Friday, March 21, 2014

From Ian:

Sarah Honig: Kerry’s cogent connections
It’s, therefore, inherently dishonest to deny that the feud is and always was about the creation and continued existence of the Jewish state.
That’s why it still massively matters that the Palestinians, whose raison d’être remains to replace us and extinguish Jewish sovereignty by one means or another, recognize the Jewish right to statehood in the Land of Israel. That would translate to desisting from the continuous campaign to extinguish Jewish sovereignty by one means or another.
The Palestinians and the entire Arab/Muslim realm demand strategic sacrifices of Israel that plainly jeopardize its survival prospects. What Israel demands in return is that the war against it cease. That can only happen when the initial pretext for the war is retracted. Since Israel was attacked because the very notion of a Jewish state was anathema to its Arab neighbors, then discontinuing the state of war must start with recognition of the legitimacy of a Jewish state.
Sarah Honig: Syria’s lingering hell
As the Syrian inferno keeps combusting and incinerating itself, it also sends messages of paramount existential importance to Israel – messages that we cannot afford to ignore if we want to live.
If this is the gruesome way Arabs treat each other, what would they unleash on the Jews whom all of them had been brainwashed to abhor?
If, furthermore, there’s no distinct or remotely cohesive Syrian nationality, then all the more so there’s no distinctive or remotely cohesive Palestinian nationality. The conflagration that mercilessly consumes Syria could just as likely consume the Palestinian state for which the international community hoarsely clamors. Jihadist imports with nothing to lose would just as frenziedly turn Judea and Samaria into killing fields, should we yield them.
At that point, unbridled chaos would literally reign directly and dangerously next door and inevitably impact us day to day.
IDF says it exposed massive Gazan ‘terror tunnel’
IDF Soldiers Unveil Terror Tunnel in Gaza Once Again
The Israeli military announced on Friday that it had uncovered a tunnel from Gaza into Israel meant for carrying out a terror attack, and rejected a Hamas claim that the find was an old tunnel.
IDF officials said the tunnel, uncovered on Tuesday, reached hundreds of meters inside Israel, “near civilian communities,” and went as deep as dozens of meters underground.
An IDF official said the tunnel was one of the largest, if not the largest, yet discovered, adding that the army still did not know how far it went.
“This advanced tunnel was intended to pose a direct link and threat to Israeli territory, and enable Hamas terrorists to reach and harm Israeli civilians,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement. (h/t Yenta Press )

Iran’s Khamenei ‘uncertain’ if Holocaust occurred
A day after Israeli and US leaders sent conciliatory messages to Tehran in honor of the Nowruz new year’s holiday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei marked the event by questioning the Holocaust and vowing to overcome US-led sanctions.
Speaking at Mashhad, in northeastern Iran, Khamenei also intimated that Israeli Palestinian peace talks were a US-Israeli plot to cleanse “Palestine” of Muslims and Christians.
“The Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened,” Khamenei said during his address, according to a Twitter account under his name thought to be run by his office. (h/t MtTB)
Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas: I Am a Hero. I Said No to Obama
Abbas's rejection of the U.S. proposals is also attributed to the severe crisis within Fatah.
If in the past Abbas was afraid of Hamas's response to the signing of a peace agreement with Israel, it is now clear that he also has good reason to fear the reaction of top Fatah officials to any move he makes concerning the peace process.
All Abbas can do for now is continue to ask his public servants and schoolchildren to take to the streets and chant slogans in his support. These rallies are intended to send a message not only to Obama and Kerry, but also to Abbas's rivals in Fatah.
Kerry’s framework declaration is a bad idea
The framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace that US Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to promulgate sounds an awful lot like the “shelf agreement” concept of 2008. Then, as now, conceptual agreements have proven to be a disincentive, not an incentive, to Palestinian political maturation and moderation. They create a situation where Israel ends up negotiating against itself with a phantom Palestinian partner.
Let’s go back into the peace process archives, and remind ourselves: In 2008, then-US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice discovered that Palestinian leaders (then, as now, Mahmoud Abbas and coterie) were completely unable to deliver on any of their obligations under the celebrated road map – which outlined a cautious and logical step-by-step approach to peace.
So instead of focusing on the messy here and now, Rice hit on the idea of turning to the future. She sought to advance a shelf agreement for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The newfangled idea was to give the Palestinians a clear picture of the big prize awaiting them in the future; what Rice called a political horizon.
Has Mahmoud Abbas Really Accepted the Clinton Parameters on the Refugee Problem?
Abbas’ position on the refugee issue is not consistent with the Clinton Parameters. Abbas in no way restricts the “right of return” to the state of Israel for the refugees and their descendants (now numbering five to seven million people according to the Palestinians), except according to the choice of the refugees themselves.
The Clinton Parameters, in contrast, explicitly state that the Palestinian refugees’ settlement in Israel would require a sovereign Israeli decision, and must accord with the principle that Palestine is the Palestinian homeland and Israel is the Jewish homeland.
Abbas’ claim that the Palestinians have accepted the Clinton Parameters contradicts the position he presented on the implementation of the “right of return,” which shows that he and the Palestinian leadership adhere to the view that this “right” is personal and inalienable. In other words, it is a means to destroy Israel by altering the demographic balance and forcing the evacuation of millions of Jews so that Palestinians can be settled in their place.
Israeli official suggests Palestinians celebrating failure of peace talks
Abbas told thousands of Palestinians at a rally in his Mukata headquarters that in his meeting on Monday with US President Barack Obama, “I have honored my pledge and kept my promise,” the Wafa news agency reported.
One Israeli government source responded to the rally by saying it was reminiscent of Yasser Arafat’s return from Camp David in 2000, when it appeared that the Palestinians were celebrating the failure of peace talks. The second intifada broke out shortly thereafter.
“If the Palestinians celebrate rejectionism, they’re closing the door to Palestinian statehood, because the only way to achieve a Palestinian state is through negotiations and agreement with Israel,” the official said. “A rejectionist position makes Palestinian statehood impossible, and in maintaining such a position ultimately the Palestinians are only hurting themselves.”
EU Pressuring Israel to Release Long-Term Terrorist Prisoners
An EU parliamentary delegation on Thursday urged Israel to release long-term Arab terrorists, saying it was crucial to move a fragile Middle East peace process forward.
"We believe that the release of prisoners... is central to the peace process," said Emer Costello, who headed the EU delegation on a three-day fact-finding mission on Palestinian Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails.
"I think there is an acceptance on both sides, even with the members of the Knesset that we met, (of the) importance of the prisoner issue," Costello said.
Security Council Rejects Petition on Syria War Crimes: ‘No Mention of Israeli Atrocities’ (satire)
The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, Navi Pillay, lamented the lack of UN action on the issue of Syrian refugees, numbering two million already, in addition to millions more displaced within the country. “But I can’t really blame the Security Council for this one,” she explained. “Since it’s not Israel driving these people from their homes, who can be expected to care? It’s not as if actual concern for human lives has ever been the driving force behind Security Council resolutions.”
At press time, the Shiite Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, allied with Assad, had announced that it was prepared to start another war with Israel so the international community might do something. “Plus, we’d get to launch all these cool rockets into Israel,” said Hassan Nasrallah, the movement’s leader.(h/t Mightier than the Pen)
U.S., Britain Call to Investigate Iranian Weapons Ship
The United States and Britain on Thursday called for a UN investigation of Israel's interception of an Iranian shipment of rockets headed for Gaza, according to The Associated Press (AP).
UN officials have said that if Israel's claims are true, Iran would be in violation of Security Council sanctions.
Palestinian Authority Arabs Attack School Bus with Firebomb
Palestinian Authority Arab hurled firebombs and rocks at Israeli civilians and soldiers in at least two different locations in Samaria Thursday, causing light injuries to a soldier.
The firebomb attack narrowly missed a school bus that was on its way from Itamar, in northern Samaria, to Kedumim to the west. The Molotov cocktail exploded in front of the bus on the highway, and the bus driver slammed on the brakes and managed to avoid running into the flames.
Arab MK Who Aided Hezbollah Forced To Flee Again
Former MK Azmi Bishara, a founder of the Arab party Balad, fled Israel in 2007 after learning he was going to be arrested for aiding Hezbollah terrorists - and now he is unwanted in the Persian Gulf as well.
... Dubai's Deputy Police Commissioner Dahi Halfan on Monday demanded that Bishara leave the Persian Gulf and return to Israel, reports Yedioth Ahronoth. The former MK has been living in oil-rich Qatar, and working as a commentator for Al Jazeera.
Halfan accused Bishara of being involved in an "Israeli plot" to control the Gulf states, writing on Twitter, "Azmi Bishara. I'm a member of the security forces, and people in the Gulf don't want you anymore. Go back to the Israeli Knesset and tell them that their plot failed."
Syria Documents: Nasrallah sent message to reassure Israel
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah sent an indirect message to Israel last year in which he described Lebanon’s southern border as “the safest place in the world,” seeking to reassure Tel Aviv that his Shi’a militia have no intention of taking any action against Israel, according to leaked documents seen by Asharq Al-Awsat.
In cooperation with the Masarat Center and the Wathaiq Dimashq [Damascus Documents] website, Asharq Al-Awsat has obtained a copy of the full transcript of a meeting between Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov on May 23, 2013, in which the Syrian side passed along Nasrallah’s reassurances to Israel.
Report: Hezbollah sources claim responsibility for Golan attack
Sources close to Hezbollah’s leadership took responsibility for the bombing that injured four Israeli soldiers on the Golan border on Tuesday, telling an Arab newspaper that Hezbollah is “ready for war.”
They told an Arab newspaper that Israel violated the rules of the game when it attacked Hezbollah on the Lebanese-Syrian border last month.
Attorney Blocks Armed PA Police Convoy of 'Terrorists'
A rare incident occurred Thursday, as an armed Palestinian Authority (PA) police convoy driving on Route 60, the main road connecting Hevron and Jerusalem, was stopped in its tracks by Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Ben-Gvir blocked the convoy with his car, having realized that it was in Area C, under full Israeli control. Ordering the PA police to stop, the attorney called up IDF soldiers standing nearby to help him, alerting them that convoy was illegally breaching treaties.
Hamas Navy SEALs Revealed Following Death of Jihadist Commander (VIDEO)
Hamas revealed its fledgling Navy SEALs special operations force in a video paying tribute to one of the terrorist organization’s fallen military commanders, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Wednesday.
Hamas fighter Ibrahim al-Aloul was killed 10 days ago in a mysterious explosion in Gaza while hunkered down inside a building with several other terrorists, Channel 2 said.
At the time of his death, Hamas did not release any personal details about al-Aloul or any information about his role within the Jihadist organization. According to Hamas, al-Aloul was “killed during a training exercise,” Channel 2 reported.
However, in the days following al-Aloul’s death, rumors spread across Gaza-based social media networks that the Hamas henchman was in fact a commander in the group’s hitherto unknown naval unit.
'There Are 1,700 Hamas Millionaires in Gaza'
Fatah Spokesman Ahmad Assaf told Erem News that Hamas's attempts to influence Egypt's inner workings are "unacceptable," noting the ties between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which have been outlawed in the Nile state for their part in terror attacks.
Egypt has done more for the Palestinian Arabs than Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood, who merely spew empty slogans and sell religion according to Assaf. Hamas on Tuesday criticized Egypt for closing the Gaza border with Sinai, calling it a "crime against humanity." The siege has led to power outages.
The Fatah spokesman claimed that while Gaza is one of the poorest places in the world, there are 1,700 millionaires among Hamas members, hinting that the terror group imposes steep taxes on its citizens for goods entering from Egypt and Israel, and that this money finds its way into Hamas officials' pockets.
Jerusalem Urges U.S. to Deliver Terror-Fighting Apaches to Egypt
Israeli officials are urging the United States to release ten Apache helicopters for sale to the Egyptian army.
A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said Israel clarified that supplying the helicopters is crucial to Egypt’s fight Against jihadist organizations in the Sinai, and will improve regional security.
Collaboration on security between Israel and Egypt has improved since Morsi’s ouster. In recent months Israel has been intensely lobbying on behalf of Egypt’s interim government. Israel tried to prevent the U.S. from suspending military aid to the Egyptian army; failing at that, now it’s trying to persuade the government and Congress to resume the aid, so the helicopters deal can go through.
Melanie Phillips: How the West was fooled by Iran
It is now clear that the West will allow absolutely no evidence, however devastating, to prevent a deal being signed with Iran over its nuclear programme.
From the start, there has been a total dislocation of reality. The US, UK and EU fawned over Iran’s new President Rouhani for ushering in a new dawn of reform — the same Rouhani who boasted of previously hoodwinking the US over Iran’s nuclear programme.
UN report blasts Iran for persecution of Christians, other religious minorities
The election last year of self-professed moderate President Hassan Rouhani has not brought Iran's Christians any relief, according to a new United Nations report which finds the Islamic Republic's Bible believers more persecuted than ever.
The detailed report finds Iran has continued to imprison Christians for their faith and designated house churches and evangelical Christians as "threats to national security.” At least 49 Christians were among 307 religious minorities being held in Iranian jails as of January 2014, noted the UN, which also blasted the regime for its hostility to Jews, Baha’is, Zoroastrians and Dervish Muslims, the UN report stated.
Iran Spending Medical Funds on Luxury Cars
The Iranian parliament’s recent investigation into a scheme to import luxury cars instead of medicine threatens to erode the credibility of a leading pro-Iran lobbying group that has long claimed that economic sanctions are preventing access to medicine in Iran.
An investigation by Iranian lawmakers recently revealed that nearly $2 billion that had been allocated to the importation of medicine into Iran was actually spent on the purchase of luxury cars, according to Farsi and English reports.
While it had long been suspected that the Iranian government was squandering funds for medicine, pro-Tehran advocacy groups like the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) used the medicine shortage as a hook to claim that sanctions were causing the shortage.
Iran Building Mock-Up of U.S. Nimitz-Class Carrier
Iran is building "a non-working mock-up" of a Nimitz-class carrier which U.S. officials believe will "be blown up for propaganda value.
According to The New York Times, satellite photos of the model show that "mock aircraft can even be seen on the deck" and "the Nimitz number 68 [is] neatly painted in white near the bow."
Officials say Iran's mock-up is "more like a barge than a warship" and "is only about two-thirds the length a typical 1,100-foot-long Navy carrier." It has "no nuclear propulsion system."
Tape Suggests Turkey Supports Terror
For the past several years, sectarian violence has escalated in Nigeria, and Islamist groups such as Boko Haram have conducted horrific massacres against Christian men, women, and children. Now, it seems, Turkey may have had something to do with that. The most recent leaked tapes record a conversation between an advisor to Erdoğan and the private secretary of the CEO of Turkish Airlines. The Turkish Airlines official, according to the tape, said that he does not feel comfortable with the (secret) weapons shipments to Nigeria, and he asks whether those weapons “are to kill Muslims or Christians.” The context of the conversation suggests he worries only after the former instead of the latter. The prime minister’s advisor, however, tries to assure him and says he will check with Hakan Fidan, the director of Turkish intelligence and get back to Turkish Airlines with an answer.
Turkey’s Erdogan blocks access to Twitter
Turkey blocked access to Twitter on Friday after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “rip out the roots” of the social network where links have proliferated to recordings that appear to incriminate him and other top officials in corruption.
Turkey in the past blocked access to YouTube, but it is the first ban on Twitter, which is hugely popular in the country and was instrumental in organizing flash protests against the government last year. Uproar over the recordings has damaged the government’s reputation ahead of local elections this month.
Islamic democracy: Corrupt and undemocratic
When President Barack Obama portrayed prospering Turkey, ruled by sweet Islamists, as “a great Islamic democracy” in 2010, he was probably hoping that this strange democracy that comes with a religious prefix would serve a useful purpose: a glittering role model for the Arab countries that lagged behind even an Islamic democracy. Mr. Obama’s mission impossible has failed – probably – for good.
The Arab Spring did not blossom (or fade) because of Turkey’s Islamic democracy. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s short-lived popularity on the Arab Street was not because Arabs envied Turkey’s Islamic democracy; but because they embraced his love affair with Hamas and accompanying hatred of Israel. None of which has sufficed to keep the Turkish model afloat.

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