Friday, May 08, 2020

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The 'legal' landmine on the road to sovereignty
There is a landmine on the road to Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. It must be defused before it blows up Israel's efforts to secure its national interests and takes President Donald Trump's peace plan, and US-Israel relations along with it.

The landmine is not an actual explosive charge but the clique of unelected lawyers at the top of Israel's legal system. Members of the clique have arrogated the power of the government to themselves to advance their radical, legally unsupported political views about Judea and Samaria.

Since 1967, the State of Israel has carefully left its position on the legal status of Judea and Samaria ambiguous to avoid unnecessary confrontations. At the same time, Israel has assiduously refused to make any concessions about its actual sovereign rights to the areas.

Since 1967, Israel has administered the areas through a military government and even agreed to do so in accordance with the prescriptions of the Geneva Accords and Hague Convention. However, as the Military Advocate General during the 1967 Six-Day War, and later Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar said at the time and throughout the intervening years, Israel has acted out of goodwill, not legal compulsion.

In other words, the State of Israel's longstanding position is that its control of Judea and Samaria does not fit the international legal definition of "belligerent occupation." Israel is not the "occupier" of the areas. Various Israeli jurists have presented various factual legal arguments over the years to back this position. Among them is the doctrine of "uti possidetis juri" which makes clear that as the heir to the British Mandate, Israel inherited the borders of the League of Nations Mandate, which included Judea and Samaria.

Israeli jurists have also explained that since the Jordanian occupation of the areas from 1949-1967 was illegal, Israel's assertion of control over the areas in 1967 was not a belligerent occupation.

Then too, since the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan ended the state of belligerence between them, there is no state of belligerence in Judea and Samaria, which Jordan illegally took control over during its illegal war of aggression against the Jewish state in 1948-49.
David Collier: Those pesky Israelis just can’t stop disappointing diaspora Jews
Some UK Jewish papers have already opened the ‘annexation front’, criticising Israel for unilateral action it may be about to take. I promised myself I would stay quiet on this until July – when I expected to be forced to stand up against an uproar from some of the small-but-vocal quarters of the diaspora community. It seems they are so eager to make a noise, they started early.

Most of those troubled by the annexation are also those deeply disappointed that Netanyahu successfully navigated every obstacle that he had to face. Fooled by the insane political analysis of those who actually believed their own hype, they somehow thought a coalition could be built to depose the right-wing block. For months they performed mathematical and ideological summersaults, building neverthere coalitions and putting numerous ideological enemies together in some farcical political alliance. Father Christmas had more chance of appearing in the halls of the Knesset.

According to certain elements in the Diaspora, those pesky Israelis just keep voting the wrong way. Oh, how they wish the Israelis were as clever or ‘woke’ as they are.

The ‘annexation’
To some, Israel assuming sovereignty over the Jordan Valley is merely an assertion of existing rights over highly strategic land, originally intended to be part of the Jewish homeland. To those still stuck in the mud of Oslo this is a blasphemous way of thinking. For them the Jordan Valley is in the ‘West Bank’ and therefore part of the future Palestinian state. If Israel is to hold onto it, it can only do so as part of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. If there are no talks – Israel must do nothing. They refer to this inaction as the ‘status quo’ and consider it holy.

This holiness only counts when it works in their political favour. When the Palestinians lobby the ICC to bring Israelis to the Hague or push the UNHRC to have companies operating in the ‘settlements’ named and then boycotted, they do not shout in protest. Some even applaud. Only Israel’s position vis-a-vis the ‘status quo’ must be maintained at all costs.

The land up for annexation comes as no surprise. In one of his final speeches to the Knesset, Yitzchak Rabin made it quite clear the Jordan Valley would remain in Israel:

jordan valley The original idea for annexation of this area had been put forward by Minister Yigal Alon to Levi Eshkol’s government as early as July 1967. All these people were on Israel’s political left. Control of the border with Jordan is of major strategic importance. Should Israel learn no lessons from its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon and Gaza, now both terrorist run enclaves. The failure of Oslo because of Arab violence taught Israel a hard lesson and has a cost – and that includes the necessity of Israel controlling the key border with Jordan.
Bibi 'Houdini' does it again - analysis
This is, afterall, an emergency government. True, there is Iran in Syria to worry about, an increasingly volatile situation in Lebanon, Gaza, and that issue of whether or not to extend Israeli sovereignty over 30% of the West Bank before the US elections in November, but recovering from the virus is why this unusual government was set up in the first place, and which will be its main focus of attention.

One of Netanyahu’s top priorities now will be to ensure that the country is prepared so that if the virus makes a comeback in a few months, as most assume it will, Israel will be able to cope without having to lock down the entire country to ensure that the understaffed, underfunded and under-equipped health system is not overwhelmed.

The country's mood coming out of the lockdown is decidedly sour. Netanyahu, whose political ambitions extend beyond the next 18 months in the Prime Minister's Office, will labor intensively to change that mood, hoping that that the public will then be grateful to him for doing so, and show that appreciation the next time elections roll around.

Netanyahu has given no sign that his next stint in power will be his last – even if he is forced to switch seats with Gantz in the middle of a term, and even if he is standing trial.

And those who believe the prime minister must be in his last act are underestimating his unparalleled political staying power and durability.
In February, just before the last election, Yisrael Beytenu head and Netanyahu nemesis Avigdor Liberman famously declared “the Netanyahu era has ended.” But look where Netanyahu is, soon to be sworn in again as prime minister, and where Liberman is – on the opposition backbenches – and draw the conclusion: don't count Netanyahu out. Ever.

Ruthie Blum: Releasing terrorists doesn’t help flatten the curve
WHICH BRINGS us to the case of Ahlam Tamimi, a female Hamas operative who assisted in the 2001 suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. The well-planned attack left 15 Israelis and tourists dead (including seven children and a pregnant woman) and another 130 wounded. Two Americans were among the casualties.

Tamimi – a 20-year-old student and part-time journalist at the time of the bombing – proudly pleaded guilty to her role in the slaughter and maiming of Jews. Convicted by an Israeli court in 2003, she received 16 consecutive life sentences. Eight years later, she was let out of prison as part of the Schalit exchange.

Shortly thereafter, she immigrated to Jordan, where she has been living – and living it up – ever since. She even became the host of a TV program, a great platform for the spread of jihad.

Upon her arrival in the Hashemite Kingdom, she told a Hamas website that she “would do it all over again. It was a calculated action that was conducted out of persuasion and faith in Allah.”

Her fellow Palestinian terrorists feel the same way. Remorse is a rarity among Jew-killers rewarded for their crimes by their own leaders and given cause by Israel to believe that there’s always room to negotiate a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Unlike the bulk of her counterparts, whose names are not familiar even to most Israelis, Tamimi gained international infamy three years ago. In March 2017, the FBI announced that it had placed her on its Most Wanted Terrorists list, and the US Justice Department requested that Jordan extradite her to the US to stand trial for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against American nationals on foreign soil, resulting in their death.

So far, Amman has refused, basing its objection on its extradition treaty with Washington. Hopefully, the latter will use leverage on the former to force King Abdullah to hand her over as soon as possible. But the fact that Israel freed her in the first place should serve as a cautionary tale.

THIS IS NOT to say that Israel had an easy choice. Nor does anybody blame Schalit’s parents for having staged a countrywide campaign on behalf of their beloved son. The same lack of rancor exists today in relation to the Mengistu and Sayed families – whose own sons are still alive somewhere in Gaza – and to the grieving parents of Goldin and Shaul, who seek proper burials for their boys in Israel.

The latter deserve particular sympathy for spending the past five and a half years urging Netanyahu to use the tools at his disposal to twist Hamas’s arm, not pay ransom in the form of prisoner releases. They also appealed to the US and the UN to intervene. At this point, they must feel that all they can do is pray for negotiations to bear fruit.

Other Israelis – especially those whose loved ones have been gunned down, run over or stabbed to death by released terrorists – are uttering an opposite prayer. And rightly so.

WE ENDURED weeks of government-imposed lockdowns, and continue to be coerced into following strict social-distancing rules and mandatory mask-wearing, all for the sake of “saving even a single life.”

Where does the unleashing of mass murderers fit into “flattening the curve”?
15 policy challenges for the new head of UNRWA
The appointment of Swiss diplomat Phillipe Lazzarini as the new head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is a window of opportunity for donor nations, which oversee UNRWA policy, to demand a reform of the agency. This is especially true regarding the its schools, which for the past 20 years have used the Palestinian Authority curriculum to indoctrinate Palestinian Arab children to conquer all of Palestine by force of arms, a goal hardly appropriate to a UN agency.

Here are 15 policy challenges which the new UNRWA commissioner will now have to grapple with.

1. UNRWA textbooks which do not match UN values of peaceful reconciliation. The agency has introduced a new schoolbook which features Dalal el Mugrabi – whose terror squad commandeered a bus and murdered 38 passengers, including 13 children – as a role model for UNRWA pupils. In the new UNRWA text, Dalal is portrayed in full terror garb, followed by a lesson plan which presents her life story for adulation and emulation. In another new text, UNRWA pupils are taught to chant and sing a poem which encourages children to “exterminate the usurpers” after the Arabs return to control of Palestine. The new commissioner could confiscate such textbooks.
2. UNRWA contracts for exclusive use of Palestinian Authority schoolbooks in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza. Like all UN agencies, UNRWA is supposed to run schools based on the UN slogan “Peace Begins Here.” PA education, however, runs schools based on the ideology of the Palestine Liberation Organization: Conquest of Palestine by force of arms. The new commissioner can cancel the UNRWA-PA contract.
3. UNRWA schools are adorned with posters and murals of “martyrs” who died while murdering Jews. The new UNRWA commissioner can order the removal of all violent images in agency facilities.
4. El Kutla youth clubs in UNRWA schools inspire pupils with the mantra of the armed struggle from a young age. The new UNRWA commissioner can order El Kutla clubs to cease and desist from violent incitement.
5. Military parades frequent UNRWA premises. The new commissioner can order an end to military parades in any UNRWA facility.
6. Hamas terror groups present candidates to lead the agency’s teachers and workers unions. The new UNRWA commissioner can demand that any agency employee who runs on a “Hamas ticket” be barred from the payroll. Even the UN defines Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Rashida Tlaib Uses Coronavirus to Lobby for UNRWA
On May 2, 2020, the [Washington] Post published “The Trump administration must release all approved funds to help Palestinians fight the coronavirus,” by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). The two members of Congress begin by noting that although they “hold different views on how to achieve peace and justice in the Middle East,” they nonetheless “share a fundamental belief that the humanity, dignity, safety and rights of all people should be protected.”

It is true that Lowenthal and Tlaib hold “different views.” Lowenthal is endorsed by J Street, an organization that is often very critical of Israel, and believes in a “two-state solution.” However, it could be argued that his op-ed partner and congressional colleague, Tlaib, doesn’t believe that the Jewish state should even exist.

Despite Tlaib’s claim to supporting the “dignity, safety and rights of all people,” her track record on Israel and antisemitism suggests otherwise. As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has documented, in the summer of 2019, Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tried to visit Israel — labeled as “Palestine” on their itinerary — sponsored by Miftah, an organization that has claimed Jews consume Christian blood and has praised suicide bombers.

Tlaib retweeted blood libels by Miftah’s founder, Hanan Ashwari, wrongly blaming Israel for the death of a young Palestinian boy named Qais Abu Ramila, who, in fact, accidentally drowned. She has also associated with Abbas Hamideh, an ardent supporter of Hezbollah, the US-designated Lebanese Shiite terror group that seeks Israel’s destruction. Hamideh, who has praised the deceased arch-terrorist and child-murderer Samir Kuntar, has called Jews “Schlomos,” advocated the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel, and compared Israelis to Nazis. Like Omar, Tlaib is also a supporter of the BDS movement, which singles out Israel for opprobrium and seeks the insidious elimination of the Jewish state.

It is unsurprising then that Tlaib would be an advocate for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Tlaib and Lowenthal note that in 2018, “the Trump administration eliminated funding” to UNRWA, which they innocuously describe as merely an “organization charged with addressing the humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees.” The coronavirus, they write, “does not recognize borders,” and “without aid and assistance, the Palestinian people will be greatly affected by this health crisis.”

But both members of Congress fail to mention UNRWA’s problematic history.
Friedman to 'Post': We need to strengthen Israel-US ties with peace plan
If US President Donald Trump is reelected in November, David Friedman knows exactly which job he would like to take in the administration’s second term – the one he has now, ambassador to Israel.

After three years in the role, Friedman still feels that there is a lot left to be done to reinforce and strengthen the US-Israel relationship, starting with the Trump peace plan and bringing America’s allies in the region together to be allies with one another.

“We need to maximize mutual benefits of the relationship in ways I don’t think have happened before,” Friedman told The Jerusalem Post this week. “The only limits are one’s imagination as to where we can go.”

The Post sat down with Friedman for a lengthy interview to mark the second anniversary of the US Embassy’s move to Jerusalem in 2018, which the ambassador said has not only helped make peace possible but also highlighted an American value of making decisions based on what is just.

“We were applying a double standard to Israel, relative to every other country in the world,” he said. “We were telling Israel, you don’t have the right to choose your capital city.” The failure of past US governments to implement legislation that mandated the embassy’s transfer was not only a disappointment to Israelis, he said, but also to many Americans “who support Israel and see that the US was treating Israel differently, applying double standards, and basically saying that until the Palestinians agree, you can’t choose what your capital is. And it’s not just any capital; it’s Jerusalem.”

Friedman said that the first conversation he had with Trump about moving the embassy was before he was elected president, and that he was on board from the beginning of his term, with some officials predicting that he was going to announce the move the same day as his inauguration on January 20, 2017. That didn’t happen, Friedman said, because first conversations were needed in all of the different government offices – State Department, the Pentagon and more.
'For Israel to give up Hebron and Beit El is like the US giving up the Statue of Liberty'
The interview with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was not held at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, despite the fact that he recently inducted a stunning new office in the embassy complex. Given the pandemic circumstances clouding the interview, the meeting took place in the car park at the ambassador's home in Herzliya, among security gates and diplomatic vehicles. A rather unusual background for an interview marking two years to the historic relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

At this point in time, it is also safe to say that Friedman's ambassadorship will be equally historical. His first year in office, 2017, was dedicated to pushing US recognition in Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In 2018, he followed that with efforts to see the US recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and 2019-2020 have been dedicated to pushing the Trump administration's vision of peace for the Middle East.

Many minds had to be put at ease along the way, and many myths and prejudices had to be debunked, but at the end of the day, he has done everything he can. The ball is now in Israel's court.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden, I remind him, said this week that if elected, he would not reverse the embassy's relocation to Jerusalem. Does that mean it will stay there forever? Friedman said he hopes so, "but in my view of Jewish history, nothing can be taken for granted."

"One thing that I really get satisfaction from is the reaction from ordinary people that cared about this for so many years, and never thought it would happen. Especially, what really has given me a great sense of achievement is when I talk to Holocaust survivors. They look at this and say this is such an act of kindness, loyalty, and support and [they] are so glad we lived to see it."
Applying Israeli Sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and Parts of Judea and Samaria
Unequivocally, Israel can apply sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and in its communities in Judea and Samaria, and attempts to stoke fears in this regard are unbecoming and misleading.

The Palestinian Authority will continue to exist, similar to the Hamas regime in Gaza. The Americans don't view this as a problem and don't believe that a demilitarized PA is a problem in terms of international law.

The diplomatic world is flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of solutions. Just to illustrate - the Vatican is a state for all intents and purposes, it issues passports and operates diplomatic embassies, and is even a member of the UN.

The world of defense and security, on the other hand, is rigid. Israel's security cannot be played with. In order to exist and prosper, Israel needs the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria, not including areas under PA control.

Questions regarding the stability of the PA and Jordan are completely irrelevant to the issue of applying sovereignty. The PA can collapse the moment Mahmoud Abbas resigns, and Jordan is a country whose future is shrouded in fog.

In the Jordanian context, the long-term solution is to install security mechanisms similar to Israel's other borders where it only relies on itself for protection. As for the possibility of the PA's collapse, Israel will have to consider transferring control to the powerful clans inside the Palestinian cities.
Israel to Discuss With US Reported Sinai Peacekeeper Cutback Plan
Israel said on Friday it would discuss with its closest ally the United States a newspaper report that the US-led peacekeeping force in the Egyptian Sinai may be scaled back, calling its nearly four-decade-old presence “important.”

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is pushing to pull out some American troops from the international peacekeeping force it heads in the Sinai Peninsula, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing current and former US officials.

The reduction would come as Egypt battles an Islamist insurgency in the desert peninsula, where the US-led Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) has been since the early 1980s, following Egypt’s peace deal with Israel in 1979.

Asked to comment on the report in an interview with Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said “the international force in Sinai is important, and (the) American participation in it is important.

“Certainly, the issue will be raised between us and the Americans,” said Steinitz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet.

The US and Egyptian embassies in Israel did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did the MFO’s office in Israel.

According to its website, the MFO has 1,156 military personnel from the United States and 12 other countries covering an area of more than 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) in the Sinai. Some 454 of the personnel are American.

But the size of the force has decreased by over 30 percent since 2015, according to data from its website.
Top Jewish Group Calls European Union Funding of Palestinian NGOs That Employ Terrorists ‘Incomprehensible’
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) expressed concern on Thursday after a European Union (EU) official said to funding NGOs that hire Palestinian terrorists would be maintained.

In a letter to the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff — the head of the EU Office to the West Bank and Gaza Strip — affirmed the EU’s continued support to Palestinian NGOs despite the employment of members of terror organizations proscribed by the EU itself.

“It is understood that a natural person affiliated to, sympathizing with, or supporting any of the groups or entities mentioned in the EU restrictive list is not excluded from benefitting from EU-funded activities unless his/her exact name and surname (confirming his/her identity) corresponds to any of the natural persons on the EU restrictive lists,” Burgsdorff wrote.

He added that no Palestinian NGO would have to “change its political position toward any Palestinian faction or to discriminate against a natural person based on his/her political affiliation.”

The letter was sent in response to a Dec. 2019 EU regulation that said, “Grant beneficiaries and contractors must ensure that there is no detection of subcontractors, natural persons, including participants to workshops and/or trainings and recipients of financial support to third parties, in the lists of EU restrictive measures.”

Many Palestinian terrorist groups are subject to “EU restrictive measures,” including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

No specific individuals have been proscribed, however, and thus Burgsdorff appeared to be pointing out a loophole that could be used in order to continue employing terrorists without being subject to EU sanctions.

Israel returning money deducted to stop Palestinian terrorists’ salaries
Israel plans to effectively return the tax and tariff funds deducted due to the Palestinian Authority’s continued monthly payments to terrorists and their salaries, in the form of an NIS 800 million loan on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon confirmed on Friday that he will sign an agreement with his Palestinian counterpart on Sunday.

A report in Israel Hayom cited court documents in which Kahlon stated that, with approval from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in coordination with Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel will grant the loan over the coming months. The loan is essentially an advance on tax funds Israel collects and transfers to the PA under the terms of the Oslo Accords.
The loan is meant to help the PA overcome its current economic crisis, which was deepened due to what has been nicknamed the “Pay for Slay Law” that went into effect at the start of 2019, by which Israel deducts the funds the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists and their families each month from their taxes and tariffs.

Since the law went into effect, Israel has deducted over NIS 700m., all of which and more will be returned in the form of the loan.
The PA paid NIS 517.4m. on these salaries in 2019, an increase of over NIS 15m. from the previous year.
Palestinian boy braves surgery alone during coronavirus closure in Israel
Heart surgery is a trial for anyone, and especially for a young child. It was even harder for Hamza Ali Mohammad, as the two-year-old Palestinian had to undergo the procedure in Israel while his family was kept away by coronavirus closures.

He was reunited on Thursday with his mother, who whisked him into her arms after he arrived in a van, escorted by medical personnel, at a checkpoint on the boundary between Israel and the occupied West Bank.

With tears in her eyes she hugged him close and kissed his cheeks.

A resident of the Palestinian hub city Ramallah, Mohammad was born with life-threatening congenital heart disease that required he be operated on as a baby.

Follow-up surgery was performed in February under Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli-based volunteer organization that seeks to improve pediatric care in developing countries.

But whereas normally such a patient’s parents would be on hand, Khetam and Issam Dar Ali Mohammad were cut off from their son.

Looking in on his siblings in Ramallah, they were unable to travel back to the hospital as Israeli and Palestinian authorities sealed the boundary to prevent a coronavirus spread.

“The whole medical team ... became his parents,” Dr Ahmed Amer, a pediatric resident at Wolfson Medical Center, where Mohammad’s open-heart surgery took place, said in a statement.

Amer, a member of Israel’s Arab minority, took the lead in communicating with the boy and updating his parents by phone.

“We did not keep him alone for a minute. A child his age and in his condition needs to be hugged and loved in order to recover and get stronger, and that’s exactly what we all gave him.”

Is Israel's Strategy Against Iran in Syria Working?
The long Israeli campaign against Iranian attempts to consolidate in Syria has been partially successful. Israel has prevented Iran from constructing in Syria a situation analogous to that of Hizbullah's missile infrastructure in Lebanon. Moreover, the Iranian regional project is today in considerable difficulty. U.S. sanctions have sharply reduced the amount of money available for Iran's regional goals. In addition, the assassination of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani has clearly left a large void which has not yet been filled.

At the same time, claims that Iran is now reducing its presence are not accurate, since the Iranian conventional presence on the ground in Syria has been in a process of reduction since 2018 after most major combat operations had concluded.

The Iranian presence in Syria is deep and multifaceted. There are Iranian IRGC and Quds Force personnel. There are IRGC/Hizbullah positions located within official Syrian Arab Army facilities. There are homegrown, locally-recruited, "Syrian Hizbullah"-type formations. There are non-Syrian proxy militias from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All this together has resulted in a contiguous area of Iranian control in Syria stretching from the Albukamal border crossing with Iraq to just east of Quneitra, near the Israeli border.

From the Iranian point of view, this infrastructure, and Syria generally, constitute a central interest. Without it, Iran would lose a vital access route to its franchise in Lebanon, to the Mediterranean Sea, and to the borders of Israel.
How Does Israel Keep Getting Past Syria's Air Defenses?
There is deep frustration in Damascus at what seems to be a never-ending string of Israeli airstrikes.

It appears the Syrian government has decided that Russia's air-defense systems, rather than its Syrian operators, are to blame for the failure to stop these strikes.

In October 2018, Moscow gifted Damascus the S-300 air defense system in spite of vocal protests from numerous Western countries.

However, the S-300 has an inherent limitation, said Sitki Egeli, former Director of International Affairs for Turkey's Undersecretariat for Defense Industries.

"The S-300 suffers from the problem of radar horizon, meaning targets cannot be detected if they're lying low due to the curvature of the earth. Strike aircraft, such as F-16s, fly relatively close to the surface of the earth, and by the time they're detected, they have already launched their munitions, so it's too late."

Typically, this blind spot is compensated by other components of an integrated air defense system, such as airborne early warning aircraft and passive ground-based sensors.

In the case of Syria, however, equipment is either too dilapidated to detect more advanced Israeli technology in time, or personnel is too thinly-stretched and poorly-trained to operate the necessary equipment.

"There is little doubt that [Israel] is using cyber attacks and electronic countermeasures in parallel with its airstrikes," Egeli added.
MEMRI: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: If Israel Announces Plans To Annex Even A Single Centimeter Of Jordan Valley, Dead Sea, Settlements, Cave Of The Patriarchs, The Palestinian Authority Will Consider Itself No Longer Bound By Any Of Its Agreements With Israel, U.S.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a May 5, 2020 address that was posted on the Facebook page of Palestine TV that the countries of the world do not agree on where the coronavirus came from and that no serious effort is being made to find a vaccine or medicine for it. He also said that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Palestinian Authority has been dealing with the Deal of the Century and with potential Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, settlements in the West Bank, and the Cave of the Patriarchs. President Abbas declared that if Israel announces that it plans to annex even a single centimeter of any of these areas, the Palestinian Authority will consider itself no longer bound by any of the agreements that it has signed with Israel and the United States. In addition, he insisted that the correct number of Palestinian refugees from 1948 is 950,000, and not 850,000 or 250,000 as has been claimed by others.

To view the clip of Mahmoud Abbas on MEMRI TV, click here or below.

"We Will Consider Ourselves To Be No Longer Bound By All The Agreements That We Have Signed With [Israel] And With The Americans"

Mahmoud Abbas: "As you and I are hearing, the countries of the world disagree on many things and they disagree on where this [COVID-19] virus came from, how it appeared, what its nature is... Worse still, to this moment, there are no serious efforts to find a cure, a vaccine, or a medicine that can stop the existence of this disease.
"In the midst of this tragedy, we have been dealing with the Deal of the Century and with the annexation declared by... Well, the Israelis still haven't officially declared the annexation of the Jordan Valley, of the Dead Sea, of the settlements, and of the Cave of the Patriarchs. They are now focusing – and I am saying this with the press present... The Israeli government is now focusing on the Cave of the Patriarchs. They want to take a few square meters to do something. We will consider this the beginning of the annexation.

"Therefore, if Israel announces that it plans to annex even a single centimeter of the Cave of the Patriarchs, the settlements, or the Jordan River, we will consider ourselves to be no longer bound by all the agreements that we have signed with them and with the Americans."

Coronavirus Exposes Hamas Disregard for Gaza Human Rights
Gaza’s human rights situation under Hamas has always been precarious. But the corona crisis has exposed the terror group’s violations, especially regarding the two Israeli civilians held hostage and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers it seized.

Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Gaza conflict sparked by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members.

The two Israeli civilians, both with known mental health issues, are Avera Mengistu of Ashkelon who crossed into Gaza on foot on September 7, 2014 and Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin from the Negev town of Hura who entered the Strip on April 20, 2015.

Hamas has refused to release any details of the civilians nor allow any international humanitarian group to visit them to ascertain their condition, as required by international humanitarian law.

The 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange saw Hamas trade a live IDF soldier they had held captive incommunicado for five years in exchange for 1,027 terrorists imprisoned in Israel. Now, Hamas expects Israel to release Hamas prisoners and other convicted terrorists from Israeli jails as the price for the return of the hostages and the dead soldiers.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus in Gaza, the hostage situation took a strange turn. Hamas leaders, fearful of the pandemic, realized that years of investment in weapons had left their health system perilously unfit for an epidemic. The group sent out feelers to arrange a hostage exchange, but it is unknown what the price will be.

Hamas leader Yahye Sinwar wants Israel to provide ventilators to help fight the coronavirus in Gaza, and in typical Hamas fashion that if Israel didn’t supply them he would “take them by force from Israel and stop the breathing of 6 million Israelis.”

There is little argument that the Hamas terror group rules Gaza with an iron-fist. When they take time out from criticizing Israel, human rights organizations sometimes produce token reports and recognize that “Hamas authorities in Gaza routinely arrest and torture peaceful critics and opponents” while noting the “systematic practice of torture by Palestinian authorities.”

Extend the Arms Embargo on Iran
In line with a request issued Monday by 387 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is preparing a diplomatic campaign to block one of the most damaging concessions enshrined by the Iran nuclear deal - the lifting of the international arms embargo on Iran this October. It makes little sense to lift an arms embargo on a regime that has steadily increased its violent behavior over the past year, ranging from cruise missile strikes on Saudi oil infrastructure to mine attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf and rocket attacks on American and British forces in Iraq.

The first phase of Pompeo's plan is to propose a new UN Security Council resolution to extend the arms embargo on Tehran indefinitely. Russia and China are expected to block the proposal. The Pentagon reports that Beijing and Moscow are planning to sell Iran fighter jets, main battle tanks, attack helicopters and modern naval capabilities. Tehran is likely to proliferate some of this advanced weaponry to Hizbullah, Shiite militias in Iraq, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and the Houthis in Yemen.

In phase two, Pompeo intends to use the self-destruct - or "snapback" - mechanism of the nuclear deal to block the sunset of the arms embargo, removing the need for an extension. This mechanism gave all original parties to the nuclear deal - including the U.S. - the right to snap all UN sanctions and embargoes back into place if the Iranian regime ever breached its nuclear commitments. Such breaches are now indisputable.
Israel Supports U.S. Call to Renew UN Arms Embargo on Iran
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon was steadfast on Wednesday about the Jewish state’s support for renewing the U.N. arms embargo on Iran.

“Our position is very clear: We support the call of the U.S. to renew the embargo and not to allow Iran to be able to spread more terror in the region,” Danon said during a virtual briefing organized by the Israeli Mission to the United Nations.

He added, “We care about the stability and safety of our people, and the stability of the Middle East. It can affect other countries as well, not just in the Middle East, because the Iranians will have more freedom to spread their ideas [and] spread terrorism. It can go all the way to Venezuela and other regions in the world. That’s why we hope the call of the U.S. will be accepted.”

The U.N. arms embargo is set to expire in October 2020. In a letter on Monday, 387 members, or nearly 90 percent, of the U.S. House of Representatives urged U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to work with American allies to extend the embargo. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened the United States in a speech on Wednesday, saying that Iran “will give a crushing response if the arms embargo on Tehran is extended.”
Iran Regime Pledges Annual ‘Quds Day’ Urging Israel’s Destruction Will Go Ahead, Despite Coronavirus
The Iranian regime’s annual day of rallies and demonstrations calling for the destruction of the State of Israel will go ahead this year despite the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Press TV — the Iranian regime’s English-language propaganda arm — “pro-Palestinian groups in London and elsewhere across Britain plan to replace street rallies with online events to commemorate the International Quds Day as a deadly coronavirus pandemic has restricted mass gatherings across the globe.”

In Iran itself, meanwhile, officials have indicated that physical demonstrations and rallies will be encouraged to proceed wherever possible.

“Quds” (Jerusalem) Day was launched as an annual event in 1979 by Iran’s Islamist leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — which falls this year on May 22.

Mass rallies urging Israel’s violent destruction are typically held in Tehran and other Iranian cities, with pro-Iranian groups in London, Berlin, Vienna and other international cities holding demonstrations that display the flag of the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group, Hezbollah — now the subject of a comprehensive ban by the British, German and other European governments.

In Iran itself, regime officials have not entirely abandoned plans for physical demonstrations this year, despite the devastating impact of coronavirus across the country.
For some, taking on Iran's anti-Israel propaganda machine is 'just another day at the office'
Most Israelis have never heard of Fuente Latina, but for Spanish-speaking news consumers, it is nothing short of a media powerhouse, especially with respect to information and news coverage regarding Israel and the Middle East.

Established in December 2012, Fuente Latina is the brainchild of Leah Soibel, an expert on the region who is often called upon when Spanish-language media covers stories about Israel and the Middle East.

Soibel founded Fuente Latina as a non-profit, nongovernmental organization with the aim of filling what she saw as a void in the Hispanic media market.

As it turns out, she was right. With headquarters currently in Miami and offices in Madrid and Jerusalem, it has become an invaluable source of information for thousands of Latino journalists and top Spanish-language media outlets, including Argentina's Infobae and Perfil, the US-based Telemundo, Univisión and El Nuevo Herald, and Colombia's El Espectador, to name a few.

With more than half a billion Spanish-language news consumers worldwide, and with Hispanics being the fastest-growing minority in the US, Soibel maintains that media matters more than ever.

"There are so many inspiring stories about Israel," she said in a special interview with Israel Hayom. "Our goal is to help the global Hispanic media tell those stories that culturally matter most to their audiences in real-time."

Fuente Latina's mission, she said, is one "of passion and pursuit for truth. For our staff, Fuente Latina's work is a labor of love. We work around the clock to ensure that global Spanish-language media have the facts they need – before and when the news breaks – to accurately cover Israel and the Jewish world, regardless of their geographic location."
Bringing down barriers

Soibel, a Hispanic American and Israeli, knows what she's talking about: She earned her B.A. in Middle East History from Dickinson College and holds a Master's Degree in Security Policy Studies from George Washington University. She is a National Security Education Program Fellow, who also received an Arabic-language certificate from the American University of Cairo's Arabic Language Institute.

These have made her a regular contributor to influential Hispanic media outlets such as Infobae, El Nuevo Herald, Univisión, El Diario de Nueva York, and La Opinión de Los Ángeles, among others.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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