Friday, July 31, 2020

From Ian:

GOP Lawmaker Calls on Trump to Designate Top Palestinian Official as Terror Sponsor
A US congressman with a track record of countering terrorism sponsored by the Palestinian Authority (PA) has called on President Donald Trump to blacklist a leading PA official.

In a letter to Trump on Thursday, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) urged Trump to designate the PA’s Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs and its director, Qadri Abu Bakr, as sponsors of terror because of their direct involvement in providing monthly payments to terrorists and their families.

Lamborn was a principal backer of the 2018 Taylor Force Act, which conditions US aid to the PA on a verifiable abandonment its “pay‐for‐slay” policy. Two years after the legislation’s passage, the PA has not changed its policy.

“Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has continued to pay the terror rewards to terrorists, spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year to these monsters and their families,” Lamborn wrote in his letter to Trump. “Since the passing of the Taylor Force Act, and a similar law in Israel’s Knesset passed by my friends MKs Elazar Stern and Avi Dichter in July 2018, the Palestinian leadership has spent over 1.2 billion shekels, or $350 million, continuing to reward terror.”

“This vile practice must end, and your administration has the courage and moral clarity to do it,” Lamborn declared.
New UNRWA head to 'Post': No glorifying terrorists in our schools
The phrase “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” may be a cliché, but in the case of Dalal Mughrabi, the difference could define the political landscape of the Middle East for decades to come.

In 1978, Mughrabi took part in the Coastal Road Massacre in which an Israeli bus was hijacked. Thirty-eight Israelis lost their lives in the attack, including 13 children. To Israelis, Mughrabi is a terrorist.

To the Palestinians, she is a national treasure. Children are taught to emulate her example. Five schools under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority are named for Mughrabi, as are town squares, summer camps and a women’s center.

She also pops up regularly in textbooks, where she is lauded as martyr and a hero.

Responsibility for reaching a definitive ruling on Mughrabi’s status – if such a thing is possible – may ultimately fall to Philippe Lazzarini, the incoming commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for the Palestinians.

His agency is committed to delivering international quality education to the more than 530,000 children educated within UNRWA’s 708 elementary and preparatory schools in the region. And as we are always told, the children are our future.

So, is Mughrabi a terrorist, or a martyr? What should the children be taught?

“Let’s be clear, there is no glorification of martyrs being taught in UNRWA schools,” Lazzarini told The Jerusalem Post via Zoom from Amman, Jordan. “There is none of that. No teacher is teaching that.

“We have extremely clear guidance regarding this because UNRWA is also in disagreement with this example [of Mughrabi]. I know this keeps popping up, but UNRWA has given clear instructions that this not be taught in the schools because it can be perceived as incitement, depending on how it is brought to the attention of the children.”







Dr. Einat Wilf: The real killer of the two-state solution? The Palestinian right of return
Further evidence for how much the Palestinian leadership was willing to sacrifice the two-state solution to the right of return came in 2011, when some 1,700 original documents were leaked from the office of chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and published online by Al Jazeera. The documents, known as the Palestine Papers, were internal PA memos and other papers, which document a decade of peace negotiations with Israel.

The papers reveal that the Palestinian leadership was so serious about the “right of return” that they were unwilling to countenance phrases and formulations that might jeopardize it – including “two states for two peoples,” which was viewed as a threat to the realization of the demand to return. In a memorandum for Saeb Erekat on May 3, 2009, for example, the negotiating team writes, “Reference to the right of the two peoples to self-determination in two states may have an adverse impact on refugee rights, namely the right of return… Further, a recognition of the principle of two states for two peoples as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict confirms that the PLO no longer envisages Palestinian self-determination within the territory of the state of Israel.”

In another memorandum dated November 2007, the Palestinian negotiating team explained that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state “would likely be treated as … an implicit waiver of the right of return” and “would undermine the legal rights of the refugees.”
The real killer of the two-state solution? The Palestinian right of return by the Forward

Another document from June 2008, which makes recommendations on the refugee issue, notes that the formulation “‘two states for two peoples’ implies no return… to Israel.” And a document from May 2009 states that as far as refugee rights and Israel’s responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, “referring to ‘two states for two peoples’ embodies similar risks to those associated with the recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.”

These documents reveal not just efforts to undermine the two-state solution; they reveal that it was never an option in the first place.

One hears a lot these days about the death of the two-state solution. Israel, we are told, killed it off with settlement expansion. Or it was the U.S. who killed it by moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

The truth is, the two-state solution was never killed — not by Israel or the U.S. — because in the Palestinian vision, it was never conceived.

Jews and Arabs have the right to live in freedom and dignity, and to possess the political power to secure both their individual and collective rights. But for that to happen, the biggest obstacle must be recognized right now and addressed upfront.
The real killer of the two-state solution? The Palestinian right of return by the Forward

The demand of massive Palestinian entry into Israel, uniquely indulged by the west for generations, should be rejected. As long as Palestinians reject the equal right of the Jewish people to political power and self-governance in any part of the land and seek to undo it through “return,” no political solution will bring peace.
MYTH: British helped Jews displace the native Arab population of Palestine.
Herbert Samuel, a British Jew who served as the first High Commissioner of Palestine, placed restrictions on Jewish immigration “in the ‘interests of the present population’ and the ‘absorptive capacity’ of the country” (Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World, (NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1970), p. 172; Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 146). The influx of Jewish settlers was said to be forcing the Arab fellahin (native peasants) from their land. This was at a time when less than a million people lived in an area that now supports more than nine million.

The British actually limited the absorptive capacity of Palestine when, in 1921, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill severed nearly four-fifths of Palestine – some thirty-five thousand square miles – to create a brand new Arab entity, Transjordan. As a consolation prize for the Hejaz and Arabia (which are both now Saudi Arabia) going to the Saud family, Churchill rewarded Sherif Hussein’s son Abdullah for his contribution to the war against Turkey by installing him as Transjordan’s emir.
credit: Myths & Facts

The British went further and placed restrictions on Jewish land purchases in what remained of Palestine, contradicting the provision of the Mandate (Article 6) stating that “the Administration of Palestine . . . shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency . . . close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not acquired for public purposes.”
Russia Intrudes Into the Palestinian Arena
Both the PA and Hamas have publicly announced they wish to engage Russia as the primary arbiter from now on. Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzuk said in July 2019 that only Russia was capable of supporting the Palestinians against the US, and PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki announced, “We trust President Vladimir Putin and are sure that such a meeting would bear fruit, and succeed in getting us back to the talks, as well as stopping the Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank… Palestine is willing to have talks with Israel via video conferencing and under Russian auspices.”

In January 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Abbas in Bethlehem, where the latter thanked him for “political, economic and cultural assistance, financial cooperation and aid to Palestine in the area of security” and praised Russia’s involvement in the Arab world, where it is “always working to resolve its problems.” In July, Abbas called Putin to follow up on bilateral deals discussed in January as well as “the importance of strengthening intra-Palestinian unity” in the context of combatting any Israeli or American unilateral moves.

The purpose of Russian moves is not primarily to achieve Palestinian unity under the PLO political program, as it constantly asserts – it knows very well this is likely impossible. Rather, sensing an opportunity to increase influence with all players at the perceived expense of the US, Russia is just trying to plant itself in the middle of the conflict and make itself an essential player, as it has done in numerous conflict zones across the region.

The purported end of the CIA relationship with the PA may even open up additional space for Russia to increase its security influence on the ground, and indeed Israel is reportedly concerned about Russia’s training of Palestinian security forces, according to Israeli television station Channel 12. Russia’s close relations and consultations on the issue with regional powers – including Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, and Iran – will also contribute to its budding influence in the Palestinian sphere.

There does seem to be an internal shift in rhetoric and action on Palestinian unity, including an essay by former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad published in Time on June 30, on the need to unify all the Palestinian factions under a new PLO platform that rejects every agreement made with Israel and even the entire concept of “a Palestinian state on 22 percent of historic Palestine.” This shift across the Palestinian political spectrum – leading to the July 2 joint press conference and a planned joint rally in Gaza – is partially a result of Russian diplomacy and will present Putin with even greater opportunities in the future to try to play the Palestinian card against the US.
Israel’s delicate dance: Balancing China and its best friend
Since Israel’s inception 72 years ago, the Jewish state has been a nation with few friends except for the US. So over the past decade, when the world’s two most populous nations want to cozy up to you, don’t question your right to exist, respect and seek your innovations, and unlike Israel’s current number one trading partner the European Union, are not burdened with endemic antisemitism, Israel is overjoyed to welcome them into their home.

The development of these relationships has been considered one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s greatest political triumphs, so much so that India, which used to be a client of the old Soviet Union, an arch villain of Israel and the US, is now Israel’s defense industry’s largest customer.

While India does not pose as significant a security risk to Israel as China, despite India’s relationship with Iran, India unlike China is the world’s largest democracy and has been growing more friendly to the US, and less comfortable with China – witness the recent deadly skirmishes in the Himalayas.

Israel is on a collision course with the US over its China relations and economic ties, as the American national security establishment views China as its primary and growing strategic threat. Israel is now being asked to choose sides, even as America itself is trying to find its own balance in its relationship with China. Many American national security figures think US President Donald Trump has been too deferential to President Xi Jinping, too willing to trade American security considerations for economic deals. But America as the superpower has that prerogative; Israel lies in its shadow.

The importance America places on Israeli-Chinese ties was highlighted by a trip by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Israel during the pandemic for the express purpose of directly sharing the administration’s profound concern for Chinese entanglement in Israel’s infrastructure, and research and development across many cutting-edge fields, coupled with a warning to Israel that America might need to rethink its security relationship if Israel doesn’t disengage from some of this activity. Pompeo has said that unless Israel reduces its cooperation with China, the US might reduce “intelligence sharing and co-location of security facilities” with Israel.
How can Israel navigate the divide between Azerbaijan and Armenia?
When Israel expresses its disappointment about this, the Azeris say that as a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, they need the countries in that group to support it diplomatically in the dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, and that backing Israel in international forums could jeopardize that support.

This is also the reason the Azeris give for never having opened an embassy in Israel. Azerbaijan is one of Israel’s top weapons customers, yet doesn’t have an embassy in Tel Aviv. Why not? Same reason, they are afraid of angering other Muslim countries whose support they need on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Does Israel like this situation? Obviously not. But it is willing to put up with it because of the realization that Azerbaijan has other interests as well. It now expects Azerbaijan to demonstrate that same sort of understanding to Israel’s balancing its interests and wanting to stay out of the recent flare up with Armenia.

As to the Armenians, disappointed that Israel sells arms to its enemy, Jerusalem also has a ready reply to them as well: What about your relations with Iran?

Armenia, which like Azerbaijan also borders Iran, has a robust diplomatic, trade and even defense relationship with the Islamic Republic.
For instance, in October, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian visited Tehran and told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that Armenia remains committed to closer ties with Iran despite the American sanctions.

“Our position is that our relations with Iran must be beyond geopolitical influences as much as possible because we are neighbors and have many common interests and we need to cooperate for many more centuries and millennia,” Pashinian was quoted as saying.

In 2017, Armenia’s defense minister at the time, Vigen Sargsyan, said during a visit to Tehran that “Armenia seeks to expand its cooperation with Iran in the defense sphere.”

So when the Armenians come to Israel with complaints about arms sales to its enemies, Jerusalem can reply by highlighting Armenia’s close ties with Israel’s own worst enemy. In realpolitik, sometimes your friends – looking after their own interests – play footsie with your enemies. Azerbaijan does it, Armenia does it... and so does Israel.
Palestinians shouldn’t bet on Biden to deliver peace or a state – opinion
The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is pinning high hopes that Donald Trump loses the upcoming US presidential elections and is replaced by the presumed Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. The reality that Palestinians have to recognize early on is that Biden is incapable of delivering a Palestinian state or brokering a permanent peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.

From a Palestinian perspective, a Biden presidency brings with it these positive elements.

Biden: a) does not support unilateral Israeli annexation of any parts of the West Bank; b) opposes Israel’s settlement activity; c) opposes the anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign but would not criminalize it under US law; d) warns Israel that the US “cannot fully safeguard Israelis without peace,” and e) supports a two-state solution.

Many of these policies are not any different from those of former president Barack Obama. And where did those policies lead? They led to a halting process of futile negotiations while Israel continued to confiscate Palestinian lands in the West Bank and simultaneously expanded and built new settlements.

Palestinian leaders have to remember that despite the vast difference in policies between Trump and Biden, Biden’s policy positions do not necessarily guarantee that he is willing to exert any pressure on Israel to agree to a Palestinian state that meets the minimal demands of the Palestinians.
What Does Susan Rice Bring to a Biden Ticket?
It appears that Rice repurposed U.S. intelligence resources to spy on American citizens because she wanted to know how the incoming Trump administration’s foreign policy plans might upend Obama’s signature initiatives. In particular, she would have listened to their talks with America’s Arab Gulf allies because she wanted to know what the Trump team was saying about issues that mattered to the Arabs—like Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Susan Rice understood that Flynn’s conversations with foreign officials would give her direct insight into his boss’s thinking, just as her own conversations would have reflected Obama’s. She and Biden were, according to a list declassified in May, among the 40 Obama officials who spied on Flynn by unmasking his identity from classified intercepts.

The Obama team saw Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak as an especially important window into Trump’s thinking given the outgoing White House’s last-minute priorities. Obama was determined on his way out of office to stick it to Israel at the U.N., and the only thing standing between him and Benjamin Netanyahu’s rib cage was the man Kislyak answered to. For what Obama wanted to accomplish, he believed that Vladimir Putin’s vote on the U.N. Security Council could prove decisive.

At the end of May, Grenell declassified Flynn’s calls with Kislyak. In their Dec. 23, 2016, conversation, they spoke about a U.N. Security Council resolution regarding Israeli settlements that was engineered by the Obama administration but was sponsored by rotating members of the Security Council that the outgoing White House persuaded to bring to a vote.

Obama chose to hide behind smaller powers for good reason. Since the Cold War, a central plank of the U.S.-Israel alliance has been Washington’s use of its Security Council veto power to shoot down anti-Israel votes. But here was Obama pushing a resolution holding that Israel was illegally occupying Palestinian territories, including holy sites in Jerusalem. Moscow, as Kislyak told Flynn, had to support UNSCR 2334 since, unlike the United States, it had always backed the Arabs’ contention that Israel was illegally occupying Palestinian land.

But there was a second Obama anti-Israel resolution that Russia knocked down before it got to the U.N.—a plan to force Israel to agree to a Palestinian state based on the 1948 borders. As Israel Hayom reported in June, Netanyahu told Putin that it would do serious harm to Israel and destabilize the region. The Russian president agreed with the Israeli prime minister and vowed to veto the resolution if it came to a vote.

Obama was clearly counting on Putin to back the resolution. When he understood the domestic political consequences of pushing an initiative so damaging to Israel that it alarmed Russia—the historical patron of the Arab rejectionist bloc—he backed off.

In a Dec. 29 phone call, Kislyak told Flynn that Moscow had already notified the outgoing administration they were not going to support Obama’s parting shot at Jerusalem. Still, it must have irked Obama to hear the two of them discuss his failure—and his ham-fisted efforts to undermine U.S.-Russia relations.
Pelosi Endorses Tlaib for Re-Election to Michigan Seat
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has endorsed Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for re-election in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

“Representative Rashida Tlaib is a tireless advocate for the residents of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District,” said Pelosi in the statement on Wednesday. “Rep. Tlaib never stops fighting for her district, which she is proud to represent. And I am proud to endorse her for re-election.”

Tlaib is seeking re-election in the state’s 13th Congressional District, whose Democratic primary is on Aug. 4. She faces Detroit City Council president and former congresswoman Brenda Jones in the primary.

The endorsement comes two weeks after Pelosi endorsed another member of the so-called “Squad,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who is running for re-election in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, whose Democratic primary is on Aug. 11.

Like Omar, Tlaib has also been accused of peddling an anti-Israel and antisemitic agenda.

It started with displaying a map in her congressional office with a note posted over Israel that reads “Palestine.”

Shortly thereafter, she attacked Republican lawmakers and opponents of the anti-Israel BDS movement by saying “they forgot what country they represent.”

Tlaib met with Hezbollah supporter Abbas Hamideh, who has said that Israel is a “terrorist entity,” even though the congresswoman said that “I do not agree with the statements brought to my attention.”

In May, she said that Palestinians enabled a “safe haven” for Jews after the Holocaust, thereby reiterating her support for a one-state solution.


MEMRI: Senior Saudi Journalist 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed: We Need Joint Arab Defense Treaty Against Iran, Turkey, Which Are 'Greatest Threat Arabs Have Faced In Past Half-Century'
In the recent days, Saudi Arabia has made intensive efforts to coordinate with the Arab countries and form a uniform Arab position on the Libya crisis. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan visited Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco and met with senior officials in those countries. His visits come against the backdrop the escalating hostilities in Libya; the advance of the Sarraj government forces, backed by Turkey, on the strategic city of Sirte and the Oil Crescent region in the east of the country, and reports on the ongoing influx of mercenaries and arms dispatched by Turkey into Libya. Also in the background are threats by Saudi Arabia's ally Egypt to intervene militarily in Libya and even arm Libyan tribes if the Sarraj government forces and Turkish forces approach Sirte and the eastern parts of the country, which are close to Egypt's border.[1]

During his meetings with Egypt's president 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi and foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, bin Farhan expressed full support for Egypt and its positions vis-a-vis Libya. The two sides stressed the importance of coordinated Arab action aimed at finding solutions within the framework of the joint Arab mechanisms.[2] Bin Farhan's meetings in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco were likewise devoted to the situation in Libya and the need to bring peace and stability to that country. According to some reports, bin Faisal relayed reassuring messages from Egypt to Tunisia and Algeria, after the latter two countries voiced concern about Egypt's suggestion to arm Libyan tribes.[3]

The Saudi press has published articles explaining the goals of the kingdom's current intensive diplomacy. The July 29 editorial of the daily Al-Riyadh stated that Saudi Arabia has launched an initiative aimed at uniting the Arab position, in order to thwart Turkey's and Iran's "blunt intervention" in Arab affairs and their efforts to undermine Arab security. Senior journalist 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the former editor of the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily and former director of Saudi Arabia's Al-Arabiya TV, wrote, in a similar vein, that Turkey and Iran are "the greatest threat the Arabs have faced in the past half-century." Fifteen Arab countries, he said, are under threat of Iranian or Turkish invasion, and some are even controlled by these countries and are engaged in warfare. He stressed that this situation requires the Arab countries to unite and form a defense treaty.

"We seem to be facing the greatest threat we have had to contend with in the past half-century. Iran and Turkey – each on its own – are expanding in the region in an unprecedented manner, putting all its countries at risk. The Turks in Libya are a direct threat to Egypt, the biggest threat [it has faced] since it signed the Camp David Peace Accords [with Israel], which put an end to the possibilities of waging war against it. Tunisia and Algeria are threatened indirectly by the concentration of armed Islamic organizations, comprising [fighters] of various nationalities, in Tripoli, [which is under the control of the Sarraj government forces]. Sudan is also vulnerable to infiltrations by these organizations, although its border with Libya is the shortest, [measuring] about 400 kilometers.
UAE warns Israel that annexation risks losing out on normalization
In the past few years, unprecedented economic and security cooperation between Israel and United Arab Emirates has grown, given the common threat from Iran. At stake are the Israeli diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi housed in the renewable energy agency, along with an informal trade office in Dubai. Just in May, Etihad Airways flew the first direct commercial flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv to provide aid to Palestinians affected by coronavirus. Whatever the flight’s purpose, it has suggested the type of normalization possible going forward. If Israel wants more, meeting Emiratis half-way is a long term investment that Israel should take it into account, if not embrace.

Emiratis still view any movement toward a one-state solution, even a symbolic one, as a dire threat to Emirati national security and a complication of all of their efforts toward regional peace that they have spent the last two decades building upon. They foresee a very unstable one state full of conflicts and a prime propaganda victory—the opportunity of a lifetime for malign Iranian actors in Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere around the region.

As such, the UAE has been unprecedentedly public in its warnings to Israelis about the consequences of annexation.

On June 13, the prominent Emirati ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, made headlines when he published an article in Hebrew in the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot. In it, he addressed the Israeli public directly on annexation and its implications on jeopardizing relations with the Arab world, a more bold move than the Jordanian or Egyptian ambassadors stationed in Tel Aviv dared to make.

This article was followed by a statement written in Hebrew from Emirati foreign ministry director Hend al-Otaiba asking the Israeli public to rethink its annexation plans. Two weeks later, she pointedly highlighted signs of normalization between the two states by tweeting “two private companies in UAE sign an agreement with two companies in Israel to develop research technology to fight COVID-19.” Moreover, Anwar Gargash – minister of state for foreign affairs – became the highest ranking Arab official to address the American Jewish Committee annual conference last month, where he talked openly about the potential of peace with Israel.
Israeli railways fall victim to alleged Iranian cyberattack
The tensions between Israel and Iran was dragged into the open once more following an alleged cyberattack on Israel's railway infrastructure, according to the Andoulu Agency.

The purported attack, comes only months after previous attempts, allegedly by Iran, to decommission Israeli water treatment plants across the country, in last April.

This time, some 150 industrial servers that are used by the Israeli railways were targeted by a group of hackers linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Anadolu Agency reported.

As a proof of their supposed success, the group, called Cyber Avengers, released a map detailing Israel's train network, including some 28 stations that fell prey to the attack, on several Telegram channels.

According to the group's statement, as cited by Andoulu Agency, the operation was meant to serve a warning: "[to] show that we can plan the collision of tens of trains if we so wish."

The operation began on the same date and time of former IRGC head Qasem Soleimani's assassination by US forces in Iraq, some six months ago, and lasted for ten days.

The group additionally warned that "the worst has yet to come," sending a clear message that the covert war that has been allegedly raging between the two countries is far from over.
Future Lone Soldiers Land in Israel on Two Group Flights
Two flights of new olim arrived in Israel this week—one on Monday and another on Tuesday—with 78 lone soldiers headed for service in the Israel Defense Forces. Another 42 individuals also came to make their homes in the Jewish state.

Most hailed from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California.

The groups were sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh, along with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.

The future soldiers, who are making aliyah without family, will join 3,500 others from around the world under the Nefesh B’Nefesh-Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program.

“I decided to make aliyah after I visited twice and fell in love with Israel,” said future soldier Naomi Jaffe, 18, from Boulder, Colo. “I have wanted to challenge myself and be part of Israel’s society, and I thought the best way to do it is to make aliyah after high school and join the IDF. I want to be part of something bigger than myself and live in a place where I feel is meaningful for me.”

Once enlisted, the new immigrants become part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program which cares for thousands of olim soldiers from around the world currently in active service. This program offers guidance, support and care for lone soldiers during each stage of their service, including after release from the army and during the adjustment stages to civilian life.

“Military service in the IDF is difficult and challenging for every soldier, and even more so for lone soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, FIDF national director and CEO. “The decision to enlist in the IDF is a brave and noble act—one rooted in a deep sense of mission, determination and love of the State of Israel. This is true Zionism.”


Hamas official: Palestine is not for sale
Palestine is not for sale, a member of Hamas' politburo said Friday.

In a sermon at a mosque in the Gaza Strip in honor of the Eid al-Adha holiday, Khalil al-Hayya declared, "Our people and the resistance throughout the world will not concede a grain of our land, even if all the billions in the land are laid at our feet."

Al-Hayya was speaking after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told a Qatari media outlet earlier this week that the US had offered the organization $15 billion to disarm.

"The Palestinians are united in a struggle against the plans for occupation, first and foremost the Trump plan, which results in the annexation of territory," Al-Hayya said.

"What will remain of hour honor if the occupation annexes the land?" he asked.


Ukraine Welcomes ‘Constructive’ First Talks With Iran on Downing of Airliner
Ukraine said on Friday that its first round of talks with Iran about the downing of a Ukrainian airliner shortly after takeoff in Tehran in January had been constructive, and that it was determined “to bring Iran to justice.”

All 176 people on board ‐‐ including 57 Canadians ‐‐ were killed when Iranian forces struck the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 jet. Iran said they mistook the passenger plane for a missile at a time of high tensions with the United States.

“The talks ended late last night. The talks lasted 11 hours. In general, they were constructive,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video briefing after meeting with an Iranian delegation.

Kuleba said the sides had agreed the terms of next round of talks and that Kyiv would not allow anyone to drag out the negotiations.

Later on Friday, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said the next round was set for October.

“Of course, if the negotiations with Iran are unsuccessful, then we will go to international courts and I have absolutely no doubt that we will bring Iran to justice. But this is plan B,” Kuleba said.

“And plan A is negotiations with Iran and the solution of all these issues and the payment of compensation. We saw Iran was disposed to a serious and substantive conversation,” he said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in February that Ukraine was not satisfied with the size of compensation Iran had offered to families of Ukrainians killed in the incident and Kuleba said on Thursday that Ukraine would make every effort to maximize compensations.
Explosions heard near Tabriz in Iran
Explosions were heard on Friday afternoon near the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz.

Several Iranian sources claim that the explosions came from a military base belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.Other sources claim that the explosions were merely fireworks.










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