Thursday, January 24, 2019

From Ian:

PMW exclusive: PA spent at least 502 million shekels in payments to terrorist prisoners in 2018
As Israel is preparing to implement a new law that imposes financial sanctions on the PA for its "Pay for Slay" policy, PMW has looked at the PA's financial reports for 2018 which includes its payments to terrorist prisoners and released terrorist prisoners

While the PA does not provide details of how this money was allocated between the terrorist prisoners and the released terrorist prisoners, PMW calculations, based solely on open sources, show that:
  • At least 230 million shekels were paid in salaries to terrorist prisoners
  • At least 176 million shekels were paid in salaries to released terrorist prisoners
  • The remaining 96 million shekels covers additional salary payments and other benefits to the terrorist prisoners and released terrorist prisoners that PMW is unable to precisely quantify

According to its own budgetary update, in 2018 the Palestinian Authority spent no less than 502 million shekels on salaries and other payments to terrorist prisoners and released terrorist prisoners.

While the PA does not provide information how the 502 million shekels was allocated between the terrorist prisoners and the released terrorist prisoners, using open sources only, Palestinian Media Watch has calculated, subject to a number of limitations, these figures.

Using information obtained from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), PMW has calculated that the Palestinian Authority paid at least 230 million shekels in salary payments to terrorist prisoners in 2018.

For example, based on the information provided by the IPS that appears in the 2 left hand columns in the chart below ("time served" and "number of prisoners") and the PA's own terrorist prisoner pay scale ("salary" column), PMW has calculated that in the month of January 2018 alone the PA paid almost 20 million shekels in salaries to the terrorist prisoners.
Can Zionists Advocate for Palestinian Rights?
A lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Navy Seals, Hendel grew up in the settlement of Elakana. “My father would give rides to Arabs who lived nearby and he made sure to tell me that while we may be in a conflict, individual Arabs are not our enemies.”

Hendel says he started Blue and White to work for human rights from a Zionist perspective. Today, there are nearly 40 volunteers in their programs.

Some of these are ex-combat soldiers who speak to 12th graders in the year before their enlistment. These soldiers speak of their experiences in the army with Palestinians and human rights groups. They talk about the importance of the IDF ethical code, of the need to be moral at all costs.

“We need to take back these values,” Hendel says. “This is why we take groups to the checkpoints. To see reality. It’s not Auschwitz—it’s a border where soldiers need to be patient with people crossing while making sure that they don’t let in terrorists.”

Lipaz Ella was one of those who visited the crossings with Blue and White. While working at UCLA as a Jewish Agency Israel fellow, students initiated a program called Fact Finders to learn about the conflict from both sides on the ground. “Checkpoints were one of the places they wanted to see. In UCLA during Apartheid Week, groups build checkpoints on campus. The students see these things on campus and want to see them for themselves in reality.” In planning the trip, the group arranged to visit the Rachel checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

“We were surprised to see Israeli volunteers helping Palestinians arrange permits for medical treatment and work. The students were told [in UCLA] that Israel erected checkpoints to prevent Palestinians from the right of movement. Even Jewish students who are better informed than others were surprised to see reality, the lines moving, the technology used for efficiency (biometric permits), etc. We spoke to Israeli officers and heard from Palestinians as they came through. The students saw with their own eyes the reality of the situation. They saw that it isn’t black and white.”
Caroline Glick: The Iranian Revolution and Establishment Prejudice
In 2007, the Bush administration accepted the National Intelligence Estimate that falsely claimed Iran had abandoned its nuclear program in 2003. And in 2014, the Obama administration based its nuclear diplomacy with Iran – diplomacy that paved Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal – on the false assertion that President Hassan Rouhani is a moderate.

Just as the Carter administration ignored Khomeini’s own writings and his ties to the PLO, and viewed concerns about both as Israeli propaganda, so in these subsequent encounters with the Iranian regime, U.S. officials dismissed or held suspect evidence that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons or otherwise undermining regional and global security as Israeli propaganda.

Facing this wall of cynical disbelief, last year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu felt compelled to risk the lives of dozens of top Mossad operatives and send them to Tehran to take physical possession of Iran’s nuclear archive, and spirit it out of the country.

And even after Israel produced the Iranian documents which proved that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon, European officials and former Obama administration officials accused Israel of lying.

There are plenty of lessons to learn from the Iranian revolution that brought Iran and the world the now 40-year-old nightmare of the Islamic regime.

But as far as the West is concerned, the first lesson must be that you cannot understand the Middle East – or anything for that matter – if you judge events and people through the filter of irrational prejudice.



Alan Dershowitz: Time to tell the truth about the Palestinian issue
The front page of the New York Times Sunday Review featured one of the most biased, poorly informed, and historically inaccurate columns about the conflict between Israel and Palestine ever published by a mainstream newspaper. Written by Michelle Alexander, it is entitled, “Time to break the silence on Palestine,” as if the Palestinian issue has not been the most overhyped cause on campuses, at the United Nations, and in the media.

There is no silence to break. What must be broken is the double standard of those who elevate the Palestinian claims over those of the Kurds, the Syrians, the Iranians, the Chechens, the Tibetans, the Ukrainians, and many other more deserving groups who truly suffer from the silence of the academia, the media, and the international community. The United Nations devotes more of its time, money, and votes to the Palestinian issue than to the claims of all of these other oppressed groups combined.

The suffering of Palestinians, which does not compare to the suffering of many other groups, has been largely inflicted by themselves. They could have had a state, with no occupation, if they had accepted the Peel Commission Report of 1938, the United Nations Partition of 1947, the Camp David Summit deal of 2000, or the Ehud Olmert offer of 2008. They rejected all these offers, responding with violence and terrorism, because doing so would have required them to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, something they are unwilling to do even today.

I know because I asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that question directly and he said no. The Palestinian leadership indeed has always wanted there not to be a Jewish state more than it has wanted there to be a Palestinian state. The Palestinian issue is not “one of the great moral challenges of our time,” as Alexander insists in her column. It is a complex, nuanced, pragmatic problem, with fault on all sides. The issue could be solved if Palestinian leaders were prepared to accept the “painful compromises” that Israeli leaders have already agreed to accept.


Daniel Pipes: The Middle East Forum at 25: Failure and success
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Middle East Forum. I’ll take this opportunity to candidly review our ability to influence US policy over the quarter century and assess where we stand today.

Opening our doors in early 1994 with the Middle East Quarterly as our main activity, it was difficult to win attention or financial support for a new organization with the slogan “Promoting American interests.” Things seemed to be going so well for the United States – success in the Kuwait war, the Soviet collapse, and the Oslo Accords – convincing the Clinton administration that the Middle East remained a cauldron of dangers proved an uphill battle, a hill generally too steep for MEF to climb. Accordingly, we struggled in those early years. Opening MEForum.org in 2000, however, positioned us for the turbulence ahead.

The 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War woke Americans abruptly to Islamist and Middle Eastern threats, catapulting our topics to the center of American and world attention, giving us the opportunity to get out our message and secure more stable funding.

During the George W. Bush years, despite this public success and many friends in high government positions, we could not claim to have an impact. Sadly, those friends dealt poorly with the Islamist challenge (“War on Terror,” anyone?), the Iraq War, Turkey’s Erdogan, Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy, and democracy promotion. Indeed, MEF lost more friends during those years than it influenced policy.

We consoled ourselves by launching four initiatives: Campus Watch (2002), Islamist Watch (2006), the Legal Project (2007), and the Middle East Forum Education Fund (2007), which now financially supports 80 allied individuals and organizations.

During the Obama years, no one in government consulted us about such follies as ignoring Iran’s Green Movement, abetting Mubarak’s overthrow, toppling Gaddafi, underestimating ISIS, backtracking from the Syrian redline, or signing the Iran deal. We did, however, use these bleak years to set up a beachhead in the imperial capital with the Washington Project (2009), build a presence on Facebook and Twitter (2009), lead the first of five international trips (2012), and establish both the Ginsburg/Ingerman Writing Fellows program (2014) and the Young Adult Division (2016).

Despite severe reservations about Donald Trump, MEF has had its best-ever access to, and influence on, his administration. Our voice is heard regarding such issues as Muslim immigration, the Islamist threat, cutting funds to the Palestinians, relations with Qatar, and exiting the Iran deal.
Daniel Pipes: Trump's Mideast 'Deal of the Century' May Be a Raw One for Israel
Jason Greenblatt, Mr. Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, reverted in October 2018 to the theme of neutrality, announcing that the deal will “be heavily focused on Israeli security needs, but we also want to be fair to the Palestinians.” “Each side will find things in this plan that they don’t like,” he said.

Nikki Haley, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, alluded to the pro-Palestinian tilt in December 2018, noting that “both sides would benefit greatly from a peace agreement, but the Palestinians would benefit more, and the Israelis would risk more.”

This drumbeat of comments—about neutrality, suspicion of Netanyahu and expecting Israel to make the larger concessions—signals a potential crisis in U.S.-Israel relations, perhaps the most intense since 1975, when Gerald Ford began his “reassessment” of the relationship, or possibly even 1957, when Dwight Eisenhower coerced Israel to evacuate the Sinai Peninsula.

Should Israel reject a U.S. plan, the full weight of Mr. Trump’s wrath could well follow. As he recently showed with Turkey, when displeased the president can radically shift relations: He pivoted from a warm and trusting conversation with the Turkish president on Dec. 14, 2018, to a threat to “devastate Turkey economically” on Jan. 13. Likewise, Mr. Trump’s ambassador to Israel may call him “the most pro-Israel president ever,” but he could become Israel’s chief adversary if its leaders anger him. Were this to happen, the Palestinians would become great beneficiaries of Mr. Trump’s favor.

So far the administration’s hints have aroused minimal concern in the American pro-Israel community, which blithely but wrongly trusts Mr. Trump as one of their own. But a plan as inimical to Israel as Mr. Trump’s appears to be will have major negative implications not only for the Jewish state but for Mr. Trump’s re-election hopes. Therefore, Americans who support Israel and Republicans hoping for the president’s re-election both need to protest and obstruct the prospect of this misbegotten “deal of the century.”
To the Secretary General of Muslim World League
Dr. Mohammad Bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa is special. His thoughts are definitely constructive and pro-peace. One of his wishes, Al-Issa said, is that the prospective meeting in Jerusalem will be "a step toward what will some day be a more broad cross-faith acceptance of different faiths." As a previous Minister of Justice in Saudi Arabia, he speculated that the time will come when people of different religions can go to any country, including Saudi Arabia, and publicly practice their faith.

One might agree with Al-Issa when he says that extremists attempt "to hijack the true religion, specifically through poisoning the minds of some young people with the idea of clash of civilizations and embedding the overstated idea of conspiracy." There is, nevertheless, plain as day, the role played by that set of Quranic verses, hadiths, and the resultant interpretations and fatwas that regrettably still fuel a hatred of non-Muslims and "unbelievers."

A project that the new Saudi Arabian crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, might consider is assembling a panel to see if anything in the hadith might be inauthentic.

The question facing many Muslims and their religious leaders who have similar attitudes is: will they be able to begin directly discussing the root causes of Muslims' extremism and hatred of non-Muslims?


Top Nazi hunter blasts visiting Ukraine leader for ignoring Holocaust complicity
Leading Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff has criticized Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for ignoring Ukrainian complicity in the Holocaust during his visit to Israel this week, and for urging Jerusalem to recognize the Holodomor — a man-made famine in the 1930s that killed millions of Ukrainians — as a genocide.

Speaking to The Times of Israel in the wake of Poroshenko’s trip, Zuroff also took the president’s Israeli hosts to task for not having challenged him publicly on Kiev’s policy of honoring Ukrainian nationalist wartime heroes, many of whom were involved in massacres against Jews.

“What happened is the height of chutzpah,” fumed Zuroff, who heads Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office. “He comes here, and asks Israel to recognize the Holodomor as genocide, which it wasn’t.”

In 1932 and 1933, the Soviet Union starved millions to death in what more than a dozen countries (but not Israel) have officially recognized as a genocide. Whether that label is historically accurate is the subject of scholarly debate; opponents argue that the man-made famine’s goal was not to annihilate the Ukrainian people per se.

“Jews also died on the Holodomor, as did Russians and Belarusians,” Zuroff said.

In a meeting Monday with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Poroshenko explicitly called on the Israeli parliament to recognize the Holodomor as “a genocide of the Ukrainian people,” according to a readout provided by his office.
IDF Blog: Iran Fires Rocket from Syria at Israeli Civilians
Iran’s Pattern of Behavior

Iran has been using it’s growing presence in Syria to attack Israel. On February 10th, 2018, Iran launched an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which was carrying explosives from Syria and violated Israeli airspace. A few months later, on May 10th, 2018, Iranian forces in Syria launched nearly 30 rockets at IDF positions in the Golan Heights. Both of these attacks were successfully thwarted by the IDF and the Iranians paid a significant price immediately thereafter.
“By Allah's favor and grace, nothing called the "Zionist regime" will exist by 25 years from now.” - Ayatollah Khamenei, September, 2015

Time and again Iran has publicly stated and demonstrated its desire to destroy Israel.

The IDF will not tolerate such threats.

The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible for everything taking place in Syria, including Iran’s attempts to entrench itself in Syrian territory and destabilize the region.
After Syria threatens Ben Gurion Airport, Iron Dome deployed in greater Tel Aviv
The Israeli military deployed Iron Dome missile defense systems in central and southern Israel in recent days, amid escalating tensions both in Syria and in the Gaza Strip.

A battery was deployed in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, and others were positioned in the south, the army said Thursday.

In addition, a small number of reservists from air defense units were called up to staff the batteries, as typically occurs amid periods of heightened tensions, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The past week has seen an increase in violence as well as verbal threats from both Israel’s north and the south. The announcement of the deployment came a day before thousands of Gazans were expected to again amass along the security fence for riots and clashes with Israeli troops.

On Wednesday night, shots were fired by unknown assailants at Israeli soldiers stationed along the Syrian border, the Israel Defense Forces said Thursday. The troops returned fire. There were no Israeli casualties.
Up to 20,000 mourners grieve at Aiia Maasarwe's funeral in her home town - but an unwelcome interruption sees her shattered family silence group who tried to politicise the solemn ceremony
Aiia's impact on the local community where she was raised was palpable, with droves of tearful locals attending the mosque to pay their respects.

Many dressed in black and had small flags on their cars. Some wore T-shirts with Arabic writing reading: 'Eternal life, Aiia.'

Her family has friends from various communities in Israel, and some mourners attending wore Jewish skullcaps.

The murder sent shockwaves through Israel's Arab 1.7 million-strong community, and parliament member Ahmed Tibi said: 'Aiia was the daughter of Saeed, and now she's the daughter of all of us.'

But the speeches at the hall were not without controversy, when Maasarwe's first cousin took the microphone from an envoy to the Palestinian President, saying he won't tolerate the 'twisting' of the tragedy into a political matter.

Hundreds of people were waiting for a Palestinian official to read a statement from President Mahmoud Abbas when Sharef Maasarwe declared: 'We, as a family, say this is not about politics.'

The Palestinian representatives quickly left the hall and complained loudly before reading a statement to the gathering media.
Government okays Qatari funds to Hamas, which refuses to accept transfer
In a surprise move, the Hamas terror group on Thursday announced it would not be accepting millions of dollars in funding from the Qatari government that was part of an unofficial ceasefire arrangement with Israel, moments after the Israeli security cabinet approved the transfer.

A $15 million monthly installment — out of a total of $60 million still to be paid to Hamas — had originally been scheduled for transfer last week, but was blocked by the Israeli security cabinet over violence along the border. The funds were then due to be transferred on Wednesday, but were delayed then, too, after Israeli soldiers came under fire along the Gaza border a day earlier.

Following further cabinet discussions and in light of the recommendations of the heads of all of Israel’s security services, the government on Thursday said that it had approved the transfer of the funds to cash-strapped Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

However, moments after the Israeli announcement, senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya said his group was not accepting the Qatari money, which was slated to support civil servants and needy families in the Gaza Strip. The group accused Israel of violating the ceasefire agreement brokered by the Egyptian military, UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Qatar by delaying the transfer of the money.
Israel said pushing US to amend law that threatens security coordination with PA
Jerusalem is pressing Washington to amend a law that threatens to effectively halt all US aid to Palestinian Authority security forces, dealing a “fatal blow” to Israel’s security coordination with the PA, according to a TV report. But the US government shutdown is making such an amendment difficult before the legislation comes in to effect next week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and Israel’s embassy in Washington have contacted the White House, the US State Department and top Congress members, asking them to either amend the law known as the Anti-Terrorism Cooperation Act (ATCA) or find another solution enabling the funds transfer, Channel 13 reported Wednesday, citing unnamed senior Israeli officials.

Under the law, US courts will have the jurisdiction to rule on cases against any foreign party that accepts US aid and which has been accused of supporting terrorism. In practice, that means American victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks would be able to file lawsuits against the PA and PLO in US courts for compensation — possibly in the hundreds of millions — if Palestinians accept even one penny of US aid.

The Palestinian Authority subsequently informed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that it will no longer accept any American security aid dollars as of the beginning of February. PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah sent a letter to Pompeo on December 26, 2018, telling him that the PA would reject US financial support because of the new law.

The Trump administration is scrambling to find a solution after belatedly realizing that eliminating the security aid, which totaled $61 million in 2018 even as other Palestinian assistance was being cut, would be unpopular with both Israel and the PA, threatening its Middle East peace plan.
Israeli politicians lash out at Netanyahu as Hamas refuses Qatari grant
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu humiliates our national honor,” Labor Party chairman Avraham “Avi” Gabbay said on Thursday, lashing out at Netanyahu on Twitter following an announcement that Hamas has refused to accept Qatar’s $15-million grant to the Gaza Strip because of Israeli “political blackmail.”

Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas official, said on Thursday that Hamas has notified Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi of its refusal to accept the third tranche of the Qatari money. Al-Emadi arrived in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night for talks with Hamas leaders on ways to resolve the crisis surrounding the delivery of the payment of the grant.

The Israeli Security Cabinet approved the transfer of the money two days after freezing it because of violence along the Israel-Gaza border.

“Netanyahu tried to bribe Hamas with $15 million, but even the terrorists are unwilling to accept his suitcases,” Gabbay tweeted.

MK Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) called on the cabinet to step down. He said that the Security Cabinet has been politicized, and continues to issue announcements as if they come with the backing of the defense establishment when, in fact, they are making decisions in a vacuum.

“Dear cabinet, you lost it,” said Jelin. “It’s time to go home. You failed.”

Tzipi Livni, head of the Hatnuah Party, said, “Netanyahu has gotten us into a dangerous deal with Hamas,” and now Hamas is holding the country hostage.


“It is embarrassing and dangerous for the residents of the periphery and for all of Israel,” said Livni. “Let our enemies watch and learn – Hatnuah will bring about a new security policy – one against Hamas.”


Exposed: Palestinian Authority Quietly Taking Over Lands in Gush Etzion
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has recently increased its efforts to take control of a strategic area in the Nahal Heletz area between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.

Regavim, a research-based legal advocacy NGO dedicated to ensuring accountable use of Israel’s national land, published on Wednesday a report which exposes the PA’s construction work at Nahal Heletz, near Har Gilo on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

A large number of heavy tractors have been turning the landscape of the riverbed into a wide and flat expanse, and ancient agricultural huts have been renovated and transformed into residential buildings for Arabs.

These lands are Survey Lands which are not privately owned and can be declared state lands.

Yishai Hemo, the Regavim director in Judea and Samaria, says that the engineering work and the high cost of the work prove that this is not a private initiative.

“In this case, too, the Palestinian Authority serves as a guiding hand that finances the work with aid from foreign countries, and as in other places, the agricultural work was exposed as an illegal outpost established by the Palestinian Authority in a strategic area,” Hemo said.
Israeli-Palestinian bidding war catapults price of E. Jerusalem home to NIS 11m
Right-wing activists and Palestinians have engaged in a bidding war over a three-room house in East Jerusalem this week, driving the price of the unassuming structure to over NIS 11 million ($3 million) in a feud embodying the struggle for land in the capital. The auction could resume Thursday.

The house on Dalman street in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem is only 72 square meters (775 square feet) and one of its rooms is a storage room with no windows, according to a report in the Hebrew daily Haaretz.

Like many homes in the area, the property was owned by a Jewish family until 1948, when Jews were forced to flee the city during Israel’s War of Independence. Decades ago, Palestinian families moved into the area, and now most pay rent to Jewish heirs of the original owners or to the Israeli government, Haaretz reported.

The same Palestinian family has lived in the house on Dalman street for over 50 years, according to Channel 13 news.

A few months ago the Jewish owners of the house decided to sell the property, but following a dispute over the sale a court decided that the house would be sold to the highest bidder and the profits divided among the heirs.
Israeli teen charged with terror in stone attack that killed Palestinian woman
The Central District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment Thursday against the Israeli teen suspected of killing a Palestinian woman three months ago, in the most serious incident of suspected Jewish terror since the 2015 firebombing of a Palestinian home in Duma.

The 16-year-old from the central West Bank was charged with manslaughter, aggravated stone throwing at a moving vehicle, and intentional sabotage of a vehicle. Each of the charges connected to the killing of Aisha Rabi, a 47-year-old Palestinian mother of eight, was qualified as having been carried out “in the context of a terrorist act.”

If convicted, the suspect could face considerable jail time; a manslaughter conviction alone carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars. However, he avoided murder charges which would have put him at risk for life in prison.

An official with knowledge of the investigation told The Times of Israel that the prosecution would not be pursuing charges against the other four suspects in the case because the “evidentiary basis against them was insufficient.”

In filing the indictment, the State Prosecutor’s Office requested that the suspect be held until the completion of proceedings against him.
MEMRI: Fatah-Hamas Schism Widens Further Following Ruling By Palestinian Authority Constitutional Court – Established By Palestinian Authority President 'Abbas – To Disband Palestinian Legislative Council
Introduction

Relations between Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud 'Abbas, and Hamas are now extremely tense, and the two organizations' positions have not been farther apart since the 2007 Hamas coup against the PA in Gaza. In recent weeks, the tension has become so great, and the schism between them so wide, that it appears that both sides – which, incidentally, both accuse the U.S. of striving, by means of the Deal of the Century, to create two separate Palestinian entities, in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – are doing just that on their own, without any help from the U.S. Things have reached the point where each side is saying that the other no longer represents the Palestinian people, that it will never return to talks or reconciliation efforts, and that it will act to bring down the regime of the other.

What prompted the further deterioration in relations was PA President 'Abbas's announcement, at a December 22, 2018 meeting of the Palestinian leadership, that the PA's Constitutional Court had decided to disband the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) – which has been controlled by Hamas since 2006 – and to call for elections for a new legislative council within six months.[1] 'Abbas added that he intended to implement the Constitutional Court's decision to hold new elections for a legislative council, and that he is already consulting in the matter PA Central Elections Commission chairman Dr. Hanna Nasser.[2] At the same time, the PA government is already implementing the decision on the ground, taking steps against the council members. PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced that the PLC members had "retired," and it was reported that the PA had, among other measures, cancelled their diplomatic passports and instructed foreign countries to see them as private citizens.[3]

The PA decision to disband the PLC is the latest in the string of measures taken by 'Abbas over the past 18 months against Hamas, in the PA-Hamas dispute over who is the legitimate ruler, and as part of his attempts to restore PA rule in the Gaza Strip. Thus, in April 2017, 'Abbas leveled sanctions against the Gaza Strip, including refusal to pay the salaries of PA officials there and reducing the PA's payments to Israel for Gaza's electricity.[4] Likewise, in April 2018, 'Abbas convened the Palestinian National Council (PNC) to authorize the PLO Central Council to act as the PLO legislative authority – a step interpreted as aimed at circumventing the Hamas-controlled PLC.[5]

The decision to disband the PLC, which was fully backed by Fatah and reviled by Hamas, ignited the clash between the two, in which each side accused the other of responsibility for the crisis, of perpetuating the schism between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and of promoting the U.S. Deal of the Century. Each also accused the other of acting contrary to Palestinian law, maintaining an illegitimate and unconstitutional government, and, as noted, threatening to bring down the other's regime. Each of the sides are now calling for elections – the PA for the PLC, and Hamas also for the PA presidency and the Palestinian National Council (PNC).
Report Reveals Explosion of Billionaire’s Car a Warning Not to Run for PA President
A Palestinian Authority pharma billionaire whose car was targeted with a bomb two months ago was reportedly being warned not to attempt to succeed Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, according to Israel’s Channel 13 news.

Adnan Mjalli was in the Samaria town of Tubas when his $500,000 Mercedes was blown up. He was not in the vehicle at the time.

The report indicated that Mjalli, who had several international pharmaceutical companies, once advised US President Donald Trump on the Palestinian economy and has had his bank accounts frozen by Ramallah authorities.

The attack is believed to be a response to rumors that Mjalli may be a successor to Abbas.

Though the Palestinian Authority is purported to engage in democratic elections, Abbas was elected in 2005, and has been holding on to his role as president of the authority despite the fact that his term was supposed to last for four years. It is not known whether the next leader of the Palestinian Authority will be elected or appointed by Abbas and those close to him.

Additional warnings to stay out of top-tier politics have allegedly been sent to former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and head of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub.


Trump Admin Pressing Allies to Ban Iranian Airline Tied to Terrorism, Espionage
The Trump administration is locked in a diplomatic push to convince European allies to ban a major Iranian state-controlled airline known to be engaged in illicit transport and espionage operations, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

Germany's decision to ban Iran's Mahan Air—a state-controlled entity known to carry out clandestine military operations on the Islamic Republic's behalf—is being viewed as a diplomatic coup by the top U.S. official in Berlin and is said to be generating support for expanding this ban across the European Union, a move that would deal a severe blow to Tehran's international reach, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The ban on Mahan has been in the works for months, according to senior U.S. officials, who told the Free Beacon the airline is complicit in the Iranian regime's spying and military operations. Efforts to crackdown on Mahan follow a similar pressure campaign by the Trump administration to prevent Iran from airlifting out of Germany millions of dollars.

U.S. officials familiar with the ongoing diplomatic matter described Iran as trying to airlift several planeloads of cash out of Germany, a major cash influx that could have aided Iran's expansionist foreign policy goals, including its operations in Syria, Yemen, and other regional hotspots.

The amount was so large that Iran attempted to use multiple planes to airlift the cash, an effort that was recently stopped in no small part by top U.S. officials stationed in Germany, sources said.
Iran Continues with its Nuclear Activities Unabated
Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has said that Iran will continue with its activities at the heavy water plant in Arak. Iran has purchased equipment for the facility and did not even fill in the core of the reactor with cement to render it unusable in January 2016 in accordance with the nuclear deal.

He claimed on Jan. 22, 2019, that images published at the time showing that Iran had completely sealed the core of the reactor were photo-shopped, and that Iran was never required in the agreement to seal the core of the reactor with cement.

Salehi said he was “thankful to Allah for the way in which the discussions relating to the technical aspects of the nuclear talks were conducted, as they left so many breaches in the agreement that Iran was able to exploit.”

”Iran has lost nothing as a result of signing the agreement,” Salehi continued, “and history will prove this. We have preserved our capabilities in the field of enrichment. We are…continuing to manufacture new centrifuges. We are doing everything we need to do.”
MEMRI: Iranian Daily 'Kayhan' Calls To Create A 'Resistance League' To Replace The Arab League
In a January 1, 2019 article in the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan, Sadollah Zarei, a member of Kayhan's editorial board, called for creating a "resistance league" to replace the Arab League, saying that the latter no longer has any influence and that its Arab members act against its own founding ideology. Following calls by several Arab states to reinstate Syria as a member of the Arab League, Zarei stated that rejoining the league is not in Syria's interest, and called on Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Pakistan, Oman, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia to band together in a "resistance league" based on an Islamic ideology that will unite these countries and offer an alternative to the Arab League, which is led by Iran's rival Saudi Arabia.

This proposal is an additional element in the enterprise of exporting Iran's Islamic revolution in order to bolster Iranian influence and hegemony across the Middle East.

The following are the main points of the article:

"A scent of intrigue, more than an admission of defeat, wafts from the actions of the Arab governments that depend on the U.S., and from their invitation of Syria to normalize political relations with them and to return to the fold of the [Arab] states.

"This intrigue is meant to provide political justification for changing Syria's character after they reached an impasse in their military [campaign against it]. But how?! Saudi Arabia invited Syria to return to the Arab League [sic][1] and to be an ordinary Arab state. The question is whether this is a Saudi need or a Syrian need.

"Is the Arab League now facing an identity crisis and an existential crisis which requires it to bring Syria back [into its fold] in order to survive? Or is it Syria that is facing a political and existential crisis, and must return to the Arab League in order to survive?

"The answers to these questions are simple. The Arab League has been dead for over two decades – and it has no real influence. Its philosophy has two fundamental elements: one is to resist the Zionist regime and to actualize the ideal of liberating Palestine, and the other is to expand inter-Arab cooperation and reduce the internal tensions among [the Arabs]. [But] for a long time most of the Arab League members, particularly the major countries in it, have not only abandoned the fight against the Zionist regime, but are even maintaining political and security relations with it. At the same time, the Arabs in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and so on are fighting amongst themselves with bombs, and their security situation is worse than ever...
Al-Nujaba Militia Leader: IRGC, Lebanese Hizbullah Officers Have Guided Us in Fighting U.S. Forces
Secretary-General of the Al-Nujaba militia in Iraq, Sheikh Akram Al-Kaabi, was interviewed on the organization's TV network, Al-Nujaba TV, on January 1. Al-Kaabi said that the IRGC and Lebanese Hizbullah helped the militant Shiite forces that were fighting the U.S. forces as early as 2004. He recounted the details of the 2004 battle of Najaf between U.S. and Iraqi forces and the militant Mahdi Army, in which 13 American servicemen were killed and over 100 were wounded. He said that IRGC and Hizbullah officers were present on the ground and helped the Mahdi Army in the battle. Al-Kaabi added that when the battle of Najaf was over, he traveled to Lebanon and met Hassan Nasrallah and Imad Mughniyeh, who debriefed him about the battle. According to Al-Kaabi, Nasrallah and Mughniyeh put all their capabilities and expertise at his disposal. He went on to describe how the Al-Nujaba militia began using explosively formed penetrators in the IEDs that they employed against American M1 Abrams tanks in Iraq.


Iran Nuclear Chief: We Purchased Replacements for Nuclear Equipment the JCPOA Required Us to Destroy
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was interviewed on Channel 4 TV (Iran) on January 22, 2019. He said that the negotiations surrounding the JCPOA had required Iran to destroy the Arak reactor's calandria by filling it with cement, but that Iran had secretly acquired replacement tubes ahead of time so that the reactor's functionality would not be ultimately affected. He also said that pictures that had circulated that showed the Arak reactor's pit filled with cement had been photoshopped. He explained that Iran has no intention to build a nuclear weapon, and that the Arak reactor is nonetheless incapable of producing weapons-grade plutonium. In addition, Salehi said that the yellowcake production facilities in Ardakan are operational and that Iran has been authorized to produce two additional IR-8 centrifuges. Salehi added that Iran has advanced rapidly in the field of nuclear propulsion.






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