Friday, January 22, 2016

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Coordinated assault
This brings us to the third insight of Polisar’s study. Twenty-five years of survey data make clear that most Palestinians believe that terrorism pays.
And the plain fact is that they are right. For the past generation, the Palestinians have only benefited from killing Israelis through terrorism.
The fact that Israeli concessions to the Palestinians have strengthened their conviction that terrorism pays rather than convinced them to make peace shows that all concessions in the face of terrorism are dangerous.
While the majority of Israelis have learned this lesson and so elected governments that oppose appeasement, the Palestinians have learned that the Israeli public does not have the final word on whether or not they will be rewarded for their crimes against humanity.
The Palestinians believe that Israel is dependent on Western goodwill. So to the extent that the West pressures Israel surrender to Palestinian demands, the US and the EU work hand in glove with Palestinian terrorists and prove that they are right to murder mothers in their homes in front of their children.
This week US Ambassador Dan Shapiro proved the Palestinians right, yet again.
Israel is under a coordinated assault by the Palestinians who hate us and the Europeans and Americans who are hostile to us.
Our options for dealing with this assault are not optimal. But they are formidable. If we make judicious use of them, we can flummox the White House and the EU, and at a minimum, we can begin to prove to the Palestinians that their faith in terrorism is no longer justified.
Caroline Glick shut down the debate with this bombshell speech

Melanie Phillips: Iran for dummies
Israel is counting the days until the American presidential election. It only needs, it says to itself, to get through this year, this month, this week.
It must just keep on ducking and feinting to protect its security and the lives of its citizens until the nightmare of this most hostile US president in memory finally ends. Just as it has been forced to do these past seven years.
For Iran, in stark contrast, President Obama’s remaining year in office offers a window of unparalleled opportunity. By gifting its regime more than $100 billion in sanctions relief, Obama has not only released funds with which the world’s most dangerous jihadist entity can ratchet up its terrorist and genocidal program, pumping money into its al-Quds force, Revolutionary Guards and Hamas.
These are also months during which the president of the most powerful country in the world has signaled that the Iranian regime can act with total impunity.
Obama is trapped by his fear that Iran might at any time renege on the nuclear deal and restart its manufacture of nuclear weapons – which a State Department official nevertheless tells us with a straight face the regime has abandoned for ever more. With this blackmail threat now paralyzing the Obama administration, Iran knows it can do what it wants.
Jennifer Rubin: Why it’s correct to label the Obama administration ‘anti-Israel’
This is disingenuous at best. As Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute observed: “This is completely consistent with all the administration’s other policies hostile to Israel. Labeling goods made by Israeli businesses in disputed territories but not goods made in other disputed territories like Kashmir, for example, is an example of blatant anti-Semitism.” She continued, “And while the administration would surely argue that forcing Jews to wear yellow stars is not a sign of discrimination but merely a diktat about clothing, it should be clear to Jews everywhere that the 1930s are returning.” (Let’s not forget that Secretary of State John Kerry has previously hinted that the U.S. would not be able to protect Israel from boycotts if it did not make more concessions to the Palestinians.)
When the E.U. acted late last year, Congress was not mute. reported: “Citing a concern that the European Union’s proposed guidelines to label goods produced by Israeli companies operating in the West Bank could ‘promote a de-facto boycott of Israel,’ senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D – N.Y.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday released an open letter, which was signed by 36 senators and addressed to the EU’s top diplomat, urging the European body to reconsider the discriminatory policy.” In the House, a bipartisan group introduced a resolution to condemn the E.U.’s action. (“New European Commission guidelines to single out Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank and other areas only encourage and prompt consumers to boycott all Israeli goods. This is counterproductive to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, harmful to U.S. national security interests, and contributes to the deeply misguided anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”) Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who led the House effort last year, tells Right Turn: “The Administration’s decision to support an EU policy of labeling Jewish products draws uncomfortable historical parallels and reveals a troubling lack of understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are over 200 territorial disputes all over the world, yet the State Department chooses to single out Jews for special treatment.” He adds: “Sadly, this behavior is what we’ve come to expect from the European Union. I find it deeply disturbing to see our own State Department now reading from the same script.”

Iran’s Real Leaders Remain Paranoid Over the West, Obsessed With Destroying Israel
Let us not be swept off our feet by President Hassan Rouhani's smiles and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's effective command of English. Even these two, and other presumed Iranian "reformists," subscribe, at the end of the day, to a very ambitious interpretation of Iran's role in world affairs, as a force committed to the undoing of the present world order.
Perhaps it is how they validate a revolution that has failed. Perhaps it serves the need of all totalitarian regimes to have a mortal enemy.
But, in any case, it is not they who call the shots – or the hangings. The real Iran, the revolutionary Islamic Republic led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and controlled by the hard core of the Revolutionary Guards, is a totalitarian state not much impressed by the outward trapping of a "democratic" election.
The real Iranian regime is almost paranoid in its assumption of innate hostility by the West; and at the same time, almost obsessed with destroying Israel. Perhaps it is how they validate a revolution that has failed the Iranian people in every other respect and how they make the people forget the bitter memory of defeat in the war with Iraq.
Perhaps it is their way of asserting the Shia revolution will do what all Sunni regimes have not. Perhaps it serves the need of all totalitarian regimes to have a mortal enemy to fight.
Why Iran Funds Terror, Not Bridges
The Iranian government hopes the expected expansion of its economy will improve its image at home and quiet any rumblings from a population that knows it is being abused but sees no option for change. But while not all of the nuclear deal windfall will be given to the IRGC, Hezbollah or Hamas, it is absurd to expect that the terrorists and their sponsors won’t be the primary beneficiaries. The recent effort of Hezbollah to organize a large scale terror attack in the West Bank also illustrates just how extra Iranian funding could facilitate mass murder.
The Obama administration has made no secret of its high hopes for a new era of détente with Iran. Indeed, the release of the four American hostages being held by Iran (though without getting any news, let alone the freedom of the still missing Robert Levinson) and the quick, albeit humiliating retrieval of the U.S. sailors seized by Iran last week, has been treated as proof that a policy of appeasement and concessions is already paying dividends.
The debunking of these expectations won’t take the full ten years that the nuclear deal will remain in effect. Like its nuclear program that remains in operation, the infrastructure of terror is among the Iranian regime’s proudest achievements, and they will continue to ensure that its push for regional hegemony does not lag. That’s why America’s allies in the region, both Israel and the Arab states, are preparing for the worst. They know that what President Obama and Secretary Kerry have done is to empower a terror state as well as one that is now a recognized threshold nuclear power. Kerry may dismiss the impact of the deal on funding for terror, but even he knows that money for bridges and tunnels will never be a higher priority to the Islamist government than terror. Those who blithely charted this course will have to bear the responsibility for the blood that the nuclear deal will help to shed in the coming years.
Kerry admits: Iran sanctions relief likely to fund terrorism
It is likely that some of the billions of dollars in sanctions relief granted to Iran under a landmark nuclear deal will go to groups deemed to be terrorists, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday. But, he added, he does not believe Iran will be able to use the freed-up cash to boost funding of malign activities if it is serious about revamping its economy.
Kerry said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum the U.S. or others can do little to prevent the now-unfrozen assets from getting into the hands of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps or "other entities" that Iran has supported in the past. But since nuclear-related sanctions were lifted off Iran last weekend, Kerry said, there is no evidence yet to suggest such transfers have occurred.
"I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists," he told CNBC television in an interview. "You know, to some degree, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that every component of that can be prevented. But I can tell you this: Right now, we are not seeing the early delivery of funds going to that kind of endeavor at this point in time."
In fact, Kerry later told a small group of reporters he understands the Revolutionary Guards are "already complaining that they are not getting the money," adding there will be consequences if Iran is caught using the money to support terrorism.
"If we catch them funding terrorism, they're going to have a problem in the U.S. Congress, obviously," he said.
Iran Claims US Paid $1.7 Billion Ransom For American Hostages
The United States’ sent Iran $400 million in debt plus $1.3 billion in interest, and the money was disbursed as a ransom payment for four American hostages of the Islamic regime, a top Iranian commander said Wednesday afternoon. Therefore, the U.S. paid the Iranian regime $425 million dollars per American hostage, according to the commander.
“The annulment of sanctions against Iran’s Bank Sepah and reclaiming of $1.7mln of Iran’s frozen assets after 36 years showed that the US doesn’t understand anything but the language of force,” said Iranian Basij Commander Brig Gen Mohammed Reza Naqdi, addressing his forces in Tehran.
“This money was returned for the freedom of the US spy and it was not related to the (nuclear) negotiations,” he claimed, according to state-controlled Fars News Agency.
Four Americans who were held hostage by the Islamic Republic – Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Pastor Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah Khosrawi Roudsari (who decided to stay in Iran) – were part of the deal that included the ransom payment, along with the release of seven Iranians who were sitting in American jails on charges of thwarting international sanctions, and the delisting of 14 Iranian nationals from Interpol’s Red List, which seeks international criminals for extradition.
Watchdog: Anti-Semitism Part of Official Discourse in Iran
Despite efforts by some politicians in Iran to reach out to the country’s Jewish community, “antisemitic propaganda distributed by official or semi-official media as well as high-ranking clerics” continues to influence Iranian public discourse, Raz Zimmt wrote in a report published Thursday for the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism (ISGAP), an academic association devoted to fighting anti-Semitism.
Zimmt cited a number of articles to illustrate the nature of this propaganda, including one published on April at Mashregh News, a website affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which described Jews as history’s most bloodthirsty people. The piece charged Jews with killing non-Jews to use their blood for religious practices and claimed that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians “was proof of the rapacious and savage nature of the Jewish people.” It was later re-posted by other outlets, including one with ties to a member of Iran’s parliament.
Zimmt provided several other such examples, including an article published by Mashregh in August that called the Holocaust a “false myth” and a “lucrative industry” for Jews, which Israel used to “justify” their treatment of the Palestinians. Another piece– an essay posted on the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News– equated the Shi’ite belief in the Day of Judgment with the “divine promise to exterminate the Jews”
Zimmt noted that these expressions are not limited to organs of the IRGC, but are also spread by some Iranian clerics, including one who called Jews the “biggest enemies of Islam.”
Iranian Commander Says Saudi Arabia Acting as Israel’s Proxy
A senior Iranian military commander accused Saudi Arabia of acting as Israel’s proxy, semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that Jerusalem was using the ruling Al Saud family to carry out its anti-Iranian “plots,” calling the Saudi Kingdom “the defensive shield of the Zionists.”
Jafari also claimed that Saudi Arabia’s recent diplomatic offensive against Iran and its war in Yemen were actually being carried out to serve Israel’s interest
Saudi Foreign Minister Bashes Iran in New York Times, Says Tehran Still Committed to Terror, Spread of Islamic Revolution
In an op-ed on Monday in The New York Times, a senior Saudi official rejected the notion that Iran would moderate its policies in the wake of the nuclear deal.
Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs, wrote that, rather than genuinely evolving “from a rogue revolutionary state into a respectable member of the international community,” Iran preferred to obscure its extremism by “leveling unsubstantiated charges” against Riyadh.
Al-Jubeir stressed that Iran’s changes after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are only superficial. In reality, he wrote, Tehran remains committed to stirring up regional sectarian tensions, sponsoring terrorism and exporting its revolution to neighboring countries.
He went on to dismiss Tehran’s claim that friendship is its top foreign-policy priority. To the contrary, said al-Jubeir, “Iran is the single-most-belligerent-actor in the region, and its actions display both a commitment to regional hegemony and a deeply held view that conciliatory gestures signal weakness either on Iran’s part or on the part of its adversaries.”
Saudi grand mufti declares chess forbidden
The religious ruling issued during a television program on state Al-Majd TV where viewers were invited to ask Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who serves as the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, religious questions regarding everyday life.
In response to a question regarding the permissibly of chess in Islam, the mufti declared that the game “brings enmity and hatred between its contestants” and is forbidden because it “encourages gambling and is a waste of time and finances.”
Outraged Saudi netizens quickly took to social media to express their disappointment over the fatwa, describing chess as a “game for the intelligent.”
One person tweeted sarcastically, “If the guy who asked the question described the game as one of strategy that trains you to fight the enemies of Islam, the mufti would have ordered it at every prayer.”
One Last Obama-Israel Showdown?
The president came into office in 2009 promising to create more daylight between the U.S. and Israel. At the time, the justification for this policy was to encourage the Palestinians to trust the U.S. more and thereby make peace easier to reach. That never happened and just this week, the Israeli opposition — in which Obama once placed such hopes of their being able to unseat Netanyahu — announced that they had given up on the hopes for a two-state solution. But ironically just as even the Israeli left is sounding the requiem for the peace process, Obama may seek to create a policy that could create a breach between the two countries that even a successor would struggle to undo.
Though he may still be laboring under the delusion that he is laying a foundation for peace, the result of such a move would be to encourage even more Palestinian violence. That’s a poor legacy for any president but an even more dismal for one that envisioned his presidency as one that would transform the world. The transformation has taken place but unfortunately what he may be accomplishing is to take a bad problem and to make it much worse for those who follow him.
Treat Israel like moderate Arab states do, PM tells EU’s Mogherini
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told the European Union’s foreign policy chief the 28-nation bloc should adopt the policies of the moderate Arab states regarding Israel.
At a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Israeli prime minister also said better ties between Jerusalem and moderate Arab states would improve Israel’s relations with the Palestinians, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office. He suggested European countries treat the Jewish state like the moderate Arab countries do, but did not elaborate.
Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab nations with formal diplomatic relations with Israel. However, Israeli officials have said in recent years that common interests with Sunni Arab countries also opposed to Iran’s nuclear ambitions could open the door to forging new ties.
Netanyahu told Federica Mogherini that the European Union has “double standards” when it comes to Israel. The comment came several days after the EU reiterated in a resolution that it would continue to differentiate between Israel proper and the settlements.
Mogherini, in response, maintained the European Union was not boycotting Israel.
IDF demolishes two EU funded illegal Palestinian structures
The IDF demolished two illegal Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank that were funded by the European Union on the same day that in Davos Switzerland Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
“Enforcement steps were taken against two illegal constructions which were built without a permit in Rass Azria,” the Civil Administration said.
The modular gray structures which were clearly marked with an EU logo housed area Beduins, that live near an unbuilt area of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, known as E1.
Just last week, right wing Israeli politicians had accused the IDF of failing to enforce building laws in that area.
Atallah Mazar'a, a representative of the Jabal Al-Baba Beduin community said that four structures were destroyed.
”They (the Israeli forces) began raiding the houses without prior warning, even the owner of the house was allowed to take little things from his house, and this thing (the house demolition) scared the children, they were affected, they were shouting, and they (the Israeli forces) didn't care for anything. They (the Israeli forces) were treating us violently, and they demolished four houses and left," Mazar’a said.
Israel slams report claiming settlement business violates Palestinians' rights
Israel on Tuesday slammed a report by an international watchdog, which accused companies operating in or dealing with the West Bank settlements of facilitating the violation of Palestinians' rights in the occupied territories.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, several hours after the Human Rights Watch organization issued the 162-page report, that the report is one-sided and biased against Israel.
"Israel is concerned with the one-sided, politicized report that jeopardizes the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians and negates co-existence and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians," the ministry said in a statement to the press.
It also added that Israel is taking "practical steps to bolster the Palestinian economy," along with the international community.
In the report, entitled "How settlement business contributes to Israel's violations of Palestinian rights," the group charges that businesses should stop operating, financing or trading with Israeli settlements in order to comply with the international treaties' commitments to ensure human rights.
Diplomacy: Differentiating between Israel and the territories
Pundits would have been dismissed as clueless had they predicted a decade ago that in a critical European Union discussion on the Middle East, Greece and Cyprus would emerge as the countries that would – in the words of US President Barack Obama – “have Israel’s back.”
Greece and Cyprus? Two countries that for decades were arguably the most pro-Palestinian countries in Europe? Two countries that could be counted on to regularly bash Israel? They were all of a sudden going to come to Israel’s diplomatic aid? No way.
Yet that is exactly what happened this week when Greece and Cyprus led a charge of about half a dozen eastern and southern European states to block the passage of language in an EU resolution on the Middle East “peace process” that would have enshrined the idea of differentiation of the territories from Israel, a move that could have triggered a slew of measures that would make the recent labeling of settlement products seem tame by comparison.
Differentiation or distinction is an idea being pushed by some policy wonks in Europe as a way to force Israel’s hand on the settlements.
The overriding idea is to draw a firm legal line between pre- and post-1967 Israel, and have EU relations with Israel reflect that line. The labeling of products from the settlements is one example of this type of distinction; drawing up guidelines on EU funding for Israel’s involvement in the EU’s flagship Horizon 2020 R&D program is another.
Abbas is shirking responsibility for stalled peace talks, PMO says
The Prime Minister's Office on Thursday denied claims by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian leader had recently sought a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but was ignored.
"This is another attempt by Abu Mazen [Abbas] to shirk responsibility for the stalled peace negotiations. In Davos as well, Netanyahu has urged Abu Mazen to resume talks without preconditions," one official said.
On Thursday, Netanyahu, who was participating in the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, publicly invited Abbas to return to the negotiations table.
The Prime Minister's Office issued the clarification following a press conference held by Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday morning, where he told Israeli reporters that his office had recently reached out to the Prime Minister's Office with the aim of setting up a meeting with Netanyahu and reigniting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. According to Abbas, the overture was ignored.
US indicates Abbas lied about peace talks
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had his claims Thursday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu snubbed his efforts for peace talks further denied, as the American administration clarified it is not aware of Abbas's supposed initiative.
State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner made clear that the US is not familiar with Abbas's alleged attempts two months ago to meet with Netanyahu.
"I'm not aware that there were requests on the matter," said Toner. "We are open to any attempt by Abbas to meet with Israeli representatives unconditionally."
Abbas had told Israeli reporters that "there were contacts for a meeting with Netanyahu two months ago, but his people evaded meetings in advance meant to agree on the meeting."
Netanyahu's staff responded to the claims, saying, "he (Abbas) has already claimed this in the past, and we denied it. ...It isn't correct. This is an attempt by Abbas to evade his responsibility for the absence of negotiations. Even today in Davos Netanyahu called on Abbas to return to negotiations without preconditions."
Chinese leader calls for Palestinian state with East Jerusalem capital
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Thursday for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Speaking to the Arab League in Cairo while on a tour of the region, Xi said China supports the peace process in the Middle East and backs a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines with Israel.
Xi also said his country would provide $7.6 million to the Palestinians in support of a new solar power project.
He announced billions of dollars in special loans and investments in the Middle East, as Beijing seeks to boost its economic ties and clout in the region.
Xi arrived in Cairo late Wednesday from Saudi Arabia and will travel on Friday to Iran, the last leg of his three-nation tour.
He offered $55 billion in loans and investments to the Middle East.
Evacuation of settlers from 2 Hebron houses sparks backlash
On Thursday, settlers broke the locks, moved into two empty homes they claim have been legally purchased, although they have reportedly not received the permits to take possession of the property • Evacuation slammed as "anti-Zionist, anti-democratic."
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's decision to evacuate a group of several dozen settlers who broke into two contested homes in Hebron on Thursday, sparking clashes with Palestinians, has garnered harsh responses from the political echelon.
A heavy contingent of security forces entered Hebron on Friday morning and evacuated the settlers from the two homes near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The occupants had moved into the buildings without coordinating with the authorities, who were caught off guard by the move.
A source in Habayit Hayehudi said that "in the middle of a wave of terrorism, the defense minister is working determinedly and without compromise to actually throw Jews out of their home. This is irresponsibility, frozen thinking, and ratchets up tensions without any clear reason.
"It would be better if the defense minister applied that same determination to addressing Arab terrorism and illegal construction in the terrorists' communities," the source continued.
Likud MK Oren Hazan also attacked Ya'alon, saying: "The manner in which the evacuation and Ya'alon's own personal policy were carried out are unacceptable. ... For six months, we've been undergoing a wave of terrorism here, and in the end we get an evacuation like this. There is nothing that should keep a person who has bought a home, whether it's in Tel Aviv or in Hebron, from entering it. As Ya'alon is managing his own personal policy, I don't intend to lend a hand to it."
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also had harsh words about the evacuation: "When settlers act in accordance with the law, the correct thing to do is to hold off on the evacuation and examine the legal options for strengthening settlement while preserving rule of law.
New Study Ranks Israel World’s 8th Most Powerful Country
Israel is among the world’s most powerful countries, according to a new study published in U.S. News & World Report on Wednesday.
Ranking #8 out of 60 in the “power” category, Israel scored below the US, Russia, China, Germany, the UK, France and Japan in the study, which was developed by WPP and the Wharton School, in consultation with U.S. News.
But the Jewish state emerged as more powerful than Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Canada, Iran, Australia, India, Italy and Pakistan, among a long list of others.
“Power” – one of nine sub-categories — was defined by the study as “a leader, economically influential, politically influential, strong international alliances, strong military.”
Israel scored lower on the “Overall Best Countries Ranking,” reaching #25 out of 60 – behind Russia and ahead of Greece — with Germany being #1.
Arab-Israeli Youth Movement Guide: ‘If Palestine Is Liberated Through Murder of Innocent People, I Hope It’s Not Liberated’
“If the liberation of Palestine is achieved through the murder of a mother in front of her children and through the stabbing and attempted murder of pregnant women … then I really hope it is not liberated,” wrote an Arab Israeli woman, Miriam Awad, on Facebook on Monday.
Awad, a resident of Haifa and a guide for the youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed (the General Federation of Students and Young Workers in Israel), was responding to Sunday night’s killing of 38-year-old mother-of-six Dafna Meir at her home in Otniel and subsequent knife attack on 30-year-old Michal Froman, a pregnant woman from Tekoa.
In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday morning, Awad said that those Jewish Israelis calling her Facebook post an act of bravery “don’t know Arab society and think that condemning murder of and terrorism against innocent people is as though an alien came down from outer space.”
Awad also said, “We in Arab society are indeed in favor of a legitimate struggle against [Israeli] occupation, but one has to consider what kind of Palestinian state will be established. I am also a mother, and have no words to describe the type of person who enters a house and kills a mother in front of her daughter. If, after that [kind of action], a Palestinian state is created, what kind [of state] will it be?”
In Palestinian city of the future, few residents and charges of collusion with Israel
Masri is the developer of Rawabi (Arabic for “The Hills”), a high-tech city of gleaming apartment buildings rising from the West Bank hills north of Ramallah. Hailed as a linchpin of the future Palestinian state, the city has drawn visits from US Secretary of State John Kerry and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as support from an array of American Jewish groups, including AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League.
But to some in the Palestinian community, the very idea of Rawabi is a betrayal. These critics say building a modern, comfortable Palestinian city serves merely to normalize the Israeli 'occupation' of the West Bank — a charge Masri rejects out of hand. If it were not Palestinians building on those hills, he says, it would be Israeli settlers.
“A project like Rawabi that may appear to some as sugarcoating the occupation,” Masri said, “is in reality defying the occupation.”
Rawabi is the largest real estate project in Palestinian history and, according to Masri, the first new Palestinian city in 1,000 years. Situated on 1,600 acres, it is home to a 20,000-seat amphitheater, has created 6,000 jobs in construction and engineering and, Masri estimates, will create another 5,000 in the next 10 years in retail, health and other sectors. Masri says he is in talks with major technology companies in an effort to lure them to open offices in Rawabi.
The first phase of construction alone has cost $1.2 billion, a third of which was funded by Masri’s company, Massar International, and the remainder by the Qatari government. Ultimately, Rawabi will encompass over 6,000 apartments and house approximately 30,000 residents.
Despite those ambitions, however, the project has been beset with delays. Masri waited four years for the Israeli government to provide access to water and approve an access road, which even now remains too narrow to serve the projected population.
The Palestinian Authority has also not stepped up, Masri says, despite initial promises to fund and support the project. The city’s three schools and medical clinic are all privately funded, as is the sewage and water system. Rawabi is the only Palestinian city with its own fiber optic network — also privately funded.
Ten Years After Hamas Takeover, Unemployment and Poverty in Gaza Reach New Heights
During the 10 years since Hamas’ election victory, unemployment in the Gaza Strip has reached 45 per cent, and the number of residents relying on foreign aid has hit 80 per cent, A Sharq al Awsat newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The Islamic movement won the first-ever democratic election held in the Palestinian territories, to which Israel responded by imposing a blockade on the Strip, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, with some two million people living in a 360 sq. km. territory.
Conditions in Gaza were exacerbated by the 2014 conflict with Israel that left tens of thousands of homes, schools, factories, and commercial centers in ruins. Industry in the Strip has ground to a near halt, with the blockade preventing the importation of raw materials. Last year, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency predicted that by 2020 the territory would be “uninhabitable.”
To mark the 10th anniversary since Hamas’ victory, local activists launched the hashtag #ten_years_of_siege, with which they tell stories of loss of hope and professional horizons, and bask in one common dream: to leave Gaza for good.
The Palestinian media has reported that Fatah and Hamas have resumed negotiations on the potential return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, in a bid to convince Egypt to lift the blockade on the Strip. International actors, including Egypt, Israel, and the PA have demanded a place for the PA in the government, especially control over border crossings, as a prerequisite for the lifting of the blockade.
Picture of Gaza's 'First' Shi'ite Cleric Rocks Predominantly Sunni Strip
A mysterious picture of a Shi’ite cleric standing near the Gaza shoreline has sent shockwaves across the predominantly Sunni territory since its publication on Friday.
It later emerged that the man, seen in the photo surrounded by bodyguards, is Mahmoud Judas, the former leader of a Salafi organization, who became the first overt follower of Shi’a Islam in the Gaza Strip.
Judah is a close associate of the leaders of Al Sabireen, a radical group that splintered from Islamic Jihad and recently won Iran’s backing.
The picture raised the ire of Gaza-based Sunni radicals, who criticized Hamas for clamping down on them instead of dealing with the “real” enemies – the Shi’ites.
Over 1,000 civilians dead in Russia's Syria strikes
Russian air strikes have killed more than 1,000 civilians in Syria since they began nearly four months ago, a monitor said Wednesday.
The raids, which started on September 30, have killed 1,015 civilians, including more than 200 children, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The group, which relies on a network of sources on the ground for its reports, said the strikes had also killed 893 Islamic State group fighters, and 1,141 other opposition militants, including members of Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.
The total toll of 3,049 represents an increase of nearly 700 deaths in just three weeks.
West ignoring grave threat from IS in Libya, Israeli terror experts warn
Despite battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the West is woefully neglecting the spread of the terrorist group in Libya, where it poses a supreme danger not only to the Middle East and North Africa, but also to Europe, according to Israeli terrorism researchers.
“Libya is the only country besides Syria and Iraq where IS controls a large territory and controls government infrastructure, including a power plant, port, and economical ports,” said Reuven Erlich, a former senior officer in military intelligence and currently the head of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC). “We think that IS’s establishment in Libya poses a grave threat and it needs to be taken very seriously by Europe and the US.”
Several researchers at ITIC, which operates under the Israel Intelligence and Heritage Commemorations Center, spent a full year examining IS’s activity in Libya, and this week are publishing their worrying conclusions in a 175-paper report, entitled “ISIS in Libya: a Major Regional and International Threat.”
Turkey Sentences Woman to Year in Prison for 'Obscene' Hand Gesture at President
A court in Turkey has sentenced Filiz Akinci to 11 months and 20 days in prison over an obscene hand gesture she allegedly made two years ago towards then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, now president.
“I am not guilty. I didn’t commit any crime,” she cried in court.
On March 16, 2014, the economist and mother of two supposedly performed the hand gesture and spewed “insulting statements” towards Erdoğan as his bus passed her.
Security guards stormed into the woman’s home, without any identification, to detain her. They dragged her to the “police station while she was dressed in her pajamas.”
The İzmir 41st Court of First Instance hosted the sixth hearing on Wednesday, “in which Erdoğan was the complainant.” The defendant appeared with her lawyer Anıl Güler and Erdoğan’s lawyer Sema Cansu Bozkurt Sütçü.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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