Friday, May 26, 2017

From Ian:

Newsweek Gives Op-Ed To Wife Of Palestinian Terrorist Lamenting Her Husband’s Hunger Strike. He Got Caught Eating Cookies.
In a slap in the face to the Jewish victims of Palestinian terrorism, Newsweek has given a platform to the wife of a convicted murderer. On Thursday, the American news outlet published an op-ed by Fadwa Barghouti, the spouse of Marwan Barghouti, who “was convicted on five counts of murder for the deaths of four Israelis and a Greek monk, as well as attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, and membership of a terrorist organization,” according to the BBC.
While Newsweek has yet to publish sympathetic editorials by the friends, family, and loved ones of like-minded "freedom fighters" Ted Bundy, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, or the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi, the publication chose to honor Fadwa Barghouti with a piece entitled, “My Husband Is Starving In An Israeli Jail – We’ll Be Reunited When Palestine Is Free.”
If you take the op-ed at face-value, it comes off as an emotional, nearly elegiac plea to her supposedly heroic husband’s inhumane Israeli captors. To say that Fadwa’s article is grossly misleading would be a profound understatement.
The op-ed is riddled with fabrications and omissions of truth.
First of all, Fadwa’s husband, Marwan, isn’t starving. Far from it. In fact, he’s munching on cookies and candy even as he claims to be carrying out a hunger strike.
As The Daily Wire reported earlier this month, “Israel … released a video allegedly showing [Marwan Barghouti] the leader of an internationally-publicized Palestinian hunger strike, eating cookies and candy in his prison cell.”
Melanie Phillips: Trump reframes the Middle East war zone
The Palestinians will also have got the message loud and clear. Trump called for a resolution of the Palestinian issue, not for a Palestinian state. Standing next to Abbas, Trump linked Palestinian behavior to the Islamic terrorist attack in Manchester this week.
“Peace can never take root,” he said, “in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded.”
In other words, while pointedly commending Abbas for working toward peace “in good faith,” Trump has now set him a bar so high – renouncing the war against Israel – that Abbas will never clear it.
Abbas understands Trump is taking the ground from beneath his feet. The conflict, he claimed, was not about religion but occupation. Put aside the fact that, for Abbas, the whole of Israel is “occupied” land. He knows that reframing the Palestinian issue as a religious war is deadly to that cause.
A few speeches, of course, don’t make a policy. How Trump now acts in the Middle East, and particularly toward Iran, remains to be seen. His presidency itself could crash and burn either from his temperamental flaws or the rolling coup being mounted against him in Washington. And his team contains individuals who are clearly not on the same foreign policy page.
Trump has stamped his authority abroad. Now he has to save his presidency at home and overcome his personal frailties to become the statesman of which his trip has given us the first real signs.
Anne Bayefsky: A Council America Shouldn't Keep
On Thursday a U.S. Senate subcommittee will meet to 'assess' the Human Rights Council. Reconsidering U.S. membership and walking away-now-is the right choice. Successive White Houses have tried and failed to correct the entrenched anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias of the council (and commission) for decades Simply put, the Lilliputians have more votes.
The council has condemned Israel more than any of the other 192 U.N. states, notwithstanding 500,000 dead in Syria, starvation and mass torture in North Korea, and systematic, deadly oppression in Iran. Saudi Arabia and China have used their seats on the council to avoid condemnation altogether. Under a sanctions resolution adopted in March 2016, the council is creating a database of companies that 'directly or indirectly' do business with Israeli settlements. The blacklist is intended to be expansive: Even an ATM in Arab-claimed territory could be enough to land a bank and its business associates on this database. The blacklist threatens to tarnish business reputations, make companies targets for lawfare in European and U.S. courts, and provide fuel for the boycott-and-divestment machinery on college campuses and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the council has no boycott policy for the world's most ruthless regimes.
When Donald Trump became president, the U.S. did not promptly resign from the council but instead attended the March 2017 session. During this meeting, the resolution creating the Israel blacklist was reconfirmed over American objection. Then the U.S. was outvoted on 12 of 15 resolutions and backed into joining the consensus on various other resolutions, including one on 'cultural diversity' cosponsored by the likes of North Korea.
As the Senate subcommittee meets, it will hear the familiar refrain echoed whenever American blank checks to the U.N. are questioned: fight the good fight from the inside; don't cede the territory to enemies; the sole alternative is self-defeating isolationism.
But the answer is straightforward. Belonging to, and paying for, the U.N. Human Rights Council legitimizes those fighting to delegitimize Israel. Equal rights for some cannot be built on unequal rights for Jews. Reform from the inside has failed. America should choose its own partners and methods for making the world a better place. That's real leadership."



At Last: Foreign Ministry Completes Worldwide Distribution of ‘The Legality of Settlement’
For the first time since 1967, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has distributed worldwide the document “The legality of settlement,” which declares that the Geneva Convention does not apply to Judea and Samaria and that “at no point in history was Judea and Samaria subject to Palestinian sovereignty.”
Most of the Israeli embassies around the world have recently completed the distribution of the document, which details the legal arguments for the claim of Israel’s connection to Judea and Samaria, including citations from former US Undersecretary of State Eugene V. Rostov, who supported Israel’s right to settle in the liberated territories in “‘Palestinian Self-Determination’: Possible Futuresfor the Unallocated Territories of the Palestine Mandate” (Yale Journal of International Law, 1980).
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“Jewish rights of close settlement in the West Bank are derived from the Mandate. Therefore they exist; it is impossible seriously to contend, as the United States government does, that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal,” wrote Rostov.
“It is true that since the Six Day War in 1967 the United States government has taken the nominal position that Israel held the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip only as the military occupant under international law,” he continued, noting that “The State Department has maintained that under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a state administering the territory of another state as military occupant cannot in the absence of military necessity or governmental need displace the inhabitants of the territory and establish its own citizens in their place.”
Caroline Glick: Netanyahu’s challenge with Trump
On Thursday, less than 48 hours after US President Donald Trump completed his successful visit to Israel, his chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt was back in town.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson set the tone for Greenblatt’s mission when he told reporters aboard Air Force One that during his visit, Trump “was putting a lot of pressure” on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas “to get back to the table” and negotiate a peace deal.
Tillerson went on to explain why Trump is so keen to make a deal.
“We solve the Israeli-Palestinian peace dilemma, we start solving a lot of the peace throughout the Middle East region,” he said.
Trump apparently agrees with his secretary of state.
At his joint appearance with Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday, Trump said, “I firmly believe that if Israel and the Palestinians can make peace, it will begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East.”
These statements, and Greenblatt’s swift return here indicate that as of now, on a substantive, strategic level, Trump is maintaining Obama’s policies on Israel and the Palestinians. And Obama’s policies on the issue, it bears noting, were substantively all but indistinguishable from those of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush before him.
Like his predecessors, Trump is advancing a policy that assumes that the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the key issue that the US must grapple with in the Middle East. He is advancing the view that the US’s power in the region, and its ability to foster stability and security, are tied to what happens or does not happen in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to a degree, in Hamas-controlled Gaza. In short, like his predecessors, Trump believes that putting pressure on Israel to give land to the PLO is the key to resolving the conflicts of the Middle East.
Charles Krauthammer: Why Middle East Peace Starts in Saudi Arabia
President Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia, the first of his presidency, is an unmistakable declaration of a radical reorientation of U.S. policy in the region. Message: The appeasement of Iran is over. The idea that the nuclear deal would make Iran more moderate has proved spectacularly wrong, as demonstrated by its defiant ballistic missile launches, its indispensable support for the genocidal Assad regime in Syria, its backing of the Houthi insurgency in Yemen, its worldwide support for terrorism, its relentless anti-Americanism and commitment to the annihilation of Israel.
These aggressions were supposed to abate. They didn't. On the contrary, the cash payments and the lifting of economic sanctions - Tehran's reward for the nuclear deal - have only given its geopolitical thrusts more power and reach.
The reversal has now begun. The first act was Trump's Riyadh address to about 50 Muslim states (the overwhelming majority of them Sunni) signaling a wide Islamic alliance committed to resisting Iran and willing to cast its lot with the American side.
Ironically, the Iranian threat that grew under Obama offers a unique opportunity for U.S.-Arab and even Israeli-Arab cooperation. Over time, such cooperation could gradually acclimate Arab peoples to a nonbelligerent stance toward Israel.
For Many in the Holy Land, Trump's Visit Was a Success for What He Didn't Say
On his first trip to the Holy Land, it's what President Trump didn't do or say that made his visit a success: He did not discuss politics - at least not in any depth. During his public addresses in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Trump talked forcefully about peace but refrained from berating one side or the other. Unlike his predecessor, there were no references to Israeli settlements. He also did not mention a Palestinian state, nor the status of Jerusalem.
On the Israeli side, leaders said the ambiguity would give both sides the flexibility to resume negotiations and start peace-building measures. Israel's deputy minister for diplomacy, Michael Oren, a former ambassador to the U.S., said the two sides have been locked too tightly into a preset formula. "This president has a different approach to his predecessors," he said. "It also opens doors to other actors like Saudi Arabia."
Israeli officials indicated they were looking for the U.S. to put more pressure on Arab countries to accept Israel first - only then would peace with the Palestinians be a possibility.
Talks said underway for possible pope visit to Israel to push peace
Israeli and Vatican officials have launched talks to discuss the possibility of Pope Francis paying a visit to Israel and the wider region in a bid to push peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
A Vatican delegation is expected in Israel next month and is looking at three possible dates for a potential visit this coming fall, Channel 10 reported Thursday, citing unnamed Vatican sources.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Vatican.
The report came a day after the pope met with US President Donald Trump in Rome. Trump on Tuesday wrapped up a Middle East visit that included Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Saudi Arabia.
78% of Israelis say peace not possible, split if PM serious to make deal
Some 78% of Israelis believe there is no chance of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians, despite the efforts of US President Donald Trump, according to a Panels Research poll taken for Maariv on Wednesday and released on Thursday.
Only 18% believe it is possible to reach such an agreement, while 4% do not know, according to the poll of 542 Israeli adults who constitute a statistical sample of the population with a margin of error of 4.3%.
Even among Israelis who define themselves as left-wing, only 21% said a peace agreement is possible, while 76% said there is no chance, and 3% do not know.
Despite skepticism that negotiations can succeed, a majority of Israelis want talks to restart, with 58% saying they are in favor, 33% opposed, and 9% saying they do not know.
Asked whether they believe peace talks will start, 55% said no, 37% said yes, and 8% said they do not know.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said there is no partner on the Palestinian side; 17% said there is a partner; and 18% said they do not know.
Top Palestinian Authority Official Denies Reports of Trump-Led Regional Peace Initiative
Majdi al-Khalidi, a diplomatic adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Thursday denied reports of a new US-led regional peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“There is no regional peace process or anything like it. No one is talking about it with us, or with anyone,” Khalidi told The Times of Israel.
He added, “First the two-state solution must exist and be implemented. And once the Palestinians will have their own state beside the state of Israel, then the Arab peace initiative can be implemented.”
Khalidi’s denial of a new regional peace initiative comes after President Donald Trump’s trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this week. For some Israeli officials and Mideast experts, Trump’s visit brought hope of making historic gains towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord in the context of a broader regional framework.
Additionally, in the days leading up to Trump’s arrival in Israel, reports stated that Arab leaders were mulling improved ties with Israel, conditioned on the Jewish state making various concessions to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Middle East reality check: Israel won, and so can the Palestinians if they give up victim status
Israel won. That sums up the more than half a century conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. They won the wars, they won the peace, and they won the prosperity. So, it’s time for them to act like it, and more importantly it’s time for the Palestinians to accept they lost.
We have somehow gotten past the custom in war to fight to a decisive point and then have the losing side submit. Only a few years before the Palestinians began their decades-long losing streak, the Italians, Germans and Japanese surrendered unconditionally to end World War II. They left behind their failed attempts at conquest and consequently they were treated to the benevolence of the Allies and a rebuilding process that turned them into modern nations.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, have maintained belligerence and failure to even accept the existence of Israel in any meaningful way. Their Arab friends have made multiple attempts to destroy Israel and failed each time. Then the Palestinians switched to terrorism as a strategy and turned their proto state into an international pariah. This profound failure to comprehend their profound failure to destroy Israel has kept them in perpetual victim status.
Hundreds of billions of dollars in aid have flowed into the Palestinian territories. Some studies show it to be 25 times more per capita than was spent to rebuild Europe after World War II. Yet there is little in the way of progress and the standard of living is unacceptable. There are still “refugee” camps that have stood for decades. Their state of perpetual grievance has prevented them from using this largesse to build an actual state. This all stems from the failure to accept the uncomfortable and painful fact — they lost.
Watchdog: Despite Telling Trump It Would Confront ‘Hateful Ideology,’ Palestinian Authority Honored 44 Terrorists in One Month
The Palestinian Authority honored 44 terrorist murderers in the month surrounding the first meeting of President Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, according to a new watchdog report.
Trump and Abbas met for the first time on May 3 at the White House, and met again on Tuesday in the West Bank.
Trump praised Abbas during their joint remarks this week, saying the Palestinian leader had committed to taking steps to "fight terrorism and confront its hateful ideology."
"I was gratified that President Abbas joined the summit and committed to taking firm but necessary steps to fight terrorism and confront its hateful ideology," Trump said. "Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded. We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single, unified voice."
However, a report from Palestinian Media Watch states that from April 15 to May 15, Abbas, the Palestinian Authority and his Fatah political party honored 44 people responsible for 440 deaths through suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks.
The honors included Facebook posts, visits to relatives, and even music videos.
Study: Palestinian Authority Paid Over $1 Billion to Terrorists in 4 Years
The Palestinian Authority issued payments to terrorists and their families totaling more than $1 billion over a four year period, according to a recent study by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The sum accounts for seven percent of the PA’s budget and is equivalent to 20 percent of the foreign aid the PA receives annually.
The payments are written into PA law, which declares that the prisoners — who are often convicted of security offenses — are “a fighting sector and an integral part of the weave of Arab Palestinian society,” and guarantees “the financial rights of the prisoner and his family.” Prisoners consequently receive a significant payment while incarcerated, as well as jobs or salaries upon their release. The time they served behind bars also counts toward their seniority in PA institutions.
A prisoner who completed a five-year sentence or longer is entitled to a civil service job in the PA. As longer sentences result in greater authority and better pay, it means that Palestinians incarcerated for more serious crimes, including terror, are rewarded more generously.
The PA’s 2016 budget allocated 488.4 million shekels (about $128 million) for salaries to imprisoned terrorists and released prisoners, according to the report. In addition, payments to families of “martyrs” — which include Palestinians killed while carrying out terror attacks — totaled 663.6 million shekels (about $175 million). Overall, the PA paid 1.152 billion shekels (about $303 million) in terror related payments in 2016.
The Real Crisis in the Arab Middle East
The Arab Middle East faces numerous threats to human security, beginning with violence and bad governance.
According to The Economist's "Democracy Index 2016," among the 22 members of the Arab League, 16 are labeled as authoritarian - the worst proportion of any region in the world.
Dramatic increases in population have led to diminished water resources, overgrazing, and soil exhaustion. By 2025, 18 out of 22 states in the region will be below the water poverty line.
Besides oil, the Arab Middle East has little to export. The region was less industrialized in 2000 than it was in 1970.
Of the top 300 universities in the world, only one - Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia - is in the Arab world.
According to the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report, the Arab world is the worst region to be a woman. Of the bottom 20 countries out of 144, 11 are in the Arab world.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Our Natural Demographic Is Shrinking – We Must Discard Democracy By Zehava Gal-On, Chairwoman, Meretz Party (satire)
As with any question of policy, we must always examine its anticipated long-term effects. Democratic principles have governed Israel since it was founded, but the rapid growth of the religious sector and the mixed success at best of the secular Left have raised the prospect of losing our party’s core constituency to low birth rates and disillusionment with our ideology. We know we are right, but face a thorny dilemma: do we continue to tout democracy even when that democracy denies us the reins of power? I say no.
When the State of Israel was established nearly seven decades ago, the secular majority and character of the government was assured. Granted, nods were made toward our heritage and ancestral culture, but no one of influence gave serious thought to Ashkenazi liberal elites becoming such a minority. Whether the Oslo process alienated the majority of Israelis from the land-for-peace formula because it displayed weakness and invited more terrorism, or did not go far enough but would have achieved peace had we surrendered even more strategic assets in exchange for temporary lulls in violence, the electoral result has proved disappointing: we held twelve seats during the heyday of Oslo, and now we hold only five, the smallest party in the Knesset. Couple that with the socially conscious, ecologically-minded, anti-religious (primarily anti-Jewish; you go ahead and build a mosque wherever) sensibilities of our voters, and you get a demographic that does not replenish itself.
For this reason I have hewed our party closer and closer to the ideology and platforms of the Joint List, in hopes of siphoning some votes from them. But as a long-term strategy that, too, will not suffice, as we cannot provide the authentic Arab identity that Joint List voters crave in their representatives, despite our token Arab members. Democracy will be our undoing, and we must therefore undo it.
Arab students call for ‘intifada’ at Hebrew University rally
Arab students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem this week rallied in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian security prisoners, brandishing photos of convicted terrorists, while calling for an “intifada” uprising against Israel and the expulsion of Zionists, Channel 2 reported on Thursday.
The display was defended by the university faculty, who said the demonstration was held in accordance with its internal regulations and did not breach Israeli law.
The rally, organized by the student branch of the communist Hadash party, saw students scream: “Intifada and victory! From Jerusalem to Ashkelon!” and “Let’s talk exile! We don’t want to see any Zionists.”
Some students carried a photo of Ihrima Majdi Al Rimawi, who was convicted in the 2001 assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in Jerusalem, the report said.
New State-of-the-Art Israeli Medical Center in West Bank Will Serve Area’s Jewish and Arab Residents Alike
The One Israel Fund held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday for its new Binyamin Medical Center (BMC), the first major medical facility in the West Bank.
When construction is completed, the center will serve more than 75,000 Israelis living in 45 communities in the Binyamin region, as well as tens of thousands of nearby Palestinian residents.
The new BMC facility will provide state-of-the-art emergency medical care and encourage coexistence by providing treatment to “residents of the Binyamin region, Palestinian and Israeli alike,” said Rabbi David Marcus, senior development officer of the One Israel Fund.
Although Binyamin is the largest geographical regional council in Israel, medical services for the area’s residents are said to be insufficient. Binyamin residents in need of medical care must currently travel to Jerusalem to receive treatment — a commute of up to 90 minutes in some cases.
The BMC aims to “have a transformative impact on the Binyamin region, bringing life-saving medical care and peace of mind to residents who now live with the fear and uncertainty of not knowing whether they will be able to reach a hospital in the event of an emergency,” said Marcus.
“The center will improve the region’s security and quality of life,” he added.
Terror banner, flags wave unhindered in Israeli town
The hunger strike being held by jailed terrorists in Israel is getting a blatant and unhindered show of support on the main street of Kfar Kana, an Israeli Arab town in the Galilee region of northern Israel.
A sign of support for terrorists hangs alongside PLO flags in the center of the city, under a municipal stone pergola.
The sign of support, which reads “Tent of water and salt - identification with our brave prisoners,” includes pictures of Marwan Barghouti, convicted of murdering 5 Israelis and involvement in numerous attacks which left many injured, and Ahmad Sadat, the head of the PFLP group who was convicted, among other crimes, of participation in the 2001 murder of Minister Rehavam Zeevi, the most senior Israeli official murdered in a terror attack.
Yishai Hemo, coordinator for the northern district of the Regavim organization who passed the location twice this week within the context of his work, documented the presentation, which has been hanging unhindered for close to a week.
Israel to ease access for Palestinians during Ramadan
Israel announced Friday it will ease restrictions on Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, including easier access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, issuing more travel permits and allowing them to fly abroad from Ben Gurion airport.
The measures, similar to those of previous years, were announced by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). This is the body which manages civilian affairs in the West Bank under the auspices of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and at the recommendation of IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.
Men over the age of 40 will not require a permit to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Women, and children below 12, will also not need a permit for prayers at the Muslim holy site. Permits will be issued to men between the age of 30 to 40 for prayer for the entire month of Ramadan, which begins on Friday night.
Up to 500 permits will be issued for flights abroad through Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

PA
Rajoub angry about Palestinian Media Watch’s complaint to FIFA demanding his suspension
Fatah Central Committee Secretary and Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub: "Everywhere I go, the Israelis submit a lawsuit against me. They [Palestinian Media Watch] even submitted [a complaint] against me to the FIFA Ethics Committee demanding to throw me out because I am a terrorist and so on." [Official PA TV, Topic of the Day, April 17, 2017]


Gaza fisherman jailed for smuggling military equipment to Hamas
The Beersheva District Court has sentenced Mahmoud Zaidi to 39 months in jail for transferring diving equipment to terror organizations. Said, a Palrstinian fisherman, was contacted by two terror activists in 2013 and asked to smuggle 50 diving suits, 50 diving fins, 20 goggles and six oxygen balloons from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. Zaidi agreed to this and asked for 1000$ in payment.
The accused was later provided with a motor boat belonging to Hamas and he left the Gaza port for Egypt. When he reached Egypt, he met people who were supposed to provide him with the diving equipment. Part of the equipment was loaded on the boat and transferred to the Gaza strip and the accused was payed 700 dollars.
During 2013 the accused was also asked to smuggle electrodes to Hamas. The accused agreed but the plan was altered and when he reached the Egyptian border he was asked to smuggle cigarettes and tabacco and received 400 dollars for his actions.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Drafts Tunnel-Digging Kids To Run On Hamster Wheels For Electricity (satire)
The Islamist group that runs this coastal territory will address the area’s electricity shortage by reassigning children from terror-tunnel-digging duties to run on giant hamster wheels in order to generate power, a representative of the movement announced today.
Wanteen Fantissayid, a Hamas spokesman, told a gathering of organizational officials today that while political hay can be made of the lack of electricity in Gaza, either to blame the rival Fatah or Israel, the movement needs to be seen as taking steps to care for the territory’s populace if it wishes to maintain its authority. Therefore, he reported, secretive military commander Muhammad Deff and the political leadership of the movement had agreed that some of the children forced to work underground, digging tunnels that Hamas would use in fighting Israel, will instead begin running on human-sized hamster wheels to produce electricity via kinetic energy and thus decrease the shortfall in electricity that Gaza suffers. Fuel shortages for Gaza’s power plant, the result of Palestinian infighting, mean only two or three hours of electricity are available for the territory’s residents each day.
“We have already set up several prototype hamster wheels,” announced Fantissayid. “In the first phase of the operation, we will have twenty children at a time running on the wheels for ten minutes each, alternating with twenty other children.” But hundreds of children will be needed every day, he explained, since many will not have the stamina to keep at it for very long, and some will die.
Gunmen kill 26 Christians on road to Egyptian monastery
Masked gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians in southern Egypt on Friday, killing 26 people and wounding 26 others as they were driving to a monastery, medical sources and eyewitnesses said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
Minya Province Governor Essam al-Bedaiwy said the group's bus came under attack as it was traveling on the road to the St. Samuel Monastery in Minya, about 220 kilometers (136 miles) south of Cairo.
Minya is home to a sizable Christian minority, he said.
The Egyptian Health Ministry said witnesses had reported that between eight and 10 terrorists dressed in military uniforms carried out the attack.
Eyewitnesses said the Copts were attacked as they were going to pray at the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in the western part of the province.
They said masked men stopped the vehicles on a road leading to the monastery and opened fire.
Israel, Palestinians condemn attack on Egypt Christians as toll rises to 28
A Friday morning attack on a convoy of pilgrims in Egypt that killed at least 28 people, many of them children, drew wide-spread condemnation in the region from Israel to Hamas.
Egyptian security and medical officials said the death toll in the shooting by masked gunmen of a bus carrying Christians on their way to a remote desert monastery has risen to 28.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Israel “strongly condemns the painful terror attack in Egypt and sends the condolences of the Israeli people to [Egyptian] President [Abdel-Fattah] Sissi and to the Egyptian people,” said a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“There is no difference between terrorism harming Egypt and terrorism harming other countries. Terror will be beaten more quickly if all countries work against it together,” the statement said.
Nasrallah decries Saudia Arabia, Trump and Israel
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech Thursday referring to President Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Nasrallah strongly criticized the recent American-Saudi arms deal signed in Riyadh, saying, "Saudi Arabia has given Trump what he has been wanting—money to be used for Israel." Nasrallah further added that the Saudi summit "ignored Palestine and Palestinian prisoners."
Nasrallah made his comments at a rally marking the 17th anniversary of the IDF's withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah was the topic of harsh words at the Riyadh summit, with the Saudis and the Americans calling for the organization to be disarmed. Nasrallah stressed that the statements made at the summit would not affect the internal situation within Lebanon.
"Saudi Arabia has surpassed Trump, who has insulted the Islamic and Arab nation. Saudi Arabia has surpassed the racist Trump as the biggest supporter of Israel. Saudi Arabia has given Trump something that no other US president has been given. What is behind this is Saudi Arabia's desire to defend its regime, which is already known to be behind the ideology of the terrorists."
Syria Has Effectively Ceased to Exist
Six years into the Syrian war, the survival of President Bashar al-Assad's regime is assured — but it has become something of a façade, and lacks a strategy for reuniting the country. The sometimes sharply differing interests of Russia and Iran from above, and the local concerns of a myriad array of pro-regime irregular militias from below, are the decisive factors — not the decisions of the country's nominal rulers. This impacts the calculus of the "regime" side in the war, in determining its strategy in the conflict.
Just take a look at how the war has developed since late last year, when things seemed to be going well for the regime. The rebellion had been driven out of its last finger-holds in eastern Aleppo city, seemingly paving the way for the eventual defeat of the insurgency. But five months later, while the general direction of the war has been against the rebels, they appear still far from collapse. Idlib province, areas of Latakia, Hama, northern Aleppo, and large swathes of the south remain in rebel hands.
While the general direction of the war has been against the rebels, they still appear far from collapse.
The rebels in the south received a boost this week when a coalition airstrike targeted forces loyal to Assad that were advancing on a base used by U.S. and British Special Forces. If the United States and its partners are willing to use force to defend allied groups in the area, it is hard to envision how the regime can hope to reestablish its rule there.
Further east, the war against the Islamic State is being prosecuted by a powerful, U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led force called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). This force will shortly embark on the conquest of Raqqa, the last remaining city fully controlled by the retreating Islamic State.
Senate Committee Passes Bipartisan Sanctions Bill to Counter Iran’s “Rogue Behavior”
A bipartisan bill targeting Iran’s escalating “rogue behavior,” including its continued ballistic missile program, its support of terror, its shipment of conventional weapons and human rights abuses, passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday by an overwhelming 18-3 vote, and now heads to the full Senate.
The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, which was introduced by Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R – Tenn.) in March, now has 48 co-sponsors.
Following passage of the bill in committee, Corker called it a “first step in finally holding Iran accountable for their non-nuclear destabilizing activities.” He added, “Iran’s rogue behavior has only escalated since implementation of the agreement,and this bipartisan bill approved by the committee today will give the Trump administration additional tools for holding Tehran accountable. It also sends an important signal that the U.S. will no longer look the other way in the face of continued Iranian aggression. I am proud of the strong bipartisan momentum behind this effort and will push for timely consideration on the Senate floor.”
“Today’s committee approval of this bipartisan legislation brings us one step closer to finally ensuring Iran’s leaders understand they do not enjoy blanket impunity as the United States continues to live up to its commitments under the JCPOA,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D – N.J.).
Saudi Arabia May Be an Ally, but Its Textbooks Are Filled with Hatred
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Trump stressed that Washington and Riyadh can join together in fighting Islamic State, Iran, and other violent Islamist entities. David Andrew Weinberg urges the U.S. to pressure the Saudi government to do its part by changing the tenor of its textbooks, which are used in the kingdom and exported to over a dozen other Muslim countries:
Until 2015, the Saudi curriculum was so austere that Islamic State was reportedly using the kingdom’s textbooks at schools in territory it had conquered. . . . Saudi textbooks for the current academic year call for the slaughter of people who engage in a range of non-violent acts considered immoral by Saudi religious authorities. This includes adultery, gay sex, disavowing or mocking Islam, and even “sorcery.” . . .
A current high-school textbook . . . claims that the goal of Zionism is world domination, namely a “global Jewish government to control the entire world.” It singles out Zionism among all other self-determination movements as inherently racist and expansionist, somehow even blaming it for spreading drugs and sexually-transmitted diseases in the Islamic world. . . . [Another] declares that “Christianity in its current state is an invalid, perverted religion” whose promoters seek to impose its dominion over Muslim nations through “intellectual invasion.” . .
.
Governor of Turkish resort area invites Israeli tourists to return
A delegation of 15 Turkish dignitaries, including the governor of the Mediterranean resort area of Antalya, arrived in Israel on Wednesday for a three-day visit to promote Israeli tourism in Turkey.
Turkey, and Antalya in particular, was a one of the most popular vacation destinations frequented by Israelis until a diplomatic rift erupted between the two countries in 2010 following the Israeli raid on a ship attempting to breach Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the deaths of 10 Turkish nationals.
Although diplomatic relations have since resumed, Israeli tourists have continued to stay away from Turkey for fear of terrorism, with hundreds of people killed in a series of terrorist attacks in Turkey in recent years. A suicide bombing in Istanbul in March 2016 targeted an Israeli group on a culinary tour, killing three of them. Israel's counterterrorism bureau has a long-standing warning against travel to Turkey.
"We guarantee full security to Israelis visiting Turkey. Turkey is a safe country; it is no different than any other place in Europe," Turkish Ambassador to Israel Kemal Oktem said at a press conference at the Turkish Cultural Center in Jaffa on Wednesday.



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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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