Friday, December 23, 2016

From Ian:

PMW: Fatah celebrates its murdering 116 Israelis
As Fatah continues to promote and celebrate terror on an almost daily basis, one questions why the international community is not categorizing Fatah as a terror organization.
On two consecutive days this month, Fatah celebrated on its Facebook page 10 different "most outstanding" terror attacks - in total 20 attacks that killed 78 adult civilians, 16 soldiers, and 22 children.
In the first post, Fatah celebrated "the 10 most outstanding operations" of all times - 10 terror attacks from Fatah's 52 years of existence. In the second post, Fatah took pride in its "10 most outstanding operations in the Al-Aqsa Intifada," - attacks the organization carried out during the PA terror campaign from 2000-2005 (the second Intifada). Some of the attacks were "outstanding" because of the numbers killed, like the bus hijacking that left 37 murdered. Others were "outstanding" even though they failed because they were milestones in Fatah history, such as Fatah's first terrorist attack which targeted the Israeli National Water Carrier ("The Eilabun operation"), and its first attack on civilians ("Kfar Hess operation").
The post celebrating Fatah terror since its founding was quickly removed, but fortunately Palestinian Media Watch had already saved a screenshot. The image shows the PA map of "Palestine" that includes all of Israel together with the PA areas as "Palestine." The Fatah logo with its grenade and rifles appears on the map in the center of the post. On both sides of the map are images representing terror attacks and murders - what Fatah calls its "outstanding operations," in chronological order from right to left (details of the attacks, including numbers killed, appear below):
Caroline Glick: Israel and the rising new West
In foreign affairs, Obama has Israel in his crosshairs.
It is now apparent that the lame duck president, bereft of any partisan restraints, intends to make good on his eight years of promises to use his last month in office to stick it to Israel at the UN.
The opening act of Obama’s onslaught on Israel came on Wednesday, with State Department Spokesman James Kirby’s fatuous and unprecedented claim that Israeli communities built beyond the 1949 armistice line – the so-called settlements – are illegal.
Late Wednesday, the UN suddenly announced it would hold a vote on an Egyptian resolution parroting that language, and calling for a complete halt on construction projects for Jews in the areas, including Jerusalem.
The draft resolution included a call for an international governmental embrace of economic warfare against Israel. It called upon member states “to distinguish in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”
An indication of the depth of Obama’s commitment to enabling the resolution to pass came amid reports that Secretary of State John Kerry was planning to address the Security Council ahead of the scheduled vote.
In any event, following massive pressure from Israel and a statement by President-elect Donald Trump calling for Obama to veto the resolution, Egypt postponed the vote on its resolution “indefinitely.”
But with or without the resolution – and there are at least two others also poised for a vote – Obama is using his remaining time to empower the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions operation aimed at destroying Israel’s economy and international position.
As Anne Bayevsky reported in the Washington Examiner on Wednesday, Obama is supporting the UN budget which allocates funding toward the implementation of a UN Human Rights Council resolution promoting BDS. The resolution requires the Human Rights Council to compile a blacklist of companies worldwide with direct or indirect business ties to Israeli communities built beyond the 1949 armistice lines. Since all businesses doing business with Israeli entities have indirect or direct ties to the areas where some 750,000 Israeli live, the resolution represents a bid to conduct total war against the Israeli economy.
And Obama is funding its implementation.
Dore Gold: Was U.S. Policy on Israel and the UN Changing?
Was the U.S. about to sharply break with its past policy on the use of the UN for dealing with Israeli-Palestinian differences on the issue of settlements? Back in 2011, Ambassador Susan Rice provided an “explanation of vote” as to why she vetoed a similar resolution on settlements at the time. She made three points: 1) a resolution would harden the positions of both sides, 2) it would also encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations, and 3) it would establish a pattern by which every time the parties reached an impasse, they would return to the UN Security Council. She was right. What she was essentially saying was that the UN and meaningful negotiations are a bad mix – like oil and water.
Israel has multiple reasons to oppose the latest draft resolution. While Mahmoud Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel, Israelis have not lost hope that someday there will eventually be a negotiated settlement between the two sides that leads to a true compromise. But that requires firm international support for such an outcome. President Obama correctly concluded in September 2011 that “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations.” If it becomes the conventional wisdom that in 2016 the U.S. gave up on a future negotiation and preferred instead that the UN take the lead on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, then the peoples of the region will pay a price for years to come.

Israeli official accuses Obama, Kerry of ‘abandoning Israel’
An Israeli official launched a furious personal attack on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, accusing them of nothing less than the “abandonment of Israel,” for scheming behind Israel’s back to push an anti-settlements resolution through the UN Security Council.
Using language unprecedented in its anger and personal nature, even by the standards of two terms of friction-filled ties between the government of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama Administration, the official declared that “President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN.”
Referring to an Egyptian resolution that was introduced late Wednesday and withdrawn by Cairo on Thursday, the official charged that “the US administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory.” (The draft resolution refers to East Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian territory.)
The official noted that “President Obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant but instead is pushing it. This is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace.”
David Horovitz: The UN resolution that could redefine Obama’s legacy on Israel
The Obama administration has had eight years to convey its concerns about Israel’s settlement expansion, eight years to use its phenomenal leverage with its key Middle East ally to pressure Jerusalem to change course.
If — and as of this writing, we are still in “if” territory — the administration was, perhaps still is, ready to forgo its UN veto and let a Palestinian-designed resolution gain passage in the UN Security Council, condemning all settlements and potentially inviting new international diplomatic and financial pressure against Israel, it will instead have chosen a course of action that could sabotage its admirable two-term history of defending Israel’s against those international players that wish it ill. It will have essentially sided against Israel with those negative forces.
It will have reversed and made a mockery of its own previous pledges and positions — notably when it vetoed a similar resolution five years ago with the explanation that the Security Council was not the right venue for tackling issues that need to be resolved by the parties themselves. (Susan Rice, the US envoy to the UN at the time, noted that the veto “should not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity, but added: “Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides and could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations.”)
And it will have acted without nuance on the settlement issue, undermining its own goals when it comes to this vexed and complex issue, as it unfortunately often has.
For eight years, the Obama administration frequently condemned all building beyond the pre-1967 lines as a crime of equal gravity, rarely choosing to distinguish between new homes built deep in West Bank territory, where the Palestinians seek statehood, and those in Jerusalem or close to the pre-1967 lines, where even the Palestinians realize they will not be gaining control. Those blanket condemnations alienated much of mainstream Israel — which opposes settling in areas that complicate any eventual separation from the Palestinians, but largely supports building inside Jerusalem and the so-called settlement blocs — and thus worked against the Obama administration’s own goal of bolstering Israeli backing for an eventual accommodation.
Security Council set to vote on settlements Friday despite Egyptian reversal
UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlements will likely go up for a vote Friday despite original sponsor Egypt pulling its support, after four countries agreed to present a draft resolution, diplomats said.
New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela stepped in after Egypt, under pressure from US President-elect Donald Trump, withdrew the measure.
“Most likely, we will have a vote soon,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters.
Diplomatic sources said the session would likely be held at 2 p.m. local time at UN headquarters in New York (9 p.m. in Jerusalem).
“The key goal that we have here is to preserve and reaffirm the two state-solution,” said Delattre. “The text that we have does not exclusively focus on settlements. It also condemns the violence and terrorism. It also calls to prevent all incitement from the Palestinian side so this is a balanced text.”
Diplomats said the same draft resolution would be submitted to a vote, at the request of the four countries.
The draft resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
Elliott Abrams: Netanyahu, Sisi, Obama and the United Nations Resolution on Israeli Settlements
I had actually thought Mr. Obama would veto, because a refusal to do so would certainly do damage to his party–a party that has suffered electoral defeats at the congressional and state level throughout his presidency. But if the information I received was right, he was more interested in departing with another smack at Israel.
The remaining question is why President Sisi withdrew the resolution. Press reports all say it was Israeli pressure, which is a negative way of saying he did so because he values Egyptian-Israeli bilateral relations and was asked to pull the resolution by Prime Minister Netanyahu. That’s a good thing; the United States should itself value cooperative Israeli-Egyptian relations. Others have suggested that Sisi wanted to avoid a confrontation with the incoming Trump administration, which was clearly against this text. That’s also a good thing.
But note this: none of the news stories suggest the Egyptians acted because of the Obama administration. Just as with the Russian-Turkish-Iranian meeting to discuss Syria (The New York Times’s story began “Russia, Iran, and Turkey met in Moscow on Tuesday to work toward a political accord to end Syria’s nearly six-year war, leaving the United States on the sidelines….”), the Obama administration apparently played no role in Egypt’s decisions. In large part this is because the Obama administration has left friends confused as its objectives and foes without fear of consequences for opposing the United States. Defenders of the administration will say it’s just lame duck status that explains the lack of concern for the wishes of the White House, but I can’t agree. At the very end of the George W. Bush administration, there was a vigorous negotiation in the Security Council over a resolution on the fighting in Gaza, and the United States was at the center of it–right up into January, 2009. Now it’s December, 2016 and we are being ignored. That’s the result of eight years of policy choices, not lame duck status.
The curious (and ongoing) case of Egypt’s anti-settlement UN resolution
The first round of dramatic news broke overnight Wednesday-Thursday, Israel time.
Egypt had introduced an anti-settlement resolution, and it was scheduled to be voted on at the UN Security Council within hours, on Thursday evening. Though a resolution had been anticipated by year’s end, the announcement came as a surprise to everyone, including the Israeli and American missions to the UN.
The second round of dramatic news followed on Thursday late afternoon. Egypt had reconsidered, and did not want its resolution voted on after all — not on Thursday, and perhaps not any time after Thursday, either.
In between, the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had gone into full-scale crisis mode — which tells you all you need to know about the levels of trust, or lack thereof, between the Netanyahu coalition and the Obama Administration, which is now less than a month away from handing over power to President-elect Donald Trump and his team, all staunch opponents of any Palestine-related moves at the UN.
Netanyahu’s envoy to the UN protested against the resolution. Senior Israeli sources complained anonymously that were the Administration to allow the resolution to pass, by not exercising its veto, this would be a breach of US promises to Israel. Netanyahu himself tweeted entreatingly that the US “should veto the anti-Israel resolution.” He convened his innermost decision-making body, the security cabinet, as the countdown to the vote continued.
Israel’s UN envoy: We expect US to veto anti-settlement motion
As news broke that the UN Security Council was likely to vote Friday on an anti-settlement resolution despite sponsor Egypt pulling its support, Israel’s envoy to the UN Danny Danon urged Washington to veto any such motion.
“This is an anti-Israeli resolution spearheaded by Palestinians, the entire purpose of which is to hurt Israel,” Danon said in a statement. “We call on the US to stand by us and expect our greatest ally to stick to its long-standing position and to veto the decision.
“We say again to the members of the Security Council: No solution will be advanced by UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations,” he added.
Four members of the Security Council — New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela — said they would bring the original Egyptian draft resolution to a vote Friday after Cairo, under pressure from US President-elect Donald Trump, withdrew the measure.
Danny Danon: Israel Is Ready for a Reset at the UN
In January, an important world leader will take office when António Guterres of Portugal replaces Ban Ki-moon as secretary general of the United Nations. As he assumes his post, he should know that Israel is ready to work together on repairing our fractious relationship with the United Nations and finally becoming a full partner in the world’s most important international forum.
There is good reason for skepticism about the prospects for such a change. The hostility toward Israel of an automatic majority in the General Assembly is well documented. In 2015 alone, the assembly passed some 20 resolutions condemning Israel — far more than any other country. Like all truly democratic countries, Israel has always been open to legitimate constructive criticism. Yet our critics in the General Assembly single out my country for unwarranted and excessive attention, while giving a pass to some of the world’s most brutal and despotic regimes like Syria and North Korea.
Despite these difficulties, Israelis have not despaired of the parliament of nations. Now there is a real opportunity to lay out practical steps that Israel and the new secretary general can take to reset this fraught history.
For Israel, the expectation from the United Nations can be summarized in one word: equality. We want to be treated no different from its 192 other member states. In particular, hatred against the Jewish people should be treated like hatred against all other groups.
UN Seeks To Target Israeli Settlements, Trump SLAMS
The Obama administration suggested Thursday that it would refrain from attempting to block an anti-Israel UN security council resolution calling for an end to settlement building activities. Throwing out years of pro-Israel advocacy in the United Nations, the administration’s decision marked a major break from de facto US policy. According to Reuters, “two Western officials said that U.S. President Barack Obama had intended to abstain from the vote, a relatively rare step by the United States to register criticism of the building on occupied land that the Palestinians want for a state.”
The vote on the resolution was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, but Egypt, the country that initially proposed the draft to the resolution, delayed the vote until further notice. Early reports indicate that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking him to obstruct the vote. Western diplomats also told Reuters that el-Sisi’s decision was partly fueled by a desire not to prematurely offend President-elect Donald Trump who had vehemently opposed the resolution.
The Egyptian president’s office added that Sisi had spoke to Trump directly about the matter.
"The presidents agreed on the importance of affording the new U.S. administration the full chance to deal with all dimensions of the Palestinian case with a view of achieving a full and final settlement," stated presidency spokesman Alaa Yousef.
The Trump transition team has signaled a sharp break from the hostile Israel policies of the Obama administration.
Israel reportedly went to Trump on UN draft after failing to sway Obama
Israeli officials approached US President-elect Donald Trump to assist them in thwarting an anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution, after Jerusalem failed to convince the White House to veto the bid, a senior Israeli official said Thursday.
Trump’s public injection into a US foreign policy decision before taking office — credited as a factor behind Egypt suddenly pulling the draft resolution — was seen as a highly unusual move, and reports of Israel attempting to end-around US President Barack Obama would represent a likely unprecedented gambit, highlighting a sense of desperation telegraphed by Jerusalem in its frantic effort to stop the vote.
The senior Israeli official, quoted by CNN, said Jerusalem went to Trump after failing to make headway with taking its case to the White House.
Officials in Jerusalem “implored the White House not to go ahead (and allow the Egyptian-drafted anti-settlement resolution to pass by not using its veto) and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump,” the source said.
“We did reach out to the president-elect and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was not a simple thing to do,” the official said.

Israeli envoy to US thanks Trump for support at UN
Israel’s ambassador to the United States thanked President-elect Donald Trump for his call to veto an anti-settlement Egyptian-proposed UN Security Council resolution on Thursday.
The resolution was pulled by Egypt at the last minute Thursday afternoon, following reports of an intense Israeli lobbying campaign and possible pressure by the Trump transition team, including direct contacts with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.
“Israel deeply appreciates the clear and unequivocal call of President-elect @realDonaldTrump to veto anti-Israel resolution at the UN,” Ambassador Ron Dermer wrote on Twitter.
While it was still on the table, Trump had called on the Obama administration to veto the resolution, which demands that Israel immediately halt its settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
ANALYSIS: UN saga shows sands shifting
Some critics are using the very fact that Sisi put forward this proposal as proof that Netanyahu’s claim of strong ties with Egypt, Jordan and other Arab states is hollow. If the ties are so great, why would Egypt push forward such a resolution? But the ties are indeed strong. On security and intelligence matters, the two countries are coordinating and cooperating to an unprecedented degree. Not because they love each other, but because they need each other, to deal with common threats: combating Iranian expansion in the region, preventing Islamic State inroads in northern Sinai and fighting Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood.
But Egypt has other interests as well. Sisi still needs to placate a domestic constituency which likes to see it take the lead on the Palestinian issue, and Egypt uses this issue – and its role in trying to solve it – as a way to cement its status as a leader in the Arab world.
In Sisi’s calculations, he could afford to irritate Netanyahu with this UN resolution, knowing that because Israeli-Egyptian cooperation is so important to Israel, Netanyahu would not reciprocate by curtailing Israeli-Egyptian coordination.
But he also had a different calculation: Is this an issue over which it is worth irritating Trump, quite possibly getting their relationship immediately off on the wrong foot? By pulling back the resolution, he gave the world his answer. And it is an answer that shows that even before the president-elect takes office, some of the basic assumptions in the Middle East have already started to shift.
NY DailyNews Editorial: A Trump foreign policy win: President-elect stands up for Israel
Donald Trump, still a month away from becoming President, should not be making American foreign policy — unless, that is, incumbent Barack Obama has already checked out.
How else to explain why Egypt was all set to put to a UN Security Council vote on Thursday a destructive, one-sided measure slamming Israel — and withdrew only after Trump railed against it on social media.
The resolution would have labeled all Israeli housing on the West Bank “a flagrant violation under international law” and demanded Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
Settlements must be subject to negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians, if the Palestinians will ever come back to the bargaining table.
So broad was the language of the resolution that it would have included even the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. All of it would be off limits to Israelis under international law.
Can Trump Stop Obama at the UN?
This was supposed to be a day that ended with some high drama at the United Nations Security Council. The expectation was that the U.S. would finally abandon Israel at the UN, during President Obama’s last days in office, by failing to veto a measure that would label the presence of all Jews in the West Bank and in parts of Jerusalem lawbreakers. With the handover of power in Washington only 29 days away, we have a few more weeks to find out if that’s what Obama will do, but the answer won’t come today. Reportedly, last minute pressure from Israel on the resolution’s Egyptian sponsors resulted in Cairo postponing the vote, possibly “indefinitely.”
Was this outcome merely the product of the increasingly close relations between Israel and an Egyptian government that sees the Jewish state as an essential ally in its fight against ISIS terrorists in the Sinai as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas? Perhaps. If so, then a biased resolution that places all of the blame for the lack of peace on Israel and only pays lip service to Palestinian terror and incitement to violence (without naming the Palestinian Authority and Hamas as the guilty parties) will soon be revived by another sponsor. But it’s also possible that the real diplomatic struggle here isn’t so much between Israel and Egypt or even the Palestinians as it is between Obama and his successor.
The assumption has been that once the presidential election was over, there would be nothing to restrain Obama from launching a parting shot at his longtime antagonist, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That calculation turned out to be incorrect. While Obama need no longer fear a pro-Israel backlash from the voters or Congress, he does have to reckon with the intentions of his successor. In the last month, there was speculation that Obama would forgo a betrayal of the Jewish state at the UN because he feared doing so would only push Trump further into the arms of the pro-Israel community. In the wake of Trump’s naming as the next ambassador to Israel his friend David Friedman—an ardent backer of Israel as well as a supporter of the settlement movement and of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv—the president may be further tempted to undermine Netanyahu and impede Trump’s plans.
That’s why Trump’s challenge to Obama this morning, in which he blasted the proposed resolution as “deeply unfair” to Israel and demanded that it be vetoed, may have had as much impact on today’s postponement and the chances of reviving the effort as any message Netanyahu may have sent to the Egyptians.
That puts the outgoing and incoming administrations on a collision course.
Eight Anti-Israel Outrages Inside the UN Draft Resolution on Settlements  
At the behest of the Palestinian Authority, Egypt on Thursday introduced a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Israel halt all settlement activity, meaning Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Breitbart Jerusalem reviewed the full text of the draft resolution, which contains the following anti-Israel outrages, presented here in no particular order:
1 – The text of the draft resolution repeatedly and wrongly refers to the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem as “Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.”
2 – The draft resolution text exclaims that Jews building in settlements is an impediment to peace, implying that a future Palestinian state must be Jew-free.
3 – The resolution singles out Israeli settlements in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as the main obstacles blocking a two-state solution, while ignoring that the PA has repeatedly refused Israeli offers of a state in those very areas.
4 – The draft resolution, brought by Egypt at the behest of the PA, calls for a timetable to be imposed on Israeli-Palestinian talks even though the PA refuses to even come to the bargaining table.
5 – The draft resolution wrongly claims Israeli settlements constitute a “flagrant violation under international law.”
6 – The text calling for Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” sets the stage for an enhancement of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement around the world.
7 – The text about settlements in the draft resolution contradicts a Bush administration commitment to allowing some existing Jewish settlements to remain under a future Israeli-Palestinian deal.
8 – The resolution farcically states that PA security forces must operate in those areas to fight terror, ignoring the fact that members of the PA security forces have also been members of Fatah’s terrorist wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
Obama’s parting UN shot at Israel a long time coming
Back in February 2012, I wrote that I expected that in his second term Obama would force his vision of a “peace” deal on the Israelis.
We’ve had several close calls, with the John Kerry negotiation fiasco and flirtation with various European and Arab initiatives through the UN. The mechanism would be a failure to veto a Security Council resolution setting the terms of a deal.
Part of it is Obama hatred of Bibi Netanyahu, dating back to the beginning of Obama’s presidency. The snubs and dislike was palpable long before Netanyahu’s address to Congress opposing the Iran nuclear deal.
Aside from the personal, ideologically Obama at least implicitly signs onto the view that Jews living beyond the 1949 armistice line is an act of illegitimacy at best, illegality at worst, and the heart of the problem.
(We have refuted those claims both factually and legally many times.)
To put it in perspective, taking the position that Jews can’t legally live and Israel could exercise no sovereignty beyond the 1949 armistice line, means that the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, ethnically cleansed of Jews and ransacked by the Jordanians, would forever remain Jew-free.
IDF soldier injured by gunfire during West Bank arrest raid
An Israeli soldier was injured in a firefight that broke out in a Palestinian refugee camp during an operation overnight, the Israeli military said early Friday.
The soldier, hurt during a raid in Nablus, suffered moderate wounds in his leg, according to the Walla news site.
He was taken to a hospital for treatment, the army said. His identity was not immediately released for publication.
“Overnight, an assailant opened fire at security forces, [who were] arresting two suspects at the Balata refugee camp in Nablus,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a brief statement.
It was not clear if the gunman was one of the suspects they were seeking.
The IDF arrested a total of three wanted men in the raids, Channel 10 said. The three are suspected of involvement in terrorism, rioting and violence.
'Hamas suicide bombing plots in Haifa, Jerusalem foiled by Israel'
Israeli security forces in recent months foiled a Hamas plot to carry out a series of suicide bombing attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced Thursday.
A joint Shin Bet, IDF, and police operation conducted in May through August of this year uncovered the plans devised by some 20 Hamas operatives in the West Bank city of Nablus.
The Hamas ring had recruited four suicide bombers among its ranks, who were instructed to carry explosives on their bodies and conduct potentially-lethal attacks in crowded areas in Jerusalem and Haifa, according to the Shin Bet.
Investigations revealed that the Palestinian terror cell had also planned to carry out shooting attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.
Israeli security forces arrested the Hamas operatives, thwarting the plans for possible wide-spread death and destruction. According to the Shin Bet, most of the arrested suspects had previously been incarcerated for their involvement in past terrorist attacks and activities.
'Smuggling cell phones to inmates a security risk? Nonsense'
Haaretz journalist Amira Hass, who made her home in the Arab city of Ramallah for years, does not believe that the smuggling of cell phones to terrorists in prison poses a risk to national security.
In an op-ed on the story of the smuggling of cell phones to security prisoners by MK Basel Gahttas in Haaretz Wednesday morning, the radical left-wing journalist dismissed the issue as "nonsense that aims to increase ultra-nationalist incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel through an inflation of the gravity of the suspicions attached to MK Basel Ghattas."
She claimed that the smuggling of cell phones in prison is an old phenomenon that is caused by restrictions on the use of public phones by security prisoners, and that the phones are merely used to speak with friends and family and not for any purpose that could be deemed a security threat the vast majority of the time.
Hass called on the government to permit Arab security prisoners to use public phones as the only way to prevent the smuggling of cell phones.
The Knesset Committee, which among other things is responsible for the Knesset's agenda and for MK parliamentary immunity and is headed by MK Yoav Kish (Likud), approved Wednesday the request of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to remove Ghattas' immunity, facilitating his arrest on charges of smuggling cellular phones to security prisoners. The committee's decision will be brought to Knesset vote on Thursday, after which police will be allowed to conduct a search and arrest Ghattas in order to continue with the investigation
Treason's Greetings: Seven Islamic terror suspects arrested over evil plan to bomb Melbourne's Federation Square, Flinders Street station and St Paul's Cathedral on Christmas Day
Heavily armed police have foiled an 'ISIS-inspired' terror plot to attack multiple locations in Melbourne's CBD on Christmas Day, after raids across the city.
Victoria's Joint Counter-Terrorism task force arrested seven people after executing five search warrants at homes in Melbourne's north and west, including Flemington, Meadow Heights, Dallas, Campbellfield and Gladstone Park, on Thursday and Friday.
Four Australian men, aged between 21 and 26, and one Egyptian-born Australian citizen, were taken into police custody over their alleged involvement in preparing to commit a terrorist attack on Christmas Day.
All five were known to police and had been under police surveillance for around two weeks, with police alleging they intended to target landmarks Federation Square, Flinders Street train station and St Paul's Cathedral with bombs, knives and guns.
Abdullah Chaarani, 26, was the first of the group to appear in court on Friday and was charged with 'preparing for, or planning a terrorist attack'.
Andrew Bolt: Jihad plot in Melbourne
In Melbourne, police today arrested seven people to foil what they claimed was a “substantial attack" planned for Flinders St Station, Federation Square and St Paul's Cathedral on Christmas Day.
To the surprise of nobody, they were Muslim.
How can we be surprised, when in Germany last week, a Tunisian-born Muslim murdered 12 people at a Christmas market in Berlin, and when three weeks ago an Iraqi-German boy tried to detonate a nail bomb at a Christmas market in Ludwigshafen?
How can we be surprised, when in Belgium last week 10 Muslim teenagers were arrested over an alleged plot to bomb more Christmas fairs?
Yet Victorian premier Daniel Andrews after the Melbourne arrests claimed such terrorism plots were “not acts of religious observance, not acts of faith”.
Oh, really? Then why do so many of these terrorists shout “Allahu akbar” – Allah is the greatest – as they kill?
And why do they target the Christian Christmas?
The Age of Low-Tech Terror
That Amri was still at liberty and able to perpetrate this horrific attack is clearly an indictment of Germany’s counter-terrorism authorities. That country, for obvious historical reasons, has not granted its intelligence and law enforcement services the kind of surveillance and detention powers that they need. But even in France, which has some of the toughest anti-terrorism laws in the West, all too many extremists have slipped through the cracks. In many Western European countries, there are simply so many radicals on the loose that police and intelligence officials are unable to keep an eye on all of them.
Even in the U.S., where the danger is somewhat lower because the Muslim population is smaller and more assimilated, the FBI has trouble keeping track of everyone on its radar screen. This explains, for example, why Omar Mateen was able to kill 49 people in an Orlando nightclub in June despite previously having been investigated by the FBI.
Unfortunately, the kind of simple terrorist attacks now advocated by ISIS and al-Qaeda, employing tools that are readily at hand and not requiring any elaborate planning, will always be hard to stop in a free and open society. There is certainly more “hardening” of “soft targets” that can and should occur, Israel being a pioneer in the kind of security measures that the U.S. and Western Europe should now adopt.
But, while emulating Israel’s resolve to fight terror, we in the West will also need to emulate Israelis’ stoicism and determination to allow normal life to proceed in spite of the ever-present threat. Germany is showing the way, with the Berlin Christmas market already having reopened just days after the carnage wrought there. Sadly, given the way that terrorists emulate one another, we can expect more such attacks—fiendishly simple and yet deadly—in the future.
Man wanted for Berlin Christmas market terror attack shot dead in Milan
Italian police shot dead the man believed to be responsible for this week's Berlin Christmas market truck attack, killing him after he pulled a gun on them during a routine check in the early hours of Friday.
The suspect - 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri - traveled to Italy from France, triggering a spate of criticism from eurosceptics over Europe's open-border Schengen pact.
A police chief said his men had no idea they might be dealing with Amri when they approached him at around 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) outside a station in Sesto San Giovanni, a suburb of the northern city of Milan.
Amri is suspected of driving a truck that smashed through a Berlin market on Monday killing 12 people, and security forces across Europe have been trying to track him down. An Israeli couple were among the casualties, one of whom - Dalia Elyakim - was killed, while her husband Rami was left seriously wounded.
The truck mowed through a crowd of people and bulldozed wooden huts selling Christmas gifts and snacks beside a famous church in west Berlin.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Germany To Restrict Movement Of Undocumented Trucks (satire)
Following the murder of 12 people and the injury of dozens more when a truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital, authorities moved to place severe constraints on the freedom of movement enjoyed to date by undocumented vehicles.
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the restrictions today during a visit to the wounded victims at area hospitals. She declared that trucks, especially, would be the focus of the new measure, given the involvement of that type of vehicle in Monday’s attack and the even bloodier attack in Nice, France, earlier this year in which more than 80 people were killed.
“We cannot allow such dangerous vehicles to roam our streets unchecked,” stated a grim Merkel. “We owe it to the victims of this crime to take drastic measures so we can protect our society and its freedoms from the murderous whims of a ten-ton lorry. This may constrain the liberty of some trucks, but this country, this society, cannot allow its safety to be undermined by the actions of such vehicles.”
The new measures call for undocumented trucks to be identified and tracked by the Ministry of Transport, but that office currently lacks the budget and personnel to conduct effective monitoring. Merkel intends to request funds from the European Union, but the success of that request is not guaranteed.
‘Couch Jihadi’ Wins Cannabis Strain of the Year at Inaugural Palestone Cup (satire)
In the wake of President Abbas’ shock executive order legalizing cannabis earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority held its inaugural National Cannabis Awards last night, honoring a range of stellar strains developed by a vanguard of patriotic potpreneaurs.
Dubbed the ‘Palestone Cup’ by promoters, a packed Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium erupted in applause when the judges crowned Couch Jihadi the State of Palestine’s Cannabis Strain of the Year. “Expect a mind-blowing high from this neuro-terroristic hashish strain, which tunnels deep into your psyche and kidnaps your ability to do anything but chill-the-fuck-out for hours on end,” explained Judge Ziffy Marley, before presenting Couch Jihadi’s inventor, Gaza-born orphan-turned-multi-millionaire Iqbal bin Qanab, with his trophy.
The crowd favorite, however, was 96-year-old Baseema al-Nablusi, who earned a standing ovation when she was named winner of the ‘Best Medical Cannabis Edibles’ category. Surrounded by her 42 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, al-Nablusi teared up after her best-selling hashish baklava cakes, Baseema’s Homemade Baklabombs, were hailed by judges Hanan Ashrawi and DJ Khaled for “providing millions of Palestinians both affordable and delectable acute pain relief from savage settler beatings, IDF shootings and assorted physical and mental disorders wrought on our people by decades of brutal Zionist occupation.”

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