Tuesday, December 30, 2014

From Ian:

Mahmoud Abbas is again insisting on failure
What could explain such maneuvering? Some diplomats suspect Mr. Abbas wants his maximalist resolution to be voted down — just as previous Palestinian attempts failed to obtain the necessary eight of 15 votes. By not forcing the United States into a veto, the Palestinian leader could preserve his lines of communication with Washington while obtaining a pretext to move on to his next pointless initiative — which could be seeking Palestinian membership in the International Criminal Court.
Accession to the court wouldn’t bring Palestinians any closer to statehood, and it might expose the Hamas movement to war crimes prosecution. It could cause Congress to cut off the U.S. aid that now sustains the Palestinian Authority. But Mr. Abbas and his aides have recently been suggesting they would have “no choice” but to proceed if they obtain no satisfaction from the Security Council.
Mr. Abbas does, of course, have a choice. He could endorse the framework laboriously negotiated by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and challenge Mr. Netanyahu — or his successor after Israel’s upcoming election — to resume negotiations. Statehood would then be on the table — but the 79-year-old Palestinian leader would have to commit himself formally to compromises he has until now discussed only in private with U.S. and Israeli leaders. Rather than lobby at the United Nations, he would have to attempt for the first time to sell those concessions to his own people.
Mr. Abbas has, on several previous occasions, dodged that challenge. So no one should be surprised if he now insists on losing another vote at the United Nations.
Israel’s enemies reload
Continuing to show utter contempt for Israel as it seeks a durable peace with its neighbors, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are again working to perpetuate an endless war with the Jewish state.
Monday, Jordan submitted to the UN Security Council, on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas’ PA, a draft resolution creating a strict timeline for Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders.
Never mind profound and legitimate Israeli fears about security — rubbed raw by an elaborate network of Gaza terror tunnels exposed during this year’s hostilities with Hamas, followed by a fresh wave of PA-incited terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in recent weeks.
Never mind that Israel has been ready and willing to negotiate a deal in good faith — only to run head-first into a Palestinian leadership with no interest whatsoever in coexistence.
Fortunately, the United States sees through the ruse, with the State Department condemning the resolution for setting “arbitrary deadlines,” which are “more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion.”
Former Swedish PM tweets satire as news
The official Twitter account of the former prime minister of Sweden tweeted a satirical news report about an Israeli travel warning to Sweden as fact on Monday.
Carl Bildt, who served as Sweden’s prime minister from 1991-1994 and as foreign minister between 2006 and September of this year, tweeted the article by the Onion-style blog PreOccupied Territory, titled “Israel Issues Travel Warning For US, France, Sweden,” saying: “Israel has officially warned its citizens not to travel to Sweden. That’s somewhat of an overreaction.”
After about an hour, during which many users tweeted at him to tell him that the article was satirical, Bildt removed the link.
The report, published on Thursday, fictitiously reported that Jerusalem’s Foreign Ministry had issued a travel warning for Israeli tourists to stay out of several First World countries for fear of ethnic violence, highlighting internal turmoil in the United States, France and Sweden.

Daniel Gordis: Tweets, Context and History
Every now and then, something as simple as a tweet is cause for reminder that – in life in general, but in this region in particular – context and history matter.
The tweet in question this week was by Gershon Baskin, founder of the Israel/ Palestine Center for Research and Information and self-proclaimed liberator of Gilad Schalit. The tweet was simple: “When the world supports Palestine state recognition, it is also supporting Israel on 78% of the land between the River & the Sea.”
Well, that surely makes me feel better.
Somehow, I’d felt that when Stockholm, Paris, Dublin and others recognized “Palestine” (in quotes, because Palestine does not exist), it was to some degree an act hostile to Israel. After all, the leaders of “Palestine” do not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and have insisted they never will. They insist on the refugees’ right of return, which would destroy Israel as a Jewish state, and at least publicly say they will never budge.Peel3
So yes, I’ll admit: When European capitals recognize a state that both does not exist and at the same time seeks to destroy Israel as a Jewish state, I’m troubled.
But now, I’m told, I’m supposed to feel better. Because these countries – as well as those that are likely to follow – are not in any way trying to harm Israel. In fact, such recognition of Palestine is actually “supporting Israel” on 78 percent of the land between the River and the Sea.
New Palestinian bid calls for E. Jerusalem capital, ‘just’ solution
Arab ambassadors endorsed the Palestinian amendments to the resolution, while Washington said it would not support the move.
The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, affirms the urgent need to achieve “a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution” to the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict within 12 months and sets a December 31, 2017 deadline for Israel’s occupation to end.
A text circulated by several media sources claimed to show the changed draft, but it could not be immediately confirmed.
Many of the changes to the draft, which is widely expected to fail, were semantic, such as the addition of the word “just,” to a call for a solution for outstanding issues including Palestinian refugees, prisoners in Israeli jails and water.
The earlier draft used the word “agreed.”
The new text also calls for an independent state of Palestine to be established within the June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and security arrangements “including through a third-party presence.”
The earlier draft mentioned Jerusalem only as a shared capital.
PA Toughens Language in Unilateral UN Resolution
It remains unclear if the PA would seek a quick vote or hold off until January 1 when five new members with a pro-Palestinian stance join the Security Council.
Diplomats said it was unlikely that the resolution would garner nine votes under the current makeup of the council -- a scenario that would allow the United States to avoid resorting to its veto power.
Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela begin their two-year stint at the council on January 1, replacing Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Rwanda and South Korea.
Russia has said it will support the resolution, and while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has not publicly stated that Washington would use its veto against the resolution, his spokeswoman recently said the United States will not support the resolution.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday called on the international community to oppose the PA’s moves at the UN.
"We expect the international community, at least the responsible members of that community to oppose vigorously this UN diktat, this UN Security Council resolution because what we need always is direct negotiations and not imposed conditions," Netanyahu said during a meeting with Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
"But I want to guarantee you, to you and to the people of Israel: If the international community does not reject the Palestinian Authority's proposal, we will. Israel will oppose conditions that endanger our future," he added.
US: Palestinian UN statehood bid 'not constructive'
The United States said on Monday that it did not support a draft statehood resolution that the Palestinians plan to introduce at the United Nations, saying it would not advance the goal of peace or address Israel's security needs.
"We don't think this resolution is constructive," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told a regular news briefing. "We think it sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion.
"Further, we think that the resolution fails to account for Israel's legitimate security needs, and the satisfaction of those needs, of course, integral to a sustainable settlement."
IsraellyCool: Reuters, WaPo Fail In Reporting Abbas’s UN Security Council Push
Either these reporters did not actually read the draft resolution, or they are simply oblivious to its real-world implications. Imposing a withdrawal on Israel, regardless of whether Palestinians agree to a single security concession such as demilitarization, is not a formula for “peace.” Nor could handing the Israeli capital to an entity that has never in history exercised sovereignty over that city, and demanding that Israel absorb millions of descendants of the 1948 and 1967 refugees possibly be construed as peaceful overtures.
The Washington Post report is similarly clueless about the contents of the resolution, claiming that it calls for “a return to the borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.” In fact, nowhere does the draft resolution call for returning the West Bank, or any part of it, to, um, Jordan.
I can’t help but notice the irony that the proposed resolution purports to rely on UN Resolution 181, the 1947 resolution that, in addition to calling for partition, called for Jerusalem to be established as a separate, independent city under UN control. In calling for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, the newly proposed resolution is in contravention of Resolution 181, and the proposal is now being supported by some of the very same state actors that ignored Resolution 181 in 1948 when they invaded Israel. Notably, the resolution has been propounded by the very same country that itself purported to annex East Jerusalem in 1950, again, in contravention of UN Resolution 181.
Hamas Slams PA Statehood Bid as 'Surrender' to Israel
Hamas again criticized the political process of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the center of which is a draft resolution calls for Israel to “end the occupation” - that is, to withdraw from Judea and Samaria - by 2017.
Mushir al-Masri, a spokesman for the Change and Reform Party in Hamas and a Hamas leader, called the resolution a "threat" to the "Palestinian problem" and the continuing series of concessions fly a "white flag."
Masri accused the Palestinian Authority of "giving in" to Israel and walking through pointless negotiations of a political settlement, without a clear national strategy and adherence to the basic principles of the Palestinian people, in his words.
The draft resolution, said Masri, is inconsistent with the underlying positions of the Palestinian people, and those (a hint to the PA) who seek to make decisions separately and independently of the Palestinian people cannot be in a leadership position and must be brought to justice, he said.
We’ll OK The UN Statehood Bid If It Includes Unlimited Breadsticks by Hassan Yousef, Hamas Leader (satire)
This is the part that Abbas and his misguided cronies in Fatah don’t get. One large problem is their focus on the meaningless and illegitimate “1967” lines when in fact our right is fight for and take all of historic Palestine from the River to the Sea. Another is any notion that the holy city of Al-Quds could be shared, let alone referred to by its infidel name “Jerusalem.” But also presenting a hefty problem is their blindness not to demand free, unlimited breadsticks for all time.
Most of the world’s developed countries already pump billions of dollars into Palestine, including funding for bread. All that needs to be done is slightly modify the purchasing practices, and boom! (one of my favorite words) – unlimited free breadsticks. Instead, Abbas and his corrupt associates pocket those funds and disburse them to favorites and supporters, while the rest of the Palestinian nation wallows in the poverty-laden muck of limited breadstick access. With the addition of but a few words, Abbas could secure our support. All its takes is inserting the provision that the nations providing aid to Palestine must include unlimited free breadsticks in the package. No right-minded nation could vote against such a measure. Even the Great Satan might reconsider its reflexive use of the veto in support of the Zionists when unlimited breadsticks are included, since, as we all know, unlimited breadsticks are so close to the Great Satan’s heart.
Come now, brother Abbas, and show you mean it when you declare our movements unified in government. We can support this endeavor and delay our reclamation of the lands beyond the 1967 lines for just a little longer. Because breadsticks.
Diplomatic officials skeptical of reports of new EU-US peace plan after elections
A report Monday that France and Great Britain, in coordination with the US, were working on a new peace initiative to be rolled out after the elections was greeted with skepticism by both Israeli and European diplomats who said they were unaware of any concrete plans.
Uri Savir, chief Israeli negotiator of the Oslo accords and today the honorary president of the Peres Center for Peace, wrote about such a proposal on the al-Monitor website, citing a senior EU diplomat in Brussels as saying the new initiative will include “political, security and economic elements.”
According to the diplomat, Europe will no longer accept the status quo, and feels it is necessary to move the diplomatic process forward not only to ease the Palestinians plight, but also “in the context of the European anti-terror campaign.”
“The peace process ‘package’ that the Europeans have in mind attaches a timeline of two years for the negotiations [without the Palestinian demand of a deadline for the end of the occupation],” Savir wrote. “It also consists of a settlement freeze during the talks, security measures against terror in the demilitarized Palestinian state with a temporary Israeli presence and a monitoring role for third parties.”
The US and Israel: Top Ten Events of 2014
Relations between Washington and Jerusalem were marked this year, in large part, by insults.
"Poof" went the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, said US Secretary of State John Kerry, who himself was labeled "messianic" by Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon for his "obsessive" focus on the peace process. Kerry later said Israel would become an "apartheid" state on its current path.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was called "chickenshit" on Iran by an American official unwilling to speak on the record, skeptical of his willingness to bomb the state's nuclear facilities. On US air waves, Netanyahu called the Obama administration's critique of his governance "un-American."
And in wartime, as a team sent from the Pentagon surveyed new Israeli tactics to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, State Department officials called some Israeli strikes "appalling" in public, unbecoming of an American ally.
Rhetoric aside, what actually defined the US-Israel relationship in 2014 were shared trials under fire from Islamic extremism, on the Israeli home front and throughout a fast-spiraling Middle East. Taken as a whole, these trends reflect a continuously strengthening alliance, challenged practically by policy differences on how best to confront similar threats.​
Palestinians say Jews will be a minority by 2016
The PCBS has been predicting for more than a decade that the balance between the Palestinian and Jewish populations will tilt in favor of the Palestinians, pushing the date when this is likely to occur by a year or two with every end-of-year-report published.
In 2003, the PCBS predicted the two populations would reach parity by 2006. By 2010, the PCBS predicted the number of Palestinians would eclipse the number of Jews in 2014.
According to a study published by the Israel-based Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in 2006, Israel stopped counting the people living in the Palestinian territories when, as part of the Oslo Accords in 1995, the Palestinian Authority started publishing its own statistics. Until then Israel’s CBS included data on the territories in its yearly reports.
The PCBS was established by the PA and published its first census in 1997. Since then, the PCBS has been publishing statistics on a regular basis, based on models predicting shifts in demographics including births, deaths and migration, though the Begin-Sadat study called into question the accuracy of the figures.
The study listed methods used by the PCBS to “inflate” the number of Palestinians, and concluded that its mid-2004 report, estimating the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza at 3.83 [million] people, was off by 1.34 million. The study assessed the actual number of Palestinians at only 2.49 million, and thus the PCBS figure was exaggerated by more than 50 percent.
Why Do Palestinians Want Both Statehood and ‘Occupation?’
Had Abbas and the PA wanted a state they could have had one 14 years ago or the two other times when one was offered them by Israel under terms that are no different than those supported currently by the Obama administration and the Europeans. They are going to the UN not because they wish to actually have a state but because their desire is to avoid negotiations that might give them one if they were ever willing to actually sign a peace agreement with the Israelis.
Just like Hamas, which rails against “occupation” while governing what is functionally a Palestinian state, Abbas clings to policies that keep the status quo in place while still railing against it. The reason is that although its leader is wrongly proclaimed by Washington as a champion of peace, he and his movement are as committed to Israel’s destruction as Hamas. Accepting a state in the West Bank (with or without Hamas-ruled Gaza which would constitute a second Palestinian state) means not so much ending the “occupation” of that area as it does accepting that the parts of the country that are left to Israel must be considered part of a Jewish state and that the conflict is therefore ended for all time.
Until Fatah is willing to do that, its talk of statehood at the UN must be considered to be no different than Hamas’ blatant rejection of peace on any terms. And the sooner Western nations catch on to this fact and stop enabling the PA’s evasions, the better it will be for Palestinians and their children who need peace more than an unending and bloody war against Zionism.
Muslim Mobs Harass Jewish Visitors On Temple Mount
On Sunday, the Israeli police made the group of Jewish students wait two hours to enter, while anyone not visibly Jewish easily passed the security check with no questions asked. Jews often have to undergo lengthy security screening before being allowed to enter. After the security briefing, in which the group was warned not to pray, Nisani asked the Israeli policeman if he was allowed to “pray in our heart.” The policeman evaded the question.
Immediately upon entering, the "Allah Akbar" welcoming committee made their presence known and latched onto the group of students. (“Allah Akbar” - Allah is the greatest - is the Muslim chant often yelled before committing a terrorist attack). The students sat down on a vacant plaza as the chants got louder. The angry mob of Muslim men, women and even children eventually descended upon them, surrounding them, shouting at them, while the police meekly made a ring around the would-be Jewish worshippers.
Nisani wanted to remain seated on the floor, expecting the police to control the mob. The mob seemed intent in causing harm, and the police eventually escorted the Jews away from them even as an elderly Muslim woman struck Nisani on the back (as seen in the video; Nisani is wearing the white kippah). Avoiding a confrontation with the mob, Israeli police arrested Nisani on accusations of disrupting public order. Nisani spent overnight in detention in a Jerusalem jail. He was released after a hearing the next day and was ordered to stay off the Mount for 21 days.
Soldiers shoot at vehicle after explosive hurled at them south of Bethlehem; Palestinian injured
IDF soldiers stationed near the village of Beit Omar south of Bethlehem fire on a Palestinian vehicle after it drove past them and an occupant hurled an object suspected to be an explosive device on Monday night.
Soon afterwards, Palestinian medical sources said a 17-year-old youth who was in the car sustained serious gunshot injuries, and a 19-year-old was lightly injured.
An army spokeswoman said after the incident that the object thrown out of the car was a bomb. No soldiers were injured in the incident.
Palestinian reports say that a 17-year-old boy was in serious condition and another youth's condition was unknown following the incident. The army said it is investigating the incident.
The ‘Palestinian’ Art of Stone-Throwing.
There is one place in the world, however, where rock-throwing against those of a different religion is taught, celebrated and rewarded..
The Palestinian territories, historically Judaea and Samaria, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority
‘Palestinians’ view the act of throwing rocks at Jews as a cultural sport, handed down from one generation to the next, much like adults in civilized cultures teach youngsters how to fish, hunt, or catch a football:
Youths hurling stones has long been the indelible icon — some call it a caricature — of Palestinian pushback against Israel: a recent United Nations report said 7,000 minors, some as young as 9, had been detained between 2002 and 2012. Here in Beit Ommar, a village of 17,000 between Bethlehem and Hebron that is surrounded by Jewish settlements, rock throwing is a rite of passage and an honored act of defiance.
Just as the Palestinian Arabs celebrate their martyrs, they do the same with children convicted of rock-throwing.
Not only are there no criminal penalties under the PA for throwing rocks at Jews, Palestinians who are arrested, tried and convicted by Israel for this crime are welcomed home upon their release as heroes and rock stars – especially if they were able to maim or murder one or more Jews as a result of their crimes – as in the case of Bilal Ayad Awad:
Hamas Recruited Agents for Planned Jerusalem Attack Via Facebook
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s office said Sha’aban Bin Ahmed Hamad, 28, and his brother, Mohammed bin Ahmed Hamad, 23, are accused of belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization, soliciting, contacting a foreign agent, conspiracy to commit a crime, obstruction of justice, and destruction of evidence.
According to the indictment filed by Attorney Benny Libeskind, Sha’aban was recruited by Hamas in Gaza via Facebook, and then recruited his brother. The two then tried to recruit a third person in order to establish a military cell for carrying out the attack.
Two months ago Sha’aban – who had previously served time in an Israeli prison – received a friend request on Facebook from a Hamas operative. The operative later sent him a book and recruitment letter from a Hamas member who is currently incarcerated, whom Sha’aban had been acquainted with.
Sha’aban agreed to join the terror group, and the operative later sent along another book, this one with a computer disk and instructions. The disk contained encryption software and a file, which provided further instructions for establishing the terror cell via a contact called “Abu Muhammed.”
'Jerusalem is the Wild West'
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) toured with Jerusalem Municipality Dov Kalmanovitz and Yael Entebi in Jerusalem's Shuafat neighborhood Tuesday, where they exposed the illegal Arab construction in the neighborhood for news cameras.
Both Ariel and the Council members noted that Shuafat has been known for its weapons caches, loudest Muslim muezzin (prayer tower) calls, and shooting attacks on Jewish residents of Jerusalem.
They reported complaints of residents who fear the security situation and the minimal involvement of the Israel Police at the site. According to Entebi, "people can sit on their porch and suddenly feel a bullet graze them."
"It turns out that there are parts of Jerusalem that Israel is not sovereign over and does not control - and it's happening right here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel," Ariel said. "[Solving this] requires a special effort of all of us and I will work with other members to exercise their sovereignty in this area."
Missing Peace: Impressions from the Israeli Syrian border
The observation post in Kuneitra on the Israeli Syrian border has become an attraction for Israelis who want to witness first hand how the Islamists of Jabr-al-Nusra, a local branch of Al Qaeda, control the border.
When I arrived at Kuneitra this time, the place looked desolate. An Israeli border patrol and a Druze merchandiser were the only ones who watching what was happening on the other side of the border.
As I was about to ask the Druze some questions the sound of fighter planes became audible. A few moments later we saw two Syrian jets dropping bombs on buildings in the area controlled by al-Nusra. Loud explosions followed: slowly the silence returned. The only reminders of the strike were plumes of smoke in the distance.
The Druze didn’t seem too excited. He said that these strikes are an almost daily occurrence and that since al-Nusra took over the border area at the beginning of September the fighting has intensified.
‘Slaughter The Jews’ Exhibit at Israeli College Near Gaza Rankles Students, Area Residents
A contentious art exhibit at an Israeli community college near Gaza includes displays calling for the “slaughter” of the Jews and asserting “in blood and fire we will redeem Palestine,” Israel’s NRG News said on Monday.
“The Power of the Word,” set to open Tuesday at Sapir College, near Sderot, is seen by some as encouraging incitement, though its defenders insist that the exhibit is important because it showcases opinions on both sides.
“There is no place in an academic institution for an exhibition which calls for the massacre of a people,” one irate student told NRG.
Ironically, the school, with an enrollment of some 8,000 students, sits just five kilometers from the border with Gaza and has been hit hundreds of times by rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists.
IDF to withdraw forces from some communities near Gaza
The move, which will go into effect January 1, was made after an army security evaluation with the understanding that the IDF will prioritize security for Israel’s southern communities in the future if needed.
During and after the 50-day summer war between Israel and Hamas-led fighters, IDF troops were deployed to Israeli communities near the Gaza border that were thought to be targets of infiltration attempts via cross-border tunnels. The towns were also subjected to heavy rocket fire from Gaza.
According to the IDF spokesperson, the decision to withdraw forces was made in cooperation with heads of local councils.
However, some communities are petitioning the Defense Ministry to build a new security fence along the border.
Several regional council heads recently demanded funding from the Defense Ministry to construct a new border fence that they say will provide residents in the communities near the Gaza border with increased security.
Israeli fruit growers, Gazan merchants meet for first time since summer war
Continued fruit trade between Israeli farmers and Gazan merchants remains a crucial, “winwin” situation for both sides, the head of the Israel Fruit Growers Association told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Itzik Cohen, CEO of the Association, spoke with the Post following an annual meeting that morning between Gazan fruit merchants and Israeli growers at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, coordinated by the Gaza Liaison and Coordination Administration of the IDF.
Since Gazans purchase some 10 to 15 percent of Israeli fruit supplies, conducting such meetings on an annual basis is critical to parties from both sides of the border, Cohen maintained.
The most popular fruits sold from Israel to Gaza include mangoes, avocados, apples and bananas, he said.
Each year, the farmers and traders meet to keep their connection and solve various issues that have arisen over the year. Many of those problems come from packaging and security issues, due to the resultant financial costs and logistical complications.
Hamas Leaders Slam Senior Palestinian Authority Gaza Visit, UN Draft Bid
Already tense relations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas took a turn for the worse on Monday, as eight ministers came under withering criticism upon their arrival in Gaza for the first official visit since the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge in the summer, Israel’s NRG News said Monday.
Locals slammed the PA Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, and his 50-member entourage for not doing more to rehabilitate Gaza after a summer of punishing Israeli strikes on terror infrastructure and attack tunnels aimed at Israeli cities, towns and villages.
Even before their arrival, Palestinians held demonstrations claiming that the West Bank-based PA, run by President Mahmoud Abbas, did little or nothing nothing to promote the rehabilitation of the coastal enclave.
Hamas drills cross-border attacks on IDF posts
Hamas is in the midst of an extensive training program simulating cross-border raids on IDF positions near the border with the Gaza Strip, the Tel-Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) said on Monday.
In its report, it noted that a Hamas internal security agency in the Gaza Strip held a drill in recent days simulating a cross-border raid into Israel, and an attack on an IDF post.
The December 23 exercise was part of an officer’s course, and took place in a training camp belonging to Hamas’s military wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigade in southern Gaza.
Four days later, on December 27, the military wing released a video showing dozens of masked terrorists simulating an attack on IDF positions. One of the scenes showed a mock kidnapping of an IDF soldier, and another showed multiple “killings” of soldiers.
North Sinai governor says Gaza buffer zone to increase to 5km
North Sinai authorities finished surveying houses in the second phase of the implementation of a buffer zone along the Gaza border, with another 1,200 houses expected to be evacuated and demolished.
Abdel Fattah Harhour, North Sinai governor, announced Monday that the area is ready for evacuation, as the survey is now complete, state-run MENA reported.
He also referred to Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb’s decree to establish a 5km-wide buffer zone, and said that the rest of the area will be evacuated in several phases.
Egypt first decided to establish a 500 metre buffer zone in late October, following two deadly attacks in Sinai that left at least 30 military personnel dead. The border with Gaza measures 13km in length.
Islamic State releases interview with captive Jordanian pilot
In a short question-and-answer segment in the extremist group’s monthly English-language magazine posted online, al-Kaseasbeh said his fighter jet was shot down by a heat-seeking missile near Raqqa, which is located on the banks of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.
Al-Kaseasbeh said he ejected from the aircraft and landed in the river, where he was taken captive by IS fighters.
Jordan’s government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said that he has seen the interview but declined to comment.
The United States has denied that IS shot down the Jordanian aircraft. The head of the US military’s Central Command, Gen. Lloyd Austin, said the US will not tolerate IS’s “attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes.”
In the new issue of the its magazine, the Islamic State group also praised the attack on a cafe and ensuing hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia this month. Two hostages and the gunman, Man Haron Monis, were killed.
Revival of US embassy in Tehran is possible, Obama says
More than 35 years since the American embassy in Tehran was besieged, US President Barack Obama has signaled that a renewed US presence in Iran is possible – should Iran choose to permanently curb its nuclear ambitions.
“I never say never, but I think these things have to go in steps,” Obama said of the possibility, in an interview with National Public Radio. The president was responding to a question on Iran following his decision to open an embassy in Havana, Cuba, after 50 years of frozen relations.
Cuba and Iran pose fundamentally different challenges, however, Obama explained.
“Tehran is a large, sophisticated country that has a track record of state-sponsored terrorism that we know was attempting to develop a nuclear weapon, or at least the component parts that would be required to develop a nuclear weapon; that has engaged in disruptions to our allies; whose rhetoric is not only explicitly anti-American, but also has been incendiary when it comes to its attitude towards the state of Israel,” he said.
Ayatollah compares Ferguson, Gaza
In a series of tweets posted throughout the week, the supreme leader disparaged the United States’ treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, highlighting the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Wounded Knee incident of 1890 — a battle between the US government and Native American forces that ended in the massacre of hundreds of Native American noncombatants, including women and children.
“Was it not colonialists who killed Native Americans& enslaved millions of Africans?Are these American values? #Ferguson #WoundedKnee,” the Supreme Leader tweeted on Monday.
He further went on to invoke the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad to criticize Israel and the United States.
Iranian General: Obama, EU Leaders Should Convert to Islam For Peace
A general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), stipulated on Saturday, that President Barack Obama, as well as leaders of the European Union (EU) should convert to Islam in order for there to be peace between the United States and Iran to be possible. The report that has been carried by Al-Arabiya in Arabic has been translated in other outlets.
Brigadier General Qolamhossein Qeib-parvar speaking on Saturday at a local conference commemorating Kazerun martyrs said “There are only two things that would end enmity between us and the US. Either the US president and EU leaders should convert to Islam and imitate the Supreme Leader, or Iran should abandon Islam and the Islamic revolution.”
EU or US leaders would not turn Muslim, he observed, adding “If they are not going to turn Muslim, we are not going to abandon Islam or the revolution either. But I do not know why some people believe that some day we will make peace with the US and start relations with them.”
Mumbai attack suspect rearrested in Pakistan
Pakistani police have rearrested the main suspect in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, officials said Tuesday, quashing expectations that he might soon be freed.
Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi is one of seven suspects being tried by Pakistan in connection with the attacks, which killed 166 people and seriously damaged relations between longtime rivals Pakistan and India.
After a judge on December 18 granted him bail there had been concerns that he would be freed, possibly as early as Tuesday. But Tuesday morning police arrested him on another case, his lawyer Rizwan Abbasi said.
Lakhvi appeared in court in Islamabad amid tight security. He told an Associated Press reporter that he accepted whatever God intended for him.

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