Friday, April 05, 2019

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: From the Golan to Brexit, 'compromise' is a fig-leaf for surrender
It is particularly stomach-churning for the British to lecture Israel with false allegations about breaking international law given Britain’s appalling history of doing precisely that in pre-Israel Palestine. Moreover, the parallels between what it did then and what’s happening in Britain now are striking.

In both cases, British politicians betrayed their most solemn promises. In Palestine, the British broke their promise to facilitate Jewish immigration; over Brexit, MPs are intent on breaking their election promises to honor the referendum result.

In Palestine, the British tore up international law by rewriting the Mandate to carve out from the homeland promised to the Jews territory they then offered to the Arabs bent on blocking that Jewish homeland. And currently, MPs are trying to block Brexit by tearing up parliamentary rules and the constitutional balance between government and back-benchers.

Both these British betrayals have entailed pernicious consequences. Rewarding the Arab aggressors incentivized the war against the Jewish homeland, which continues against Israel to this day.

And if Brexit is stopped, the political cataclysm that will probably ensue makes it more likely that a Corbyn-led government will come to power.

The prospect of the Marxist, terrorist-supporting, antisemitism-facilitating Corbyn becoming prime minister should terrify anyone who cares about Western security, freedom and the rule of law.

Which leads to a further reflection. Many have pointed out that, throughout history, all who have tried to destroy the Jewish people have not only failed but ended up being destroyed themselves.

Perfidious Albion betrayed the Jewish people when it closed the doors of Palestine to European Jews attempting to flee Nazi Europe. It thus connived at the slaughter of the Holocaust.

The Jewish people not only survived, but out of the ashes of that catastrophe have created a vigorous, flourishing and optimistic country. Now Britain may be in the process of destroying itself. Go figure.
The Importance of the Golan Heights
Ever since the inconclusive end to the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, analysts have predicted another round was bound to happen sooner than later. Iran is now able to extend the Lebanese front against Israel to Syria. For Iranian leaders—pledged to eventually wiping Israel off the map—their expanded ring around northern Israel and the Golan provides an expanded opportunity to strike at Israel should the Jewish state act against their nuclear program. Had Israel given up the Golan Heights in previous negotiations, Iran would also be poised on the strategic high ground, putting Israel at an even greater disadvantage.

Russia sees value in the Golan Heights for quite a different reason from Iran. They are anxious to cash in on international reconstruction funds meant to rebuild Syria. The problem is that the United States won't allow funding to flow through Assad. Putin is also interested in increasing his Middle East portfolio and standing. He likely sees the possibility of hosting a peace conference with Israel and Syria as a panacea. The process itself would legitimize Assad's rule in the eyes of the international community, open up the spigots for international funding, and increase Russia's regional role. More recently, Putin indicated he would like to play host to Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Israel, however, already reached several agreements regarding how far Russia would keep Iranian or Iran-backed forces from Israel but has proven incapable of enforcing them. Until Iran is removed from Syria, or until a prohibitive cost is imposed on Israel, Jerusalem is likely to keep treating Syria as an extension of Iranian territory, which means one can expect Israel to continue to strike at Iranian logistical lines, weapons transfers, and at any high-ranking member of the IRGC, Quds Force, or Hezbollah who feels lucky enough to poke his head up.

Leading Republican senators will try to pass a resolution in support of the Trump administration's recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. This effort is currently being led by Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.). The president, however, has the right to proclaim the territory as Israeli on behalf of America. But as seen with President Trump's decision to undo the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran, what is given by one American president can be taken away by another.
Giulio Meotti: The Palestinian Arabs, the West's useful idiots
We are used to calling the Palestinian Arabs' Western supporters “useful idiots”, those voluntarily embarked in the sea of pro-Palestinian propaganda. We might do well to rethink the roles. It may be possible that the Palestinian Arabs are the West's useful idiots in its war against Israel.

The Palestinian Arabs are used only when Israel can fit the role of the “oppressor” and the “occupier”. The same screaming headlines didn't appear when in Gaza, for a couple of weeks, the population protested against Hamas in the biggest demonstrations in its twelve years of Islamic dictatorship, with thousands of Palestinian Arabs taking to the streets to protest against living conditions.

Hamas arrested dozens of protesters, beat activists and violently repressed local media covering the riots. The marches on the border with Israel were so “spontaneous”", as the media around the world have defined them, that during the rallies inside Gaza the border was deserted.

Hamas was busy repressing its own population. A symbol of protest was a woman, shot in a video that has become viral: “The children of Hamas' leaders have houses and jeeps and cars, they can get married, while ordinary people have nothing, not even a piece of bread," she said, with a fearlessness born of desperation.



Honest Reporting: Vice News Reporter’s False Claim: “270 Children Killed in Gaza”
A Vice News report aired on television by HBO has spread a clearly false claim smearing the IDF and the State of Israel.

During the report, a local Gaza-based activist is asked why he is protesting. The activist, Louai al-Jammal, says that he wants “to break the siege the Gaza Strip is suffering from”, before adding “we appeal to Allah, what we have done wasn’t in vain. The people are still suffering.”

So far, so standard. A local is giving his view, and while many people may not agree with it, it’s acceptable news footage.

Less acceptable, though, is what follows. At this point, reporter Hind Hassan interjects, and says that:

But 250 children died during the protests, right?”

The interview, led by his interviewer, agrees with the figure provided by Hassan. One person in the background corrects them and says “270”.

Neither figure is even remotely accurate.


Woefully Inaccurate Reporting

Even according to Palestinian sources, such as Ma’an News, 52 minors were killed during the violence on the Israel-Gaza border over the last year of protests. The same number is cited by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour makes a big Israel geography mistake
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour identified Haifa, a city in northern Israel, as being located in the West Bank.

The network’s chief international anchor made the gaffe on Wednesday during her global affairs interview program on CNN while introducing Palestinian human rights lawyer Diana Buttu. Buttu was to respond to an interview with Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, who discussed the Trump administration’s as yet unveiled Middle East peace plan.

“Diana Buttu is a human rights lawyer and she joins me from Haifa, on the West Bank,” Amanpour said.

In a segment of the interview posted on the CNN website, the introduction is left off.

The clip of the introduction was tweeted by Hillel Neuer, executive director of the NGO UN Watch. He said in his tweet that “Haifa is not ‘on the West Bank.’ It’s in Israel. Where Jews & Arabs live together in harmony.”

Tom Gross: Could Donald Trump unexpectedly triumph in his bid for peace in the Middle East?
For two years, White House officials have spoken of crafting a proposal to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict; the Trump administration reportedly will release the details shortly after the April 9 Israeli election. Tom Gross notes several reasons why this plan might succeed where so many others have failed:

[T]he Arab states have changed. Utterly tired of Palestinian intransigence and refusal even to negotiate publicly for a decade now—and far more concerned about the increasing Iranian threat across the region—they are favorably disposed to Israel as never before. They also know that their economies can benefit greatly from Israeli expertise. . . .

In the past, when Palestinian leaders turned down offers of independent statehood without even agreeing to further discussions (offers of a kind that Chechens, Kurds, Baluchis, Tibetans, and dozens of other stateless people would have jumped at), far from being pressured or ostracized, the Palestinian leadership was given even more money and more red-carpet treatment by Western countries. Casting themselves as perpetual victims paid off. No longer. Trump has already shown, through his decision to move the American embassy to western Jerusalem, recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, and cut funding to the Palestinians, that there will be a price to pay for such intransigence. . . .

Palestinians will learn that there will be massive financial investment if they accept. Incentives were offered in the past too, but the Palestinian public was never properly informed. Today, because of very high Internet usage, it will be hard for Palestinian leaders to hide from their people what is at stake.
Trump's peace plan: Grant Jordanian citizenship to a million Palestinian refugees - report
President Donald Trump will push for Jordan to grant citizenship to one million Palestinian refugees as part of his "Deal of the Century," according to the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar.

Trump will also ask Egypt to grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees. Granting Palestinians refugees citizenship status from other countries may be a way for Trump to avoid establishing a Palestinian state. The report hints that a confederation of three states may be an option, where there would be a joint government between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority for specific and limited purposes.

According to the report, Jordanian King Abdullah II expressed opposition to the establishment of a joint confederation and told Egyptian leaders that he prefers Jordan to remain in charge of the holy sites in Jerusalem "without interfering in the details between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

If the Al Akhbar report is correct, Jordan and Egypt will receive USD $110 billion in economic aid, according to the report. It is not yet clear where this reported aid will come from. Jordan would receive USD $45 billion, and the remainder would go to Egypt. For both of the countries part of the money will be used for implementing projects on the ground.

The absorption would happen in stages, where the largest number of refugees that Jordan would have to take in at one time would be 300,000. Palestinians from Gaza who are currently in Jordan would be included in this deal.

Part of the deal would also include giving Jordanian land, Naharayim and Tzofar, to Israel. These enclaves are currently leased to Israel, but officially Jordanian land. In return, Jordan would receive land from Saudi Arabia, the report claimed.
Putin's Displays of Good Will Are Welcome after Decades of Soviet Hostility
On a tactical level, Putin wants to prevent Israel from interfering with his effort to stabilize the Assad regime in Syria. This is largely a matter of coordination and communication between the IDF and the Russian military. Israel has also accepted the fact that Russia will have naval bases on the Syrian coast of the Mediterranean.

Putin, of course, is a strategic thinker. An announcement of Trump's much touted “Deal of the Century” for the Middle East is expected soon. My guess is that the Russian leader would like to be a part of that negotiation. If the Palestinians turn down the Trump Plan, as they are threatening to do, the U.S. and Russia could use the occasion to establish a new regional order, based on superpower spheres of interest.

This kind of diplomacy requires a broker, someone who has experience with the issues at hand, strong motivation to close the deal and the trust of both parties. Bibi will take his brokerage fee in West Bank real estate.

You never know where detente might lead. At the top of Putin’s wish list is U.S. recognition of the Russian annexation of Crimea. This suddenly seems more realistic, now that the U.S. has established the precedent of unilateral recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights. Naturally, such a move in Crimea would incur the wrath of the EU, but the current American administration seems indifferent to European outrage. Obviously, the U.S. would expect something in return. If Trump has nothing in mind right now, Pompeo and Bolton will think of something.

Bibi could broker that deal, too. But first, he has to get himself re-elected. His next campaign stop will be the long overdue funeral of Zackery Baumel, in Jerusalem. The ceremony will, of course, be televised.
How Putin Plays Israel and Iran Against Each Other in Syria
Russia leads a pro-Assad military coalition in Syria, of which Iranian forces are a central part. Yet it also maintains a deconfliction channel with Israel to avoid unintended clashes between its air force and the Israeli Air Force, both of which are active in the Syrian arena.

Putin has also attempted to play the role of mediator between Israel and Iran, seeking to douse the shadow war raging between them on Syrian soil. Israel, for its part, is determined to disrupt Iran’s plan to turn Syria into a war front against it.

Netanyahu will fly to Moscow on Thursday for a meeting with Putin, just five days before Israel’s April 9 elections. On April 1, Netanyahu and Putin held a phone conversation to talk about “military cooperation issues,” according to the Kremlin, as well as “pressing bilateral issues,” and “the situation in the Middle East region.”

On February 27, the two leaders met in Moscow to discuss Syria. Netanyahu said that the two sides reached an agreement on how to coordinate between their militaries. They also apparently agreed on a goal of getting “foreign troops” to leave Syria, according to Netanyahu.

While Russia will not be able to satisfy everyone, it does understand that it will need to leave each side with “half of its desires,” Professor Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, said.

To achieve this, Moscow will get every actor to spell out “what is really important to it, and here, Israel has an opportunity to define the range and perimeter of Iran’s actions in Syria,” he added. “In general, this is a new situation that the region is not used to. The Russians are managing this game with many bargaining chips, and Israel will have to adapt itself to the new rules of the game.”
McCarthy: ‘Sad Day’ When Dems Reject Israel Amendment to Yemen Bill
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) ripped into Democrats on Thursday for rejecting a pro-Israel amendment to a resolution on the war in Yemen.

McCarthy and House Republicans, who lost the body's majority in 2018, called for the addition of pro-Israel language to H.J. Resolution 37. Both the House and Senate passed the original resolution without the language.

According to McCarthy, the question was whether to introduce language to "amend the bill and add language that it is in the national security interest of the United States to condemn and oppose the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) targeting Israel and all efforts to delegitimize Israel."

Late Thursday morning, the House of Representative voted 228-194 against the motion to commit with instructions, which would have added the language to the bill and required a new vote. One member voted present, and eight did not vote.

Speaking with reporters, McCarthy said it was a "sad day" when so many Democrats would oppose the measure.

"Today is a sad day," he said. "Today is a day that should not happen in this House. It should not happen in America. And I never thought, regardless of what disagreements I've had with the other side of the aisle, that they would come to this conclusion. That they would step to this moment."
Diplomats at the U.N. commit antisemitic acts
Global antisemitism can best be observed at the General Assembly of the United Nations. Senior diplomats of many democracies participate actively in these major annual antisemitic activities.

The widely accepted definition of antisemitism agreed upon by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) states that an antisemitic manifestation, “…might include the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

Despite its genocidal past against Jews in their “grandfather’s generation,” contemporary Germany participates wholeheartedly in these antisemitic manifestations at the UN. This issue came to the fore in March. Germany’s largest daily, Bild, published that in recent years the General Assembly accepted more than 500 resolutions against Israel and not a single one against the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Bild gave some examples for the period 2014-2017. In 2014, of all resolutions directed against a specific country, 87% were against Israel. In 2016, the number was 77%; in 2017, 78%. In the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), more than half of the resolutions were against Israel. The newspaper pointed out that Germany regularly sides with Israel’s enemies. Last November, of 21 General Assembly resolutions against Israel, 16 were supported by Germany and it abstained on four.

There are no similar resolutions anywhere near these numbers against any other country at the GA. This means that the anti-Israeli votes of Germany and other countries supporting the condemnations of Israel are manifestations of antisemitism.
US revokes ICC prosecutor’s visa over possible Afghanistan probe
The United States has revoked the visa for the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, her office said Friday, over a possible investigation of American soldiers’ actions in Afghanistan.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda would continue to pursue her duties for the Hague-based court “without fear or favor” despite the ban, her office said in a statement.

The move against Bensouda, a Gambian national, comes weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced restrictions on ICC staff who probe US or allied personnel.

“What we can confirm is that the US authorities have revoked the prosecutor’s visa for entry into the US,” the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC said in a statement.

Bensouda’s office said that under the Rome statute governing the ICC — which Washington has declined to join since it was set up in 2002 — she had an “independent and impartial mandate.”

“The prosecutor and her office will continue to undertake that statutory duty with utmost commitment and professionalism, without fear or favor,” it added.
Anti-Israel protester attempts to firebomb synagogue in Turkey
A man threw a firebomb at the Beth Israel Synagogue in Izmir, Turkey.

The attacker’s Molotov cocktail, thrown on March 28, fell to the sidewalk and did not damage the synagogue. The incident was first reported on Tuesday by the Turkish-language Salom Jewish news website.

The unidentified attacker reportedly told police that he attacked the synagogue in order to protest Israel.

Mustafa Yeneroğlu, the Istanbul lawmaker for the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, condemned the attack on social media, saying, “There is no difference between attacks targeting synagogues, churches and mosques; they all target social peace with their hate,”according to Salom.

In a statement, the Turkish-Jewish community praised the Izmir Security Directorate for its quick action in catching the attacker and condemned “this heinous attack threatening our lives, peace and unity.”
On Second Anniversary of Sarah Halimi’s Murder, French Jewish Leader Calls for Killer to Face Trial for Antisemitic Crime
Two years after the antisemitic murder of the French Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi in her Paris apartment, the head of the French Jewish community has issued an angry condemnation of the latest obstacle in the quest to bring her killer to trial.

“We do not understand these delays in presenting this killer as a lunatic, when he is a terrorist whose alleged insanity cannot conceal [his] hateful antisemitism,” Francis Kalifat — president of the French Jewish communal organization CRIF — declared in a statement released on Thursday to mark the second anniversary of Halimi’s brutal death.

Halimi was subjected to a frenzied beating and then hurled from a third floor window in the early hours of Apr. 4, 2017, by an intruder, 27-year-old Kobili Traore, who lived in the same public housing project in eastern Paris as the 66-year-old widow.

Terrified neighbors who alerted police after hearing her cries for help reported that Traore had shouted the words “Allahu Akhbar” and “Shaitan” (Arabic for “Satan”) during Halimi’s ordeal. Police investigations later revealed that Halimi had told relatives that she was scared of Traore, who insulted her visiting daughter as a “dirty Jewess” a few weeks before the murder.
South Africa downgrade embassy in Israel to liaison office
South Africa has finished the first stage in the downgrade of its ties with Israel, the country’s Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said this week.

“We are in the process of following the downgrade resolution of the ruling party and stage one has been completed,” Sisulu said on Wednesday at a speech she delivered to the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Last year, South Africa recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv to protest Israel's response to the Palestinian protestors along the Gaza border who were participating in the Hamas-led Great March of Return.

Sisulu later said that he would not be returning to Israel. But on Wednesday she clarified that he would not be replaced and that the status of the embassy had been changed.

“Our Ambassador is back in South Africa and we will not be replacing him. Our liaison office in Tel Aviv will have no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities.
After 37 years, Baumel buried in funeral touching ‘deepest part of our identity’
Sgt. First Class Zachary Baumel was laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery on Thursday evening, nearly 37 years after his death in the First Lebanon War’s battle of Sultan Yacoub in 1982, at the age of 21.

Thousands turned out for the ceremony, where Baumel — whose remains were returned to Israel days ago after a complex IDF intelligence operation and with central Russian assistance — was eulogized by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among others.

Also attending were Baumel’s family, friends, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Culture Minister Miri Regev and top officials from the IDF’s armored corps, Baumel’s unit.

“Zachary, after 37 years, a few days before the battle where you fell, you wrote to your parents, ‘Don’t worry, everything’s alright, but it looks like I won’t be home soon,'” Rivlin said in his eulogy. “Thirty-seven years have elapsed, but today you returned home. You returned to our homeland, to Jerusalem.”
Honest Reporting: As an MIA is Laid to Rest, Who Are Israel’s Missing Soldiers?
Falling in the line of the duty, being captured, or simply disappearing are known hazards of military life. While governments have a duty to bring back those missing in action, the state’s responsibility to “bring them back” is magnified when military service is mandatory. And that’s without getting into the Jewish ethos of redeeming captives.

So who are the other missing soldiers whose families have not had closure for years, or in several cases, decades?
The missing soldiers

Missing in action (MIA) refers to soldiers who are unaccounted for, and the army doesn’t know their fate. The Hebrew word for MIA is ne’edar, which literally translates as “absent” or “unaccounted for.”

Tzvi Feldman
Rank: Sgt. 1st class
Born: December 29, 1956 in Tel Aviv
Disappeared: June 12, 1982

Feldman was the oldest of the Sultan Yacoub MIAs. He had completing his regular army service and worked as a nature guide for high school groups. Feldman and his girlfriend were considering marriage when the war in Lebanon broke out.

Yehuda Katz
Rank: Sgt. 1st class
Born: July 18, 1959 in Ramat Gan
Disappeared: June 12, 1982

The son of Holocaust survivors, Katz, like Baumel, served in the Hesder program, studying at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, near Ashdod. Katz went into battle at Sultan Yacoub only ten days before he was due to be discharged from service.
Zachary Baumel won’t be the last missing IDF soldier to be found
With the repatriation and burial of Sgt. First Class Zachary Baumel’s remains this week after nearly four decades, the number of fallen Israeli soldiers whose burial place is unknown stands at 175.

That number will go down.

Besides Baumel, in the past year alone the military has found the remains of two other once-missing Israeli soldiers: Pvt. Livka Shefer, who had been missing since 1948, and Lt. Yakir Naveh, a pilot whose plane crashed into the Sea of Galilee in 1962.

In the past decade, 24 other soldiers whose burial places were unknown have been found, identified and given a Jewish burial.

Though the conspicuous timing of the return of Baumel’s remains to Israel — days before a heated national election — raised allegations that the event had been manipulated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for political purposes, a claim both the premier and the military reject, the decision to search for his remains in the first place cannot seriously be credited to petty electoral concerns but rather stems from a fundamental aspect of the IDF ethos.
IDF rebuffs Gantz’s claim Baumel announcement was timed to serve PM
The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday rejected a claim that the publication of an operation that saw a soldier’s remains returned to Israel after a nearly four-decade search was designed to bolster Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political prospects, ahead of next week’s election.

The army was responding to allegations by prime ministerial candidate Benny Gantz, who earlier in the day accused Netanyahu of timing the dramatic announcement on Wednesday about IDF soldier Sgt. First Class Zachary Baumel to serve his political needs.

After a complex and secret operation, Baumel’s remains were returned to Israel on an El Al plane via Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said his country’s military, with Syrian assistance, retrieved the remains of the Israeli tank commander.

The IDF “rejects outright the claims about timing: This is a find after a two-year operation,” said IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis, without naming Gantz. “There was cooperation here that defies all imagination and the decision was substantive. Any other claim is baseless.”
Final polls: Right-Religious bloc 66, Left-Arab bloc 54
A pair of new polls Friday show the right-wing – religious bloc maintaining a wide lead over the left-wing - Arab bloc ahead of next Tuesday’s general election, even as the center-left Blue and White party continues to lead the Likud party.

With a ban on the publication of new polls slated to go into effect on Saturday, one of the final polls in the election cycle was released Friday by 103FM Radio, showing the combined right-wing – religious bloc with a total of 66 seats out of 120 if new elections were held today, compared to 54 for the left-wing – Arab bloc.

The poll, which was conducted by Maagar Mohot, shows the center-left Blue and White party of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid leading the Likud by three mandates, 31 to 28.

In a distant third place is the Labor party with nine seats, following by four factions each receiving seven seats: the Union of Right-Wing Parties, the United Torah Judaism party, the far-left Meretz, and the Hadash-Ta’al joint Arab list.

Four more factions received six seats apiece: the libertarian-leaning Zehut party of Moshe Feiglin, the haredi Shas party, the New Right, and Kulanu.

The United Arab List-Balad ticket, Yisrael Beytenu, and Gesher all failed to cross the threshold in the poll.
Arabs urged to boycott 'Zionist' election over nation-state law
Some of Israel’s young Arab citizens, dismayed at the controversial nation-state law, are calling for a boycott of Tuesday’s Knesset election.

The pro-boycott activists, many of whom identify as Palestinian, have tried in the past to persuade others among Israel’s Arab minority not to vote.

But this time, they say, they are tapping into anger over the 2018 law, which declares only Jews have a right to self-determination in Israel.

Leaders of Israel’s main Arab parties are pushing for their voters to turn out, fearing a boycott would weaken the 21% Arab minority’s representation in the Knesset, and boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election chances.

Ignoring the party leaders, dozens of activists from the “Popular Campaign to Boycott the Zionist Knesset Elections” have been handing out leaflets in Haifa, which has a mixed Jewish and Arab population, as well as in smaller Arab towns and villages.

“This is an attempt to boycott the body that actively tries to erase our Palestinian identity,” said Joul Elias, a student from Haifa who turned up to distribute flyers in Wadi Nisnas, a mostly Arab neighborhood in the city.
Haniyeh: Israeli vote an internal ‘Zionist affair,’ won’t impact Palestinians
The leader of the Hamas terror group said Friday the outcome of the Israeli election won’t impact Palestinians.

Ismail Haniyeh said Israel’s April 9 vote was an internal “Zionist affair.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is locked in a heated race for re-election against a party of former army chiefs, which has criticized him for his failure to deter Gaza rockets. Otherwise, Israel’s long-running conflict with the Palestinians has been strikingly absent from political debate.

Haniyeh added that differences between Israeli political parties are “very marginal” when it comes to policy toward Palestinians.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar: The suffering of Gaza's population
The Gaza Strip's borders have been under an Israeli-imposed siege ever since Hamas – a terror organization by any definition of the term – overran Gaza and turned it into a terror state, hostile both to Israel and its southern neighbor, Egypt and also to the close to two million residents of the Strip itself.

Much has been written about the terror Hamas aims at Israel by means of the rockets, explosive balloons and incendiary kites that have turned life in the Israeli communities in close proximity to Gaza, known as 'The Gaza Envelope," into hell on earth. It is important to realize that despite all the terror Hamas exports to Israel, the Jewish state continues to supply Gaza's population with food, drinking water, fuel, electricity, medicines, and more.

Much has also been written about the terror operations carried out by Hamas and the terrorist organizations under its wing in Egypt, including hundreds of tunnels used to export terror to Egypt and help to terrorist organizations in the Sinai and within Egypt. These include the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and the remnants of ISIS, fleeing terrorists who took shelter among Sinai-based tribes.

For years, Egypt has accused Hamas of fanning the flames of terror in the Sinai and Egypt and this is the main reason for the fact that the Rafah crossing – the only legal way to go from Gaza to Egypt – is closed for most of the year. Egypt, in fact, has imposed a much more severe siege on Gaza than has Israel, since Egypt does not supply the Gazans with anything, but little has been written about that.

Similarly, very little has been written about the terror Hamas inflicts on the residents of Gaza. A reign of terror began in June 2007 when the Hamas movement seized control of the Strip and attacked the Palestinian Authority security forces with extreme brutality: Scores of PA police died when a tunnel dug by Hamas under one of the PA security installations was booby trapped and set off, others were shot down in front of their families, and some were thrown from the roofs of the residential buildings they escaped to for fear of Hamas only to be hurled to their deaths on the asphalt.
Friday’s Gaza protests to be nonviolent amid emerging truce, organizers say
Palestinian organizers of the ongoing protests along the Gaza border have said the armed factions in the enclave have called for Friday’s demonstrations to be nonviolent, as part of an emerging ceasefire deal with Israel, according to a Thursday report.

A top March of Return organizer told the Kan public broadcaster that protesters have been instructed not to launch incendiary balloons toward Israel during the rallies, and that the nighttime “confusion units” have been called off.

He said the Egyptian-mediated talks between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers are progressing, and that a ceasefire agreement is being negotiated between the sides.

According to the organizer, who was not identified, Gaza factions have committed to a nonviolent protest, and Israel has agreed not to use live fire to disperse the border demonstrations.
Lebanon Announces New Blocks for Offshore Energy Work in Waters Also Claimed by Israel
Lebanon announced on Friday five offshore blocks to be included in its coming bidding round for energy exploration and production licenses, including four along disputed maritime borders.

Offshore energy development has been a central ambition for successive governments in cash-strapped Lebanon, but political paralysis has caused years of delays.

Blocks 8 and 10 both include waters also claimed by Israel, while blocks 1 and 2 include waters claimed by Syria. One of the two blocks for which licenses were awarded last year, block 9, is also on the disputed maritime border with Israel.

Energy Minister Nada Boustani announced details in a televised news conference of the upcoming licensing round, which she said on Thursday had been approved by the cabinet and would have a bid deadline in early 2020.

A consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek won the first licensing round last year for blocks 4 and 9 and plans to drill its first exploration wells by the end of this year. It has said it will avoid disputed waters.
MEMRI: Egyptian-American Analyst Magdi Khalil: Second Wave Of Arab Spring Inevitable
Egyptian-American political analyst Magdi Khalil said in a video that was uploaded to the Internet on March 13, 2019 that the Arab people are still angry and that tremendous effort is being exerted to oppress them and prevent another wave of the Arab Spring. Khalil said, however, that another wave of the Arab Spring is inevitable, whether it happens tomorrow or in 20 years. Khalil explained that Islam, in addition to Arabic and Bedouin culture, is a significant factor in the Middle East that might delay the second wave of the Arab Spring because it is incompatible and runs contrary to democracy, liberty, human dignity, human rights, and religious freedom.

"The Arab Spring Will Definitely Repeat Itself"
Magdi Khalil: "We can say that what is happening in the Middle East today is that the Arab peoples are angry, that there is suppressed anger boiling beneath the surface, and that enormous and tremendous effort is being exerted to oppress the people and prevent another wave of the Arab Spring from taking place. However, the Arab Spring will definitely repeat itself. Will it happen tomorrow? Or the day after tomorrow? A year from now? In two years? In 10 years? In 20 years? [Such periods of time] are insignificant in the history of a nation.

"The same thing happened in the 'European Spring.' It took decades for the 'European Spring' to become a true democratic reality, and until there were real changes and real liberties."

"The Islamic, Arabic, And Bedouin Culture, Which Runs Counter To Liberties, Human Dignity, Democracy, Human Rights, And Religious Freedom"

"However, there are two significant factors in the Middle East: the deep roots of autocracy and Islam. Islam is not compatible with democracy and liberties. These are the two factors. The first of the two factors – autocracy – existed also in Europe. The second factor was not present in Europe – the Islamic, Arabic, and Bedouin culture, which runs counter to liberties, human dignity, democracy, human rights, and religious freedom. This is the factor that might delay the second wave of the Arab Spring for some time."
Israel's War between the Wars
On Sep. 7, 2017, Israeli jets hit a "scientific research center" (in reality, an Iranian weapons facility) in Masyaf in northwest Syria. And so began the next phase of Israel's "campaign between the wars." Since then, Israel has continued to quietly but decisively counter Iran's entrenchment in Syria.

Under the leadership of Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of its Quds Force, Iran's aim has been to equip proxies based on Israel's northern border in Syria and Lebanon, and perhaps in Gaza as well, with advanced missiles. These missiles could serve to deter attacks on Iranian nuclear sites, while a nuclear weapon would eventually give its conventional forces on Israel's borders the ability to act with impunity.

Iran has sought to establish airfields and naval bases in Syria, built several precision missile plants, and imported Shia militias from other countries into Syria so that it can continue operations even after withdrawing most of its own troops. It also continues to establish a Syrian Hizbullah.

With Syrian rebel forces all but vanquished, the Iran-led axis will likely have a greater appetite for escalation against Israel. It is feasible that Iranian and Hizbullah forces will seek to strike Israel from Syrian territory, eliciting a powerful Israeli response that could lead to a spiraling series of reprisals on both sides.

Jerusalem clearly cannot depend on Moscow to achieve or guarantee its goal of security on the northern border. A Feb. 2019 strike at Quneitra - just 500 feet from the 1974 ceasefire line between Syria and Israel, killing both Iranian and Hizbullah operatives - shows that Russia's promise to distance hostile forces from Israel's border remains unfulfilled.

Of the many threats facing Israel, Iran's effort to build major military capabilities in Syria and Lebanon ranks highest in both immediacy and magnitude. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has made it abundantly clear that his ultimate goal is not to deter Israel but to destroy it, and his proxy forces and advanced missiles in Syria are on the front lines of those efforts.
Iran Is at War With America
For eight years the Obama administration sought détente with Iran. American officials allowed the regime to ravage Syria and even cried in front of top Iranian diplomats in hopes of reaching a breakthrough. Eventually both sides struck the Iran nuclear deal, Barack Obama's crowning international achievement, which paved the way for the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons in about 10 years, maybe 15. But, hey, by that point, according to the administration's thinking, the regime will have transformed into a more benign government under the leadership of so-called "moderates"—a realist policy in pursuit of idealistic goals.

President Trump quashed that vision when he entered the White House, withdrawing from the deal and re-implementing sanctions on Iran. Yet many important people in Washington, D.C., even within the Trump administration, still want a form of détente. Or they are at least too fearful of angering Tehran to confront the Iranians, so they prefer engagement at all costs. Most Democrats and much of the media share Obama's position, as do isolationist-leaning conservatives and libertarians, who similarly scoff at notions of countering Iranian expansion. And the Pentagon seems to believe that Iran is a behemoth too powerful and dangerous to provoke, no matter what. The same goes for the State Department's bureaucracy.

All of these voices, appeasing the regime, miss an important truth: the Islamic Republic sees itself at war with the United States. The mullahs struck first in 1979, supporting Iranian students who took American diplomats hostage for more than a year. Then came October 1983, when the Iranian government directed and provided the training for a truck bombing at the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, resulting in the deaths of 241 Americans, including 220 Marines. The list of terrorist attacks goes on, as do the Iranian leadership's chants of "death to America," the "great Satan."
UN agency said to visit warehouse where PM says Iran stored nuclear material
Inspectors from the UN’s nuclear agency have visited a facility in Tehran that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was an undeclared site used by Iran to house nuclear material, according to a Reuters report on Thursday.

Speaking at the United Nations in September, Netanyahu called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the “secret atomic warehouse” in the Iranian capital, which he said may be storing some 300 tons of nuclear-related equipment and material.

The speech came months after Israel’s disclosure that it had spirited away what it said was a “half-ton” of Iranian nuclear documents from Tehran, with Netanyahu saying both the archive and the warehouse were proof that Iran continues to seek atomic weapons despite the 2015 international agreement to limit its nuclear program.

Following Netanyahu’s appearance, IAEA head Yukiya Amano said nuclear inspectors had visited “all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit,” while pushing back on the prime minister’s assertion that the organization had failed to act on intelligence provided by Israel on the warehouse.
Is IAEA Visit to Iranian Nuclear Storage Warehouse Too Late?
Months after Israeli PRime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed alleged documents belonging to Iran's nuclear program, the IAEA went to check on the warehouse. Was it too late though? Emily Landau analyzes. Story: Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN agency responsible for monitoring nuclear activities, have visited a secret nuclear site in Iran's capital Tehran multiple times over the last few months, Reuters reports. The site was revealed to the world in a theatrical performance by Israeli PM Netanyahu on September 27th, 2018 during the UN General Assembly. At the time, Netanyahu called on the IAEA to visit the warehouse immediately, alleging that it had been used to store radioactive material. This was part of the Israeli PM's strategy to show that Tehran was still pursuing nuclear armament, despite the 2015 nuclear agreement.


Can Saudis Be Trusted with Nuclear Reactor?
Saudi Arabia is reportedly finishing building a nuclear reactor, but is refusing to sign a treaty that would allow the IAEA to inspect. Can they be trusted with such technology? Middlebury director Institute Chen Kane analyzes. Story: Satellite imagery revealed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is nearly finished constructing its first nuclear reactor, much to the alarm of arms control experts, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The report notes that the images, captured by Google Earth from April 2017 to now, are the first public documentation of the facility's progression. The images show an empty patch of land transformed into a columnar structure, meant to hold atomic fuel. However, those who sell atomic fuel have reportedly been reluctant thus far to supply the new facility, at least until official surveillance rules are agreed upon by the Kingdom and the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Arms control experts have expressed alarm over the Kingdom's abstention from established guidelines followed by the world's nuclear powers.




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