Friday, May 23, 2014

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas: We'll Use Unity Accord To Move Terrorism To West Bank
Hamas, on the other hand, considers the unity agreement with Fatah an opportunity to extend its control beyond the Gaza Strip and use the West Bank as a launching pad for more terror attacks against Israel.
The international community does not seem to be listening to what Hamas is saying.
Ignoring Hamas's declared intentions will pave the way for the movement to use the unity agreement to seize control over the Palestinian Authority and many parts of the West Bank. It will also facilitate Hamas's plans to launch terror attacks from the West Bank against Israel.
It now remains to be seen whether the U.S. Administration and EU governments, by blindly endorsing the new unity government, will help Hamas to achieve its goals.
Palestinian TV Teaches Kids The Way to ‘Jihad Street’
Every day, hundreds of millions of children in more than 120 countries settle in to watch their local versions of “Sesame Street” or similar shows inspired by the Muppet model. They learn to read, to write, to count. They learn about things like “sharing,” and “friendship,” and how to be kind to others. They learn what it is to love.
Except in Palestine, where the lessons from Hamas children’s television are aimed at something else: to kill.
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – a voice to be heard
I only got to know Abdulateef a few days ago. And honestly, as one who prides myself to be on top of everything related to the Palestinian/Arab – Israeli conflict, shame on me. Abdulateef’s articles have been around for a few years and he’s one of the few voices of reason in the Arab world, one that is not insulated within a bubble of ignorance and hatred.
I would imagine that the same way I came across his article by chance, there might be others who have not heard of him, so I want to share his name and thoughts with the readers, so that you too, can enjoy his writings and spread the word about him.
The article that prompted me to contact and initiate a dialogue with him, was “May 15:Nakba or Defeat?” published May 14th at Arab News, a Saudi internet news outlet. Abdulateef is a retired Commodore in the Royal Saudi Navy and a journalist. After I exchanged a couple of emails with him, he directed me to additional articles of his, published in outlets including Jerusalem Post and Haaretz.

Jeffrey Goldberg: Interview with PM Netanyahu
GOLDBERG: A lot of people in Israel, from [former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.] Michael Oren to [former head of Israeli military intelligence] Amos Yadlin, are looking at the idea of taking unilateral steps to disengage from the Palestinians.
NETANYAHU: We want a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. How do you get that if you can’t get it through negotiations? It’s true that the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right. Many Israelis are asking themselves if there are certain unilateral steps that could theoretically make sense. But people also recognize that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza didn't improve the situation or advance peace -- it created Hamastan, from which thousands of rockets have been fired at our cities.
GOLDBERG: So you’re still committed to negotiations?
NETANYAHU: Let me be clear -- negotiations are always preferable. But six prime ministers since Oslo have failed in their pursuit of a negotiated settlement. They’ve always thought we were on the verge of success, and then [Yasser] Arafat backed off, Mahmoud Abbas backed off, because they can’t conclude these negotiations. We don’t have a Palestinian leadership that is willing to do that. The minimal set of conditions that any Israeli government would need cannot be met by the Palestinians. No matter what the spin is about blaming Israel, do we actually expect Abbas, who seems to be embracing Hamas, to give a negotiated deal? In all likelihood, no. I hope he does, but I’m not sure he’s going to do it.
GOLDBERG: Why do you think that Kerry and [U.S. special envoy] Martin Indyk believe that the settlements are a great impediment to peace? Indyk in particular has denounced “rampant settlement activity" as a key factor undermining negotiations.
NETANYAHU: Most of the settlement population, between 80 to 90 percent, is clustered in three urban blocs, in suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that everyone knows will stay in a final peace settlement. Effectively, the territory that is involved has not increased. It’s marginal. It’s been marginal for the last 20 years. No new settlements have been built since the time I was first prime minister, which was 1996.
What you are talking about is an increasing population within these urban blocs. It doesn’t materially affect the map. If you took an aerial photograph to see how much territory has been "consumed" by so-called "rampant" settlement activity, the answer is practically nothing. If you can make a deal, you can make a deal. The addition of a few hundred housing units a year in this territory doesn’t alter it. Successive Israeli governments have offered deals and couldn’t get them because the Palestinians would not lock horns with the primary obstacle to peace, which is the refusal to end the conflict with Israel once and for all. To recognize that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination, just as the Palestinian people do. My insistence on recognition of the Jewish state is not a tactical PR stunt. It goes to the core of the conflict.
GOLDBERG: There are people in Washington who think that John Kerry is borderline delusional for pursuing negotiations so hard.
NETANYAHU: Kerry made a big effort. We made a huge effort together. I think he tried very hard. It’s a tough go.(h/t Bob Knot)
Why did Abbas change course on applying to UN bodies?
This statement is surprising. For weeks, we heard that the PA intended to turn to 48 more international organizations (having joined 15 at the start of April) immediately after the failure of peace talks and the cancelled release of prisoners. And now, with no explanation, Abbas decides that he is suspending such moves at the UN and elsewhere.
I tried, of course, to understand what was behind the decision, but Abbas wouldn’t expound on it. He would only emphasize that it wasn’t a policy that would stretch on indefinitely.
PA Turns to Arab League to Solve 'Palestinian Problem'
Jibril Rajoub, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, said this week in Doha in a lecture on "State of the Palestinian struggle" that the negotiations did not lead to any outcome for the Palestinian Arabs due to "Israeli intransigence," and that the Arab League's support is desperately needed to solve the "Palestinian problem."
Rajoub proposed that the PA aim to be recognized internationally by "regional powers" (i.e. the Arab League), and to use such recognition to build up a large army and a popular front to end the "racist and fascist Occupation."
Israeli-Palestinian committee probes Beitunia shooting deaths
A senior Palestinian Health Ministry official confirmed that a joint Israeli-Palestinian investigation committee has begun looking into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of two Palestinian youths during a "Nakba Day" riot in the West Bank town of Beitunia last week.
Israeli officers arrived at the Ramallah Governmental Hospital, where the two youths were taken and pronounced dead. The officers were presented with the medical reports for both men.
Al-Durah Redux? Facts emerge contradicting Guardian presumption of IDF guilt in Palestinian deaths
Naturally, the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont – in two reports he’s filed since the incident – seems to have no doubt whatsoever that Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition at the two Palestinians, killing them both, and has indeed all but mocked Israeli denials.
Both reports by Beaumont (‘Video footage indicates killed Palestinian youths posed no threat‘, May 20, and ‘Footage of Palestinian boys being shot is genuine, says Israeli rights group‘, May 20) primarily focus on the narrow question raised by some (including the IDF and some critical commentators) regarding whether the original CCT footage was manipulated to distort what really happened in Betunia.
However, he significantly downplays what has emerged as the central element of the story: the dearth of any evidence whatsoever indicating that Israeli soldiers used live fire (real bullets) as opposed to rubber bullets, as the latter could all but certainly could not have killed Palestinians in a manner described by Palestinian sources.
One big question remains that those accepting the Guardian/ MSM narrative of the shooting must answer:
How can they assert that live fire was used by Israeli soldiers when NO evidence has emerged to buttress this claim, and when all the evidence to date suggests that only rubber bullets were used – non-lethal fire which couldn’t have caused the damage claimed?
CNN Overreaches in Early Coverage of Betunia Deaths
One Israeli ballistics expert doesn't think so. Appearing today on Israel's Channel Two, Yosef Yekutiel stated that if the bullet actually went through the victim's body the way Palestinian doctors say it did, it would look entirely differently from the one displayed by the boy's father.
This bullet, if it did what the doctor claims, passed through the chest, came out through the body hit the backpack and passed through several books – this bullet didn't do that.
Everyone who understands bullets, knows that the moment it passes through the chest, the torso and hits some sort of bone, it ends up with a distortion. The moment it enters and hits the papers of the books it is expected to be crushed in the front section in a very prominent manner.
Clearly, CNN has some more reporting to do.
New Palestinian Protester Prototype Does Not Bleed When Shot (satire)
Analysis of the video footage surrounding the apparent shooting death of a Palestinian youth last week has military experts concluding that the Palestinians have developed a new type of protester, one that emits no blood even when its exterior is pierced.
If accurate, this assessment reflects a major technological innovation, as until now, the bodies of protesters and rock-throwers have not been known to function without a comprehensive circulatory system. Since every Palestinian claim is accepted by large swaths of the media and society as reliable, the operating assumption of the analysts has been that in fact live ammunition was in use at Beituniya. Israeli assertions and evidence that the border police were only using rubber-coated bullets, which do not pierce the skin at the ranges involved, do not adequately explain the outcome, experts say, since such evidence would not portray the IDF as murderous thugs bent on executing teenagers.
Haaretz: Death Penalty For ‘Price Tag’ Graffiti Suspects (satire)
Calling the use of spray paint on walls, and knives to cut rubber, “unvarnished terrorism,” the paper demanded that the authorities stamp out the “plague of violent nationalism once and for all” by demonstrating that anyone who threatens lives or promotes hate will be dealt with in the most severe fashion, because such a policy has been proved effective over several generations of conflict in the region; whenever Israel takes a hard line against those who threaten its citizens, nobody ever bothers them again.
“Just as the IDF uses often-lethal force in protecting soldiers and settlers, we expect the State to show its displeasure with these radicals to the same extent,” the editorial read, noting that radicalism per se is not the issue: the problem is that these “hardened criminals” are precisely the wrong kind of radical, the kind that endorses Jewish sovereignty in the historic Jewish homeland, an unforgivable notion.
US lawmakers vote to double funding for Iron Dome
US lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a $601-billion defense authorization bill that would almost double funding for the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile program Thursday.
The National Defense Authorization Act calls for the addition of $175 million in funding for the Iron Dome system, which currently gets $176 million annually from the Pentagon.
Much of the funding would be tied to a commitment for Israel to share technology for the system, and for much of the money to be spent on American firms.
Rami Hamdallah to head new Palestinian government
Palestinian reconciliation is moving forward, with Palestinian media reporting that a unity government including 15 ministers and headed by current PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will be announced imminently.
Meanwhile, London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that Hamas intends to integrate its tunnel diggers, men belonging to the “Border and Tunnel Authority,” into its National Security agency.
Issam Da’alis, an adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told A-Rai news agency that the transition will be implemented shortly. The security men have gone out of business following Egypt’s destruction of some 500 tunnels following the ouster of Mulsim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi last June.
Islamic Jihad Preparing to Join PLO
Salah's statement confirms Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh's comments last Friday, when he said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would be integrated in the PLO's leadership and take part in elections for PLO institutions.
Such a change in the institutional organization of the PLO is a result of the unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, which is expected to the formation of a unity government next week.
Experts Hail Legislation Targeting Hezbollah Financial Network
NOW Lebanon senior journalist Ana Maria Luca on Wednesday rounded up assessments from top analysts regarding congressional progress in advancing the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014, which was introduced last week in the Senate after parallel legislation had begun making its way through the House of Representatives:
“This important bipartisan legislation is critical to disrupting Hezbollah’s global networks and limiting its ability to finance terror attacks, spread its extremist message, and recruit new members,” Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies said in a statement sent to NOW. “Hezbollah remains one of the most dangerous global terrorist organizations, operates as the long arm of Iranian terror, and is deeply involved in the slaughter of innocents in Syria.”
Deputy Hezbollah Leader: Israel is the Greatest Enemy
The Hezbollah terror group continues to see Israel as its central enemy and not the rebels in Syria, the group’s deputy leader said on Thursday.
“Israel is the main enemy,” Sheikh Naim Qassem said, according to the Lebanese Daily Star.
“But the tactical priority depends on the direct threat, so our confrontation with takfiri (extremist) groups derives from the direct danger they represent, and it does not affect our readiness to confront Israel,” he declared.
Lebanese journalist takes on Hezbollah
The two camps, the camp of the secular establishment and public opinion leaders and the camp of the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah axis, are now caught in a battle over the participation of fascinating journalist Hanin Ghaddar, the managing editor of Lebanon's popular English-language news website NOW, in a Washington conference. She was invited to lecture about the United States' policy in the Middle East and surprised everyone.
Instead of talking about failures and mistakes, as she was expected to do in Beirut, Ghaddar chose to lash out at Hezbollah and used harsh words to blame the organization for the wretched condition of the two million Syrian refugees who fled to camps in Lebanon. They are miserable, she complained, and we are collapsing under the human burden. We pity them, and we are entangled within ourselves.
'If Syria Crosses the Golan Heights Border, Assad will Fall'IAF officials reassure the public: despite budget cuts, Israel can handle any threat - especially in the North.
Military officials said that concerns are rising over a possible attack from Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose efforts are heavily backed by Russia and Iran. They reassured the public, however, that the IAF is ready to deal with threats from the North, and to attack targets with near-surgical precision.
"It happens quite a lot, almost daily, that a Syrian plane fighting with rebel forces approaches the Golan Heights border" an official said. "When it does happen, [Assad] will fall. It's bound to happen."
No Signs Syria is Handing Over Remaining Chemical Weapons
Syria has made no progress in relinquishing a last batch of chemical weapons it says is inaccessible due to fighting, making it increasingly likely it will miss a final deadline to destroy its toxic stockpile, Britain said on Thursday.
The British deputy representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told delegates in The Hague that packaging material had arrived for the 100 metric tonnes (110 metric tons) of toxic chemicals.
“But there is still no sign of any movement of chemicals, nor any indications of a time scale for a move,” said the statement, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
Rouhani: The U.S. Owes Iran Reparations for ‘Hostile Policies’
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is demanding that the Obama administration pay Tehran reparations for “hostile policies” that have cost the Iranian people “much loss and damage,” according to the country’s state-run media.
Rouhani said that reparations from the United States would make him more willing to negotiate in good faith with the United States and increase steps to broaden ties between the nations, according to an interview he gave Wednesday evening on China’s CCTV network.
Russia Could Build 8 More Nuclear Plants in Iran
Russia plans to sign a contract with Iran this year to build two more nuclear reactors at its Bushehr power plant, as part of a broader deal for up to eight reactors in Iran, a source close to the negotiations told Reuters on Thursday.
Russia, one of the six world powers currently holding negotiations with Iran on a permanent nuclear deal, built Iran's only operating nuclear power reactor at Bushehr.
Iran bans Instagram over ‘privacy concerns’
An Iranian court ordered that the photo-sharing app Instagram be blocked over privacy concerns, a semiofficial news agency reported Friday, the latest in a series of websites to be banned in the Islamic Republic.
The agency said a court order, stemming from a private lawsuit, had been given to Iran’s Ministry of Telecommunications to ban the site. However, users in the capital, Tehran, still could access the application around noon Friday. Some previous reports in Iran of websites and Internet applications being blocked never materialized.
Turkish group opposes dropping lawsuit against Israelis over 'Mavi Marmara'
The two nations, erstwhile allies, have been negotiating for months to end a diplomatic crisis over the Israeli commandos' boarding of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship challenging Israel's naval blockade of Palestinian-run Gaza Strip in 2010.
Eight Turks and a Turkish-American died in the operation.
In a rapprochement brokered by Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized to his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan last year and pledged compensation to the bereaved or hurt.
Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said on Thursday it had been in close contact with Turkish government officials and had heard Israel and Turkey were about to finalize the terms of a formal settlement.
ADL blasts Turkish press, politicians for ‘Jewish conspiracy’ claims
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on the Turkish government Friday to condemn recent expressions of “Jewish conspiracies” in the Turkish press and by Turkish politicians.
The organization “expressed deep concern over ‘unwarranted and hurtful conspiracy theories’ made by some Turkish politicians and media outlets falsely connecting Jews to the tragic Soma mining accident.”


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