Thursday, June 15, 2017

From Ian:

Unity after tragedy
Three years have passed since that dreadful day when three of our boys -- Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal -- were kidnapped and murdered. Three handsome, talented young men became angels and their names are on all our lips in painful memory.
And we are here, still.
They are missed and so loved. We remember the days when, for a moment, we put aside all our differences and made room in ourselves for others. For a second, our hearts emitted one single great light. It was so special.
The summer of 2014 was a difficult one. We had days of agonizing fear and concern for their safety. In the days following the abduction, there was an outpouring of solidarity, thanks partially to the absence of judgement and criticism. Every one of us found the goodness that exists within us. We united as one, despite the vast differences between us, driven by an internal desire to live a better life, without discord.
It is true that in our everyday lives, it is difficult for us to give of ourselves to others. It is easier for us to focus on the problems, and each one of us is convinced that their way is the right way. Does anyone ever wonder if it is possible to live together, side by side? We are so different; we don't even speak the same language.
Keep in mind that it actually happened, just a moment ago. In reality, not in a dream, we were one big group that wanted, knew, how to be together without trying to change one another. We are still those same people, with the same views. During those 18 days of solidarity, no one tried to impose their views on the other, or change the other -- we were just there, next to one another, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart. The entire country stood together for one single purpose -- to bring the boys home.
If We Can’t Dismantle UNRWA, Here’s How We Can Reform It
Virtually every media ​outlet ​took the recent UNRWA condemnation of Hamas terror tunnels found under an UNRWA school at face value. Yet none of these outlets acknowledged that ​the ​UNRWA teachers and workers unions in Gaza have been under the tight control of Hamas since 1999 — without a word of disapproval from UNRWA​.
The timing of the tunnel discovery was ironic; it took place just before Hamas will conduct its annual summer military training camp to teach upwards of 50,000 UNRWA students, aged 9-15, how to use live guns (and, in the future, kill Jews).
In light of UNRWA’s complicity in Hamas’ activities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently called for the organization to be “dismantled.” Unfortunately, it is not within Israel’s power to ​”dismantle” UNRWA– as it operates under the mandate of the UN General Assembly.
Furthermore, if Western democratic nations were to cut funds to UNRWA, two scenarios ​would likely​ occur​:
First, the radical Islamic state of ​Qatar, which has a ​​presence in Gaza and Judea/Samaria​, would ​likely step in to replace any income lost from ​West​ern cuts​.
Second, Saudi Arabia, which recently stepped up its funding of UNRWA (and is now the third largest donor), would ​likely ​increase its contributions to make up for the difference.
If Qatar and Saudi Arabia ​become the largest donors to ​UNRWA, Israel and the West will lose all leverage over the organization — and UNRWA would likely become even more beholden to Hamas.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians' Real Tragedy: Failed Leadership
What is funny and sad is that the Palestinian Authority, which has been criticizing Hamas's crackdown on freedom of expression in the Gaza Strip, has long been resorting to similar measures against its critics in the West Bank.
The latest victim of the PA's suppression of public freedoms is Nassar Jaradat, a 23-year-old political activist who was arrested earlier this week for criticizing senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub. PA security forces arrested Jaradat after he posted a comment on Facebook in which he criticized Rajoub for acknowledging Jews' right to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. A PA court has since ordered Jaradat, an engineering student, remanded into custody for 15 days on charges of "insulting" a top Palestinian official.
Last year, the PA demonstrated that it does not hesitate to arrest even one of its own if he dares to criticize Palestinian leaders. Osama Mansour, a senior PA security official, was arrested and later fired because he criticized Mahmoud Abbas for attending the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Such arrests have become commonplace under the PA in the West Bank. Almost every week, Palestinians hear of another journalist or blogger or activist who has been arrested or summoned for interrogation by the PA security forces for nothing more than posting remarks critical of the government on social media.
Palestinians were hoping to achieve an independent state of their own. In the end, however, they got two separate states -- one in the West Bank and the second in the Gaza Strip -- as a result of the power struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. But the real tragedy for the Palestinians is that neither the PA nor Hamas values human rights or public freedoms. The real tragedy of the Palestinians over the past few decades has been failed leadership -- whether it is the secular PLO or the Islamist Hamas.
Given the current state of the Palestinians, it is hard to see how they could ever make any progress towards establishing a successful state with law and order and respect for public freedoms and democracy.

Ruthie Blum: Qatar's Comeuppance
A mere two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his first major foreign policy speech in Riyadh to delegates from dozens Muslim/Arab countries, Bahrain announced on June 5 that it was halting all flights to Qatar for being a sponsor of radical Islamist terrorists. Immediately, Saudi Arabia joined the boycott, as did the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Yemen, all of which also shut off access to Al Jazeera, the anti-American, anti-Semitic Qatari television network established in 1996 and operating since then to foment unrest across the Middle East and bolster the terrorist organization the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot, Hamas.
The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and other officials in Doha fiercely denied the charge that their government has been backing terrorism, blaming a "fake news" report on the website of the state-controlled Qatar News Agency for the eruption of the Gulf crisis.
The report, which the FBI and other U.S. security agencies believe was the result of a Russian hacking attack, quoted Al Thani calling Iran an "Islamic power," referring to Hamas as "the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" and saying Qatar's relations with Israel were "good."
Although the report did turn out to be a hoax, Qatar's extensive ties to terrorism and abetting of financiers to bolster it are well-documented. A Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) study, titled "Qatar and Terror Finance: Private Funders of al-Qaeda in Syria," shows that while Doha has pretended for more than a decade to be partnering with the United States to defeat Al Qaeda, the monarchy, in fact, has taken no action whatsoever against the Qatari financiers of the terrorist organization's Syrian branch, the Nusra Front, which continues to plot attacks against the West. One of the reasons that this group eluded U.S. strikes operating in Syria was that it, like America, has been fighting ISIS. Another was that it changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS or the Front for the Conquest of Syria), in an effort to distance itself from Al Qaeda. This effort was led by Qatar.
Evelyn Gordon: A Humanitarian Travesty in Gaza
Gaza’s worsening electricity crisis provides a textbook example of why many so-called human-rights organizations no longer deserve to be taken seriously. The crisis stems entirely from an internal dispute between the Palestinians’ two rival governments, and since it can’t be blamed on Israel, most major rights groups have ignored it, preferring to focus instead on such truly pressing issues as—this is not a joke—playing soccer in the settlements. But the exceptions to this rule are even worse: They’re the ones so untroubled by facts that they’ve actually found a way to blame Israel for a problem entirely of the Palestinians’ own making.
A brief recap: Back in April, Gaza ran out of fuel for its only power plant because neither the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority nor Gaza’s Hamas-run government—both of which have plenty of money to spend on fomenting anti-Israel terror—would agree to pay for it. The argument focuses specifically on a tax the PA imposed on the fuel, which Hamas won’t pay but the PA won’t lower. The fuel shortage slashed Gaza’s power supply to about four hours a day.
That same month, the PA announced it would stop paying for 40 percent of the electricity Israel sends Gaza via high-voltage wires, and Hamas naturally refused to take over the payments. Israel continued providing the power anyway for about six weeks, but this week, it finally decided to stop giving Hamas free electricity. That will reduce Gaza’s power supply to three hours a day or less.
The power shortage is creating a worse humanitarian crisis in Gaza than Israel’s partial blockade ever did, yet neither Amnesty nor Human Rights Watch—both of which issued countless statements about the blockade—has published a single press release about the electricity crisis. Astoundingly, however, HRW did find time to issue no fewer than three press statements in May blasting the international soccer association’s refusal to take action against Israel over six soccer teams in the settlements. Apparently, playing soccer in a settlement is a much more serious humanitarian problem than being without power 20 hours a day.
Hamas could easily solve Gaza’s electricity crisis, but prefers to finance tunnels and rockets
If anyone hopes that Hamas might reconsider its policies, and start to invest in the citizens of the Strip instead of its military infrastructure, they should forget it. Hamas remains the same cynical organization that exploits the distress of Gaza’s residents for political gain, both locally and internationally. Sometimes against Israel, sometimes against the Palestinian Authority.
The current electricity crisis is just another example. Hamas could, if it wanted to, pay for enough electricity to significantly improve power supplies. But it prefers to spend tens of millions of shekels a month digging attack tunnels into Israel and manufacturing rockets.
According to various estimates by the PA and Israel, Hamas raises NIS 100 million ($28 million) every month in taxes from the residents of Gaza. A significant part of that amount covers the wages of its members. But a large portion is diverted for military purposes. Estimates say Hamas is spending some $130 million a year on its military wing and preparations for war.
Hamas could easily step in to pay for the electricity from Israel that Abbas is no longer willing to cover. But it adamantly refuses to do so. It stubbornly insists that the PA should pay the entire bill, without clarifying why.
Ten years after the revolt that drove it out of Gaza, the PA has decided to sever economic ties with the coastal enclave. It is doing so in stages, but that’s where it is heading: economic separation. Or, in other words, making Hamas pay for its coup.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Congress: Political Islam ‘Incompatible with the U.S. Constitution’
Political Islam, focused on establishing an unfree society ruled by strict sharia law, is “fundamentally incompatible” with the U.S. Constitution and the overall “foundation of the American way of life,” declared Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an expert at the Hoover Institution think tank, during a Senate panel hearing.
Meanwhile, Michael Leiter, the former director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, argued that sharia law is compatible with the American Constitution.
“Muslim’s honoring of Sharia is not inherently in tangent with living in constitutional democracies anymore than it would be for Christians or Jews who also seek to honor their religious traditions while still complying with civil authority,” testified Leiter.
The Somali-born Dutch-American Ali — an honor violence victim, a strong advocate against female genital mutilation (FGM), and author — strongly disagreed.
During a hearing on Islamic ideology and terror held by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Wednesday, Ali testified alongside the former U.S. official who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“My central argument is that political Islam implies a constitutional order fundamentally incompatible with the US Constitution and with the ‘constitution of liberty’ that is the foundation of the American way of life,” proclaimed Ali in her written testimony.
Top American Jewish Leader: Time Has Come to Stop Making Excuses for Abbas on Palestinian Incitement
The time has come to stop making excuses for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the issue of incitement, a top American Jewish leader told The Algemeiner this week.
Malcolm Hoenlein — the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CoP) — praised US President Donald Trump for raising the subject with Abbas during his recent stop in Bethlehem while on his first overseas trip since taking office.
“Trump’s remonstrations with Abbas over his lies on incitement, I think were very important to this issue finally being recognized,” Hoenlein said.
The 82-year-old Palestinian leader, Hoenlein pointed out, is “directly involved in incitement.”
“Abbas had not been held to account in the past and it had to be done,” Hoenlein said. “Hopefully it will be sustained pressure with real consequences for continued violations.”
Hoenlein expressed support for the Taylor Force Act, which was introduced in Congress in February, noting, “Our [the CoP’s] stance against the funding of terrorists and their families has been a longstanding position.”
UN Secretary-General Produces Another UN Report Condemning Israel and Minimizing Palestinian Terror
A newly released report issued by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accuses Israel of damaging Palestinian social and economic conditions, while minimizing Israeli security concerns and whitewashing Palestinian responsibility for their own conditions. The report was drafted by the infamous Lebanon-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), a UN commission which was recently forced to withdraw a report accusing Israel of apartheid and whose former head resigned in wake of the scandal. However, the Secretary-General had no problem putting his name on the new report, which maintains ESCWA's anti-Israel bias.
The report includes a litany of complaints and allegations against Israel:
  • The report accuses Israel of "collective punishment": "During the reporting period, Israel intensified punitive demolitions of Palestinian family homes, a measure that may amount to collective punishment"
  • It criticizes archaeological digs to uncover the history of the Jewish people in the Holy Land over thousands of years as "entrenching" Israeli presence in the West Bank: ". Archaeological excavations, the creation of national parks and the development of tourist activities are other methods employed by Israel to entrench its presence in the West Bank"
  • The report describes Jewish housing in disputed territories as "the root of a broad spectrum of human rights violations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem"
  • It criticizes Israel for preventing potential terrorists from crossing into Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza: ". When rejecting requests by Palestinians from Gaza for permits to enter Israel, Israeli authorities tend to provide only general explanations, usually claiming that the request falls outside the criteria defined in the closure policy or that it was denied on security grounds."
US threatens to replace UN human rights body over anti-Israel stance
The United States has threatened to replace the United Nations Human Rights Council with an alternative group of nations, unless the 47-member body halted its anti-Israel bias and underwent a series of reforms.
“We are either going to reform this thing and make it reflect what it should be reflecting or we will withdraw our support for it,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday in Washington.
Should the US pull out of the UNHRC it would “find other means that we can approach human rights issues on a multi-lateral basis with partners who see it the same way we do,” Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) asked Tillerson about US funding for international organizations in the fiscal 2018 budget, including the Geneva based UNHRC.
“I wish you would reconsider the $10 million you have in there for the UNHRC. That is on top of the $17.5 million that we have spent in the last few years to try to buy friendship with Israel. I will bet you a steak dinner that it is not going to work,” he said.
Tillerson assured that Rooney that his office was examining its engagement with some of those insinuations, specifically the UNHRC, as he issued a number of strong statements about the organization.
“We are looking at those one by one by one and really asking ourselves what is the cost benefit here. In some areas we are either going to reform those or we are going to withdraw from them,” Tillerson said.
Israel requests UN official's expulsion
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is demanding that Robert Piper, a United Nations staffer be replaced after learning of comments he made that were critical of Israel, Walla news site reported.
Israel is also threatening to revoke the residency permit of the staffer, who works as the United Nations Humanitarian Aid and Development Coordinator.
Last week, Piper released a press statement critical of the Israeli government on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War and its subsequent military control over Judea and Samaria.
"Occupation is ugly," said Piper, who is an Australian native. "Living under foreign military rule for years on end generates despair, suffocates initiative, and leaves generations in a kind of political and economic limbo."
If Piper's tenure is not terminated, Israel said that it would be difficult to continue working with him, which could harm coordination of humanitarian aid to Arabs living in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, reports i24News.
Piper has worked with various humanitarian groups and UN development agencies for nearly thirty years. Since 2015, he has served as the "Special Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs and Development for the Occupied Palestinian Territory."
In the past two years, he delivered a series of statements that have caused resentment and anger in Jerusalem.
Tillerson waters down statement that Palestinians ‘changed policy’ of terror payments
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday appeared to walk back his statement that the Palestinians intend to end the practice of paying the families of terrorists jailed for attacking or killing Israelis.
Instead, he said that there was an “active discussion” between Washington and Ramallah on the matter.
“We will continue this dialogue with them,” Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He went on to say that US President Donald Trump has only a “certain window of patience” and “a certain window which he will remain engaged and be interested.”
“At some point,” the top US diplomat added, “he’s going to become disinterested. And when we become disinterested, that will certainly alter our level of support.”
“We’ve taken the position to the Palestinian Authority in a very unequivocal way: You either take care of this yourself or someone else will take care of it for you,” he went on. “Those are the words that I have used with them.”
On Tuesday, Tillerson told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Palestinian leadership “intended” to end its practice that has roiled GOP members of Congress in recent months.
“They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others,” Tillerson said. “We have been very clear with them that this [practice of paying terrorists] is simply not acceptable to us.”
Trump to Boost Aid to Palestinians Despite Ongoing Payments to Terrorists
The Trump administration remains committed to increasing U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinian government despite its ongoing policy of using a portion of these funds to provide monetary aid to terrorists who have carried out attacks on Israel, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, contradicting his earlier statements this week that the Palestinians had reversed its policy of paying terrorists.
Tillerson, testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was asked to explain his remarks earlier this week claiming that the Palestinian government had stopped its longstanding policy of paying terrorists salaries using aid granted by the U.S. government, a claim that was almost immediately rebutted by Palestinian and Israeli officials.
The secretary of state claimed on Tuesday that the Palestinian government had given him assurances that it was no longer providing aid to terrorists and their families, a statement that raised confusion in the region and prompted pushback.
Palestinian officials stated on Wednesday that they have no intent to stop these terror payments. However, the Trump administration still endorses a budget proposal that would increase aid to the Palestinian government by nearly five percent, bringing the total amount of U.S. aid to around $215 million.
The increase in aid to the Palestinians, who continue to sponsor and incite terror attacks on Israel, drew opposition from Democrats and Republicans who criticized Tillerson for seeking to increase this aid while cutting the overall State Department budget by more than 30 percent. This includes a massive funding cut to overseas security for U.S. facilities, a move that has prompted security concerns.
The Palestinian Authority has "not complied with their commitments under U.S. law, yet all potential sanctions were waived," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) said during the hearing. "How can you justify and increase [the aid], when so many things in the budget were cut, but the PA has an increase in your budget request."
Jews in Kurdistan, Diaspora Issue Joint Statement Supporting Kurdish Independence
On Sunday, Jews in the Kurdistan Region and the Diaspora, along with the State of Israel and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Representative for the Jewish community Sherzad Omar Mamsani, issued a joint statement expressing support for the KRG’s decision to hold a referendum vote on their independence on September 25, 2017.
“We as Kurdish-Jews in Kurdistan, the Diaspora, and Israel support the independence referendum,” the joint statement read, according to Kurdistan 24. “We must have a united voice on the ownership of the land, water, and sky within the framework of an independent and tolerant Kurdistan.”
It also stated that, “After 100 years of being stateless and oppressed, today the people of Kurdistan have gotten the opportunity to have a state of their own. The Kurdish-Jewish community warmly welcomes the referendum for Kurdistan’s independence.”
The Jews and Kurds have historically had a good relationship.
Kurdistan 24 notes, “The Kurdistan Region used to be home to a large population of Kurdish Jews in the past century, but in the early 1950s, faced threats and expulsion by the Iraqi governments, which pushed a vast majority of them to flee abroad and to Israel.”
The Kurds reportedly said the move to hold a referendum vote in September is beyond the point of return.
Palestinian mayor in Hebron brushes off his murderous past
For Palestinians, the new mayor of Hebron is a hero who they hope will improve their city. But to Israelis, the new leader of the divided West Bank city is an unrepentant murderer.
Weeks after the former PLO fighter took office, Tayseer Abu Sneineh is a contentious figure in the West Bank’s most volatile city, showing no remorse for his role in an attack 37 years ago but saying he is now committed to pursuing a peace agreement with Israel.
He sports a short gray beard today, but as a 26-year-old math teacher he took part in an attack in Hebron on Israeli settlers returning home from Friday night Sabbath prayers on May 2, 1980. Six people were killed and 16 wounded.
Abu Sneineh was convicted as one of the gunmen and sentenced to life in prison. But he was released three years later in a prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization and deported to Algeria. He returned to the West Bank, along with other exiled PLO figures, after the Oslo interim peace agreement was signed in 1993.
Abu Sneineh says the attack, one of the deadliest on West Bank settlers, was justified.
“They all were armed settlers and soldiers, no women or children,” he recalled. “We attacked them with guns and hand grenades.”
“We wanted to send a message to the settlers that this is our city and they have to leave,” Abu Sneineh added.
Israel advancing 14,000 Palestinian homes in Area C, right-wing warns
The Samaria Regional Council intends to file an immediate objection to IDF plans to expand the municipal boundaries of the city of Kalkilya and include 14,000 new homes in Area C of the West Bank.
The council and right-wing politicians are concerned the move will allow that territory to become part of a Palestinian state in any final-status agreement for a two-state solution.
Channel 2 first reported the story on Wednesday night, which was confirmed by the Samaria Regional Council and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The report comes amid reports that the US would like to see Israel approve Palestinian construction in Area C and hand over portions of that territory to the Palestinian Authority.
Area C is under Israeli military and civil control. All the Palestinian cities, including Kalkilya, are under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and are located in Area A of the West Bank.
“Has this government gone completely crazy?” asked Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who first learned of the Kalkilya expansion plans by chance while visiting the Civil Administration. His office has sent out the plans to the media.
Abbas mulls declaring Gaza a rebel district, PA official says
"[Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] is considering declaring the Gaza Strip a rebel district soon," a senior Palestinian Authority official close to Abbas told Israel Hayom on Wednesday. This comes a decade after the brutal Hamas takeover of Gaza and the violent expulsion of dozens of Palestinian Authority officials and their families from the strip.
The move, a "doomsday weapon" for Abbas to use against Hamas in the internal Palestinian conflict, according to the official, is aimed at pressuring Hamas to hand control of Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority
Implementing the plan would mean immediately declaring a state of emergency throughout Gaza while simultaneously issuing emergency orders designating certain groups and movements as "rebels." In such an event, Hamas would be outlawed and all its assets -- including institutions, funds and bank accounts -- will be frozen. In addition, arrest warrants will be issued against the heads of the organization.
Likewise, the Palestinian Authority will cease paying the salaries of public servants in Gaza, and will ask the U.N., the Arab League and various international bodies to discontinue international aid to Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority would also petition the Palestinian Supreme Court, seeking to declare the Palestinian parliament illegal, thereby revoking lawmakers' diplomatic immunity, disbanding the government and paving the way for an interim government for as long as the state of emergency continues.
Palestinian Authority Says Gazans Suffering a ‘Second Nakba’ Under Hamas Rule
Stepping up rhetoric against its rival, the Palestinian Authority (PA) issued a statement on Wednesday describing the 10th anniversary of Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip as ushering in “the second Nakba that struck our people.” More commonly, the Arab world describes Israel’s victory in the 1948 War of Independence as the “Nakba,” meaning “catastrophe.”
The PA said Hamas, which violently ousted the PA from Gaza in June 2007, has “turned the Gaza Strip into an intolerable hell.” The statement comes amid deteriorating ties between the Palestinian factions.
Earlier this week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced a reduction in payments to Israel for electricity the Jewish state provides to Gaza. In April, the PA slashed the salaries of its Gaza-based employees. The moves appear to represent an attempt at pressuring Hamas to allow the PA to regain control over the coastal territory.
The Palestinian Authority this week escalated its struggle with Hamas aimed at regaining control of the Gaza Strip, by further reducing the supply of electricity to its some 2 million residents to just about three hours a day.
The PA found Israel to be a willing partner in increasing the pressure on the Hamas terrorist regime. As the PA and Israel endlessly quibble about resuming the stalled peace negotiations, at least both appear determined to first oust Hamas in order to free Gazans from its deathly grip.
In acceding to Abbas’s request to reduce the supply of current to Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel does not seek a confrontation with the Islamist movement.
“The issue of electricity in Gaza is a dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony in Be’er Ya’acov. “Hamas is demanding that the PA pay for the electricity, and the Palestinian Authority is refusing to pay. It is an internal Palestinian dispute.”
The world must know by now that Hamas would have the money to pay for the Strip’s power needs, and to rebuild the homes its people lost in the 2014 conflict, if it didn’t divert its foreign-donated resources to rebuilding the attack tunnels destroyed by Israel and otherwise preparing for war.
The world should also know by now why Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 did not lead to the establishment of enlightened self-rule, but rather to the creation of an Islamist terrorist state on its southern border that still loudly declares its deluded commitment to Israel’s destruction.
'Unilateral disengagement from Gaza Strip was a mistake'
Twelve years after Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, Maj. Gen (res.) Yair Naveh, then GOC Central Command and later deputy chief of staff, believes reality has proven the move has failed to give Israel any security or diplomatic advantage.
The 2005 unilateral disengagement from the coastal enclave saw Israel evict Gush Katif, a bloc of 17 communities in southern Gaza, and return to its 1967 border with the Strip. As part of the plan, Israel also evicted four secluded settlements in northern Samaria. The move, during which 8,600 Israelis lost their homes, remains highly controversial to this day, as many believe it is directly linked to the increased terrorist activity and rocket fire emanating from Gaza.
"There's no doubt that we weren't able to create any sort of security advantage, neither in Gaza nor in Samaria, Naveh said in a special interview with Israel Hayom. "If the disengagement from Gaza contributed anything to history, it did so by proving that terrorism has nothing to do with the settlement enterprise, and by proving that an eviction of this nature cannot be carried out in such a way again.
"There was no advantage to this eviction. None. Zero. Nothing has changed for the better there. It had no added value to security or to anything else. It was a frustrating event that left a feeling that it was all for nothing," he said.
Next week, Naveh will participate in a conference of coalition lawmakers who plan to introduce legislation that would allow the residents of Kadim, Ganim, Homesh and Sa-Nur -- the four northern Samaria settlements evicted in 2005 -- to re-establish their communities.
Hamas could easily solve Gaza’s electricity crisis, but prefers to finance tunnels and rockets
This process raises the possibility of another war between Israel and Hamas. Some see the Israeli cabinet’s agreement to the PA’s request to reduce electricity supplies as a step that could pave the way for another round of violence.
But Israel didn’t have too many options. It can’t decide of its own accord to deduct Gaza’s electricity costs from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA. And Israeli funding for electricity in Gaza is also not a realistic option.
Meantime, everyone is blaming everybody else. Hamas is trying to put the blame for the power crisis on the PA (and Israel); the PA is putting the blame on Hamas; and in the middle of it all, up pops Dahlan.
In the past few days, those close to Dahlan have leaked details of meetings he recently held in Cairo with a Hamas delegation led by the terror group’s new Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar. Dahlan’s camp is trying to sell a story that he reached an understanding with Egypt and Hamas on a formula to resolve the crisis — without restoring PA rule in Gaza.
Egyptian sources adamantly deny this, but it seems that Dahlan and Hamas are doing everything they can to give Gazans the feeling that all their woes are caused by Abbas. According to his people, Dahlan, a sworn opponent of the PA president, could solve the crisis, while Abbas, professing to seek Palestinian unity, is seeking to abuse the Gaza population by exacerbating it.
Make no mistake, both the PA and Hamas are maneuvering at the expense of the Gaza population — which amounts to real collective punishment. And still, the bottom line is clear: Those who took control of Gaza in a military coup and since then invested more than $1 billion in their military infrastructure, could have easily directed their resources to resolve Gaza’s problems. But what is the value of another few hours of electricity for the people of Gaza, compared to another few tunnels or rockets?
Honest Reporting: The Gaza Energy Crisis: A Catch-22
Israel for its part, will demand that the international community find solutions to prevent the predicted crisis in Gaza – even through direct work with Hamas or its Gazan representative, while bypassing the PA. This might be a creative solution and will probably solve the problems of the predictable crisis.
But in addition to the looming security threat that Israel must deal with, one must ask if this will serve a future two state solution or create a new reality requiring a three state solution.
Meanwhile, with the PA demanding a reduction in the amount of electricity supplied by Israel to the Strip, an important question must be asked regarding Ramallah’s relationship to Gaza. Is the PA taking responsibility for the situation, or are Ramallah officials really washing their hands of Gaza? Regardless, Israel finds itself bearing the weight of Hamas’s accusations – despite the energy reduction being a PA demand, Egypt has an unmentioned role in supplying energy, and many facets of a feasible solution lie in the hands of Hamas itself.
Unfortunately, the only ones that have paid, are paying, and will continue paying the price in this paradox are the residents of Gaza. In all probability, Hamas will not relinquish its power over the Strip, and as a result the PA will not be able to return to governing Gaza. That reality will prevent Egypt from changing its present policy toward the Gaza Strip, and will also deny Israel the security guarantees it requires. In short, any energy solutions for the Strip will continue to support Gaza terror.
Any solution must provide an answer to the financial issues, Israel’s need for security guarantees, and the expected humanitarian price while also taking into consideration that any solution enforced while Hamas is in power will be viewed by Hamas as a win for their policy of terror.
What happens next? Will Hamas take the risk (as happened in Protective Edge) and turn to another round of violence to try and, ironically, improve the situation in Gaza? Or is the present situation restraining Hamas from another round with Israel?
Only the future will tell.
10 Years of Hamas in Gaza

Egypt Pressing Hamas To Accept Fatah Strongman Mahmamed Dahlan’s Involvement in Gaza
The Egyptian government has been pressuring the leaders of Hamas to accept the official involvement of Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan in the Gaza Strip, an Arab intelligence source told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Dahlan, a prominent figure in Gaza until Hamas’ forceful takeover in 2007, oversaw preventative security in the Strip from the establishment of the Palestinian Authority until the coup. Today, he’s considered one of the strongest political rivals to Palestinian President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas.
Dahlan is very close to Egyptian President Abel Fattah Al-Sisi and the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
According to the source, a Hamas delegation led by the organization’s Gaza political chief, Yehya Sinwar, visited Egypt this week, where they met with Egyptian officials responsible for Palestinian affairs. The delegation is said to have been told that, as far as Egypt is concerned, any breakthrough in the crisis in the Gaza Strip and the blockade imposed on it can’t happen without other non-Hamas Palestinian entities being involved in managing life in the enclave.
The source said Egypt understands that “The Gaza Strip doesn’t interest Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and he is incapable of returning to be the undisputed leader of the Strip’s residents, so Egypt’s preferred alternative is that a figure acceptable to the Israelis, the Americans, Egypt and their allies in the Persian Gulf be involved in any reconstruction in the Strip. And Dahlan is that person without a doubt.”
Jordan movie theater apologizes for screening ‘Wonder Woman’
A popular movie theater in Jordan’s capital, Amman, apologized Wednesday for screening Wonder Woman and pulled additional showings of the superhero movie because it stars Israeli Gal Gadot.
Jordan had been considering banning the film outright, but a report in the Al Bawaba News on Sunday said the country’s Communications Commission ultimately decided not to, due to a lack of a legal precedent on the issue.
Last week, both Lebanon and Tunisia banned Wonder Woman over Gadot’s role. Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and bans Israeli products.
Though Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1994, a campaign against normalizing ties with Israel called for an official boycott of the American movie.
“We remind the Jordanians of their obligation to boycott the film, and we refuse to be partners to the crimes of the Zionists and to increase their profits from this film,” a statement from one of the campaigners said last week, according to the Ynet news website. “The Arab audience will not be involved in projects that represent Zionism and the Israeli army.”
'Lebanon banned the movie because... it has a woman who speaks.'
In case you missed it, Gal Gadot aka Wonder Woman is taking the world by storm, and Israel could not be prouder. Some countries, however, have banned the film allegedly because the lead actress is an Israeli who served in the IDF.
Yohay Sponder and Shahar Hason, two of the very funny Israeli comedians doing stand-up in English, explain the 'real' reason Lebanon and other Arab countries won't show the international blockbuster, plus their thoughts on Gilad Shalit, texting while driving, and NYC taxi drivers.
IsraellyCool: Egyptian TV Show Prank Shows How They REALLY Feel About Israel
Those crazy kids over in Egypt love themselves prank shows. So much so, that every year, the controversy resurfaces over them during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This year, a member of the Egyptian parliamentary Media and Culture Committee, called on media bodies to stop all such prank shows during Ramadan.
I can understand why. These pranks don’t always go so well. Like a few years ago when the palestinian comedian almost got burnt to death. And the pranks involving Israel are particularly susceptible to failure.
But don’t tell that to the Egyptians. They sure love to use Israel as a source of their prank shenanigans!
Russian Military Teams With Hezbollah to Launch Strikes In Syria
Russian military forces reportedly carried out joint operations in Syria with the Iranian-backed terror organization Hezbollah, according to regional media reports that further highlight Tehran's increased efforts to combat U.S.-aligned forces in the country and those opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian air force provided cover for Hezbollah forces during a "large scale" operation in Syria's contested Homs province, according to reports in Iran's state-controlled media that quoted "military sources."
"Russian warplanes kept pounding the movements and gatherings of the terrorists in the region," according to Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency. "Russian helicopters played a crucial role in supporting the Syrian soldiers on the frontlines, while the Russian bombers carried out several rounds of combat sorties on ISIL's supply routes preventing them from deploying reinforcements."
Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed forces have additionally stepped up efforts in recent weeks to target U.S. coalition forces operating in the war torn country. Hezbollah has vowed to attack American forces, which recently were attacked by an Iranian-controlled drone.
Iranian Navy Missile Boat Harasses Three U.S. Navy Ships, Marine Helicopter in Strait of Hormuz
Three U.S. Navy ships and a Marine helicopter were harassed during a night transit of the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, U.S. 5th Fleet officials told USNI News on Wednesday.
An Iranian Navy Houdong-class guided-missile boat came within 800 yards of a formation of amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5), guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG-67) and dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11) and harassed the formation beginning with shining a spotlight on Cole.
“Shortly thereafter, the Iranian vessel trained a laser on a CH-53E helicopter that accompanied the formation,” U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban told USNI News on Wednesday.
“The Iranian vessel then proceeded to turn its spotlight on Bataan, scanning the ship from bow to stern and stern to bow before heading outbound from the formation.”
The encounter was, “unsafe and unprofessional due to the Iranian vessel shining a laser on one of the formation’s helicopters. Illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles.”
A Navy official confirmed to USNI News that the laser shined by the Iranian Navy vessel triggered the CH-53’s countermeasure system.
State Department, D.C. Police Confirm Arrests in Attack on Protesters Outside Turkish Ambassador’s D.C. Residence
The State Department and Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that two people have been arrested for their actions during an attack by supporters and employees of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on protesters in Washington, D.C.
"Sinan Narin, of Virginia, charged with felony Aggravated Assault and misdemeanor Assault or Threatened Assault in a Menacing Manner," Rachel Reid, MPD public affairs specialist, told the Free Beacon. "Eyup Yildirim, of New Jersey, charged with felony Assault with Significant Bodily Injury, felony Aggravated Assault and misdemeanor Assault or Threatened Assault in a Menacing Manner."
The State Department said the arrests are part of their commitment to hold the perpetrators accountable.
"The Department would like to thank the Department of Justice and the investigative agencies for their diligence," a State Department spokesperson told the Free Beacon. "We are committed to holding those responsible for the violence on May 16 accountable. As we have previously stated, the events surrounding the conduct of Turkish Security personnel during President Erdogan's visit to the United States are troubling."
The agency said it will consider taking additional measures against the two men.
"Now that charges have been filed, the Department will weigh additional actions for the named individuals, as appropriate under relevant laws and regulations," the spokesperson said. "Any further steps will be responsive and proportional to the charges or arrests."

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