Monday, June 09, 2014

From Ian:

Michael Lumish: G-d Bless Australia!
Of course, neither the EU, nor the Obama administration, could have gotten away with the ridiculous notion that Jews building housing for themselves on Jewish land is some crime against humanity, were it not for progressive-left diaspora Jews who assured them that they were correct to focus their ire on those other Jews over there, the bad ones – like our friends Yosef and Melody – who live where neither Barack Obama, nor Mahmoud Abbas, want them to live.
If western-left diaspora Jews blame their fellow Jews for the attacks against those Jews, then how could we possibly expect anything less from non-Jewish western leaders? If we will not stand up for ourselves, why in this world would we expect them to stand up for us?
The fact of the matter is that diaspora Jewry made a highly consequential error when it agreed with Mahmoud Abbas that Jews should not be allowed to build housing for themselves in Judea. Obama and the Europeans could not make a stink about Jews building homes were it not for the fact that western Jews went along with it. Certainly it would have been far more difficult for someone like Obama to object to Jews who build housing for themselves if his Jewish friends and advisers had not gone along and if the diaspora Jewish community had not done so.
We have no one to blame but ourselves, but in the meanwhile we still have some friends in the world.
Thank you, Australia.
Greg Sheridan: Resisting a destructive tide of prejudicial terminology
WHEN Attorney-General George Brandis told Senate estimates the Australian government would not under any circumstances refer to East Jerusalem as occupied East Jerusalem, he was not changing government policy.
He certainly was not changing Coalition government policy. He was changing policy as it evolved when Bob Carr was foreign minister, but this was not longstanding Australian foreign policy.
The Abbott government, on election, reverted back to the longstanding Australian government practice of seeking neutral language to describe territory in East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank which are disputed between Israel and the Palestinians.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in several statements and interviews had made it clear that the government did not regard all Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. Most importantly, she also did not state that the settlements were legal either.
The truth is they concern disputed territory, the status of which will have to be resolved in negotiations. This is what the relevant UN resolutions provide for, although UN resolutions themselves are not by their nature binding international law of and in themselves.
Brandis was right in international law. More importantly, he demonstrated significant political courage on a vexed and extremely complex issue.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Will the West Fund Hamas?
One thing is certain: both Hamas and Fatah hope to use the unity government as a ploy to attract financial aid from the international community, particularly Western donors. The unity government, which is backed by Fatah and Hamas (designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.), actually serves as a front for receiving funds from the international community for both parties .
Abbas, however, has realized that Western donors are not going to fund a government that pays salaries to thousands of Hamas employees, including members of the movement's armed wing, Ezaddin al-Kassam.
Meanwhile, the PA and Hamas have turned to some Arab countries for help. According to Palestinian sources, the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, has promised to pay the salaries of the Hamas employees for May. But it is not clear whether the emir will continue to channel funds to the unity government in the coming months.
This, of course, does not bode well for the future of the reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah. All that is left for the two parties to do now is to try to persuade the Western donors to increase their financial aid to the unity government in order to solve the crisis over the wages of the Hamas employees.
It remains to be seen whether American and European taxpayers will agree to pay salaries to thousands of Hamas civil servants and militiamen in the Gaza Strip, who have not renounced their intent to commit acts of terrorism or destroy Israel.



Palestinians summon Australia diplomat over Jerusalem status
Israel hailed the remarks as “refreshing,” but the Palestinian leadership denounced them as “disgraceful and shocking,” with the ministry making a formal diplomatic protest on Sunday.
“The Palestinian foreign ministry summoned the Australian representative Thomas Wilson over the recent comments by the Australian attorney general asking to stop referring to East Jerusalem as occupied territories,” a ministry statement said.
Speaking to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said he was “worried” about the remarks, which contravened the position of the international community.
Jewish teens say they escaped axe attack near Paris
Two Jewish teenagers told police they narrowly escaped an attack near Paris by a hatchet-wielding man and three others.
The attack occurred late at night on June 4 in Romainville, a northeastern suburb of the French capital, according to a report by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA.
The teens, aged 14 and 15, said they were walking to the Lilac Synagogue with their grandfather to attend Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a custom in which Jews study scripture all night. While crossing the town’s Market Square, the two boys and their grandfather, all wearing kippahs, said they were followed by a tall man in his 20s wearing a long beard. They described the man as having an athletic figure and an Arab appearance.
Obama’s Outrageous Decision to Fund Hamas-Aligned Palestinian Regime
This indifference of the accession of Hamas to the PA is consistent with Obama’s policy toward Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Libya, in which, through engagement and acquiescence, we have seen the strengthening of viciously anti-American forces.
It will be said that the new terrorist Fatah/Hamas PA regime is merely a caretaker government of apolitical technocrats prior to holding new Palestinian elections. Yet, terrorist movements are proscribed by the terms of the Oslo agreements. Moreover, the PA has never abided by its signed Oslo agreements and, for twenty years, no-one, least of all President Obama, has held them to account.
Only last month, Abbas told Obama, that he will neither accept Israel as a Jewish state, nor conclude a comprehensive peace that encompasses an end of claims. This assertion prompted no criticism or condemnation — much less action — in Washington.
By cementing its April reconciliation agreement and forming a unity government with Hamas, Abbas’ Fatah/PA has shown conclusively that it is not only not a peace partner, but an avowed enemy of Jews and the Jewish state.
Anne Bayefsky: Benghazi, Bergdahl and Hamas: The common thread in Obama's foreign policy
It is about time that pundits stop describing President Obama’s foreign policy as weak. There is a straight line between emboldening Syria’s Assad by calling him a reformer, Egypt’s Morsi a democrat, Turkey’s Erdogan a friend, Iran’s Rouhani a moderate, and now a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, a peace partner.
Monday's speedy announcement that the United States will work with and pay for a PLO-Hamas coalition government is a strong and predictable step in an alarming pattern
PM’s office: Israel will not unilaterally withdraw from West Bank
Israel will not make unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank, particularly if Hamas continues to hold sway, officials from the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday. The officials were responding to Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s new peace plan that called for evacuation of parts of the area.
Officials also dismissed the finance minister’s demand that the Israeli government produce maps outlining future borders, saying “Any map that is presented will become the point of departure for the Palestinians’ demands.”
“Anyone with political experience knows that you don’t make concessions without [getting] anything in return, especially with a government partnered with a terror organization that wants to destroy Israel,” officials said. The sources also referred to the 2005 disengagement from Gaza as proof of the futility of these measures.
“We saw in Gaza the results of unilateral withdrawal,” they said.
Likud minister calls for Jordan role in solving conflict with Palestinians
Dismissing the idea of an independent Palestinian state, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) on Sunday called for Jordan to play an integral part in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, apparently leaning toward the “Jordan is Palestine” formula embraced by far-right leaders but rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I thought in the past, and I still think today, that the inclusion of a Jordanian component in a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the possible options,” Sa’ar said at the Herzliya Conference, an annual security event. “An agreement that includes a Jordanian component would be an agreement with depth, as opposed to a tiny unstable Palestinian state ruled by terrorist organizations.” The creation of such a Palestinian state, the minister added, would not end the conflict but “rather perpetuate it with a better vantage point for the Palestinians.”
Three Strikes Against U.S. support for Fatah-Hamas Unity Agreement
When Mahmoud Abbas’s “moderate” Fatah movement first reached out to make an agreement with the terrorist Hamas movement, the response in the United State was “mostly nonchalant.”
Now that the two sides have announced the creating of a unity government, the response has continued to be muted. Certainly not outraged.
Last week, of course, the administration didn’t wait a day before endorsing the blatant violation of the American sponsored peace process. This was disappointing but hardly surprising given Barry Rubin’s observation last September that the United States had gone to “backing the ‘bad guys.’”
In major American newspapers there was little initial editorial comment. However later in the week, the Washington Post endorsed the American response as did the New York Times. Though, surprisingly, the Times actually qualified their endorsement warning that “the United States has to be careful to somehow distinguish between its support for the new government and an endorsement of Hamas and its violent, hateful behavior,” without actually offering a practical suggestion how distinguish that support.
There are three main reasons why the administration was wrong to support the unity accord.
Hillary Clinton: Obama Erred by Demanding Israeli Construction Freeze
One sticking point was the Israeli construction freeze that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted and implemented between 2009 and 2010. Clinton said that the U.S. administration made a tactical mistake demanding a settlement freeze.
“In retrospect, our early, hard line on settlements didn’t work,” she wrote.
Clinton explained that the American stance on the settlements hardened Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s position. She said Abbas dismissed the Israeli construction freeze. Clinton herself called the Israeli decision to freeze construction “unprecedented.”
David's Tomb Status Quo Breached by Catholic Mass
Contrary to Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich's promises to Internal Affairs and Environment Committee chair MK Miri Regev (Likud-Beytenu) in mid-May not to change the status quo at King David's Tomb, that status has been breached in a move endangering Jewish prayer at the holy site.
Rabbi Dvir Tal, dean of the King David Yeshiva, which is attached to the Diaspora Yeshiva on the site of the David's Tomb Compound, told Arutz Sheva about the Catholic Mass services which were conducted at the site on Sunday, and which he reports have been held weekly since Pope Francis conducted Mass at the site two weeks ago on Monday.
IDF chief: Dramatic armament taking place in Gaza
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, an annual national security gathering at the Interdisciplinary Center in the central coastal town, Gantz gave a sweeping overview of Israel’s security situation, saying instability was everywhere, but military deterrence was working to keep war at bay.
Gantz said Hamas in the Gaza Strip was not looking for another war with Israel, but terrorists there were still undertaking a “dramatic” replenishing of their missile stockpiles.
In Gaza there was has been “a dramatic increase in medium- and long-range rockets,” he said.
IDF Chief: Hezbollah Stronger than Most Countries in the Region
Gantz suggested that the bloody Syrian civil war, now raging in its fourth year, poses a serious threat to Israel. According to Walla!, the chief of staff said Russia is arming the Syrian army under President Bashar Assad's command every week.
The structure of rule in Syria, according to Gantz, "is crashing like a house of cards. As long as Assad is there, we won't see a meaningful solution because they (the rebels) are fighting against him and not for the future."
Gantz warned of two dangers from the Syrian conflict, one being the strengthening of the radical axis of Assad, Iran and Hezbollah. On the other hand, he noted the Global Jihad Islamist terror movement is also growing strength through its operations in the country.
Speaking about Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon to Israel's north, Gantz appraised the Iran-proxy terror group, saying "there are maybe four of five countries (in the region) with more fire power than Hezbollah. They have a tremendous fire power which covers all of Israel."
Gaza rocket explodes in southern Israel
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in the Ashkelon region of southern Israel on Sunday night.
No injuries or damage were reported. Warning sirens sounded in the area before the rocket exploded.
Early last week, the Israeli Air Force struck two terror targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave
‘Hamas Aiming to Boost West Bank Support, Terror Via Charity Groups’ Shin Bet Warns
Gaza-based terror group Hamas is planning to encourage attacks against Israel as well as sap support in the West Bank from the Palestinian Authority (PA) by exploiting the Islamist “Dawa” social and cultural movement, a security source told the Ma’ariv daily on Sunday.
The PA had actively sought to stymie Hamas inroads in areas under it’s control, prior to the recent unity agreement between the two former rivals, but since then, all bets are off, Israeli security officials caution.
“In the long run, Hamas intends to create an alternative civilian infrastructure that will enable the replacement of the PA’s secular government with an Islamic government whose ideology will be similar to that of Hamas,” according to the Israel Security Agency (ISA) – aka the Shabak.
UN envoy Serry visits Gaza to meet new Palestinian unity government ministers
The United Nation's special envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry visited the Gaza Strip on Sunday for the first time since an interim Palestinian unity government was sworn in last week.
Serry met with four newly-appointed officials of the unity government and pledged UN support for Palestinian reconciliation.
"I congratulated the Ministers on their appointment and discussed with them the many practical challenges ahead,” the UN special coordinator said in a statement.
"Gazans must, as soon as possible, feel the dividends of unity. Open crossings both for goods and people, access to construction material, re-establishing trade links between the West Bank and Gaza and exports are urgently needed to kickstart the economy and create job opportunities,” he stated.
Gaza Residents Ask Israel To Help Build Shelters Against Hamas Rockets (satire)
Sallah Odeh grew tired of Hamas rockets falling short of Israel and hitting his neighborhood, so he tried to build a small bomb shelter. Hamas representatives came by and confiscated the materials, saying they were needed by the resistance to make more rockets. The thirty-three-year-old father of five banded together with fellow residents to stand up for their safety, but local officials and UN agencies have been deaf to their petitions. So Odeh and his colleagues are turning to the one entity they know has the resources and skills to build the shelters they seek: Israel.
Hamas and allied militant organizations operating in the Gaza Strip are fighting what they call Israeli occupation, though Israel withdrew its soldiers and citizens from the coastal territory in 2005. The southern Israeli communities within rocket range have developed an alert and shelter system to minimize or eliminate casualties, in addition to the Iron Dome missile defense system that actually intercepts incoming projectiles headed toward populated areas. The Hamas rockets, however, often fail to travel far enough, and land in Palestinian areas.
Egyptian Jewish head also omitted from Sissi inauguration list
President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called al-Sissi over the weekend to offer their congratulations, but they were not among the dozens of heads of state to attend Sunday’s ceremony in Cairo. Israel sent a diplomat in Egypt to the ceremony.
Similarly, Egyptian Jewish leader Magda Haroun said the community congratulated al-Sissi but that no representative was invited to the inauguration.
“We wish him success in his mission, uniting Egyptian people and pushing it forward, so Egypt will restore entrepreneurship and become tolerant as it used to be and as he promised,” she told the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Don’t sign a bad Iran deal to make deadline, minister urges
As the US and Iran geared up to hold bilateral talks over Tehran’s nuclear program, a senior Israeli minister called for the international community to avoid shoehorning in a bad deal just to meet the July 20 deadline.
“If on July 20 there is not a good agreement that prevents Iran’s development as a nuclear state, we must not settle at this stage for an agreement that is partial,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Herzliya national security conference.
Steinitz added that a nuclear Iran is a global threat, and declared that the “international community must act responsibly to avert the danger not only to Israel and the Middle East, but the entire world.”
Amid Nuclear Fears, Iran’s Neighbors Introduce Military Draft
The UAE joins Qatar in introducing the draft, with Kuwait considering a similar move for the first time since abandoning compulsory service after the First Gulf War.
At the root of that tension are outstanding land disputes and more significantly Iran’s threats over the last decade to launch attacks against its neighbors and American interests on their territory.
The build-up of troops in the region is just plank of what Western experts have been warning of for some time – a regional arms race, which could eventually go nuclear.
Iran Warns US's Diego Garcia Base is in Range of Its Missiles
According to Channel 2, the official said that “In the case of a mistake by the United States, its military bases in Bahrain and 'Garcia Hill' [the Diego Garcia base] in the Indian Ocean will not be safe from Iran's missiles."
This is the first time Iran has mentioned Diego Garcia, especially in the context of a possible missile strike. The base is over 5,000 kilometers away from Iran, whose missiles have, until now, been officially known to cover only 2,000 kilometers.
Iranian president visits Turkey hoping to fix troubled ties
Rouhani will meet his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, where the powerful neighbors are expected to discuss security concerns as well as trade opportunities.
The two sides have had a complex and often dysfunctional relationship, which has taken an especially bitter turn in recent years as a result of increasing competition between Sunni and Shiite Muslim powers across the region.
This has become more pronounced following the onset of the Syrian civil war, in which the two have found themselves on opposite sides.
Ankara: Iran Looking to Deepen Role of Turkish Banks in Billion-Dollar Energy Schemes
Hurriyet Daily News reported Thursday that Iran is looking to deepen the involvement of the Turkish financial sector in its oil and gas trade with Ankara, and is more specifically seeking “another Turkish lender to take part in its oil transactions along with the state-owned Halkbank.” Tehran’s moves were revealed by Turkey’s Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz, who explained that the Iranians were uncomfortable with Halkbank being the single channel for the $30 billion in expected trade.
Those trade arrangements had in turn long been heatedly condemned by Western analysts and diplomats not just for busting through Western sanctions on Iran – though certainly for that - but also for exposing large swaths of the international banking system to illicit finance schemes. Top figures from Halkbank itself had last December been implicated in a massive graft scandal that involved accusations involving billions of dollars related to energy and gold schemes.


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