Monday, December 18, 2017

From Ian:

Obama said to have derailed campaign against Hezbollah to clinch Iran nuke deal
In order to help solidify the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, the Obama administration covertly derailed a campaign by the US Drug Enforcement Administration that targeted the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group, according to an investigative report by Politico.

The specific campaign, called Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 to monitor Hezbollah’s weapons and drug trafficking practices, which included funneling cocaine into the United States.

Along with drug-trafficking, the Lebanon-based terrorist group was also engaging in money laundering and other criminal activities — from which it made some $1 billion annually.

When investigators — after amassing substantial evidence — sought approval for prosecution from the US Department of Justice and US Department of Treasury, those two agencies were unresponsive, the Politico report said.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, an analyst for the US Department of Defense specializing in illicit finance who helped set up and run Project Cassandra. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

Asher added that Obama officials obstructed efforts to apprehend top Hezbollah operatives, including one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s foremost weapons suppliers.
Daily Freier: Iran Names its Newest Ballistic Missile in Honor of Ben Rhodes (satire)
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was giddy with anticipation today as they waited for Iran’s Supreme Leader to unveil their newest weapon system to the public. As crowds waited at the bi-weekly “Death to America/Death to Israel Military Parade and Children’s Puppet Show”, the Ayatollah Khameini removed a giant tarp to reveal Iran’s newest missile: the “Ben Rhodes”. Named in honor of the most clever former aspiring novelist to ever serve as a National Security Advisor to Barack Obama, the “Ben Rhodes” is an impressive weapon indeed. The Ayatollah Khameini explained the reasoning behind the name to the press.

“In our culture, it is important to show gratitude. So it only seemed fair to name this great missile after the man who helped make it all possible. Of course, he had some help. So honestly, coming up with just one name was a bit tough.” Khameini then shared a fascinating tidbit of inside information. “You know, at first we voted to name the missile after John Kerry, but then we voted against it.”

The Ayatollah then went on to explain the rigorous testing that the missile went through, to include tests in a specially constructed Echo Chamber. “This missile took a lot of work. But it’s funny how everything worked out in the end: the Iran Deal, our unfrozen assets, America “Leading from Behind”. Yes it is all quite funny. But not as funny as Ben Rhodes being named to the Board of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.”
Trump Doctrine: 'Israel is not the cause of problems in the Middle East'
U.S. President Trump poised to unveil "America First" national security strategy Monday • Strategy argues the threats from radical terrorists and Iran are proving that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the "prime irritant" preventing regional peace.
Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, U.S. President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War.

The Republican president, who ran on a platform of "America First," will detail his plan Monday, one that, if fully implemented, could sharply alter the United States' relationships with the rest of the world.

The plan, according to senior administration officials who offered a preview Sunday, is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.

Trump's doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that "America First" does not mean "America Alone," the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.
PreOccupiedTerritory: US Declares Palestinians No Longer Have Role In Mideast Peace (satire)
Trump administration officials voiced their frustration with the continued refusal of Palestinians representatives to play a constructive role in negotiations with Israel over a final status agreement Monday, and announced they no longer see a role Palestinians can play in fostering a peaceful resolution to the century-old conflict.

White House spokesman Hugh Gottabee-Kidding used the daily press briefing to inform reporters that the administration is now considering alternatives to the Palestinians in the role they have performed hitherto, and have assembled a list of what Gottabee-Kidding called seven “strong” candidates.

“Unfortunately, over the last quarter-century since Israelis and Palestinians started negotiations, we’ve been consistently let down by the credibility of the Palestinian role in the process,” he stated. “As such, we no longer see Palestinian participation as a positive element in the dynamic of the talks. We sat down this past week to hammer out possible others who could step in to play the role in a constructive fashion, and we have already conducted preliminary inquiries with each of those parties.”

Gottabee-Kidding stressed that until a firm agreement is reached with the Palestinians’ replacement, he cannot divulge the identities of the candidates. “I will say that, obviously, functioning nations with peace agreements in place with Israel have already demonstrated the capacity to play a constructive role, and it would be remiss of us not to include them in the roster.” Egypt and Jordan concluded peace agreements with Israel in 1978 and 1994, respectively.

Analysts warn that rushing into the replacement process could jeopardize the talks, which have been on hold since 2014. “We wouldn’t want to disturb the status quo,” explained Bob Zyerunkel of Scholars and Humanists Analyzing the Middle East (SHAME), a think tank. There’s been a sort of stability in things for more than three years at this point, and it might be dangerous to upset that. Any replacement candidate would have to commit to a certain way of doing things. There’s an entire industry built around these negotiations, and it wouldn’t do to compromise that.”

Haley: Anti-settlement resolution is ‘stain’ on America’s conscience
The US rejects the United Nations' double standard which says Washington is not impartial when it decides where to place its own embassy, but the UN is a neutral party even though it consistently singles Israel out for condemnation, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Monday.

Haley's comments came at the monthly UN Security Council meeting discussing the Mideast, which came one year after the body adopted anti-settlement resolution 2334. Her words also came just prior to the 15-member body was scheduled to debate an Egyptian proposed resolution against US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his decision to move the embassy there.

“I will not use council's time to address where a sovereign nation might decide to put its embassy, and why we have every right to do so,” Haley said.

Instead, Haley devoted the bulk of her five-minute speech to slamming UNSC 2334, which was adopted one year ago on December 23, 2016. Then president Barack Obama, in his waning days in office, opted to abstain on the measure — rather than casting a veto — allowing the measure to pass.

“Given the chance to vote again on resolution 2334,” she said, “I can say with complete confidence that the US would vote 'no', we would exercise our veto power.” The US is expected to veto any resolution concerning the Jerusalem declaration.

Haley said that while Resolution 2334 described Israeli settlements as impediments to peace, “in truth it was Resolution 2334 that was an impediment to peace. The Security Council put the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians further out of reach by injecting itself yet again in between the parties to the conflict.”

Haley said that by “misplacing the blame for the failure of the peace efforts squarely on Israeli settlements, the resolution gave a pass to Palestinian leaders who, for many years, rejected one peace proposal after another.”

In addition, she said, that Security Council resolution gave the Palestinian leadership “encouragement to avoid negotiations in the future.” It also failed to acknowledge the legacy of failed negotiations that had nothing to do with the settlement issue.
Dani Dayan: An Israeli View on Peace
To the Editor:
In “Does President Trump Want Mideast Peace?” (editorial, Dec. 6), you argue that Israel has “shown no serious interest in peace.” This sentiment is wrong.

In recent months, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has been more concerned about making peace with Hamas, which has not renounced its genocidal ideology or laid down its weapons and has consistently refused to come to the negotiating table with Israel.

It is Israel that has stated continuously that it is open for negotiations, without preconditions.

You also mention that “Palestinians anticipated being able to locate their capital in East Jerusalem and to have access to Muslim holy sites there.” The truth is that Palestinians and Muslims from around the world continue to worship at Islamic holy sites year-round, and Israel has guaranteed, still guarantees and will continue to guarantee freedom of worship for every faith.

We continue to hope that the Palestinians will see the value in talks and dialogue so that we can achieve real peace.
Mark Regev: Recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital is good for peace. Britain should do so too
Following the United States’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded by saying that the Americans can no longer have “any role” in the peace process. In this country, too, the White House’s decision has been criticised by some MPs and in parts of the press. Are these objections really justified?

The Oxford English Dictionary succinctly defines a “capital” as “the city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative centre of a country or region”. Jerusalem meets this definition exactly. Since 1949, all three branches of Israel’s government – executive, legislative and judiciary – have been based in Jerusalem. When international statesmen and foreign diplomats come to meet our prime minister and our president, they do so in Jerusalem.

It is an accepted norm in international relations that every sovereign state has the right to decide its own capital city. Even when some countries have changed their capital – as did Turkey in 1923, China in 1949, Brazil in 1960 and Germany in 1999 – this norm has been upheld, and embassies have been relocated accordingly. Only in the case of the Jewish state has this norm not been applied.

Furthermore, the White House’s decision helps to advance peace by eroding the dangerous fantasy that the Jews can somehow be wrested from Jerusalem, and that we have neither a valid claim to the city, nor a right to a capital there. This is precisely the type of extremist thinking that renders peacemaking all but impossible.

Whenever the international community has put forward comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace plans over the past 20 years, they have consistently acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. For President Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which officially claims to seek statehood alongside Israel within pre-1967 lines, Jerusalem’s status as established in 1949 should be beyond contention.
Ruthie Blum: What Is Really to Blame for Palestinian Violence?
Rather than engage in institution-building, which the United States, Europe and even Israel funded with billions of dollars, PA President Mahmoud Abbas – Arafat's successor – made no effort to reform Palestinian civil society, including the education system. In fact, as a new IMPACT-se study reveals, textbooks for the 2017-2018 academic year are even less tolerant of Jews and Israel, and even more filled with incitement to violence in the name of Allah than in the years before.

As is noted by the authors of the report, which examines books from Grades 5-11 (an expanded study, on Grades 1-12, is underway), this year marked the completion of the first comprehensive reform of the Palestinian curriculum since 2000, when the PA published its first curriculum after the Oslo Accords. Before then, children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem studied the Jordanian curriculum; those in Gaza were taught with Egyptian textbooks.

The preliminary findings of the report – titled "Reform or Radicalization: PA 2017–18 Curriculum -- are extremely bleak:
  • Radicalization is pervasive across this new curriculum, to a greater extent than before.
  • The curriculum exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence in a more extensive and sophisticated manner. The discourse is couched in terms of nationalist and religious martyrdom, across science, literature, history and religious education textbooks.
  • One example is a science lesson that teaches about the use of slingshots. Seventh-graders are told: "During the first Palestinian uprising, Palestinian youths used slingshots to confront the soldiers of the Zionist Occupation and defend themselves from their treacherous bullets." The assignment is to answer the questions: "What is the relationship between the elongation of the slingshot's rubber and the tensile strength affecting it? What are the forces that influence the stone after its release from the slingshot?"
  • This version of the PA curriculum educates for a long war of attrition against Israel which stands out as the axis mundi of Palestinian identity, connecting its various dimensions into one ideology. With a comprehensive and oft-stated justification for defensive (obligatory) jihad, the curriculum's focus appears to have expanded from demonization of Israel to providing a rationale for war.
  • The crux of this report is education for war and against peace with Israel.
INSS: The Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel
Why was this US announcement made now? And how will President Trump's declaration affect the political process between Israel and the Palestinians?

Regarding the timing, Trump presumably wished to fulfill his campaign promise to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem, and was in a dilemma when faced with signing a postponement of this measure, required by American law every six months. As for the second question, Trump himself explained that even though his predecessors had refrained from moving the embassy since Congress had passed the law embassy in 1995, peace between Israel and Palestine was no nearer. At the same time, the President has stated that he remains committed to promote a peace agreement and would do everything in his power to achieve peace; he has also declared his desire to achieve the "ultimate deal" between the Palestinians and Israel, and mentioned a plan or initiative to be presented to both sides. In the wake of the announcement, opponents of the President's statement, including the Palestinian negotiators, have rejected the US as an honest broker. On the Israeli side, some contend that the United States would now demand concessions to the Palestinians "in return for" the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In any event, the role of the United States in the rounds of talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors has been controversial since 1973, but both sides without exception have asked Washington for assistance to close the gaps in their positions at various stages of the negotiations. Demonstrations of anger and burning the American flag will not change the reality that the only international element with a degree of influence on Israel's positions in the negotiations with its neighbors is the American administration.

Following the President's announcement there were limited demonstrations among Arabs in Israel, in East Jerusalem, and in the territories. A Salafist organization in Gaza fired rockets towards Israel. In the course of actions taken by Israel to curb the demonstrations near the Gaza border and in the response to the rocket fire, four Palestinians were killed. In other areas people were injured, but overall, the restrained responses of the IDF and the Israel Police helped keep the demonstrations under control. At this stage, it is not clear whether the harsh criticisms of Trump's declaration will lead to a new wave of lone attacks. Larger demonstrations were held in many cities in the Arab and Muslim world. The forthcoming visit to the region by United States Vice President Mike Pence will likely prolong the wave of demonstrations and protests, but at this stage it seems that in the absence of any concrete move to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the protests will die down, and with them the danger of violent actions. The customary reduction in political and diplomatic activity as the calendar year draws to a close could also help cool the heated sentiments.

If indeed there is an American or any other initiative that could serve as the basis for renewed political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, its chances of success depend only minimally on US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The contents of the initiative, the internal political situation in Israel and among the Palestinians, the personal status of the leaders on both sides, and the situation in the Middle East and the international arena will all exert far greater influence. Moreover, while Israeli expressions of satisfaction with the American President's move are justified, if the leaders of the neighboring Arab states that are considered US allies – Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia – analyze his words carefully, they will understand that they contain nothing that contradicts the Arab Peace Initiative.

Apart from expressing gratitude to the US President, Israel has a role beyond keeping the territory quiet, particularly if there is an American initiative to renew negotiations that refer to Jerusalem, be the initiative toward a full permanent settlement or partial agreements with the final objective of two states for two peoples. Israel can adopt a policy that helps strengthen President Trump and promotes his moves.
Palestinians to seek full UN backing if US vetoes Jerusalem resolution
The Palestinians will seek United Nations General Assembly support if the US vetoes a Security Council resolution against its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister said Monday.

The Security Council is expected to vote later Monday on a draft resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The vote, called by Egypt, is likely to see the United States use its veto power.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the Palestinians would seek support at the General Assembly if the US Ambassador Nikki Haley exercises Washington’s veto.

While Haley considers “the veto a source of pride and strength, we will show her their position is isolated and rejected internationally,” Malki said in a statement.

A copy of the draft resolution released to the media hours before the vote, expected Monday morning New York time, expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem” and calls for new peace talks and “an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.”
Pence to Make First Official US Visit to Western Wall
During his upcoming visit to Israel this week, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit Jerusalem’s Western Wall in the first official visit to the holy site by an American leader.

President Donald Trump stopped at the Western Wall in May, but it was a private visit made without the accompaniment of an Israeli official.

The vice president’s visit comes after Trump earlier this month recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and pledged to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the city. Further, a senior White House official said last week that the US expects the Western Wall to be part of Israel in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Pence is slated to arrive in the Jewish state by Dec. 20. During his visit to the region, he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem. He will also meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo.

The vice president will reportedly address the Knesset, in what will be the first such address to the Israeli legislature by a senior US official since a speech by President George W. Bush in 2008.
Canada should follow suit on the Jerusalem decision
By every empirical measure, Trump’s predecessor presided over an appalling record in the Mideast: an inanimate peace process, an emboldened Iran laying waste to Syria, appeased sectarians and ostracized allies. That even Israeli security would be eventually forfeited by the departing American administration on UN Security Council Resolution 2334 — a one-sided condemnation of Israel’s settlement policy — marked a grim postscript that Canada should have denounced.

A year later, the region is undergoing significant realignment. Rhetoric about Trump’s decision from Arab capitals has been fairly restrained; they appear to have been well-consulted, and in any case, remain preoccupied with the more pressing threat of Iran’s hardening sectarian agenda. As facts on the ground change, the West needs to clearly stand alongside the Mideast’s good actors as they unite against the bad, stating clearly our values and allying with those who share them.

It’s clear America has no intention of distancing itself from Israel, the nation that embodies the democratic, pluralistic values which represent the only true, long-term hope for peace in the region. Though many have framed Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as destined to alienate America’s fair-weather allies, in reality, ending ambiguity around Israel’s claim for a Jewish capital strengthens the resolve of those interested in peace. It’s more likely to earn the long-term respect of others, as it makes clear the terms upon which America intends to exert its global leadership.

The world is long overdue in recognizing Israeli legitimacy in Jerusalem. It is a cause Canada would be wise to join.
Jerusalem: An Opportunity for Islamic Reformation?
It is not a surprise that all Arab leaders, including some of the closest Arab allies of president Trump such as president al-Sisi of Egypt, are publicly against the decision by president Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Arab leaders understand a certain bloody backlash against them if they don't. This is because Islamic law dictates that all land once occupied by Muslims must remain Muslim forever. Under Sharia Muslims have the right to take over land from non-Muslims but the reverse is considered an attack on Islam.

That is where the problem of Jerusalem stems from and it does not matter to Muslims if Jerusalem, or its other name Zion, is mentioned in the Jewish bible 850 times but never mentioned in the Quran not even once. It does not matter if Jerusalem is the holy land of the Jewish people, if it was Israel's capital over 3000 years ago or that Jews pray facing Jerusalem while Muslims pray facing Mecca.

The Western world would do itself and the truth a favor if they, at least for once, stand united to support Israel in its right to Jerusalem as its undivided Capital. In fact, it is time for Muslims to accept that facts about Jerusalem and right historical wrongs. Not too long ago Arabs used to tell Jews when relations did not go well between Muslims and Jews in various areas of the Middle East, to go back to their holy land Jerusalem. Now that Jews have done so, Arabs are trying to rob them again and again of their holy land.

But with the historic announcement by president Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, the Arab world has a great opportunity to prove to the world that Islam is a religion of peace and co-existence as they claim. The moment of truth has come to give a historical opportunity to Muslims to write the wrongs against the Jewish people.
Police: Palestinian who stabbed border guard pretended to be a journalist
Police on Sunday said that a Palestinian man who stabbed a Border Police officer near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday had been pretending to be a journalist in the moments before the attack, which allowed him to get closer to Israeli troops unnoticed.

“The terrorist used the media as a cover to prepare for the attack and ran toward the officers from where the press was gathered,” a police spokesperson said.

In the attack, Mohammed Aqal, 29, who was wearing what appeared to be a suicide bomb belt, stabbed the border guard twice in the upper body, moderately wounding him.

Aqal then tried to flee, but was shot three times by officers on the scene after they noticed his apparent suicide bomb belt, fearing he would detonate it, police said. The belt was made up of several objects covered in tape, connected with wires. It was later found to not contain actual explosives.

After he was shot, Aqal was taken from the scene by Palestinian medics, while still wearing the apparent suicide bomb vest. He was later pronounced dead.

In a statement, police warned that terrorists pretending to be members of the press represented a threat to real journalists, but said that there will be no immediate changes to press access to West Bank protests. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
'He underwent a baptism of fire'
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh visited a Border Police officer who was wounded in a stabbing attack on Friday near Ramallah, and praised him for his role in stopping the terrorist.

Alsheikh noted that the soldier had only finished basic training a week before the attack, and praised the bravery he had shown in stopping the terrorist. "This is his first operational activity in Judea and Samaria and he demonstrated great resourcefulness in repelling the terrorist," said Alshiekh.

"He only recently completed his training and yet underwent his 'baptism of fire', Alsheikh continued.

Alsheikh went on to praise the warrior for noticing that the terrorist had disguised himself as a journalist before running up to the Border Police officer and stabbing him. The police commissioner stressed that he expects such bravery from all Border Police officers.
MEMRI: Columnist For Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Daily: U.S. Must Be Reminded Of The Days Of The Sacrifice Operations, Which Are The Palestinians' Only Option
In response to U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6, 2017 announcement of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and of the planned move of the U.S. embassy there, Jamal Al-Shawahin, a columnist for the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's daily Al-Sabil who is known for his antisemitic views, wrote that Trump's move cannot go unanswered and must be opposed by every possible means. Al-Shawahin called on the Palestinians, and on the entire Arab and Islamic world, to do whatever it takes to prevent the U.S. and Israel from making another move against them, stressing that "sacrifice operations" are now the only option for the Palestinian people. He urged the Arabs to inform the U.S. that they will refuse the "deal of the century" (as Trump called his envisioned U.S.-brokered Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement), to warn the U.S. that all Western interests will be in danger, and to remind it of the sacrifice operations that have taken place in and out of Israel.

The following are translated excerpts from Al-Shawahin's article:
"What next? [I do not refer] to the demonstrations, protests, condemnations and resistance to the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the criminal entity and to move its embassy there, but [rather to] the next decision of the U.S. and Israel. It seems that they are waiting for the furious and wide-ranging responses to subside before they take their next step, which will be nothing less than a declaration of the annexation of the West Bank and a revocation of what are known as the June 4 [1967] borders.

"What will force Trump to recant? What does the enemy country [Israel] fear?... Will a continuation of the intifada and its expansion be enough to restore Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinians and all Muslims? Is it possible that an unarmed people living under siege and suffering all kinds of Jewish terror will be victorious and regain its stolen rights? Will the Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas, or the restoration of the PLO's role, be enough to contend with the enemy? The answer is that all these are [indeed] likely to revive the glory of the conflict and bring the situation back to the starting line, assuming that the actions of the [Palestinian] national liberation movements continue. This will revitalize the movement for the liberation of Palestine on the basis of armed struggle.
Saudi academic defends Trump's Jerusalem move, saying Arabs should accept Israel's 'historic right'
A Saudi academic has defended the controversial US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and called on Arabs to "accept" Israel's claims to the holy city.

Abdulhameed Hakeem, the head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, made the remarks on US-based al-Hurra Arabic-language TV channel on Saturday.

"The decision will prompt a positive shock towards moving the stagnant water surrounding negotiations," Hakeem said.

"Us, as Arabs, have to come an understanding with the other side and know what its demands are so that we can succeed in peace negotiation efforts," he said.

Hakeem's comments come after President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that the US would break with international consensus and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel.

The Saudi royal court has slammed Trump's announcement as "unjustified and irresponsible" but has been muted in its criticism of the move since.

It has led many to ask where Riyadh stands on the issue.

"We have to admit and realise that Jerusalem is a religious symbol for the Jews that is just as holy for them as Mecca and Medina are for Muslims," Hakeem said.

"Arab mentality must free itself from the heritage of Gamal Abdel Nasser and political Islam of both the Sunni and Shia sects, which has instilled for purely political interests the culture of hating Jews and denying their historic right in the region."

Hakeem's comments have prompted angry responses on social media and many Twitter users have harshly condemned what they consider an appeal for the "normalisation of relations" with Israel.
Arab states worry over India's lackluster response to Trump's Jerusalem move
A dozen Arab ambassadors have asked India to clarify its position on the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, diplomatic sources said, after New Delhi's muted response suggested a shift in support for the Palestinian cause.

US President Donald Trump abruptly reversed decades of US policy this month when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, generating outrage from Palestinians. Trump also plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Countries around the world, including US allies Britain and France, criticized Trump's decision, but India did not take sides.

Instead, the Indian foreign ministry in a brief statement, said India's position was consistent and independent of any third party.

The bland statement made no reference to Jerusalem and prompted criticism at home that it was insufficient, vague and anti-Palestinian.
Ten Ways The New York Times Jerusalem Editorial Got It Wrong
Ninth, the Times concludes by suggesting that Trump specify “that the embassy, when moved, would be in West Jerusalem,” and indicate “that the United States wants to recognize East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital as part of a peace agreement.” This rhetorical attempt by the Times to divide united Jerusalem into “East Jerusalem” and “West Jerusalem” — restoring the status of the city to the brief period between 1948 and 1967 when it was divided in two and Jews were denied access to eastern Jerusalem — makes no more sense than re-dividing Berlin into East and West. The same Jerusalem Embassy Act that Trump was moving belatedly to bring America into compliance with states not only that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel” but also that, as the “policy of the United States,” “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city.” The last time Israel withdrew from territory, in the Gaza Strip, it was taken over by the Hamas terrorist group and used as a base for tunnel and rocket attacks on neighboring Israeli civilians. If a majority of Israeli voters ever want to turn part of Jerusalem over to Palestinian control, maybe America might then want to amend the Jerusalem Embassy Act. Until then, there’s no reason for an American president to promote the division of the city.

Finally, and tenth, it’s worth noting that the print version of the Times editorial bore the headline “Oh! Jerusalem….” The reference was unexplained. Maybe there is some other more innocent reason for it. But it struck this reader as an unmistakable reference to Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, from the Christian Bible. The phrase occurs in Matthew 23:37. That is an account by Matthew of a speech by Jesus, a bitter attack on the Jews: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” The next two verses, which conclude the chapter, are “behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Some have read this and other passages as suggesting that Jewish exile from Jerusalem is punishment for Jewish refusal to accept Jesus. The Christian Bible’s book of Luke carries a similar account in Chapter 13, verses 34 to 35: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

The New York Times staff editorial on Israel’s execution of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann, as The New York Sun put it, “concluded by referring the Jewish people to the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus talks of turning the other cheek.” It would seem pretty hard to top that one. But now The New York Times staff editorial on President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the modern Jewish State of Israel is headlined with what sure looks like an approving Times reference to Jesus — or Matthew — in their quarrel with Jerusalem’s Jews of their time. The Times doesn’t come all the way out and say clearly that until or unless Israeli Jews accept Jesus as their savior, they should be denied access to Jerusalem’s Old City, including the Western Wall, and their capital should be divided. But the “Oh! Jerusalem…” headline, together with the text of the editorial, suggest that’s where they are coming from. Plenty of Christian Zionists have, thankfully, managed to progress beyond this sort of nonsense. The Times, alas, prefers a desolate and divided Jerusalem to a Jewish one.
PA threatens to quit America - do you care?
So it’s come to this. The PA (Palestinian Authority) is upset with us…so upset that its leaders are threatening to cut ties with us here in the United States.

All that started soon after President Trump delivered on his promise to name Jerusalem the capital of Israel…to which we can only say Amen.

Come to think of it, this is actually the tenth time the Palestinian Arabs have made that threat…but who’s counting?

More to the point – who cares?

Is there a downside to this? I see nothing but good. Are we supposed to be afraid?

I think Freud talked about this; about people with a false sense of importance. He did not have the Palestinian Arabs specifically in mind.

That’s because there were no such people in his day, or any day. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people…other, perhaps, than language that appears in David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia”…of “a little people, a silly people, greedy, barbarous and cruel.”
UN Watch: Swedish rally calls to murder Jews, then “Long live Margot Wallström!”
Three questions for the Swedish political establishment:

1. Will Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström explain why the same Stockholm demonstrators who last week called for the murder of Jews, “the descendants of apes and pigs,” also cried out “Long live Margot Wallström”? They said she “has their back.” Is this who Wallström fights for? Will she disavow their support?

2. Why did former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt published a Washington Post op-ed dismissing antisemitism in Sweden — omitting to mention open murder chants by 2,000 demonstrators in his capital?

3. Why did Swedish police spokesperson Anna Westberg say that, other than “a few small incidents,” “everything has gone well”?
These were the chants from rally organized by Sweden’s Jerusalem Kommitten in Stockholm on Dec. 9, 2017, which can be heard on the video
Stockholm demonstrators call to murder Jews & cheer Margot Wallström

Two new symbols risk galvanizing protests over Trump’s Jerusalem decision
Almost two weeks after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinian protests, strenuously encouraged by both Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and the Islamist terror group Hamas, have drawn several thousands into the streets of West Bank cities and to the Gaza border fence. But they have not reached a level of violence or mass participation that some feared and others hoped for.

But two recent incidents have created powerful symbols that could galvanize wider Palestinian demonstrations in the days and weeks ahead.

On the first “day of rage” Friday following Trump’s December 6 announcement, 16-year-old Fawzi al-Junaidi was arrested by Israeli soldiers at a protest in Hebron.

While he was being detained, a photographer snapped a visceral image of the teenager. In it, Junaidi appears at the center of 23 well-armed Israeli soldiers, walking in ripped blue-jeans and a gray T-shirt, with a white blindfold on his face and his features anguished and disoriented.

Ten days later, this image is still being shared widely across Palestinian media.

Junaidi’s character has been lionized, with some actually calling him a “lion,” and his likeness has been reimagined on social media in the form of superheroes, such as Spider-Man and the Hulk, and even Jesus on the cross. He is being energetically depicted as a symbol of both strength and struggle.
Arab students at Tel Aviv University call for new intifada
Arab students at Tel Aviv University called for a new intifada against Israel during a protest held last week at the university's campus in response to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"With spirit and blood we will redeem you, Al-Aqsa," "We will fight and teach them a lesson via the sword and force," "We will school them through the ways of intifada," "Israel is a terror state," and "Resist, resist," were among the slogans chanted by some 50 Arab students who gathered at the university's Entin Square to protest.

A counter-demonstration was held by activists from the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu, who waved Israeli flags and sang Israeli songs including "Hatikvah," Israel's national anthem, and "Jerusalem of Gold."

Last week, Arab students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem held a protest where they issued calls including "Zionists leave," "Our land is Arab and free," and "Palestine is Arab from the river to the sea." The protest was joined by Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen who told the protesters to be "proud of our struggle."

Similar protests were also held last week by Arab students at Ben-Gurion University and Haifa University.
Is Ibrahim Abu Thuraya's death the latest Pallywood production?
Is Ibrahim Abu Thuraya being set up to be the new Muhammad al-Dura?

The 29 year old wheelchair bound Gazan was allegedly killed on December 15, in a clash with Israeli soldiers.

Some claim the protest was "peaceful".

Witnesses who accompanied Ibrahim at the time of his death claim he was shot directly in the head by an Israeli sniper. Health Ministry spokesman in Gaza, Ashraf al-Kidr pronounced him dead at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital as a result of his wounds.

Ibrahim Abu Thuraya's death has the making of a Pallywood production

Is this how you carry someone with a head wound?

Where's the blood? Wouldn't you expect blood from a fatal bullet wound to the head?

‘Live Fire’: Media Falsely Accuse Israel
The Jerusalem Post reports: “Palestinian Red Crescent reported at least 263 injured in the West Bank, of which at least four were wounded by live fire during clashes outside Ramallah.

CNN correctly states: “At least 367 others were injured — seven critically — and taken to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the health ministry. Most of them were suffering from injuries caused by tear gas and rubber bullets.”

So who is correct? Were hundreds of Palestinians wounded by “live fire?

It’s safe to assume that were the IDF to use live fire on rioters, there would be far more than four dead and the varying numbers of wounded quoted in the media.

Not being content with mere assumptions, we asked the IDF for clarification and they informed us that the IDF acts according to strict rules of engagement which rely on an escalation of means, from the less lethal to the lethal. The overwhelming majority of means used by the IDF over the last two weeks have been riot dispersal, such as rubber bullets and tear gas. Live rounds have been used very selectively in specific situations only when where the threat to life or critical infrastructure, such as the Gaza fence, justified it.

It is also important to note that stones and firebombs launched at IDF troops using slingshots and other means of propulsion, can be lethal – context that the media is loathe to acknowledge.
IsraellyCool: Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party Compares US President Donald Trump to Hitler
The official Twitter account of our “peace partner” Mahmoud Abbas’ party has compared US President Donald Trump to Hitler!

Screenshot in case they delete it:

Leaving aside the spelling error, this is a huge middle finger to the US President.

Boy, would I love to see his response to this!

Incidentally, a comparison between Mahmoud Abbas and Hitler would hold way more water.
IsraellyCool: Hypocrite Saeb Erekat Spotted In Israeli Hospital
Saeb “Massacre” Erekat, chief palestinian negotiator and propagandist, is one of the main proponents of the pernicious lie that Israel is an apartheid state.

Back in August, I mentioned his hypocrisy, as he was on the waiting list for a lung transplant in Israel. He ended up going to the US for the transplant, which did not stop him from issuing threats to the US.

And now he is back in Israel. And guess what? He needed our help…and got it.

A senior Palestinian Authority negotiator and a perennial critic of Israel was spotted recently at an Israeli hospital.

Despite his accusations of Israeli “genocide”, the senior PA official nevertheless checked in to an Israeli hospital recently, and was spotted Monday night as he was taken in for a CT scan.

In a report by Channel 20, Erekat was seen in Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Medical Center. Hospital officials confirmed that Erekat had checked into the hospital for treatment.
Time to recognize the Golan
The U.S.'s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel raises the question whether it was the most significant move Israel could have asked the Trump administration to make. It was a declaration, whereas recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would not only change the reality, it would also shape it for many years to come, as well as dovetailing with the American interest in stopping Iran from gaining control in the region.

As the U.S. relinquishes its hold on the Middle East, Russia – and particularly Iran – are filling the vacuum. Iran's entry into Syria is part of its grand plan to occupy collapsing regions in the Middle East as a way of expanding its reach as a rising regional superpower. That is what is happening in Yemen and parts of Iraq, as well as in Syria.

The Iranian threat has long ceased to be a matter that concerns Israel only. By seizing crumbling areas and states, by challenging Saudi Arabia, by establishing military bases in Syria, and by developing missiles that can reach Europe – and maybe one day the U.S. – Iran is becoming a threat to the entire western world.
Israel strikes six Hamas targets after rocket damages Israeli home
Israeli jets struck six Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday night after rockets were fired into southern Israel earlier in the evening, one of which slightly damaged a home.

The Israel Air Force planes struck the Hamas targets including a military compound which served as a training site and other terror infrastructures, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

"Hamas is exclusively responsible for the situation in the Gaza Strip. The IDF takes the firing of rockets at Israeli communities very seriously and will not allow any harm or attempt to harm the citizens of the State of Israel."

Two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip slammed into the community of Netiv HaAsara in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council area, with shrapnel from the impact slightly damaging a home. A second rocket landed in open territory causing no damage.
Gaza border brief with Seth J. Frantzman

Sirens sounded again in the Ashkelon Industrial Zone and nearby communities at 2:30 a.m., but the IDF said the rocket fell inside the Hamas-run enclave.

There were no reported injuries.
Arab rioter who attempted to lynch children to face trial
The prosecution filed a first statement against an Arab rioter who was part of a lynch mob that attacked a group of Israeli schoolchildren on a Bar Mitzvah hike.

About 25 children and two adults were taking part in the hike in Samaria last month when they were attacked by a mob of local Arabs who shouted and threw stones at them. The group was forced to take refuge along the steep cliffs nearby, thus facing danger to their lives both from the rocks thrown at them and the dangerous terrain. They were able to find shelter in a nearby cave.

When the attack continued, one of the adults chaperoning the children drew his weapon and fired at the mob, killing one of the attackers. He was interrogated by law enforcement officers, but released.

Two Jews were injured in the attack.
Druze officer named new Palestinian territories coordinator
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday named Brig. Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rokon as the next coordinator of government activities in the territories, replacing Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who is slated to retire from the IDF after 36 years.

Abu Rokon, who currently head of the Defense Ministry's Border Crossing Authority, is expected to take office in May.

Upon taking office he will be promoted to the rank of major general.

The 58-year-old Abu Rokon resides in the northern Druze village of Isfiya. His 40-year career with the defense establishment has seen him hold various positions in the Civil Administration, including as governor of Tulkarem, commander of the IDF's Coordination and Liaison Unit to the Gaza Strip, deputy coordinator of government activities in the territories and Head of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.

He retired from service in 2007 but re-enlisted in 2008, ahead of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, when he was again named deputy to the coordinator.

Abu Rokon, who holds a bachelor's degree in Middle Eastern studies and a master's degree in international relations, will be the second Druze military liaison to the Palestinian territories and the second-ever Druze major general, following Yusef Mishleb, who served in the position from 2003 to 2008.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Netanyahu Agrees To Make Israel Socialist, Bans Opposition Parties (satire)
Bowing to ongoing criticism from the left of Israel’s political spectrum, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed today to implement various policies associated with Socialism, beginning with the disqualification of opposition parties from fielding candidates for elected office.

Netanyahu made the announcement from the floor of the Knesset this afternoon during deliberations over legislation, declaring that as of this Thursday at noon, all members of parties not in the current governing coalition must resign from any posts they fill, including membership in Knesset, local councils, or other organs of government at every level. Individuals who refuse or fail to resign by that time will be subject to arrest. In announcing the new policy, the prime minister gave specific mention to Socialist nations such as Venezuela, where the opposition has been similarly banned.

“I agree with my Socialist colleagues that this change has been too long in coming,” declared Netanyahu. “It is with no small measure of humility and gratitude toward them that this policy will now become effective. I hope that they will accept this gratitude with their characteristic graciousness and step down from their positions in keeping with the enlightened Socialist view that I acknowledge comes from that enlightened Socialist, President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.”

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