Thursday, February 28, 2019

From Ian:

The Palestinians' Automatic "No" to Peace
The Palestinian issue—once at the heart of Arab political discourse in our region—has been pushed to the margins. Mahmoud Abbas might still be able to extract a promise out of the elderly Saudi king not to go "behind the Palestinians' backs," but the entire world knows about the business his son conducts with Israel. The Arab world has a hard time understanding what the Palestinians want, and why they allow themselves to continue managing their affairs in such a failed manner.

"If you want to free all of Palestine—ahlan wasahlan ('welcome'), but you need to unite. If you want a state alongside Israel, why do you keep saying 'no' again and again when offered one?" one Egyptian TV anchor wondered.

Since automatic Palestinian refusal is a given, what exactly motivates Jared Kushner, Trump's point man on the peace process? Is he still hoping the Palestinians change their minds when they learn the details of the plan? Probably not. He didn't even bother giving an interview to a Palestinian media outlet, and instead directed his comments to the Arab world, mostly the Gulf nations (Sky Arabic, to which he gave the interview, is funded by the United Arab Emirates). In other words: he's thinking about the day after the Palestinian "no," when Arab countries could come to them and say: "You once again rejected a generous proposal, we won't remain hostages to your intransigence."

It seems farfetched, but work preparing the Arab street for relations with Israel that could be defined as "on the scale of normalization" has been going on for a few years.

"If the Palestinian leadership used the money donated by the Arabs since 1948 for Palestine, it would've already built 50 cities like Tel Aviv, 40 cities like Dubai and 30 cities like Riyadh," tweeted an Iraqi journalist this week —and got a shower of likes.

PMW: PA will cut all Palestinian salaries, except for terrorists and their families
Impending PA financial crisis follows Abbas decision to not accept Israeli transfers of approx. 670 million shekels/month after Israel decided to deduct 41 million shekels/month from PA tax money equivalent to the amount PA pays terrorist prisoners

“PA Minister of Finance announced that the [PA] government will pay the salaries of the public employees on time, but they are likely to be partial, other than the pension stipends and the allowances of the families of the Martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners, which will be paid in full.”

PA TV: “Our Martyrs and prisoners (i.e., terrorists and murderers) are the source of our glory and pride. They are more honorable than all of us.”

PA Prime Minister: “The payment of the money to the prisoners and Martyrs' families is our responsibility, not a gift or grant but rather an inseparable part of the social contract between the state and its citizens.”

PA Minister of Finance: “There is an official decision... not to accept the tax money if even a single penny is missing from it."




NGO Monitor: Gaslighting Gaza: Initial Analysis of UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza Riots
On February 28, 2019, the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the riots along the Israel-Gaza border, which began in March 2018, alleged that “Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law… and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.” The COI created a “confidential file” of “which is recommended be given to the International Criminal Court (ICC)” and to be used by governments to “consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze.”

Methodological Failures
  • In contrast to professional fact-finding standards, the COI clearly established pre-determined legal and factual conclusion and merely gathered “evidence” to fit its desired outcome.
  • In preparing its report, the COI relied heavily on Palestinian sources, including Hamas and terror-linked non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Notably, the COI uncritically adopts the NGOs’ application of a domestic law enforcement paradigm – erasing the context of the armed conflict with Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups – to analyze cross-border violence.
  • The COI used anonymous and unverifiable “testimonies.” When asked during a press conference to provide details about how many of the 325 the interviews it conducted itself or how it selected the 325 individuals reportedly interviewed, the Chairperson of the COI was unable to answer the question and stated he would have to provide that information at a later date.
  • The information provided in the published summary is a near copy-paste from NGO submissions to the COI. For example, all names of Palestinian children killed were provided by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), an NGO with ties to the Popular of Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, i.e. one of the parties to the conflict in Gaza. (DCI-P’s submission was prepared in partnership with the CUNY School of Law Human Rights and Gender Justice Law Clinic.)
  • Reflecting the COI’s lack of expertise and muddled analysis, throughout the report, the COI mixes up the concepts of international human rights and humanitarian law and applicable rules and standards. For example, according to the Commission, the violence along the Israel-Gaza border was not a “military” or “combat” situation and therefore human rights law was the appropriate standard. Therefore, its conclusion that “human rights violations may also constitute “war crimes” is baseless, since war crimes can only where the laws of war are applicable.
  • The UN’s shoddy researching and reporting led them to write identical paragraphs about the same fatality, Mo’min Hams, on different pages of the “protected groups” section of the report.
Israel Rejects UNHRC Probe Accusations of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity
Israel has rejected the findings of a one-sided investigation by the so-called “Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” set up last year by the United Nations Human Rights Council – the same UNHRC that maintains a permanent agenda item solely devoted to the condemnation of the State of Israel.

This is not the first time the UNHRC has attempted to charge Israel with crimes against humanity, or war crimes. Given the membership of the organization, it’s likely not to be the last, either.

“The council is setting new records for hypocrisy and mendacity, out of an obsessive hatred of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in responding to the report on Thursday.

“It is Hamas which fires missiles at Israeli citizens, throws explosive devices and carries out terrorist activity during the violent demonstrations along the fence.

“Israel will not allow Hamas to attack Israel’s sovereignty and its people, and will maintain the right of self-defense. IDF soldiers will continue to vigorously defend Israeli citizens against attack by Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations financed by Iran, which declares its intention to destroy Israel.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan was likewise incensed by the findings, saying that the so-called UN Human Rights Council “bears no relation to the protection of human rights.”

Erdan said the release of “this patently false report” was a “sadly predictable step” from a body that has “long lost its legitimacy.“
Netanyahu: U.N. set new hypocrisy record with Israeli war crimes allegation
The United Nations has set a new record for hypocrisy and lies with its report that accuses Israel of deliberately shooting children at the Gaza border and possible war crimes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"Israel rejects outright the report of the UN Human Rights Council, which sets new records of hypocrisy and lies, out of obsessive hatred of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East” Netanyahu said.

He spoke after a United Nations Human Rights Council commission of inquiry released a report on the Hamas led border protests, that began on March 30, 2018. Israel has held that Hamas terrorists participate in the protests, which have involved attempted to infiltrate Israel and other violent border attacks. This includes the launching of incendiary devices into Israel, that have burned thousands of daunts of fields and forests.

The Palestinians have claimed that it is peaceful protest and on Thursday, the UNHRC agreed that weekly and sometimes daily events were largely no-violent.

Netanyahu rejected their conclusions., He that the IDF was responding in self defense to Hamas “which fires rockets at Israeli civilians, launches incendiary devices and carries out terrorist activities during its violent protests by the [border] fence,” Netanyahu said.

“Israel will not allow Hamas to harm Israeli sovereignty and its citizens and will protect its right to self-defense,” Netanyahu said.

“IDF soldiers will continue to firmly defend Israeli citizens against attacks by Hamas and by Iranian-funded terrorist organizations which have a declared intention to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu said.




Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne slams the UNHRC's systematic anti-Israel bias
"Australia opposes in principle the existence of Item 7 of the agenda of the Council. It is our firm view that a separate agenda item focusing on a single country situation, in this case, Israel, is inappropriate. It does not occur in any other context for any other country."




IDF hits targets in Gaza after explosive balloon damages home
Israeli warplanes struck numerous Hamas posts in southern Gaza late Wednesday night after a small bomb attached to a bundle of balloons was launched into Israel from the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.

The explosive device damaged the front window of a home in the Eshkol region.

No casualties were reported.

The bomb exploded near the home of Rachel Danzig, whose home was almost hit by a rocket fired from Gaza during the previous spat of hostilities.

"I'm shaking right now," she said. "The balloon exploded next to my house, I thought it was literally inside the house. It's scary because there's no deterrence. My neighbor has a hole in her garden, glass is shattered all over my home and everything moved from the blast. I'm still traumatized by the first time. My neighbor is absolutely frightened. She's 70 years old and is in shock.


The opportunity of the century
The details of the Trump administration's "deal of the century" are still under wraps, but the deal has become part of the election campaign and appears likely to keep the political system in turmoil throughout 2019. The right wing is already responding negatively, both out of a sense of real danger and a desire to differentiate itself from the Likud and demonstrate uncompromising loyalty to the vision of the "complete land of Israel." The New Right party has already expressed concern that the Trump plan could bring the ax down on its vision of annexing Judea and Samaria and shelve the hope of leveraging the Likud government to make a final decision on the future of parts of the country.

It looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has a favorable attitude toward the deal. This might stem from tactical consideration but it is more likely that because of his position, he is more familiar with the details of the plan than the public at large. Throughout his time in office, Netanyahu has taken a realistic, practical approach on the Arab-Palestinian issue. While he is blocking the implementation of the two-state solution, and in recent years has even caused it to lose traction in international public opinion, he has also refrained from taking the opposite steps of applying Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria or annexing those areas. As part of that approach, he has opted to foster the autonomic rule of the Palestinian Authority while promising Israeli security control without harming Jewish settlement.

That policy has proven itself effective: On the one hand, it has secured relative safety and quiet, while on the other, Israel hasn't been forced to confront major questions about annexation and could maintain its Jewish, democratic character. At the same time, Netanyahu funneled resources into confronting the threat from Iran and strengthening Israel's ties with Sunni Arab states.
US peace plan said to include $25 billion in West Bank and Gaza investments
The Trump administration’s much-touted peace plan may include investments of tens of billions of dollars to the Palestinians and other countries in the region, according to a report Wednesday.

The New York Times, citing unidentified analysts with knowledge of the matter, said the funds would include around $25 billion for the West Bank and Gaza and another $40 billion for Israeli neighbors including Egypt, Jordan and possibly Lebanon.

The paper noted that other sources who had spoken to US President Donald Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner said the figures were not necessarily accurate, but confirmed that the investments would be in the tens of billions.

While the US would contribute part of the funds in question, the report said Kushner planned for most of the contributions to come from the region’s countries.


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro schedules April visit to Israel
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has scheduled a trip to Israel from March 31 to April 4, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The trip will take place shortly before the general election on April 9 and will be Bolsonaro’s first visit to Israel as president.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Bolsonaro to come to Israel during a visit to Brazil at the end of December.

“We will be starting a difficult government from January, but Brazil has potential,” Bolsonaro said at the time. “So that we can overcome obstacles, we need good allies, good friends, good brothers, like Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The warm feelings between the two leaders contrasted with the previous 16 years of tension between the two countries under Brazil’s left-wing governments.

Netanyahu’s trip was the first-ever visit by an Israeli prime minister to Brazil.
Danon Anticipates Trump’s Pick for UN Ambassador
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon expressed enthusiasm for US President Donald Trump’s nominee to represent the United States at the United Nations, Kelly Knight Craft, who currently serves as US ambassador to Canada.

“With her previous experience as part of the US delegation to the 61st General Assembly, Craft is no stranger to the United Nations,” Danon told Jewish Insider.

Craft, who is from Kentucky and married to coal-mining executive Joe Craft, served as an alternate delegate to the United Nations under US President George W. Bush.

“I have no doubt she will continue the strong positions Ambassador Nikki Haley took and look forward to working with her to strengthen the US-Israel relationship,” he added.

Craft, who has close ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was nominated last week after Trump’s initial pick to represent America at the world body, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, withdrew from consideration after it was discovered that she previously employed an immigrant nanny who was legally in the United States, though unauthorized to work, reported Bloomberg.
Netanyahu to stand trial for bribery and breach of trust, pending hearing
In a decision that drastically shakes up Israeli politics less than six weeks before general elections, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be charged with criminal wrongdoing in three separate cases against him, including bribery in the far-reaching Bezeq corruption probe, pending a hearing.

The decision marks the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister has been told he faces criminal charges, and casts a heavy shadow over Netanyahu’s re-election campaign.

Netanyahu will be charged with fraud and breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000, unless he can persuade Mandelblit to reconsider in the course of the hearing process.

The attorney general detailed the allegations in a 57-page document that was released on Thursday evening.

Mandelblit, in his decision, wrote that according to suspicions the prime minister “damaged the image of the public service and public trust in it” and is suspected of abusing his position and status, and of “knowingly taking a bribe as a public servant in exchange for actions related to your position.”
Trump says Netanyahu, facing possible corruption charges, is ‘smart,’ ‘strong’
US President Donald Trump defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday as the premier reportedly awaited a decision on whether he will be indicted on corruption charges.

“I can say this, he’s done a great job as prime minister,” Trump said in Hanoi after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jing Un.

“He’s tough, smart, and strong. He’s very defensive, his military has been built up a lot,” Trump said.
JCPA: New Waqf Council Managing the Temple Mount
The latest confrontation over the Mercy Gate (Golden Gate, or in Hebrew, Shaar HaRachamim), which has been disputed in the past, reflects a new pact between the opponents of Trump’s “Deal of the Century” consisting of the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, and Jordan, which is concerned about its future status on the Temple Mount.

The focus of new tensions on the Temple Mount – the Mercy Gate or Golden Gate compound – has not been chosen by chance by the Waqf council (in its new, broader, extreme composition) as the arena for provocation against Israel at the holy site. The new members of the council, who identify with Fatah, Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Turkey, are very familiar with the previous rounds of the conflict over the Gate of Mercy.

They have specifically chosen it for several reasons:
  • They believe there is the potential for changing the unofficial status quo of the site that has existed there since 2003.
  • The area of the Gate of Mercy is on the Temple Mount route used by the Jews, and extremist Muslim elements are seeking to block them.
  • The present conflict is intended to give a clear message to anyone thinking of removing Jordan or the Palestinian Authority from their current or future position on the Temple Mount.
  • All of this is against the backdrop of Trump’s Deal of the Century (which is supposed to be made public after the elections in Israel in April 2019). The Jordanian-Palestinian concern is that the plan will weaken their position on the Temple Mount.
JCPA: Who Is Breaking the Status Quo on the Temple Mount?
The Gate of Mercy (Shaar Ha’Rachamim) compound is the fifth mosque that the Muslims have created on the Temple Mount. After 1967, there was only one functioning mosque there.

The Muslims are not satisfied with this, and they have been eroding the status quo over the past three decades in many ways. There is no basis for their constant protests against Israel for violating the status quo on the Temple Mount.

The Waqf and the Muslims are turning the tables and rewriting history, which they are well aware of, when they describe Israel’s attempt to close the Gate of Mercy as a breach of the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Israel closed the compound in 2005 because a Hamas-related organization was operating at the site. The closure of the compound in 2005 – first with a military order and then with a court order – was periodically extended until several months ago. However, current Muslim activities in the compound are not only an attempt to retake possession of the compound, which they held in the past (just as they held the entire Temple Mount), but they are also attempting to take a very significant step further – to establish at the compound a fifth mosque on the Temple Mount. This effort demonstrates a process that has been going on for over 30 years to increase the Muslim prayer areas on the Temple Mount and to erode the fragile status quo established at the holy sites.
IDF arrests 12 suspected terrorists, finds assault rifles
Two Carlo-type sub-machine guns and a truck were seized during overnight raids conducted by the IDF, Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency), Border Police and Israel Police in a special joint operation, the IDF Spokespersons Office announced.

Twelve wanted persons suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and violent disturbances against civilians and soldiers were taken into custody as well and questioned by authorities.

The illegal weapons were found in the Arab community of Asira ash-Shamaliya, located near ​​the IDF Shomron Regional Brigade base. The town is under the jurisdiction of the Nablus Governorate of the Palestinian Authority.

A second operation was conducted in Idhna, a PA city of 19,000 located near Hebron. IDF soldiers seized the vehicle belonging to an individual suspected of being involved in the transfer of tens of thousands of shekels used to fund terrorist activities. The operation was part on an ongoing campaign to crack down on terror funding.
PLO’s Erekat calls on Iran to act as a ‘responsible state’ (not satire)
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, urged Iran on Wednesday to conduct its affairs responsibly and indicated the Palestinians oppose its intervention in the Arab world.

While many Arab officials frequently comment on Tehran’s Middle East policies, the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership rarely does so.

“We ask Iran to act as a responsible state.” Erekat told Palestine TV, the official Palestinian Authority channel. “It is playing around one time in Bahrain and it is playing around another time in Yemen. It is also playing around in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and here in Gaza.”

Iran supports a number of terror groups including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. It also backs Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Popular Mobilization Units in Iraq and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

In December 2017, Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri praised Iran for its support for Palestinian terror groups.
Abbas Advisor Mohammed Ishtayeh Responds to MEMRI Analysis: We Challenge Hamas to Elections
In a February 25, 2019 interview on SophieCo on Russia Today TV, Mohammed Ishtayeh, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was asked about his opinion regarding a MEMRI analysis that said that Hamas and the PLO both claim that the other no longer represents the Palestinian people (see MEMRI TV Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1433). Ishtayeh answered that the testing field for this assumption is the opinion polls and ballot boxes and that the PLO challenges Hamas to accept the idea of elections in order to return democracy to the Palestinian political arena. Ishtayeh said that attempts to discredit the opposite parties only harm the Palestinian people because they will eventually cause the international community to reject both sides. He said that reconciliation is the solution to the problem, and added that Abbas and the PLO are internationally recognized as the legitimate representatives of the Palestinians even if there is a split in authority.


Why Egypt Works to Curb Hamas’ Influence in Gaza
Egypt’s relations with Hamas have always been turbulent. Hamas was formed in 1987 as a Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood; Egypt considers the Brotherhood a terrorist group. But Egypt shares a border with Gaza, which Hamas governs, and Egypt has often served as an intermediary between Israel and Hamas when fighting breaks out.

Egypt moved aggressively against hundreds of Hamas smuggling tunnels after the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government of Mohamed Morsi was ousted in 2013. It closed its Rafah border crossing into Gaza, except for humanitarian supplies, citing security threats. Israel has also closed its Gaza border in an attempt to stem the flow of weapons and terrorist supplies from reaching Hamas.

Egypt also revoked the Egyptian citizenship of some Hamas leaders, including co-founder Mahmoud Al Zahar.

Furthermore, Egypt is wary of Hamas’ close ties to Iran, which pours money and weapons into Gaza. Iran expects Hamas to use that support to attack Israel, while Egypt is hoping to keep the area quiet. Last month, Egypt reportedly made Hamas choose between Iran or Palestinian reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority (PA), which it is seeking in hopes of reopening borders.

Egypt and Iran have been feuding since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the implementation of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Iran has plotted against Egypt for decades.


Iraqi Politician Mithal Al-Alusi: We Need a U.S.-Led Coalition to Fight Iranian Expansion
Former Iraqi MP Mithal Al-Alusi, the leader of the Iraqi Ummah Party, said in a February 19, 2019 interview on ANB TV (Iraq) that Iraq would not be able to provide its people with food if Iran closed the Strait of Hormuz. He criticized Iran for igniting the region everywhere it goes. Al-Alusi said that Iraq and Iran are still in a state of war which Iran is taking advantage of. He explained that no Iraqi government has signed a peace treaty with Iran, and that the ties that some individuals in the Iraqi government have with Iran are dubious. Al-Alusi added that there should be a large international coalition led and sponsored by the United States in order to fend off Iranian expansion, and added that if there is ultimately a confrontation with Iran, Iraq should not fight on Iran's side.


MEMRI: Saudi Writer Lists Reasons For The Jews' Successful Integration In The West, Versus The Arabs' Backwardness
In his November 14, 2018 column in the Al-Riyadh daily, Saudi writer 'Abdallah Bin Bakhit wrote sarcastically that whoever wants to understand "the Jewish conspiracy against the world" must acknowledge the reasons for the Jews' success in the West and the reasons for the Arabs' backwardness there. The Jews, he wrote, managed to become integrated in the Western society and culture, and to achieve leading roles in it and make significant achievements, while the Arabs failed to do so. One of the reasons for the gap between the Jews and Arabs, he added, is that the Jews have few children and give them the best possible education; but the main reason is that the Jews, unlike the Arabs, adapt their lifestyle to Western norms and do not try to impose their religious values on their surroundings. That is why "we now see them standing at the pinnacles of science, culture, art, literature and politics," he concluded.

The following are excerpts from his article:

"The difference between the Jews and Arabs is large. One of the many [differences] concerns their affiliation with Western culture. The Jews are part of Western culture. Their harmonic [relations] with it are organic, and their contribution to it is endless. Looking at cinema, literature or drama, one encounters too many Jewish names to ignore. Looking at people in the media and press, one finds that the most famous and prominent names [belong to] Jews. Everyone is aware of their presence in finance and business – their traditional arena of activity – and everyone knows that they are dominant among the lecturers in universities and centers of research and learning. Take any respectable profession, and you will find that the proportion of Jews in it is conspicuously large.

"The Jewish conspiracy against the world begins at home. It begins with one small point we have completely neglected: a Jewish family never has more than one or two children. Then it devotes all its money and resources to ensuring that these two children receive the best modern education available. In terms of their numbers Jews are a minority, but in terms of achievements and involvement they are a majority. That is the essence of the Jewish conspiracy against the world, and whoever wants to confront this conspiracy, must [first of all] confront himself.

"Another [aspect of the] Jewish conspiracies against the world is that a Jew is a Jew at home, but an integrated Westerner in society. If the [Jewish] religion forbids certain practices or opposes them, observant Jews will avoid these practices, but they will certainly not fight them or try to impose their truth on others, or regard those who engage in these practices as enemies as long as they are not hurting [the Jews].
Saudi Arabia: We’d Take Syrian Refugees If We Had More Room (satire)
As the international community continues to decry about the lack of help from Arab-Muslim countries regarding Syrian refugees, the diminutive Saudi Kingdom announced today that it really wants to help its Syrian brothers and sisters but it’s unfortunately bursting at the seams.

Saudi Foreign Minister Abdul Jabbar commented; “We’re just full up right now. Imagine how you feel after Ramadan ends and you hit the buffet. Well like that. Look, go and ask Kuwait, they’ve got loads of space.”

The Mayor of Riyadh stated; “I know visitors to the Capital may be confused by what look like endless miles of empty desert, but they are mistaken. All the available land is already accounted for with our pressing need for more palaces, dune buggy racing tracks, and traditional prostitute burying grounds. That last one? Did I say ‘prostitute’, I meant ‘falcon.’”

A spokesman for the Qatari government said; “Look, we don’t want to seem like dicks but those Syrians really are the wrong kind of Muslims.”



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