Monday, February 20, 2017

From Ian:

PMW: PA wipes Israel off the map PA and Fatah leaders disseminate map of "Palestine" denying Israel's existence.(19/02/2017)
At his joint press conference with President Trump last Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated:
"The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel's destruction. They have to stop educating their people for Israel's destruction." [White House website]
Indeed, far from educating its people towards a two-state solution, the Palestinian Authority leadership encourages its people to anticipate a future in which Israel no longer exists. In every context, the PA's map of "Palestine" completely erases Israel from the map.
Palestinian Media Watch has found maps of "Palestine" in school books, on honorary plaques, in ministerial offices and on sculptures in public places.
Below are several recent examples of PA leaders with such plaques:
Melanie Phillips: Hope for a real solution No wonder Europe's dismayed
The Palestinians’ strategy therefore lies in ruins. In Gaza, an even harder Hamas hard man has now come to power who doubtless will redouble efforts to rain down missiles upon Israeli citizens. Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority thought it was so clever in pretending, by contrast, to have clean hands by adopting the diplomatic route to destroy Israel – courtesy of the UN and with a nod and a wink from the Obama administration. Now they are staring at a UN which itself is suddenly all too aware that its own hate-mongering, extermination-conniving party may finally be over.
Moreover, developments in the region mean that the Palestinians suddenly find themselves friendless in the Arab world. Their usefulness as the devilish threat to be cynically brandished in order to protect Arab rulers against the fury of their own enslaved populations has come to an abrupt end. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, now engaged in a fight to the death against Iran, are building an alliance with none other than the State of Israel; and now also with America.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al Jubeir, today accused Iran of being ”the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world”. He went on: “We look forward to working with the Trump administration on all issues. I believe progress can be made in the Arab Israel conflict, if there is a will to do so. We know what the settlement looks like, if there is just the political will to do so. And my country stands ready with other Arab countries to work to see how we can promote that.”
Of course there can be no illusions about Saudi Arabia, the primary source of Sunni Islamic radicalisation and the principal exporter of jihadi Islamism around the world. And the previous Saudi peace initiative was an elephant trap. Nevertheless, between these tectonic regional shifts and the hurricane in the White House, the Middle East log-jam has been smashed. There is accordingly now more hope for a just and realistic solution to the Arab war against Israel than there has ever been.
No wonder Europe is so dismayed.
IsraellyCool: Private Palestinian Land #FakeNews
If Hitler gave the Eiffel Tower to Eichmann and his son showed up claiming it, would you call it “Private German Land”?
It seems the combined might of all the anti-Israel NGOs financed by such bodies as J-Street, the New Israel Fund (NIF) and the various anti-Israel arms of the European Union and the UN have all got one central talking point to delegitimise the perfectly natural building of Jewish homes, schools, businesses and other signs of progress in the Jewish heartlands of Judea and Samaria.
Their favourite term is “private Palestinian land”.
Most of what the radical left and the left wing Israeli Courts call “Private Palestinian Land” comes from deeds handed out by the King of Jordan during his illegal occupation from 1949 to 1967. He would gift parcels of land to anyone who’d take it and then demand land taxes! Most never walked on or developed their land and few paid the taxes. It is land claims like these that form the bedrock of the lawfare efforts by anti-Israel NGOs such as the one which resulted in the residents of Amona being thrown out of their homes.
It’s not a perfect analogy, none is, but if Hitler had handed out bits of Paris to his friends and their children showed up today and claimed them, calling them “private German land” would make just as much sense.

Elliott Abrams: A Big Deal? Netanyahu comes to Trump's Washington.
What a difference an election makes. Benjamin Net­­an­yahu, for eight years scorned and insulted by the Obama administration, found himself warmly embraced in the Trump White House last week. No more name-calling, no more deliberate "daylight" between Israeli and American positions, no more abandonment of Israel at the U.N.
This was the central achievement of the Netanyahu visit: to demonstrate a visible end to the Obama years and put Israeli-American relations back where they were in the George W. Bush administration. The warmth of the White House greeting was no doubt bitter gall to Bibi's many enemies in Jerusalem, and in the Israeli press accounts they carped and complained about this word and that phrase. But having a close and supportive relationship with Washington is always an asset to an Israeli prime minister, and so it will be for Netanyahu.
Beyond this symbolic reset of the U.S.-Israel alliance, the visit was filled with several real developments. The American and Israeli press are mostly focusing on "the abandonment of the two-state solution" and quoting President Trump's lines:
I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one.
I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians—if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best.

The criticism of Trump for this "abandonment" is misplaced. At least since Bill Clinton, a "two-state solution" has been the insistent American goal, but where has it gotten us—or the Israelis and Palestinians? Trump is focusing instead on the goal, which is peace, and saying any road that gets us all there can work for him if it can work for the parties. Criticism of this position is foolish, elevating the means over the end. He has not abandoned the two-state solution; the hand-wringing of the New York Times and the elation of some spokesmen for the Israeli right are both overdone. Trump is doing what he often does best: challenging the conventional wisdom and asking if there is a better path to peace.
“Why does the U.N. obsess over Israel?” – Nikki Haley
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Feb. 16, 2017:
“I just put out to the members of the Seucrity Council to help me understand: When we have so much going on in the world, why is it that every single month we’re going to sit down and have a hearing where all they do is obsess over Israel?”
The first thing I want to do is talk about what we just saw in there. The Security Council just finished its regular monthly meeting on Middle East issues. It’s the first meeting like that that I’ve attended, and I have to say it was a bit strange. The Security Council is supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security. But at our meeting on the Middle East, the discussion was not about Hizballah’s illegal build-up of rockets in Lebanon. It was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists. It was not about how we defeat ISIS. It was not about how we hold Bashar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of civilians. No, instead, the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. I am new around here, but I understand that’s how the Council has operated, month after month, for decades.
I’m here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. I’m here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias. We will never repeat the terrible mistake of Resolution 2334 and allow one-sided Security Council resolutions to condemn Israel. Instead, we will push for action on the real threats we face in the Middle East.
UN Watch: "U.S. is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias" - Nikki Haley (h/t Yenta Press)

Obamaleaks: Suspicious Haaretz “scoop” about Netanyahu blocking “regional peace plan”
Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz, has a reputation of getting great scoops, especially of the sort that makes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu look bad.
In a story with a sensational headline that has lit up anti-Netanyahu social media, Ravid reported, Exclusive Kerry Offered Netanyahu Regional Peace Plan in Secret 2016 Summit With al-Sissi, King Abdullah.
The sub-headline read, “Kerry’s outline included Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Netanyahu claimed he couldn’t get his coalition to back it.”
The details of the story is that a year ago, February 21, 2016, then-Secretary of State John Kerry convened a secret summit between Netanyahu, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah in Aqaba, Jordan. At the summit Kerry presented a six-point proposal for a regional peace, that would include Arab recognition of Israel.
Unlike the headline, which uses the term “peace plan” suggesting this was fully developed initiative, nothing in the reporting suggests anything so advanced referring to it mostly as a proposal. The use of the term “peace plan” suggests that it was something already agreed to by all the parties except for Netanyahu, but the facts in the story make clear it was at most a proposal to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
At secret summit, Netanyahu said to have offered freeze outside settlement blocs
At a secret summit with Arab leaders on a regional peace push last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly presented a five-point plan that included an offer to freeze construction in areas outside the settlements blocs in the West Bank.
According to a report early Monday in the Haaretz daily, which first broke the story of the meeting with then-US Secretary of State John Kerry, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah, on February 21, 2016, Netanyahu asked in exchange for the freeze that the US recognize construction and expansion within the large settlement blocs, areas which are expected to remain part of Israel in any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
According to a US official and an Israeli source familiar with the plan cited by Haaretz, the prime minister detailed five steps Israel could take to promote a regional peace initiative aimed at reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, and also asked for US assurances on a number of issues.
Bennett: Palestinian state would lead to refugee crisis for Israel
Reiterating his fierce opposition to a two-state solution, Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said Monday that the creation of a Palestinian state would see an influx of Palestinian refugees, many of whom he believes would try to cross into Israel.
Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at its annual summit in Jerusalem, Bennett said: "If we establish a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, that state will open up the gates and we'll see a flood of refugees enter Judea and Samaria.”
He warned that the result would be a swift reversal of of the Jewish majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, to an Arab one. “That would be a huge mistake and can’t be undone.
“Anyone who thinks these millions of refugees will enter Judea and Samaria… and remain content there is mistaken,” Bennett continued, opining that those arriving in Nablus and Ramallah would soon be redirected to Tel Aviv and Haifa.
NYPost Ed: Palestinian Leaders Have Spurned Countless Offers for a State
From the ranting over President Trump’s comments on the “two-state solution” to the revival of the vile “dual loyalty” charge against American Jews, liberals have gone unhinged over Trump and Israel.
Talking of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict Wednesday, Trump said: “I’m looking at a two-state and a one-state [solution], and I like the one that both parties like.”
The New York Times huffed that he’d “dangerously backed away”; the LA Times, that he’d “demolished the two-state solution.” The Daily News snarked of his “ignorance.”
Sorry, the ignorance is all on the part of Trump’s critics. He simply declined to endorse a Palestinian state for now, preferring instead to defer to the parties.
For the record, a poll out of Israel on Wednesday showed that most Israelis (55 percent) back two states — yet only a minority of Palestinians (44 percent) do.
Israelis have long been open to a Palestinian state, if their security is assured. Palestinian leaders have spurned countless offers for just that. The barrier is that they won’t accept the existence of the Jewish state.
Ben-Dror Yemini: The horrific one-state vision
The fact that there is no chance of reaching an agreement in the foreseeable future doesn’t lead to the conclusion that there is nothing to do. First of all, Israel’s proclaimed and public acceptance of a two-state arrangement is part of the solution. If it were clear that this was Israel’s stance, its situation would improve. But it’s not clear. The Right, after all, is insisting on an opposite situation.
Even without an agreement, Israel can take unilateral steps which would include both full security control and clear characteristics of a demographic separation and a transfer of authorities to the Palestinian Authority. It’s not simple. There are places, like Hebron, where such an arrangement will encounter countless difficulties. But there are situations in which there is no desirable solution and the least negative direction should be taken.
The greatest disaster could happen if Trump encourages the Right, or allows it to keep marching towards one state. The result will be a fulfillment of the BDS vision. This anti-Zionist vision must be prevented.
Time Op-Ed: “Equality” Means No Jewish State
In his Time Magazine op-ed, “Let’s Talk About a One-State Solution Where Israelis and Palestinians Are Equal,” Yousef Munayyer doesn’t express his own opinion so much as he expresses his own (incorrect) facts, and advocates for an end to the Jewish state, in any borders at all.
Time Magazine breaches its journalistic obligations by allowing Munayyer’s gross misstatements of fact to go uncorrected, and letting his opposition to Jewish statehood go unchallenged.
Zionism is Racism
Munayyer is executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, an organization dedicated to BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel), to the idea that Israel is an apartheid state, and to an end to US support for Israel.
In addition to basing his day job on an utterly imaginary reality, Munayyer does the same in his op-ed, saying:

…the GOP base has a strong affinity with Zionism including xenophobia, nativism, racism and, in many corners, a belief that the state exists to protect the dominance of one ethno-religious group.
Did Munayyer just call Zionism racism?
5 Anti-Friedman US Ambassadors Hostile to Israel, Supported Iran Deal
It’s important to examine the harmful records and anti-Israel actions of the five leftwing, hostile-to-Israel, pro-Iran deal former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel who signed a coordinated letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unfairly and falsely maligning Ambassador-nominee David Friedman. The five signatories – Thomas Pickering, Daniel Kurtzer, Edward Walker, Jr., James Cunningham, and William Harrop – damaged U.S.-Israel relations and exacerbated the situation in the Middle East. At least several of them have financial or other ties to hostile-to-Israel groups.
Revealingly, the very same five former ambassadors signed a letter in July 2015 promoting the Iran deal (which provided Iran with a path to a nuclear bomb and $150 billion to fund its terrorist operations throughout the world). (“Former US Ambassadors to Israel Back Iran Deal,” by Deb Riechmann, Times of Israel, July 27, 2015.)
Thomas Pickering (Ambassador 1985-1988) has a long record of pro-Iranian regime, pro-Palestinian-Arab, friendly to Hamas, and problematic anti-Israel activism.
Pickering is a member of the American Iranian Council (AIC) board of directors. AIC promoted the dangerous Iran deal; now insists that the U.S. must “fully implement” the Iran deal (while ignoring Iran’s violations); opposes U.S. sanctions for Iran’s violations of UN Security Council Resolution 2331; and opposes designating as terrorist organizations the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corp and Muslim Brotherhood – despite the fact that both groups support terror throughout the world.
Egyptian president tells US Jews peace deal at top of agenda
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told a delegation from an umbrella group of US Jewish groups that reaching an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of his top priorities.
Meeting in Cairo, Sissi told representatives from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that reaching a peace deal would remove a main impetus behind terror attacks.
Sunday’s meeting came as an Israeli media report detailed a secret summit between Sissi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah and US secretary of state John Kerry last year aimed at cobbling together a regional peace initiative.
Sissi, who also met with the Jewish group last year shortly before the secret summit, said Sunday that a regional peace would bring a new reality, enabling cultural and economic development for countries in the area.
Sunday’s meeting with the Jewish leaders was aimed at improving ties between the US and Egypt, according to a statement from the Egyptian Presidency, The Daily News Egypt website reported.
Praising Trump, Saudi FM urges progress toward peace with Israel
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said he is optimistic that Arabs and Israelis can reach a peace deal in 2017.
Speaking four days after US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a White House press conference about the possibilities of a regional peace agreement, Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that the contours of an Israeli-Palestinian accord were clear, and that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states would work to bring it to fruition.
“I believe progress can be made in the Arab-Israel conflict, if there is a will to do so,” he said. “We know what the settlement looks like, if there is just the political will to do so. And my country stands ready with other Arab countries to work to see how we can promote that.”
He said the new US administration made him optimistic that this and other regional challenges could be resolved.
“We see a president who’s pragmatic and practical, a businessman, problem-solver, a man who’s not an ideologue,” Jubeir said of Trump. “He wants America to play a role in the world. Our view is that when America disengages, it creates tremendous danger in the worlds, because it leaves vacuums, and into those vacuums evil forces flow.”
Israel, Turkey and Saudis present united front on Iranian threat
Israel and Saudi Arabia on Sunday both called for a new international push against Iran, signaling a growing alignment of interests between the two countries, which do not maintain diplomatic ties. The statements were made separately by high-ranking government ministers at the 53rd Munich Security Conference against the backdrop of calls by U.S. lawmakers to impose new sanctions on Iran over its recent ballistic missile test.
Speaking at different panels, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir urged Sunni states in the Persian Gulf to reject Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's call on them to join Iran's efforts to reduce violence in the region, which both decried as disingenuous.
The Israeli and Saudi calls were echoed by Turkey.
Both Lieberman and al-Jubeir demanded that Iran be penalized by the international community for propping up the Syrian government, developing ballistic missiles, and funding the Houthi rebels in Yemen's raging civil war.
Lieberman said Iran's ultimate objective is to undermine Saudi Arabia. He called for dialogue with Sunni Arab states to defeat radical elements in the Middle East, saying, "The real division is not between Jews and Muslims, but between moderate and radical elements."
Iran says Saudi Arabia, Israel working to damage country
Iran on Monday criticized what it said was coordination between Israel and Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, describing attempts to create an “international atmosphere” against Tehran.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the two countries “imagine they can compensate for their numerous defeats and failures in the region by creating an international atmosphere against our country.”
The alignment is “not accidental,” he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
“It’s unfortunate that this occupying regime [of Israel] is counting on the coordination and collaboration of an Islamic country to further its perpetual anti-Iranian policies,” Ghasemi said.
Israel and Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of fueling regional conflicts by supporting armed Shiite movements in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.
Iran rejects the accusations and says Riyadh must stop its support for Sunni terrorists like the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda.
An Open Letter to Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan
Dear Minister Flanagan,
Recently, you said, “I am actively keeping under consideration, on a continuous basis, the question of whether recognition by Ireland in the near future of a state of Palestine might be a helpful step in relation to the Middle East peace process.”
As a long-time proponent of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the search for a viable two-state agreement, I urge you not to do this.
I fully realize that Ireland, despite a fairly strong bilateral relationship with Israel, has been one of the Palestinians’ strongest advocates in the European Union, generally aligning itself with those member nations most critical of the Jewish state.
And I am aware — having heard it directly from Irish diplomats — that Ireland tends to superimpose its own political situation (i.e., the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Island), on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, viewing Israel as the “British” and the Palestinians as the “Irish.”
Apart from the fact that the two situations are not analogous (unlike Israel’s precarious situation, the very existence of Ireland is not at stake, nor is its right to exist questioned), a decision to recognize Palestinian statehood outside the framework of a negotiated deal between the parties themselves would do real damage to the cause you profess to champion.
Merkel to security summit: Islam is not the source of terror
The Islamic faith is not the cause of terrorism, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday, and urged members of the Muslim clergy to fight back against a “false” interpretation of the religion that permits acts of violence to be carried out in its name.
Arguing for Muslim states to cooperate with the rest of the world to stamp out terror, the chancellor told an international security conference in Munich that this is the only way to persuade non-Muslims that the religion is one of peace.
“I think, those countries, first and foremost have to give a contribution. Because only in this way we would be able to convince people that it is not Islam that is the source of terrorism. But a falsely understood Islam,” Merkel said, according to Al Jazeera.
“I expect from religious authorities of Islam to find strong language in order to delimitate peaceful Islam from terrorism committed in the name of Islam. We as non-Muslims cannot do this, it should be done by Islamic clergy and authorities,” she said.
Merkel previously denounced “Islamist terrorism” as the greatest challenge facing Germany, and called on her fellow citizens to hold firm to democratic values in the face of jihadist terror.
The Blind Sheikh’s Legacy of Terror
On Friday night, the Egyptian-born religious leader and terrorist mastermind Omar Abdel Rahman, known as the Blind Sheikh, died in an American prison. Andrew C. McCarthy, who led the prosecution of the sheikh for planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, reflects on his blood-soaked career:
Before there was an al-Qaeda or an Islamic State, there was the Blind Sheikh, known to his worldwide following as “the emir of jihad.” And he bears much of the responsibility—he would think of it as the credit—for what followed him. Indeed, Osama bin Laden credited Sheikh Abdel Rahman with the fatwa that approved the 9/11 jihadist attacks in which nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered. . . .
Abdel Rahman was [deeply influenced by such contemporaries as] the Shiite jihadist icon, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Notwithstanding their theological differences, Abdel Rahman, [a Sunni], perceived in Khomeini the possibilities of Islamic revolution and the exploitation of what he saw as American weakness—particularly by Hizballah, Khomeini’s forward jihadist militia that, among other atrocities, killed 241 U.S. Marines in their Beirut barracks in 1983. . . .
Netanyahu: Israel and Singapore are ‘kindred spirits’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Singaporean counterpart Monday that Israel and Singapore are “kindred spirits.”
Speaking at a press conference with Lee Hsien Loong in the city-state’s Istana palace, Netanyahu extolled the successes of the two countries.
“I believe that Israel and Singapore are kindred spirits,” he said. “We’re small nations that have become in many areas global powers.”
The prime minister also said that by working together, the two countries could continue to greater success.
“I believe that our cooperation makes us even more successful, cooperation in every field,” he said. “We have a joint R&D fund that has already funded 150 projects for Israeli and Singapore companies working together in a variety of fields, and I think that the opportunities are vast.”
Analysis Good ties with Trump give Israel added value in relations abroad
One of the side-effects of Obama's policy of publicly airing his differences with Israel was that Israel lost the perception of being one of Washington's “favorite sons.”
Granted, Jerusalem still had many friends on Capitol Hill, but doors to the Obama White House would not be opened by Netanyahu. Israel lost its status as a darling of the White House able to pull strings to gain favors for friends.
The very friendly Trump-Netanyahu press conference in the White House last week was seen and heard around the world, including in Singapore and Sydney where the prime minister is now traveling.
While some in the US Jewish community expressed concern about Netanyahu appearing to be “tied at the hip” to a divisive US president, Netanyahu’s obviously good relations with Trump give the country added value in its dealing with countries who don't enjoy such a close relationship with the American leader, but which would like to.
The public warmth between Trump and Netanyahu adds another “T” to the two “T’s” Netanyahu constantly talks about regarding what Israel has to offer various countries around the world. Netanyahu knows this well, and will undoubtedly trade in this currency.
No love lost for Bibi in Australia
Netanyahu had been scheduled to visit Australia in July, 2014, but cancelled out in June due to the kidnapping of three Israeli yeshiva students Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel who were subsequently murdered.
President Reuven Rivlin was scheduled to visit Australia in March of last year, but cancelled in February and went to Russia instead to meet with President Vladimir Putin.
The Australians were far from pleased, and Rivlin subsequently apologized personally to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop when she was in Israel last September.
Despite the bipartisan support for Israel in parliament, Netanyahu will discover that he’s not exactly a welcome guest.
Australian and British media reports indicate that protest demonstrations against Netanyahu’s visit have been planned for Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, in addition to which 60 prominent Australian business and religious leaders, jurists, academics, entertainers and former politicians have issued a statement in which they express opposition to Netanyahu’s visit on the grounds that his policies “provoke, intimidate and oppress” the Palestinian people and are distancing the Middle East from peace to an even greater extent than before. Among the signatories to the statement are former Federal Court judge Murray Wilcox, former Solicitor General Gavan Griffiths, and several Queen’s Counsels.
Ambassador Dermer to liaison with White House on Pollard
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer to speak to the White House about easing parole restrictions for Jonathan Pollard after raising the issue on Thursday with Vice President Mike Pence.
“Clearly, this is a positive sign that he new administration will give the matter serious consideration,” said National Council of Young Israel president Farley Weiss, who has been active in efforts to help Pollard for 20 years.
“Pollard should be allowed to go to Israel, and we hope the Trump administration, once they review the matter, will agree,” he added.
At a press briefing following his press conference with President Donald Trump, The Jerusalem Post asked Netanyahu whether he raised the issue with Trump, and the prime minister declined to respond.
Pollard was released on “mandatory” parole November 20, 2015, after serving exactly 30 years in prison for the crime of conspiracy to commit espionage without intent to harm the United States, by delivering classified information to Israel in 1984 and 1985.
Arab Israeli charged with planning TA bus bombing, teaching IS how to make nerve gas
An Arab Israeli man was charged with planning terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State group, including bus bombings directed against IDF soldiers, according to an indictment filed against him on Monday. He also allegedly distribute information to IS members on how to create a deadly nerve gas.
The suspect, Anas Haj Yihya, was charged in a Tel Aviv court with belonging to a terrorist organization and with multiple counts of contact with a foreign agent.
In May, one of Yihya’s Islamic State contacts, Muhammad Abdel Rawi, told him to carry out attacks against soldiers, including blowing up a bus filled with soldiers on central Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, which he agreed to, according to the charge sheet.
Three months later, Yihya apparently attempted to create an explosive device, asking a gardener to get him fertilizer, but his request was denied, according to the indictment.
Yihya also allegedly used the Telegram messaging application to distribute information to IS members on how to create sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent, how to manufacture explosive belts and bombs with cellphone triggers, and which poisons can be added to explosives in order to make them more lethal.
Two rockets from Sinai hit southern Israel, IDF says
Two rockets fired from the Sinai Peninsula struck an open field in southern Israel on Monday morning, the army said.
No one was injured and no damage was caused by the missiles, the army said.
The rockets hit the Eshkol region, which borders southern Gaza and the northeastern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
A police bomb disposal unit found one of them near the community of Naveh, near the Egyptian border. A second sapper team was on its way to the location of the other rocket, police said.
The incoming rocket alert system was not activated as the projectiles were not headed toward a populated area.
No group took credit for the rocket attack, but the incident came hours after the Islamic State in Sinai accused Israel of killing five of its members in an airstrike.
Islamic State claims five members killed in Israeli drone strike
The Islamic State’s official media outlet claimed Sunday five of its members were killed in an Israeli military airstrike in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula the day before.
According to Amaq news agency, an official media arm of the terror group, an Israeli drone strike struck a car with five Islamic State members in a village in the northern Sinai near the Egypt-Israel border on Saturday.
The strike occurred near the village of Shabana, south of the town of Rafah, Amaq said.
The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to The Times of Israel’s request for comment, but generally refrains from confirming or denying strikes outside of Israel.
IDF Blog: Defense from Terror in Hebron - Join Lt. Rom on patrol in Hebron, a flashpoint of terror.

Syrian official vows to back Hezbollah in potential war against Israel
A senior Syrian official vowed to back Hezbollah in any future conflict that the Lebanese terror group may have with Israel, in an interview with Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai on Monday.
"We will be partners with Hezbollah in any future war against Israel," the unnamed official, whom the newspaper labeled "one of the senior decision-makers in Syria," said.
The comments came after Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned last week that the group's missiles were capable of hitting Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona.
The official stated that Hezbollah and Syria "share a destiny" and will work together against any attempt to "harm the proxies of Iran in the Middle Eastern arena."
Palestinian nabbed at Jordan crossing with sack of ancient coins
Israeli customs authorities stopped a Palestinian man for allegedly attempting to smuggle several dozen ancient coins into the West Bank from Jordan.
The man was crossing from Jordan into the West Bank through the Allenby Bridge last week and was found to be in possession of 53 coins dating from the first century BCE to the 13th century CE, the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Monday.
A customs official asked him to empty his pockets and noticed a bag of coins. The suspect, identified only as a man from the city of Tulkarem, was arrested by Israeli police and the coins were transferred to the Civil Administration’s archaeology staff officer.
A spokeswoman for the police said the suspect was released from custody and that the case was under investigation. The suspect told officers that he purchased the coins in Jordan, but that he wasn’t an antiquities dealer.
Report: 1,000 Palestinian Arabs fled from Syria to Gaza
At least 3,443 Palestinian Arabs have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, according to a report by the 'Action Group for Palestinians in Syria.'
According to the statistics published by the organization yesterday, the casualties included 455 women. No information about casualties among children was provided.
The report also stated that 1,164 Palestinian Arab refugees, including 83 women, are currently incarcerated in Syrian government lock-ups.
The report described conditions in Palestinian Arab refugee camps in Syria, such as the Yarmouk camp, which has been blockaded by the Syrian regime army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) for 1,339 straight days. According to the report, 190 Palestinians died of undernourishment and medical neglect in the Yarmouk camp.
The Syrian government has barred residents of other refugee camps from returning to their homes for years.
Islamic State vows more attacks on Egypt’s Christians
An Islamic State group affiliate in Egypt released a video Monday showing the suicide bomber who killed nearly 30 people when he attacked a packed church in December and vowing more attacks on the country’s Christian.
A narrator says in the 20-minute video that the Egyptian Christians are the extremist group’s “favorite prey.”
The video shows footage of Egypt’s Coptic Christian pope, Christian businessmen, judges and priests who either speak of the need to protect the minority or use derogatory terms to refer to Egypt’s Muslim majority. The narrator says Christians were no longer “dhimmis,” a reference to non-Muslims in Islam who enjoy a degree of state protection. Instead, the group describes the Christians as “infidels” who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.
“God gave orders to kill every infidel,” one of the militants carrying an AK-47 assault rifle says in the video.
Kudos to Trump for Taking the Syria Safe-Zone Initiative That Iran Dreads
Since US President Donald Trump took the helm in Washington, the issue of a “safe zone” in Syria has come to the fore, reflecting the changes taking place in the international arena following the end of the Obama administration.
Throughout the election campaign, Trump pledged to establish safe zones in Syria to curb the refugee crisis. As soon as he was inaugurated on January 20, he ordered his secretaries of State and Defense to formulate a roadmap for the proposal within 90 days.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey expressed support for the move. Iran, Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad vehemently opposed the initiative. However, the three-pronged front began to crumble as a result of events in Aleppo, causing Moscow to become more flexible in its view. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov even raised the possibility of discussing the matter with the UN Human Rights Council and other international organizations.
From Iran’s perspective, Russia’s distancing itself by seeking to safeguard its own interests is a recipe for disaster, leaving Tehran to face the problem of keeping Assad in power alone.
Republican senators consider imposing new sanctions on Iran
Republican U.S. senators plan to introduce legislation to impose further sanctions on Iran, accusing it of violating U.N. Security Council resolutions by testing ballistic missiles and acting to "destabilize" the Middle East, a U.S. senator said Sunday.
"I think it is now time for Congress to take Iran on directly in terms of what they've done outside the nuclear program," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Munich Security Conference.
Graham said he and other Republicans would introduce measures to hold Iran accountable for its actions.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since Iran conducted a ballistic missile test last month, prompting President Donald Trump's administration to impose sanctions on individuals and entities linked to the country's Revolutionary Guards.
"Iran is a bad actor in the greatest sense of the word when it comes to the region. To Iran, I say, if you want us to treat you differently then stop building missiles, test-firing them in defiance of U.N. resolutions and writing 'Death to Israel' on the missile. That's a mixed message," Graham said.
Iranian Dissidents Demand Investigation Into Islamic Regime’s Secret U.S. Lobbying Network
A group of nearly 100 prominent Iranian dissidents is demanding that Congress launch investigations into clandestine efforts by the Islamic Republic to influence U.S. policy using a network of lobbyists and propaganda pieces placed in Voice of America's Persian service, according to a letter sent to leading lawmakers and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The group of dissidents, composed of prominent Iranian voices that oppose the hardline regime in Tehran, says that Congress is not doing enough to expose the Iranian regime's lobbying efforts in D.C. and propaganda network, which is said to include some at VOA Persia.
Iranian-American groups claiming to represent American interests are said to be carrying water for the Islamic regime inside the White House and on Capitol Hill, according to these dissident voices.
The letter cites VOA's Persian service as a source of pro-Iran corruption. The Free Beacon has reported multiple times on claims that VOA has been infiltrated by Iran regime loyalists who seek to spin coverage in a favorable way for Tehran. In one instance, an Iranian dissident was barred from appearing on VOA Persia for voicing critical opinions about the regime.

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