Thursday, January 29, 2015

From Ian:

Is Israel Guilty of War Crimes?
It seems that half the world supports demands for Israel to lift its entirely legal weapons and dual-use materials blockade of Gaza, so that Hamas can get down to seriously importing long-range missiles from Iran and its other allies, as well as large quantities of cement to build more terror tunnels. In a recent interview between a Reuters reporter and a Hamas leader, the Hamas official stated openly that "the group would press on with restocking its arsenal or [sic] rockets and other weaponry and shoring up its underground network. In peace we make preparations, and in war we use what we have readied."
Calls for an end to the blockade (which does not block the import of genuine humanitarian goods at all) amounts to a policy of arming terrorists. Hamas has already diverted billions of dollars of aid money to build concrete-lined tunnels and purchase missiles and other arms, leaving ordinary Gazans without the basic necessities of life, while the Hamas elite drives expensive cars, shops at a mall selling designer goods, and builds luxury apartments.
After the premature end Operation Protective Edge, the international community promised to pour in more billions to rebuild Gaza. If there is no blockade, those billions will build another arsenal, and with that arsenal, Hamas will start another war in which even more Gazans and Israelis will die or fall injured.
The simple solution to this is peace -- which Israel has always asked for. But Hamas, as stated in its Charter, rejects peace out of hand and for all time. What is needed is a government in power in Gaza that cares about the well-being of all its citizens, and that might see permanent peace with its neighbours as the right way forward for everyone.
Fatah and PLO tournament named after terrorists who killed 46
Earlier this month, a sports festival organized by Fatah and the PLO included a tournament named after two terrorists who planned and carried out some of the most lethal terror attacks in Israel's history:
The Martyr Raed Al-Karmi and Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Tournament
Raed Al-Karmi was responsible for the murder of 9 Israelis from 2001-2002 and Dalal Mughrabi led the killing of 37 in 1978.
PLO representative Mazen Abu Zaid said that the recent festival's purpose was to "renew our commitment and loyalty to the blood of the Martyrs, and to show support for President Mahmoud Abbas." He praised terrorists Raed Al-Karmi and Dalal Mughrabi as "Martyrs" and stated that their blood had been spilled to "draw the map of the homeland" and to deliver the message that "Palestine is one, indivisible unit":
"[PLO representative Mazen Abu Zaid] added that the blood of Martyr Raed Al-Karmi... and the blood of Martyr Dalal Mughrabi... had been absorbed into the soil of the homeland, and embraced the blood of the Gazan Martyrs, in order to draw the map of the homeland for us and to serve as a message: Palestine is one, indivisible unit." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 18, 2015]
Thousands attend funerals of IDF officer, soldier killed in Hezbollah ambush
Maj. Yochai Kalangel, 25, who was killed in Wednesday's Hezbollah attack against IDF soldiers near the Lebanese border was laid to rest at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Thousands of people arrived to honor Kalangel who was killed along with St.-Sgt. Dor Haim Nini when Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon attacked IDF vehicles traveling in the village of Ghajar in the Galilee panhandle with Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles.
Kalangel grew up in the West Bank settlement of Elazar in Gush Etzion, and leaves behind a wife, Tali, and their one-year-old child. He is one of six siblings, and on Independence Day this year he was awarded a General Staff commendation for excellence.
Tamir, Yochai’s brother, told reporters that Yochai, or “Joha” as the family knew him, “was a giant of a man, salt of the earth, a great warrior.”
Update on Wounded Soldiers’ Conditions
Ziv Hospital in Tzefat (Safed) reports that the medical condition of five of the IDF soldiers wounded in yesterday’s Hezbollah attack have improved.
All five are now listed as lightly injured.
Later today they will undergo additional medical examinations, and the hospital will decide if they need further treatment, or if they can be released.
The soldiers jumped from their vehicle after witnessing the first vehicle blown up by the long-range anti-tank rocket, and thus saved their lives.

Netanyahu blames Iran for northern border attack
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid the blame on Iran for Wednesday’s multipronged attack by Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border that killed two IDF soldiers and wounded seven others.
“For some time, Iran – via Hezbollah – has been trying to establish an additional terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights,” said Netanyahu. “We are taking strong and responsible action against this attempt.”
The governments of Lebanon and Syria also bear responsibility for attacks against Israel in the North that emanated from their territory, he added. “Those behind today’s attack will pay the full price.”
Netanyahu spoke Wednesday evening, just before he held security consultations with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Yoram Cohen and other defense officials.
“In all of these events, our mission is to defend the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu.
“Our only consideration is the security of the State of Israel and its citizens. Thus we have acted and thus we will continue to act.”
New details emerge: At least 5 Kornet missiles fired in Hezbollah ambush of IDF soldiers
A preliminary military investigation following the Hezbollah attack on Israeli military jeeps near the border with Lebanon on Wednesday revealed that terrorists with the Lebanese Shi’ite group launched anti-tank missiles from a distance of at least four kilometers.
The military vehicles travelled on a civilian road in the village of Ghajar two kilometers away from the border when they came under a heavy Hezbollah ambush, consisting of five to six Kornet missiles, a senior army source said. He estimated that the attackers were four to five kilometers away from the vehicles.
A military D-max vehicle was the first vehicle hit in the attack, prompting all of those inside an IDF jeep behind it to quickly evacuate the vehicle before it too was hit with missiles. The subsequent injuries came from military vehicles nearby.
The source stressed that the vehicles travelled on a road used jointly by military and civilian traffic, and that civilian cars were also in the vicinity of the attack. One house in the village was also struck by a missile in the attack.
IDF Blog: What is UN Resolution 1701 & Why is it Important?
The international community, through the UN Security Council, has demanded multiple times that Hezbollah disarm. Instead, Hezbollah has continually ignored these demands. They ignored UNSC Resolution 1701, which called for a zone free of armed personnel besides the army of Lebanon. They ignored UNSC Resolution 1559 and the Lebanese Taif Agreement, which ended the Lebanese Civil War and called for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. Hezbollah clearly shows it has no intention of ever laying down its arms.
Yesterday, January 28, Hezbollah fired five anti-tank missiles at a military vehicles near Mt. Dov in northern Israel, killing two soldiers and injuring seven others. Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano, Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) strongly condemned the serious violation of Resolution 1701 of the Security Council.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Calls on Security Council to ‘Unequivocally’ Condemn Hezbollah
In a letter to UN Security Council President Cristián Barros Melet, Ambassador Ron Prosor said that “for years, Hezbollah has been stockpiling weapons in Southern Lebanon in violation of Security Council resolution 1701. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah regularly threatens Israel and his terrorist organization took responsibility for this morning’s attack. Hezbollah has the military capabilities, it has made its intentions clear, and this morning we saw the results.”
Resolution 1701, passed in August 2006 after Hezbollah launched its last war against Israel, demands “the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that…there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State.”
“The international community cannot ignore the threat any longer,” Prosor asserted. “Israel will not stand by as Hezbollah targets Israelis. Israel will not accept any attacks on its territory and it will exercise its right to self-defense and take all necessary measures to protect its population.”
Prosor ended his letter by urging the Security Council “to unequivocally and publicly condemn Hezbollah. The terrorist organization must be disarmed and the Government of Lebanon must abide by its international commitments and fully implement Security Council resolution 1701.”
Israeli UN Ambassador Not Invited to Discussion on Attack
The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting late Wednesday night to discuss a flareup in violence between Israel and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border.
Along with IDF soldiers Major Yochai Kalengel and Sgt. Dor Nini, who were killed when Hezbollah fired antitank missiles at two IDF vehicles, a Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper was killed in Israel's retaliatory fire.
During the meeting - to which Israel was cordially not invited - the UN Security Council discussed the implications of the attack.
On Wednesday, the Spanish Ambassador to the UN blamed Israel for the death of the soldier. While an investigation is ongoing, it is likely that the soldier died in an IDF response to the Hezbollah terror attack.
"It is clear that this was because of the escalation of the violence and it came from the Israeli side," Spanish Ambassador Roman Oyarzun told reporters, according to the AFP news agency.
Oyarzun was referring to Israel's elimination last week of Jihad Mughniyeh, said to be Hezbollah's “commander of the Golan Heights area,” along with a crew of Hezbollah terrorists, and Iranian general Abu Ali Tabtabai, as they were touring the Golan border area with the intention of planning terror attacks against Israel.
UNIFIL Confirms ‘Rocket Fired From Lebanon First, Israel Retaliated’
The Spanish Ministry of Defense has confirmed that rockets were fired first from Lebanon, provoking Israel into a defensive attack.
“At the moment we are still looking into the causes of the event,” Andrea Tenenti, UNIFIL spokesman in Lebanon, told The Spain Report by telephone. “What I can say is that today there were rockets launched from Lebanon into Israel, and the Israeli forces began retaliatory fire. Major General Portolano (UNIFIL commander) was immediately in contact with both parties to prevent further escalation.”
Spanish Army Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo, 36, was killed during the clash while on patrol for UNIFIL. The corporal, who was born in Andalusia, was married and assigned to a mechanized infantry regiment after enlisting in 2004. His unit has participated in UNIFIL in southern Lebanon since November 2014. The soldier’s position when he was killed was not released.
Will an eye for an eye suffice?
Further evidence of Hezbollah’s desire to draw blood but not spark a war came in the nature of the attack: it was not, as initially feared, an abduction operation. The mortar fire on the Hermon was not part of a deception. The attack was launched from a distance at an army convoy.
An abduction, a strike on a school bus, a city, a village: all of those would have signaled a desire to drag Israel into an all-out war.
Instead, as Orit Perlov of the INSS think tank noted on Twitter, “it was symmetrical eye 4 eye.”
And yet, clearly, the situation is flammable. Israel has convened the brass of the IDF’s General Staff and the security cabinet. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, a cabinet member, called for “a change in Israel’s approach up until now,” saying that the Israeli response should be “very harsh and disproportionate.”
The options that the army fans out, and the approach chosen by the cabinet, will decide, within the coming hours, if Israel is headed toward de-escalation or war.
Hezbollah not interested in escalation, UN tells Israel
Israel said on Thursday it received a message from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that it was backing away from further violence, a day after the worst deadly clashes in years erupted along the border.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Israel had received a message from a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon that Hezbollah was not interested in further escalation.
"Indeed, a message was received," he said. "There are lines of coordination between us and Lebanon via UNIFIL (the UN force) and such a message was indeed received from Lebanon."
In Beirut, Hezbollah officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Ten Lessons Learned by Hezbollah From Israel’s Summer War in Gaza
Highlighted by recent skirmishes on the Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian borders, tensions between Israel and Hezbollah are high, and the possibility of a more sustained outbreak of violence, intentional or not, is becoming increasingly likely.
Below is a list of the top ten lessons Hezbollah likely learned from Operation Protective Edge, as well as what can be expected from them as a result, in a future conflict with Israel. Hezbollah is now significantly more battle hardened as its fighters have been engaged in deadly fighting in Syria for years. Pre-occupied with fighting in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, it is not interested in another conflict with Israel at the moment. Yet it is willing to open another front with Israel if it deems such a move necessary to improve its deterrence, rally its base, or otherwise defend its core interests. Expect the next round of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah to be much bloodier, with more unintended consequences than previous conflicts with the Jewish state.
Canada Backs Israel’s Battle Against Hezbollah Terror
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird issued a strong statement of support for Israel Wednesday night, roundly condemning Hezbollah’s attack on the north after a recent trip to the Jewish State.
“Canada condemns the assault by Hezbollah on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that tragically killed two IDF members. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those lost and injured,” Baird said, noting that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon also suffered a loss as a result of Hezbollah terror.
“Canada also extends its condolences to the family and friends of the Spanish UN peacekeeper killed in the exchange.
“Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy, is a brutal terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel. Canada fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself by itself,” he said, criticizing the “destructive force” of Iran and directly accusing the Islamic Republic of intent to wipe out Israel.
US says Hezbollah 'in blatant violation' of UN resolutions
The United States "strongly condemned" Hezbollah's rocketing of Israeli territory on Wednesday with anti-tank munitions, killing two IDF soldiers and wounding seven others.
"The United States strongly condemns Hezbollah’s attack today on Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) near the border between Lebanon and Israel," said Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman, "in blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701."
"We don’t have information on what munitions were used by Hezbollah," Vasquez added, when asked for comment on Hezbollah's alleged use of sophisticated anti-tank, Russian-made Kornet rockets.
On Tuesday, the State Department warned against "escalation" on Israel's northern border, after Syrian positions fired into the Golan Heights. The Israeli air force returned fire on Syrian Army positions overnight.
EU calls for halt to attacks against Israel's northern border
The European Union called on Hezbollah and any other group to stop attacking Israel along its northern border warning that such violence threatened to break the 2006 cease-fire with Israel.
“The threats to Israel on its Northern border must stop,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Wednesday.
She spoke after Hezbollah hit two Israeli military vehicles with anti-tank missiles, killing two IDF soldiers and wounding seven on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border, near the village of Ghajar.
“The attacks on the Lebanese-Israeli border are undermining the cessation of hostilities established by UNSC Resolution 1701 and the peace building efforts along the Blue Line [a UN border demarcation set in 2000]," she said.
Mogherini called for an immediate end to all violence, which she warned could be detrimental to the region.
Lebanese rebuke Hezbollah for dragging country into clash
Former president Michel Sleiman said Beirut should avoid being dragged into the conflict, which he said was only being waged to score points for Israel’s ruling Likud party ahead of parliamentary elections.
“Where is Lebanon’s interest in being dragged into a war that Israel needs? Netanyahu, for domestic electoral reasons and due to his clear alliance with US President Barack Obama, is trying to cause Lebanon to violate [UN Security Council Resolution] 1701 and initiate battles from which Israel stands to gain,” he wrote on Facebook.
Hezbollah’s attack on an Israeli patrol in the northern Mount Dov region along the border came amid a deep political crisis in Lebanon.
Caretaker Prime Minister Tammam Salam bemoaned the political stalemate preventing Lebanese national elections in an interview with Al-Akhbar daily Wednesday, as his term in office nears the one year mark in February. Disagreements between Hezbollah and Saad Hariri’s March 14 Alliance have left the country without a president for the past seven months.
He also accused Israel of sparking a “dangerous escalation.”
Lebanese Christian Leader Slams Hezbollah for Attack on Israel
Samir Geagea, a prominent Lebanese Christian leader and senior figure in the country’s anti-Hezbollah political alliance, denounced Hezbollah’s attack on Israel on Wednesday.
“Today’s development indicates that Hezbollah is more and more expanding its regional schemes against the Lebanese state,” Geagea said, Lebanon’s Daily Star reported.
“Hezbollah has no right to implicate the Lebanese people in a battle with Israel,” he added. “There is a government and a parliament which can decide on that.”
Lebanese Celebrate IDF Deaths With Candy
Hezbollah suppporters pass out sweets to passing motorists to celebrate the deaths of IDF soldiers in an attack on northern Israel.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah supporters passed out candy Wednesday to celebrate the killing of two IDF soldiers and wounding of seven others by the terror organization in an attack on northern Israel earlier in the day.
A photo of the happy Lebanese citizens offering sweets to passing motorists was posted on the Twitter social networking site by the Middle East News outlet.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups praise Hezbollah attack
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hezbollah “has the right to respond to Israeli occupation, especially following the last aggression on Syria.”
Abu Zuhri was referring to an air strike on the Syrian side of the Golan, which killed a number of Hezbollah and Iranian operatives.
Hamas representatives in Lebanon issued a statement welcoming the Hezbollah attack. The statement described the attack as a “natural response to recurring Zionist aggressions.”
The Islamic Jihad organization’s armed wing, al-Quds Brigades, praised the “blessed” Hezbollah attack, saying it would “deepen the crisis” in the IDF.
Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh said that the attack came as a “shock” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF commanders.
The attack, he added, is a “natural response to the crimes of the enemy.”
Two other Palestinian groups, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also welcomed the Hezbollah attack and called for stepping up the resistance against Israel.
U.S. Must Connect the Dots Between Iran Talks and Hezbollah Violence
The border violence is generally being reported as part of a tit-for-tat exchange between Hezbollah and Israel. Today’s incident, in which anti-tank shells were fired at Israeli vehicles travelling on a civilian road from three miles away inside Lebanon, is seen by many as retaliation for Israel’s strike at a Hezbollah missile base inside Syria last week in which, among others, an Iranian general was killed. Iran has warned Israel that it would retaliate and it is thought that today is proof that they meant what they said.
But there is more to this than the need for Hezbollah to do the bidding of its Iranian paymasters or even for it to gain revenge for the death of the terrorists slain with Tehran’s ballistic missile expert, one of whom was the son of a slain commander of the group. The point of setting up that base in Syria, near the Golan Heights, was to create a launching pad to hit the Jewish state without bringing down the wrath of the Israel Defense Forces on Lebanon, as was the case during the 2006 war that was set off by similar cross-border raids. But the reason why Hezbollah and Iran were so interested in strengthening their ability to rain down destruction on Israeli civilian targets is that Tehran sees itself as being locked in a permanent war with Israel as well as with Arab states in the region.
This is more than obvious to anyone who pays the slightest attention to Iranian policy as well as its use of terrorists to advance its policy goals. Hezbollah is an arm of Iranian foreign policy as proved by its use as shock troops in the effort to preserve the rule of Tehran’s ally Bashar Assad in Syria.
Video shows Hezbollah Brigades convoy transporting American M1 tank
A video uploaded to YouTube appears to show a large Hezbollah Brigades convoy transporting weapons, troops, and armored vehicles to the front to fight the Islamic State.
Several American-made military vehicles, including an M1 Abrams tank, M113 armored personnel carriers, Humvees, and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP), as well as Iranian-made Safir 4x4s and technicals (armed pickup trucks) are in the convoy.
The Hezbollah Brigades is US-designated foreign terrorist organization that has been involved in killing American soldiers in Iraq.
At one point in the video, a transport truck is shown carrying an M1 Abrams tank. The Hezbollah Brigades' flag is flying over the tank and other US-made vehicles. The M1, which is the main battle tank of the US Army, has been sold to and utilized by the Iraqi Army.
The screen shot above marks the first evidence of Iranian-backed militias having M1 tanks at their disposal. It is unclear if the Hezbollah Brigades seized the M1 from an Iraqi Army unit that dissolved in the face of the Islamic State's onslaught, or if the Iraqi military gave the militia the tank. Several Iraqi M1s have been photographed after being destroyed by the Islamic State.
Patchy BBC reporting on Hizballah attacks in northern Israel
Just before 1 p.m. on January 27th incoming missiles from Syria triggered air-raid sirens in the northern Golan Heights. Local residents took cover in their air-raid shelters and over a thousand visitors to the Mount Hermon ski resort had to be quickly evacuated. At least two projectiles were determined to have landed in Israeli territory and the IDF responded with artillery fire directed at the launch site in Syria and later on in the evening with strikes on Syrian army artillery posts. Both Israeli and foreign sources attributed the missile fire to Hizballah acting from Syrian army positions.
Despite at least one of its journalists in the region being aware of the incident, the BBC News website elected not to report those events at the time.
A day later – Wednesday, January 28th – an additional incident took place when Hizballah conducted a cross-border attack in the Har Dov area, firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli army vehicles. Mortars were also fired at an IDF position on Mount Hermon and reportedly at the village of Ghajar. Two soldiers were killed and seven wounded. Israel responded with artillery and air strikes.
In the BBC News website’s report on those events – originally headlined “Israeli soldiers wounded in Lebanon border attack” and later retitled “Israel fires into Lebanon after attack on troops”, followed by “Israel fires shells into Lebanon after attack on troops” and then “UN peacekeeper killed after Hezbollah-Israel clash” – the previous day’s events were described in one sentence.
Israeli Minister: ‘Only Europe Gives Us a Hard Time,’ EU Doesn’t Understand Terrorist Threat
Europeans are the only ones being difficult and not understanding the terrorist threat Israel faces, an Israeli minister told Daniel Hannan, a British member of the European Parliament, last week.
“It’s only Europe that gives us a hard time,” said the Israeli minister. “Yesterday, I had the Canadian foreign minister sitting where you’re sitting now. I had a cross-party delegation from the US Senate. I had ministers from India and Japan. All of them understood that Israel was facing a terrorist threat. But the EU starts from the assumption that we’re in the wrong. Why?”
Hannan revealed his conversation with the unnamed Israeli minister in a piece he wrote for the Washington Examiner, which was published on Monday. The Israeli official was only identified as a “Likud minister.”
In the article, titled, “Why Israel rankles Europeans so much,” Hannan tries to answer the Israeli minister’s question and says “one thing above all” makes Europe different: The EU’s ruling ideology of “supra-nationalism.”
“[EU] founders detested the national principle, which they regarded as one step away from fascism and war. They were wrong: The misalignment of national units with state frontiers is arguably the chief cause of conflict in the world, from Chechnya to Kashmir, from Sri Lanka to South Sudan,” Hannan explained. “But they sincerely believed that national loyalties were irrational, transient and dangerous, as do their successors today.”
Joel Pollak: The speech Netanyahu should give Congress
The speech that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver to a special joint session of the US Congress in March will be the most important address by an Israeli leader in the history of the Jewish state.
With Iranian soldiers literally on Israel’s borders, and the Iranian regime closer than ever to a nuclear weapon, plus the renewed danger of Islamist terror at home and abroad, there has never been a more important time to make Israel’s case – wherever it can be heard.
Much ink has been spilled over the controversial circumstances in which Netanyahu was invited. Those who fault Netanyahu for accepting Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation tend to overlook the extent to which President Barack Obama has deliberately undermined relations both with Congress and with Israel.
Far better for Netanyahu to have this opportunity to plead Israel’s case now, before war with Iran, than to follow the Ukrainian president in beseeching Congress to send help after his country has already lost.
Regardless, there is no sense in canceling the speech now. Such indecision by Netanyahu on the world stage would have real geopolitical consequences.
Jeffrey Goldberg's libel
Regarding Iran, as with talks with the Palestinians, the root of the dispute between the Israeli government and the Left, both in Israel and around the world, is the question of whether to believe the other side or not. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not believe the other side, and neither does most of the Israeli public. We are fed up with this laboratory experiment called the peace process.
But Jeffrey Goldberg does believe the other side. So for Goldberg, an effort by Netanyahu to influence Congress against President Barack Obama's position represents a terrible threat.
Netanyahu is not seeking to alienate the Democratic Party. Rather, he is committed to Israel's ongoing existence, even if this means friction and disagreements with the Obama administration.
Here is Goldberg's logic: Because Israel is dependent on the U.S., Netanyahu must pay Obama to be able to influence the agreement with the Iranians. How to pay Obama? By "advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."
Ah, Israel must abandon its future on one front so as to save itself on another. Under the current circumstances, a Palestinian state is no less dangerous than an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Boehner: Obama Administration Has Deep Antipathy for Netanyahu
Boehner raised eyebrows last week when he announced that Netanyahu had accepted his invitation to address a rare joint session of Congress early this year – an invitation extended without consulting Democratic leaders in Congress or the White House.
Boehner defended the action, saying Congress has every right, as a separate branch of government, to operate without the administration's input.
When asked by Baier if the Obama administration harbors a deep antipathy against Prime Minister Netanyahu, Boehner answered in the affirmative.
"Of course," he said, "they don't even try to hide it."
Boehner stressed that he has no regrets over his invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress, but added he is not surprised by the pushback and criticism he's received for the move.
Watchdog Slams Use of American Taxpayer Funds to Finance Anti-Netanyahu Campaign
The head of Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor has blasted the US State Department for funding an Israeli election campaign aimed at ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointing out that this is not the first time that US taxpayer funds have been used to finance organizations on the Israeli left.
“US State Department funding provided to this ostensibly non-governmental organization is another example of the lack of due diligence and accountability in the dispersion of taxpayer funding,” Professor Gerald Steinberg, whose organization tracks foreign funding of radical NGOs in Israel, told The Algemeiner. Steinberg was responding to reports that OneVoice International, which describes itself as an “international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians,” and which has received two grants from State over the last year, is working with an Israeli group, V15, in an anti-Netanyahu campaign ahead of the Israeli elections in March.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, which broke the story, former Obama aides are also involved in the campaign. However, OneVoice development and grants officer Christina Taler told the paper that “no government funding has gone toward any of the activities we’re doing right now whatsoever” – though she added that her group had used the State Department grants to “build public campaign support for the [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations” launched by Secretary of State John Kerry last spring.
White House embarrasses itself with claim Taliban is not a terrorist group
While the White House is keen to pretend as though the War on Terror is over, the Cold War is ancient history, and the War on Poverty has been a glittering success, there is one war that the administration continues to prosecute vigorously: A war on the English language.
During the White House daily press briefing on Wednesday, Deputy Press Sec. Eric Schultz was asked why, if the administration opposes its allies negotiating with ISIS for the mutual release of captives, that it routinely enters into negotiations with the Taliban. The dissembling response that followed is stranger than fiction.
Schultz protested that the controversial prisoner swap in May of 2014, when Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was retrieved from Taliban custody in exchange for five ranking Taliban commanders held prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, was a traditional element of all concluding wars. ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl observed, however, that the Taliban is still conducting “terrorist attacks” both during and after hostage swap negotiations.
“I would also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group,” Schultz said. “So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”
'Israeli who joined Syria al-Qaida group was urged to return and carry out attacks on Jewish state'
Security forces arrested an Israeli Arab resident of Kfar Yassif on suspicion of fighting with radical rebels in Syria, including Jabhat Al-Nusra, al-Qaida's official branch in Syria.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) named the suspect as Amin Ahmed Salah Snobar, 24, who was arrested on January 2 at Ben Gurion Airport after returning from Syria via Turkey.
During questioning, the ISA said, Snobar confessed to leaving Israel for Turkey on July 7, 2014, and continuing on to Syria to join the rebels fighting the Assad regime.
According to an indictment filed on Thursday, jihadi elements in Syria urged him to return to Israel and carry out terrorist attacks from within the country.
Snobar allegedly arrived at a Syrian base belonging to the Ansar Al-Sham rebel group, and later spent time at the headquarters of Jabhat Al-Nusra as well, undergoing military training with both organizations.
The ISA said Snobar received weapons and bomb making training, as well as undergoing physical fitness programs, before taking on missions on behalf of the organizations.
IEC Finally to Shut Off Power to PA Over Debt
The Israel Electric Company said Wednesday that it would shut off power to some communities in the Palestinian Authority this week, unless the PA paid off its enormous debt. According to IEC officials, the PA owes it over NIS 1.8 billion ($450 million).
The IEC has long tried to collect its money, with the PA adamantly refusing to pay, saying that various agreements with Israel qualify it for free electricity. The IEC has tried to sue the PA, and to collect its debts via the cash Israel transfers to the PA. Both approaches have been rebuffed by the courts.
In order not to exacerbate tensions, shutting off the power to the PA was always seen as a last resort – and the IEC said Wednesday that at this point the company had reached that last resort. Instead of shutting off the power altogether, the IEC would limit electricity flows to the PA. “Hopefully a solution will be found” as a result – and if one isn't found, the company will take more drastic steps.


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