the Jews.

This stance can be traced back to the original Hamas Charter issued in 1988. That document depicted World War II as a Jewish plot in which “the Zionists…grossed huge profits from their trade of war materials.”

In the interim, Holocaust denial has become both a staple of the Islamist organization’s ideology and — more recently — a political weapon to wield against its growing adversaries in the Muslim world.

A lengthy column published in the Hamas mouthpiece Filasteen in January by Isam Shawar, translated by MEMRI, illustrates the manner in which Hamas is now using the Holocaust as a stick with which to beat Arab and Muslim advocates of dialogue with Israel.
Hamas attacks Israel — and the world condemns Israel
“Palestine and Jerusalem belong to us,” top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared this week. In an Orwellian twist, he termed the “March of Return” a “peaceful, civilized, and popular march.”

But Hamas is not only orchestrating the violence on Israel’s border; it’s incentivizing it. The group is paying $3,000 for the family of a “martyr” who dies in a confrontation with Israeli forces, $500 to protestors who are seriously wounded, and $200 to those who are moderately wounded. It’s also reportedly jailing bus drivers who refuse to take Gazans to the border to protest.

With Hamas laying bare its strategy, much of the world has nevertheless found it easier to blame Israel for the chaos.

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, warned both Israel and Hamas that each could be committing crimes — as if a terror group using violence to breach a border and a nation defending itself are equivalent.

The European Union’s High Representative Federica Mogherini called for an investigation of Israel’s use of “live ammunition,” said its force should be “proportionate,” and urged a “full opening of the crossing points.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who exerts enormous influence over the Democratic Party’s activist wing, laid the blame squarely on Israel, tweeting, “The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response.”

Maybe Israel’s critics don’t realize that with their one-sided condemnations, they’re emboldening Hamas. Or maybe they do.
Palestinians Are Welcome to Protest But Not Infiltrate Israel En Masse (FB Video) David Keyes interviewed by Gamal Fahnbulleh (Sky News)
Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman David Keyes was interviewed by Sky News presenter Gamal Fahnbulleh last week.
Q: How do you justify the deaths of 18 Palestinians on the Israel-Gaza border?
Keyes: Israel found itself in the unfortunate situation where a mob of tens of thousands was encroaching towards the border. People blew up the security fence. People launched Molotov cocktails. And Hamas' stated aim, which it repeated in recent days, is the total and utter annihilation of Israel. They even go so far as to advocate genocide of Jews and genocide of Americans. Ahmad Bahar, the deputy speaker of the parliament, called to "kill every single Jew." Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader, called to "eat the livers of the Israelis."
So when Israel found itself in a situation where it was being shot at, where people were trying to infiltrate en masse, it took the steps that any state would have taken and defended its people. The full onus is on this genocidal terrorist organization which is theocratic, dictatorial, doesn't care one wit about its people, and that's why it is stealing so much money, hiding behind children and women. They took a 7-year-old girl and sent her to Israeli soldiers so if she was shot it would be a victory for Hamas. This is insane. This is outrageous. This is an abomination and it should stop right now.
Q: You say no Israeli soldiers have been injured or killed. Where is the proportion?
Keyes: The way to judge what is right and wrong is not to tally up the sides and have the exact number of people. If a criminal comes into a home and starts shooting people, you don't say, well, unfortunately not enough policemen died protecting the family, and that's the situation we're in today. There's no parity whatsoever. There's no moral comparison whatsoever. I think we should be a little bit smarter than to say, well, we want the exact same number on both sides to die. That's ridiculous.
Q: Aren't some people just protesting for their right to return?
Keyes: What does the right to return mean? It's a euphemism for the destruction of Israel. Hamas' leadership has been abundantly clear. Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al-Zahar routinely call for the annihilation of Israel. People are welcome to protest as much as they want, anywhere they want, anytime they want. What they can't do is try to infiltrate Israel en masse, which is exactly what they said they would do.
Gaza bullet hits Israeli family’s house: ‘The baby was in the shelter’
A family from Kibbutz Sha’ar Hanegev whose home was hit by Gaza Strip gunfire early Thursday morning said it had been shaken by the ordeal.

Ayelet, a resident of the kibbutz, told Hadashot news: “This is scary for anyone raising little children but we are sticking to our daily lives. It’s a very unpleasant feeling although we understand that the fire wasn’t directed specifically at the community. It’s still very troubling.”

Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip had targeted Israeli aircraft with machine gun fire in the early morning. One of the bullets apparently hit the family’s home as it fell back to earth.

The gunfire had triggered rocket sirens in the Gaza periphery, and the family had rushed to a reinforced room inside their home.

The bullet landed in the house’s shower. There were no injuries but light damage was caused to the roof and internal ceiling of the home.
Hamas’ ‘March of Return’ End Game In Gaza
“Hamas’ main goal is to bring the Palestinian issue back to the table as over the past few years nobody has cared about what is going on in Gaza,” Brig. Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel, former director of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, explained to The Media Line. “Concurrently, Hamas is trying to earn an achievement that it can present to its citizens, so it is likely that it will continue on the same path.”

Indeed there are indications that Hamas will not let up until it attains a “victory,” the latest example being the detonation on Wednesday of an explosive device—reportedly planted during the previous mass demonstration—next to an IDF vehicle along the frontier. While the attack caused no injuries, the outcome could just as easily have been similar to that of an incident in mid-February when a bomb wounded four IDF soldiers, two severely, during a routine patrol near the border fence.

There are a number of other possibilities to take into account should the protests wane, including the prospect of Hamas activating cells in the West Bank in order to open up a second front against Israel. The Iranian wild card is also in play, as Tehran could conceivably apply pressure on its Gaza-based proxies to use any unrest along the border as cover to perpetrate an attack in retaliation for Jerusalem’s bombing on Monday of one of its military facilities in Syria.

“The Iranians want to respond through their proxies, not only those in Gaza [which includes Islamic Jihad] but also in Lebanon [with Hizbullah] and [Shiite fighters] in Syria,” Nuriel told The Media Line. “But if there is a reaction only on one front, Israel can deal with it. Tehran is therefore more likely to wait to create a bigger issue [along multiple borders].”

Nevertheless, he concluded, “the overall situation in Gaza has the potential to lead Israel into a miscalculation. While it is likely that things will go back to normal after Israel’s Independence Day, the possibility for a major event will remain.”

The bottom line, then, as always, is that one blunder—be it a slip of the finger or a Molotov cocktail landing in the wrong place at the wrong time—has the capacity to ignite a full-scale confrontation, a potentiality that increases in probability the longer the chaotic conditions persist.

Even if neither side wants it.
Saeb Erekat: Leg Injury is an ‘Extrajudicial Killing’
There are certainly no excuses for the behavior, filmed on video, of IDF soldiers whooping in celebration as a Palestinian is shot near Gaza’s border fence. As the IDF itself announced in reference to, “the unauthorized filming of an operational event, the distribution of the filmed material and the statements made there, it should be noted that these do not suit the degree of restraint expected of IDF soldiers and will be dealt by commanders accordingly.”

That it turned into an international story is, in part, a result of recent confrontations at the Gaza border, which have resulted in Palestinian casualties and severe criticism aimed at Israel for using force to prevent rioting Palestinians from breaching the fence.

Perhaps the media could argue that the video of the IDF soldiers is newsworthy precisely because it is unusual and does not represent the ethos of Israel’s army. Or perhaps the media saw an opportunity to do what so many journalists enjoy doing – presenting Israel and the IDF in the worst possible light.

After all, how often do we see news reports of the sadly representative antisemitic and violent incitement from Palestinian leaders or the celebrations and distribution of candies after Israeli children are murdered in terrorist attacks?
BBC News promotes political NGO’s commentary on Gaza video
In the synopsis to the BBC’s filmed report the rioting that is the context to the story is likewise described in unnecessarily qualified terms and it is not adequately clarified to audiences that the soldiers “heard…cheering” are not those engaged in attempts to control the rioting.
“The Israeli Defense Force say a Palestinian who is seen being shot in a viral video was a man who had led a “violent riot.”
The video of the incident, which the IDF says happened in December 2017, first emerged on Monday.
Soldiers can be heard in the footage excitedly discussing their target and cheering after the shot.”

In the video itself the background to the story is again portrayed in scare quotes:
“The Israeli military said this event took place in December 2017 and the target was suspected of organizing a “violent riot”.

Viewers are also told that:
“A leading Israeli rights group said it had little faith in any military investigation.”

Although, for reasons unclear, that “rights group” is not named, the BBC appears to be paraphrasing its most quoted and promoted political NGO, B’tselem.

In other words, the BBC’s idea of ‘impartial’ reporting is to promote commentary on this story from the same partisan group that just days ago enjoyed generous BBC amplification (including a link) of its public call to Israeli soldiers to refuse orders.

CBC Wrongly Claims Israel Killed 30 Palestinian “Demonstrators”
On April 11, HonestReporting Canada filed a complaint with CBC News requesting that a report published the previous day on the CBC website which wrongly claimed that Israel killed “30 (Palestinian) demonstrators” be corrected.

The CBC’s article which was sourced by Reuters news agency erroneously states the following about recent clashes along the Gaza-Israel border:
Its release followed a surge in Palestinian protests at the Gaza border in which 30 demonstrators have been killed by the army.”

Importantly, there’s no foundation to the CBC’s claiming that all of the Palestinian deaths were “demonstrators”. In fact, as the Jerusalem Post reports:
A report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said that 26 of the 32 Palestinians killed were connected to terror organizations.” Accordingly, 80% of Palestinians killed in the Gaza border riots were terrorists.”
Calgary Herald Letter Writer Justifies Terror Against Israelis
Abhorrently, in the April 6 edition of the Calgary Herald, editors at this PostMedia-owned newspaper published a letter (see full text below) by Calgary-resident James Currie who justified terror against innocent Israeli civilians by writing: “If I were a young Palestinian with no hope for the future, perhaps I would also fire some ineffectual rockets, as a sign of resistance to oppression.”

Importantly, there’s no rationale for the murder of innocent men, women, and children.

With respect to charges of “brutality”, it’s the Hamas terror group which incited tens of thousands Palestinians to protest/riot along the Gaza border with Israel recently, putting the lives of innocents in grave danger. Hamas financed the riots, armed and indoctrinated the rioters, and financially rewarded those who were killed when engaging in the riots.

Israel has confirmed that 12 known Palestinian terrorists from Hamas and other outlawed terror groups were killed in the clashes. These rioters committed shooting attacks, placed explosive devices, used grenades, slingshots, molotov cocktails, threw stones and rolled burned tires at Israeli soldiers guarding the border.

Had the Palestinian rioters breached Israel’s border, thousands of Israeli civilians would have been at great risk.
JCPA: Why Egypt Is Concerned about Gaza
Al-Khaleej Online reported on April 7, 2018, that Egypt is acting with Saudi Arabia to persuade and pressure Hamas to halt the Return campaign before it leads to dangerous developments that could spiral out of control.

According to the report, the Return march confuses the Arab regimes, which have given up dealing with the Palestinian problem and are trying to improve the atmosphere before the U.S. “deal of the century” is announced.

Egypt has invited a delegation from the Hamas leadership to talks in Cairo. However, the leaders of Hamas declined the invitation due to recent developments in Gaza. For this reason, the Egyptian intelligence chief was sent to Ramallah and Tel Aviv for talks.

The main leverage that Egypt has at its disposal to put pressure on Hamas is the Rafiah crossing, which is the only exit from Gaza to the Arab world. Egypt has offered to open the crossing on a regular basis in exchange for Hamas calming the territory.

However, according to a report on April 7, 2018, on the al-Quds channel, which identifies with Hamas, Hamas rejected the Egyptian offer. It feels that it has gained unprecedented achievements from the Return campaign and it needs to squeeze the lemon until the last drop.

The Hamas leadership is sure that the movement has been strengthened by the Return campaign. This will also put it in a stronger position vis-a-vis the Egyptian government. Therefore, it is not in any hurry to reach any understandings with Egypt. From Hamas’ point of view, it is still too early, and it will wait until the right moment when it can harvest the full crop of political fruits from Egypt.
IsraellyCool: Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Posts Trump As Smoke Monster & The “Source of Terrorism”
And not just once, but twice – on both Facebook and Twitter

Although it is a little confusing. Are they actually implying Donald Trump is the source of terrorism or that the so-called occupation is? Because both occurred way after Arabs in this area were killing Jews, which even predates 1948.

And are they admitting that what they do (in reaction to Donald Trump or the so-called occupation) is terrorism, or are they implying what Donald Trump or Israel does is terrorism?

What is clear is that they truly hate Donald Trump, and are certainly getting some mileage out of their tire burning shenanigans.

Hamas blasts US envoy for demanding the terror group disarm
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem denounced Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in a statement on the organization's official website, after Greenblatt suggested that the terror group disarm and relinquish its control over the Gaza Strip.

"Greenblatt's attack on Hamas and its leadership, and his demand that the movement disarm, is a continuation of America's partnership with the Israeli occupation’s continuous aggression against the Palestinian people," Qassem said.

“These calls, which are carbon copies of the Israeli demands, afford a coverup for the Israeli crimes and confirm that the US is involved in the same Israeli propaganda machine that justifies the oppressive Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.”

The Hamas spokesman was responding to a statement Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that the terrorist organization must relinquish control over the coastal strip in order for Palestinians living there to join the “real world.”
Decreasing international support for Hamas will stop Gaza violent protests
The events of the past weeks – rising tensions in Gaza, Hamas’s attempts to escalate the conflict with Israel, and the condemnations leveled against Israel by various countries – once again demonstrate how difficult and complex it is for democratic countries to combat terrorism.

When a sovereign state takes measures against another sovereign state, clear rules of engagement apply, as stipulated by international law. In such cases, the identities of citizen and soldier are clear, and the battlefield is defined. By contrast, in a conflict between a sovereign state and a terrorist organization, the latter uses the civilian population as a chess piece, disregarding international law and believing that the ends always justify the means.

Hamas’s goal is to instigate unrest in order to raise international awareness of the Palestinian cause. It also seeks internal Palestinian approbation and support in its continuing fight against the authority of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as support from Arab states. To achieve its goals, Hamas intentionally uses its civilian population. This includes encouraging protesters to burn tires, which harms not only Israeli soldiers and towns but also the Gazan population, and sending Palestinian civilians – including women and children, and even the physically disabled – to the security barrier, knowing all too well that they are likely to be harmed.

Israel’s primary obligation as a democratic state is to ensure the security of the state and its citizens. Israel has therefore set red lines for these Palestinian demonstrators, in an attempt to deter Hamas. It goes without saying that alongside this is the obligation to maintain the state’s democratic character and moral high ground, requiring Israel to try to diminish harm to innocents on the opposing side. It seems that this is precisely what Israel is striving to do.
Noah Rothman: The Extraordinarily High Stakes in Syria
In the last 13 months alone, two state-sponsored chemical attacks (attributable to Russia and North Korea, respectively) using nerve agents were executed on foreign soil, poisoning many civilians in the process. This is reckless, and it can lead to a spiraling crisis. Reestablishing deterrence is in America’s vital national interest. At the moment, that would likely mean disabling anything in the Assad regime’s possession that can fly, as well as targeting chemical production and storage facilities. This mission must be broad in scope if America’s strategic objective is to be achieved.

As for those who fret that America is preparing to enter into a disastrous new war in the Middle East in pursuit of the ill-fated neoconservative preoccupation with “regime change,” fret not. We have been at war in and over Syria for the last three and a half years. Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have been drawn deeper into that conflict despite their ideological aversion to it. That should tell you something; certain unavoidable hard-power realities compel the U.S. to engage in the containment of this terrible conflict in a strategically critical part of the world.

As for regime change, that is likely a moot point. The Assad regime functionally does not exist in many parts of the country, including where most American troops are stationed: east of the Euphrates River. In fact, the conflict in Syria long ago shifted from a counterterrorism mission to an effort to stabilize a failed state. But that mission is shared by a number of competing powers, some of which have limited mechanisms established to facilitate communication in the event of a crisis.

Imagine a post-World War II Germany but without a Potsdam Conference that established firmly delineated zones of control. Instead, those zones are vague and fluid, and each power is testing the other to see where its freedom of action ends and another’s begins. This is an unthinkably dangerous condition; the risk of an accident or miscalculation triggering a broader great power conflict is extraordinarily high. Establishing a semi-formal occupation regime is in the interest of world peace. Pretending we can avoid engagement in that project is a dangerous exercise in self-delusion.

The United States is obliged to act. Russia is probably obliged to respond. This could be the crisis from which neither power can back down without sacrificing an unacceptable level of prestige and strategic initiative. But that was the course on which the country was set following five misguided years dedicated to avoiding involvement in the Syrian conflict. The bill for all those years of non-interventionism is coming due.
White House asked about UN Watch protest against Syria heading UN disarmament

The U.S. Must Maintain Its Leverage over Russia in Syria. Israel Can Help
Donald Trump—who recently announced an imminent American withdrawal from Syria—is now considering the possibility of punishing Bashar al-Assad for his recent use of chemical weapons. Michael Doran has some advice for the president:
A precipitous [U.S.] departure [from Syria] will cede leverage to Iran at the very moment when the United States-Iranian conflict is set to escalate. On May 12, President Trump may well decide to reimpose nuclear sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Restructuring the nuclear deal to American specifications requires convincing Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, that America is resolute in its determination to pare down the Iranian nuclear program. Retreating from Syria will foster the opposite impression. Trump should instead be thinking of exploiting Iranian weaknesses.

Here the Israelis are the key. Their [presumed] attack on Monday on an Iranian base in the Syrian desert is striking not just for the military and intelligence capabilities it demonstrated but also for its defiance of Vladimir Putin. Boldness and ability of this magnitude in an ally is a four-star asset that Trump’s Mideast policy has so far failed to exploit.

Imagine if Washington and Jerusalem were to develop a joint military plan designed to contain and degrade Iranian forces in Syria. Even a limited American military commitment to a coordinated United States-Israeli strategy would immediately change the balance of power on the ground. It would most likely engender more diplomatic cooperation from Putin while sending a powerful message to Tehran about the necessity of respecting American demands regarding its nuclear program.
Trump on Syria attack: ‘Very soon or not so soon at all!’
US President Donald Trump was evasive Thursday about when the United States might attack Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons assault, saying it could be “very soon or not so soon at all!”

A day after warning starkly that “missiles will be coming,” Trump in another early morning tweet storm said: “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

He added: “In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”

Earlier in the week, US officials said the US, France and Britain were in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week.
MEMRI: Columnist In Saudi Government Daily Calls On U.S. And Its Allies To Attack Presidential Palace In Damascus In Order To Deter Bashar Al-Assad
U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that the Syrian regime will pay a "big price" for its April 7, 2018 chemical attack on Douma, which left dozens dead, as well as the American, British and French preparations for a military strike in Syria, sparked an intense debate in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman said, in a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on April 10, that Saudi Arabia was "ready to join [its] allies in any military action in Syria, should this be necessary."[1]

The Saudi press also discussed the possibility of a military strike in Syria and the ramifications of such an attack. On April 12, the front-page headline of the government daily 'Okaz read: "Syria – War Is Coming."

In his April 12 column in 'Okaz, journalist Khaled Al-Suleiman urged the U.S. and its allies not to suffice with attacking empty military bases, as was done in the past, because this evidently failed to deter Assad from continuing his chemical attacks. He urged them, rather, to carry out an effective strike, including on the presidential palace in Damascus, that would change the balance of power on the ground and force Assad to accept a political settlement. Another article published in 'Okaz that day stated, in a similar vein, that any military strike on the Syrian regime would have to be very painful, not only in order to deter Assad but in order to divest him of the ability to commit more crimes.
Macron: France has proof Syrian regime conducted chemical weapons attack
France has proof the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week and will decide whether to strike back when all the necessary information has been gathered, President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.

France is expected to join the United States and Britain in carrying out air strikes or some other form of attack in response to the use of the weapons but it remains unclear when that might happen or even if it definitely will.

"We have proof that last week, now 10 days ago, that chemical weapons were used, at least with chlorine, and that they were used by the regime of (President) Bashar al-Assad," Macron said, without giving details on the evidence or how it was acquired.

The attack on the town of Douma on April 7 killed dozens of people, including children.

"Our teams have been working on this all week and we will need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it most useful and effective," Macron told broadcaster TF1 when asked whether a red line had been crossed.
MEMRI: After France Indicates Willingness To Join Attack On Syria, Pro-Hizbullah Lebanese Daily 'Al-Akhbar' Warns That French Troops Could Be Targeted
After the French president joined his American and British counterparts in warning that they would respond to the Syrian regime's chemical attack in Douma, Ibrahim Al-Amin, editor-in-chief of the pro-Hizbullah daily Al-Akhbar, penned a scathing article against France. Al-Amin accused France of hypocrisy and of hiding behind the U.S. while also doing its bidding. He added that France, whose hands are stained with Arab blood, has always sided with the Arabs' enemies while "playing a dirty role" in their countries and acting to ignite inter-Arab wars. The claims about a chemical attack in Douma, he said, were lies meant to provide an excuse to attack in Syria so as to prevent the Syrian regime from recovering and curb the Russian influence in the Middle East.

Al-Amin concluded his article by threatening that France could pay a heavy price for its policy and its involvement in a strike on Syria, wondering whether the French need to be reminded "of the scenes of severed soldiers' limbs and [military] headquarters destroyed." It should be noted that there are French nationals among the UNIFIL forces stationed on Lebanese soil.

A report published in Al-Akhbar the same day stated that the resistance axis (Iran, Syria and Hizbullah) had "decided that a substantial [Western] attack on Syria would mean an open-ended war whose flames would be felt in every part of the region."
Trump MidEast peace plan nearly complete, but rollout date remains unclear
The Trump administration has nearly completed a long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan but is still struggling to decide how and when to roll it out, a senior White House official said, acknowledging that Washington faces a “disconnect” with Palestinians over its planned US embassy move to Jerusalem.

The initiative, which had been widely expected to be released earlier this year, now looks likely to remain on the shelf until its chief architects - President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt - finalize the details and determine the time is right to unveil it.

Their decision could depend on an array of obstacles, not least that one of the two sides in the decades-old conflict – the Palestinians – say they have lost faith in the Trump administration to act as a fair mediator and have boycotted the process since last December’s Jerusalem announcement.

While offering few specifics for a plan that has drawn widespread skepticism even before its unveiling, the official confirmed it would not contain a US commitment to a two-state solution, as the Palestinians had demanded. It will instead stick to Trump’s assertion that he will accept whatever the two sides agree.

The chill between the White House and Palestinians has affected the peace effort, the official acknowledged, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The "disconnect" with Palestinians over Jerusalem "is not a small blip," the official acknowledged in an interview with Reuters.
Abbas says Palestinians won’t accept any American peace plan
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said the Palestinians will not accept any US plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He made the comment at the beginning of a conference in Ramallah about Jerusalem.

“We honestly will not wait for anything from them, and we will not accept anything from them,” Abbas said, alluding to US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Since Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the city, Abbas has said on a handful of occasions that the Palestinians will not accept any US peace plan.

However, in the same time period, he and some of his advisers have also said a few times that the Palestinians would engage the US administration on its ideas to resolve the conflict, if it were to enact certain policy changes.

For example, on Monday, Abbas told the Fatah Central Committee the Palestinians would listen to the Trump administration’s ideas to resolve the conflict, if it were to endorse the two-state solution and recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of “the State of Palestine.”
Abbas decries ‘big conspiracy’ facing Palestinian cause
The Palestinians are facing a “big conspiracy” targeting their cause, rights and capital, Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas charged on Wednesday.

In a speech before the Beit Al Maqdes (Jerusalem) Islamic International Conference in Ramallah, he said that the “conspiracy” began more than 100 years ago with the Balfour Declaration.

As part of that “conspiracy,” Abbas said, Israel has sought to “change the historic and legal status of the holy sites in Jerusalem by installing metal detectors” at the entrances to the Temple Mount.
Israel slams Ireland over Dublin mayor’s Ramallah trip
The Foreign Ministry on Thursday rebuked the Irish ambassador to Israel, days after the Dublin City Council passed two anti-Israel resolutions and the city’s mayor attended a conference in Ramallah that appeared to praise the Palestinian mufti Amin al-Husseini, who in 1941 met with Adolf Hitler.

The ministry said its deputy director-general for European Affairs, Rodica Radian Gordon, expressed to Ambassador Alison Kelly her “astonishment and deep disappointment” over the fact that Dublin’s Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha had chosen to participate in a “blatantly anti-Israel event.”

“This is particularly disturbing in light of the event’s timing, in the week in which Israel observes Holocaust Remembrance Day,” the ministry said in a statement. “The government of Israel expects a public and official Irish response to the conduct of the city council of Ireland’s capital in general, and of its head in specific, which are conducting a campaign of discrimination and hatred against the State of Israel.”

The Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv, in a tweet, said that Ambassador Kelly explained her government’s positions on the matters raised by the Foreign Ministry, including Ireland’s opposition to the anti-Israel boycott movement.

To victim's outrage, court acquits Palestinian stabber of attempted murder
The Judea Military Court has acquitted a Palestinian who stabbed Nirit Zamura while calling out “Allahu Akhbar” during the height of the Knife Intifada in October 2015 of attempted murder, while convicting him of two lesser crimes.

Zamura responded to the ruling telling The Jerusalem Post that, “I felt like I’d been stabbed again” and terror victims’ support group Almagor called on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to sponsor a law instructing courts to evaluate cases occurring in a terror context differently.

Though Hamza Afilat was at least convicted of causing serious bodily harm and illegal knife possession, the IDF Prosecution said it was considering an appeal of the surprising decision.

In addition to the verdict causing Zamura and her family to be irate at the judges for “accepting all of the defense lawyers arguments and ignoring the prosecutor and other facts,” the bottom-line is that Alfilat will likely serve five to seven years in prison instead of between 12-15 years.

Explaining its decision, the court said that it was bound by a line of cases which dictated that there could be no attempted murder conviction when an attacker stabbed a victim with a knife only one time.

Zamura was furious with this finding, pointing out that the knife had broken after Afilat stabbed her, such that he could not stab her again even if that had been his plan.
Liberman backs bill targeting NGOs that film IDF soldiers
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman backed a bill that would send anyone who films IDF soldiers with the intent to harm them to prison for five or 10 years.

The proposal, submitted by Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov on Wednesday, states that anyone who films or records on-duty soldiers or disseminates such recordings on social media or mass media with the goal of undermining IDF soldiers’ or Israelis’ morale would get a five-year sentence, and anyone who does so with the intention of harming national security would go to prison for 10 years.

It is already illegal to take such photos without IDF permission, including for journalists, who are subject to military censorship.

The bill’s explanatory section mentions NGOs such as B’Tselem, Machsom Watch and Breaking the Silence, calling them “anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian... and BDS organizations.”

It states that “for many years, there has been a disturbing phenomenon in Israel of documenting IDF soldiers through videos, stills and voice recordings,” and that some NGOs have people follow soldiers all day long to try to “document them in a biased and slanted way... while sometimes accusing and insulting them.”
Jerusalem mufti bans selling land in ‘Palestine’ or Jerusalem
The Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, on Thursday published a fatwa, or Islamic religious decree, banning anyone “from giving up, or selling Jerusalem and the land of Palestine to the enemy” — a reference to Israelis.

The fatwa was issued on the eve of the Arab summit that is scheduled to convene in Saudi Arabia next week to discuss a number of issues, including US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced peace plan and his decision, announced in December, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The fatwa is seen as a warning to the heads of Arab states against supporting Trump’s decisions and peace plan, which the Palestinians have denounced as a “conspiracy aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause and national rights.”

On Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his rejection of the Trump plan, calling it a “big conspiracy.”

“Palestine, which includes Jerusalem, is Waqf (Islamic trust) land, and it is religiously forbidden to give it up or facilitate the transfer of its ownership to the enemy,” Hussein said in his fatwa. “Palestine is part of the Islamic public properties.”

It was the second fatwa of its kind since 2014, when Hussein reminded Muslims that it was forbidden to sell their property to Israelis after it transpired that Jewish families had purchased homes from Arabs in Silwan, outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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