Friday, March 31, 2017

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israel’s silenced majority
The Israeli public today recognizes that there is no deal to be had. The Palestinians will never make peace with Israel, because they remain committed to its destruction.
It doesn’t matter how effective the Americans are at negotiations. It doesn’t matter how many concessions they are able to extract from Israel in their endless attempts to coddle the Palestinians and convince them to negotiate. Indeed, the Americans’ collective refusal to come to terms with the reality that guides the Israeli public indicates that regardless of what their actual feelings toward Israel may be, in demanding Israeli concessions to the PLO, the Americans are implementing a policy that is stridently anti-Israel.
Under the circumstances, Netanyahu’s task, and that of his ministers, is not to convince the new administration to respect the legal rights to property of Jews in Judea and Samaria. Their duty is to represent and advance the interests and positions of the public that elected them.
Netanyahu and his ministers must make clear to Trump and his advisers that there is no point in trying to reach a deal with the PLO. Trump’s predecessors’ failure to reach an accord had nothing to do with their failure to master the art of the deal. They failed because there is no one on the Palestinian side who is interested in making a deal.
Moreover, Netanyahu and his ministers must explain to Trump that all previous attempts to reach a deal by extracting concessions from Israel did nothing but weaken Israel. And the Israeli public will no longer accept any such concessions from their government.
NGO Monitor: The black hole of Gaza aid
Last week, Israeli authorities revealed that, once again, Hamas has been stealing international aid money intended for the general Gazan population, and using it for its own purposes. In this case, Muhammad Murtaja, the local coordinator of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), has been charged with siphoning millions from Turkish aid donations….The modus operandi of infiltrating the ranks of foreign aid groups is not new to Hamas.
In the end, the noble desires of international humanitarian groups to provide aid come at the expense and danger that terrorists will appropriate all or part of it. For too many NGOs and their government funders, the risks have not been properly weighed. Simply stated, regardless of whether not a terrorist group controls the region, and illegally and immorally paying it off is the price of doing business, NGOs will continue single-mindedly on their “humanitarian” mission.
The need for more safeguards and oversight on the work of aid groups in Gaza (and in other conflict areas as well) is clear and imperative. The mere thought that funds and goods intended for aid purposes end up in the hands of terrorists should cause governments to hit the brakes and rethink what would be the best way to ensure that aid distributed actually reaches the people of Gaza. A pattern such as the one emerging in Gaza should bring about a complete overhaul of how international aid operations are conducted in the terrorist-controlled enclave.

Israel and the Secret History of the Iran Deal
In The Iran Wars, Jay Solomon tells the story of the warfare and diplomacy—sometimes overt, more often covert—between the United States and the Islamic Republic since the fall of 2001, when Washington became aware that Tehran was meddling in Afghanistan and harboring al-Qaeda fugitives. The book also documents a largely successful campaign of financial warfare begun by the Bush administration in 2006, slowed by President Obama almost immediately after he took office, and then used—or, perhaps, wasted—as leverage to obtain the nuclear deal. Jordan Chandler Hirsch writes in his review:
Solomon has excavated many of the deeper patterns that underlay the nuclear diplomacy. . . . John Kerry, whose role in The Iran Wars is as a kind of diplomatic Don Quixote, dashed around the region, proposing to visit Tehran in 2009 and floating massive U.S. concessions without full White House approval. . . . [The] Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, responded by tweeting “Happy Rosh Hashanah,” an act of ecumenism that reportedly astonished Obama staffers. A sweet greeting here, a moderate move there: the Islamic Republic’s rhetorical morsels fed an insatiable American appetite for fantasies of a Tehran transformed.
Yet those fantasies weren’t simply about Iran. They were also about redefining America’s role in the world. For a few key figures in the administration, the nuclear talks represented something much more than preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. . . . President Obama seemed to believe that history was trending in America’s direction and that the best approach was to avoid needless confrontations that could interrupt that process. If the goal was for the United States to get out of history’s way, the greatest threat to the project was the Iranian nuclear crisis. The possibility of war, after all, meant the possibility of American imposing itself once again in the Middle East and on the globe.

EXCLUSIVE - Israeli Law Center: Jordan Providing Haven for Palestinian Terrorist with 'Blood of Jewish Children on Her Hands'
The Shurat HaDin Law Center, Israel’s leading non-governmental organization (NGO), which is representing one of the victims injured by Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi in the 2001 bombing of the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem, provided a statement exclusively to Breitbart News condemning Jordan for providing a safe haven for “a vicious and unrepentant terrorist with the blood of Jewish children on her hands.”
Chana Nachenberg was among those injured in Al-Tamimi’s terrorist attack and she remains in a coma in Israel to this day. Two Americans and several children were also murdered in the suicide bombing.
Shurat HaDin’s president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner writes:
We are shocked that Jordan, which calls itself a close American ally, has so flippantly rejected the US’s extradition request for al-Tamimi. Accordingly, the US needs to place massive pressure on the Hashemite Kingdom to turn her over for trial. It makes no sense that Jordan relies so heavily on American military support for its survival and at the same time would refuse the request and provide this mass murderer safe haven. Al-Tamimi is a vicious and unrepentant terrorist with the blood of Jewish children on her hands and she should not be allowed to find shelter and a soapbox in the capital of an American ally. The world Jewish community must join in the fight and demand that she be brought to justice. We don’t need any more symbolic acts, instead we must insist that those who carried out the suicide bombings which devastated Israel during the tragic years of the intifada be hunted down. Jordan needs to decide now whether it is a country that respects the rule of law or just another terror-infested Middle East regime that talks about fighting these criminals while really providing them support and resources.
When al-Tamimi was sentenced she vowed that she would soon be released from an Israeli prison and that Jews everywhere would be erased from the earth. Apparently, the first part of her prediction has come to pass. Let’s pray that the US can devise a way to arrest her and prosecute her for her crimes.
This land is our land
This week marks 47 years since the death of poet Nathan Alterman, and nearly 50 years since the 1967 Six-Day War. In the last three years of his life, Alterman, the most influential poet in all of modern Hebrew literature, set out to win his own battle, leading the charge without fear. Ten days after the great Six-Day War victory, he wrote in his column in Maariv:
"This victory is not only a victory of restoring the nation's most ancient and noble holy sites, etched in out memory and heritage above all else, to the hands of the Jews. The achievement of this victory is that it essentially erased the differentiation between the State of Israel and the Land of Israel. This is the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple that the Land of Israel is in our hands. The state and the land are now one and the same. From now on, the only thing [Israel] needs to reconnect to its history is for the people of Israel to take everything we've achieved and weave that three-way thread so that it cannot be broken."
Two months after the war, in August 1967, when the founding members of the Movement for Greater Israel first met, the poet defined the organization's chief goal: to win over the minds of the Israeli public and the world: "The idea is the Land of Israel being under the sovereignty of the Jewish people at this time. The idea is coming full circle on the deepest most fundamental of circles in the history of Israel and the Jewish experience. ... What we need now, what is still lacking in the people's minds, is the comprehensive nature of the thing ... how to communicate it to the Jewish people and pass it on to the world in a very concrete way, through speech and through printing texts in major newspapers and by meeting people and by recruiting influential Jewish writers around the world."
The same holds true today.
Though politically challenging, new settlement curb likely a win-win for Netanyahu
Israel’s announcement of a new policy of restraint in settlement expansion was well-orchestrated.
On Thursday morning, during a meeting with the Slovak president, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that later in the day the cabinet would greenlight a new West Bank settlement for the evacuees of Amona, an illegal outpost dismantled in February. “I promised at the outset that we would build a new community. I believe that I first gave that promise back in December and we will uphold it today,” he said.
At 10:25 p.m., the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the cabinet had indeed decided, in a unanimous vote, to create the first new officially sanctioned West Bank settlement in some 25 years. The announcement came just in time to make the Friday morning newspapers.
But once the papers’ deadlines had passed — at 1:21 a.m. — Israeli reporters were informed that the government had also decided to “significantly restrain” the expansion of settlements beyond their current boundaries, in a nod to the US administration’s concerns regarding settlement construction.
The timing of that announcement guaranteed that no newspaper would mention that important caveat in its reports on the first new settlement in decades, thus dramatically decreasing the chance of it becoming a topic for discussion at Shabbat dinner tables around the country on Friday evening.
Israel’s “new policy,” as the government itself called it, is a far cry from the “not one brick policy” of former US president Barack Obama, who vehemently opposed any settlement construction beyond the 1967 lines, including in Jerusalem neighborhoods that will remain under Israeli sovereignty in any conceivable peace agreement.
Israel will curb settlement expansion to satisfy Trump
Israel will curb construction in West Bank settlements as a goodwill gesture to US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of the security cabinet on Thursday night.
The announcement came hours after the security cabinet decided to establish a new settlement for families evicted from the razed Amona outpost, and does not apply to that community.
The specifics of the limitations were not immediately available, and it was not yet clear whether they constituted any significant change in policy beyond a general declaration of intent.
The Prime Minister’s Office said any future construction would be limited to existing settlement boundaries or adjacent to them. However, if legal, security or topographical limitations do not allow adherence to those guidelines, new homes will be built outside the current settlement boundaries but as close as possible to them.
Israel will also prevent the construction of any new illegal outposts, Netanyahu told his ministers.
Trump accepts Amona settlement exception, US official says
The Trump administration accepts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rationale for approving one exceptional new settlement for evacuees of Amona, an Israeli outpost in the West Bank that was dismantled last month, one senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Israel's security cabinet approved a new settlement that was promised by Netanyahu to former residents of Amona. Their outpost was evacuated after Israel's High Court ruled it was an illegal construction.
"We would note that the Israeli prime minister made a commitment to the Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations, and has consistently indicated that he intended to move forward with this plan," the US official said.
Construction will take place in Emek Shilo, and will represent the first new settlement in the West Bank approved in two decades.
Settler group unfazed by West Bank building curbs
The Yesha Council on Friday also welcomed the security cabinet’s approval of the establishment of a new West Bank settlement for families evicted from the razed Amona outpost, the first new Jewish town in the territory since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
The organization further said that it would work to make sure Jerusalem’s decision to restrain any further construction of new settlements would not affect building in existing settlements.
“In light of the decisions and despite specific limitations, the understandings reached between the Israeli government and the US government will enable the continuation of settlement construction in all settlements in Judea and Samaria, and also the establishment of the new settlement for the residents of Amona,” a statement issued by the council read.
“In this case too, the real test will be an immediate renewal of the planning, construction and development throughout the settlements, as well as actions in the field. We will be vigilant and will work with the Israeli government to bring this plan to fruition.”
Palestinians, UN chief rap new settlement for Amona evacuees
The Palestinians and the United Nations on Friday condemned the Israeli cabinet approval for building the first officially sanctioned new settlement in the West Bank in more than 20 years.
The security cabinet gave its unanimous backing to the new settlement late on Thursday for the evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost, which was razed by court order last month.
PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement on Friday that the Palestinians will “hold Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist government fully responsible for the consequences of such violations.”
“We send a clear message to the US administration, the United Nations and to the European Union: Peace is not going to be achieved by tolerating such crimes,” he added.
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said the move showed the government was pushing ahead with “their systematic policies of settler colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, showing a total and blatant disregard for Palestinian human rights.”
JPost Editorial: Trump’s peace push
There have been a number of signs in recent days that the Trump administration believes an Israeli- Palestinian peace agreement is possible – now. Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, spent the last few days in Jordan attending the Arab League summit there as an observer. He met with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia to discuss efforts to move the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process forward. His attendance at the summit was very unusual and it demonstrated the emphasis the Trump administration places on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
In briefings about those meetings, Greenblatt underscored the potential role of the Arab world in brokering Israeli-Palestinian peace. On Wednesday, The Jerusalem Post reported that the administration is exploring whether to host a summer conference that would include Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.
Trump has also reportedly conveyed to Netanyahu his determination to reach an Israeli-Palestinian deal via Alan Dershowitz, the Jewish-American law scholar. “The president told me a few times he wants to get a deal between Israel and the Palestinians,” Dershowitz told Haaretz, referring to comments made to him by Trump during a chance meeting earlier this month. “He knows very well the possible elements of the deal.”
Think Tank: Unilateral West Bank Withdrawal Would Expose Tel Aviv Area to Same Rocket Threats Faced in Southern Israel
A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would harm Israel’s security, according to a new video published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) think tank.
“While the current situation in the West Bank may not be desirable, unilateral moves represent a flawed and counterproductive response,” Hirsh Goodman — a senior JCPA researcher — said in the video.
Were it to pull out of the West Bank without a peace deal with the Palestinians, the JCPA emphasized, the Jewish state would be exposing its heavily-populated coastal region — including the Tel Aviv metropolitan area — to similar rocket threats already faced by residents of southern Israel for many years now.
“Israel’s ability to effectively contain, preempt or respond to threats will be limited and the essential intelligence benefits afforded by the current deployment would be adversely affected,” the video also noted.
Alan Baker — a former Israeli ambassador to Canada and currently the head of the JCPA’s Legal Forum — pointed out in the video, “Legally speaking, clearly no unilateral move could have any validity under international law, since all related agreements, including the Oslo Accords, commit both sides to seek a negotiated peaceful outcome of all outstanding issues. By definition, that means that anything one-sided or unilateral isn’t negotiated and therefore can’t be acceptable.”

IsraellyCool: WATCH: Nikki Haley’s Greatest Hits
Nikki Haley has been US ambassador to the UN for only a few months now, but she has already left an indelible impression with her no-nonsense attitude and strong support for Israel.
It is no secret I am a huge Nikki Haley fanboy. So going through her speeches and interviews to take out the best soundbytes for a greatest hits video was a pleasure.

'Appoint Israeli UN Under-Secretary General'
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely met with UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Muhammad in New York to discuss necessary reforms for the organization to stop discriminating against Israel.
Hotovely brought up with the Deputy Secretary-General the issue of anti-Israeli reports produced at the UN and its institutions, saying, "It is inconceivable that those who write the reports rely on information from organizations that have never visited Gaza." The Deputy Minister praised Amina Mohammed for shelving the latest report from the ESCWA.
The Deputy Minister also addressed the shortage of Israelis in key UN positions and asked Deputy Secretary-General Muhammad to appoint a senior Israeli official to the position of UN Under-Secretary-General.
Another important issue raised by Hotovely is UNRWA. Hotovely sought to deal with Palestinian refugees according to the principles of the UN refugee agency UNHCR: "The situation in which the Palestinians have an organization that perpetuates fifth-generation refugee status must end and their refugee status must be the same as what is accepted by the UN refugee agency as limited to the first generation only. UNRWA must continue to function as an humanitarian organization only."
Later, Hotovely met with Israel's ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, and the two discussed continuing pressure on the UN to implement reforms.
Arab States to Challenge Israeli Sovereignty Over Jerusalem at Upcoming UNESCO Meeting
According to a resolution draft obtained by Israeli government officials, Arab states plan to challenge Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem at the upcoming UNESCO executive board meeting in Paris, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Although the text does not explicitly comment on the Temple Mount and Western Wall, it does classify Jewish holy sites such as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as being “an integral part of Palestine.”
The resolution states: “Any action taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the city of Jerusalem, are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.”
The text was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan on behalf of the Palestinians, and marks the first time Arab states have contested Israeli sovereignty in western Jerusalem.
A vote on the resolution will be cast at UNESCO on May 1.
On Display at Arab Summit: Division and Declining Influence
For years, the stage was almost as big as the larger-than-life strongmen that made it their own. Muammar Qaddafi. Saddam Hussein. Yasser Arafat.
At times both politics and pageantry, the annual gathering of leaders at the Arab Summit has been a guiding force in Arab politics and a source of drama for Arab citizens, who have rarely seen anyone challenge their autocratic rulers over the past half-century.
But many of the region’s strongmen have made their exit in recent years – voluntarily or forced – and humanitarian, security, and political crises have plagued the Arab world, which has yet to establish a new regional order.
This year’s Arab Summit in Jordan consequently is serving a different function, officials and analysts say: as a showcase of the lack of Arab leadership and the waning influence of the Arab League.
With several states reeling in uncertainty and strife after both the ouster of dictators and weakening of remaining autocrats, the League – like the Arab world itself – is divided, looking inward, and dominated by the Saudi rivalry with Iran.
Arab summit concludes with 'Amman Declaration'
The 28th Arab League Summit concluded Wednesday evening at the Dead Sea in Jordan with the "Amman Declaration." The declaration stressed that the Palestinian issue is still the central issue for Arabs, emphasized adherence to the 2002 Arab peace initiative, and called for the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which states that Israel's settlement activity has "no legal validity" and constitutes a "flagrant violation" of international law.
Arab leaders said they would continue efforts to relaunch serious and effective peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, as a comprehensive and lasting peace is still a strategic choice for Arab countries.
The peace deal offers Israel normalized diplomatic ties with Arab states if it withdraws from territories it seized in the Six-Day War in 1967.
"We want peace; we want peace that can last, a peace that can be comprehensive. In order for the peace to be lasting, in order for it to be comprehensive, it has to address the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and it is a peace that will ensure the emergence of an independent Palestinian state and it will guarantee security, acceptance and normal ties for Israel with all Arab countries," Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told reporters following the announcement of the Amman Declaration.
The one-day gathering was attended by leaders from 21 member states
Can Egypt drive moderate Arab states to talk Mideast peace?
On the other hand, Egypt is a member of the Arab League and being part of the Arab world and of the Islamic “ouma” is embedded in its constitution. Can it then diverge from the Arab consensus regarding the core issues relative to the conflict, take the lead in the negotiations and bring about needed Palestinian concessions? Egypt has vehemently denied rumors, floated in some Israeli circles, suggesting it would be ready to give up a small area of Sinai to the Palestinians as part of a territory swap with Israel. Such a move would be totally in contradiction with clause No. 1 of its constitution, which stipulates that Egypt is one and indivisible. It is also contradictory to the core Egyptian belief that Egyptian land is sacred. Sisi’s failure to transfer to Saudi Arabia the islands of Tiran and Sapir is an illustrative example.
What about the other states, and especially Saudi Arabia? Could that country, keeper of the two holy sites of Islam and having the Koran for its constitution, endorse an agreement regarding Jerusalem (which, by the way, is not mentioned even once in the Koran) that would not leave the Temple Mount in Arab/Muslim hands? Undoubtedly, those states have an interest in cooperating with Israel and would like to see an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, but cannot free themselves of their traditional positions. Even Egypt, which has the most to gain, is too mired in its own security problems and dissensions with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to change these positions.
Yet, there is a glimmer of hope.
US President Donald Trump is still feeling his way in the Middle East quagmire.
His new administration might try to revive the old pragmatic anti-Iran front of Arab countries that had been jettisoned by former president Barack Obama when he concluded a separate deal on the Iranian nuclear program without informing his allies.
It will not be easy. Saudi Arabia and Egypt would have to be brought around, a task made more difficult by the growing influence exerted by Russia in the region. Yet, it would be the only way to bring a measure of peace and stability to the Middle East – as well as bringing about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Trump Admin to Host Convicted Palestinian Terrorist Despite Outrage
The Trump administration says it will permit a Palestinian official known for endorsing terrorism and murder to enter the United States next week for a series of high-level meetings on the Israel-Palestinian peace process, a move likely to prompt outrage in the pro-Israel community.
The State Department confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon late Thursday that it intends to permit Jibril Rajoub, secretary of the Fatah Central Committee, to participate in meetings with U.S. officials next week, despite his repeated calls for terrorism against Israel and a 15-year stint in Israeli prison for committing terror acts.
A State Department official who spoke to the Free Beacon acknowledged Rajoub's radical rhetoric, but maintained he can serve a positive role in peace talks set to take place between Trump administration officials and a Palestinian delegation including Mahmoud Abbas.
Pro-Israel organizations and victims of Palestinian terror attacks already have called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bar Rajoub from entering the United States due to his calls for terrorism.
Legal experts claim that Rajoub's endorsement of terrorism should prevent him from obtaining a U.S. visa under current laws. U.S. law bars entrance to individuals who "endorse or espouse terrorist activity."
The Trump administration has no plans to acquiesce to this call, according to a State Department spokesman.
Bereaved father 'horrified' by TV show on terrorists
Ron Kehrmann, whose daughter Tal was murdered in a terrorist attack on an Egged bus in Haifa in 2003, on Thursday criticized the Israeli TV show “Megiddo,” which documents the daily lives of Arab terrorists in Israel’s Megiddo prison and humanizes the terrorists.
"I was horrified to see this, I am very upset. I do not understand why an Israeli reporter tries to paint these terrorists as humane, they are terrorists who murdered and do not regret and even take pride in what they did. Maybe this gets TV ratings but you don’t do things like this for money,” Kehrmann told Arutz Sheva.
"These prisoners do not have to be seen or heard. Let them rot in jail. Why do they want to show me their human face, where was their humanity when they murdered their victims or when they planned to carry out attacks? Is this truly freedom of the press?” he continued.
Kehrmann expressed concern that the show would encourage more terrorists to carry out murderous attacks.
"It encourages those young terrorists who see that it is not so bad to be in jail, and it encourages terror. Whoever gave the approval to film and broadcast this series should be ashamed. Maybe I’m more sensitive than others, but why do they suddenly give the terrorists a stage? Maybe they will also give broadcast hours to rapists and murderers,” he said.
IDF apologizes for releasing killer without notifying victims' families
The IDF has apologized to the families of the two IDF reservists lynched by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah in October 2000 after they complained they had not been informed that one of the perpetrators of the lynch, Hatam Magari, would be released from prison in a plea deal.
Relatives of Sgt. 1st Class Yosef Avrahami voiced the initial complaint on Wednesday. On Thursday, the family of Sgt. 1st Class Vadim Nurzhits joined them.
Michael Nurzhits, Vadim's brother, was harshly critical about not having received any official notification of the deal. Nurzhits said his mother was launching a hunger strike to protest Magari's release.
"The murderer's release is, for us, the straw that broke the camel's back," Nurzhits said.
"This murder is something that can never be forgotten. Vadim's son asks about his father all the time. He knows that he [his father] was murdered."
IDF Bolstering Anti-Drug Smuggling Efforts on Sinai Border, Partly Due to Concern Over Potential ISIS Attacks
The IDF is bolstering its anti-drug smuggling efforts on the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Thursday.
Part of the reason for this move, the report said, was a concern that ISIS-affiliated militants in Sinai could use drug-smuggling routes to carry out attacks against IDF troops or Israeli communities adjacent to the border.
Millions of shekels are being invested in a number of new measures, including the purchase of high-speed all-terrain vehicles that can keep up with those owned by drug smuggling gangs in the region, according to the report.
In 2013, Israel completed the construction of an around 150-mile long fence along its border with Egypt, with the goal of curbing terrorist infiltrations, illegal migration and drugs and weapons smuggling. Earlier this year, Israel announced it had finished new upgrades to the fence.
There have been a number of exchanges of fire on the border in recent years between drug smugglers and Israeli soldiers.
Attorney for Elor Azaria submits request to file new evidence
A defense lawyer for IDF soldier Elor Azaria, convicted in January of manslaughter for fatally shooting a disarmed and incapacitated Palestinian assailant last year, has filed a request to submit new evidence in the case.
Last month, Yoram Sheftel, Azaria’s attorney, filed an appeal against the conviction and the 18-month jail sentence handed down by the Jaffa Military Court, which led the prosecution to file its own appeal asking the court to increase his sentence to between 30 months and five years.
On Thursday, Channel 10 reported that Sheftel asked to submit new evidence which includes documentation of at least 15 occasions where IDF soldiers shot at Palestinians and were not tried.
According to the report, some of the details of the incidents allegedly showing precedent were gathered from an investigation launched by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
Palestinian Authority pollutes Israeli water supply, again
Two months after the Civil Administration informed the organization Green Now that it had stopped the dumping of illegal waste near Givat Ze'ev, the organization's representatives learned that PA trucks had returned to dump waste on the road, which was also illegally built.
In an urgent letter sent by Green Now attorney Tomer Israel to the director of the control unit, Marco Ben Shabbat, he writes that the pollution is being carried out along the Ayalon river outlet, and the resulting waste water reaches the center of the country.
"There is no need to elaborate on the serious harm caused by this environmental damage. The severe damage is to the soil, vegetation and life, and the rehabilitation of the area is becoming more complex as the pollution continues," Israel wrote.
Israel demanded the "immediate cessation of the construction and expansion of the unauthorized road be undertaken as soon as possible in order to punish the offenders and act to rehabilitate the area."
Israel prepares for next war with Hezbollah in mock village
Amid a collection of concrete buildings daubed with Arabic graffiti designed to simulate a typical Lebanese village, dozens of Israeli army officers geared up this week for their next battle with Hezbollah guerrillas.
It is a mission the IDF has focused on intensely in the decade since it fought the 2006 Second Lebanon War against the Iranian-backed group. But this drill at a base in northern Israel took on added significance in the wake of rising tensions between the old adversaries. The friction includes a rare clash along the Syrian border this month in which Israel shot down an anti-aircraft missile fired at its planes as they were carrying out an airstrike on a suspected Hezbollah weapons convoy from Syria to Lebanon.
In the past month alone, Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has also threatened to strike Israel's nuclear facilities if Israel attacks it, and Israel has detailed a contingency plan to evacuate up to a quarter of a million civilians from border communities to protect them from attacks from Hamas, Hezbollah or other Islamic terrorist groups. In another sign of the escalating feud, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot has revealed intelligence that Hezbollah's top military commander was killed in Syria in May 2016 by rivals within the group -- perhaps even on orders from Nasrallah himself.
Though officers taking part in the drill insisted their training was business as usual, the backdrop clearly offered a reminder of what could await.
Close to 40 Palestinian schools named for terrorists
Schools in the United States are often named for historical figures, with a large majority of them having the names of Presidents - Lincoln, Jefferson, Kennedy, Roosevelt – and other public and historical figures. The educational message transmitted is one of patriotism, continuity, and honor to those who so notably contributed to their country.
In the Palestinian Authority, however, the situation is somewhat different. There, dozens of schools are named for murderers. A list compiled by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) finds close to 40 schools named for terrorists who succeeded in murdering large numbers of Israelis, "thereby presenting murderers who targeted civilians as role models for Palestinian ‎children."
Names of ‎some schools glorify Martyrdom, and one is even named for a Hitler ‎associate and Nazi war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands. Children in ‎such schools interviewed on PA TV have explained that studying there turned the terrorists into role models for them, who then want to “reach ‎the level” of the terrorist their school is named after. ‎[Official PA TV, March 27, 2014]‎
Arab NGOs call on Hamas to reopen Gaza crossing
Arab NGOs and rights groups on Thursday called on the Hamas regime in Gaza to reopen the only foot crossing into Israel, after the Islamist movement closed it following an assassination.
The 'Palestinian NGOs Network,' a coalition of more than 100 charities and rights groups, demanded the "lifting of restrictions and restrictive measures which violate human rights", a statement said.
"Security goals should not come at the expense of human rights," it added.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, shut the Erez crossing into Israel on Sunday after blaming the Jewish state for assassinating a senior commander, Mazen Faqha, 38, in his home last Friday.
Former Lebanese Presidents, Prime Ministers Arouse Ire of Hezbollah for Letter to Arab Leaders Decrying Terrorist Organization’s, Iranian Interference
Five former Lebanese presidents and prime ministers aroused the ire of Hezbollah and its supporters this week for penning a letter to Jordanian King Abdullah II requesting that the Arab world cease allowing the Lebanon-based terrorist organization and its patron, Iran, to interfere in regional affairs, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the letter — signed by Amine Gemayel, Michel Suleiman, Najib Mikati, Fuad Al-Siniora and Tammam Salam — was published in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar on Wednesday, ahead of the 28th Arab League summit in Amman. According to MEMRI, the epistle set out principles for Lebanon’s domestic and foreign policy — among these the “upholding [its] exclusive authority… and its security apparatuses to wield arms and opposing illegal arms,” an allusion to Hezbollah.
Other references to Hezbollah, without specifying the Lebanon-based terrorist organization by name, included opposition to its control of various parts of Lebanon, its involvement in Syria and its helping Iran to meddle in Arab affairs in the region.
The letter, translated by MEMRI, reads in part:
In light of the dangers threatening our homeland Lebanon and our Arab ummah, we, former presidents and prime ministers of Lebanon… emphasize [that Lebanon must adhere to the following principles]:
2. Lebanese commitment to its Arab affiliation, to the Arab consensus, and to the resolutions of the Arab League and of the legitimate international [bodies] regarding Lebanon and the Arabs – first and foremost [UN] Resolution 1701 that guarantees Lebanon’s security vis-à-vis Israel and upholds its right [to regain] its territories that remain under Israeli occupation.
US envoy to UN: Removing Assad ‘not our priority’
The US ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday that Washington is no longer focused on ousting President Bashar Assad as it seeks ways to end Syria’s civil war.
“You pick and choose your battles,” Nikki Haley told reporters. “And when we’re looking at this it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.”
Haley was speaking after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had signaled a change in the US stance by admitting that Assad’s eventual fate was up to the Syrian people.
Speaking at the US mission to the United Nations, which is about to assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, Haley said Washington will focus on the push for a political solution.
“Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done? Who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria,” she said.
State Dept.: Sanctions Alone Not Enough to Stop Iran’s Missile Program
Sanctions on Iran are not enough to stop the country's illicit ballistic missile program, according to senior State Department officials, who said on Thursday that a new package of sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic would not halt the country's missile development.
The Trump administration announced earlier this month a large package of sanctions targeting Iran, Syria, and North Korea for their efforts to transfer illicit materials and technology.
The sanctions, which targeted 30 entities in 10 separate countries, target a range of actors found to be complicit in the transfer "of sensitive items to Iran's ballistic missile program," according to the State Department.
The latest sanctions come as Iran continues to provide missile technology and support to terror organizations across the Middle East, including Hezbollah. Iran also continues to trade nuclear and missile technology with North Korea, which was also hit with sanctions under the most recent designations.
Iranian women pool players banned for ‘un-Islamic’ acts
Iran has banned some of its women players from billiard sports competitions for a year for violating the Islamic codes of conduct at a tournament in China, sporting authorities announced.
The Disciplinary Committee of Bowling, Billiard and Boxing Federation did not reveal the nature of the alleged offenses, saying it would name the transgressors later.
“Women sent to China Open (billiard) competitions will be banned from all domestic and foreign competitions for one year for violating the Islamic code,” it said late Thursday, according to the ISNA and Tasnim news agencies.
Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has required women to wear the Islamic headscarf in public.
The Islamic code also forbids women touching, dancing or singing with men outside their families.
Women are only allowed to show their face, hands and feet in public and are supposed to wear only modest colors.

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