Thursday, April 14, 2016

From Ian:

PMW: Fatah: “Glory and eternity” to female suicide bombers
Suicide bomber who murdered 6 is: "The hero Andalib Takatka... carried out a Martyrdom-seeking operation in Jerusalem in which 6 Zionists were killed, and dozens injured"
Suicide bomber Ayyat Al-Akhras who murdered 2 and wounded 28 is:“Bride of Palestine”
“Don’t tell it - show it,” is a golden rule in marketing. With that in mind, you could say PA Chairman Abbas has a funny way of showing it.
While Abbas recently proclaimed to Israeli TV viewers that he “extends his hand in peace” to Israelis, his own Fatah movement raises its hands in honor of suicide bombers who have killed Israelis.
Fatah this week glorified two of its female suicide bombers who in total killed 8 and wounded over 100 Israelis in 2002. On Facebook, Fatah posted their pictures and referred to one as “hero” and the other as “bride of Palestine.”
US accuses Israel of using excessive force against Palestinians
The Obama administration accused Israel of using excessive force against Palestinians during a wave of deadly violence, in an annual report that pointed to a global decline in human rights.
The annual report by the State Department into human rights abuses around the world accused Israeli forces of “excessive use of force” in the Palestinian territories, and “arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity,” by the IDF, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
According to numbers cited in the report, 149 Palestinians were killed in 2015 by Israeli security forces, but only 77 were in the course of attacking Israelis.
“There were numerous reports of the ISF (Israel security forces) killing Palestinians during riots, demonstrations, at checkpoints, and during routine operations; in some cases they did not pose a threat to life,” the report read.
The numbers clash with Israeli accounts that some two-thirds of Palestinians killed during a wave of violence beginning in October were in the midst of attempting or carrying out attacks and the rest died in clashes with security forces.
Col. Richard Kemp: Israel an ‘Outpost of Strength,’ Europe on ‘Spiral Downward to Obliteration’
Discussing the challenges democracies face in confronting unconventional warfare, a retired British Army officer on Tuesday touted the Jewish state as exemplary.
Asked about the case of the IDF soldier currently under investigation for killing a subdued Palestinian terrorist who had just committed a stabbing attack against a comrade-in-arms, Colonel Richard Kemp – once the commander of UK forces in Afghanistan — said, “All people make mistakes, and soldiers are no exception, particularly since they are under immense pressure, may suffer from a lack of sleep, physical discomfort and often great fear.” The only relevant question, he added, is how an army and a country respond to violations, when they are determined as such.
Addressing the Gatestone Institute — a New York-based think tank specializing in strategy and defense issues — Kemp told The Algemeiner that the immediate public condemnation of the soldier in question by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot before all the facts of the case had even been established, was a function of their awareness of the “continual and unjust international pressure on Israel, no matter what it does.”

UK military expert: Israel must strike Iran - on its own
Despite much of the bad press Israel has received in the course of combating terrorism, Kemp argued that much of the criticism directed at Israel was the result of simple ignorance.
Kemp illustrated the point with his experiences at a recent Israel Apartheid Week event at New York University.
“I asked the students how many believed it was illegal to kill innocents in times of war. And I was surprised to discover their level of ignorance on that score, because all of them answered in the affirmative. In fact, it is not illegal to kill innocent civilians in times of war. It may not be nice; it may not be desirable; but it is not illegal.”
“Though killing innocent civilians is obviously something we must avoid doing as much as we possibly can, our enemies hide among the civilian population, and sometimes we must risk the lives of civilians in order to destroy the enemy. Fear of doing this means that we will always lose.”
Kemp was skeptical about the prospects of a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“I don’t believe there can be a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel wants to live in peace, but what the Arabs want is its annihilation.”
Among the top security threats Kemp mentioned was Iran’s nuclear program. Despite last year’s deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear program, Kemp worried over the Islamic regime’s future nuclear capacity, calling upon Israel to “initiate an offensive strike on Iran."
Rocket warning sirens sounded in Gaza Belt
Color red rocket warning sirens were sounded on Thursday afternoon in the Gaza Belt region just adjacent to the Hamas-enclave of Gaza, even as IDF bulldozers reportedly were working just inside the security fence.
Reports have yet to come in regarding how many rockets were fired or where they may have fallen.
Security sources were dispatched to check if any rockets made landfall and if they may have caused any damage.
The IDF later said in a statement that the warning sirens had been activated in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council area, but no rocket strikes have yet been detected in Israeli territory.
Senior IDF source: Security forces foiled many recent mass-casualty Hamas terror plots
Security forces have quietly foiled a large number of Hamas mass-casualty terrorism plots forming in the West Bank recently, often at a very advanced stage of preparations, a senior IDF source disclosed on Wednesday.
The officer said the Judea and Samaria Division together with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) have encountered a continuous series of attempted attacks orchestrated by Hamas, which past security assessments indicated were targeting Israelis in both the West Bank and Israeli cities within the Green Line.
“We have seen, in recent months, many attempts by organizations to carry out terrorist attacks,” the officer said.
“In the past six months, of all the attacks that occurred, only one was orchestrated by Hamas,” he said, referring to the October gun attack by a Hamas cell that claimed the lives of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin in the West Bank.
The remainder of the terrorism efforts were stopped before they could develop into action, the source said.
Ax-wielding Palestinian attacks soldier in West Bank, is shot dead
A Palestinian man attacked an IDF soldier in the West Bank with an ax on Thursday, before troops shot and killed him, the army said.
The assailant was shot by soldiers at the scene of the incident, near the Al-Aroub refugee camp north of Hebron. The IDF confirmed the attacker later died of his injuries.
The attacker was identified as Ibrahim Brad’aih, 54, a resident of Al-Aroub, according to Hebrew media reports.
The ax apparently hit the soldier in the helmet and he was unharmed, according to unconfirmed accounts of the incident.
2 terror attacks thwarted within minutes in Jerusalem and West Bank
Border Police officers said Thursday that they thwarted a terror attack in the Old City of Jerusalem when they apprehended two 12-year-old Arab boys who were carrying three knives.
The boys aroused the suspicions of the officers, who searched them, finding the knives and a goodbye letter to his parents in the jacket of one of the boys.
According to an initial interrogation of the suspects, they intended to carry out a terror attack. The alertness of the officers prevented an attack, according to police.
In a second incident, Israeli security forces thwarted an attempted terrorist attack near the Al-Aroub refugee camp in the southern West Bank, the IDF reported Thursday afternoon.
According to initial reports, the suspect was shot by IDF forces after he ran toward Israeli troops with an ax in his hand.
There were no injuries to the Israeli forces.
Prosecutor: Hebron soldier to be indicted for manslaughter
An IDF soldier accused of shooting dead a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month will be indicted for manslaughter, the military prosecutor has confirmed.
The prosecution on Thursday lodged a declaration with the court that it will file the manslaughter indictment early next week.
The IDF’s chief prosecutor was also seeking to have the solider remanded in jail until Monday, while his attorney argued the case could proceed without the suspect in custody.
The soldier under investigation, whose name has been withheld by a gag order, was filmed shooting 21-year-old Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the head on March 24, minutes after Sharif and another assailant stabbed and moderately wounded a soldier in Tel Rumeida, an Israeli enclave of Hebron. The two assailants were shot — one was killed, while Sharif was wounded — by an army officer during the course of their attack.
Exclusive: Court holds first hearing against IDF soldiers for killing Palestinian minor
With the world’s eyes on the pre-indictment hearing of the Hebron shooter in Jaffa, the Ramle Magistrate's Court held its first hearing Thursday on a similar case where two IDF soldiers have already been indicted for negligent homicide for shooting and killing unarmed 16-year-old Palestinian Samir Awad near the West Bank Security barrier in January 2013.
The December indictment and Thursday hearing marked a rare occurrence of IDF soldiers being indicted for killing a Palestinian in what their defense lawyers deemed operational circumstances.
The case has monumental import as the Awad family’s camp say the indictment should have been at least for the more serious charge of manslaughter and claim the IDF and the state wants to sweep the case under the rug, while the defense lawyers argued the two soldiers are being arbitrarily singled out when no other IDF soldiers have been indicted for firing and killing Palestinians in similar operational circumstances in 40 years.
The defense lawyers, Shlomo Rachvi and Idan Pesach, also say they will argue that the IDF and the state were applying the wrong rules of engagement, giving the case a whole additional side as it could turn into a public battle over different normally classified IDF rules of engagement.
For PA’s Mahmoud Abbas, Terror Is a Faucet He Turns On and Off
But the third, and perhaps most important, reason for the decline in terror is the one that is not discussed in polite company. You will never hear it from the State Department crowd, or other circles that aspire to bring about a Palestinian state. You won’t even hear it from Israeli political leaders who are afraid of being criticized. But it’s a fact: To a very significant extent, Palestinian terrorism is a faucet that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas can turn on or off at will. And in recent months, especially in recent weeks, he has been turning in the direction of “off.”
Israel’s leaders have repeatedly said that Abbas’s incitement is a major factor in causing Palestinian violence. The glorification of murderers, the payments to the families of the terrorists, the constant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred in the PA-controlled media, and, of course, Abbas’s own bloodthirsty speeches all create an atmosphere that directly inspires murder. Even US Secretary of State John Kerry, despite his pro-Palestinian bias, has acknowledged that the PA’s incitement encourages terror.
If the first months of constant stabbings had resulted in Israeli capitulation, Abbas would have seen that the violence was working, and he would have continued encouraging it. Instead, what he has seen is that not only is Israel not offering new unilateral concessions, but American public opinion remains solidly in support of Israel. Every poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans stands with Israel, and blame the Palestinians for the absence of peace. Abbas understands that if he pushes too far, he could jeopardize the $500 million that the US sends him each year.
Abbas has undoubtedly spread the word to the “Palestinian street” to cool down. And things are cooling down. It doesn’t mean they won’t heat up again. But it does show, once again, that Abbas is not genuinely interested in peace, and is not sincerely interested in stopping terrorism. For Abbas, terror is a convenient weapon that he will not hesitate to use if he believes it will help bring about Israel’s collapse and surrender.
IDF confiscates terror funds in Ramallah; PA up in arms
Israeli forces raided a money changer in Ramallah early on Thursday, blowing up a safe and sparking a fire, which led to minor clashes, the army and witnesses said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said the pre-dawn raid was to "confiscate terror funds" held in the shop.
She said the money changer "failed to comply with the army instructions to open the safe," and so "the soldiers proceeded to a controlled detonation of the safe."
The resulting fire spread to the nearby vegetable market before being extinguished, witnesses said.
Following the explosion, there were minor clashes between Israeli soldiers and Arab rioters near al-Manara Square in central Ramallah.
JCPA: The Internal Palestinian Fight for Jerusalem
East Jerusalem, despite being linked with both Israel and the West Bank, has developed an independent political system. The public activity in east Jerusalem occurs at the plaza of the mosques on the Temple Mount where the Islamic movements are the dynamic political forces.
The Islamic force that can muster impressive rallies under its flag and symbols is an international movement known as the Islamic Liberation Party, or Hizb ut-Tahrir, which to a large extent is the most significant actor on the Mount.
Also influencing the political system in the eastern part of the city is the involvement of regional powers, particularly Jordan and Turkey, a backer of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Saudi Arabia has no interest in promoting its status in Jerusalem; the Wahabi kingdom regards the city as a competitor of Mecca. Abbas often complains that the Arab League did not honor its promise to funnel $400 million into east Jerusalem. There is good reason to believe that the Saudi kingdom torpedoed the decision.
Turkish institutions are directly involved in Jerusalem’s affairs, particularly one called TIKA, that is directly identified with the president of Turkey. This association’s website makes clear that it works in all territories of the Ottoman Empire to rehabilitate the old Ottoman heritage.
Israel reassures Jordan, PA before Passover: We will uphold Temple Mount status quo
With tens of thousands of Jews expected to flock to the Western Wall for Passover, which begins April 22, Israel reassured Jordan and the Palestinian Authority in recent days that it is committed to upholding the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Israeli spokespeople are also relaying a similar message in the Arab media and on Arabic social media sites, and it has also been made clear that – with the exception of government ministers and both Jewish and Arab Mks – there are currently no limitations on access to the Temple Mount.
The messages come amid concern in Jerusalem that, as has happened frequently in the past, Jewish visits to the site on the Jewish festivals will trigger Palestinian violence. Palestinian leaders in recent days have stepped up warnings against “provocations” by Jews visiting the Temple Mount.
According to government officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting of security officials last week to discuss the issue.
Israeli Arab MK to Palestinians: We must keep Jews off Temple Mount 'in any way possible'
A day after he returned from a two-month suspension from the Knesset, Israeli Arab MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) made a call to the Palestinians to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount complex "in any way possible."
"In light of the daily increase of (Jewish) ascent to the Aksa Mosque, it is up to us to stop it in any way possible," he told the Palestinian site Dunya al-Watan on Wednesday, ahead of next week's Passover holiday in which Jews flock to Jerusalem's holy sites.
In his remarks, Zahalka, who leads the Balad party in the four-party Joint List alliance, said "the Palestinian people paid the price of 4,000 deaths in the second intifada in the year 2000."
"Our people have the right to the mosque, and we must protect it with all of our power. The Palestinian nation is the guardian of the mosque," he said in the interview published Thursday.
Brussels suspect: Check-in area for Tel Aviv flight was targeted
Mohamed Abrini, who has admitted he was the “man in the hat” captured on CCTV before the Brussels airport bombings, said the original targets in the deadly attacks were departure areas for flights to Tel Aviv, the US, and Russia.
The suspect — who fled the airport — sought to downplay his role in the attacks, telling a judge that he would “never hurt a fly” and had never traveled to Syria, France’s BFMTV reported Thursday.
He told a court that airport bomber Ibrahim el Bakraoui had selected the check-in areas for flights to the Jewish state, US and Russia as targets.
The two bombs went off at check-in rows 2 and 11 at the Zaventem Airport, some nine seconds apart on March 22.
Investigators have yet to announce which airlines were targeted in the attack. Initial reports said the bombers blew themselves up near an American Airlines desk, but the airline denied that was the case. Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top lawmaker on the intelligence committee in the US House of Representatives, said on March 23 that US airlines may have been targeted.
Belgian Minister Equates Islamic Terrorists Who Hid In Brussels To Jews During WWII
A Belgian government minister has drawn an unlikely parallel between Muslim terrorists who evaded capture in Brussels after the Paris terror attacks and “the Jews who hid here during the Nazi occupation.”
Jan Jambon, the country’s interior minister, aroused a storm of controversy in the country when, in a television interview on Saturday, he equated the Muslim terrorists who used a network of connections to escape authorities in Brussels with “the Jews who hid here during the Nazi occupation.” According to Haaretz, he later sought to clarify his comments by adding they related to “the mechanism of hiding” rather than Jews escaping the Holocaust.
Mr. Jambon, a member of Flemish party N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), was speaking on the Flemish VTM channel in Antwerp. His views attracted no attention until Antwerp City Council member Claude Marinower chose to respond on Wednesday. He posted them on various social networks and the reactions began.
Mr. Marinower, a former MP, told the Jewish news website Regards: “At first when they told me about it I didn’t believe it was possible. I asked to watch the video – and realized that Jambon really did make this dubious comparison… It’s inconceivable, it’s shocking for all those who hid Jews during the occupation while endangering their lives. How can you compare the jihadist criminals who are hiding today with the innocent Jews who wanted to flee from the Nazi manhunt?”
US 'shuts door' on speculation over UN resolution support
The United States remains opposed to one-sided action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations Security Council, the State Department said on Tuesday, faced with questions on its stance over two fresh initiatives.
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, "firmly shut" the door on any prospective resolution the US considers biased against Israel. "Our position hasn’t changed in terms of action on this issue at the UN Security Council," he said in a Tuesday briefing with reporters.
Asked if that means the US opposes such action, Toner added: "Opposed to it."
Further clarifying the position, Edgar Vasquez, an official at the US Mission to the United Nations, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the US would not speculate on "hypothetical" UN proposals that are still in draft form.
Is Obama planning his revenge on Netanyahu?
Until Obama decides how to act, Israel is focusing on frustrating Palestinian diplomatic efforts at the UN. The Palestinians are planning to bring their own resolution to the UN Security Council declaring that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are illegal and that calls on the sides to return to the negotiating table with a time frame of one year to reach a final status agreement. The UN vote is set for April 22, Passover-eve, and Palestinian media reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to be present in New York for the vote.
The Palestinian draft resolution declares that "all of the settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are illegal and are serious obstacles to achieving peace on the basis of the two-state solution."
"The Security Council condemns the continuation of building in the settlements and any other act meant to change the demographic balance or the character of the land," the draft resolution reads.
The last time that the Security Council voted on a settlements-related resolution was in February 2011. At that time the Palestinians had the support of 14 out of 15 Security Council members, including Britain, France and Germany. The US opposed the Palestinian move and tried to stop the Palestinians from bringing the resolution. When the efforts to convince the Palestinians failed, Obama used the American veto power.
Congress members tell Obama: Use veto power against PA
U.S. President Barack Obama is facing congressional pressure to torpedo a bid to advance Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.
In a letter dated April 8, six prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the president to use his leverage to prevent the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling Israeli settlements illegal or imposing an Israeli withdrawal.
"We share your frustration with the lack of significant progress toward a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians ... [but] only the parties themselves can agree to end their conflict through a negotiated resolution," they wrote. The letter was signed by three subcommittee heads, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, as well as by three members of the same subcommittees.
"It is only at the negotiating table, and not at the U.N., that the parties can resolve their complicated differences. Your continued commitment to long-standing U.S. policy to veto one-sided U.N. Security Council resolutions remains fundamentally critical," they wrote.
EXCLUSIVE – Palestinian Official Takes Breitbart Jerusalem Inside Campaign To Target Settlements at United Nations
The adviser, Nimer Hamad, spoke as the Palestinian leadership prepares to submit a draft motion to the United Nations calling for the immediate resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a final status agreement within one year, and a total halt to Jewish settlement activity.
“We want the world to follow up on its responsibility to defuse this time bomb,” stated Hamad. “The settlers and their policies are an obstacle to peace, and the Israeli government labors to consolidate it instead. The world must have a say on this.”
Hamad spoke without a trace of irony in his voice even though the Palestinians have repeatedly walked away from talks with Israel, and for the last three years have refused to go so far as to start negotiations. This despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unprecedented step of freezing settlement activity as a “gesture” to jumpstart talks. Netanyahu also released Palestinian terrorists from prison in another so-called goodwill gesture to get the PA to the bargaining table.
Hamad’s characterization of settlements as the main obstacle to peace seems to ignore the PA’s official role in using its state-run media outlets to incite the murder of Israelis, as Breitbart Jerusalem has repeatedly documented.
Hamad, meanwhile, said that the draft UN motion is still being negotiated by countries sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, chief among them the Arab bloc, and there is still no deadline for submission.
Israel denies report on accelerated settlement construction
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday denied a report saying that Israel has approved plans for more than 200 new settler homes in the West Bank
Hagit Ofran, a spokeswoman for settlement watchdog group Peace Now, earlier said the government had given the green light for at least 229 homes, which are at various stages in the process of approval.
Peace Now said the new plans call for additional homes in a range of settlements, including Har Bracha (54 homes) near Nablus in the northern West Bank; Revava (17), also in the northern West Bank; Ganei Modiin (48), northwest of Jerusalem; Tekoa (34), south of Jerusalem; and Givat Ze’ev (76), north of Jerusalem.
The bulk of the report was refuted in a government statement. “The prime minister and defense minister did not approve new building as was publicized,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in response.
Erekat: Advancement of plans for new settler homes is a 'war crime'
Advancement of plans for new settler homes is a war crime PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Wednesday after the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria met to discuss 228 such units.
Such activity “continues to entrench Israel’s colonial occupation and destroys the prospects of two independent states living side by side in peace and security on the 1967 border [sic.].”
He called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for the action.
Palestinians later this month plan to submit a resolution condemning settlement activity to the United Nations Security Council.
Arab Israeli makes history as first-ever Muslim appointed to 2nd highest police rank
The Israel Police on Wednesday promoted commander Jamal Hachrush to the rank of assistant-chief, making him the first Muslim to hold the second-highest rank in the agency.
Hachrush, until now the deputy commander of the Coastal District, will be in charge of a special police branch to be set up in the near future that will focus primarily on the problems facing Israel’s crime-ridden Arab communities.
The branch is part of a wider multi-year plan that police say will include the opening of 10 new police stations in the Arab sector and the recruitment of more than 1,300 Arab officers.
Hachrush is a native of the village of Kafr Kana and prior to serving as deputy head of the Coastal District he was deputy head of the Traffic Police.
Lapid: 'Monstrous' Ha'aretz newspaper legitimizes terrorism
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid had some choice words for the newspaper Ha’aretz after the left-wing daily ran a ferociously anti-Israel article by left-wing extremist Gideon Levy.
The piece, entitled “After me, for murder” – a mocking satire of the IDF slogan “after me” – offers the same sort of anti-Israel, anti-IDF screed that Levy has become famous – or infamous – for. Other recent pieces by Levy include “Israel is reborn into a monster”, in which the writer accused Israel of being “a nation so corrupt” that it cannot “be brought back to the straight and narrow.”
In his latest article, Levy launches into yet another rant targeting the Israeli army.
“Kill, soldiers, kill. Nothing bad at all will happen to you if you blow away a young Palestinian with three bullets fired at short range – your officers and Yair Lapid will cheer you on.”
“Shoot stone throwers without any worry, shoot at everyone suspicious – so long as they are Palestinian. And let’s be clear: [that means] shoot to kill. Not to stop, not to wound, but to kill. The legendary [IDF] slogan of “after me [into battle]” has now become “after me, to kill children; after me, to murder”.
Lapid, who found himself the target of Levy’s slings and arrows, responded on Thursday, blasting Ha’aretz, the article, and its author.
“This is a monstrous text, [published by] a newspaper that long ago went completely off the rails. He even accuses me of killing in the article, but I’m willing to forgo my own honor. But I’m absolutely unwilling to forgo the IDF’s honor.”
Hamas, not economy, the source of Gaza’s woes, Amos Gilad says
Gaza’s economic situation is ultimately irrelevant to peace negotiations and the current security situation, a senior Defense Ministry official declared Wednesday at a conference on the beleaguered coastal strip’s financial woes.
Amos Gilad, director of the ministry’s Political-Military Affairs Bureau, scoffed at the assertion made by some at the conference that economic development in the coastal enclave could be the solution to Gaza’s problems and mitigate the security threats to Israel that emanate from the territory.
“The good news is that our deterrence is still working. They say that there will be a ‘hot’ summer. That’ll only be because of the high temperatures,” he said, alluding to the tendency for regional conflicts to take place in warmer summer months.
“Economics alone can’t solve [Gaza’s problems]. Economics are not the fundamental solution,” Gilad said in his address.
So long as Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, he added, there will not be peace there.
PA President Abbas: Reconciliation With Hamas ‘Top Priority’
PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that Palestinian infighting is detracting from resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Reconciliation is a top priority on our agenda, we want to achieve our unity as soon as possible to be able to focus on the only real priority which is to end the Israeli occupation and reach peace,” he said.
In 2014, Abbas’s Fatah party joined forces with Hamas in forming a unity government. This was the first time both Palestinian groups came together since 2007, when Fatah took control of parts of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Hamas took over the Gaza Strip following a deadly and violent conflict. Continuous political disagreements between Fatah and Hamas eventually led to the collapse of the unity government in June 2015.
Regarding the peace process with Israel, Abbas called on Russia to take on a greater leadership role in negotiations, based on what he says is Moscow’s success in brokering the Iran nuclear deal and its involvement in Syria. Russia’s “new proactive dimension in the Middle East” will “restore peace and stability” to the Palestinians, Abbas claimed. “From here we wish to see this dynamic in the Russian foreign policy extended to the peace process between the Israelis and us,” he said.
Saudi religious police ordered to show ‘gentle’ side
Saudi Arabia has issued new guidelines to define and curtail powers of the country’s religious police, instructing its members to be “gentle and kind” in dealing with the public.
The force, which is tasked with ensuring people observe the kingdom’s ultraconservative Islamic codes, has been criticized at times for its intrusive, even deadly tactics.
The members of the religious police, known as Mutawas, are not allowed to chase people down the street or demand to see a person’s ID or other documents. The directives also say the Mutawas are not to entrap or arrest people, specifying that this is exclusively the jurisdiction of the police and drug enforcement officials.
The semiautonomous Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — as the force of roughly 5,000 is also known — patrols parks, streets and malls, combats drug use, bars unrelated men and women from mingling in public and ensures stores close for daily prayers. It is also one of several government agencies that monitor online activity in the kingdom.
Iranian pilot defects, threatens regime he’ll seek asylum in Israel
An Iranian pilot who defected to Turkey last year is threatening to seek asylum in Israel and work openly to undermine the regime in Iran if it does not cease what he says are its intimidation tactics against the wife and son he left behind.
Major Ahmad-Reza Khosravi, 39, a pilot in the helicopter unit of the Iranian Security Services, fled Iran to Turkey in March 2015 after he was refused repeated requests to be discharged from the military, requests he made due to ideological differences with the regime. Recently the subject of an apparent kidnap plan to bring him back to Iran, Khosravi has now gone public with his criticism of the Iranian leadership.
In a face-to-face interview with The Times of Israel in the Turkish city of Van where he is now residing, Khosravi said if the regime does not stop threatening his wife and son, who are still in Iran, he will seek to harm the regime in any way he can.
“If you do not leave me alone and stop harassing my family, I will seek asylum in Israel and start fighting you, even with arms,” Khosravi said, in a message to Iran’s leaders that he delivered in the interview with the Times of Israel’s Persian edition.

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