Thursday, February 27, 2014

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas: Teaching Human Rights is Against Palestinian, Islamic Culture
What is also worrying Hamas is that UNRWA is seeking to teach Palestinian children about the disastrous repercussions of wars and violence by depicting a child burning a military uniform. "This does not serve the cause of human rights," the Hamas official said. "They want to raise children on calmness."
The Hamas protests forced UNRWA to suspend its plan to teach the subject of human rights in its schools. Some Palestinians criticized UNRWA for "succumbing" to threats, while others said they were aware that the international agency had no choice but to comply.
In an attempt to calm Hamas, UNRWA denied that its school curriculum contravened Palestinian tradition and culture.
A spokesman for UNRWA said that his agency consults with "all components of Palestinian society" about its human rights courses.
Hamas's real problem with the UNRWA curriculum is that it could spoil the Islamist movement's ongoing efforts to stir the hearts and minds of Palestinian children to wage jihad against the "enemies" of Islam.
Hamas wants Palestinian children to be taught how to become suicide bombers and seek the death of Jews and "infidels."
Israeli Foreign Ministry report on PA incitement with links to PMW reports
This week, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release criticizing Palestinian Authority incitement. The government's release included a section entitled "Examples of Incitement" with examples taken from Palestinian Media Watch reports. PMW welcomes the Israeli government's utilization of our findings. Below is a shortened version of the MFA press release into which we have added links to the original PMW bulletins to enable viewing of the videos, reading of the full translated texts and citation of the original sources:
IAEA nixed delicate report on Iran nuclear program
A UN report on Iran’s nuclear program was shelved by the International Atomic Energy Agency for fear that publicizing sensitive information contained within the report would anger Tehran and harm the international community’s efforts to reach an interim agreement with the Islamic Republic, Reuters reported Thursday.
Sources familiar with the subject told the news agency that the IAEA had planned last year to issue the report, which contained what one source called worrying information about the state of Iran’s nuclear program. This may have included new information on the possible military aspects of the program.
But officials decided against it after Iran and Western powers announced they would begin negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear aspirations.

Palestinians Must Abandon ‘Right of Return’ Claim
Palestinian identity is synonymous with three things, the ‘right of return,’ the permanent, sanctified struggle with Israel, and permanent recognition of their status as refugees, dispossessed at the hand of Israel with the connivance of the international community. A corollary demand is that the international community must sustain them as ‘refugees’ through UNRWA until the Palestinians themselves, somehow, declare the ‘refugee crisis’ resolved.
Palestinian national identity is predicated on winning a zero sum struggle with Zionism, not a vision of a state of their own. There are sentimental images of restoring the status quo ante, an imaginary Arab Palestine of plenty; indeed, the ‘right of return’ is founded on the one hand precisely in such vague sentimentality, as well as inventive interpretations of ever-motile ‘international law.’ But clear proposals for a Palestinian state and its institutions, and how that state will be grounded in a society and with social, legal, and cultural principles, remains vague. Except, of course, from Hamas, whose Muslim Brotherhood-derived goals have been both articulated and, now, tested, in Gaza. In the meantime, however, the embrace of statelessness and trauma is unending.
Kerry’s framework reportedly left Abbas fuming in Paris
The report, which received no official confirmation, said Abbas exploded with rage over the US secretary’s proposals, and described them as “insanity.” The PA president threatened to “overturn tables” and to go back on the flexibility he had shown in order to facilitate US-led peace efforts, according to Al Quds.
The paper suggested that Abbas’s subsequent invitation to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House was a form of damage control on the part of the Americans. A date has yet to be set for the visit. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet with Obama on Monday.
Report: Obama to pressure Netanyahu into accepting Kerry framework proposal
Undeterred by the failed efforts of his predecessors to clinch an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty, US President Barack Obama is planning on getting more involved directly in the negotiations.
According to The New York Times, the president is expected to appeal to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to adopt a framework plan for final-status peace negotiations.
According to the report published Thursday, administration officials said this week the US president was gearing to take more of an active role in the process when he first meets Netanyahu on Monday, and later in March with Abbas.
Palestinians reject US push for peace talks beyond April
A senior Palestinian official on Thursday rejected US moves to extend an April deadline for nine months of hard-won talks with Israel to culminate in a framework peace deal.
“There is no meaning to prolonging the negotiation, even for one more additional hour, if Israel, represented by its current government, continues to disregard international law,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
Official said to confirm informal settlement freeze
According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday, Jordan Valley regional council chief David Elchaiiani asked Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit last week why construction was being held up in the settlements that he administers, even in projects that had received approval from the defense minister.
He was told that the order had come from on high not to advance construction plans in settlements outside the major blocs.
US to broker investment into Palestinian economy
The United States is convening an investors conference to help the Palestinian economy.
The conference, to take place March 8-9 in Prague, is tied to the US bid to bring about a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel. It will be organized by the ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norm Eisen, who is close to President Obama and the US Jewish community.
Anne Patterson, an assistant secretary of state, said Tuesday that the Prague conference would include Palestinian officials; figures who have been deeply involved in Israeli-Palestinian peace brokering such as Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, and Madeleine Albright, a former US secretary of state; and 50 businesses.
PMO: Israel will not change status quo on the Temple Mount
Israel will not change its policies on the Temple Mount, the Prime Minister’s Office made clear on Wednesday, a day after a Knesset debate on the issue triggered angry political reactions in the Arab world.
“The policy of the government of Israel has been and continues to be the maintenance of the status quo at the Temple Mount, including freedom of access for all faiths to the holy sites,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, told The Jerusalem Post. “The government has no intention of changing this policy.”
'There is No Temple Mount, Only Al-Aqsa Mosque'
Following on the historic Knesset debate over Jewish prayer rights and Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, the Interior Committee chaired by MK Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) discussed Jewish entry to the site on Wednesday morning.
The discussion was punctuated by provocative statements by Arab MKs, foremost among them Taleb Abu Arar (Raam-Taal) who claimed the Jews have no reason to visit the 3,000 year old site of their First and Second Temple, in a fine example of historical revisionism.
"Jews have nothing to look for at the Al-Aqsa Mosque," spouted Arar. "It isn't the Temple Mount, it's the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to the Muslims and not the Jews, and it is on occupied land."
Arab League Contemplates Turning to UN Over Al-Aqsa
The Arab League discussed on Wednesday the possibility of filing a complaint to the UN Security Council over alleged “Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa compound”, the Palestinian Authority-based Ma’an news agency reported.
The discussion was part of an “emergency session” that the Arab League called on Tuesday, at the request of the Palestinian Authority (PA) envoy.
The discussion came in response to Tuesday’s Knesset debate about extending Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
IDF Blog: Amnesty International Report Ignores Palestinian Violence
In its upcoming report, Amnesty International wholly ignores the substantial increase in Palestinian violence initiated over the past year, and shows a complete lack of understanding as to operational challenges the IDF faces.
2013 saw a sharp increase in rock hurling incidents, gravely jeopardizing the lives of civilians and military personnel. 132 Israelis were injured during that year alone, almost double the number in 2012. This is no surprise considering that over 5,000 incidents of rock hurling took place, half of which were along main roads.
IDF kills wanted Palestinian man near Ramallah
A Palestinian died during an IDF raid on his home in the West Bank town of Birzeit on Thursday, the military and a Palestinian security source said.
“After the army left the house and the town, the body of Moataz Washaha, 22, was found,” the Palestinian source said.
The army confirmed the death of a “Palestinian suspected of terror activity.”
“After the suspect was called upon to turn himself in, he barricaded himself inside his house,” the army said in a statement.
Soldiers responded with “live fire” and recovered an assault rifle, it added.
In first, Christian Arabs recognized as own minority
The law would extend the number of panel members from the current five to ten, adding a representative for the ultra-Orthodox, Druze, Christian, and Circassian populations, as well as for reserve duty soldiers, women, immigrants, and the elderly.
While the law is, in theory, meant to boost employment among Israel’s minorities, Israeli Arab MKs have accused Levin of undermining Arab identity and creating a divide in the Israeli Arab community by advancing the the legal status of Christian Arabs in Israel, at the expense of Muslims.
Report: IDF Texted Gaza Residents Asking for Information on Terror Tunnels
The Ministry warned citizens against cooperating with Israel, Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm said.
According to Hamas the Israeli text messages read: “If you have information about the presence of a tunnel near the border fence, call this number as soon as possible [number omitted] and we will promptly respond.”
Hamas claimed however, that Israel’s attempts to bust underground smuggling operations by communicating with Gaza residents are doomed to fail since the “Palestinian people are loyal to the cause of national liberation.”
Report: Israeli Strike Destroyed Missiles Potentially More Powerful Than All Hezbollah’s Rockets Combined
An unnamed senior Israeli security official told TIME magazine that Israel destroyed surface-to-surface missiles in a Hezbollah convoy, crossing from Syria into Lebanon on Monday, which were extremely dangerous because of their ability to carry very heavy warheads.
TIME wrote on Wednesday that the “Israeli official indicated they could carry warheads heavier and more dangerous than almost all of the tens of thousands of missiles and rockets Hezbollah now has pointed toward Israel.”
According to TIME, the strike was “the seventh known operation since the Syrian civil war began in 2011 and was an expression of Israel’s only clear policy regarding that deadly conflict: that it will not let Syria’s war become an opportunity for the militant group Hezbollah to improve its anti-Israeli arsenal.”
Report: El-Sisi Won’t Run for President of Egypt
Egypt’s powerful defense minister General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will not run for president, according to an official Egyptian government source, ending widespread speculation that he will seek the office.
“He is expected to continue in his post until all the issues regarding the election laws are resolved,” the government source told Reuters.
Assad arrests kin of opposition delegates to talks
Washington was “outraged” by reports that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad “has arrested family members of the Syrian opposition coalition delegation to the Geneva II peace talks, designated delegates as terrorists, and seized delegates’ assets,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“We call on the regime to immediately and unconditionally release all those unfairly arrested,” she added in a statement.
Among those held was Mahmoud Sabra, the brother of Geneva delegation member, Mohammed Sabra.
In America’s Absence, Israel Acts in Syria
This, then, is a reminder of how Israel acts as somewhat of a restraining force in the Middle East. It also reaffirms the wrongheadedness of the commonly heard assertion that Israel and its dispute with the Palestinians is a regional destabilizer, that without the “Israel problem” the region would calm down and the Islamic world would forget its enmity for America. The latest strike by the IAF against Hezbollah forces attempting to transfer Syrian weapons to its Iranian proxy army in Lebanon is yet another example of how in the absence of decisive American action, Israel instead is acting to prevent the further deterioration of security in the region.
Syrians to become world’s largest refugee population
Syrians could soon overtake Afghans as the world’s biggest refugee population, with their numbers expected to pass 4 million by year’s end, a top UN official said Tuesday.
High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres spoke as the international community sharply urged Syria to comply with a new Security Council resolution demanding that President Bashar Assad and the opposition provide immediate access for humanitarian aid.
Pakistan: Where conspiracy theories can cost a child's life
Since 1978, when the World Health Organization’s Expanded Program for Immunization was launched in Pakistan, conspiracy theories about polio have been rampant. While the supposed conspirators change frequently, the myth is usually the same and involves someone attempting to rid the world of Muslims — Zarmina and her fellow health workers have heard that the polio vaccine is part of a Western (or US or Jewish) conspiracy to sterilize all Muslims, or that Mossad or the CIA is orchestrating the campaign to kill Muslims outright.
“When the polio vaccination program was initially launched, international organizations didn’t take into account that there was very little engagement with the local government,” said a senior World Health Organization official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Because the drugs and information was all coming from another country, people became very suspicious of vaccine programs.”


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