Thursday, January 07, 2021

From Ian:

After the Abraham Accords, the Palestinians Have Lost the Arab Street
The support of the “Arab street” for the Palestinian cause was supposed (at the very least) to intimidate the leaders of the Arabic-speaking states from making peace with Israel. With regard to the two states that dared defy the purported threat of the Arab street and sign formal peace treaties with Israel, Egypt and Jordan, maintenance of popular support for the Palestinian cause was meant to prevent cold peace from growing warm.

One can hardly deny the intimidating and chilling effect Arab popular opinion, whether real or imagined, has had on Arab state leaders. Though Jordan’s King Abdullah, like his father before him, has held numerous secret and not so secret meetings with Israeli leaders, received military aid from the Jewish state, and maintained excellent security relations with Israeli security personnel in a common and successful effort to quell terrorism on both sides of the border, he has never challenged the cultural and educational boycott of Israel that prevails in Jordanian society and the anti-Jewish themes that pervade the local media.

Other Arab states, which have at times maintained consular activity, permitted Israelis with foreign passports to engage in business and commerce, and, in the case of Morocco, facilitated extensive tourism from Israel, followed the same path of cultural and educational boycott.

But three months into the Abraham Accords process, there is no doubt that Palestinian leaders on both sides of the PA-Hamas divide are deeply disappointed by, and worried about, the passivity of the Arab street.

And so they should be. If the passivity of the citizens of the very wealthy UAE and comparatively wealthy Bahrain could be explained away by the ability of its leadership to buy the support of the citizenry for unpopular policies like normalization, the argument wears thin regarding Sudan, one of the poorest Arabic-speaking countries, as well as the populous and relatively poor state of Morocco. This fear might explain why the Abraham Accords process began with the UAE as an initial test case: it was the richest of the states that were likely to normalize relations with Israel.

Contrary to the views of Israel’s many detractors — a prominent example of whom is Jamal Zahalka, former member of the Knesset, former head of the Balad party, and soon-to-be recipient of a lavish Israeli government pension — the growing indifference of the Arab street to the Palestinian issue is a long-term phenomenon. It displays occasional spikes of interest, but they are always short-lived.

A Google Trends graph of searches for the phrase “normalization with Israel” in Arabic — a phrase with a derogatory connotation in much of the Arab world — dating from 2004 shows that interest spiked more in the first decade of the new century than in the second. The graph is characterized by rigid rather than curved lines, which reflects the relatively small number of searches on the subject.
Palestinian ideology is the biggest obstacle to peace - opinion
The problem for Palestinianism is not “the occupation” in 1967, but Israel’s existence. In this view, Palestine is the exclusive Arab homeland, and Zionists are colonialists; Palestine is an integral part of the Arab world, completely under Arab sovereignty. This is axiomatic. There are no exceptions and no compromises.

Palestinianism – promoted in the media, mosques and schools to include anti-Jewish incitement, denial of the Holocaust and Jewish history, and rejection of the right of Jewish national self-determination – is the greatest obstacle to peace.

The alternative is a true Palestinianism liberation movement dedicated to meaningful human values and creativity, free of the destructive and self-destructive agenda of terrorist organizations.

A new Palestinianism can promote peace. For those who seek to express a Palestinian national identity and self-determination, they can move to Jordan and make it an economic, social and political oasis. The Hashemite rulers of Jordan claim to be descendants of Muhammad, the founder of Islam; Mecca and Medina are Muslim spiritual centers in Saudi Arabia with which Jordan shares a boundary. Jordan also shares a boundary with Iraq, ancient Mesopotamia.

This represents a potential cultural and spiritual link that can provide an ideology based on peace and reconciliation with Israel. Mount Nebo, in Jordan, the place where Moses (whom Muslims consider a prophet) died, can become a symbol for a Mosaic Accord, a bridge of understanding between countries and people.
Bank of Palestine to freeze terrorists' payments
The Bank of Palestine has recently discontinued its work with the accounts of terrorists who receive benefits from the Palestinian Authority.

According to official statements from the terrorist organizations, the bank has informed terrorists and their family members that they must withdraw all funds and close their accounts.

The decision stems from the warning the Bank of Palestine received from the Palestinian Media Watch, a non-profit Israeli institute that researches the Palestinian society.

The institute warned the bank about a year ago that according to the 2016 Counter-Terrorism Law, financial entities involved in the pay for slay system will be viewed as supporting terrorists – and will therefore be exposed to enormous legal and economic risks.

Israel's Military Advocate General had been delaying the application of the Counter-Terrorism Law in Judea and Samaria for years. Only after the murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and following a demand by Palestinian Media Watch attorney Maurice Hirsch, who also represents the family, was Israel forced to clarify that the law does indeed apply to Judea and Samaria.

The Palestinian Authority prepared for the shift in advance. It paid a large part of terrorists' salaries several months in advance and is looking for new ways to continue the payments despite international pressure to stop doing so.


Seth Frantzman: Medved: How Israel and Gulf economies can do the 'business of peace'
Business relationships, if they are going to be long term, will be community and socially based,” said Sabah al-Binali at an online event with Our Crowd’s Jon Medved, hosted with the Tel Aviv’s International Salon on Tuesday.

The event, in partnership with Sharaka, a group that promotes coexistence in the wake of the Abraham Accords, discussed the “Business of Peace” and looked at new Israel relations with the United Arab Emirates. The event was the latest to underpin the excitement in the Gulf and Israel for the new peace deals. They have been cemented along with new normalization agreements with Morocco and Sudan, as well the end of the Gulf crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Medved said that the really important business that is going to be done in the future with the Gulf and others is about gaining trust and building a long-lasting relationship. While Israelis and Emiratis are moving fast, the need to deepen the partnerships that are developing is important.

He noted that he is building human and corporate relationships. Binali, who agreed with these notions, is the Gulf partner for Our Crowd. Medved is a serial entrepreneur and, according to The Washington Post, “one of Israel’s leading high tech venture capitalists.”

Medved looked back with fond memories to a trip to Abu Dhabi in 2019 when he was invited to speak at an investment conference sponsored by a sovereign wealth fund and he noted that the Gulf was already open to Israel at that time.

People in the UAE wanted to hear about Israel. “We saw this coming,” he says. In the past, companies he has worked with have had partners in the Gulf. He praised the leadership on both sides and the help of the US for making this peace deal come to fruition.


Morocco's King to Netanyahu: Opening embassies is the 'natural next step'
In the wake of the signing of the normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco, the opening of embassies would be the "natural next step" of the process, Morocco's King Mohammed VI told Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu in a call last week, Axios reported. The King of Morocco responded positively when Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat raised the embassy issue in a meeting in Rabat two weeks ago.

During their visit to Rabat in which White House Special Advisor Jared Kushner led an Israeli-US delegation, the Israel and Morocco however only committed to reopening the liaison offices.

This week, an Israeli delegation visited Rabat to inspect Israel's former liaison office, which was shut down 20 years ago, but that is still owned by the Israeli government, Axios said, adding that Morocco also held onto its property in Tel Aviv, and a Moroccan delegation made a similar visit there last week to see if the office could be reopened on a short timetable.

If Morocco would rather reopen liaison offices rather than embassies, Axios said, it could be because Morocco was waiting to see if the Biden administration would roll back Trump's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara before going all the way with Israel.
Israeli PM Netanyahu and US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Address Media



Alleged Israeli airstrike reported in southern Syria
An alleged Israeli airstrike targeted locations in southern Syria as explosions were heard in the skies over Damascus on Wednesday night, according to Syrian state media SANA.

The strikes were launched from the Golan Heights, a Syrian military source told SANA, claiming that most of the incoming missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defenses.

Footage on Syrian state television reportedly showed a multi-story building on fire due to the strike.

The opposition-affiliated Halab Today TV reported that more than five strikes targeted sites near the First Division of the Syrian military in the Al-Kiswah area, south of Damascus. The Syrian Step News Agency reported that the strikes also targeted Iranian militia sites in Al-Dimass, located west of Damascus near the Lebanese-Syrian border, and Sahnaya, located south of Damascus.

This is the third alleged Israeli airstrike reported in Syria in the past two weeks.


Prominent Palestinian activist found guilty of obstructing security forces, assault
A military court on Wednesday found a prominent Palestinian activist guilty on six charges related to his participation in demonstrations in the West Bank city of Hebron against Jewish settlements and alleged human rights violations.

Issa Amro was convicted on three counts of protesting without a permit, two counts of obstructing security forces, and one count of assault. The charges date back to 2010, according to a statement put out by his supporters, which said sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 8.

It was not clear what kind of sentence he might receive. The Israel Defense Forces and Amro's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amro is a well-known activist who has been detained multiple times, often after confrontations with settlers in which he claims he was attacked and beaten. The Palestinian Authority detained him for a week in 2017 over a Facebook post critical of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Amro's supporters say the charges are linked to his participation in various peaceful protests over the years. They said the assault charge stems from a previously closed case in 2010 in which Amro allegedly shoved someone during a scuffle in which he said he was assaulted.
PMW: PA lauds Fatah’s terror history, glorifies mass murderers
As part of the celebrations of Abbas’ Fatah Movement’s 56th anniversary, official PA TV broadcast a short video lauding and emphasizing Fatah’s terror history. While Abbas is heard speaking about Fatah’s “achievements,” the filler shows pictures of terrorists and mass murderers who participated or planned the most lethal terror attacks against Israel: Arch-terrorist Abu Jihad who planned the murder of at least 125; Dalal Mughrabi who led the murder of 37 civilians, among them 12 children; and Salah Khalaf who headed the Black September terror organization that carried out the massacre of the 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972”:

In his message glorifying Fatah’s history, Abbas used the PA euphemism for terror that all Palestinians recognize, praising the Palestinian “struggle.” He also said that Fatah’s goal and creation was “in order to remove the historical injustice that befell it and erase the crimes that were committed against it.”

The PA repeatedly tells its people that Israel’s creation is a “historical injustice” and “crime.” For example, on the hundred-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which recognized the Jewish people’s right to rebuild their state in the land of Israel, the PA, Fatah, and Abbas repeatedly exposed their ideology, which fundamentally denies Israel’s right to exist, referring to the Balfour Declaration and Israel’s creation as a ”historical injustice” and ”crime”:


New House Foreign Affairs Chief Eyes Resuming U.S. Aid to Palestinians
The new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Tuesday he would look to resume humanitarian aid to the Palestinians as part of a push by President-elect Joe Biden for a two-state solution.

In an interview with AFP, Representative Gregory Meeks also supported the return of a diplomatic presence following outgoing President Donald Trump's shuttering of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington.

"I'm a firm believer in the two-state solution, providing both parties with self-determination, because that's the only way I believe that we can ensure a Jewish state of Israel that is viable and a peaceful Palestinian state, where they end up becoming interdependent in trade and other mechanisms," Meeks said.

"So we may need to restart the US assistance to Palestinian people, demonstrating that the United States is ready to lead again," he said.

"I think it's important, working with the Biden administration, that we review and look at humanitarian areas of which we can find further dollars to show that we care about humanity."
The Succession Battle in the Palestinian Authority Heats Up Ahead of the Change of Government in the United States
Ahead of the change in the U.S. government and the rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas regarding a series of elections in the Palestinian territories, Mohammed Dahlan launched a major media campaign against PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas through outlets he owns. He revealed the reasons for their personal disagreement, why he was expelled from the Fatah movement, and the failures of the Palestinian Authority chairman.

On January 3, 2020, Dahlan broadcast on his Al Kuffiya network a two-part documentary program called “The Lost Story” (Al-Ryawaia Almakoda) detailing his fierce dispute with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The program has created many echoes in the territories because, it is claimed, that one of the main reasons PA Chairman Abbas is acting against Dahlan is his 2010 revelation that Abbas’ embezzled more than $2 billion from the Palestinian Authority Investment Fund.

The television documentary also reported that Mahmoud Abbas was willing to reconcile with Mohammed Dahlan and even submitted an offer of reconciliation to him through a mediator who sought $10 million. Dahlan rejected the offer. The program revealed for the first time documents and audio recordings of senior Fatah figures allegedly confirming Dahlan’s accusations against Abbas.

The accusations in the broadcast against Mahmoud Abbas include:
- The personal responsibility for the fall of the Gaza Strip to Hamas and the failure of the Fatah movement in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections.
- Responsibility for the decline in the significance of the Palestinian problem in the eyes of Arab states.
- Responsibility for the weakening of the Fatah movement in the West Bank and the danger that the PA’s rule would fall into the hands of the Hamas movement.
- Attempts by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to kill Dahlan. As a result, Dahlan feared for his life and fled the West Bank to Jordan and then on to the United Arab Emirates.
Exposing the Lie about Israel's Siege on Gaza
The massive political divide between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas might be transforming into a mutual economic siege. The Economic Ministry in Gaza has announced a ban on the importation of milk products from the West Bank, ostensibly to protect the local industry.

The announcement also exposes the lie about Israel's presumed siege on Gaza. If Israel has imposed an economic siege on Gaza, how can there be importation of dairy products from the West Bank into Gaza - let alone over 400 other items? If there are Israeli restrictions on imports into Gaza, they are limited to products and materials used by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations against Israel.

Israel enjoys cooperation in science, industry, and commerce with scores of states. It would be more than willing to include the Palestinians as well.
Hamas: Qassem Soleimani Gave Us Suitcases Stuffed with $22 Million Cash
In a memorial tribute to Qassem Soleimani, a senior Hamas official boasted that the assassinated military leader had provided Hamas with $22 million in cash in 2006. Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Quds Force (IRGC-QF), was assassinated on January 2, 2020, in an American drone strike.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a founder and senior leader of Hamas, disclosed to several television channels, including Al-Alam, an Iranian propaganda station targeting Arab audiences. His revelation provoked a wave of angry reactions on Iran’s social networks, and the hashtag #Dollar_Bagage (#چمدان_دلار) trended with thousands of mentions in Persian.

“I Saw Suitcases Packed with $22 Million”

Al-Zahar said that the Hamas delegation, of which he was a member, visited Iran in 2006 and met with Qassem Soleimani in Tehran. Al-Zahar said that during the meeting, the delegation emphasized the need for assistance for paying salaries and improving Hamas’ dawah charity system in Gaza. A senior Hamas official added that the next day, “When we were at Tehran airport, I saw suitcases with $22 million. Each of the suitcases weighed 40 kilograms and could not take any more from Iran even though it was agreed with Suleimani that Iran would transfer a larger sum.”2 Al-Zahar with Ahmadinejad

The publication of an extensive article on al-Zahar’s remarks, together with a commentary on Radio Farda’s3 popular website, on December 28, 2020, generated a huge wave of critical comments in Iran and abroad, seriously damaging the regime’s propaganda campaign on the eve of the first anniversary of Soleimani’s death. Some social network operators mocked Soleimani and called him the “Dollar Commander” and even displayed pictures and videos from Gaza showing residents ripping down Soleimani posters hung by Hamas throughout the Gaza Strip.4, 5
Disgraced Hamas Commander Claims IDF Has Attack Tunnels Running into Gaza
“Israel has 430 tunnels penetrating the Gaza Strip ahead of a surprise attack,” claimed Basel Salahiya, a member of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip.

Salahiya, 45, who operated behind the military nicknames Abu Imad al-Tiar or Tsahiv al-Romi, revealed in videos posted on social media what he claims to be a series of Hamas’ security failures and suspicions of treason among the top members of Hamas’ military wing.

According to him, Israel has been preparing for a comprehensive attack on the Gaza Strip for the past six years, essentially since the end of Operation Protective Edge, and has hundreds of tunnels, pits, and networks, through which the attack will take place into the Strip.

In the video posted on YouTube, Salahiya shows the “map of the tunnels” with openings and underground branches and states that these are usually three meters deep.

H says he drew the map of the tunnels by cross-referencing technology acquired in Jordan to locate underground activity with technology operated by his hacker unit.

Salahiya’s unit was shut down a year ago and he was dismissed as its commander.


Khaled Abu Toameh: Egypt: The European Union Should Stop Lying
Earlier this month, Egypt's military killed 15 Islamist terrorists in Sinai. The army said that since July 22, it has eliminated 77 terrorists as part of Egypt's efforts to combat terrorism at all of the country's strategic borders.

[Egyptian political analyst Dr. Abdel Azim] Ramadan said that the European Parliament's anti-Egypt resolution indicates the presence and remarkable activity of the Muslim Brotherhood lobby inside European Union bodies, including the European Parliament.

"Why does the European Parliament give itself the right to evaluate others? The resolution, aiming to put pressure on Egypt, is in itself opportunism and a clear violation of human rights." — Egypt's Coordination of Youth for Parties and Politicians, Youm7.com, December 19, 2020.

[Prominent Egyptian media personality, Ahmed] Diab accused the Europeans of turning a blind eye to human rights violations in Turkey.... "All the enemies of the Egyptian state were happy with this unacceptable resolution." he said.

Egyptians fear that the jihadi terrorists will interpret the European Parliament's resolution as a green light to continue their terror campaign to overthrow the Sisi government and bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power. What is certain, meanwhile, is that the resolution is being celebrated by Egypt's enemies -- not a good sign for the future of the war on terrorism.
Qatari TV Host Claims Israelis Stole From Dubai Hotels
Israeli media picked up a story reported by a Qatari TV host last week, claiming that Israelis had been caught stealing from hotels in the United Arab Emirates. The unverified report was uploaded to YouTube and viewed more than 300,000 times.

Following publication, Israeli outlets were quick to republish the report, which was then picked up by foreign news outlets such as Hezbollah’s Al-Manar, the Tehran Times and the Jordanian Albawaba News.

Making the claim was Abd Al-Aziz Khazraj Al-Ansarai, a television host and sociologist with a history of false allegations against Israel.

The Qatari media figure has a history of making controversial accusations, including a claim that the Beirut Port explosion on Aug. 4 was “Divine punishment” for blasphemy, sodomy and plastic surgery in Lebanon.

On Jan. 3, Al-Ansarai claimed that Israeli tourists steal equipment from Emirati airplanes on flights between Israel and UAE, such as life jackets and body lotions.

Qatar, where Al-Ansari lives, has been engaged in a years-long feud with its Arab neighbors. Although this week, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies announced that it would restore ties with Qatar.
Iran Is Not Interested in Closing the Loopholes in the Nuclear Deal
One of Israel's key concerns with the Biden administration's approach to the Iranian nuclear question is that if the incoming administration follows through on its promise to return to the JCPOA once Iran returns to compliance, then the U.S. may find itself with limited incentives to induce Iran into making further concessions.

In addition, Washington may discover that Iran is not interested in a more expansive deal than the one signed in 2015 and that Tehran does not intend to barter away the loopholes which it painstakingly negotiated in the previous agreement.

Jerusalem should encourage Washington to withhold concessions that Iran views as vital during phase one so as to incentivize Tehran to commit to the second phase of negotiations. In addition, Israel should press the U.S. to maintain maximal economic leverage for phase two in order to create the conditions that allow for an agreement that restricts Iran's nuclear program to the greatest extent possible.

Israel should push for an extension of the nuclear restrictions' "sunsets" by thirty years, a more intrusive "anytime anywhere" inspections regime, and greater restrictions on Iran's nuclear R&D.

In light of the Abraham Accords, Israel should also seek to leverage its newfound partners in the region by developing a coordinated approach to U.S. policy on Iran based on a shared interest of reining in the Iranian threat. Iran's subversive activities throughout the Middle East cannot realistically be regulated by any document and must be countered on the ground by a U.S.-led coalition of regional allies both before and after a new nuclear deal has been reached.

It is in America's interest to bring its Middle Eastern allies on board with its Iran policy. Failing to take the interests of regional partners into account may result in states taking independent steps to protect their vital interests.
Obama 3.0 Reboot: Iran Deal Negotiator Wendy Sherman Tapped as Deputy Secy of State
President-elect Joe Biden is filling out the positions for his incoming administration, including those at the State Department, with more Obama Administration graduates.

Former US negotiator of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Wendy Sherman, has been tapped by Biden to serve as incoming (nominated) Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Number Two in the position of deputy secretary of state, according to Politico.

Sherman, born in Baltimore, MD to a Jewish family, began her professional life as a social worker dedicated to helping battered women and the urban poor; an experience that led her to take on the role of social activism and later, politics.

In September 2011, during the Obama Administration, Sherman was appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. In this role she led the US team through six rounds of talks with Iran and a group of five other world powers – known as the P5+1 talks — as they negotiated to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear development program.

Sherman was the lead negotiator for the United States in the talks that resulted in the 159-page agreement known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), or Iran nuclear deal that was reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015 between Tehran, the United States and five other world powers. Sherman also served in the past as policy coordinator on North Korea, and as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs.

The United States under President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal on May 8, 2018, citing numerous violations of the agreement by Iran and concerns the Islamic Republic was continuing to work unfettered towards a nuclear weapon using the benefits gained by the deal.
JINSA Podcast: The State of Human Rights in Iran
The current state of human rights in Iran is horrendous and one that often fails to receive enough attention from the international community. In this episode, Erielle speaks with investigative journalist and founder of The Foreign Desk Lisa Daftari about the struggles various minority groups face in Iran, the state of the current dissident movement in Iran, and the power of social media to bring to light the regime’s abuses.

Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Org.: “None of the AEOI Activities Have Been Slowed Down or Stopped" Ali-Akbar Salehi head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) detailed recent developments in the country’s nuclear field in a press conference, aired on IRINN TV (Iran) on January 5, 2021. He said that the nuclear project in Iran is the largest industrial project in Iran and it is the most costly. Salehi said that the yellow cake production has been multiplied by eight, he added that production of the 20% enriched uranium started with 24 hours, and that Iran is now capable of producing 120 tons of uranium enriched by 20% per year, as required by the law passed in the Majles. He said: “None of the AEOI activities have been slowed down or stopped.” He added that Iran is in the process of installing over 320 IR2M centrifuges, and in a year’s time, Iran will be able to produce 1,000 IR6 centrifuges. He added that Iran’s president Rouhani gave instructions to finance this very costly project.


Iranian General: ‘Strong Evidence’ Israel Behind Hit on Nuclear Mastermind
Iran on Wednesday again blamed Israel for the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, claiming that it had “strong evidence” of Jerusalem’s involvement in the Nov. 27 killing of the man believed to be the head of Tehran’s military nuclear program.

Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami sent a letter to 60 defense ministers worldwide requesting that they condemn “the Zionist regime” for the “inhuman, illegitimate and felonious move.”

“Iran possesses strong evidence that the Zionist regime was involved in the assassination. The Zionist intelligence services have a dark history of assassinating Iranian scientists,” the letter said.

Israel, suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade, has not commented on the assassination.

Hatami praised Fakhrizadeh in the letter, claiming that his scientific achievements have helped Iran fight the coronavirus pandemic. He called on the international community to “put aside the double standard” in its approach towards state-sponsored terrorism.

He further hinted that the lack of response from the international community could lead to an Iranian response to the assassination, which might undermine regional and global stability.





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