Monday, January 23, 2017

From Ian:

PMW: Fatah parades in "suicide belts" and raises knives at Ramallah rally
Three recent events by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority reiterated the Palestinian leadership's endorsement of violence and Martyrdom for Allah as PA ideals.
In the PA's capital Ramallah, Fatah held a parade celebrating the movement's 52nd anniversary. Fatah members marched wearing mock "suicide belts" while their hands held the "detonators," and their faces hidden behind black masks. Other masked men marched with raised knives, Fatah flags, and posters of Mahmoud Abbas. [Fatah-run Awdah TV, Jan. 8, 2017]
Promoting suicide terror is a recurring Fatah parade theme. Last year at the 51st anniversary celebrations it was children who Fatah had march through the streets of Bethlehem wearing black masks and mock suicide belts. [Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, Jan. 7, 2016]
At another event marking Palestinian Martyrs' Day in Ramallah, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah honored "the Martyrs of Palestine," among them terrorist murderers - for "paving the way" with their "sacrifice and struggle":

Linda Sarsour gets burned on Twitter
Check out this interchange on Twitter, documented by the indomitable Chloe Valdary
Linda Sarsour, one of the co-organizers of this weekend's Woman's march is touting Saudi Arabia as a feminist, um, Mecca.
She tweets "10 weeks of PAID maternity leave in Saudi Arabia. Yes paid. And ur worrying about women driving. Puts us to shame"
In response, Israeli Dani Dayan tweets back "Well in Israel women enjoy 14 weeks of PAID maternity leave AND drive".

The Forward’s Ridiculous Claim Of No Palestine Hijacking At Women’s March
The Forward have an article claiming Israel-Palestine issues did not hijack the Women’s March on Washington – written before the march even took place! Which tells you all you need to know about how seriously to take the article.
The lack of an Israeli-Palestinian component to the march is notable due to the liberal makeup of the participating organizations and the partnership with several Arab-American and Muslim-American organizations. Linda Sarsour, a prominent New York-based Muslim and human rights activist, is part of the march’s leadership committee.
Needless to say, there was some palestinian hijacking going on (poor choice of words, I know), and Sarsour herself was part of it.

MEMRI: Making The U.S. State Department Great Again: Why A Trump Refit Could Be Good News
Some liberal internationalists have expressed concern that a Rex Tillerson-led State Department may not stand up enough for human rights (the same crowd, of course, has been rather silent on human rights abuses in Cuba, incredibly portrayed as an Obama administration "accomplishment"). Concern about human rights has also motivated criticism by non-liberal Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio at Tillerson's confirmation hearings.
But even here – without a wholesale discarding of human rights advocacy – a careful, pragmatic rethink may be in order. There is a lot in this field which sometimes seems to be bureaucratic and reactive, without an adequate regard for overall U.S. interests. For example, banning, on human rights grounds, the sale of dual use items – like civilian helicopters – may make the advocacy community feel better, but can hurt American business and jobs and does little good if the country in question can get similar items from China or France or Brazil. And combating the ideological scourge of Salafi-jihadism is also very much a blow for human rights and a service to mankind.
It is entirely possible that a new leadership at State may not be able to implement an ambitious reform agenda at the first federal agency created by George Washington in 1789. They may not be up to the challenge, or an entrenched bureaucracy may stifle change. And change itself can be done badly or be counterproductive. Or a whole range of long neglected short-fused crises may consume all the energies of the new foreign policy team. However, a refit at the State Department is very much an endeavor worth trying, to make it more efficient and more focused on core issues, on national interests and imminent threats, rather than seeking to remake the world in the image of the Acela corridor elite.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians of Syria: A Year of Killings and Torture
According to the reports, Syrian authorities are withholding the bodies of more than 456 Palestinians who died under torture in prison. No one knows exactly where the bodies are being held or why the Syrian authorities are refusing to hand them over to the relatives.
Mainstream media outlets seem to prefer turning a blind eye to the plight of Palestinians living in Arab countries. This evasion harms first and foremost the Palestinians themselves and allows Arab governments to continue their policies of persecution and repression.
It remains to be seen whether the UN Security Council will get its priorities straight and hold an emergency session to discuss the murderous campaign against Palestinians in Syria. Perhaps, somehow, this will overtake "settlement construction" as a topic worthy of world condemnation.
Netanyahu promises unfettered construction in East Jerusalem
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the high-level security cabinet Sunday he will soon announce expanded construction in the settlement blocs and ease all building restrictions in East Jerusalem.
The prime minister said he will remove any political obstacles from regional and local planning committees in order to ease construction in East Jerusalem, according to Hebrew media reports. He added that wide-scale building will soon be green-lighted in the settlement blocs as well.
The prime minister also told ministers that his “vision” is that all of the settlements in the West Bank will ultimately come under Israeli sovereignty in any accommodation, Channel 2 news reported.
Netanyahu’s declaration on Sunday convinced ministers from the settlement-backing Jewish Home party to postpone a cabinet vote on a bill to annex a West Bank settlement on the outskirts of Jerusalem for at least a month, according to the Haaretz newspaper.
The controversial bill, presented by Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, would extend Israeli sovereignty to Ma’ale Adumim.
Trump invites Netanyahu to Washington in February
U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone Sunday for the first time since Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, and the American president invited the prime minister to meet with him in Washington in early February.
The Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that "President Trump invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to come to Washington to meet him in February. A final date for the visit will be set in the days ahead."
The statement also said the two leaders had a "very warm conversation," and that Netanyahu "expressed his desire to work closely with President Trump to forge a common vision and advance peace and security in the region, with no daylight between the United States and Israel."
The two leaders also "discussed the nuclear deal with Iran, the peace process with the Palestinians and other issues," the statement said.
Trump described the discussion with Netanyahu as "very nice" and stressed his "unprecedented commitment" to Israel's security.
"The president and the prime minister agreed to continue to closely consult on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran," the White House said in a statement after the phone call. "The president stressed that countering ISIL [Islamic State] and other radical Islamic terrorist groups will be a priority for his administration."
As US Inaugurates New President, Palestinians Protest, Burn Posters of ‘Lunatic, Fascist’ Donald Trump
During Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, West Bank Arabs burned images of the new world leader, and said supporting the Jewish state was tantamount to backing ISIS in its aim to establish an Islamist caliphate, the non-governmental Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported on Sunday.
Participants in the demonstration — which the report said was disrupted by Israeli police trying to disperse the crowd — told Ma’an that they were sending a message to the incoming administration not to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As sign which they posted on the security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian Authority (PA) — at the entrance to Bethlehem — where the protest was held, read: “Stop Trump… Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”
This protest was similar to ones that preceded Trump’s inauguration. On Thursday, a few hours before incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists to “stay tuned” for the new administration’s decision about its proposed embassy move, Palestinians took to the streets of three West Bank cities to demonstrate.
Glad to See Obama Go, Gulf Arabs Expect Trump to Counter Iran
Gulf Arab states are quietly applauding the arrival in the White House of a hawkish leader opposed to their adversary Iran, even if they suspect Donald Trump’s short temper and abrasive Tweets may at times heighten tensions in the combustible Middle East.
While many countries around the world listened with concern to his protectionist inaugural address, Gulf Arab officials appear optimistic. They see in Trump a strong president who will shore up Washington’s role as their main strategic partner in a region central to U.S. security and energy interests.
In Gulf Arab eyes, that involves above all checking what they see as a surge of Iranian support for paramilitary allies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon and for fellow Shi’ite Muslims in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s oil-producing Eastern Province.
It also means overlooking for now rhetoric about uniting “the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism” in an address that critics said echoed George W. Bush’s “crusade” against terrorism, a phrase which, for Muslims, evokes barbarous campaigns by medieval Christians against Islam.
Saudi Arabia in particular appears relieved at the departure of Barack Obama, who it felt considered Riyadh’s alliance with Washington less important than negotiating a deal in 2015 to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program.
Hamas official accuses Trump of holding radical positions
A senior Hamas official accused Trump of ignorance and of holding positions that lead to regional instability.
Mousa Abu Marzouq, vice-president of the politburo for Hamas, an Islamic terrorist organization based in Gaza, claimed on Sunday that US President Donald Trump’s positions will further destabilize the region and entice Israelis to become more radical.
Marzouq made specific mention of Trump’s plan to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“The threat to transfer the US Embassy to Jerusalem constitutes an increasing threat, especially as it comes from a state the size of the US,” Marzouq said according to a statement on Hamas’ website.
On Twitter, Marzouq accused Trump of being “ignorant” and an “unwell reader of history” after he pledged to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism” during his inauguration speech on Friday.
Senior Palestinian official: Moving US embassy ‘a declaration of war’ on Muslims
A senior Palestinian official warned Sunday that a move by the Trump administration to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be perceived as an act of aggression against the entire Muslim world.
“In our opinion moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against Muslims,” Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub, who also presides over the Palestinian soccer association, told The Times of Israel in an interview.
Rajoub, one of the most powerful figures in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah party, warned that “it is not inconceivable that the United States will give the Jews the keys to the holy sites in Jerusalem – sites also holy to both Christians and Muslims. If someone among you [Israelis] thinks there won’t be consequences, he is making a grave mistake.”
“We are talking about a dangerous step that won’t bring stability to the ground,” he continued, adding that “it contradicts previous United Nations resolutions and the policy of the United States since 1967.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: Trump To Fund Embassy Move By Cutting Democrats’ Pensions (satire)
Monies to cover the costs of transferring the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will not require unanticipated use of State Department funds, a spokesman for President Donald Trump announced today, as the expenses will be met through a new program that halves the retirement payments distributed to former government employees with membership in the Democratic Party.
Kellyanne Conway told reporters at a White House press conference that the president intends to maintain existing budgetary constraints even amid the transfer, in keeping with Republican fiscal conservatism. Instead, she explained, each month the roster of Democratic Party members will be compared against the roster of recipients of government pensions, and the entries that appear in both lists will have 50% of the amount due allocated to moving the embassy.
Conway made the remarks in response to reporters’ questions as to the timing, wisdom, and cost of the move. “Now is the time to turn over a new leaf with our strong ally Israel,” she asserted. “The president believes one of the first moves we can make in that regard is the strongly symbolic move of our chief diplomatic facility in the country to its declared capital. For too long, the question of embassies in Jerusalem has been falsely linked to Israel’s rights to the city, rights the president accepts as unassailable. It is unconscionable that successive administrations have bowed to the threat of violence instead of righting this historic wrong.”
Middle East Leaders Condemn Trump’s Inauguration (satire)
Nations from across the Middle East have reportedly condemned Barack Obama and the United States for inaugurating Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.
In Saudi Arabia, King Salman had called on Obama to appoint a male relative as the next “president” of the US, saying that the peaceful transfer of power from one rival party to the other was a disgusting spectacle. In a rare show of consensus, the Islamic Republic of Iran also condemned the inauguration of Trump saying that it was dangerous to elect a president who does not have the approval of the Supreme Leader of the US: Kim Kardashian.
Additionally Syria’s Bashar al-Assad condemned Obama as a weak leader, unworthy of continuing his rule for neither rigging the election, nor cracking down on the GOP. A spokesperson for the Assad regime noted that it was to be expected that Trump would wrest power from Obama because “the idiots didn’t drop a single barrel bomb full of explosives and chlorine gas on any GOP rallies throughout the course of the campaign.”
Has the Time Come for Amexit From the UN?
As British Prime Minister Theresa May plans a Brexit from the EU, Americans may soon ask what kind of exit we want from another international institution.
In our case, the organization is not the European Union, but the United Nations. Earlier this month, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill to block taxpayer dollars from going to the UN. These senators, like many Americans, are incensed by a recent anti-Israel resolution adopted by the world body. But the US’ problems with the UN run deeper than one bad resolution. They are endemic to the institution. At some point, our elected leaders will ask whether the time has come not just to defund, but also to depart — and then replace the UN with something better.
That point may come sooner rather than later.
Today — Monday, January 23 — journalist Edwin Black is launching a national conversation about United Nations reform. At a major noon-time event in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, I will be pleased to join Black, US Representative Trent Franks and other concerned leaders in the launch of a new project called “The Covenant of Democratic Nations” (CDN). The event coincides with the first full workday of a new presidential administration. Additional events are planned for New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, London, Ottawa and many other cities.
Protesters mass in Jerusalem to demand freeze on Arab home demolitions
Two convoys of at least 100 vehicles each cut across southern and northern Israel on Monday morning on their way to the Knesset in Jerusalem, where they assembled to protest the recent demolitions of homes belonging to Arab citizens, and a deadly incident that occurred during one recent demolition.
The convoys to the Knesset, one of which left from the Arab village of Qalansawe in the north, where 11 homes were recently demolished, and the collective of drivers from the south, is part of a series of protests called by Israel’s Arab leadership, including the Joint (Arab) List faction and the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, following home demolitions last week in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev, which sparked violent clashes and the death of a villager and a policeman.
Israeli police have been adamant in their claim that officer Erez Levi, 34, was intentionally killed by a local resident, Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, whose vehicle slammed into a group of policeman guarding the demolitions.
Preventing the next terror attack from Israel’s prisons
The Ktziot Prison, Sunday, December 18. Only a few people, including the prison commander and intelligence officer, Deputy Commissioner Dudu Vaknin, were involved in the drama that was about to take place. Knesset Member Basel Ghattas of the Joint List arrived to visit security prisoners and allegedly smuggle cellphones to them. Everything was ready to document the act. Without suspecting a thing, Ghattas fell into the trap that was prepared for him by the security officials.
Following his arrest, the work of the Shin Bet and the Israel Prison Service’s security system received wide coverage. Not much was said about the secret work of the intelligence officers who locate and operate agents in the security prisons, those who work behind the scenes in the most sensitive position in some of the most dangerous places in Israel.
In order to understand how it really works, we brought together for the very first time three intelligence officers of security prisoners: The intelligence officer of the Gilboa Prison (600 security inmates), Chief Superintendent Nissim Finish; the intelligence officer of the Ktziot Prison (2,000 inmates), Deputy Commissioner Dudu Vaknin; and the intelligence officer of the Nafha Prison (750 inmates), Chief Superintendent Yossi Krispel.
The three spoke candidly about their work in the shadow of danger and their daily meetings with arch-murderers, the recruitment of agents in the prison and providing them with protection, the language and codes and the heavy responsibility to prevent and thwart attacks. “It’s an Israeli invention,” they told us. “This is a position that only exists in Israel, and people come here from all over the world for guidance.”
Boy burning Israeli flag the spotlight of Hamas graduation
Dozens of Palestinian on Sunday graduated from the Hamas terror group’s military training program in the Gaza Strip, displaying weapons, marching in military formation and burning an Israeli flag in front of crowds of cheering supporters.
The cadets showed off their hand-to-hand combat skills by breaking burning cement blocks with their bare hands at the Gaza City ceremony.
The graduates also staged a mock raid on an “Israeli” military post, in which Hamas forces captured the IDF position and replaced the Israeli flag with a Palestinian one.
A young boy wearing military fatigues then burned the Israeli flag in front of the audience for a dramatic end to the ceremony.
An American-Israeli Partnership to Prevent Iran from Obtaining Nuclear Weapons
Analysis: The question is not whether the new US administration should stick to the nuclear deal or tear it up, but rather how it should maintain the agreement’s achievements in the near future in order to fix its difficult strategic flaws in the long run. Israel is now being given a second chance to influence the US policy on this issue.
When Donald Trump entered the White House, he will have found a number of important missions on foreign affairs waiting on his desk. The Iranian issue is one of them. The discussion of a recommended strategy vis-à-vis Iran is just around the corner, and the decision must be made between alternatives that are more sophisticated than “supporting” or “opposing” the nuclear agreement. This is also an opportunity for Israel to fix the failures of its conduct in the summer of 2015.
During the election campaign, Trump blatantly opposed the nuclear agreement, threatening to “rip it to shreds,” but in the Senate hearings his nominees for the new administration expressed a more moderate ton. The secretary of defense-designate, Gen. James Mattis, for example, argued that although the agreement was not a good one, the United States had to fulfil its commitments. The designated secretary of state and CIA director emphasized the shortcomings of the agreement but vowed to tightly supervise its implementation and not to take any steps to annul it.
Iranian Atomic Chief: If Trump Rips Up Nuclear Deal, We Will ‘Snap Back’ and Be In Better Position Than Before
If newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump nixes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s nuclear program will “snap back” and be better off than it was before the July 2015 deal, a top Tehran regime official told Canada’s CBC News in an interview published on Saturday.
The Islamic Republic, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Ali Akbar Salehi declared, will “act appropriately” if Trump moves to kill the nuclear agreement that was reached by Iran and six world powers.
“We can very easily snap back and go back … not only to where we were, but a much higher position technologically speaking,” Salehi told CBC News. “I don’t want to see that day. I don’t want to make a decision in that course, but we are prepared.”
Salehi, according to CBC News, watched Trump’s inauguration address with the expectation that he would talk about Iran or the nuclear deal. Neither was mentioned during the speech — something that Salehi called “positive.”
Trump did, however, vow to “eradicate” radical Islamic terrorism “completely from the face of the earth.”

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