Tuesday, May 12, 2020

From Ian:

David Collier: Palestinian refugees and UNRWA – it is time to tell the truth
UNRWA has to go

UNRWA, and much of the apparatus of the UN these days exist inside a paradigm of apology. The end goal is a setting back of the clocks to before the 1947 partition plan. It is no coincidence that the annual UN ‘day of solidarity’ with the Palestinian people is on the 29th November, the day of the vote on partition. Why on that day, because they the UN are sorry it happened. Despite western pressure everything the UN does still treats ‘Zionism as racism’. This message is carried throughout the Palestinian movements and NGOs. The right of return is part of the way the ‘clocks’ get reset, the Jewish state is undone and Palestine – from the river to the sea – becomes ‘free’.

UNRWA, rather than working to help or assist in refugee resettlement, became a pillar in the Palestinian resistance – schools funded by the west, teaching children why they should join the armed struggle against the Jews. UNRWA must be dismantled as part of a comprehensive reworking of the possible ending of this conflict.

The Palestinians themselves are caught in an eternal prison predicated on a non-existent right that must be unravelled. A force created solely for the purpose of destroying Israel against a state of Israel that will not be destroyed. Perpetual statelessness forced on people who should have been given a new home 70 years ago. An identity that is today more virtual than real holding back Palestinians in Ramallah and Jericho from having the freedom of being able to make peace with their neighbours.
The farce of the UNRWA refugee

Look at Jordan. Over one third of Palestinian ‘refugees’ live in Jordan. They have lived there all their lives. They have Jordanian citizenship, they vote in elections and travel freely. The vast majority do not live in camps, with many joining the professional ranks of Jordan’s middle class. These are refugees? It is an insult to the millions of real refugees, survivors from war-torn regions, that exist in the world today. Worse still, it is THESE Palestinian refugees, that receive more aid and recognition than any of the others in the world. Ending this farce is a humanitarian objective that everyone on the left should support. Why should those Jordanians, with their Jordanian passports hold back the Palestinians in Bethlehem?

The Palestinian refugee in 2020 simply should not exist. To highlight the absurdity we can use another example:
1. A person who normally resided for just two years in the mandate of Palestine was given the status of Palestinian. As a Palestinian refugee, they are even given special status that makes it hereditary
2. A person who has resided in Lebanon for 70 years, is not given the status of Lebanese. Nor are their children and grandchildren who have lived in Lebanon all their lives. Instead they remain abused and denied their rights by the Lebanese.

UNRWA perpetuates this abuse. UNRWA has to go.

Removing the refugees and UNRWA from the equation
Incredibly, so fully has the ‘peace process’ become embedded into the western mindset this underlying truth – the calling out of the Palestinian refugee as a perpetuated myth forged as a weapon – receives pushback even amongst some Zionists. Yet there will be no solving this conflict until this farce is removed from the Middle East.

The evidence is everywhere. It is why they are not building homes in Gaza or Ramallah. Why those living in PA areas are also called refugees. It is all nonsensical UNLESS you see this for what it is. The Palestinian refugee was born into a paradigm of no to normalisation – and they cannot exist outside of it. If we are to move forward and find any accommodation between the Jews of Jerusalem and the Arabs of Ramallah, we have to end these lies.
Lag B’Omer Amid COVID-19: An Invitation to Civility
Some 2,000 years ago, according to the Talmud, “Rabbi Akiva had twelve thousand pairs of students in an area of land that stretched from Gevat to Antipatris in Judea. It is taught that all of them died from diphtheria in the period from Passover until Shavuot.”

Lacking understanding of the natural causes of epidemics, a moral explanation about human behavior could serve to help to prevent another plague.

The Talmud says that 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died “because they did not treat each other with respect.” Intriguingly it adds: “And the world was desolate.”

It is most certainly a coincidence that the current terrible pandemic affecting the world happened at the same time of the year. And the correlation between Rabbi Akiva’s students’ behavior toward each other may have nothing to do with the plague’s cause. Yet the images (and the tweets) that will be studied by our descendants hundreds of years down the road will have them ask if our present catastrophe was not largely because we “did not treat each other with respect.”

What the Talmud is unequivocally saying is that lack of mutual respect brings desolation to the world.

COVID-19 may not have much to do with the US cultural and political wars; and certainly with Assad’s crimes in Syria; or violence in Hong Kong, Venezuela, and Chile; or the hundreds of tragic situations around the world where the true root cause of the problem is lack of respect for others.

Scholars have ventured that the Talmudic reference to the plague was not the result of naïveté as a euphemism for the violence committed by human beings. Probably, with that in mind, Jewish tradition eventually instituted a holiday to reflect on what can cause epidemics and bring desolation to the world.

They named the holiday Lag B’Omer. It is, in fact, an invitation to civility that is mostly lost in barbecues, bonfires, bows and arrows, and haircuts. Prevented as we are this year from just burning energy in large outdoor gatherings, we should explore what can change when we treat with respect those with whom we disagree.

Air pollution reduced by 90% after Lag Ba'omer bonfire ban - report
Due to the ban on bonfires during the holiday of Lag Ba'omer, air pollution was reduced by up to 90% across the country, compared to the same date in 2019, the Environmental Protection Ministry reported on Tuesday.

One exception was the Ketura air quality monitor, which registered a 149% increase in air pollution since the same date in 2019, but it seems to be a local event. Tel Aviv registered around an 80% decrease in three monitoring stations, Jerusalem a 69% decrease, and a 70% decrease in Beersheba.

The ban was set to prevent mass gatherings in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The ministry informed the public it may download Air in the Environment (Avir Baseviva) and be updated on air quality as monitored across the country.



American Public Opinion and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Surveys of American public opinion reveal that from 2000 to 2020, between 2/3 and 3/4 of Americans have consistently viewed Israel favorably and the Palestinian Authority unfavorably.

During the first decade of this century, the average favorable-to-Israel percentage was 64%; in the second it climbed to 71%.

The PA's scores were exactly the opposite. This sentiment is probably related to the fact that Israel is a liberal democracy, while the PA is a corrupt, ineffective, and failed dictatorship.

In recent years, there has been some increase in sympathy with the Palestinians, but this didn't necessarily come at the expense of sympathy with Israel.

At the same time, according to the Gallup poll, in 2020, 55% of Americans supported a Palestinian state, with 34% opposed. This could reflect Trump's inclusion of a prospective Palestinian state in his peace plan.
Ahead of visit, Pompeo says sovereignty is 'in the end, an Israeli decision'
In exclusive interview with Israel Hayom days before visit to Jerusalem, US senior diplomat says he plans to discuss implementation of the Trump administration's Vision for Peace. On Iran, he says regime's capacity to meddle in the region "has been reduced."

It's been months since Israel had its a high-profile visit. This is not just because of the coronavirus crisis but also because of the year-long political limbo and the three elections we have had.

But all this will end on Wednesday when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Israel. For Pompeo, it is one of his rare trips in recent months. Speaking with Israel Hayom, Pompeo said "it's important for a number of reasons that we do this face to face," referring to his talks with senior Israeli officials on his visit.

Upon his appointment two years ago, he flew to Israel on the very same day. Now that Israel is finally about to swear in a government, the pro-Israeli secretary is back. He will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and General Gantz, as Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is often referred to by US officials.

Pompeo's visit is short because of the coronavirus crisis. He plans to discuss the implementation of the administration's newly unveiled peace plan. In his interview, Pompeo implies that there is a green light for extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Q: Is there a specific reason for your visit?
"There are a whole range of issues that I want to discuss. The continued threats from the Islamic Republic of Iran, and how we will work together to deter them and to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. I want to bring them [Netanyahu and Gantz] up to speed on the progress we think we are making on President Trump's Vision for Peace. It is a pretty detailed and realistic and implementable concept and I wanted to share with them some of the work that we are continuing to do on that. Then there is a whole range of issues, certainly COVID-19, the work that we will do with our health experts working together to try to find therapeutic drugs and vaccines to the world. The list is long. We recognize the deepening economic relationship with China and that presents opportunities. We want to share with them our views on the risks that come alongside that as well."
Senators Circulate New, Watered-Down Draft of Letter Opposing Annexation
A group of Democratic senators have been circulating a new, watered-down letter warning against Israel annexing parts of the West Bank. It comes after they pushed forward a draft warning that annexation would destroy bipartisan support for the Jewish state.

Jewish Insider first reported the development on Sunday.

Like the original letter, the latest version was drafted by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

The initial letter, addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, stated, “If you move forward with unilateral annexation, we could not support that action and would sadly conclude that Israel no longer values the bipartisan support that Congress has provided it for decades.”

The latest version of the letter, obtained by Jewish Insider, said, “If you move forward with unilateral annexation, we could not support that action. This is consistent with long-standing American policy opposing unilateral actions by either party to the conflict. Pursuit of a viable, negotiated two state solution is essential to ensuring our shared democratic values and lasting bipartisan support for Israel in Congress.”

Additionally, instead of the word “threaten,” the updated version stated that annexation would “undermine” the common values between the United States and Israel, and that such a move would have “a clear impact on”—not “severe ramifications for both” as stated in the first version—“Israel’s future and our vital bilateral and bipartisan relationship.”
Biden Calls for Resumption of Palestinian Aid as New Payments to Terrorists Revealed
Just days after Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called for a full resumption of U.S. aid to the Palestinian government, new disclosures revealed the Palestinians are still using international contributions to pay salaries to terrorists who have killed Israeli citizens.

Congress first froze aid to the Palestinian Authority in 2017 after it became clear the government was spending a large portion of the money on a "pay to slay" program, which sends funds to imprisoned terrorists and their families. While a bipartisan majority of Congress passed the bill, far left factions of the Democratic Party have been pushing for the aid to resume without conditions that payments to terrorists cease.

Biden vowed to resume U.S. aid just days before a watchdog group discovered the Palestinian government has continued using international aid to make these payments.

"I will reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, find a way to reopen the PLO's diplomatic mission in Washington, and resume the decades-long economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump administration stopped," Biden said last week in a statement.

Biden inaccurately claimed it was the Trump administration that spearheaded the aid freeze. In fact, Congress mandated the freeze in 2018 when it passed the Taylor Force Act, legislation that required the Palestinian government to end compensation programs for terrorists. The Trump administration did end funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which has long faced accusations of promoting anti-Israel educational materials and helps hide terrorist activity.

New reports by an Israeli watchdog group indicate that the Palestinian government has continued "pay to slay" payments in secret, an effort the watchdog says is meant to confuse the international community as it seeks to account for how the money was spent.
US Jewish group criticizes Joe Biden's call to restore funding to PA
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a prominent group associated with the right-wing of the Zionist movement, criticized former vice president and presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s suggestion to resume US funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA), arguing that it violates American law, according to a Cleveland Jewish News report.

“Money is fungible. Biden’s stated intention to resume sending US tax dollars to the PA will enable the PA to finance terrorism, and the murder and maiming of more innocent Jews and Americans,” said ZOA national president Morton Klein and ZOA chair Mark Levenson in a statement.

The organization added that Biden's proposal may be “partially illegal” under the conditions of the Taylor Force Act, passed in the US Congress in 2018 following the death of US Army officer Taylor Force, who was killed while visiting Israel as a tourist in a stabbing terrorist attack in Jaffa in March 2016.

The Act ended US funding of the PA due to the latter's “pay for slay” policy of financially compensating the families of those involved in terror attacks against Israelis and others.

“It is utterly immoral to fund the PA while it continues to incite hatred and terror; glorify Jew-killers in the media; and name PA schools, streets, government buildings, public squares and sports teams in honor of terrorists,” Klein and Levenson's statement said.

In the previous week, Biden said that he may “reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem, find a way to reopen the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, and resume the decades-long economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump administration stopped.”
Can Palestinians Stop Israel from Declaring Sovereignty over Parts of West Bank?
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks a green light from the White House to declare sovereignty over 30% of the West Bank, Palestinians are scrambling to galvanize international opposition to the plan while battling skepticism that they can do anything to stop it. Israel's expected assertion of sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and most of the West Bank settlements is a key part of the U.S. "Peace to Prosperity" vision.

While the Arab League formally condemned the plan on April 30, as did 11 European ambassadors, neither Israel nor the U.S. has blinked. Looking at how the world has acceded to Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, which was captured in the 1967 war, the current international opposition is unlikely to block similar action in the West Bank.

Riad Al Khouri, an Amman-based economist and political risk consultant at GeoEconomica, said, "Abbas is going to foam at the mouth, he's going to chew the carpet, he's going to spend a whole day screaming his head off about the Palestinian holocaust and how this is the end, because he has to, because his public posture demands it. Behind the scenes, he's going to be looking for a quid pro quo."
PA invites Hamas, Islamic Jihad to meeting on Israeli 'annexation'
The Palestinian Authority has invited representatives of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to attend a meeting of the Palestinian leadership to discuss Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

Hamas and PIJ, which don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist, have repeatedly called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to walk away from the 1993 Oslo Accords and cut all ties with Israel. They have also called for stepping up “resistance” activities in the West Bank in response to protest the Israeli plan.

Palestinian officials said that representatives of the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist group that is also opposed to the Oslo Accord and peace talks with Israel, have been invited to attend the meeting, which will take place in Ramallah on Saturday.

Earlier this year, Abbas invited Hamas and PIJ officials to attend a meeting of the Palestinian leadership to discuss US President Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, also known as the Deal of the Century.
Pro-Israel Groups React to Erdan’s Appointment as Next Israeli Ambassador to US and UN
Jewish and pro-Israel groups reacted positively to Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information Gilad Erdan’s appointment as the Jewish state’s next ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, succeeding Ron Dermer and Danny Danon, respectively.

“I am proud and excited for the privilege of being able to fight on behalf of the righteousness of our path in the international arena, and to defend Israel in light of the challenges ahead,” said Erdan in a statement.

AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JNS, “We congratulate Minister Erdan, who brings impressive credentials to these important posts. We look forward to working with him to further strengthen the relationship and cooperation between the two countries at the United Nations.”

“[He] is a committed public servant with deep connections to the American Jewish community,” said the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a statement. “His most recent postings provide him with extraordinary credentials for representing Israel in the diplomatic arena at the United Nations, and with Israel’s greatest friend and ally, the United States of America.”

B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS, “With bias and double standards the rule at the United Nations, Erdan’s unique experience in battling BDS and other issues impacting Israel’s security make him a sound choice for these positions. No question these particular assignments will clearly involve multi-tasking, but that is the general rule in diplomatic assignments.”
France pushing for tough EU response to any West Bank annexation
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said cabinet discussions will start in July over extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank

France is urging its European Union partners to consider threatening Israel with a tough response if it goes ahead with a de facto annexation of parts of the West Bank, three EU diplomats said.

Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg also want to discuss the possibility of punitive economic measures during a foreign ministers’ meeting on Friday, the diplomats told Reuters, though all member states would have to agree to any collective action.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said cabinet discussions will start in July over extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, as was mooted under US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan.

Palestinians have expressed outrage at Israel’s plans to cement its hold further on land it seized in the 1967 Six Day War, territory they are seeking for a state.

The EU diplomats did not give details on what punitive measures EU member states might consider to try to dissuade Israel from making the move.
HRW alleges gov’t land policy discriminates against Israeli-Arabs
A Human Rights Watch report released on Tuesday alleges that Israeli government land use policy discriminates against Israeli-Arabs in favor of its Jewish citizens.

Israeli policy on both sides of the Green Line restricts Palestinians to densely populated centers while maximizing the land available for Jewish communities,” said Eric Goldstein, acting Middle East executive director at Human Rights Watch. “These practices are well-known when it comes to the occupied West Bank, but Israeli authorities are also enforcing discriminatory land practices inside Israel.”

HRW refers to Arabs citizens of Israel as Palestinians whereas some from that community identify as Israeli-Arabs, some as Palestinians and some as both.

The report says that the government sharply restricts Arabs’ access to land for housing to accommodate natural population growth.
Further, it says that decades of land confiscations and discriminatory planning policies have confined many Palestinian citizens to densely populated towns and villages that have little room to expand.

At the same time, HRW says “the Israeli government nurtures the growth and expansion of neighboring predominantly Jewish communities, many built on the ruins of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948.”

As part of its evidence, the HRW report said that under the Israel Land Authority (ILA), the 21% of Israel’s population which is Arab only has jurisdiction over 3% of the land.


MEMRI: Saudi Columnist: Germany's Decision To Ban Hizbullah Was Late In Coming; When Will The Rest Of Europe Wake Up And Do The Same?
On April 30, 2020, Germany's Interior Ministry announced that it had "banned all activities by the Shi'ite terrorist organization Hizbullah in Germany."[1] Responding to this news, Mashari Al-Dhaidi, a columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Shaqrq Al-Awsat, wrote that Germany was late taking this decision, for it has known for decades about the activities of this organization, and of its patron Iran, in Germany and in the rest of Europe, which include assassinations, the manufacture of explosives, drug trafficking and money laundering. He also criticized the silence of the other European countries, who he said continue to turn a blind eye to Iran's and Hizbullah's crimes.

The following are translated excerpts from Al-Dhaidi's article:[2]
"The [interesting] story is not that Germany has designated the Lebanese Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, and has banned its activity in its territory as well as membership in it. The [interesting] point is the question: Why did Germany take so long? And who are the other European countries that are still delusional and have not yet seen the dark and criminal face of this international network that specializes in terror, assassinations, boobytrapping and explosive devices, money laundering, drug trafficking and collaboration with other terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda?!

"The European silence over Iran's terrorist activity, [conducted] by means of its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah or directly by means of the [Islamic] Revolutionary Guards Corps [IRGC], despite decisive evidence of the involvement of these Iranian networks in assassinations and in the bombing of crowded [targets], is extremely puzzling, especially considering that the IRGC insisted on carrying out these activities against an Iranian opposition organization in Belgium and France. [3]

"In the era of [former U.S. president] Barack Obama, whose departure is not to be lamented, this disregard [of the Iranian activity] was understandable, since no condemnation would have kept the great genius Obama from making the poisoned [nuclear] deal with the Khomeini regime, and his European allies joined him in the wild-eyed [position] that advocates openness towards this regime.
Israeli Soldier Killed by Rock Thrown During West Bank Arrest Op
An Israeli soldier died after being struck in the head by a rock thrown from a rooftop during an arrest raid in the West Bank on Tuesday, the military said.

The incident was a departure from a relative lull in lethal violence in the West Bank as Palestinians and Israelis have curbed movements and, to a degree, cooperated on measures in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The Israeli military said the soldier — identified as 21-year-old Amit Ben-Yigal of Ramat Gan — was hit in the head by a rock thrown from a rooftop in the village of Yabad, near Jenin, as his unit withdrew after detaining four Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “On behalf of myself and the citizens of Israel, I would like to send sincere condolences to the family of Amit Ben-Yigal, who was killed by depraved individuals during an operation last night. As has occurred in all the cases in recent years, the long arm of Israel will reach the terrorist and settle accounts with him.”

The Palestinians detained in Yabad are suspected of having previously thrown rocks at Israeli cars on a nearby road, and other security offenses, according to the IDF.

There were no immediate reports of Palestinian casualties in Tuesday’s incident.
‘You’re my only son, I have nothing,’ fallen soldier’s father weeps
Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal, killed in an overnight arrest raid in the northern West Bank, was his father’s only son.

“My whole life revolved around this boy. In my darkest dream I never believed I’d have the title ‘bereaved father.’ My most precious thing was taken from me,” Baruch Ben-Ygal, Amit’s father, told reporters on Tuesday.

Ben-Ygal, a member of the elite Golani Brigade reconnaissance company, was struck in the head by a rock thrown at the troops during a raid in the village of Yabed, west of Jenin, IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman told reporters.

He was killed one month before the end of his service.

Lone children are not usually allowed into combat units, especially dangerous ones, without special permission from their parents.

“He wanted to serve in a combat unit and asked that I sign [my assent] for him,” Baruch told the Ynet news site on Tuesday morning, hours after receiving news that Amit had been killed.

“‘I want to go to a combat unit and have a meaningful service,’ he said. I told him, ‘You’re my only son, I have nothing besides you, not a father, not a mother, you’re the only one I have in this world. I have nothing.’ He said to me, ‘Dad, I’m asking you to sign for me,'” the father said in a choked voice.
Fallen soldier was proud to serve in the Golani Brigade
St.-Sgt. Amit Ben Yigal, who was killed during an arrest operation in the West Bank early on Tuesday morning, wrote about the pride he had serving in the Golani Brigade.

In a post on Facebook that he wrote last year in honor of Daniel Pomerantz, a Golani fighter killed during Operation Protective Edge, St.-Sgt. Ben Yigal wrote about his pride to serve in the unit.

“To be Golanchik is to see the landscape from the bus window, and to know that you marched there too. It’s to curse the moment you are living in, and in the same breath remember why you are here. It is not letting who you are, interfere with who you could become.To be a Golanchik is to sit on gear while looking at each other's eyes and just laugh because you are both going through the same thing. It's a deep friendship which is always surprising... to look at the soldiers with the red berets when you have red eyes. To be Golanichik is not to look back, because you always have a whole country behind you,” he wrote.

“To be a Golanchik is to hear Hatikva and get chills in every part of your body... I, Amit Ben Yigal, am proud to be a Golanchik. Proud to take part in a long-standing tradition like Golani. Proud to be the continuation of many drafts before and to be a role model to those after.


NYT Social Media Post: Israeli Soldier Killed by “Rock”
Mere days after the New York Times published a piece about life-saving efforts in the fight against COVID-19 by Israeli army experts which opened by saying that “The Israeli Defense Ministry’s research-and-development arm is best known for pioneering cutting-edge ways to kill people and blow things up,” the Times has botched another lead and social media post.

Despite coming under intense scrutiny, the journalist in question, David Halbfinger, described the killing of an Israeli soldier this morning as follows:
“A 21-year-old Israeli soldier was killed early Tuesday when he was struck in the head by a heavy rock as his unit was completing a nighttime arrest mission in a Palestinian village near Jenin, in the northern West Bank, the army said.”

The sentence was copied in full by The Times’ social media staff, who used it as the text to accompany social media posts on Twitter and Facebook, further amplifying the effect.

Journalists have a responsibility to accurately, fairly report events. Reporters have a duty to share all the facts. Rocks don’t hit people by themselves, just as car don’t drive into people of their own volition.


Palestinian attempts to stab cops at checkpoint north of Jerusalem, is shot
A Palestinian assailant attempted to stab security officers at the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem, police said Tuesday.

Border Police officers at the scene opened fire on the man after he attempted to stab them, police said.

The assailant was neutralized and no officers were hurt in the incident, they said.

Reports said the stabber was shot in the leg or stomach. His condition was not immediately known. He was taken to hospital to receive treatment.

The incident came hours after an Israeli soldier was killed in the predawn hours during an arrest operation near Jenin. Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal, 21, was hit in the head with a rock thrown from a building in Yabed as forces were wrapping up the operation.
Under new deal, Israel to loan PA up to NIS 800m to cover virus losses
Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed off Monday on an agreement that will see Jerusalem set aside NIS 800 million ($228 million) for potential loans to Ramallah, in order to offset expected losses due to the coronavirus crisis, officials on both sides told The Times of Israel.

Starting in June and continuing for the following four months, the plan will see Jerusalem use the new bank of funds to top off the sum of monthly tax revenues that it sends to the PA to NIS 500 million ($142 million) — should the monthly sum be less than that amount.

A cumulative maximum of NIS 800 million has been set for the entire period. After the pandemic’s economic effects end and the PA recovers its revenue stream, Israel will deduct the fronted funds, which will have made up any shortfall to meet the NIS 500 million commitment, from future tax transfers.

Under interim peace agreements, Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority on imports and exports, and transfers the funds to the Palestinians each month. These transfers cover a sizable chunk of the Palestinian government’s budget.

The inked deal comes a month and a half after a meeting between Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and his PA counterpart, Shukri Bishara, during which the latter expressed concern over the hit that Ramallah’s economy would likely endure due to the pandemic, a PA Finance Ministry official and an Israeli official confirmed.

Bishara said that Ramallah’s economy would not be able to survive the pandemic if the monthly tax revenues dip below NIS 500 million, the Israeli official explained.
PMW: PA: Terrorist murderers are “The Giants of Palestinian History”
Who are “The Giants of Palestinian History”? According to the PA, the murderers of Israelis are the ones who deserve this distinction.

The Palestinian Authority continuously emphasizes that anyone who ever attacked an Israeli is a hero. As the greatest role models for Palestinian society PA leaders present the imprisoned terrorist murderers and those who “died as Martyrs” while attacking Israelis. Not only in word, but also in deed by generously rewarding the terrorists with life-long salaries, while in prison and beyond, as Palestinian Media Watch has exposed and continues to document.

The PA recently celebrated its annual “Prisoner’s Day” to honor the terrorist prisoners. On this day, numerous events are held throughout the PA to glorify the imprisoned and released terrorists and murderers. To emphasize their glory and the respect they in the PA’s eyes deserve from Palestinian society, official PA TV produced two fillers in which several dozens of imprisoned murderers were honored with their photo and their date of arrest. The title for the pictures of the terrorists in one of the fillers was: “The Giants of Palestinian History”. The PA didn’t mention, however, that they are murderers.
Palestinian Int’l Law Expert Anis Al-Qasem against U.S. Demand That Jordan Extradite Ahlam Al-Tamimi
In a May 11, 2020 show on Yarmouk TV (Muslim Brotherhood-Jordan), Jordanian TV host Omar Aysara referred to a letter sent by several Republican U.S. Congressmen to the Jordanian Ambassador to the United States. In the letter, the congressmen threatened Jordan with sanctions if it does not extradite Ahlam Al-Tamimi, a released Palestinian terrorist who currently lives in Jordan. Al-Tamimi is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List for the role she played in an August 9, 2001 suicide attack in a Jerusalem pizzeria that resulted in the killing of 15 civilians, two of whom were U.S. nationals. Aysara said that no Jordanian would agree to the extradition of Al-Tamimi.


MEMRI: Responding To Reports Of U.S.-Russian Understandings On Removing Assad From Power, Syrian MP Threatens Military Action Against Russian Forces In Syria
In the recent weeks there have been several reports in the Russian media critical of the Syrian regime and even of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad himself. Prominent among them were three reports published April 14, 2020 by the Federal News Agency, owned by Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, considered to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The reports all dealt with the mounting corruption in Syria: the first dealt with government corruption and claimed that Assad has little control over affairs in his country; the second presented a survey according to which only 32% of Syrians say they will vote for Assad in future presidential elections, due to the corruption in Syria[1]; and the third accused the Syrian regime of impeding the development of Russian businesses in the country.[2] In addition, according to reports, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a Kremlin-affiliated think tank, published an article that foresaw the possibility of an understanding between Russia, Iran and Turkey to remove Assad from power and establish an interim government in Syria.[3] The Valdai Discussion Club, also affiliated with the Russian authorities, published an article by RIAC vice president Alexander Aksenyonok, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation, accused Assad's regime of refusing to comply with UN Resolution 2254 calling for a political solution in Syria, and added that the regime’s commitment to a military solution, including the use of force against the Turkish and American forces, was unrealistic.[4]

Although it is unclear to what extent these articles reflect the position of the Russian leadership, and despite official Russian claims that they do not,[5] the reports sparked a heated debate in Syrian and Arab media, and were perceived as indicating a shift in the Russian position towards the Syrian regime. There were even speculations that Russia meant to remove Assad from power. Some analysts claimed that the reports reflected Russia's distrust of Assad and a Russian understanding that his primary loyalty is to Iran. They speculated further that Russia was displeased with Assad, specifically with his handling of the political discussions on the constitutional assembly, with his actions on the ground, especially in Idlib, and with his lack of commitment to the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement.[6] Some claimed that the current circumstances – the economic crisis in Russia, and especially the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that the U.S. Caesar Act will come into force this June[7] – have brought Russia to the conclusion that safeguarding its interests in Syria will require an agreement with the international community, and especially with the U.S., leading to an Iranian withdrawal from that country and to a comprehensive ceasefire. The analysts assessed that, since Assad will not agree to sever his ties with Iran and make political concessions, Russia is likely to support his replacement in the next presidential elections, scheduled for 2021.[8]

The speculations regarding Russian-American understandings on Russia received further support from comments made by James Jeffrey, U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. On May 2, 2020 he told the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that all foreign forces must leave Syria, except for the Russians.[9] This remark that was taken to indicate the existence of understandings between the Russia and the U.S. on Syria. Several days later, Jeffrey said that there was growing Russian frustration with Assad and that Russia may therefore be more willing to talk with the Americans about a non-military solution in Syria.[10] In addition, Syrian oppositionist Kamal Al-Labwani told the Saudi website Elaph that the U.S., Russia and countries in the region had reached understandings about Assad's departure and his replacement by a security figure agreed-upon by the international community, who would officially ask the Iranians to leave Syria. According to Al-Labwani, the head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, 'Ali Mamlouk, has been mentioned as a possible candidate.[11]
Iran progresses anti-Israel bill, plans to establish embassy in Jerusalem
The Iranian parliament approved a bill on Tuesday including a list of measures against the State of Israel, such as the establishment of an Iranian consulate or embassy in Jerusalem to 'Palestine,' boycott measures and bans on contact and agreements between Iran and Israel.

The bill, featuring 14 articles, passed with 43 votes in favor and no votes against, according to the Iranian IRNA news agency. MPs chanted "down with Israel" after the bill was approved, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar news.

The bill will be brought before the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee so that the parliament can vote on the law at the beginning of next week.

"During seven decades of its formation, the Zionist regime has created numerous difficulties for the Muslims in the region,” said chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mojtaba Zonnour, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.

"Spying, terrorism, and martyrdom of Iranian nuclear scientists, cyber and electronic warfare, and cyber-attacks on nuclear and economic centers are among the Zionist regime's actions against the Iranian nation."

Zonnour encouraged Iranian lawmakers to approve the anti-Zionist motion as a substitute for Quds Day rallies that have been cancelled.
The bill bans the use of Israeli flags, symbols or signs for "propaganda purposes in favor of the regime"; direct and indirect financial assistance from Iranian nationals to the State of Israel is prohibited, according to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency.

The bill emphasized that the "historical and integrated land of Palestine belongs to the original Palestinian peoples, including Muslims, Christians and Jews," adding that the Iranian government is obliged to treat Jerusalem as the "permanent capital of Palestine."
COVID-19, hostages, drowning; Iran regime criminality may be increasing
BUT THE actual behavior of the regime is not just about getting around sanctions, which every government would likely seek to do. Nothing forces Iran to drown migrants, down civilian airliners or purposely obfuscate about the extent of coronavirus in the country, while flying airliners around the world and endangering passengers and crew. If Iran is merely trying to get around sanctions and trying to prove to the world that the US behavior is problematic, why kidnap and use foreign academics as bargaining chips, keeping them in harsh conditions in prisons when they committed no crime?

Iran is not the only regime that does this: Turkey and North Korea have detained Westerners and then suddenly released them. But the multiple layers of Iran’s behavior compared to how it tries to present itself on the international stage is unique.

Has Iran’s criminal behavior increased with the recent drownings, coronavirus cover-ups, abuses of academics, shooting of protesters, and the downing of a civilian airliner? The regime may be increasing its brutality and using the tensions with America as a cover. For instance Iran’s foreign ministry sought to use the coronavirus crisis to demand a way around sanctions, claiming that the sanctions harmed its battle against the virus. If this had been accurate, then Iran would have stopped Mahan air flights and sought aid in mid-February.

Instead, Iran hid the extent of the virus in February and even prevented Doctors Without Borders from helping. The Islamic Republic could have admitted immediately that it shot down a civilian airliner in January and helped Ukraine study the black boxes, instead of harming the investigation.

Why did Iranian border guards force 57 men and children into a river on May 1, where most of them drowned? Amateur videos have now located where the poor workers died. The regime’s order to murder the Afghans is not unique. It also guns down Kurdish workers without trial in the West Azerbaijan province city of Khoy, accusing them of smuggling. Over the weekend, Iranian security forces shot at a group of these Kurdish “kolbars” causing the death of one of them.

The long list of regime crimes paints a picture of state policy, from downing airliners to shooting protesters and migrants and abusing academics, to spreading a virus among vulnerable airline staff.
BESA: The Ineffectiveness of the FATF
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recently added Iran to its Black List as a means of increasing pressure on the regime to stop financing terror. While this belated decision was a good move, it is unlikely that it troubled Tehran particularly. Iran has been on the Black List before and been removed from it despite its persistent state sponsorship of terror, which goes back decades. The plenary continues to ignore the terror financing of numerous other states as well as Iran, including Qatar and the Palestinian Authority, rendering its effectiveness minimal.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 by members of that year’s G7 Summit, convened not long ago to discuss global developments in illicit financial terrorist dealings and money laundering. Since 2000, the FATF has issued Black and Grey Lists of international bodies deemed, respectively, “non-cooperative” or in need of regular monitoring. Member states are urged to issue sanctions and “counter-measures” on countries not supporting the eradication of terror-financing/ money laundering practices. The group establishes and purports to enforce international regulatory standards and policy recommendations for state-assisted terror-financing and money laundering.

The prime question at the conference was whether or not to move Pakistan and Iran from the Grey List to the Black List, where they would face maximum pressure campaigns in an effort to cripple their terror infrastructures and resources. At year-end 2019, the only state on the Black List was North Korea.

At the conclusion of the plenary, Pakistan stayed on the Grey List on condition that it complete an action plan laid out by the FATF by June 2020. We’ve seen this before: Pakistan was fresh off an earlier four-month extension from the FATF’s October 2019 plenary at which the body concluded that should Islamabad fail to make significant progress by February 2020, Pakistan would be blacklisted. As of October, Pakistan had met only five of the 27 criteria previously laid out by the FATF for remaining “Grey,” and government agencies remain inextricably associated with regional terror commands.
Iran Reopens Mosques but Shrine Lickers Still Banned from Worship
Mosques in Iran reopened Tuesday as the government moved slowly to ease restrictions forced on the Muslim faithful by the Chinese coronavirus.

Various domestic newsgencies reported the shift even as lockdowns continue in many areas and the rate of infection in the wider community shows little sign of abating.

Last Friday, Reuters reports prayer gatherings resumed in up to 180 Iranian cities and towns seen as being at low risk of coronavirus contagion after a two-month suspension.

The resumption of Friday prayers — still banned in the capital Tehran and some other major cities — followed the reopening last Monday of 132 mosques in areas consistently free of the virus.

Schools will reopen next week, according to the IRNA news website, although the ban on those who insist on licking and kissing sacred Muslim icons at shrines remains.

Devout Muslims were warned in March they could be jailed and flogged after videos emerged of them licking holy shrines to prove their personal invincibility against any threat of infection.

As Breitbart News reported, the faithful recorded the practice and then released it on social media as a means of encouraging others to follow suit.

Touching and kissing surfaces in shrines is a common practice for Muslim pilgrims, and religious hardliners argue the holy sites of Qom are “a place for healing.”

However such is the scale of the viral infection spreading across Iran the government decided to act and issued a series of bans and penalties that still apply.

The total number of Iran’s coronavirus deaths rose by 45 in the past 24 hours to 6,685, Ministry of Health spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state television, according to Reuters.



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