Friday, December 29, 2017

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Facing a Tamimi government
As Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki was among the seven children murdered at Sbarro, reported on his website, Jordanian Prince Ali’s wife, former CNN reporter Princess Rym Ali raised donations from the governments of Europe, Australia and Canada to establish a journalism school in Amman. On every page of the Jordanian Media Institute’s website, Ahlam Tamimi is presented as a “Success Model.”

Three of Ahlam’s victims were US citizens. King Abdullah has rejected repeated US requests to extradite her for trial.

Back in Nabi Saleh, Nariman and Bassem and their kids man the barricades against Israel, for their sponsors.

In 2012, Bassam was convicted of inciting a riot against IDF soldiers. An observer from the EU was present throughout his trial.

Then-EU foreign affairs commissioner Catherine Ashton touted Bassem as a “human rights defender.”

Bassem and Nariman are “volunteers” in B’Tselem’s “camera project.”

B’Tselem, an anti-Israel political warfare group funded by the EU, EU member governments, the State Department and far-left American groups, distributes video cameras to Palestinians and trains them to use them. It then posts their films online to advance its one-sided propaganda offensive against Israel.

In 2015, a consortium of anti-Israel groups including Amnesty International, Code Pink and Jewish Voices for Peace brought Bassem Tamimi to the US on a speaking tour.

In one particularly hair-raising episode, reported by Legal Insurrection at the time, Tamimi addressed an audience of third-graders in Ithaca, New York.

He urged the children to support terrorism against Israel and to join the war against the Jewish state.

Videos of Ahed were a prominent component of his presentation.

The Turkish government is also a big supporter of the Tamimi brood. After a past video of Ahed hitting and cursing Israeli forces was posted online, she and her parents were brought to Ankara to receive recognition from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a very real sense, the Tamimi family is at the nexus of a global war against Israel.

The Tamimis have connections with nearly every government and group involved in that war. The Israeli and American Left, the EU, Jordan and Turkey and of course Hamas and the PLO all support them. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
The Palestinian masquerade
As part of his diplomatic-political address, Abbas presented his captive audience with his take on the historical and theological basis for the war between Islam and the Jews. His remark, outlining the raison d'etre of this conflict, was tacked on to his main address like a footnote.

"This land is the birthplace of Jesus," he said. "Jesus Christ was a Palestinian, take note of that."

"Yes, believe in our right and God's promise to us, that this holy Palestinian city, since it was founded by the Canaanite Jebusites 5,000 years ago, was and will be the only capital of our independent state, under the sovereignty of the state of Palestine."

"This is also a good opportunity to note that I don't want to discuss history or religion, because there is no one better at falsifying history or religion than them [the Jews]. But if we read the Torah, it says that we, i.e., the Canaanites, lived here before Abraham and haven't left since that time. It hasn't been interrupted. That's in the Torah. If they want to fabricate, 'to distort the words from their [proper] usages,' as God said [a reference to Sura 4 of the Quran that mentions Jews who falsified the Torah]. I don't want to get into religion. We don't want the issue to become a religious issue. We just want to prove that we are here, and we have an eternal right to this city [Jerusalem] and to other cities."

So according to Abbas, Jesus was Palestinian and Jebusite Jerusalem was never the capital city of any nation other than the Palestinians since time immemorial. Furthermore, the Palestinians are actually Canaanites, and God promised them this holy city before Abraham came along, and so on.

We are laughing now, aren't we? It's not just one lie, but a culture of lies. The Arab leader's simple ability to stand in front of the world and lie in a way that almost seems like he is trying to convince himself. Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Palestinian nation? Really? But no nation ever ruled here other than the Jewish nation and its various Jewish kingdoms!
MEMRI: Senior Jordanian Columnists Warn Against Cancelling Peace Treaty With Israel
U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6, 2017, announcement of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his plan to move the American embassy there ignited a vast wave of protests against the U.S. and Israel across Jordan. These demonstrations included calls to cancel the agreements signed by Jordan and Israel, including the peace treaty.[1]

Loud calls to revoke the peace agreement with Israel and to cease normalization with it were also voiced in the Jordanian parliament. In its session on December 10, 2017, which was dedicated to Trump's announcement, the parliament empowered its legal committee to reexamine the agreements with Israel, including the peace treaty, and to document all of Israel's legal violations and present them to parliament so that a decision may be taken on this issue. On the following day (December 11), the committee met with Justice Minister 'Awad Abu Jarad to request all the material on the signed agreements with Israel,[2] and one day later it reconvened to discuss the matter.[3]

At the same time, 14 MPs submitted to the government a memorandum calling to "promote legislation to cancel the Jordan-Israel peace agreement due to Israeli violations of it" and due to the American announcement about Jerusalem.[4] On December 17, several MPs signed another memorandum calling on the government to terminate the leasing to Israel of the Al-Bagoura and Ghamar areas on the Jordan-Israel border, claiming that it is an infringement of Jordanian sovereignty and the rights of its citizens in those areas.[5]

Calls to revoke all agreements with Israel were also posted on social media, under existing hashtags such as "#Wadi Araba [peace agreements] will be cancelled" and "#boycott the Zionists," which were brought back into use, and under a new hashtag, "#Cancel it," which went viral within hours.[6] One Jordanian tweeted: "Jordanian members of parliament and decision-makers! Cancel the Araba [peace] Agreement, cancel the gas [import] agreement [with Israel], and sever all overt and covert relations [with it]. Out! Out, the Zionist embassy."

Why Trump’s Middle East negotiator is beating expectations
Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s chief Israeli-Palestinian negotiator, has an office just around the corner from the White House.

On his computer monitor is a Post-it note, inscribed with a quote from former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo: “At the end of the day, a peace agreement derives its strength from an understanding between peoples, not an accord between governments.”

It’s an appropriate message for Greenblatt, an affable Orthodox Jew who’s been tasked by Trump with leading Israel and the Palestinians toward peaceful pastures. Given that the lawyer had no prior diplomatic experience, Greenblatt was considered an odd choice for the task, according to observers.

However, according to interlocutors and veteran Israeli-Arab negotiators, Greenblatt, who is about 50, has exceeded expectations. Many on all sides praise him for his investment in the people affected by the conflict — especially for his intensive, public engagement with populations largely overlooked by previous negotiators, such as settlers, the haredi Orthodox and Palestinian refugees.

In interviews with more than a dozen people who have met the special representative for international negotiations, one compliment comes up again and again: Greenblatt is a good listener. And that’s a skill that may be essential to the job.

“Greenblatt has made a universally positive impression among Israelis and Palestinians as serious, creative, empathetic and dedicated to the cause of peace,” said Daniel Shapiro, who was the Obama administration’s ambassador to Israel. “They see him as possessing goodwill and a sense of realism about what peace looks like. He deserves the praise he has received for building those relationships of trust in a situation when the parties don’t trust each other at all.”
U.S. Envoy: Palestinian Reaction to Trump Announcement Is Ugly, Anti-Semitic
Some of the Palestinian rhetoric in response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem has been “ugly, needlessly provocative and antisemitic,” US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told The Jerusalem Post this week.

Friedman, a leading force behind Trump’s decision three weeks ago to recognize Jerusalem and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, characterized the Palestinian reaction as “largely emotional,” saying they “unfortunately overreacted” because Trump made clear that the US was “not taking a position on any final-status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.”

In light of the Palestinians now rejecting any US role in the peace process, Friedman said there will be no process without Washington’s involvement.

“There is no path around the United States,” he said. “Israel has made it clear that they will not engage under the sponsorship of any other nation. You cannot clap with one hand. Moreover, only the United States has the regional credibility to bring forward a historic peace agreement.”

The president’s Jerusalem steps – as well as the partial shutdown of the PLO mission in Washington, and the Taylor Force Act that, if it passes the Senate, will cut US funding to the PA if it continues paying wages to the families of terrorists – reflects the will of the American people as reflected in US laws, Friedman noted.

“We are a nation of laws – and those laws exist to reflect important government policies,” he said. “There is absolutely no reason why the Palestinians cannot comply with these laws and, if they do, the peace process will be greatly advanced.”
Guatemalan Foreign Minister Stands Firm Against Arab Boycott Threat Over Jerusalem Embassy Move
Guatemala’s top diplomat shrugged off threats of an Arab boycott of her country on Thursday, affirming that the central American nation stood by its decision announced earlier this week to join the United States in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In an interview with The Algemeiner, Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel said that while the boycott threat from the PLO and Arab countries had been duly noted, it was being viewed in Guatemala mainly as a “media scare tactic.”

“This tactic is being used in the media by a small group with special interests who are opposed to our decision to move our embassy,” Jovel said. “But we’ve been strong in that decision, we trust that it was the correct decision, and we will continue to stand by it.”

While Guatemala and Israel have always retained close diplomatic and political ties, the country of 17 million also enjoys a strong trading relationship with the Arab world. Of particular concern is Guatemala’s vital cardamom crop, exported to the Middle East for use in the Arabic coffee that is consumed across the region. Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest importer of cardamom — receives 94 percent of its supply from Guatemala, the world’s largest producer of the spice.
JPost Exclusive: No route to peace without Trump, Ambassador Friedman says
Washington has been mostly silent in the face of the unprecedented Palestinian vitriol toward the United States that followed US President Donald Trump’s decision three weeks ago to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Not Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s blistering speech against the US at an “emergency” meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul; not PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki’s fiery rhetoric at the UN General Assembly vote that slammed the US move; not the PA decision to boycott Vice President Mike Pence when he comes to Israel; not Abbas’s statement that the US has disqualified itself from the peace process – none of that has triggered much of a response from Washington.

But the relative silence does not mean the reactions have not been noted.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, one of the driving forces inside the administration behind Trump’s historic Jerusalem move, told The Jerusalem Post this week that these types of reactions remain “largely emotional,” and that the Palestinians “overreacted.”

“We expected the reaction, although we were disappointed with some of the rhetoric which was ugly, needlessly provocative and antisemitic,” Friedman said. “As we go forward, this has to change.”

During his announcement of the move, made in the White House on December 6, Trump said specifically that the United States was “not taking a position on any final-status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
Friends of Zion to prepare 'royal welcome' for Pence in Israel
When US Vice President Mike Pence visits Israel, he will be royally welcomed by the Friends of Zion Museum with "over 110 billboards, buses, and even camels."

Every head of state who moves his or her country’s embassy to Jerusalem will receive an award from the pro-Israel group as well, the Museum said in a press release, after heaping praise on US President Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital earlier this month and announcing the United States would move its embassy there.

"No president in history has ever built such an alliance for the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and no president has courageously stood up for the State of Israel on the global stage as President Trump."

Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, has established a massive pro-Israel social network across the globe with 5,952,500 followers in India, 5,777,607 in Indonesia, and 3,685,561 in the Philippines.

Earlier this month, Evans presented US President Donald Trump with the Friends of Zion Award at an event in the Oval Office, attended by Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and faith leaders representing more than 150 million Christians spread out across the globe.
Netanyahu Hails Arab World's Changing Opinion on Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday afternoon that the general outlook on Israel was undergoing positive changes in the Arab world, citing opinion polls which indicate a significant growth in the number of people who place importance on forging diplomatic relations with Israel.

"It is already happening between the governments, but the thing that stirs the most hope for me is that, and this may surprise you, it is also taking place among wide sections of public opinion in the Arab world," Netanyahu said during a speech at a ceremony marking the signing of a development agreement in the Arab local council of Ein Mahil in northern Israel.

"How do I know this? We conduct polls and suddenly you ask the question: 'How many of you think that it worthwhile to have contacts with the State of Israel?' Once the number was zero. Today it starts with 20% and goes as high as 50%," the prime minister proudly declared.

"The public in the Arab world is starting to understand this. Israel has a foothold in the future and it is becoming one of the most developed countries on earth and we want you all to be part of this success story," he told his listners.

"When the public in Arab countries begins to understand that the State of Israel is an asset for the future, an asset to them, this is where the change begins."
Assessing the Islamic World's Response to Trump's Jerusalem Declaration
Ominous warnings about Arab fury characterized the reactions of most Arab and Western leaders to President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Trump's clear statement that the decision in no way jeopardizes final status talks over Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians.

While a few hundred to a few thousand demonstrated in Amman, London, Paris and New York, there were almost no protests at all in Cairo, Riyadh, and the Gulf states.

Ironically, one of the capitals to see very little protest was Jerusalem, where the protestors could be counted in the dozens, even though the city is home to over 250,000 Muslims.

To be sure, at the Kalandia checkpoint north of Jerusalem there were more protestors and they were far more violent. Yet the PA had encouraged violence, and one can safely assume that many of the protestors, nearly all young males, were being paid for their efforts by Fatah, the movement led by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA.

In both cases, the demonstrations were smaller than the average protests that take place in the Jerusalem area and were far less intense than the protests in July over the Israeli decision to place metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount following the killing of two Israeli border policemen.

One factor limiting the violence is Israel's innovative strategy to abstain from confronting the protestors, but rather to contain them, identify them through a variety of methods, and apprehend them later.
Due to Israeli pressure, UN won't raise Palestinian refugee budget
The United Nation's Administrative and Budgetary Committee has rejected a request to increase funding for its Palestinian refugee relief agency for the 2018-2019 time frame.

The Group of 77, a 77-member coalition of developing nations, of which the Palestinian Authority is a member, submitted a request to increase the budget for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) by around $5 million. The bloc also asked for four additional slots for Palestinian representatives at the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UCTAD).

According to its website, UCTAD's Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit has a "specific mandate to monitor and investigate the social and economic impact of policies of the Israeli occupation authorities in the Palestinian territory." The unit's annual report routinely accuses Israel of harming the Palestinian economy, undermining Palestinian development and violating international law and U.N. resolutions.

As a result of diplomatic efforts by the Israeli delegation to the U.N., spearheaded by Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon, the budgetary committee declined the Palestinians' requests to increase UNRWA's budget and the number of Palestinian slots when it authorized the international body's budget last week.
Americans Thrilled as United Nations Headquarters to be Moved to Israel (satire)
In what many will view as a surprising move, the United Nations has voted to relocate its headquarters to Israel. According to recent U.S. polls, Americans feel that the UN has overstayed its Manhattan visit. One Alabama resident told The Mideast Beast, “Dang, they’ve been here since 1952. 51 years is long enough! Wait, what’s 2017 minus 1952?”

After 65 years in the heart of New York City, the UN’s Security Council voted on Israel as its next location. Many Israelis are thrilled at the UN’s decision. “With 17,500 resolutions against Israel, I thought they hated us,” said Tel Aviv’s Mayor. “It’s like, the whole world loves us now!” Not all Israelis agree, though. According to Israel’s hardline, slightly pudgy Defense Minister, “Allowing the headquarters of the UN to come here means we have to give up more territory. On the other hand, maybe they’ll want the U.S. Embassy’s beachfront location once that’ll be freed up and ready to rent.”

With the UN in Israel, resolutions against Israel will continue to be passed in Israel against Israelis, and there is no indication that the amount of UN resolutions against Israel will decline. According to one UN official who spoke off the record to The Mideast Beast, “we’ve got a bet on when they’ll reach 20,000. With 2,500 more to go, my money’s on next week.”

The current Israeli administration pleaded with the U.S. to help keep the UN off of Israeli territory. The Israelis even put forward many other possibilities, such as the moon. The Americans however made a solid case for the UN decision and convinced the Israelis of the benefits of such a move. No one has any idea what those benefits are.
Report: Israel, US devise secret plan to curb Iran threat
Israel and the U.S. have devised a secret strategic plan to combat the threat posed by Iran's nuclear and missile programs and its presence in Syria near Israel's border, Channel 10 news reported Thursday.

Citing American administration officials, the news report revealed that an Israeli delegation secretly met with an American team at the White House some two weeks ago to formulate a joint memorandum of understanding on the topic of Iran. The Israeli team, headed by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and comprising representatives from all the Israeli defense and intelligence branches, met with senior U.S. officials including the American national security adviser, Herbert McMaster, and representatives of the American intelligence agencies and the defense and foreign ministries.

A top U.S. official told Channel 10 that after two days of meetings, the delegations formulated a document that essentially translates U.S. President Donald Trump's Oct. 13 speech – in which he decertified the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement – into a concrete plan of action, including joint strategic objectives.

According to the report, the document outlines the establishment of a number of joint task forces that will focus on a number of threats, including Iran's growing presence in Syria – with strongholds very close to the country's border with Israel – and Tehran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which both Israel and the U.S. view as a clear threat.
Israeli Embassy in Cairo Hails Egyptian Scholar Who Questioned Holiness of Jerusalem to Muslims
The Israeli Embassy in Cairo praised on Tuesday an Egyptian scholar who — in televised remarks last weekend — questioned the sanctity of Jerusalem to Muslims.

“We are pleased to hear the words of writer and historian Youssef Ziedan and his description of the deep-rooted relationship between Jews and Muslims that existed even before Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him,” the embassy statement said, according to an Al Jazeera translation. “And at how he pointed out that the origins of the ongoing conflict between the two sides stem from extremists.”

“There is no doubt that Ziedan’s interpretation entails the need to abandon the culture of hate between the two sides, and this in our view is an important message,” the statement concluded. “Cooperation between Jews and Muslims would benefit Egyptians and Israelis and would be beneficial to the two sides’ rising generations.”

In his ONTV appearance, Al Arabiya reported, Ziedan claimed, “Jerusalem is not holy,” and cast doubt on the commonly-accepted history of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets fired from Gaza as 3rd falls in Israeli territory
Three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip Friday, the army said, in the first such incident in over a week.

Two of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, while the third fell in Israeli territory in the Shaar Hanegev region, on the Gaza border.

Police said they found the rocket at the entrance to a building that had sustained damaged from the fall.

Rocket warning sirens were heard shortly before midday in the Shaar Hanegev and Sedot Hanegev regions, sending frightened residents running to shelters.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The rockets were the first fired from Gaza since December 18, which followed two weeks of numerous attacks, the largest incidence of rocket fire from the Strip since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

According to Israeli assessments, these rockets are not being launched by Hamas, but by other terrorist groups in the Strip. However, analysts have noted that Hamas was either unwilling or unable to clamp down on the groups.
IDF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza Strip following rocket fire
Three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on Friday morning, the IDF said, adding that two of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

Israel Police confirmed that a third rocket struck an Israeli community in the Negev region bordering the Gaza Strip, causing damage to a building but no injuries. Police bomb disposal experts are working at the scene.

In response, IDF tanks and aircraft targeted two Gaza Strip outposts belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip.

Family members of St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, who was killed in 2014 and whose remains Hamas holds in Gaza, held a concert in celebration of what would have been the fallen IDF soldier's 24th birthday Friday. They were forced to take cover during the celebration after rocket sirens went off.

Rocket fire from Gaza had been on the rise following US President Donald Trump's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, although the last two weeks had seen quiet return to the area.
Gaza rocket barrage appears to target ceremony for captured soldier
Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel on Friday appeared to have been launched to deliberately coincide with a ceremony marking what would have been the 24th birthday of an IDF soldier who was killed in 2014, and whose remains are held by Hamas.

A military official could not yet say that this was definitively the case, as the army was still investigating the issue, but said it “absolutely could be,” noting the uncommon timing of the attack.

In general, terrorist groups fire their rockets under the cover of darkness, rather than in broad daylight, as in Friday’s launches.

Three rockets were fired at the Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Hanegev regions of southern Israel on Friday afternoon. Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, while the third struck near a building in a community in the area, causing damage.

The military censor did not allow the exact location of the strike to be published, as it could assist terrorist groups in fine-tuning their targeting for future attacks.
Netanyahu to Arab-Israeli protesters: Shame on you
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had some tough words for Arab citizens who demonstrated against his visit to the Galilee town of Ein Mahil on Thursday: “Shame on you.”

“I saw a demonstration here at the entrance, people holding up Fatah and PLO signs against my visit,” Netanyahu said of a few hundred protesters who demonstrated near the municipality where he was invited to receive recognition for his efforts to help the town.

“What are they protesting against?” he asked. “Against the millions who were slaughtered and uprooted from their homes in Syria, Iraq or Libya? “Who are you protesting against?” he continued.

“Against the only state [in the region] that protects human rights, that established a field hospital [on the Golan Heights] to help victims [of the war in Syria]? Against the State of Israel? Shame on you.

We believe in progress, we believe in coexistence, we are working toward that and will continue to do so with you.”

Among the large signs that greeted Netanyahu in Ein Mahil, 5 km. northeast of Nazareth, was one that read, “Ein Mahil does not respect racists.”

The prime minister said that a fateful battle was taking place in the region “between the past and the future, the extremists and progress,” declaring that Israel represents progress, “the future” and “tomorrow.”
Palestinian Teenager Who Slapped Israeli Soldier to Face Charges
A 16-year-old Palestinian girl who slapped an Israeli officer two weeks ago will face assault charges in an Israeli military court, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The Dec. 15 incident in the West Bank was captured on video and posted on the internet, drawing attention on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

Palestinians hailed the teenager, Ahed Tamimi, as a hero. Israelis debated whether the officer, who along with another soldier was also kicked by her, had done the right thing by opting not to strike back.

The incident occurred at the entrance to Tamimi’s family home in Nabi Saleh, a village in the West Bank, during what the army said was stone-throwing at soldiers. Weekly anti-Israel protests have been held there for years.

The military said in a statement that the officer “acted professionally,” but right-wing Israeli politicians described his behavior as humiliating.

Three days after a video clip of the confrontation was broadcast on Israeli television, Tamimi — who can be heard on the video clip shouting at the soldiers to leave — was arrested.
'Murdering Jews is the most lucrative profession'
The Ofer military court on Friday morning began hearing the defense and prosecution's views on sentencing the terrorist who killed three members of the Salomon family in July.

The military prosecution demands 19-year-old Omar al-Abed be sentenced to three life sentences for the murders and a fourth life sentence for attempting to murder the rest of the family.

Photos of the al-Abed in court show him smiling widely, possibly because he knows that for every month he sits in prison, he and his family will receive dozens of thousands of shekels in monthly payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

In addition, al-Abed is aware of the fact that as he sits in prison, his colleagues are planning ways to release him.

Potential terrorists know that today, the most lucrative occupation in the PA is killing Jews.
Thousands of Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in Gaza, West Bank
Thousands of Palestinian demonstrators held violent protests along the Gaza Strip’s border and in the West Bank Friday afternoon, hours after a rocket barrage from the Hamas-run territory disrupted a ceremony for a slain Israeli soldier held by the Gaza terror group.

Riots were reported in nine different locations along the Gaza border, with demonstrators hurling rocks at Israeli security forces and in some instances attempting to damage the border fence, the army said.

Soldiers responded with non-lethal means, as well as with live fire in several incidents in which the army said central instigators were targeted. Health officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza said around 40 people were hurt, with four in serious condition.

Violent demonstrations were also reported in numerous places in the West Bank, with protesters throwing rocks, setting tires on fire, and hurling Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces. Security forces were responding with tear gas and other riot dispersal means, the army said.
Hamas' double game
In the heat of the bombastic headlines about political and criminal happenings this week, an important briefing given by Shin Bet security agency director Nadav Argaman was pushed to the margins. Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Argaman revealed that in 2017, the Shin Bet thwarted some 400 major terrorist attacks, among them 228 planned shootings, 50 planned bombings, eight planned abductions, 13 planned suicide attacks and 94 planned ramming and stabbing attacks.

These numbers don't mean much to the Israeli public. To the public, the current calm is the norm. In that regard, the Shin Bet deserves a lot of credit – it has become an excellent contractor of calm. But this achievement is an elusive one – one attack that slips through the cracks and comes to fruition, and Israel is in another mindset entirely.

That is precisely what Hamas is gunning for. The most dramatic data in Argaman's briefing centered on the 148 Hamas terrorist cells apprehended in Judea and Samaria this year. This number means that while Hamas is putting on the breaks in Gaza, and doing its utmost to prevent a renewed conflict with Israel, in Judea and Samaria it has its foot firmly on the gas pedal, doing its utmost to carry out attacks. These efforts include a substantial financial investment and intensive recruitment in search of new human resources – the kind who would have a better shot at succeeding, like east Jerusalem Arabs and even Israeli Arabs.
At Hamas rally, Gazan kid threatens ‘idiot Trump’ and ‘son of a Jew Netanyahu’
In a rant over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a young Palestinian child was filmed at a Hamas rally in Gaza earlier this month threatening “Trump the idiot” and “Netanyahu, son of a Jewish woman,” in a clip that has been widely shared on Palestinian social media.

The video, translated Thursday by MEMRI Middle East Media Research Institute, was from a December 15 rally in support of the Hamas terror group, which rules the coastal enclave and seeks to destroy Israel.

The child, Ahmad Idriss, who wore military uniform, including a face covering, had a message for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump.

“This is a message to Trump the idiot. You idiot, your promise to Israel will not be successful. You idiot, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine for all eternity,” Idriss screamed for the camera.

Erdogan talks Hamas' language
December 1997 was notable for the cooperation and strategic partnership between Israel and Turkey that was flourishing as it never had before. The two countries' armies conducted joint drills and maneuvers, and their respective air forces took part in some of them. Israel was selling military equipment and civilian technology to Turkey. The Turkish army was waging an uncompromising war against rising Islamization, and Turkey was turning toward the West. Israel was its gateway to the U.S.

Since then, 20 years have passed and things are almost completely different, although hundreds of thousands of Israeli tourists continue to visit Turkey, and bilateral trade stands at some $5 billion per year. This year, Menashe Carmon, chairman of the Israel-Turkey Business Council and Chamber of Commerce and Industry, even reported that Israeli exports to Turkey were up by 3% and imports from Turkey had risen by 10%. Israeli singers Dudu Tassa and Nasreen Qadri still perform together for crowds of Turkish fans, but December 2017 is still the polar opposite of December 1997. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey is distancing itself from the west and forming ties with Israel's most bitter enemies.

Erdogan does not hesitate to embarrass his partners in NATO. Turkey, which only two years ago still opposed Israel's delegation to NATO, is still a member, but is in the process of purchasing the S-400 anti-aircraft missile defense system from Russia, a move one senior Pentagon official described as "a bad idea." Erdogan also recently went head to head with the U.S. over the latter arming Kurdish forces in Syria, which Erdogan sees as a terrorist organization.
Gunmen attack Coptic Christian church near Cairo, killing at least nine
Gunmen killed at least nine people including three police in an attack on a Coptic Christian church south of Cairo on Friday, medical and security sources said.

The two attackers opened fire at the entrance to the church of Mar Mina in Helwan district, which was being guarded by police in the run-up to Orthodox Christmas celebrations next week, security sources said.

One attacker was shot dead by security forces, the sources and the state-run news agency MENA reported. State television said the second had been captured.

Islamist militants have claimed several attacks on Egypt's large Christian minority in recent years, including two bomb attacks on Palm Sunday in April and a blast at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral last December that killed 28 people.

The Health Ministry said that nine people had been killed on Friday in addition to the gunman, and five wounded, including two women in serious condition.
Lebanese FM draws outrage for endorsing Israel's right to security
Lebanese politicians on Thursday criticized that country's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil over a television interview in which he was shown saying that Lebanon did not have an ideological problem with Israel.

In a clip that was widely circulated on social media in Lebanon, he was shown saying, "Lebanon does not have an ideological conflict with Israel. We are also not against the State of Israel's right to exist. It too has a right to security. All nations should live in peace and recognize one another. We are a nation that wants to live with the other, even if they are different from us, but that will only happen when Israel wants this as we do – and the other side is not interested and has shown no such desire."

The comments, made to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen television network in a long interview on Tuesday, were in response to a question as to whether Lebanon was among the Arab countries normalizing ties with Israel.

Dozens of political figures in Lebanon, including members of Hezbollah as well as President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement party, of which Bassil is also a member, demanded he either be removed from the position or stand trial.

In a letter to Aoun, the signatories wrote that "any attempt at normalization with the Israeli enemy is forbidden according to Lebanese law and considered an act of treason. We ask you, Mr. President, to immediately remove the foreign minister and have him stand trial for treason."
Eichmann Mossad capturer: Only way to stop Iran is to overthrow regime
Toward the end of 1977, Rafi Eitan was summoned to the Prime Minister’s Office for a meeting. The regime of the shah of Iran was faltering, and Israel knew it was only a matter of time before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the exiled Islamic leader, would return to his country.

The 1970s was the honeymoon of Israeli-Iranian ties. Israel had an embassy in Tehran and enjoyed close military and intelligence cooperation with the shah and his pro-Western government, which, according to media reports, included the development of long-range ballistic missiles. Eitan was serving as prime minister Menachem Begin’s adviser on counterterrorism, and Jerusalem wanted to see if there was anything it could do to help stabilize its embattled ally.

Eitan knew Iran well. In his previous post as head of the Mossad’s operations department, Eitan flew frequently to Iran, visiting the country some 50 times in five years. At the time, he was tasked with helping the Iranians establish their own operations team. Until a few years ago, some of Eitan’s old Iranian counterparts still called him ahead of Jewish holidays.

Together with Uri Lubrani who was then the ambassador to Iran, Eitan came up with an idea to establish a special Iranian military force that would work to neutralize Khomeini’s primary supporters in the country. Together with the Iranians, Israel had marked a close-knit group of Islamists who were igniting public unrest in order to pave the way for Khomeini’s return after 14 years of exile. The thinking was that if these people were stopped, the revolution everyone saw coming would be stopped as well.

In the end, the initiative never took off. And despite the 40 years that have passed, Eitan believes Iran can still change and go back to the way it once was: pro-West, allied with Israel and a country that showed the world a moderate version of Islam, as opposed to the extremism it propagates today.
Israeli PM Netanyahu Slams Tehran Regime Over Treatment of Iranian Christians
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the Tehran regime on Friday over its treatment of Iranian Christians.

Referring to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent Twitter Christmas greeting, Netanyahu noted, “Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ while jailing Christians in your own country is the height of hypocrisy.”

Addressing Iranian Christians directly, Netanyahu said, “We stand with you, brothers and sisters. The world stands with you.”

Iran: How The People Suffer As Billions Go To Waste
As we gear to welcome 2018 with celebrations across the globe, it is morally correct to take a moment and think about the lesser fortunate in such times.

The world’s most powerful earthquake in 2017 shook Iran’s western province of Kermanshah, leaving at least several hundred people killed – while posts on social media showed locals speaking of the death toll being in the thousands – and scores more injured.

For the survivors, despite living in a country sitting on an ocean of oil and gas, their hardships continue as we speak. Iran, being the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, stands accused of allocating billions to prop the Assad regime in Syria, funding the Lebanese Hezbollah, supporting Yemen’s Houthis and backing Shiite militias in Iraq.

This goes alongside further billions pumping into a controversial and unnecessary nuclear program, and a dangerous ballistic missile drive.

The Iranian people are continuously seen protesting the regime's policies. On Thursday a large number of protesters took to the streets in the cities of Mashhad, Neyshabur, Kashmar and Birjand in northeast Iran, protesting unemployment, poverty and skyrocketing prices. Protesters were also seen chanting, "Death to Rouhani" and "Death to the Dictator," in reference to the regime's president and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, respectively.
Iran arrests demonstrators in 2nd day of anti-regime protests
Iranian officials reported fresh protests over the struggling economy on Friday, a day after dozens were arrested in second city Mashhad.

First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri suggested hardline opponents of the government may be behind the demonstrations, which spread to Tehran and the city of Kermanshah in western Iran on Friday, though numbers reportedly remained small.

“Some incidents in the country these days are on the pretext of economic problems, but it seems there is something else behind them,” Jahangiri said in comments carried by state broadcaster IRIB.

“They think by doing this they harm the government,” he said, but “it will be others who ride the wave.”
Saudi ban on Israeli chess players underscores limits of Gulf relations
Israeli athletes have a long history of being discriminated against by Arab countries. They are denied entry to them or forbidden from flying the Israeli flag and playing the national anthem during competitions; opponents forfeit matches against them or refuse to shake their hands.

It is a practice often described as an attempt to avoid “normalization” with Israel, and meant to show solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

The most recent victims of this tactic are seven Israeli chess players who were denied visas to Saudi Arabia for an international competition that kicked off on Tuesday.

But while Sunni Muslim countries publicly snub Israeli athletes, behind closed doors their officials are prepared to cooperate with the Jewish state, swapping intelligence and coordinating on the best ways to counter their mutual enemy: Iran.
Israeli soldiers stand guard next to an Iron Dome defense system in central Israel on November 14, 2017. (AFP/Jack Guez)

There is also likely some direct or indirect sharing of missile defense methods, a field in which Israel is a world leader owing to repeated attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah over the years. It is also technology on which Saudi Arabia is increasingly relying, as Iran-backed Yemeni rebels have begun launching rockets at Riyadh.

Israel, for its part, seems to be pushing for these warming ties to be brought into the light. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials make frequent references to them, pointing to them as proof that Israel can improve its relationships with Arab countries without the need for progress in peace talks with Palestinians.

But those feelings aren’t being reciprocated in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and other Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, and probably won’t be for the foreseeable future, according to Joshua Teitelbaum, a professor at Bar-Ilan University and senior research associate at its Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Commenting on the chess spat, Teitelbaum, whose work focuses on Saudi Arabia, said “These gestures are important to Israel, but less important to the Saudis.”
Letting Saudi Arabia host a chess tournament was a big mistake
WHEN A chess tournament opened in Saudi Arabia this week, the World Chess Federation said in a statement that it “has been working very hard and in a discreet manner to organise and safeguard the process of entry visas for all participants of the event.” The games are a “vehicle for promoting peace and development of friendship amongst all nations,” the statement said, adding that the federation and the Saudi organizers “are always ready to welcome any participant.” But as the games got underway Tuesday, those statements proved hollow. Saudi Arabia refused to give visas to seven Israelis to participate.

The reason for excluding them, a Saudi spokeswoman said, is that the kingdom and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. This is a flimsy pretext; the two countries do in fact have informal contacts and increasingly share a hostility toward Iran. The kingdom evidently would rather have secret contacts with Israel than welcome seven chess players to an open tournament. Rubbing salt into the wound, the federation and the kingdom issued an obsequious news release pledging to admit players from Qatar and Iran, both increasingly at odds with Saudi Arabia.

For seven decades, the Arab world has wished Israel would fall into the sea or be driven there. The Jewish state has not and will not. If Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is truly committed to rejuvenation of the kingdom, as he claims to be, then he might discard some of the calcified thinking of his forebears. His attempts to diversify Saudi Arabia away from dependence on oil, to permit women the right to drive, to allow public cinemas, to crack down on corruption and to pursue other initiatives all point toward a young leader capable of jettisoning an outdated mind-set at home.

The crown prince’s more open-minded instincts were reflected in a Nov. 14 statement about the planned tournament, which said of the dress code for female participants: “There will be no need to wear a hijab or abaya during the games, this will be a first for any sporting event in Saudi Arabia.” The sponsors proposed that men wear dark suits and white shirts, and women “dark blue or black formal trouser suits, with high necked white blouses.”

Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine, who holds world champion titles in two types of speed chess being played this week, nonetheless chose not to defend her titles in Saudi Arabia, because of the kingdom’s broader restrictions on women’s rights: “Not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature,” she declared.

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