Friday, March 27, 2015

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Managing Obama’s war against Israel
On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it is shelving plans to build 1,500 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood. Officials gave no explanation for its sudden move. But none was needed.
Obviously the construction of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem was blocked in the hopes of appeasing US President Barack Obama.
But is there any reason to believe he can be appeased? Today the White House is issuing condemnations of Israel faster than the UN.
To determine how to handle what is happening, we need to understand the nature of what is happening.
First we need to understand that the administration’s hostility has little to do with Israel’s actions.
As Max Boot explained Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, the administration’s animosity toward Israel is a function of Obama’s twin strategic aims, both evident since he entered office: realigning US policy in the Middle East toward Iran and away from its traditional allies Israel and the Sunni Arab states, and ending the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.
Rethinking Israel's Position on the Palestinian Authority
There will also be a cost to Israel, including an attempted surge of terrorism against the Jews of Judea and Samaria, as well as inside the Green Line. The Israeli government must be prepared to take severe measures to prevent it.
The United Nations, the European Union and the Obama Administration will also be furious, but it will pass, as there will be nothing they can do to create a Palestinian state once the Palestinian Authority no longer exists.
The collapse of the Palestinian Authority will not be cost free to Israel, which is why Abbas frequently issues empty threats to dismantle the Palestinian Authority himself. It would be delusional to believe that Israel can avoid the imposition of a Palestinian state without paying a price. Such a price, however, is small change compared to the catastrophe that would result from the creation of a Palestinian state and the benefit of terminating that threat once and for all.
It is unrealistic, of course, to expect that the Israeli government will declare the termination of Israel's cooperation with the Palestinian Authority at this time without provocation. The Prime Minister's cautious nature precludes such a bold move. Nevertheless, the possibility that Israel will take this step in response to any change in support by the United States for Israel in various international bodies should be floated.
Simply put, if the Obama Administration can reassess its position with regard to Israel, the Netanyahu government can reassess its position with regard to the Palestinian Authority. The street runs two ways.
 Israel’s UN Envoy Says Hamas Would ‘Gladly Create’ Terror State in Judea and Samaria
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said on Thursday that, given the opportunity, Gaza-based terror group Hamas would eagerly create a terrorist entity in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, like they did in the Gaza Strip.
“Iran’s proxy, Hamas, took over the Gaza Strip and created a terror stronghold. It has used this stronghold to fire tens of thousands of rockets into Israel. Given the chance, Hamas would gladly create a second terror state in Judea and Samaria,” Prosor said at a press conference at the UN. “You don’t have to be a political scientist to look at the Middle East and see a region in chaos…The region is in turmoil – and the very last thing Israel can afford is another terror state in its backyard.”
The envoy’s comments came as the White House escalated criticism of Israel’s newly reelected Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu over comments he made questioning if the security climate was right for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Prosor appeared to be reinforcing Netanyahu’s position.
Prosor said the new “terror state” could be called ISIL – standing for Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon – because, he said, the entity would be sponsored by the Islamic Republic and be “as volatile” as the other Middle East countries.
Amb. Prosor statement following UNSC debate on the Middle East

JPost Editorial: Yemen as a symptom
Fighting alone, the Saudis, who have already carried out air strikes against the Houthis, have little chance of restoring order with a ground offensive. Back in 2009, when Riyadh launched an offensive into Yemen, the Houthis bested the Saudis. We are most likely in store for a long period of the sort of bloody anarchy that we have witnessed in Syria and Iraq. And as is the case in Syria and Iraq, Iran, the single most powerful and aggressive force operating in the region, is likely to emerge the big winner.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration and the other P5+1 governments are negotiating a deal with the Iranians that might allow the Islamic Republic to become a threshold nuclear state. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting Islamic State so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army. And US forces are coordinating air attacks with the Iranian forces fighting alongside Iraqi troops against Islamic State in Tikrit, Iraq.
What is clear is that the developments in Yemen are yet another setback for the Obama administration’s strategy in the Middle East. The US’s ability to fight AQAP has been seriously compromised, if not paralyzed altogether. The Saudis, apprehensive about Iranian expansionism and distrustful of US intentions regarding Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, are even more convinced of the need for their own nuclear warheads.
There are no easy answers in places such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq. But the message being conveyed by the Obama administration is one of retreat packaged in euphemisms such as “light footprints” and “engagement.”
In the process, redlines have been crossed in Syria; a US-backed regime has been deposed in Yemen; and a pro-American, Israel-friendly regime in Egypt is being kept at arm’s length by Washington.
A foreign policy vacuum has been created and longtime American allies are being forced to look out for themselves, sometimes with less than satisfactory results. Yemen is a symptom of a fundamental ailment in US Middle East policy.
 Reassessing the Two State Solution
Obama has ominously threatened to “reassess” the 2-State Solution and the Israel-US relationship in light of PM Netanyahu’s last-minute measured, reasonable election statements regarding the 2-state solution that "Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel. This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years.”
In response, according to White House officials, US President Obama told “Prime Minister [Netanyahu] that we will need to reassess our options following the Prime Minister's new positions and comments regarding the two state solution.” I guess the White House is ‘really angry’ that the millions of US Government taxpayer dollars that Obama illegally spent on illegally toppling Netanyahu failed to do the trick. Hence, the “White House officials” didn’t even refer to Netanyahu by his name.
But, by all means, let’s reassess the Two-State Solution, Israel’s relationship and strategic value to the United States, Israel’s stability in the Middle East, and its projection of US values and military force into the Middle East. Here are some of the questions which should form a substantial element of America’s “reassessment.”
 Abbas Risks ICC Declaring Gaza is Not His
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is looking to sue Israel for "war crimes" at the International Criminal Court (ICC), and even while it is not clear the ICC will recognize the PA as a bona fide state, there are numerous other caveats though that could hold back whatever advantage the PA thinks it might have.
Eugene Kontorovich, lecturer in international law at Northwestern University, tells Arutz Sheva that the PA must meet the binding legal definition of a state, and he argues the ICC is ignoring basic fundamentals of international law in order to advance the PA's application for membership.
For one, the ICC is trying to usurp the rules by incorporating UN General Assembly (GA) resolutions into its decision-making on Ramallah’s application. The GA is not authorized to recognize states by the United Nations’ charter, and yet the ICC’s chief prosecutor is taking GA decisions about “Palestine’s” observational status as grounds to treat it as a state member to the court.
As Kontorovich put it in a recent Washington Post article on the subject, the ICC prosecutor “substituted the determination of the General Assembly for her own. The GA is not a judicial body, but a political one. Its determinations are political, not legal.”
Other issues could create a diplomatic fury if the ICC were to judge the situation by the reality on the ground.
It is plausible that in the event the ICC defined the PA in Judea and Samaria as a state, that would not necessarily mean it has the right to file complaints on behalf of Gaza, because Mahmoud Abbas does not have "effective control" of Gaza - Hamas does.
Phony Obama-Netanyahu Conflict Diverts Attention From Real Issues
The explanation is quite simple. President Barack Obama has long been looking for an excuse to create daylight between his administration and Israel. The conflict with Netanyahu is not about Netanyahu; it is about the administration grabbing a fig leaf to justify a move toward the Palestinians.
An incision into Obama’s ideology would have easily predicted this outcome. He was reared in the American leftists’ understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict—one that flows from simplistic identity politics. As that narrative goes, Israelis are white-skinned, Western people (in reality they are largely Middle Eastern Jews) exploiting third-world, brown-skinned people.
Israel is characterized as the last vestige of British colonialism, even though Britain did not vote for the creation of Israel and actively supported the Arabs in the 1948 war. Consequently, the Jews have no right to be there, and it is their obligation alone to make concessions.
This fatuous narrative dominates Middle East teachings in higher education.
Obama’s friends not only believed this bad rendition of history, but some were also its major proponents. Obama has displayed a penchant for surrounding himself with Israel-bashers such as Rashid Khalidi, Palestine Liberation Organization spokesperson and university professor.
Officials: Relationship Between Obama Administration and Israeli Government is ‘Irreparable’
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s senior advisers have described the relationship between the Obama Administration and the Israeli government as “irreparable,” the UK’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday.
Their dire evaluation comes on the heels of weeks of hostility from the White House and State Department towards Netanyahu, a situation which has intensified since Netanyahu’s Likud party won the largest amount of Knesset seats in Israel’s general election last week.
Less than 24 hours after polls closed in Israel, and Likud’s win became evident, the administration was already openly talking about a “reevaluation” of the relationship with Israel. The stance was later toned down by administration officials to reevaluating the United States’ approach to the peace process.
Serry: Time to replace 242 with new ‘peace architecture’
The international community should create a new “peace architecture” to replace UN Security Council Resolution 242, outgoing UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry said Thursday during his final briefing to the Security Council.
Serry – speaking just days after the US said it will reassess its Middle East diplomacy, leading to speculation it may support a UN Security Council resolution setting parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal – said that since the parties at this time do not seem ready to restart talks, “we should not rush them back to the table.”
Rather, he said, if the world believes in a two-state solution, and the sides are unable to agree on a meaningful framework to resume negotiations, “the international community should seriously consider presenting such a framework for negotiations, including parameters, to achieve this.”
“It remains the primary responsibility of this council to play its role in developing a new peace architecture for resolving the conflict at long last,” he said. “Security Council Resolution 242 embodying the key principle of ‘land for peace’ is nearly half-a-century old.”
I’m Sorry, Serry, We Didn’t Kill It
I am not for a two-state solution which is not really a solution, as it does not address the reasons for Arab opposition and hostility to the very idea of a Jewish state and the renewed soverignty of the the Jewish people. Hamas doesn’t even what a Jew present here in our national homeland.
But whatever, we didn’t “kill” anything and for sure, not a two-state solution that has been for the taking for the Arabs since, well, at least 1937 and the partition plan. And I think the separation of Transjordan from the Mandate in 1922 and the postponement of the Jewish right of “close settlement” in the area and subsequently limited to the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the area that is, lo and behold!, the very area of Judea and Samaria at present.
Nevertheless, a two-state resolution is still in the offering if we include Jordan in the geographical parameters. The country was past of Palestine. It asserts influence and power in Jerusalem via its role in administering the Temple Mount. It has in the past and could in the future provide a route for the political expression for the Arabs-who-refer-to-themselves-as-‘Palestinians’.
Israel to resume tax revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority
After months of freezing tax revenue transfers as punishment for the Palestinian Authority's application to the Rome Statute, Israel announced on Friday that it will release the money to the interim government in Ramallah.
The announcement was made in a press release by the Prime Minister's Office just before sundown Friday.
This past January, Israel froze the transfer of some NIS 500 million in tax collections to the Palestinian Authority.
The move came as a protest of the formal application for membership of the International Criminal Court that was filed on Friday on behalf of the “State of Palestine.”
EU to keep Hamas blacklisted as it appeals court ruling
The European Union kept Hamas on its terrorism blacklist Friday despite a controversial court decision ordering Brussels to remove the Palestinian Islamist group from the register.
Brussels has lodged an appeal against a December ruling by the bloc’s second highest court that Hamas should be delisted for the first time since 2001.
“Hamas stays on list during Council’s appeal to December judgement,” Susanne Kiefer, a spokeswoman for the European Council said on Twitter.
The appeal process is expected to take around a year and a half.
Mark Steyn: Obama Administration Has A ‘Visceral Dislike Of Israel’
MARK STEYN: At the moment, we’ve just started lending air support to our allies, the Iranians, in the fight to take back Tikrit in Iraq. That operation is being directed by an Iranian general, and the United States Air Force is basically serving as Iran’s air force for the purposes of that operation. Meanwhile, down south in Yemen, we’re providing support to our other allies, the Saudi’s, as they go into Yemen to take on the allies of our first allies, the Iranians…This is like foreign policy madlibs, the enemy of my ally is my ally. The ally of my ally is my enemy. This doesn’t make sense any which way you do it. Unless you look at it this way: generally speaking, if you look at what the president is doing, and you figure that it’s generally all serves the long term interest of Iran, funnily enough it seems to, whether that’s something the President of the United States should be doing is a different matter.
INSS: Recognizing Iran as a Nuclear Threshold State: Implications for Israel and the Middle East
While an arrangement that leaves Iran as a nuclear threshold state may be the lesser of all evils for the United States, it can be expected to be very bad for Israel. A signed agreement of this sort will widen the existing disputes between the Israeli government and the US administration, as well as the gaps in positions on how to deal with Iran. A dangerous shadow may be cast over the strategic relations between Israel and the US. At the same time, Israel stands to gain certain advantages with an agreement that stops Iran at the "threshold." The immediacy of the threat of a nuclear attack against Israel will be somewhat reduced, together with the public’s fear of living in the shadow of the nuclear bomb. In turn, Israel’s need to maintain a high level of operational readiness for thwarting Iranian nuclear capability can be lowered somewhat. At the same time, however, Israel will have to take action to contain the negative consequences of the agreement.
Iran: The Only "Good Deal" - And How to Work for It
Even if, as the US Administration ceaselessly assures us, Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons can be frustrated for a while, any relaxation of the current economic sanctions will be used to finance Iran's other drive: its quest for regional hegemony.
To begin with, the P5+1 could adopt the very successful style of negotiation practiced by Palestinians as well as Iranians. This is to whittle away at the position of the other side by extracting one little concession after another, but then to delay the negotiations indefinitely when the deal seems to be imminent. The result is that when negotiations do resume, it is not from zero, but from an inferior initial position of the other side.
Whenever a deal seems near, one of the P5+1 should come up with a further demand or demands. What they could do is adopt that role in succession, so that Iran is the party that needs to keep starting afresh from a worse position.
Obama Admin Threatens U.S. Allies for Disagreeing with Iran Nuke Deal
Efforts by the Obama administration to stem criticism of its diplomacy with Iran have included threats to nations involved in the talks, including U.S. allies, according to Western sources familiar with White House efforts to quell fears it will permit Iran to retain aspects of its nuclear weapons program.
A series of conversations between top American and French officials, including between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande, have seen Americans engage in behavior described as bullying by sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
The disagreement over France’s cautious position in regard to Iran threatens to erode U.S. relations with Paris, sources said.
Tension between Washington and Paris comes amid frustration by other U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. The White House responded to this criticism by engaging in public campaigns analysts worry will endanger American interests.
On Iran Nuclear Deal, Watchdog Says Collapse of White House Demand for Verification in Line With Previous Capitulations
A Washington DC based watchdog monitoring US nuclear negotiations with Iran has said that the White House’s latest backpedaling on its negotiating positions follows a consistent trend.
In a statement to reporters, The Israel Project pointed to a Wall Street Journal report by Carol Lee about the deferment of a previously stated US demand that Iran resolve “questions concerning the possible military dimensions” (PMDs) of its atomic program at the front end of an agreement.
“Lee’s piece was specific to PMDs, but she could have written a near-identical column on centrifuges, heavy water work, and ballistic missile development,” the statement said.
The report comes as the negotiations hit yet another stumbling block before the fast-approaching March 31st deadline after Tehran refused to cooperate with a United Nations probe into whether Iran had tried to build atomic weapons in the past.
There Is No "Fatwa" Condemning Nuclear Weapons by Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei (MEMRI) (h/t Yenta Press)

In Latest Collapse, U.S. to Let Iran Keep Centrifuges Running in Underground Enrichment Bunker
The Associated Press has reported that the United States is considering allowing Iran to continue to operate hundreds of centrifuges at Fordow, an underground nuclear complex outside of the city of Qom. The Iranians would reportedly be able to feed elements such as zinc, xenon, or germanium at the site, rather than uranium, which could be used for science or industry but not a nuclear weapon.
However, experts are concerned that the retained technology could easily be repurposed to enrich uranium. David Albright, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Institute for Science and International Studies, said that this concession “keeps the infrastructure in place and keeps a leg up, if they want to restart (uranium) enrichment operations,” Last week, the AP reported that American officials were fearful of that very fact. It is also of concern that the concession would be made at the Fordow site, located in a fortified mountainside, “making it resistant — possibly impervious — to air attack.”
In April 2012, the United States and European countries demanded that the Fordow site be dismantled as a condition for lifting sanctions. An Iranian official declared in February 2013, “Fordow will never be shut down because … our national duty is to be able to defend our nuclear and vital centres against an enemy threat.” The official went on to say that the demands to close the site were “meant to help the Zionist regime.” The Times of Israel and AP reported on March 16 that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had made “a sudden… demand that the Fordo nuclear facility, buried deep underground, be allowed to keep hundreds of centrifuges that are used for enriching uranium — material that can be used in a nuclear warhead.”
Obama Gives Iran a Right to Enrich

Reporter Grills State Department: Is U.S. Now A 'Functional Ally Of Iran?'
During the Thursday State Department briefing, Press Office Director Jeff Rathke was grilled by a reporter about whether or not the United States was now a “functional ally of Iran.”
At issue was the new United States air offensive against the Islamic State in the Iraqi city of Tikrit. Up until now, the United States was hesitant about intervening on behalf of the Iranian officials and Iranian-backed Shiite militants battling ISIS in the city.
“The State Department has no concerns at all that the U.S. will become Iran’s air force in Iraq?” the reporter pressed. “I mean, basically hasn’t the U.S. become a functional ally of Iran, since we’re providing air support?”
Congressmembers: No More Money for Talks With Iran
Some members of Congress are insisting there be a limit to the ongoing negotiations to convince the Islamic Republic to agree not to produce nuclear weapons.
In a letter sent on Thursday, March 26, to the Chair and the Ranking member of the subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the House Appropriations Committee, several members of Congress, spearheaded by Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), sought the insertion of language in the upcoming foreign operations appropriations bill that would prohibit the inclusion of funding for continuing talks with Iran by the U.S. with the P5+1 member nations.
The letter, addressed to Cong. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Cong. Nita Lowey (D-NY), described the ongoing negotiations with Iran as “dangerous” and a “failed effort” to “ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapons capability.”
The letter pointed out that, despite assurances to the contrary, the administration has already made dangerous concessions to Iran, including the decision to permit Iran to maintain a “peaceful nuclear enrichment program.”
Senate Votes for Amendment Making it Easier to Sanction Iran
The United States Senate voted unanimously on Thursday in favor of a non-binding amendment to a budget bill intended to make it easier to re-impose sanctions if Iran violates a nuclear deal, Reuters reports.
The vote was 100-0 for the amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Mark Kirk, which would establish a fund to cover the cost of imposing sanctions if Tehran violated terms of an interim nuclear agreement now in effect, or the final agreement negotiators hope to reach before July.
The votes are non-binding because the legislation will not become law, but many senators introduce amendments to send political messages, noted Reuters.
Kirk, who is deeply skeptical of international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, co-authored a bill that would tighten sanctions on Tehran, which President Barack Obama has threatened to veto as a threat to delicate international negotiations.
Sen. Schumer Announces Cosponsorship of Bill Requiring Congressional Review of Iran Deal
As the March 31 deadlines approaches for a political framework agreement in the nuclear talks between the P5+1 powers (a group that includes America) and Iran, US Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday announced that he is adding his name to the list of cosponsors of legislation that would require Congressional review of a nuclear deal.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, sponsored by US Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), stipulates that President Barack Obama must submit the text of a nuclear pact to Congress within five days of a deal being reached. The legislation also prohibits the president from suspending, waiving, or reducing Congressional sanctions against Iran for 60 days. Schumer had already publicly supported the Corker-Menendez oversight bill before officially announcing his cosponsorship on Thursday.
“We must do everything to prevent a nuclear Iran and so any potential agreement must prevent Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon,” Schumer said in a statement. “Congress played a lead role in crafting the tough-and-effective sanctions regime that brought Iran to the table, and Congress should have a role on how those sanctions are altered in any final agreement with Iran. That’s why I strongly support this legislation, which will give Congress the ability to weigh in on any potential Iran deal. This issue is far too important—for the United States, for Israel, for the entire Middle East—for Congress not to have any ability to review a nuclear deal with Iran.”
The sanctions on Iran are already falling apart
The Obama administration insists that the November 2013 interim nuclear deal with Iran gave Tehran’s economy only limited sanctions relief and that it can respond to Iranian misbehavior by snapping back sanctions at any time in.
Iran’s economic windfall, however, goes well beyond the monthly cash transfers and temporary easing on trade stipulated in the Joint Plan of Action, or JPOA.
Not only has the JPOA halted Iran’s slide into economic disaster, but the benefits the deal has prompted are a fraction of the dividends the Islamic Republic is set to reap the day a final agreement is reached.
These gains are only partly due to sanctions relief: Iran’s improved position also results from lax sanctions implementation by its neighbors, reluctance by European authorities to discourage their own economies from trading with the Islamic Republic, and Tehran’s fine-tuning of its talent for bypassing sanctions.
In Latest Column, NYT’s Friedman Mirrors Administration’s Shift on Iran
In his column on Wednesday, Thomas Friedman, the foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, retreated from his previously articulated position that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. In this, he mirrored a similar shift made by President Barack Obama.
On Wednesday, Friedman wrote:
The Obama team’s best argument for doing this deal with Iran is that, in time, it could be “transformational.” That is, the ending of sanctions could open Iran to the world and bring in enough fresh air — Iran has been deliberately isolated since 1979 by its ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard Corps — to gradually move Iran from being a revolutionary state to a normal one, and one less inclined to threaten Israel. If one assumes that Iran already has the know-how and tools to build a nuclear weapon, changing the character of its regime is the only way it becomes less threatening.
The challenge to this argument, explains Karim Sadjadpour, a Middle East specialist at the Carnegie Endowment, is that while the Obama team wants to believe this deal could be “transformational,” Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, “sees it as transactional” — Iran plugs its nose, does the deal, regains its strength and doubles-down on its longstanding revolutionary principles. But, then again, you never know. What starts out as transactional can end up being transformational in ways that no one can prevent or predict.
'Our Daughter's Murderer Will Go Free'
Arutz Sheva spoke with Brenda and Nahum Lemkos, the bereaved parents of 25-year-old Dalia Lemkos who was murdered by an Arab terrorist last November. On Thursday the terrorist, Maher al-Hashalmoun, was handed two life sentences by a military court - but the parents said it meant nothing.
"The terrorists, the murderers are bailed out, they're freed in some or other terrorist swap," said Brenda Lemkos, speaking from the court room in Ofer Prison north of Jerusalem.
In the Gilad Shalit deal of 2011 a full 1,027 terrorists were freed, and the outgoing coalition freed another 78 in a "gesture" for peace talks.
The bereaved mother explained "this terrorist, yes he's got two life sentences but they're not really worth anything," because now he is in jail as "a guest of the state of Israel."
The family called for the death penalty to be exercised against the murderer, a request that was denied by the court despite the penalty being on Israeli law books. It has only been used once, against Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann.
Israel Defense Forces Creates New Unit to Combat, Prevent Abductions
The Israel Defense Forces have recently established a reserve unit that will be specifically dedicated to lead the searches on the ground in the case of an abduction of Israeli civilians or soldiers.
The IDF’s Central Command and the Judea and Samaria Division arrived at the decision to establish the unit after last June’s tragic kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrach, in Gush Etzion. The intent to establish such a unit was revealed to Israel’s NRG website last September. According to the reports at the time, the IDF preferred establishing a force trained for the specific task of dealing with abductions, and which is well-acquainted with the area.
For that reason, the new IDF unit is staffed with residents of Judea-Samaria. The process of establishing the unit was based on the understanding that these particular individuals would bring with them the added value of being able to traverse the region based on their personal experience and familiarity with the territory.
Golan resident arrested for spying for Syria
A Golan Heights man was indicted on charges that he spied for the Syrian government, according to information released for publication Friday.
Several suspected accomplices were arrested as well, and were later released to house arrest.
Sidqi al-Maqt, 48, of the Druze town Majdal Shams, was accused of passing photographs and written reports of IDF positions to Syrian intelligence officials, including a government official named Midhat Saleh, the Ynet news site reported.
The indictment said that Maqt praised terrorist organizations on his Facebook page, and called for violence against Jews.
Maqt was arraigned in the Nazareth District Courthouse on counts of espionage, aiding the enemy during wartime, supporting a terrorist organization, and contact with a foreign agent.
Saudi Arabia Opposes Hebrew Names for Jerusalem Gates
Saudi Arabia has asked the Arab League to discusses what it said was a move by “Israeli authorities” to change the names of the gates of Jerusalem to Hebrew, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA website.
The Arab League is scheduled to meet on Saturday at Sharm el-Sheikh.
Saudi Arabia presumably is referring to the locked gates around the Temple Mount, where Jews are barred from entering the Temple Mouton site.
Groups varying from several hundred to 3,000 people march and pray at the gates in the monthly “Sivuv Shay’arim” event, except when police decide they cannot do so because it would be considered as “incitement” for Muslims to riot, especially when the march coincides with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Israel’s Arab Minority Integrating Politically and Economically
Throughout late February and March, Israeli Apartheid Week took place across 200 cities around the world, from the U.K. and South Africa to Canada and the United States. Anti-Israel events were held on university campuses and academic institutions, with the official aim, according to the organizers’ website, to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) campaigns against Israel while educating people about Israel’s apartheid policies.
Meanwhile in Israel, the March 17 elections for the Jewish State’s 20th Knesset brought 13 seats to the Joint Arab List, making the united Arab party the third largest faction in the Israeli parliament.
The new Knesset will have 16 Members of Knesset who are Arab, four more than the previous Knesset. Among the 16 are four Arab parliamentarians who represent Zionist parties including Druze MK Hamad Amar of Avigdor Lieberman’s party – Yisrael Beitenu, as well as Arab MKs from Likud, Meretz, and Zionist Union.
Likud Druze MK to Arab List: Start Representing the People
Incumbent Likud MK Ayoub Kara has urged the Joint Arab List to stop attacks against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the media Wednesday, in a special interview with Arutz Sheva.
"The Prime Minister did not intend to offend anyone," Kara stated, referring to Netanyahu's controversial remarks about a large Israeli Arab voter turnout. Netanyahu apologized earlier this week. "It was part of election campaigning, he wanted to get the people to stop being apathetic."
"Arab Knesset members said that people voting for any Zionist party are 'garbage' and no one said anything," he continued. "Now it's time for action, and I offer them to join the coalition and help out Arab citizens."
"All of these assaults, and saying they're representing Palestine and Gaza, it is not giving them anything," he added.
Abbas Tells Arab MKs he Wants Labor in the Coalition
In a meeting with a delegation of the joint Arab list party in Ramallah on Tuesday night, Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he would like to see Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu form a coalition government with his Labor and Hatnua "Zionist Union" rivals on the left.
While Netanyahu has already ruled out a unity government with Labor and has the needed majority with 67 MKs supporting his forming of a coalition, Abbas told the Arab MKs that he still hopes to see Labor in the government pushing for "peace talks." President Reuven Rivlin is to official announce the next prime minister on Wednesday night.
A source from the joint Arab list told NRG that "Abbas told us that they are waiting to see if in the end a unity government will be established in Israel."
The source added that Abbas "expressed hope that a national unity government will rise, which will advance the peace process, but said that he will be ready to act also with a right-wing government that will advance the process and work towards a two-state solution."
Israel allows Gaza athletes to run in West Bank marathon
Israel has allowed 46 athletes passage from Gaza to the West Bank to partake in the Palestine marathon on Friday, easing its policy of strict separation between the two Palestinian territories.
The Palestinian Olympic Committee requested entry permits for 55 runners ahead of the third annual marathon to be held in Bethlehem, nine of which were rejected by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Palestinian coordination officer reported. One of the athletes granted permission is Nader al-Masri, a champion runner who was refused entry in the past and appealed to the Israeli High Court through Gisha, an Israeli NGO specializing in Palestinian freedom of movement.
Palestinian PM visits Gaza, underscores unity message
Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, arrived in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip on Wednesday for a three-day visit.
Dozens of security personnel were out in force to protect Hamdallah, who was received by a police guard of honor at Erez Crossing.
A few Gaza residents, held signs protesting against Hamdallah's visit saying, "Hamdallah's government is a bad government," and chanting "liar, liar" at Hamdallah's convoy.
Hamdallah was due to meet with delegates and officials from Hamas, calling for unity between the Palestinian factions.
Palestinian Authority announces support for Arab coalition against Yemen rebels
The Palestinian Authority has announced its support for a coalition of Arab states poised to provide military intervention in Yemen.
According to Palestinian news agency Ma'an, PA President Mahmoud Abbas's office released a statement Thursday stating his backing of the united military forces lead by Saudi Arabia set to protect the Yemeni government and fight opposition Shi'ite rebels.
In the announcement, Abbas said he backed the decision by Arab foreign ministers to back Yemen's government. Ma'an cited Abbas also as highlighting the importance of creating security and unity of the embattled country.
 The Judean People's Front: Happy Birthday Abbas!
The picture says "Another year and our President is doing great" (literally 1000x fine), which is the Arabic equivalent of "Happy Birthday."
Of course it's another year and "President" Abbas is doing great because this beacon of democracy hasn't had to stand for election since his first one in 2005. Sure he was only elected for a 4 year term, but since Abbas is the moderate leader of Israel's peace partner, the Palestinian Authority, the world can forgive this minor infraction.
While Israel's democracy is questioned by the AP, and accusations of Apartheid are chanted after Israeli Arab Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran oversaw the elections, it is nice to know that Abbas is having another good year of dictatorship next door.
So from all of us here at the Judean People's Front, to our benevolent, peaceful, and moderate partner - who completely accepts the two-state solution despite personally turning down offer after offer, and who continues to reject the idea of a Jewish State and insist on the "Right of Return" for millions of Palestinians who never lived here to Israel.

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