Monday, October 30, 2017

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The malevolent guest at London's Balfour dinner
When Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to attend this week’s dinner in London to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a dinner to which Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been invited as the guest of Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, Corbyn said Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry would attend in his place.

Now remarks made by Thornberry inescapably imply that, like Corbyn, she too regrets the fact that Israel was ever created. Instead she supports its mortal enemies whose agenda remains Israel’s destruction.

In an interview published today with the Middle East Eye news site, Thornberry said the UK should not celebrate the Balfour Declaration, which pledged Britain’s support for a Jewish national home, because there is not yet a Palestinian state.

“I don’t think we celebrate the Balfour Declaration but I think we have to mark it because I think it was a turning point in the history of that area and I think probably the most important way of marking it is to recognise Palestine.”

And she went on to blame Israel for the fact that there was no state of Palestine.

The fact that she paid the usual lip-service to “two viable secure safe states” cuts no ice whatsoever. If she believes that the original commitment by the British government to restoring the Jewish people to their own rightful homeland is not something to be celebrated in itself, the deep hostility to Israel as a Jewish state that this inescapably implies vitiates any pious backing for “two viable states” side by side.

Her support for the existence of Israel is, by her own lights, conditional on the existence of a state of Palestine. She thus displays her profound ignorance of Jewish, Arab and Middle Eastern history by assuming that people called the Palestinians were entitled to the same promise of a national homeland.

Balfour was height of our diplomacy, Oren tells Christian audience
The 1917 Balfour Declaration viewing the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine was the high-water mark of the Jewish people's diplomacy, deputy minister Michael Oren said.

"It was the first time the international community recognized the right of a Jewish people to a homeland in our tribal lands, the Land of Israel," he told Erick Stakelbeck on the Trinity Broadcasting Network's “The Watchman” show presented by Christians United for Israel, over the weekend. "It was the height of our diplomacy."

Stakelbeck, the host of the 30-minute weekly show on issues of national security and the Middle East, which is geared toward an Evangelical Christian audience, asked his guest to comment on the "modern-day miracle" of the State of Israel and the reasons behind the New York-born Oren decision's to realize the prophecy of immigrating to Israel.

"I grew up in a working-class neighborhood where I was the only Jewish kid, and I was often the victim of antisemitism," he said. After his father and brother returned from Europe after fighting on Normandy Beach and liberating Nazi concentration camps, they would remind the young Oren of the importance of a strong Jewish state.

"It had a big impact one me" he said. "And I just always thought of myself as being extraordinarily fortunate to be alive at the time in my people's history where we did have this state, where we can sit in [the Knesset] here – and have a sovereign flag that represents a strong people with a formidable army."

Discussing Israel's strengthening relationship with the US and how it's gaining the upper hand in its struggle against anti-Israel forces around the world, the former ambassador to the US said the difference between the Trump and Obama administrations is glaring.

Boris Johnson: I Am Proud of Britain's Part in Creating Israel
On November 2, 1917, my predecessor Lord Balfour sat in the Foreign Secretary's office and composed a letter that laid the foundations of the State of Israel.

On the Centenary, I will say what I believe: the Balfour Declaration was indispensable to the creation of a great nation. In the seven decades since its birth, Israel has prevailed over what has sometimes been the bitter hostility of neighbors to become a liberal democracy and a dynamic hi-tech economy.

In a region where many have endured authoritarianism and misrule, Israel has always stood out as a free society. Like every country, Israel has faults and failings. But it strives to live by the values in which I believe.

I served a stint at a kibbutz in my youth, and I saw enough to understand the miracle of Israel: the bonds of hard work, self-reliance, and an audacious and relentless energy that hold together a remarkable country.

Most of all, there is the incontestable moral goal: to provide a persecuted people with a safe and secure homeland. So I am proud of Britain's part in creating Israel and Her Majesty's Government will mark the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration on Thursday in that spirit.

I am also heartened that the new generation of Arab leaders does not see Israel in the same light as their predecessors. I trust that more will be done against the twin scourges of terrorism and anti-Semitic incitement.

In the final analysis, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must negotiate the details and write their own chapter in history. A century on, Britain will give whatever support we can in order to close the ring and complete the unfinished business of the Balfour Declaration.

How the Balfour Declaration Has Emerged at the Crux Of the War Against Israel
In 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu became the fourth Israeli prime minister to endorse the two-state solution (after Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Olmert), as long as the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Yet the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, soon to start the 14th year of his four-year term, has repeatedly said he will “never” recognize a Jewish state in any part of Palestine and repeatedly demands that Britain “apologize” for the Balfour Declaration, which he asserts is the original cause of the conflict.

Therein lies the crux of the continuing Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Peace processors used to believe that Israeli-Palestinian peace was a 1967 issue, negotiating suitable borders; or perhaps a 1948 issue, dealing with the refugees from the Arab war against Israel. It is now clear that it is a 1917 issue – the rejection by the Palestinian Arabs of any Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the ancestral homeland of the Jews. It is, in the words of Ron Dermer, currently Israel’s ambassador to America, the “core issue”: the Palestinians will not even agree that the goal of the “peace process” is “two states for two peoples.”

Instead of referring to “two states for two peoples,” the Palestinians always frame the goal of the process as ending “the occupation that began in 1967.” The reason they invariably add the last four words to that formulation is that they believe there is also another occupation that they want eventually to end as well: “the occupation that began in 1948.” That is the reason they say they can “never” give up an asserted “right of return.” To do so would be to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

President Trump’s administration is currently deliberating on a new peace process, despite the failures of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama over nearly three decades. A key to whether there would be any chance for success is whether the Palestinians will agree at the outset that the goal is “two states for two peoples.” One hundred years after the Balfour Declaration, and 95 years after the international community endorsed it, the Palestinians are still fighting the recognition of any Jewish sovereignty. They want a Palestinian state, but not at the cost of recognizing a Jewish one.
Balfour, the Palestinians — and No Peace
It was a minor news story in the summer of 2016. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he was suing Great Britain over the Balfour Declaration — which was issued on November 2, 1917.

But as we prepare to observe the centennial of that document, it’s important to understand that although his lawsuit was a stunt, Abbas was serious. More than that, the symbolism of his protest tells us more about what is preventing peace between Israel and the Palestinians than any of the usual explanations about settlements, borders, the status of Jerusalem or criticisms of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As Elliot Jager, author of a new and timely book on the topic, The Balfour Declaration: 67 Words, 100 Years of Conflict, has written, Abbas’ decision to focus on Balfour wasn’t a joke.

Ten decades after British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour publicly expressed his government’s “sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations” and its support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” the Palestinian Arabs are still unreconciled to the fact that this goal was realized with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

To Abbas and his Fatah party — as well as their Hamas rivals, Balfour is the original sin of the Middle East that explains all the suffering of their people in the last century. More than that, Balfour is, as Jager — a former Jerusalem Post editor and author — writes, the key to understanding why negotiations between Israel and the PA have remained stalemated in the more than two decades since the Oslo Accords.
PA prime minister to UK: Apologize for Balfour
Three days before the Balfour Declaration’s centenary, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Sunday reiterated the position of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah that the United Kingdom should apologize for issuing it.

The Balfour Declaration was a letter sent by then-British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour to a leader in the British Jewish community in 1917, in which Balfour said the British government viewed “with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Palestine was under British rule when Balfour made the policy statement.

“Britain should apologize for the historic injustice it committed against Palestinians and correct it instead of celebrating it,” Hamdallah posted on his official Twitter account.

Palestinian officials have said the Balfour Declaration paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel at their people’s expense.

In April, the British Foreign Office announced it had no plans to apologize for Balfour’s statement.
Top Labour MP: UK should mark Balfour by recognizing Palestinian state
A top member of Parliament for the UK’s Labour Party has said “the most important way” for the United Kingdom to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration is to “recognize Palestine.”

In an interview published Monday with the Middle East Eye news site, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said the UK should not celebrate the declaration, which pledged Britain’s support for a Jewish national home, as there is not yet a Palestinian state.

“I don’t think we celebrate the Balfour Declaration but I think we have to mark it because I think it was a turning point in the history of that area and I think probably the most important way of marking it is to recognize Palestine,” said Thornberry. “The British government have said they will do, it’s just a question of when the time is right and it seems to me this is the time.

“We need to have two states, two viable states, two viable secure safe states. We must not forget that in the end that is the only solution,” she added. “We should measure everything we do against that.”

Thornberry issued harsh criticism of Israel’s settlement policies in the West Bank, saying the Jewish state’s government has “lost its way” and is undermining a two-state solution.
Yisrael Medad: That Labour Party's Unofficial Balfour Declaration
As we approach the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, let us recall the unofficial Balfour Declaration of 1944 when the British Labour Party adopted a platform position relating to Mandate Palestine, a surprising one if we consider today's Corbyn-led Labour Party.

The time is 1944 and the arena is the Labour Party's Conference and the decision was to transfer Arabs from Palestine to Iraq.

From a thesis I found:
[Labour MP Hugh] Dalton recalls in a sentence that clearly shows he understood the significance and thus likely reaction of the Foreign Office and the few Labour figures with knowledge and experience of the actually realities of Palestine and political Zionism, - the `informed quarters: '

`I all but tell them [Noel-Baker and Chaim Weizmann] that I have drafted a very hot paragraph for the Labour Party on post-war Palestine.' 327

Dalton's statement began by questioning the previous British policies, which had first allowed, then prevented Jewish immigration to Palestine as the government responded to sporadic violent events in Palestine and the responses of the various channels of pro-Arab and pro-political Zionist groups:

`Here,' we declared,`we have halted half-way, irresolute between conflicting policies. But there is surely neither hope nor meaning in a 'Jewish National Home' unless we are prepared to let Jews, if they wish, enter this tiny land in such numbers as to become a majority. There was a strong case for this before the war. There is an irresistible case now, after the unspeakable atrocities of the cold and calculated German Nazi plan to kill all Jews in Europe.' 328
David Singer: Balfour Declaration Falsehoods Fuel Jew-Hatred and Israel-Bashing
The centenary of the Balfour Declaration issued on 2 November 1917 is being used to unleash a barrage of falsehoods designed to denigrate the Jewish people and delegitimise the Jewish State of Israel.

Among those current egregious falsehoods:
1. Raja Zaatry – an official of the High Follow-up Committee – the Arab community’s leadership body in Israel – has asserted:

“In 1917 less than 10% of the population was Jewish and more than 90% Arab. The British gave to the Jews something that didn’t belong to them”

The British Government gave nothing to the Jews in 1917 other than its “declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations" expressed in the Balfour Declaration. Palestine in 1917 still remained under Turkey’s rule as part of the 400 years old Ottoman Empire.

2. Sir Vincent Fean – British consul general to Jerusalem between 2010 and 2014 – reportedly said the UK should uphold its commitment to helping achieve a two-state solution promised in the Balfour Declaration – if only to prevent radicalization at home – stating

“I firmly believe that this unresolved issue contributes to radicalization in our own country among the Muslim community and if only for that self-interested reason we should think of doing something about it.”

The Balfour Declaration promised no two-state solution.

Islamic State has caused Muslim radicalization in Britain.
Kushner Traveled Unannounced to Saudi Arabia With Other White House Advisers to Discuss Middle East Peace
Jared Kushner and other senior White House advisers traveled to Saudi Arabia last week to continue discussions on Middle East peace, a White House official told CNN.
Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Jason Greenblatt, special representative for international negotiations, joined Kushner on the trip.

Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, traveled commercially, leaving Wednesday and returning Saturday evening. Politico first reported the trip, which was not announced to the public.
The White House official would not say who Kushner and the other officials met with while in Saudi Arabia.
This trip is the latest effort by US officials to continue discussions with regional partners about a Middle East peace effort, a senior White House official said. Kushner has also been in frequent talks with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the official said.

"While these regional talks will play an important role, the President reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties and that the United States will continue working closely with the parties to make progress toward that goal," the official said. "No deal will be imposed on Israelis and Palestinians. We are committed to facilitating a deal that improves conditions for both parties."

The October trip marks the third time Kushner has visited Saudi Arabia since Inauguration Day. He traveled with a presidential delegation last May and also visited in late August.
Israeli defense official: Palestinian unity deal 'going nowhere'
Barring any last-minute changes, the Palestinian Authority is slated to resume control of the Gaza Strip border crossings on Wednesday, a decade after Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave in a military coup. The move is part of the reconciliation deal signed between the rival Palestinian factions earlier this month, but a senior defense official told Israel Hayom that optimistic headlines aside, the Palestinian rapprochement seems to be "going nowhere."

Once the Palestinian Authority resumes control of the border crossings, Fatah security forces will operate the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossings, through which goods enter the strip, and the Erez Crossing, which Palestinians use to enter and exit Israel.

Israeli defense officials surmised Sunday that the deployment of Fatah forces at the crossing is likely to accompanied by friction, and that the Palestinian Authority will likely avoid, at least at first, flexing its muscles in Gaza so as to minimize potential clashes.

Meanwhile, the presence of Fatah forces at the crossings will streamline operations on the Israeli side, as it will eliminate the need for a third-party mediator when it comes to transferring goods into Gaza. Currently, a third party is used to avoid direct contact with Hamas.

But Israel holds little hope for a successful Palestinian reconciliation, as previous unity deals, most recently in 2014, collapsed within months. Senior Israeli officials told Israel Hayom that all signs point to the current Fatah-Hamas negotiations "going nowhere" and being "nonsense."
Abbas says any Hamas ministers will have to recognize Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he will not appoint to the Palestinian unity government any Hamas officials who don’t publicly recognize Israel.

Abbas told a delegation of former Israeli lawmakers visiting his party’s Ramallah headquarters that “the Americans have assured him they will announce their support for a two-state solution soon,” Haaretz reported.

He also accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of preventing the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“Netanyahu doesn’t want to renew the peace process, he thinks I’m going to stay here and guard the occupation,” Abbas told members of the delegation.

The group included former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna, former ministers Ophir Pines-Paz and Raleb Majadele, and former MKs Colette Avital and Taleb el-Sana.

Under a reconciliation agreement reached earlier this month between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah party, the PA government is to reassume civilian control of Gaza by December 1.
Palestinian official suggests Holocaust guilt led FIFA not to sanction Israel
European countries opposed any intervention by FIFA in a dispute between Israel and the Palestinians over soccer clubs in the West Bank, according to Palestinian Football [soccer] Association (PFA) chief Jibril Rajoub on Sunday.

Rajoub, speaking at Palestinian Football Association press conference in the West Bank town Al-Ram, cast the Palestinian soccer players as “scapegoats” for European crimes against the Jews during the Holocaust, for which those countries were now purportedly compensating in refusing to come down on the Jewish state.

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The PFA had demanded FIFA sanctions over six teams playing in the Israeli league, which are based in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The international community considers all Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal.

On Friday, the world body’s ruling council declined to adopt any of three possible actions recommended by an international commission that spent more than two years looking at the long-running battle.
Jordanian Businessman With Long Record of Antisemitic Outbursts Rewarded With Prestigious UN Post
A wealthy Jordanian businessman who traffics openly in antisemitic conspiracy theories has been appointed as a “special ambassador” by the United Nations agency dealing with international tourism.

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced this week that it had named Talal Abu Ghazaleh as Special Ambassador of Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals in advance of its summit in Russia in 2019. Abu Ghazaleh, a Palestinian who was born in Jaffa in 1938, is the founder of The Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization, an accounting and consulting company deemed by Forbes magazine to be a market leader in the Arab world. A keen supporter of the UN, Abu Ghazaleh has been rewarded by recent UN Secretary-Generals – including Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon – with top positions on several UN Task Forces.

Despite his access to some of the world’s top diplomats, Abu Ghazaleh has never hidden his antisemitic views. Interviewed by the BBC‘s Arabic TV in January of this year, he spoke at length of his “plan” to “transfer” the Jewish population of Israel to other countries.

“Just like the Jews believe in the Right of Return, we Palestinians believe in the Right of Return,” Abu Ghazaleh said in comments translated by media monitoring organization MEMRI. “Let every Palestinian return to Palestine and every Jew return to his own country.”
Mike Pence: U.S. Will Direct Humanitarian Programs in the Middle East; No More U.N. Funding
Vice President Mike Pence told Christian leaders from the Middle East gathered in the nation’s capital for the annual In Defense of Christians summit on Wednesday that President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. State Department to stop relying on the United Nations to provide humanitarian aid to persecuted religious minorities in the region.

“My friends, those days are over,” Pence said, adding that the Obama administration paid more than one billion dollars for humanitarian aid, with the majority of the funding funneled through the U.N.

“Yet the United Nations has too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities,” Pence said. “The result has been that countless people continue to suffer and struggle needlessly.”

Pence called it a “sad reality” that the main U.N. presence in terror-ridden places like Syria and Iraq is their flag posted on abandoned buildings in places where persecuted Christians are not even present.
IDF destroys attack tunnel in Israeli territory built after 2014 war
The IDF on Monday “neutralized a terror tunnel” that was discovered inside Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip and is believed to have been dug after the 2014 war, the army said.

The military said the tunnel had been under surveillance for an extended period of time and was under active construction at the time of the demolition.

The tunnel, which the IDF described as a “grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty,” started in the Gazan city of Khan Younis, crossing under the border and approaching the Israeli community of Kibbutz Kissufim, the army said.

“The tunnel was detonated from within Israel, adjacent to the security fence,” the military said in a statement.

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel was approximately two kilometers away from the Israeli kibbutz. He said it did not pose a threat to the residents.

The demolition was carried out near the fence separating Israel from Gaza.

Terrorist killed in destruction of tunnels along Gaza border
A terrorist was killed when the IDF Southern Command destroyed a network of terror tunnels found near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Monday afternoon, AFP reported.

According to Gaza's health ministry, Ahmed Abu Armanah, Omar al-Faleet, and Misbah Shubir, was killed in the explosion which destroyed the terror tunnels.

A security source told AFP that Armanah and al-Faleet were members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. The Hamas terrorist organization, which rules the Gaza Strip, said Shubir was a member of Hamas' armed wing.

IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel network in question crossed the border from Gaza into pre-1967 Israel.

"[The IDF] neutralized a terror tunnel leading into southern Israel from the vicinity of Khan Yunis."
Netanyahu hails ‘breakthrough technology’ in discovery of Hamas attack tunnel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday hailed the IDF for destroying an attack tunnel from the Gaza Strip discovered inside Israeli territory, with the two leaders attributing its discovery to Israel’s new “breakthrough technology.”

Israel destroyed the tunnel Monday morning. The Palestinian health ministry said one Palestinian was killed and 9 others were wounded when the IDF blew up the tunnel.

In remarks at the weekly Likud faction meeting, the prime minister said the long-rumored advanced technology to locate the attack tunnels had been utilized in the recent operation.

“I told you many times before that we are developing breakthrough technology to deal with the tunnel threat,” said Netanyahu at the start of the meeting. “We are implementing it. Today, we located a tunnel and we destroyed it.”
UNRWA demands end to tunnel building under its schools
Palestinians must stop building tunnels under Gaza schools, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East said this weekend, as it made public the presence of a new tunnel under one of its schools.

UNRWA said it first discovered “what appeared to be a tunnel” under one of its schools on October 15.

It sealed the tunnel and reopened the school on October 25.

“The presence of a tunnel underneath an UNRWA installation, which enjoys inviolability under international law, is unacceptable.

It places children and agency staff at risk,” the organization said in a statement.

“The agency again demands full respect for the neutrality and inviolability of United Nations premises at all times. Any activities or conduct that put beneficiaries and staff alike at risk, and undermine the ability of UNRWA staff to provide assistance to Palestine refugees in safety and security, must cease,” UNRWA said.

Israel has long warned that Hamas, which controls Gaza, hides military installations, tunnels and weapons under schools and hospitals in the Strip. The terrorist group has increasingly focused on the construction of concrete tunnels to launch attacks against Israel.
Israel’s UN envoy blasts discovery of Gaza tunnel under UNRWA school
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon on Sunday blasted the discovery of a tunnel underneath a Gaza school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, accusing the Hamas terror organization of using UNRWA facilities as “terror bases” and Gazan children as “human shields.”

“Yet another terror tunnel under an UNRWA schoolyard. This is what Hamas rule looks like and this is more proof of the double war crime committed as terror tunnels are built to attack Israelis, while using the children of Gaza as human shields,” said Danon in a statement.

“We cannot accept a situation in which UNRWA schools are used as terror bases. This dangerous incident must not be ignored and strict oversight is needed to ensure that UN facilities are not used to protect terrorists,” he added.

Since the discovery some two weeks ago, UNRWA closed the school and sealed off the opening to the tunnel. The school resumed operations last Wednesday, the UN organization said in a statement on Saturday.
Protesters demand increased security for Judea and Samaria
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on Sunday to demand that the government allocate funds to increase security in the settlements, pave bypass roads in Judea and Samaria, and improve cellular networks throughout the territories.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that 800 million shekels ($227 million) of the 2018 state budget would go toward increasing security in Judea and Samaria, but the protesters, led by Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan and Bet Aryeh Local Council head Avi Naim, are demanding a clause in the budget specifically requiring the government to allocate the funds promised by Netanyahu.

The widow and son of Baruch Mizrachi, who was killed in a 2014 terrorist attack on Route 35 west of Hebron, were among those who spoke at Sunday's demonstration.

In his address to protesters, Mizrachi's 12-year-old son, Itai, recalled the attack.

"Three years ago, while we were on our way to celebrate the [Passover] Seder with Grandma and Grandpa in Hebron, terrorists started firing on our car. I remember the gunshots and the shouting and the pain," he said.
Defense minister works to expand policy on razing terrorists' homes
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered a review of Israel's policy on demolishing the homes of terrorists with the aim of expanding it to include demolishing the homes of terrorists who seriously injure Israelis.

Lieberman has directed Defense Ministry legal adviser Itai Ophir to review the issue.

Under the current law, Israel is authorized to raze the homes of terrorists who murder Israeli citizens, but not the homes of terrorists who wound Israelis.

"The fight against terror demands that we remain determined and act in various ways and with an iron fist toward those who try to hurt us, the perpetrators and the dispatchers," Lieberman said.
Arabs from Sinai open fire at IDF forces
Arabs opened fire on Sunday evening from the Sinai Peninsula towards an IDF force that was engaged in operational activity near the security fence along the Egyptian border.

There were no injuries among the soldiers, but a military vehicle sustained light damage.

The IDF said that the incident is believed to be a spillover of gunfire from Egypt.

Two weeks ago, two rockets were fired from the Sinai area into southern Israel. The rockets hit the Eshkol Regional Council, but exploded in open regions without causing physicals injuries or damages.

The Islamic State (ISIS) group later claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, saying in a statement on its Amaq propaganda agency that the attack "targeted a Jewish community with two Grad missiles".
Jerusalem girls' school organizes field trip to Arafat's grave
An all-girls school in eastern Jerusalem organized a field trip to the grave of arch-terrorist and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat last week, Yisrael Hayom reported Sunday, honoring the terrorist leader two weeks ahead of the 13th anniversary of his death.

Last Wednesday, students from Alrodha, a private Islamic school in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of the capital, were brought on a field trip to the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Ramallah, where they visited the grave of Yasser Arafat, and toured a museum named in the terrorist’s honor.

Some 450 girls learn at Alrodha, which teaches using the PA’s curriculum.

After touring the Yasser Arafat Museum, which covers the life of the late terrorist leader and portrays him as a freedom fighter, the students gathered by Arafat’s grave for a group photo.

MK Anat Berko (Likud) slammed the field trip, accusing the Alrodha school of teaching Arafat’s “murderous ideology”.
Palestinian undercover FBI informant pleads guilty to massive fraud
An informant who admitted he defrauded more than $300,000 from victims — while he was working undercover for the FBI on a Palm Beach County, Florida terrorism sting — pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge Friday.

In an unusual move, Mohammed Agbareia was immediately sentenced to two years and one month in federal prison.

As part of his plea agreement, the Palestinian man agreed to be deported to his native Israel after he serves his punishment.

Prosecutors previously said he admitted to FBI agents on several occasions that he was still committing crimes and continued doing so “despite numerous warnings to cease.”

It’s the second time in a dozen years that Agbareia, 51, has been sentenced to federal prison and ordered to leave the country.

He pleaded guilty to committing an almost identical “stranded traveler” fraud in 2006 in federal court in Alabama. He was sentenced to two years in prison, ordered to pay $91,000 in restitution and was supposed to be deported to Israel.
20 Palestinians indicted for massive agricultural heist
Twenty residents of the Palestinian town of Beit Awwa were indicted Sunday after they were caught last week perpetrating the largest heist in recent history, stealing tens of tons of agricultural produce.

The defendants were charged with illegally entering Israel, trespassing, malicious damage of property and theft under aggravated circumstances.

The suspects allegedly caused damage estimated at NIS 300,000 to the vineyards and tomato gardens of the Israeli farmers.

According to the indictment, the defendants entered Israel illegally on October 20 and 21 along with many others—including minors and women—through the water passage under the West Bank separation wall.

They crossed the demilitarized zone and entered the vineyards and greenhouses of Moshav Shekef, equipped with baskets, crates and other equipment, and began stealing tomatoes and grapes in order to later sell them in the Palestinian Authority.

The defendants damaged the grapevines and their branches, cut through insect nets, cut into the walls of greenhouses, destroyed equipment on which the vines were assembled, and consequently damaged future grape and tomato crops.
IAEA chief: Iran fulfilling nuclear deal commitments
Iran is fulfilling its commitments under the nuclear deal with world powers and U.N. inspectors are facing no problems in their verification efforts, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general said on Monday.

US President Donald Trump said earlier this month that he would not continue to certify the multinational 2015 agreement, reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, and warned that he might ultimately terminate it.

Iran would abandon the agreement if it were deemed not be serving its national interests, President Hassan Rouhani said in reaction to Trump's decision. But he also said, "No president can revoke an international deal...(and) Iran will continue to honour its commitments under the deal."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani fires back at US President Donald Trump on Iran nuclear deal, October 7, 2017. (Reuters)

The other parties to the accord - Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and the European Union have all reaffirmed their commitment to it and urged the United States not to back out.
Iran’s nuclear chief says weapons-grade uranium only 4 days away
Iran’s nuclear program chief said Sunday that his country can begin producing weapons-grade nuclear material in just four days if the nuclear deal with foreign powers falls through, and insisted that international inspectors will not be given access to closed Iranian military sites.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said that while Tehran prefers to keep the landmark nuclear agreement intact the Fordo site can quickly begin ramping up uranium enrichment.

“We can produce 20% (enriched uranium) at Fordo in four days but we don’t want the nuclear deal to collapse,” Salehi told reporters, according to an English translation of his comments provided by the semi-official Fars news agency. He spoke to media after a joint press conference with the visiting director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, in Tehran.

Amano also met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. At the press conference he said that Iran is complying with the terms of the nuclear deal.
Iran: Missile program does not violate international accords
Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense and does not consider that a violation of international accords, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday in a speech broadcast on state television.

Rouhani spoke days after the U.S. House of Representatives voted for new sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program, part of an effort to clamp down on Tehran without immediately moving to undermine an international nuclear agreement, reached in July 2015.

"We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles, and this violates no international agreements," Rouhani said in a speech in parliament.

"We will produce any weapons of any kind that we need and stockpile it and use it at any time to defend ourselves," Rouhani said.

The United States has already imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a U.N. resolution, which calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says it has no plans to build nuclear-capable missiles.
Iran skips UN Abu Dhabi meet on nuclear power; it had been seated next to Israel
Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers may hang in the balance, but you wouldn’t know it at the United Nations conference on atomic energy held Monday in the United Arab Emirates.

Iran decided to skip the Abu Dhabi conference, leaving its seats empty as Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, avoided speaking about the nuclear deal at all in his address at the venue.

Iranian officials did not respond to a request for comment to discuss their decision to avoid the conference.

Amano’s decision may have been tactical after visiting Tehran just the day before and telling journalists that Iran still honored the accord.

Both the UAE and neighboring Saudi Arabia remain highly suspicious of the nuclear deal, which saw economic sanctions on Iran lifted in exchange for it limiting its enrichment of uranium. The two Gulf Arab countries say that new money flowing into Iran has aided its ability to back Shiite militias in Iraq and support embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Iranian ‘Supreme Leader’ Tells Iraqi PM Not to ‘Dissolve’ Shia Militia Accused of Kurdish Atrocities
Iraqi PM Haider al Abadi and Iran’s ‘supreme leader’ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sit beneath a portrait of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Photo: IRNA

Iran’s “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has urged the prime minister of the Iranian-backed Iraqi government in Baghdad not to dissolve a Shia militia accused of committing atrocities during the offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq this month.

Khamenei told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi that the Hashd al Shaabi paramilitary organization – trained and financed by the Iranians – was essential for the security of Iraq.

Kurdish broadcaster Kurdistan 24 quoted a source at the meeting who claimed that Khamenei had instructed al Abadi,“The Hashd al-Shaabi must not be dissolved.”

“The presence of the Hashd al-Shaabi is necessary until the end of all security problems in Iraq,” Khamenei told Abadi, according to the source.

The “supreme leader” then urged the Iraqis to follow the Iranian model in terms of their relationship with the militia – which has been described as the Iraqi equivalent of Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

“The Hashd al-Shaabi must be like [Iran’s] Basij [Organization for Mobilization of the Oppressed] to the government, and the reward for all their efforts should not be dissolution,” Khamenei is reported to have said.
PreOccupiedTerritory: PayPal In Hot Water After Offering ISIS ‘Credit Decision In Seconds’ (satire)
Online transaction giant PayPal found itself in legal trouble this week after federal authorities noticed that the company’s constant, ubiquitous, unceasing flood of emails offering instant approval for loans had been sent to accounts linked to the terrorist group the Islamic State.

A representative of the Justice Department told reporters that PayPal’s indiscriminate distribution of such offers by e-mail appeared to violate statutes against supporting or conducting business with entities or individuals designated as terrorists.

“Offering terrorists to ‘get a credit decision in seconds’ runs afoul of antiterrorism laws,” stated Federal Bureau of Investigation representative Agent Lou Spammer. “Companies conducting business under US jurisdiction are expected to know not to cultivate or maintain such contacts.”

Lawyers for PayPal declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but insisted any violation occurred by accident. “PayPal is dedicated to cluttering the inboxes only of law-abiding users of its services,” declared Brett Wasp of the law firm Dewey, Cheetam, and Howe. “Our client denies any wrongdoing. That is all I am at liberty to say at this time.”

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