Tuesday, October 17, 2017

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The opportunities and risks of Trump's Iran initiative
So long as the US continues to maintain a policy based on the false view that all that is necessary to destroy the threat of a nuclear armed Iran is a combination of the nuclear deal and economic sanctions, it will continue to ensure that Iran and its nuclear program remain a major threat. Distressingly, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, the most outspoken supporter of decertifying Iranian compliance in the Trump administration, told NBC on Sunday that the US intends to remain in the nuclear deal.

To understand what must be done we must return to Trump’s speech and its strategic significance.

By taking a holistic view of the Iranian threat – grounded in a recognition of the inherent hostility of the regime – Trump opened up the possibility that the US and its allies can develop a holistic policy for confronting and defeating Iran and its proxies. If the Iran deal and sanctions are two components to a larger strategy rather than the entire strategy, they can be helpful.

A wider strategy would target Iran’s regional aggression by weakening its proxies and clients from Hezbollah and Hamas to the regimes in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. It would target the regime itself by empowering the ayatollahs’ domestic opponents. It would pin down Iranian forces by arming and otherwise assisting the Iraqi Kurds to defend and maintain their control over their territory along the Iranian border while strengthening the ties between Iranian Kurds and Iraqi Kurds.

Friday, Trump created the possibility for such a strategy. It is up to members of Congress, and US allies like Israel and the Sunni Arab states to help Trump conceive and implement it. If they fail, the possibility Trump created will be lost, perhaps irrevocably.

Amb. Dore Gold: There Is a Precedent for Renegotiating Flawed Agreements
Is it realistic to try to deal with the flaws in the Iran agreement and change them? In fact, there's precedent for it. In 1979, the Carter Administration negotiated the SALT-2 treaty with the Soviet Union. Whereas the Iran agreement was never a formal treaty, SALT-2 was a negotiated treaty.

But the SALT-2 treaty was flawed. It did not adequately address the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It put a limit on the growth of the nuclear forces of the two superpowers, but it didn't reduce them.

Subsequently, however, a new administration came into power under President Ronald Reagan and he decided a different approach was necessary. It was called START - strategic arms reduction talks. Rather than limiting the growth of nuclear weapons, it reduced them, and this became the preferred approach.

During the last few weeks a number of flaws in the Iran agreement have come out, but the one that received the most focus was "Section T" of the JCPOA. What Section T tries to do is define activities in the area of weaponization that are prohibited. But, of course, Iran has not allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency or anyone to do proper verification to see that Section T in the Iran agreement has been addressed by them.

This is a huge flaw. One has to remember that in the May 2011 report of the International Atomic Energy Agency, there are frightening details about the Iranian nuclear program that include weaponization activities. It says that the Iranians were conducting design work and modeling studies involving the removal of the conventional explosive payload from the warhead of a Shahab-3 missile and replacing it with a spherical nuclear payload.

Presently, President Trump's strategy to reopen the Iran agreement to remove the flaws and produce an agreement that will safely protect the interests of the West is the only reasonable approach.

Benjamin Netanyahu commends Trump's decision on Iran
Joining me right now is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Prime Minister it's wonderful to see you. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.


BARTIROMO: You congratulated and commended the president's action on this deal. Why was it so important for President Trump to make this move?

NETANYAHU: Well, look, Iran is the foremost terrorist state of our time. It hangs gays, jails journalists, subjugates women, and foments terrorism throughout the world and wild aggression in the Middle East. To have a regime like this, that is -- whose economy is 30 times the size of North Korea, to have a rogue regime like that acquire an arsenal of nuclear weapons in 10 years' time, which is what the Iran agreement now provides Iran to do, is a terrible folly.

So I commend the president for taking a historic and bold decision to avert this danger in time.

He could have kicked the can down the road. He could have said it's not going to happen on my watch so I'll just let it go. But he didn't. And he's faced up to this danger. And I think he gave an opportunity for all of us in the Middle East and beyond to fix this deal, fix it or nix it, because it could be very, very dangerous if it just went through.

Netanyahu Fires Blistering Attack On Iran's Foreign Minister
On Saturday, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javid Zarif, sent a chilling message on Twitter, urging all Iranians to view themselves as members of Iran’s murderous Revolutionary Guard.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back on Twitter with a blistering attack on Zarif and a message to the beleaguered Iranians held captive by the theocratic regime in Iran; Netanyahu envisioned a brighter day when the Iranian people will be free. The text of Netanyahu’s message is below:

I hope you’re sitting down, because this one’s a whopper. Iran’s Foreign Minister just tweeted that all Iranian boys and girls, all Iranian men and women, see themselves as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

I’d love to know what the Iranian people think of that tweet. Sadly, the Iranian regime bans them from using Twitter. Ironic, don’t you think? Apparently I have a higher opinion of the Iranian people than their leaders. See, I’m sure that ordinary Iranians aren’t proud when the Revolutionary Guard murders innocent men and women around the globe. I’m sure that ordinary Iranian mothers and fathers wouldn’t have blown up a Jewish community center in Argentina filled with little children. Because that’s what the Revolutionary Guard did. I’m sure that ordinary Iranians want to live in peace, and don’t want their governments to shoot students in the streets, hang gays from cranes, torture journalists in prison.

One day the Iranian people will be free; free to tweet; free to express how they felt when their dictators compared them to the Iranian version of ISIOS.

So I have a simple message for Iran’s Foreign Minister: Delete your account.

Ministers put kibosh on peace talks after Fatah-Hamas unity deal
Israel’s top-level security cabinet on Tuesday said the government would no longer hold peace talks with the Palestinian Authority following the reconciliation agreement it reached with Hamas unless the terror group renounced terrorism and recognized the Jewish state.

In a statement, the security cabinet, made up of senior ministers, listed a number of conditions that must be met before Israel would resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians, including the dissolution of Hamas’s arsenal; the return of Israeli citizens and the bodies of IDF soldiers being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip; the restoration of PA security control in Gaza, including at border crossings; continued action by the PA against Hamas’s “terror infrastructure” in the West Bank; and the end of Hamas’s ties with Iran.

The ministers said Hamas must forswear terrorism and recognize the Jewish state in accordance with the conditions of the Middle East Quartet, which comprises the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

It also said any aid or humanitarian equipment destined for Gaza must pass through the PA and the systems in place meant to thwart smuggling to the terror group.

While the statement said Israel would no longer engage in peace talks until the conditions are met, it did not say Israel would cut ties with the PA or end security cooperation.
JCPA: How the Palestinian “Unity” Talks Put Iran in the Mix
On October 16, 2017, the Fatah leadership met in Ramallah (the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority) and took no decision to remove the penalties they imposed on Gaza. Hamas’ official website reacted angrily. The movement’s mouthpiece Al-Risala sought the views of the spokesmen of “the organizations,” and they all said they were disappointed that Fatah was not responding to Hamas’ positive measures and was acting to scuttle the reconciliation efforts.

Why is this important? Because the next stop in the “road map” prepared by Egypt is a large conference of “the organizations” in Cairo aimed at hitching them to the reconciliation train and committing them to an agreement if it is reached.

Who are “the organizations”? All of them are armed, radical groups that are not prepared to give up the struggle against Israel; they include the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Islamic Jihad, and others. Because Iran has a strong standing among several of these groups, such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front, adding them to the reconciliation process also entails adding Iran as an actor seeking to obstruct and thwart it.

Behind the organizations’ backs, Hamas has been proclaiming that it expects the penalties Mahmoud Abbas imposed on it to be lifted and that if this is not done, the whole process will come to a halt. Hamas says that it will not be to blame, but rather Ramallah will be at fault and that it will be “the organizations,” not Hamas, that will put a stop to the process.
Tony Blair: ‘We were wrong to boycott Hamas after its election win’
Tony Blair has said for the first time that he and other world leaders were wrong to yield to Israeli pressure to impose an immediate boycott of Hamas after the Islamic faction won Palestinian elections in 2006.

As prime minister at the time, Blair offered strong support for the decision – driven by the George W Bush White House – to halt aid to, and cut off relations with, the newly elected Hamas-led Palestinian Authority unless it agreed to recognise Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous agreements between its Fatah predecessors and Israel. The ultimatum was rejected by Hamas. The elections were judged free and fair by international monitors.

Blair, who became envoy of the Middle East quartet – composed of the US, EU, UN and Russia – after leaving Downing Street, now says the international community should have tried to “pull Hamas into a dialogue”. The boycott and Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza, which began the following year, are still in force today. A UN report two years ago said the combined effects of the blockade and the three military offensives conducted in Gaza by Israel since 2009 could make the territory “uninhabitable” by 2020. Humanitarian conditions have worsened markedly since the report was written.

Interviewed for my new book Gaza: Preparing for Dawn, out later this month, Blair said: “In retrospect I think we should have, right at the very beginning, tried to pull [Hamas] into a dialogue and shifted their positions. I think that’s where I would be in retrospect.

“But obviously it was very difficult, the Israelis were very opposed to it.
But you know we could have probably worked out a way whereby we did – which in fact we ended up doing anyway, informally.” (h/t Serious Black)
PMW: Union threatened Palestinian artists with expulsion if they engaged in "normalization" with Israel
In accordance with the Palestinian Authority’s policy of rejecting any joint event or peace building activity with Israel - referred to as “normalization” - the General Union of Palestinian Expressionist Artists demanded that Palestinian artists not participate in the Mekudeshet Festival in Jerusalem last month.

Before the festival, the union of Palestinian artists announced that it would “expel” any Palestinian artist who participated in the festival:

“The General Union of Palestinian Expressionist Artists has demanded that all artists not participate in the festival as it is a normalization festival that serves the Israeli agendas.
Secretary of the Artists' Union Musa Al-Hafez said to [the independent Palestinian news agency] Wattan that ‘The union rejects the participation of any Palestinian artist in the rally, and it will expel any artist who is proven to have participated in any ceremony or festival whose goal is to create normalization with the occupation.'”

[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, Sept. 7, 2017]

Palestinian Media Watch has previously documented similar examples of the PA’s rejection of joint events between Palestinians and Israelis. After the Gaza War in 2014, Palestinian boys met with Israeli boys to play football. This bridge building activity was described by PA sports official Jibril Rajoub as “a crime against humanity”:

Jibril Rajoub, then Deputy Secretary of Fatah's Central Committee and Head of the Palestinian Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs:
"Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 8, 2014]
UN Elects more Human Rights Abusers to its "Human Rights" Council: Will Trump Fulfill Promise to Pull Out?
A new group of human rights violators has been elected by the UN General Assembly to the UN's top human rights body, and Islamic states have increased their choke-hold over the institution. On October 20, 2017, the UN General Assembly chose new members of the UN Human Rights Council, each given three-year terms starting in January 2018. With today's election, human rights authority figures on the Council will now include the likes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, and Angola, along with Qatar which was re-elected. The process and the outcome are diametrically opposed to the Trump administration's demand for UN reform, making a pullout from the Human Rights Council compelling and timely.

Seats on the Council are divided into five regional groups, with the African and Asian regional groups holding the majority – 26 of 47 seats in total. After today's results, 13 members of the African and Asian regional groups (50%) will be from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, increasing the power of Islamic states to use the Council to demonize Israel and wreak havoc on the protection of human rights.

The "election" was more sham than anything else. The process allowed UN regional groups to submit fixed slates, in which the number of states running was equal to the number of seats that the regional group was allotted. As part of the African regional group's fixed slate, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Angola won guaranteed seats. The fact that both are ranked by Freedom House in the lowest possible category of human rights protection ("not free") proved irrelevant. Angola received 187, and the DRC 151, of the 193 votes cast by the member states of the General Assembly - an extraordinary and appalling stamp of approval.

Also irrelevant to the "election" of the DRC, was the fact that the country had not even bothered to make a pledge to protect human rights. The UN General Assembly resolution that created the Council back in 2006 was heralded for providing "when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto."

The DRC did manage this colorful one-page handout on the day of the election – claiming this notorious human rights abuser and contributor to refugee crises was a force of "stability of the African Continent."
Haley slams UN for electing Congo to rights council despite abuses
The United States and human rights groups sharply criticized Monday’s UN election for 15 new members of the Human Rights Council, singling out conflict-torn Congo’s victory despite accusations of serious rights abuses and an investigation by the UN’s top human rights body.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley called the election “yet another example of why the Human Rights Council lacks credibility and must be reformed in order to be saved.”

Haley previously dangled the possibility that the United States could quit the council during a visit to its Geneva headquarters in June, when she lambasted the 47-nation body as a “forum for politics, hypocrisy and evasion” that allows rights abusers to whitewash their images and foes of Israel to criticize the Jewish state unfairly.

In a statement after the 193-member General Assembly voted Congo onto the Human Rights Council as part of an uncontested African slate for a three-year term starting Jan. 1, Haley said the rights organization “cannot endure many more blows to its credibility before it is rendered absolutely meaningless.”

Haley called Congo “a country infamous for political suppression, violence against women and children, arbitrary arrest and detention, and unlawful killings and disappearances” and said its unopposed election is another spur to US-led efforts to reform the Human Rights Council.
The Australian Editorial: UN human rights reform vital
"Australia's election to membership of the controversial, 47-nation UN Human Rights Council is a significant success for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and the protracted global campaign waged by our diplomats to win the seat. There should be no illusion about the challenge we face, however, in achieving what Ms Bishop has rightly identified as one of our main goals in joining: achieving long-overdue reform of a body whose hypocritically pontificating membership includes some of the world's most egregious human rights abusers, ever ready to point fingers at others. States such as Venezuela, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt have helped ensure, as US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has pointed out, the council's focus is perpetually on denouncing the purported human rights depredations of one country, Israel. At the same time, the council has been far less concerned about atrocities such as the bloodbaths in Syria and Yemen and the plight of Myanmar's Rohingya minority.

Israel, uniquely, is a fixed item on the UNHRC's agenda. As Ms Haley has said, 'When the council passes more than 70 resolutions against Israel, a country with a strong human rights record, and just seven resolutions against Iran, a country with an abysmal human rights record, you know something is seriously wrong.'

Paradoxically, coinciding with Australia's election, the Trump administration is preparing to quit the UNHRC following its decision last week to abandon membership of the Paris-based UNESCO, one of the UN's biggest and most important agencies. The reasoning in both instances is that neither UN body is doing its job and is fixated by 'anti-Israel bias'.
Scolding UNESCO, GOP lawmakers introduce resolution on Jewish ties to Jerusalem
After the Trump administration withdrew the United States from UNESCO over what it called its “anti-Israel bias,” two GOP lawmakers introduced a resolution that condemns the UN cultural organization and affirms Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

The UN body has, in recent years, passed a series of its own resolutions denying a Jewish link to the holy city.

On Israel’s Independence Day this year, the UN cultural agency passed a motion that many Israelis saw as denying Jewish historical or religious ties to Jerusalem. Such measures were cited as one reason the US decided to pull out of the agency last week.

On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, followed up on the move by authoring a resolution that “recognizes and affirms the historical connection of the Jewish people to the ancient and sacred city of Jerusalem.”

It goes on to cite archaeologically excavated sites, like the City of David, that contain vast quantities of antiquities from the ancient Jewish and Christian presence in the city.
Netanyahu pushes for bill to ban Breaking the Silence, BDS NGOs
New legislation supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would shut down any organization that seeks to harm IDF soldiers or try IDF soldiers in international courts.

The bill would also ban NGOs that promote a boycott of Israel or any area in its controls, meaning that it would apply to settlement boycotts, Channel 2 reported on Monday night.

The new details followed Sunday’s unanimous decision by the coalition to launch a two-pronged attack on foreign funding of political NGOs, consisting of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into “the involvement of foreign governments in the funding of political organizations and activities to harm IDF soldiers,” and legislation that will be more stringent than the current laws requiring organizations to report foreign funding and announce it publicly if more than half of their budget comes from a foreign political entity.

The vast majority of organizations that are mostly funded by foreign governments – 25 of 27 NGOs listed by the Justice Ministry in 2016 – are left-wing.
Amid jitters over far-right, Austria’s Kurz vows no anti-Semitism in coalition
Austria’s election winner Sebastian Kurz, who may form a coalition with the far right, vowed “zero tolerance” on anti-Semitism in any future government, in an interview published in Israel on Tuesday.

“The battle against anti-Semitism and our policy of zero tolerance against all anti-Semitic tendencies is very important to me,” Kurz told the right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper.

“It is a clear precondition for the formation of any coalition under my leadership,” the 31-year-old conservative told the paper, which is a firm backer of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kurz’s People’s Party (OeVP) won 31.5 percent of the vote on Sunday, near-complete results show, and his most likely coalition partner is seen as the populist Freedom Party (FPOe), third at 26%.

Media reports said the two parties were already engaged in intensive behind-the-scene talks, with the FPOe demanding key ministerial positions.
IsraellyCool: American Jewish Congress’ Huge Gaffe
Oh American Jewish Congress, you didn’t!
(Austria/Australia same difference)
Trump's critics on Iran are wrong
On Friday, President Trump announced he will not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal signed by his predecessor. I’m sure most of us spent the weekend inundated with thought pieces declaring this a major misstep or some kind of politically motivated gambit that plays fast and loose with global security. But they’re all wrong. With this bold action, we’re finally on the path toward a safer Middle East.

Iran remains an immense threat to the United States and our allies, and decertification is a serious first step towards mitigating the harm Tehran is causing around the globe. Today’s less covered announcement by the Treasury Department that it would apply further sanctions to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is an important second step, too.

Both of these actions must be viewed through a lens that’s wider than the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action itself. They’re not about the Iran deal, they’re about U.S. policy toward Iran. Viewing the JCPOA as an island unto itself was one of President Obama’s key mistakes. Fixing that mistake will make us all safer.

First, it’s important to understand exactly what President Trump announced. When President Obama entered into the agreement, he didn’t seek approval from the Senate, which has the constitutional obligation to ratify all international treaties, because the deal was extremely unpopular. Instead, Congress reached a compromise and passed a bill called the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, requiring the administration to certify every 90 days that the JCPOA is advancing our national security interests.

Decertifying the JCPOA doesn’t end it. It doesn’t mean that the United States is pulling out of the agreement either. But it does provide an opportunity for Congress to reevaluate whether the deal is advancing our national security interests.

The answer to that question is easy to determine. We know for a fact that Iran is preventing international inspectors from doing their jobs at military sites. We know for a fact that Tehran’s work on ballistic missiles continues unabated. We know that the deal’s sunset clauses will allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon with international support if they just wait a few more years, too.
Stressing AMIA bombing link, Netanyahu looks to highlight IRGC’s terror role
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of being centrally involved in carrying out the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. But was it really the IRGC, a part of Iran’s military forces, that was behind the deadly attack?

Netanyahu has long blamed the Islamic Republic for commissioning the bombing, but has previously stated that it was the Lebanese-Shiite militia Hezbollah that carried it out — as established by the Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

“Iran initiated, planned and carried out these horrible attacks through its proxy, Hezbollah,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony at the site of the bombing last month.

The IRGC was in the news lately as the US administration leveled additional sanctions against its officials and threatened to declare it a foreign terrorist organization.

“The Revolutionary Guard is the Iranian Supreme Leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia,” US President Donald Trump said Friday.

“It has hijacked large portions of Iran’s economy and seized massive religious endowments to fund war and terror abroad. This includes arming the Syrian dictator, supplying proxies and partners with missiles and weapons to attack civilians in the region, and even plotting to bomb a popular restaurant right here in Washington, DC.”
Iran Vows to ‘Follow N. Korea’ Nuke Pathway After Deal Decertification
Senior Iran leaders praised the North Korean regime this weekend and claimed the Islamic Republic is encouraged to follow Pyongyang's nuclear pathway following the Trump administration's decision last week to decertify Iranian compliance with the landmark nuclear agreement.

Iran's threat to become the next North Korea, which has itself played a longtime and key role in providing the Islamic Republic with nuclear technology and know-how, is likely to set the stage for increased confrontation with the United States following President Donald Trump's decision to request that Congress reconsider the nuclear agreement to make it far tougher for Iran to continue its military buildup and pursuit of nuclear equipment.

Iran is more likely to follow the North Korean nuclear model—which includes the illicit transfer of nuclear technology and the routine test of this equipment—despite the U.S. decision to remain a party to the nuclear agreement in the short term. Congress now has 60 days to decide whether it will reimpose all economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the Obama administration as part of the agreement.

Iranian leaders spent a large portion of the weekend threatening the United States and vowing to "continue the path" to a nuclear weapon as a result of Trump's decertification and nascent moves by Congress to level a series of harsh new penalties on Iran.
Trump warns 'total termination' of Iran deal still on the table
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday renewed his threat to fully withdraw the United States from the landmark Iran nuclear deal, while holding out the possibility that amendments to the accord may prevent an American pullout.

Justifying his decision last week to decertify the 2015 pact under U.S. law, Trump said the United States had been exploited in the negotiations led by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and that he was tired of it. He said that was why he refused to confirm to Congress that the deal is in America's national security interest.

Trump decertified the pact on the grounds that Iran has committed several violations of the deal and is receiving disproportionate relief from international sanctions for the concessions it made.

But he did not announce a withdrawal from the agreement. Instead, he kicked the future of U.S. participation to Congress.

"I feel strongly about what I did," Trump told reporters at a meeting of his cabinet in the White House on Monday. "I'm tired of being taken advantage of as a nation. This nation has been taken advantage of for many, many years, for many decades, frankly, and I'm tired of watching it. But the Iran deal was something that I felt had to be done."

Lawmakers now have 60 days to snap back sanctions on Iran that had been suspended, keep the status quo, or, as the Trump administration has suggested, amend or replace the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act – which compels the president to reaffirm Iran's compliance with the deal every 90 days. The law's requirements could be broadened so that sanctions relief for Iran is contingent on things beyond the nuclear deal, such as Iran halting ballistic missile testing.
Netanyahu to Russian defense minister: Israel won't allow Iranian presence in Syria
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday that Israel will not allow a permanent military presence in Syria.

Netanyahu's comment came a day after Israel's destruction of an SA-5 anti aircraft battery in Syria. Both Russia and Iran are key backers of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

According to a statement put out by the Prime Minister's Office, most of the meeting dealt with Iranian efforts to set up a military permanent presence in Syria. “Iran needs to understand that Israel will not allow that,” Netanyahu told Shoigu.

The Iranian nuclear deal, and US President Donald Trump's recent decision to decertify the deal, was also discussed, with Netanyahu repeating Israel's position that if the deal is not changed, then Iran will acquire a nuclear arsenal within eight to ten years.

Following Trump's announcement last week, Russia said that there was no place in international diplomacy for aggressive rhetoric, and that his effort was doomed to fail.
Gabbay’s own colleagues reject his ‘no dismantling settlements’ remarks
Lawmakers from his own faction on Monday were quick to distance themselves from Labor chairman Avi Gabbay after he announced that he would not evacuate West Bank settlements as part of a future peace deal with the Palestinians, in what would be a major shift in policy for the center-left parties.

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said Gabbay’s statement was his personal opinion, and did not reflect the position of her Hatnua party, or the Zionist Union Knesset alliance, to which the Labor party and Hatnua belong.

“The opposition to evacuating settlements is not the position of the Zionist Union,” she said.

“We have to separate from the Palestinians,” Labor MK Nachman Shai tweeted. “We will have to evacuate settlements with pain and sorrow.”

Fellow Labor MK Itzik Shmuli called the two state solution “within our own existential interest,” and said it would require some “painful” concessions on Israel’s part.

“Otherwise my generation will have to choose between a Jewish dictatorship and an Arab state.”
Report: Palestinian Teen Girl Flees to Israel to Escape 'Slave' Conditions in Forced Marriage
A 14-year-old Palestinian girl from Hebron, Fatma Sema, fled her home to Israel a few weeks ago, allegedly to escape a forced marriage in which she was living under slave-like conditions, according to a report in the Jerusalem-based Palestinian publication Al Quds.

The newspaper detailed the reasons that allegedly pushed Sema to flee, centered on what she said was a marriage that she was forced to enter because of her family’s financial distress. The events led her to try suicide multiple times, as well as several attempts to flee her husband’s home. She considered stabbing an Israeli soldier so she would be imprisoned.

According to the report, Sema was forced to marry an Arab Israeli, a Bedouin living near Beersheva. Fatma had lived in poverty with her family in Hebron with five sisters.

Sema’s neighbors said she was given over to social services after a suicide attempt, but this did not protect her from living with her husband, where a family acquaintance said she lived as a “slave.”

One of the neighbors said that, on one occasion, while still bleeding after cutting her wrist, Sema tried to go to an IDF roadblock to stab an Israeli soldier, hoping to find salvation in Israeli prison. This attempt was also unsuccessful and Sema was returned to her family in Hebron, the neighbor said.

The neighbor added that Sema was just 13 when she was forced to marry the Arab Israeli after he paid her father 10,000 shekels (apx. $2,850). Sema disappeared after going to live with her husband in southern Israel, but appeared again a few weeks ago after fleeing his house, where a neighbor alleged Sema experienced severe violence from her husband.
East Jerusalem Arab burns hand hurling petrol bomb; arresting officers treat him
A man was arrested Sunday after he injured himself throwing a Molotov cocktail at security forces in the East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of A-Tur.

The suspect threw the incendiary device at a police and border police patrol, but burned his hand in the process, police said in a statement.

Officers administered medical treatment to the suspect and then detained him for questioning.

There were no reports of injuries to security forces.

A-Tur is located on the Mount of Olives and has a population of some 18,000, most of whom are Muslim, with a Christian minority.
Israel thwarts Hezbollah plot to orchestrate attacks in Israel
Israeli security forces recently thwarted a Hezbollah plot to recruit a Palestinian resident of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel, a senior government official said Monday.

After being arrested by Israeli security forces, the suspect told investigators that he was recruited by the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist organization several months ago via Facebook.

According to his indictment, he was to receive funds from his Lebanese handler and purchase a laptop with which to communicate with Hezbollah operatives through encryption software. He was also to receive payments for planned terrorist attacks.

The suspect has also been charged with dealing in illegal weapons and participating in terrorist activity targeting Israeli soldiers in Judea and Samaria.

The suspect was indicted in the Samaria military court.
Lebanon grants oil, gas exploration license for waters bordering Israel
The Petroleum Administration in the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water has announced that an international consortium won two licenses for exploration for oil and gas, one of which borders on Israel's exclusive economic zone.

Israel has not yet decided how to respond to this development, against the background of the border dispute between the two countries that has continued since Israel withdrew from its security zone in Lebanon in 2000.

According to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration announcement, two bids were accepted in an auction of oil and gas exploration licenses in Lebanon's exclusive economic zone. Both bids were submitted by a consortium comprising French company Total S.A, Italian company Eni unit International BV, and JSC Novatek from Russia. The consortium will receive blocks 4 and 9. Ten blocks were offered in the auction, but only the two bids from this consortium were received, which represents partial failure for the Lebanese government.

The southern perimeter of block 9 borders the line separating Israel and Lebanon's exclusive economic zones. The two countries are in dispute over where precisely the line should be drawn. As a result, a disputed area exists forming a triangle of which the apex is at Rosh Hanikra (on the Israeli side of the Lebanon-Israel border) and of which the base borders the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus. Attempts have been made to mediate between the sides, among other things through a US envoy to the region, but, according to Israel, a compromise proposed four years ago was rejected by Lebanon.
PMW: Belgium and PA officials to meet in response to PMW report

Belgium froze aid for PA school construction following PMW's exposure of the PA's renaming of a school built with Belgian money after terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi

Meeting between Belgian and PA officials is this Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, according to official PA daily

PMW spoke with the Embassy of Belgium and urged that Belgium take this opportunity to create a more peace promoting environment in PA education. Belgium can use its leverage as donor to demand the PA change the names, not only of the Dalal Mughrabi School Belgium helped build, but also of the other 4 schools named after the same terrorist - and preferably all the 31 schools PMW has documented the PA has named after terrorists

PA Ministry of Education expressed "great sorrow" over Belgium's freeze of its support to school construction

PA ministry noted that the reason Belgium suspended its support was over the naming of the school after Dalal Mughrabi but did not distance itself from the name or its policy of honoring terrorists. The PA also did not mention anything about the other schools named after terrorists or any plans to rename them
'A Palestinian child has no free choice'
Itamar Marcus, the founder of Palestinian Media Watch, attended the Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem Monday.

Marcus spoke to Arutz Sheva about how the Palestinian Authority's incitement harms chances for peace and its effect on the next generation.

"The Palestinian children are the key to peace, and the messages to the Palestinian children by their leadership will determine if we're going to have peace in the next generation," Marcus said.

"Israel is educating for peace," he said, but the PA is not. "We have researched the Palestinian schoolbooks, we have researched the Palestinian educational media, and we find that the media are filled with lies, filled with demonization. They don't give a Palestinian child free choice."

"Any normal Palestinian child, based on the hatred that he receives from his leadership, through his education, will instinctively hate Israelis, even if he's not a bad person. Just the opposite, good Palestinian children are going to end up hating Israelis because of all the lies and demonization they've received from their leaders.
Unity deal could allow Hamas leader to become PA president
Hamas' decision to sign a reconciliation deal with Fatah last week may have been motivated by more than just a desire to reconcile after years of bitter rivalry, Israel Hayom learned. A cunning plan to pave the way for senior Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to win the Palestinian Authority presidency after current President Mahmoud Abbas may have been the true aim behind Hamas' willingness to compromise.

This new information was confirmed by senior Palestinian officials as well as Egyptian intelligence officials involved in mediation between the rival factions. According to these sources, one of Hamas' principal aims in the agreement – after the terrorist organization had nixed all previous reconciliation efforts – was to replace the aging Abbas with Mashaal, the former head of Hamas' political bureau.

Mashaal headed the organization's political bureau for almost two decades, and is still thought of as the strongest member of Hamas, despite having resigned and been replaced by the former Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, who won secret elections recently.

Senior Palestinian officials told Israel Hayom that despite resigning as the head of the organization's political bureau, Mashaal has made no effort to disguise his ambition to clinch the coveted PA presidency. In private conversations, he even reportedly told his companions that he would back significant reforms to the Hamas charter to allow the organization to join Palestine Liberation Organization institutions – a move that would allow a Hamas candidate to compete in elections for the presidency.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Arab MKs Call Jewish Invocation Of Wind, Rain In Prayers ‘Appropriation’ (satire)
As of last Thursday, Jewish liturgy calls for the thrice-daily prayers to begin mentioning God as the source of wind and rain, a practice that politicians from Israel’s Arab community are characterizing as colonialist appropriation of native resources.

MKs Haneen Zoabi, Ahmad Tibi, Jamal Zaalke, and Aida Touma-Sliman joined the mayors of several Arab municipalities to decry the Jewish practice, in a statement that accused the Likud-led government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of fomenting, encouraging, and failing to stem the continued appropriation of Arab culture by the Jewish majority.

“You are foreigners,” declared the group, addressing a people that originated in the land long before the advent of Islam and the Arab conquest. “You mock our culture by saying that your god controls the wind and rain, when everyone knows Palestinian wind and rain is Palestinian wind and rain. No matter how many times a day you recite it, it will never be yours.”

The statement reserved special criticism for Netanyahu. “The whole world is familiar with your racist policies and rhetoric,” it continued. “No one should be surprised that the leader of this country condones, even encourages, Jews to treat Palestinian wind and rain as their own. But the world knows better.” The statement then cited an impending UNESCO resolution declaring the meteorological phenomena of Israel to be part of the Palestinian cultural heritage, and calling for them to be protected from “plunder” by Israel.

Government officials appeared unmoved by the statement. “I don’t know what they’re talking about, actually,” admitted a spokesman for Netanyahu. “When’s the last time the prime minister opened a Jewish prayer book?.”

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